Hello friends and family!
We began our day bright and early at our kibbutz with some good reading in Matthew 8 & 9 where Jesus began performing miracles to prove that the prophecies in the Old Testament were true and that He is the Messiah. I loved the passage about Jesus reclining amongst the sinners, that He came for us sinners who are so undeserving and not the righteous. During reading we got a lovely surprise…Jen Myer, our director’s daughter who is currently studying at a Bible college in Israel joined us for our journey!
We started our journey for the day to Qumran, which is located on the Northwestern shore of the Dead Sea where a settlement existed during the time of Christ. In 1947 a shepherd found the Dead Sea scrolls inside a cave. The Dead Sea Scrolls were written around 73 AD and contain almost the entire Old Testament except for Esther. Before the scrolls were discovered, the earliest document of scripture verifying it’s authenticity was written 1000 years after the Dead Sea Scrolls were written and when compared to the scripture of the time, it had been translated. Now go back in time 1000 more years and you have the Dead Sea Scrolls which match almost word for word the scripture we had in 1947. That is the same scripture we have today 2000 years later! Mind blown! The Dead Sea Scrolls were such an important discovery because they solidified all that was said in the Old Testament and to see the exact cave they were discovered in was awesome!
Next we headed to the Qasr al Yahud Baptismal Site along the Jordan River where seven of us teamers got baptized, including myself, Courtney, Mariah, Taylor, West, Simon, and Braxton. Golly… what an incredible moment! Seeing so many people from all over the world coming to see the place where John baptized Jesus and to be baptized themselves was such a sweet site! The Holy Spirit was definitely in and among the people and I was overcome with so much joy at the site of my teammates and even strangers declaring their faith and steadfast pursuit of the Lord. It was a declaration from all of us that we are coming back to our first love with childlike faith and that the Spirit is dwelling in our hearts. It was an act of worship to glorify the Son of God who makes us new again! After being dunked in the Jordan I was overcome with peace knowing that I serve a mighty God and that my worth is nailed to the cross. That such a mighty God chose someone like me to wash away all of my dirt and sin has me standing in awe.
We ended the baptism gracefully with the singing of ‘Amazing Grace’…and by gracefully I mean that only a couple people were singing on key. As we were leaving the baptismal site on our walk to the bus white doves flew overhead, like a scene from a movie, and right then it was evident that the Holy Spirit was filling up that place!
We then headed to Bet Alpha and along the way passed though the Judean Wilderness where Jesus had been tempted by the devil. Once arriving at Bet Alpha we saw the remains of a synagogue with a beautiful mosaic floor. Next we made our way to Bet Shan, which is located in the Jezreel Valley. Bet Shan was eventually renamed Scythopolis, a Roman city still being uncovered today. This is also the location where the Philistines hung Saul and his son’s bodies on the walls. This city seemed to be huge and the intricate designs carved into the marble were amazing. There was a giant amphitheater, some interesting marble stones that were used as toilets, and an extravagant bath house.
We stopped for lunch and had schnitzel and falafel, which most of the team seemed to love except for the few of us picky eaters. We ended the day early because from Friday at sundown to Saturday at sundown the people of Israel practice Shabbat which is the Sabbath. Tonight we are staying at the Ein Harod Kibbutz in the Jezreel Valley and we took a hike to a lookout point to watch the sun set over Mt. Gilboa. This mountain is where Saul and his sons were killed by the Philistines.
The team and I are ending the night with our favorite game, Phase 10 and a delicious dinner! Can’t wait for the adventures ahead tomorrow!