We’ve come to our last day of touring. It has been a whirlwind tour, full of amazing revelations, a strengthened faith and new friendships that I never imagined would have formed so quickly and closely in just a little over a week.
Today we visited two churches in Abu Ghosh – The Crusader Church of the Benedictine Monks and then the Notre-Dame Our Lady of the Arc of the Covenant. We then went to Emmaus-Nicopolis, believed to be the village in which Jesus first appeared after the Resurrection. Also here was a first century tomb. Not a tomb of anyone known, but a great example of what a first century tomb would have looked like. Some of the people in our group actually climbed into the tomb! There was also an almond tree that we picked almonds off of and used a rock to crack them open and eat them right off the tree! They were so good!
We ate at an Elvis restaurant in Israel! It was so fun and felt so American!
Our next stop was so fun and meaningful. We went to the Elah Valley to see where David fought Goliath (1 Samuel 17). We went down into the dry creek bed and collected five smooth stone, just like David did prior to fighting Goliath. Reading the story while we were there was such a great reminder of the battles we all have to fight during different seasons of our lives. These spiritual battles are so important for our growth and arming ourselves with God’s resources is what we can fight our Goliath’s with. Those stones will have so much meaning to me and a great reminder of God’s power!
We had some time remaining so we went to Tel Maresha. Although this location is mentioned in the old testament, the sites we visited have no known biblical significance, but were very neat to see. We went to the Bell Caves, which were absolutely beautiful and then across to the Cave Complex and Maresha Caves. We had to climb a huge hill to get to the entrance. Upon going down into the cave, it was a spectacular maze of an underground dwelling where they also roosted pigeons for fertilizer and food. This was used during the Byzantine and Muslim era’s. Some of the spaces were very tight to get though and steep steps up and down throughout the cave. As I was making my way down the hill, I was thinking about how wonderful this trip has been and even with my pain issues from the cyst on my spine I thought the meds I am taking must have also been helping with the regular knee pain I have. I was thinking about how good I felt and when I was almost down the hill, I stepped on a slanted rock that must have had some sand or loose small stones on it and my foot slipped to the side and I rolled my ankle and fell down, tearing the knee out in my jeans! I couldn’t believe it! Thankfully, I was quickly surrounded by so many people wanting to help me. I needed to sit for a minute, but wasn’t in any pain and thought I would be okay. I had someone on each side of me to help me get stood up, but I couldn’t put any weight on it and sat back down. I needed a bit more time to just sit. Once I was able to get stood up, I could put some weight on it but it was very painful. With the help of my friends I was able to get down the hill, on the bus and someone had gone somewhere to get ice in a bag, wrapped the ice around my leg and tied it with a scarf! I was so taken care of by this team of people and felt so overwhelmed with love and care! As disappointed as I was this had happened, it meant so much to me to feel so loved and cared for.
We end the day with a Farewell Dinner in the Old Jaffa area at this great Mediterranean restaurant. Such a beautiful trip that has impacted my life in ways I will experience for years to come! Getting ready to board the plane soon.