It is hard to get to the final day. Everyone has bonded and no one wants to break up the family (except Will – who wants to get back to his girlfriend, Hannah).
So we start the final day feeling a bit sentimental. It was a beautiful crisp day and the view over the Judean hills was spectacular. Meals at our hotel, Yad HaShmona, with everyone eating together has gotten to feel normal. We have a full day ahead so we eat well and get on the bus. First stop is at the Western Wall of the Temple Mount where we go through security and make our way down to the base of the wall. Women and men separate and we approach the wall. But there is no power in the wall itself. These stones are just stones. True, this is the only permanent edifice where God chose to dwell among men, but with the perfect sacrifice of Yeshua and the tearing of the curtain between man and the Holy of Holies, God’s temple is now within each of us. We all placed prayers in the wall, prayed in the name of Yeshua and left it at that.
We visited the Southern Steps of the Temple Mount where everyone except the priests would have entered the temple. Here is one of the few places where we can be fairly certain that Jesus actually walked. There is a cleft in the rock wall where we took turns posing for a picture symbolizing God’s protection. Then we gathered and read the Psalms of Ascents, one for each of the large steps ascending to the temple. What a joy to read the songs they would have sung going into the temple! When we reached the top we prayed for eyes to be opened and hearts to be softened as we do everywhere in this land.
Next we had an appointment to visit the Rabbi’s Tunnel which runs underground along the base of the Western Wall. After absorbing much information and walking a long distance in narrow spaces, we emerged in the Muslim Quarter where we had to walk back what seemed like miles (probably only about a half mile) to get back into the Jewish quarter. Starving by now, we grabbed some lunch and coffee and then released everyone to do some shopping.
Back at Yad HaShmona, we took a photo of the group with our tour guide, Jerry, and bus driver, Shimshon, and got cleaned up for dinner. Malka and Ken joined us again and after dinner we came together for one last time of sharing and prayer. We gave our team mascot, Imree, a shirt signed by everyone. Then we held hands and gave thanks to the Lord for his faithfulness and all the ways He revealed Himself to us over the last 10 days. We gave hugs and kisses to our friends as the sun set over the Judean hills.
Tomorrow we rise at 3:30 AM to be on the bus at 4:30 and to the airport by 5:00, catching the 8:10 flight to Paris. Paris to Atlanta and then a bus ride to Knoxville. I expect to hear snoring.
These trips are like an intimate date with God. There is so much to process, so much to turn over in your mind. We will be seeing the faces of all our friends in the ministries we visited. We will never read scripture without picturing the land where the stories happened. So if you ask us to tell you all about our trip, don’t be surprised if we cannot put it into words for awhile. Thank you to all who supported the team members. We are returning with a love for Israel and all her people.