We were so excited to begin our journey to the Holy Land. It was hard to believe we would have the opportunity to walk where Jesus walked and experience the Holy Land from a point of view most people only read about in the Bible.
One of our most memorable days was our tour of the City of Jerusalem. Our tour guide talked about the Biblical and the historical story of Israel. He discussed the Palestinian problems. It was a fascinating lesson on the origins and current political situation in Israel. We were amazed how the security was very tight in Palestine. A search dog came onto the bus with security officers. The tour guide, who was Jewish, told us he could not enter Palestine with us and would be required to get off the bus for this part of the tour. We were met by another tour guide, a Palestinian, before entering Jerusalem. It was very troubling to see the division of these people. We felt safe but guarded as they had some violent outbreaks the day before in the area.
We visited the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, which is a major Christian holy site. This is one of the oldest surviving Christian churches. Then we arrived at the place where Jesus was born. I could not help but touch the ground, while the others kneeled and prayed. It was so surreal.
Not far from the Church of the Nativity was another holy Christian site, the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, the location of Jesus’ crucifixion, burial and resurrection. We took a short walk to Golgotha, or what is known as Calvary to the people there. I was really amazed that I was in the area where Jesus was crucified. The rock where the Cross stood was encased in glass.
A few meters away stood the tomb where Jesus was buried. There was also a limestone table nearby where His body was laid. Remembering the passage from the Bible, “He is not here, he is risen,” I touched the side of the doorway and kept thinking that this is the opening through which they placed the body of Jesus.
Our next stop for the day was the Western Wall, or what is known as the “Wailing Wall.” It is the last remains of the Second Temple and is the most sacred Jewish site in the world that stands today. We were required to cover our heads with a scarf and were allowed to touch the wall. I inserted my written prayer note on the wall and said a small prayer. The thousands of people praying was amazing. We were very grateful to visit here because a Palestine visitor was stabbed that morning. It is so sad to know such violence exits in such a Holy place.
Every day on this 12-day trip brought the legendary stories of mankind’s collective history to life. It is a trip we will never forget.