Friday, October 21, 2011

Challah, Samaria, and a night in Jerusalem!

All I can say is God blows my mind!  Once again so much has happened and I don't even know where to begin to explain all that has unfolded.  For the last week we have been celebrating Sukkot or Feast of Booths, which lasts for seven days.  It is a Jewish Festival that reminds Jews of their pilgrimage after they left Egypt.  The sukkot, tent, is a reminder of the fragile dwellings in which they dwelt in during the 40 years of wandering.  It is a time for unbridled joy as they reflect back on how God provided for  them and provides today.  Friday we made Challah before we had Shabbat.  As for the rest of the week I spent my time studying and doing homework. This last week we had our Second Temple Midterm, an LXX and MT comparison, and lots of homework due.  And then came today or more like tonight,  it was incredible and much needed.  First, after dinner we had a girls mug and muffin night.  All I can say is we are extremely blessed by the women here - Stephanie, Jael, Natalie, and Wendy.  They are incredible, so encouraging, and challenge us in many ways.  It was the perfect way to start an amazing night.  After that twenty-one of us headed to Jerusalem on a Sherut to celebrate the last day of Sukkot.  I don't even know how to describe what took place, but in short we ended up going to a Torah party.  The middle of the streets had men singing and dancing with unbridled joy around the Torah.  Later on some of the boys found an entrance to the Ramparts, which allows you to walk around the wall overlooking the valleys.  We walked along the Southern wall facing the City of David and the Mount of Olives.  It was a view I will never forget as the surrounding hills were lit up.  The ambience of the evening was a perfect setting for being on top of the wall and looking out over the City of David.  I couldn't help but be filled with excitement and joy.  I have the shivers just thinking about it and how incredible God is.  On a completely different note earlier in the day I was doing homework for Land and Bible and I read Luke 5:1-11, Jesus calls the first disciples.  In verse 10 Jesus says to Simon who was a fishermen.."Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men."  When I read this all I could picture was the relationship of fishing and witnessing.  Fishing in a way is a good example of what witnessing is like.  Growing up I would go fishing.  Every fishermen knows you have to have a pole, bait, and fish to catch.  If I wanted to catch a fish I had to take the pole and the bait and cast the line.  I picture this as God is holding the pole, which is me, and the bait is his word.  It is not me that will lead others to Christ, but God.  God can use me though just as a fishermen uses a pole to catch the fish.  The bait is key.  What good is a pole without the bait.  To use the bait properly Christians must dive into God's word and learn the truth to share with others.  Don't be satisfied with just knowing enough to get by.  When you are fishing over time the bait falls off.  How strong are you rooted in God's word.   There are so many lost souls out there waiting to hear the truth.  Are you willing to allow God to use you?  When he calls do you only allow him to cast the line so far as long as you are comfortable?  Allow Him to cast the line where he pleases and as far as he please,  be grounded in his word, and the catch will not be a disappointment.  Don't be afraid...God is holding the pole, he is holding you, and he has giving his word to you as bait.  The question is are you resisting and using the bait to its fullest?  Something to think about.  James 4:14  "Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow.  You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away."

Well it is 2:00am and I need to get some sleep.  Surprisingly I am not too tired right now mainly because I have much on my mind.  Today I have one class and then Saturday I am going to Galilee for a whole week and when I get back I get to see my Parents and The Browns, which I couldn't be more excited for!!!  I pray you all have a great week and challenged yourselves to grow closer to your Lord.

Some of these photos are from past weeks that I got from other friends cameras.   Anyway this  photo was in a cave at Beth Shemesh in the Sorek Valley. 

Kayla, Lydia, and I on Yom Kippur when the freeway was shut down.

On top of Gath looking out towards the Mediterranean Sea

Making Challah for Shabat!

Laurel, Kayla, and I and our butterfly

Our finished product :)  It was amazing 

Me, Mollie, and Kayla at Shabbat!  God has been so good in blessing me with these amazing girls.  

Psalm 127:3-5 "Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward.  Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one's youth.  Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them!  He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gate."
Proverbs 31  "She puts her hands to the distaff, and her hands hold the SPINDLE."

Me and Natalie, one of the IBEX staff.  We are going to Switzerland and Barcelona together with Kayla for our travel studies break.  I can't wait!
I love Jerusalem! 
At Ben Yehuda street.  Behind us the Men are celebrating Sukkot by singing and dancing - Unbridled Joy
                                In the Jewish Quarters in Jerusalem.  We followed them to a Sukkot/Torah Party. 

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The Shephelah, Yom Kippur, and Erev Sukkot

      The last two weeks has been a whirl wind.  I am continuing to soak up new information and feel as if I don't know where to hold more.  Its amazing and overwhelming at the same time.   The following is a brief synopsis of  the last fourteen days: last Wednesday (Oct 5) and today we went on two Shephelah trips.  The Shephelah, also known as the foothills, is the buffer zone between the hill country and the coastal plain.   We visited the Sorek, Elah, and Guvrin Valleys.  The Sorek Valley is where Samson spent much of his life and the Elah Valley is where David killed Goliath.  Within these Valleys we visited sites such as Beth Shemesh which is in the area that Samson killed many Philistines with just the jawbone of a donkey, Azekah where the Philistines encamped before the battle of David and Goliath, Tel Goded where we explored caves carved into chalk by the Jewish people during the 2nd Jewish Revolt to hide from the Romans, Maresha which may have been the hometown of the prophet Micah (Micah 1:1),  Lacish which Rehoboam fortified Sennacharib sieged and Joshua smote, Hirbet Qeiyafa which may be the site known as "two gates" (1 Sam 17:1),  Gath which is the home of Goliath, Caves of Adullam where David fled from Saul and hid (1Sam 22:1-4), and Gaza which was a Philistine city.  In between the two Wednesday we celebrated Yom Kippur, which is the Day of Atonement for Jewish people.  It is a solemn day centered around repentance.  Jewish custom is to fast (which we did as well) and remain home.  Due to their customs the freeways are empty accept for a few arab cars.  Because of this on friday night we went to the main highway and took pictures.  You can imagine it by thinking of what it would be like if Las Angeles closed the 5 freeway for a holiday, pretty crazy.  On Saturday we had men and women's bible study, prayed during the afternoon, fasted all day, and had huge dinners at the staffs houses.  Overall it was a great experience.  Tuesday (Oct 11)  we went into Jerusalem with our Jewish Thought and Culture teach, Ariel, to celebrate erev Sukkot.  Sukkot is the feast of booths and lasts for eight days.  It is a time of celebration, after repentance, and prayer for rain.  We went during the evening.  It was incredible.  The closest holiday I can compare it to is Christmas.  They have a Sukkot fair where they come to get palm branches and the etrog.  At the end of the night we went to the very Orthodox Jewish neighborhood.  It was a little scary as they are not welcome to visitors.  While walking the street I couldn't get over the sense of community they have.  I am very fascinated by their way of life and had lots of thoughts on my mind after.  On top of all that I had many classes,  papers, and a huge midterm.  I am definitely exhausted and am ready for one free day which won't happen till December 11 when we are done :)  Last thing before I get back to tons of homework, here are some verses that have made me think about my walk with God and life in general.  I hope they impact you as well in one way or another.  John 7: 17-18 "If anyone's will is to do God's will, he will know whether the teaching is from God or whether I am speaking on my authority.  The one who speaks on his own authority seeks his own glory; but the one who seeks the glory of him who sent him is true, and in him there is no falsehood."  Proverbs 19:27 " Cease to hear instruction, my son, and you will stray from the words of knowledge."   1 Corinthians 15:10 "But by the grace of God I am what I am..."  Just some words to think about.  I pray you all have a blessed week. 
The Sorek Valley behind us where Samson spent much of his life.

Samson killed 1000 men with the jawbone of a donkey (Judges 15:14-17)

I am on top of Azekah with the Elah Valley behind me.   The philistines encamped between Azekah and Socoth on the right side while the Israelites were encamped on the left side.  David killed Goliath in this valley (1 Sam 17).

Going into the cave at Tel Goded.  I still can't believe I did this and didn't get claustrophobic.  We were literally crawling on our bellies and then came to a huge room.  Once inside there were many tunnels branching off.  It was amazing. 

Before this picture we were in a bigger room and then squeezed through a tunnel and came into this room.   The tunnels were incredible and it was so fun to explore.  Sometimes we would get stuck and have to back out because of how skinny the tunnels got.  There are more pictures on facebook of guys from our group coming out of tunnels, im still not sure how they did it. 

I was definitely dirty afterwards but absolutely loved it and won't to go back and explore some more. 

This was an old stadium .  It was sobering in light of the fact that it was where Christians were martyred for there faith. 

This was at Hirbet Qeiyafa, the city of "two gates."  These girls are two of my really good friends here.  Rebecca, on the right gave us all nicknames.  Rebecca is Grasshopper, I am Sensei, and Kayla is Dragonfly.  Not sure how she came up with the names but we have fun with them. 

The Elah Valley

Erev Yom Kippur (The eve of the Day of Atonement)

It was really fun running up and down the main highway, usually it is packed with cars.

This is at the top of Gath.  From here you can see the four other  Philistine cities on the coast (Ekron, Ashdod, Ashkelon, and Gaza)  The ark of the covenant was taken to these cities when it was captured by the Philistines (1 Sam 5).

This is at the Caves of Adullam where David hid from Saul. 

My bus buddy for the day - Lydia (She is amazing)

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

A Cave opposite our Moshav

Nahal Parat Hike

Psalm 23

Jerusalem Approaches Field Trip

Bio - majors



The Cisterns at Herodium

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Valley of Rephaim

Rosh Hashonah

The Dead Sea

My roommate Laurel 


Nahal Arugot Hike