We, who are citizens of Orlando, sympathize with the citizens of Christchurch, New Zealand. We are all too well aware of the tragedy that befalls a community with this kind of event. As Christians who represent the love of Christ, and as Baptists who uphold religious freedom, our hearts are broken by the loss of over 49 lives in New Zealand. Our thoughts and our prayers are with those in Christchurch today. I hope you will join us in praying for a nation and a city who is in mourning, just as we in Orlando were 3 years ago.
I have just experienced the most rewarding and soul searching trip of my life. I am 2 days back from our church sponsored Israel Trip to the Holy Lands. This was an 8 day, fully packed trip with so many things to see and experience, that I’m sure I’ll leave some things out. For me the hardest part was the plane ride to and from New York and Tel Aviv. I don’t like to fly, so to agree to go on a trip that takes 10 ½ hours one way, I surely was not thinking that through when Bud and I signed up.
There are so many wonderful sites to see in Israel. We started our visit in Bethlehem with Herod’s tomb, Shepherds Field, a cave where Jesus was born, and the Church of the Nativity. We went to the Jordan River, where several of our travelers were baptized. We went to Jericho and the Dead Sea, in which several members of our group floated in the water, and covered themselves in “skin softening” mud, and visited the Mount of Beatitudes, which had a Roman Catholic Church on the grounds. We enjoyed a lovely boat ride across the Sea of Galilee, taking us to a fish restaurant where you could order fish, deep fried and with the head still attached. If you who know me well, you know that wasn’t what I was having for lunch! However, Bud did partake of the fish, but I had him cover the fish head with a napkin so I couldn’t see it. Jerusalem was amazing The Western Wall (aka Wailing Wall) was a very moving experience, as well as the Temple Mount, where the teaching steps on which Jesus stood and taught were located. Rachel’s Tomb was located just outside one of the restaurants where we had lunch. We walked the Mount of Olives, the Garden of Gethsemane, and the Via Dolorosa. We ventured down and saw the pit where Jesus was kept overnight before being crucified. This place brought sadness to me as I thought about how our Savior was kept in such a dark and lonely place, and treated so horrifically by those he loved. I know I have not covered everything that we did, nor every emotion that I felt. It would not be possible to do that, in one blog post, as there was just so much to see and experience.
The plant life was abundant in the desert and mountainous places we visited. There were vegetable gardens everywhere, and beautiful flower beds, Olive trees and Palm trees with dates in the top. So much to see and do, and really not enough time to do it all in one trip.
At one point in the trip we were asked “what is the one thing that stood out to each of you?” For me, there were so many but being in the Garden of Gethsemane where Jesus went to pray and wait for them to come and take him away. Just knowing that he could see the soldiers coming with their lighted torches for miles and staying there. He could have run away into the wilderness knowing what was going to happen and yet he stayed waiting willing to die for me and my sins. We each have free will to do what we want and lots of times that doesn’t play out to be the right thing, but Jesus stayed and paid the ultimate price for you and for me.
It was a trip that will be with me the rest of my life and will make me more aware each day of the sacrifice that went into my being forgiven and the privilege of having eternal life with Jesus.
If you ever get the opportunity to go and visit this part of the world I urge you to go, it’s a life changing experience.