Israel: Following in the Footsteps of Jesus

Garden of Gethsemane on the Mount of Olives

Both anticipation and trepidation filled my heart as we climbed aboard our motor coach that morning. What would it be like to sit in the Garden of Gethsemane or to walk along the Via Dolorosa? Would it be so crowded with tourists, so cluttered with tacky souvenirs that any sense of the sacred would be lost? Oh no, beloved. Two thousand years later, the Lord’s sweet fragrance still tinges the air.

Garden of Gethsemane on the Mount of Olives

Though many travelers are there to check off their must-see list and snap photos, other pilgrims come with Bibles in hand and earnest expressions on their faces, longing to encounter the Christ anew.

Crossing paths with visitors from all over the world means enjoying a heady mix of languages, cultures, and ethnic groups, which the aptly named Church of All Nations on the Mount of Olives celebrates.

Church of All Nations, Jerusalem

A short journey brought us inside the walls of the Old City of Jerusalem, and we begin the slow walk up the Via Dolorosa—the Way of Suffering.

Via Dolorosa

More than once we brushed away tears, especially as we reached each Station of the Cross and thought about the Lord’s agonizing journey. In one small chapel someone in our group began softly singing, “We Are Standing on Holy Ground.” Indeed.

One of the Many Churches along the Via Dolorosa

The afternoon ended on the steps of the Church of St. John the Baptist in Ein Karem, where I taught on Mary visiting Elizabeth from Luke 1:39-45, then we walked on to Mary’s Spring as the sun was setting on another eye-opening day in Jerusalem.

Mary's Spring

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Israel: Exploring Jerusalem’s Old City Market

We spent a bright, blue-sky day in Old Jerusalem. Not sure how it’s possible, but everything in this incredible city is uphill. I asked one friend back home to specifically pray no one in our group would take a tumble, knowing what a damper that would put on the trip. …

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Israel: We Become Sisters of the Mud

Our fearless leader, Bev, told us we had to bring swimsuits so we could all float in the Dead Sea. No exceptions. Bev is a small woman. Bev doesn’t get it. Plus-size women float in any sea—the Red Sea, the Black Sea, the Dead Sea, the Living Sea. Big girls …

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Israel: Meeting Deborah, Jael, and Lot’s Wife

Learning about Deborah and Jael on Mount Tabor

The morning sun was high and so were our spirits as our vans climbed the slopes of Mount Tabor. Of course, we had to shop while we waited for the vans to arrive. The woman running the scarf stall was so grateful for our business, she presented me with an apple from her …

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