{area of samaria}

Last week I went to the area of Samaria. I loved this area because the whole time I thought of the Samaritan woman at the well-Jacob’s well. This is one of my favorite interactions that Jesus has as this is not culturally acceptable with the Jewish people. But the gospel is transcendent. A man approaching a woman, from an area that is hated by the Jews. Yet Jesus proceeds with the conversation to show her the truth and she repents and is saved.
We did go to Shiloh which is the location of the tabernacle during the time of Hannah-where she prayed and the Lord granted her a son-Samuel (1 Samuel2). It was cool to be on this hill top and be able to see the surrounding areas-it was a clear(ish) day so I could see vineyards and the other towns and see how the people would all come up to the tabernacle and worship the LORD there.
We went into an area that Samaritans still live in today. There are very few of them, but they are definitely still in the land of Israel. Bill Schlegel-the teacher that is so smart and knows so much about Israel- took us to a place where the Samaritans still practice sacrifices today. There was a large platform where they all would gather. Then the sheep are led to the slaughter-or the ditch which catches the blood- and then roasted on a big pit then eaten by the people. So in essence, they sacrifice for their sins and then have a party, aka: bbq.
THEN we went to one of my favorite spots: Mount Gerizim. From this mountain top, I could look down onto Jacob’s well-where Jesus led the Samaritan woman to the truth-to Himself! On the opposing side of this mount is Mount Ebal. The Israelites were to give blessing on Mount Gerizim and cursing from Mount Ebal from Deuteronomy 28. AND THE COOLEST THING OF IT ALL: IT WAS RAINING AS WE WERE STANDING ON THE MOUNT OF BLESSING!!!! Rain is the greatest blessing of all time to the people of Israel. It was super cool. I could see for a moment Jacob’s Well-which is now a town-but we could see the clouds roll into the valley and then release the rain. It is definitely one of my favorite places that we have been to during this trip.
Funny Story:
During our group time on Saturday Night, we played Battle of the Sexes-of course us girls won-but we played a roommate game of questions. Now, I love Beatrice and I think I know about her and I thought, ya, she’s gotta know a lot about me. SO the way the game worked was like the Couple Game-so Bea was asked questions and answered as I would have answered-but I was out of the room. So she answered and I came back in and I thought, yes, we’ve got this! But then it came to the question: “What does Jenna miss the most from home?” And I thought one or two things. And recently I’ve really been missing donuts. What can I say, I love me a good maple donut. I’ve been pinning them on pinterest for the past couple days. ANYWAY- it came to my turn to answer and I blurt out “DONUTS”. Bea turned to me and said, “What?! You miss your mom!” LOL don’t get me wrong, I definitely miss my mom-especially since it’s her bday today. But I can talk to her and see her-I can’t eat an all American donut. Then the next day, Bea went to the mall and got me an Israeli donut-she’s so thoughtful. It wasn’t quite the same, but it was quite delicious.

GALILEE!

I AM IN GALILEE! THE PLACE WHERE JESUS WALKED AND TALKED AND SHOWED HIS AWESOMENESS!

I have seen so much and there is so much to say.

I have visited:

  • Sepphoris (capital during Jesus’ youth)
  • Tiberias
  • Gath-hepher (hometown of Jonah)
  • Cana (possible place-probably not the real one, but maayyybee)
  • Mt Arbel (where we could see the entire Sea of Galilee-it was a cliff)
  • Kursi (traditional place where the demons into the swine)
  • Capernaum
  • Tabgha (place where Jesus taught from a boat and a mount close where He gave the Beatitudes)
  • Hazor
  • Tell-Abel beth Maacah
  • Tel-Dan
  • Caesarea Philipi
  • Mt. Hermon (transfiguration of Jesus)
  • Golan Heights (where we could see Syria-and read the conversion of Paul)

The place we are staying at is the only resort on the sea of galilee. As much as you would think that there is a built up town or city, there is really only one city-Tiberias and there is a resort in En Gev-where we are staying. It is just lovely weather. The water is warmer than the ocean. The food is delicious and I am really thankful for the coffee as it is good every morning. The winds do pick up in the evening, but it is never a cold wind.

Funny story: my window latch broke and I couldn’t close my window which was a bummer because the sand was coming in the window and makin a mess! It was nice during the day, but at night-it needed to close. So I was trying to close it but it wouldn’t shut. I thought maybe, I’m just an idiot, so I asked Alex-and she couldn’t close it either. So we walked over to reception and got a maintenance guy to come over and look at my window. He kindly told me that nothing could be done tonight-no way-shocker. So he said he would glue my window shut. I thought, ok fine, I don’t really care. So he came back into my room with a roll of duct tape-green duct tape-and taped my window shut. Moral of the story: College Life is so real life-macaroni and cheese and duct tape always fixes the problem.

Galilee…well kinda…

Yesterday started my trip to Galilee!

We haven’t quite made it to our destination quite yet, but we are getting there!

We have already been to a lot of places, so I’ll just do a highlight of a couple, or all of them.ok.sweet.

We would have been able to get there in a couple hours, but we took an amazing detour onto the Coastal Region of Israel.

Our first stop was in Aphek. It is mentioned in 1 Samuel 4:1-13. This is the place where the Ark of the Covenant was captured by the Philistines. There is currently a Turkish fortress ruins that are standing there. And there is a park right next to it and I’m pretty sure the trees were eucalyptus, which are totally my favorite!

Caesarea Maritime was our next stop. It was here that I could only think of family as we passed a Coal Generating Station which was on the coast. It only made me think of my dad, who transformed my thinking of them from just being ugly pipe things in the ground, to stacks-generating station-a form of getting power to the city. I love my dad.

We sat in a theater that had been reconstructed to look like what would have been in Herod’s day-at least during one of the Herod’s day…anyway, this city is actually called “Little Edom” due to the amount of god-worship that took place here. We read through Acts 10-when Peter had his vision in Jaffa, then went to Caesarea and witnessed to Cornelius-showing proof quickly that the gospel is not just for Jews, but for all man.

THERE IS SO MUCH THAT HAPPENED HERE!

But my favorite is the testimony of Paul in Acts 23, 24 &26. He is imprisoned and fearless to share the gospel with the highest government official. Preaching the truth of the work that the Lord is capable of doing-saving the lost man to be found. Praise the Lord!

Megiddo: Judges 1:27-28. Today is pretty much a slab of dirt that is higher than the lower Jezreel Valley which makes it nice to see the surrounding country. A lot happened here, and it was cool to see all the layers of the people groups that have lived in this one spot.

It was really cool to see the Jezreel Valley as it is a large agricultural area, filled with different orchards and crops. Kinda like the mid-west, but much better weather.

Mt. Carmel: 1 Kings 18: 16-46. It was surreal to read this story and think about what was going on in the mind of Elijah and those prophets of Baal. And we could see the Kishon River where the prophets were taken to be killed. Through this story, it straight up tells about God, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.” Plus it was really amazing to see all the trees that we passed to get there and it all the agricultural metaphors make so much more sense. Its amazing. I am loving it.

Tell-Jezreel: 1 Kings 21:1-29. Ahab and Jezebel-what a mixed up couple! But it shows the reality that there is truly, nothing new under the sun-in regards to woman being so strong-headed. She definitely “wore the pants” of the relationship. But amazing to see how God is a sucker for repentance. When Ahab repents and sees the wrong of what was done, the Lord allows the prophecy that was placed on his head to be lifted, yet Jezebel was still going to be killed and their son as well. It was Jehu who truly put an end to Baal worship-yet he still worshiped as his Jeroboam II, which was not a manner that was honoring to the Lord at all.

Then we stayed in the Herod Valley. Literally right next to the spring, Gibeon Spring, at the foot of Mt. Giboa.

Today, we visited the spring where Gideon took his men to get his 300 men. The 300 men who would show that it was only God who was truly winning the battles for the Israelites.

We went to Beth-Shan-which is a huge ruin and active tell-excavation site and read 1 Samuel 31. It was at this place where Saul’s death occurred and his head was hung. Today it is a really cool place where we could see a 2nd century theater in its original shape, a bathhouse, and some old streets.

Then we got to Nazareth, which is where we are staying tonight. It is a cool modern city, it is difficult to imagine what it would be like in the day of Mary and Joseph- where there were probably only 200 people and everyone knew everyone and everything. A highlight of today was when we went to the Church of Enunciation-which is where tradition says the angel told Mary she was going to have a baby-Jesus. The Son of God! In some free time at this site, I read through Mary’s Magnificat in Luke 1:46-56-what an amazing testimony of her servant attitude. I know she probably didn’t say this in this town, but still-it’s amazing. My God is amazing. 

The place we are staying tonight is a guesthouse/hotel that is across the street from the biggest Catholic Church in the Middle East. It’s huge. I’m actually looking at it right now as I am on the roof of my room, typing this blog. What a beautiful thing to go into this place and rejoice at the work of the Lord that He had done through His Son. The work He has done through His people in the Old Testament. My God is FAITHFUL!

I’m doing well-this week is going to be crazy, and there is going to be information coming out my ears, but I’m excited for the places we are going. I am a little home sick, but only when I’m not doing anything with my time, like hiking or sleeping. I am very thankful for this experience. I will literally never read the Word of God the same-Praise the Lord! Next time I’ll blog, I’ll be in Galilee!

d e a d sea

I was feeling a little down, so I went to the lowest place on Earth: the Dead Sea.

Don’t worry, I didn’t die, I just almost did.

The purpose of yesterday’s field trip day was to see the Ascent of Ziz, En Gedi, and the Nahal’s Arugot & David. This geographical region was important for a lot of different situations, but the two that I clearly remember were about Jehoshaphat and David. The Lord blessed Jehoshaphat in this area by delivering him from his enemies as described in 2 Chronicles 20. We talked about the different time David was able to kill Saul, yet didn’t. It was cool to read the account of David in an area that could have been the place, as there were caves and I could see how David really did have a good chance and opportunity to kill the one that had been seeking to kill his own life for so many years.

There was a lot of hiking. And on the first part of the hike, there were some pools and a waterfall or two that we jumped in and that was always refreshing-as it did surprise me as to how hot it was so close to the Dead Sea. It was hot. But it makes me understand all the better as to the metaphor of “living water” and the importance of water to a people group and how sweet water is-Agua Dulce {my Spanish of the day}.

At the end of the day, we finally got to the Dead Sea-and it’s not quite what I thought it was going to be like. It’s more like a salty lake. You can see across to the other side and OBVIOUSLY there was no movement in the water. The water is really oily, I guess, from all the minerals over time. What’s crazy is that despite the saltiness, there are fresh springs going into the sea all the time. Weird. And the mud is actually really gross-but it does wonders to the skin-my hands-SO SOFT! And after a while, the water really get to ya and burns. Plus the smell of sulfur is undeniable. BUT it was super crazy to float and not have to struggle to float. It was hilarious as you could be upright and still be floating, just bobbin in the Dead Sea.

I am thankful for the fact that as we were going down one of the steeper sides of the hike, I was wearing my backpack and I just stumbled a little, and my friend quickly grabbed my backpack-literally had my back. I wouldn’t have fallen, but it was a sweet encouragement that the people I am here in Israel with aren’t just fellow students, but friends. {so cheesy, but so true!} I am thankful for the fact that I haven’t gotten injured, just a nasty spider bite on my foot which makes me want to rip off my foot, but I’m just being patient so that I can turn into spiderwoman first.

I am stoked for several reasons: 1-bought my ticket to Rome for Travel Study. 2-we leave for Galilee for 8 days on Saturday! On the flight here, I sat next to an Israeli person who told me that Galilee is the one place you must go, supposedly it is beautiful. Yeah-I’m excited about that! OH yeah, plus being where Jesus’ main ministry was. That’s cool too.

oh little {lowly} town

I went this past Wednesday-FIELD TRIP DAY- to Bethlehem, Herodian, Tekoa, and Hebron

This trip was really interesting, as we passed from Israeli controlled cities into Palestinian controlled cities.

Our first stop was in Bethlehem-which is still a good depiction of the original city. Originally, the city was nothing beautiful, just a city in Israel that Joseph was from. And today, it hasn’t been made into this city inlayed with gold, it is a city that was having a garage sale at the top of the city and has a Catholic church built on top of the place where Jesus was born-thanks to Constantine’s Mom-Helena. It has some cool architecture, but really, it doesn’t have a whole lot going for it.  As we passed into the city, we stopped at the separation wall that literally separates Bethlehem (under Palestinian rule) from the rest of the country, in essence. On the Palestinian side, there is a lot of graffiti that is favor of peace and wanting to be at peace with Israel, yet they are the ones who were hostile in the first place-it is quite ironic.

We got to the church and read Luke 2:1-8. It was crazy to stand and read and think about what happened in this city so many years ago-it’s a real event at a real place. One aspect that I love is that the Magi, Gentiles, came and worshipped Jesus, which is only recorded in the gospel of Matthew chapter 2.  And here are some misconceptions of the birth of Jesus that we too often don’t see as the text doesn’t explicitly say-yet we traditionalists just go with what has been said over the past 2000 years:

  • “Inn”-it is more accurately translated as guest house-there was no room in the guest house.
    • Therefore-there is no large angry innkeeper
    • There is no mention of animals
    • Joseph and Mary did not arrive late, they were actually probably living in the city for a long time before the census was happening as it says, “And while they were there”. Some even go to say that they traveled there far before she was even showing dramatically that she was pregnant.
    • We don’t really know if Jesus was really born at night-we assume that because of the Shepherd’s being told by angels at night.

I had never thought about some of these things before!

The city was nothing of beauty-it was made beautiful because of the fact that God sent His Son, Jesus to be born as a baby to a young, poor couple, placed in a feeding trough. I love how God made Jesus my example and how I can see His humility from literally the beginning to the end of His human life.  

The irony is that one of the next stops was where Herod the Great built a great kingdom for his name to be exalted and be made great. He was a sick man who was willing to do anything and everything to make his name exalted and made beautiful. He had to be named King of the Jews-which was SUCH a threat Jesus was BORN King of the Jews.

Herod did everything he could to grasp power. Jesus found His equality with God nothing to be grasped {Philippians 2:6}

We then stood in field just East of Jerusalem and read Luke 2:8-20-the account of the Shepherd’s hearing of the birth of Jesus. And we also talked about other things that took place in the fields of Bethlehem- David, Shepherds, and Ruth & Boaz. Again-humble beginnings and stories of real live people that God used for His glory.

While we were standing there, all I could think of was the song, “Humbly thyself in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up.”

We went to Tekoa where the prophet Amos is from and we stood in another field looking at the city and valley, and read Amos 6 which talks about the fact that it’s when things are going well that the people can become numb, desensitized to fact that it is the LORD who is doing the work-not them. And it is so often that I find myself in this same position. I don’t want to become desensitized to my sin and the sickness of this world even when things in my life seem to be going well- it’s all for His glory {Romans 11:36}.

And we also went through the amazing story of Jehoshaphat in 2 Chronicles 20. We were overlooking a valley of olive trees which Bill, our teacher, told us could be a possible location for the Valley of Baracha- The Valley of Blessing. The place where Jehoshaphat led his troops, led by the choir, to gather the spoils from their enemies that were originally trying to destroy Judah, but ended up killing each other-the Ammonites, Edomites, and Moabites. The Lord protects His people yet again.

Our last main stop was Hebron.

This was huge as it has been closed off to the general public for ages, it has only been the past couple years that our program has been able to go to this city as it is under Palestinian control. I’m pretty sure only Muslim people were allowed to go in and out for the longest time-not super confident in that, but I do know that the number of Christians that have actually visited Hebron is very few.

What makes this city great is that it is the city of the Patriarchs. The tombs of: Rebekah, Leah, Isaac, Jacob, Abraham, and Sarah. Sarah died, and Abraham bought a piece of this land to bury her in Genesis 23. It is also known as the fields of Mamre. It is the place where Abraham was visited by 3 visitors and was told that he was going to have a son-Isaac. We read through Genesis 18 &19 and my favorite part of this section, “Is anything too hard for the LORD? At the appointed time I will return to you, about this time next year and Sarah shall have a son” (Genesis 18:14). SNAP! I sat close to the place where the LORD put His name “on the line” through Abraham and proves Himself faithful through Isaac.

We went and visited the tombs where they think the different people are laid- Abraham, Jacob, Leah, and Sarah are located in what is now a Catholic church. And Isaac and Rebekah are in a Muslim mosque-which we were allowed to go into as long as us, girls, put on those cloak like things and all of us took off our shoes. It was definitely an experience. I felt like an elvish girl from Lord of the Rings.  

Then we stopped on the side of the road to buy some HUGE grapes-which were delicious and only made me think of John 15-what a beautiful picture of Jesus-especially as grapes are a big deal around these parts. PLUS it was crazy to see how the vines grow so well in rocky terrain- I don’t know what they are doing, but they are doing a great job-Dad-we should be able to grow these grapes! Hahaha but then again, SCV isn’t quite the “Promised Land” J

I’m doing well-thankful for the package I got from my parents today-Monday-as I was literally missing the little things-like goldfish and Oreos and gum and some of my striped shirts. AND I was really missing the feeling of blow dried hair-so I improvised. I set my fan on the highest setting-and within 30 minutes-voila, I had dried hair and it felt great! Plus no heat damage! *win-win-win situation*

Last week I had a couple tests which were difficult, but I’m getting back into the whole studying thing. Don’t worry mom, I’m staying on top of my reading! I am loving the people that are here-making friends and having some great gospel conversations and also laughing with each other. I have been so encouraged by the girls here and even through emails from back home. Thank You! On Tuesday mornings, we have girls Bible Study lead by the teacher’s wives and 2 female IBEX staff-and we split into small groups and that has been a sweet time of fellowship, prayer, and encouragement.

OH and I’ve definitely been missing my youth group girls TREMENDOUSLY! Praying for you girls!!!!

Bea has definitely helped me just laugh. One of my favorite Bea quotes of the week, “The fan is squirting air into my mouth!”