We have arrived back on American soil, the jetlag is setting in, and the entire trip is starting to feel like a dream.  In the middle of this dream-like state, I would like to share the last few days of our adventure with you! In our last update, Tyler talked about the beginning of our time in Jerusalem and I’m here to wrap up what happened in the city.

Each day in Jerusalem was jam-packed with people, places and lessons. Our Tuesday was dedicated to all the locations around the Holy Temple. It was really amazing to get to see this location from essentially all angles. We began our morning on top at the Temple Mount. We then moved under and within, through the Rabbinic Tunnels that show the incredible construction along the Western Wall. We then spent some time in prayer at the Western Wall. This location is mesmerizing to sit at and watch people across cultures praying  together. In Isaiah 56:7 it is said, “…my house will be called a house of prayer for all nations." And hearing this scripture at the Western Wall was incredibly moving. Next, we moved to the Southern Steps for a teaching, concluding our time around the Temple. 

Our afternoon was spent at Yad Vashem. This is the memorial to commemorate the lives lost during the Holocaust and to celebrate those who stood up for the Jewish people during WWII. This was a place that was at times difficult to be at. Our trip has been so monumentally blessed by the men who were our tour guides and bus drivers along the way. They are all Jewish men whose spirit and heart have made me smile on a daily basis. Ronen, our tour guide, was able to share how the Holocaust directly affected his family. This event we learned about in history class immediately became much more tangible.

Our last full day in Israel was mostly following Christ through His last days. We began at the Mount of Olives, with an incredible view of Jerusalem.  Moving on, we walked to the Garden of Gethsemane. Here, we spent time in prayer among the trees and pasture, where Jesus prayed on the night before His crucifixion. “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” (Luke 22:42)  This is easily one of my favorite places in the whole of Israel: a small garden on the side of a hill to be with the Lord.

The bulk of our day was then spent walking to the city, along the Via Dolorosa (the walk to the cross), stopping at the Pools of Bethesda, St. Anne’s Cathedral and ending at The Church of the Holy Sepluchre. This location was incredibly somber, believed to be the location of Christ’s crucifixion and nearby burial. Words never seem enough to gage the sacrifice Christ made on the cross, being in the location where hundreds of people a day are trying to comprehend the weight of that is incredible.

After a lunch on the streets of the Christian Quarter of Jerusalem and some bartering at the shop fronts, we finished our day at the Israel Museum. Here, we were able to look through the history of the Dead Sea Scrolls and other findings in the caves of Qumran.

The following days were filled with travel by bus, plane and car; ending in a joyful arrival back at Heartland! The lessons learned on this trip are sure to continue growing us and meeting us as we move forward in ministry here at Heartland and elsewhere. Processing the depth and power of what we experienced will take some time, so I won’t attempt to do that for you all now, but leave you with some lyrics that stick with me from the last couple of days spent where our Lord was crucified and resurrected.

“Why should I gain from His reward?
I cannot give an answer.
But this I know with all my heart,
His wounds have paid my ransom”

Written by: Shelby Voigt