This day started off with a bang,
as our fearless leader showed up at my door with my luggage!
He sacrificed sleep and food and rest and rode back and forth to the airport in Tel Aviv multiple times in the wee hours of the day and night to get this to me.
Tom Jenkins is a special man, and that has nothing to do with this luggage.
The returned luggage is just one example of many of how he serves and cares for others, far beyond what is easy or convenient or comfortable for him. The very epitome of a servant leader.
Because of Yom Kippur, or the Day of Atonment, many borders and crossings would be closed, so we had to plan much of our touring at the beginning of the trip.
Tuesday was one of my favorite days, possibly of my life.
My first visit to the Dead Sea and to Qumran, places that I've read about and studied for years now. It was like nothing I've ever experienced.
This sign was posted along one of the roads as we traveled through Bethlehem to Qumran.
I won't go into all the political issues and historical roots that these people groups live with every day, but my eyes have been opened to how very alienating and offensive it can be for us as Western believers to say we "Stand with Israel." I'm quite sure we don't know what we are saying.....what are we standing with? The Jewish people? The piece of land? The Israeli government? With God's chosen people? (Spoiler: that's every person who follows Jesus; we've all been grafted in.)
I have so many thoughts about this.
We visited Qumran and then the Dead Sea,
but the pictures uploaded in the opposite order and I'm just going to be ok with that,
because both places brought such joy!
Mallori and I were giddy with our first look at this Biblical and historical place:
A Dead Sea mudbath!
Oh, precious Mallori. My Battle Buddy.
How I adore this girl!
I wish I had been half as spiritually mature and fearless at her age.
It's no secret that I love the water.
I love to look at it, I love to be in it.
The Dead Sea has such a high salinity that when you float in it....
you float without any effort at all.
you float without any effort at all.
There's no sinking.
There's no getting your head in, even if you want to.
All I could think was how much my Tucker (who hates water in his face) would love this place!
We made a quick stop for a picture at the Lowest Bar in the World....
now I can really say that I have friends in Low Places. :)
The Road to Qumran:
For several years now, we've read Advent stories, historical fiction written by a Jewish rabbi, and the setting of at least part of each story is in Qumran. One of the main characters who appears in each book is "Nathan of Qumran." You can only imagine the delight it was for me to be in this place that the children and I talk and learn about each year during advent.
Here's the historical significance of Qumran.
The scrolls that were found here in the 1940's verified the complete accuracy and inerrancy of Scriptures. It's an amazing place to visit!
Click on this link and scroll down to the bottom for the Archaelogical site section:
In the summer of 1947, Bedouin shepherds were pasturing their flocks near the northwestern shore of the Dead Sea. While looking for a goat that had wandered off into the cliffs, they came across a curious rock crevice. When they threw a stone into a cave opening they found, they were surprised to hear a strange echo.
They crawled inside, and in the dimness they spied large, whole jars standing on the floor. Inside the jars, they found folded pieces of leather, some of which was wrapped in cloth. That is how the secret of the Quram scrolls began to be revealed.
Once those initial scrolls were discovered and verified, extensive and very careful excavation began, nearly 900 scrolls of Scripture were discovered. Cisterns, ritual baths, cemeteries were also unearthed, along with a dining room and a scriptorium. There were other things: pottery kilns, a tower....there was clearly a community of scribes living here.
I could hardly get over being in this place!
It was so holy, and so joyful.
I took this selfie to show the kids as we read this Advent season.
I was actually here!
After Qumran and the Dead Sea, we headed toward the historical site of Zaccheus' tree.
On the way, we spotted a herd of wild camels and I talked our driver into stopping!
I LOVE these animals!!
The tree rumored to be the one Zaccheus climbed to get a better look at Jesus:
As we approached the Mount of Temptation, our driver Elias read Scripture to us.
Another cup of fresh pomegranate juice, overlooking the little town of Bethlehem.
Oh, the lavish blessing of being in this place my Lord walked.
After we returned to the hotel, we hosted Jeff Pribble, Greg and Rhoda (founders of the school), and other key leadership of Bethlehem Evangelical Academy at our hotel. It was a wonderful night getting to know these new friends and ministry partners. We ended the evening on the patio, drinking delicious mint and honey tea, reviewing our plans for the school the next day.