Should I say I am so blessed and thankful to have this once in a lifetime opportunity to have travelled and literally walked on the lands where Jesus lived, died and ressurrected – walking where Jesus walked, where the prophets prophesized, and where the apostles lived, was thrilling beyond words. In return, I am so proud and happy to share this blessing with you thru this post (it’s been awhile tho since my last post hehehe).
Since i was a kid in my religion class (during my elementary & high school days) and read the Holy Bible laging first honors sa Religion class haha, i dreamed of going to the Holy Land. To my surprise, this dream came true when i was sent to Israel to attend a 3-week training program on agribusiness (marketing & export management- but of course am not gonna detail on this thing ) and fortunately, I had the chance to visit most significant places associated with Jesus – sacred places which I’ve only encountered in the Bible and usually seen on NGC – but now with my naked eyes (soooo amazing, unbelievable – beyond these words nga, haha). I don’t know where to begin to speak of my experiences on this trip — to talk about how much I learned, what wonderful things I saw, how spiritually emotional it was to touch, see, feel, smell all that Jesus touched, saw, felt and smelled. Each stop was filled with so much wonderful stuff that it was hard to believe that the next stop could be better– but it always was.
I’ll start with the first stop @ Mt. Precipice, Nazareth – according to Catholic tradition, the site where Jesus leaped from the hill after having been chased from the synagogue. At the top of the cliff, you can see the fantastic views of the Yizrael valley and the round-shaped Mount Tabor in the background.
I wish I could have walked also (like Jesus did) over the waters of Galillee – renowned for being the beautiful waterfront before where Jesus performed His miracles (the story of Jesus calming the stormy waters and the infamous feeding of the multitude), it has also been acknowledged in the New Testament as a lush and bountiful giver of life; a rich source of fish stock for the Israelites. Standing there I could just imagine how our Lord Jesus first proclaimed it to His disciples in Biblical times — and then a big chill went down my back, nakakakilabot talaga.
Get wet @ the Jordan River. Running from the Sea of Galilee into the Dead Sea, it was extremely important as a source of water during biblical times. Jesus came to the Jordan River to seek his own baptism from John the Baptist. The water is so calm, fresh and clean – uminom pa nga ang batangmangyan – and luckily I was able to bring home some haha (bottled water from the holy land).
A quick stop at Capernaum – where Jesus did most of His preaching and healings.
A short climb to Mount of Olives: a place of many of Jesus’ acvities; Dominus Flevit, where Jesus cried over Jerusalem; Ascension Church and The Our Father Church. Beit Faji Church, where Jesus started his ride towards Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. Gethsemani where Jesus suffered the agony in the garden right before his crucifixion.
Few places inspire such passion as Jerusalem. Its significance to Jews, Christians and Muslims endures. The Israeli capital’s major sites include the Old City, the Wailing Wall, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre (the tomb), Via Dolorosa (the way of the cross), and the Dome of the Rock- the third-holiest Islam shrine in the world. The Old City is easily explored on foot. Away from the religious sights, jazz clubs, hip restaurants, arthouse cinemas and edgy theater entertain Jerusalem’s 725,000 inhabitants and constant stream of visitors and pilgrims.
Inside the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, I kissed the stone on which Jesus’ body was laid down and was anointed after death and before entombment. At that moment, I felt a big chill went down my whole body, then tears started to fall – I cried, wala akong nasabi kundi “salamat po Panginoon”. Those were tears of joy, tears of contentment, mga luha ng pasasalamat – I felt the presence of Jesus – and I’d say this was the higlight of my trip to Jerusalem. By chance, I am now a certified Jerusalem Pilgrim.
What was different about a refreshing morning swim in a clear turquoise water of Jordan River? How about if it’s in the Dead Sea?! My Last stop — The Dead Sea – it has 37% salt in it or it is 6 times saltier than other seas, so we’re absolutely buoyant and float up (nakalutang kahit hindi marunong lumangoy, haha astig!). The Dead Sea is 1,200 ft. below sea level – the lowest point on Earth.
We travelled on to the northern edge of the Dead Sea and the Judean Desert and beyond, had a glimpse of a greener Jordan Valley and Jericho.
Unfortunately, the group wasn’t able to have a peek on the Church of Nativity in Betlehem and also the city of Jericho while these two cities are currently under the Palestinian Government.
The knowledge of the scriptures, the events of Christ’s life, the historical sites I visited – was no less than amazing. No question was left unanswered. And everything I saw was up close and personal. I don’t know if my words will encourage you somehow to visit Israel, or maybe dream of going there someday – maybe sooner or later (maybe some of you had already been there). I would highly recommend it. It is a life changing experience.
The Gospels now have a face. I have walked in His footsteps and my memories from this trip are of a value untouched and unparalleled by money. Yet the most important thing is that we continue to walk in His footsteps, follow His teachings that will guide us to a more meaningful journey of life — that will lead us all to our ultimate destination.
“The strenght of a man consists in finding out the way God is going, and going that way.”