The tunnels under the Western Wall, are something magical indeed. One needs to be ok in small, tight spaces, and be ok in a dimly lit space. I was sensing and picking up on all sorts of thoughts and feelings, the deeper we went. Having read so much about Jerusalem historically, and of course having read the Gospels in the new testament, it’s quite a buzz knowing you are walking on the actual stones that Yeshua would have walked on, and indeed travelled through the various waterways and archways. It reeks of history, and if you listen carefully, I’m sure you’ll hear the chattering of yesteryear.
Mt Ebal, which I have previously mentioned, is situated in what the modern world has called, the West Bank. In truth, even if this area is under the control of the Palestinians, it is part of the biblical heartland, and now solid evidence has appeared to show this fact. Many of you are aware of the recent discovery thanks to Aaron Lipkin and Scott Stripling, the curse led tablet that is causing a furore within archaeological circles currently. Good. They seem to hate it when biblical archaeology proves out the biblical narrative and text!
Never shall I forget the image of Phil running downhill past us, chasing after a bunch of schoolboys! I dare say it was the Carlton Beer he bought at the Samaritan Village for eight shekels that kicked in 🙂 His face ruddied red, mischievous grin, loose metal flying everywhere, and us ripping with snorts of laughter!! Oh bless him, he’s a good sort! It seemed amazing to me all the ruins that lay below and around the altar, and a shepherd riding his donkey, herding his goats, within the vicinity. All very normal of course. Sitting there declaring, “as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” This place is beyond time, and we are so glad we got to be there and experience it, before it becomes a large visited tourist attraction.
Friends of Zion. This place really got to me, on a deep emotional level. Maybe it was the stories of my great uncle and grandpa that I was familiar with, them having been P.O.W’s in World War II, maybe it was again, that I have read some much about this time period of history – but whatever the reason, my eyes wouldn’t stop leaking and my heart was aching. I find it incredibly hard to fathom that Israel had to fight so hard to become a nation, and to this day, still has to fight so hard to remain a nation.
The itinerary said we’d have free time. We grabbed a taxi, went back to the hotel and freshened up, and then thinking we had plenty of time, found our way back. We actually were a little early, but no, everyone was there! I must say, the people who plan these itineraries cram far too much in one day. I think that’s why so many of us crash when we get home, or get sick upon our return home. Our bodies and minds have been exposed to such great extremes, and rest doesn’t really happen.
The farewell dinner was a supreme disappointment. The people who we were with previously, were supposed to save us a seat. They didn’t. The food was undercooked and most of us at our table couldn’t finish it. I felt ill after dinner, so we prayed, and I took some probiotics as a precaution. However, we got to sit next to Carl Gallups and share a bit of how we came to be on this tour. We mentioned being impacted by the programme he was on with Skywatch TV at the Jim Bakker Show. Carl is a deeply humble man, who seemed genuinely interested in us and our story. That makes a nice change.
When it was time to say goodbye to all the folks, some of the people we had spent the most time with, just buggered off without saying goodbye 🙁 Still, Neil and I went running to the buses, found said individuals, and made them hug us goodbye! You can’t leave like that, after experiencing such life changing moments together 😉
We spent our last evening in Jerusalem, with the effervescent Taylor. Or should I say, we ripped through the hotel trying to find a business card so we could call Charlotte, who left her purse on the bus. Or helping one of the ladies who was worried beyond belief that she didn’t have enough money for tipping (something we don’t do in NZ, it’s foreign to us), so we escorted her up to the ATM machine a few minutes up from the hotel. She hadn’t PIN numbered her credit card (who doesn’t do that?) so she couldn’t withdraw cash. We then crashed in the lounge bar and indulged in some divine Israeli wine, before heading back to our room one last time. The morning saw us saying goodbye and farewelling everyone off on the Jordan part of the tour. Most people thought we were going as well, but alas that will suffice for next time. Our time in Jordan nine years ago we keep in our hearts until we go back and have a good look, minus the food poisoning or the Jordanian guards trying to make a pass at me!
The story of Israel, will never end for Neil and I. We are currently making plans to head back in March 2023, but this time, we will have Sammy with us. That will be an absolute treat! Julianna was supposed to be joining us, but alas, she is growing our first grandbaby instead – we are going to be a Safta & Saba, and we cannot wait!
To Anne, Phil, Bill, Carol & Jerry, Charlie & Deborah, Carl, Taylor, Derek & Sharon and lastly Charlotte & Michael – we are so very thankful our paths crossed with you all. I cannot convey how much you all have come to mean to us, but the Lord himself knows. Also to Billy Dean & Dawn, and also Carol H, it has been wonderful being in touch, after the tour. I hope something of these blogs reminds you to pray for the shalom of Jerusalem, and know there are a couple of Kiwis here in NZ who love and pray for you all, daily.
שלום וברכה לך תמיד
Peace (shalom) and blessings to you always
© Sandi Wilson