A note from Josh
We just completed our arrival and first full day in Israel and boy it was a doozy. Before I get into our day and how God has used the experiences of the day to show his power, I want to say thank you. Thank you for those of you who have prayed so diligently for our trip and have given us the opportunity to go. Your support is appreciated more than you can even imagine by us as a team.
Our fight to Israel was a humbling experience. We traveled for roughly a total of 22 hours, all full of whining babies and groggy Teamers. God began to work in and enlighten me on the flight to Israel. I ended up being seated by a Jewish man my age, on the flight we sparked conversation about our beliefs. He being Jewish and I Christian, our common ground was God and Christ was our crossroads. The neat thing about it was that we didn't let it divide us, we didn't argue about theological issues revolving around our beliefs, but we respected one another and laughed together. What struck me the most was on the plane he and all his fellow Jews got out of their seats and prayed their daily prayer to God. They didn't care what anyone thought about them and showed their devotion and love to God. It made me ask myself, "What do I do daily that brings glory to God and shows my devotion and love to him?" I meditated on that thought for the rest of the flight. I encourage you to ask yourself the same question. When we landed, I shook his hand and said, "Welcome Home." His reply, "You are home, too..." really struck me in the heart and allowed me to start seeing where I truly am - at the place where it all began.
After landing in Tel Aviv, we as a team got introduced to a fun experience called Jet Lag. I didn't think that it would hit me seeing as I don't sleep much, but after our first full day I hit a wall around two o'clock. Thank the Lord for caffeine and gummy worms, because that boosted me through the last couple of hours. We started off our first day, by going to the Tel Azekah this was a city that over looked the Elah Valley. A Tel is the remnant of ancient cites that looks like a hill, because so many cities were built on top of one another. If you are familiar with the story of David and Goliath, it is the valley that David killed Goliath. Looking down into the valley you can picture the WHOLE scene, visually playing out every detail in your head. The second place we visited was the National Park of Bet Guvrin-Maresha. Here we got to participate in an archaeological dig at the Tel Maresha. Our team went down into a cave where we dug up multiple pieces of pottery and removed the dug-up dirt to sift outside. While sifting, Mallory, Rachel, and Sarah found a gold earring! The team leading the excavation got so excited, saying it was the find of the year!! (Its January 2nd lol) After that you should have seen how fast we were all trying to sift and find something. After this we went to The Columbarium Cave, were doves were raised for sacrifice and food. Following that cave was The Bell Caves. These are beautiful caves dug out to excavated building materials. Inside these caves our guide Shlomo played a beautiful Hebrew song with the recorder that echoed throughout the caves. We followed up with that by singing worship to our Lord and saying one word that described our experience of the day so far. We ended our day by visiting the city of Lachish, it location and strong natural defenses made it the second most important city during the latter part of the kingdom of Judah. There was only one way for an army to conquer this city and that was by sieging and going up sharply to attack the gate. During the Babylonian invasion, this city lasted months of siege and was one of the last to fall. Walking up to it the city didn't seem like much, but once you climbed to the top where the city sat you saw the hidden vastness and its difficulty to conquer.
The past week I have been studying the values in the leadership quality of God. The past two days of travel and adventure have allowed me to meditate on my values and see the value of God's story that leads to Christ our Savior. Everything we have seen and experienced has a purpose in not only the biblical stories, but our individual story. They have impacted us in many ways and have allowed us to tangibly see things we have read and heard our whole lives. The word of God is alive and we are seeing how it lived out in the past and how it lives out now. The question I ask you and myself now is, "How are we living out the Word of God to impact others like it has impacted us?"
Joshua and the team