May 2017 – 20 South Africans together with Esté Geldenhuys departed to spend 10 days on a tour of Israel.
After arriving in the early hours of the morning the group enjoyed a hearty Israeli breakfast before driving south to the lowest place on earth – The Dead Sea with a stop along the way at Abraham’s Well in Beersheba – the place where covenants were made with Abraham and Isaac. Upon arrival at the Dead Sea the group had the rest of the day to just relax and swim or float in the water of the Dead Sea or the indoor pool in the spa of the hotel.
The next day was spent visiting Masada, a fortress, where master builder Herod had built one of his palaces. This is where 967 Jews chose freedom in death, over life as a slave but without the Torah. Only 2 women and 4 children survived the tragedy to tell the story. The next stop for the day, was Ein Gedi to enjoy nature in an area where King David at times had to hide out against the prosecution of King Saul. Finally the group visited Qumran where a very significant discovery was made in the years of 1940 – 1950. This is where the Dead Sea Scrolls were found in clay pots. These scrolls were written in Biblical times.
The next few days were spent in the north of the country touring the sites around the Sea of Galilee and even further north. One of the highlights was a visit to Nazareth Village taking them back to the life and times of people who lived 2000 years ago.
A visit to Yardenit, a modern baptismal site in the Jordan River where those who wished were baptised, the Mount of Beatitudes, Tabgha, the site where the first multiplication of fish and bread took place and Capernaum where Peter lived were just a few of the places visited. One of the highlights was a boat ride on the Sea of Galilee. While in the region the group also travelled further north to Caesarea Philippi and the Golan Heights.
When it was time to leave the Galilee area the group travelled via Megiddo, with its beautiful view of the valley of Armageddon and then to Mount Carmel where Elijah stood firm against the 400 prophets of Baal. The last stop before arriving in Jerusalem was Caesarea, the ancient city built by Herod at the Mediterranean Sea.
The next 4 days in Jerusalem were spent visiting Bethlehem, Shiloh, Yad Vashem and, of course, the Old City of Jerusalem. A visit was made to The City of David with its underground network of water tunnels some of which was built by King Hezekiah and the visit included walking some of these tunnels as well as a visit to The Davidson Museum.
One of the days in Jerusalem was dedicated to following “a Jesus route” starting on the Mount of Olives at the “Pater Noster” Church with “Our Father’s Prayer” written in all different languages before descending down the mountain on the Palm Sunday route, and on the way down, visiting Dominus Flevit – where Jesus wept over Jerusalem – and then to Gethsemane where there was time for individual prayer in the garden. Entering the Old City, the group visited the Pool of Bethesda and then walked the Via Dolorosa making a special stop at Ecco Homo.
While in Jerusalem other sites visited included St Peter in Gallicantu, where Jesus was held in captivity before His trial started, the Upper-room and the Garden Tomb. There was also time to wander around the vibrant markets in the old City and just soak up the atmosphere.
By the end of this 10 day journey, everybody in the group had bonded through sharing a life-changing, spiritual experience and they all took home memories and friendships that will last a lifetime...