On the positive side, we had no schedule for the day – we were free to go wherever our hearts desired. But on the down side, it was our last day in Israel. I knew that I had to soak in ever last sight, sound, and smell that I could. Our little group of six decided the day before that we wanted to go back to the Garden Tomb to pray over each other. And conveniently enough, the Garden Tomb was just a few blocks away. About two blocks before we got to the Garden, we saw a familiar sight and just had to stop for a picture.
Arriving at the Garden Tomb is like a breath of fresh air in a bustling city. We found a quiet place in the garden, away from the other large tour groups and settled in. We spent the next hour praying over one another, listening for what God would have us pray to encourage one another. It was such a sweet time together and a wonderful way to spend the morning of our last day.
It was really hard to leave such an amazing place, but we still had some shopping to do! Just a few more blocks by feet, and we were back in the heart of the Old City. We spent some time wandering around the streets – the Muslim quarters were very quiet since they were just wrapping up their holiday (Ramadan). The Jewish quarter was also quiet since they were just starting their holiday (Rosh Hashanah). Using our maps, we found the the Christian quarter where the only open stores where that day.
In our process of finding pizza for lunch that day, we met some very interesting people with amazing stories of how God has rescued them and is working in their lives. God is still at work in the city of His chosen nation!
Eventually we had to call our shopping spree to an end and head back to the hotel – not to stay, but to pick up our bags and wait for our ride. The tour company that we traveled with arranged for us to have dinner and showers at an amazing retreat center just outside the city. This was so wonderful considering that we were about to board a plane for a 12-hour flight and we were dirty from walking around the city all day. The retreat center that we were at was more than we could have hoped. It was beautiful! The rooms were we got to clean up were so nice. The delicious meal was served in a fabulous dining room that overlooked a garden. When we finished dinner, we ran down to the outdoor garden which overlooked the city of Jerusalem. How absolutely perfect – a picture of the city at sunset. It is hard to see in a small version of the picture, but the city lights were just beginning to come on.
After a very refreshing evening, we got back into the van and headed to the airport. Since we were flying through September 10 and 11, the security was very heightened. Knowing the seriousness of the situation, it was kind of hard not to laugh as our suitcases were shooting out of the x-ray machine and catching a few seconds of airtime before skidding across the floor. And of course, I was one of the lucky ones to get selected for a random check before we even checked our baggage. Then I got to be the lucky one to get checked again with the body scanner and at the carry-on check point. But, I would rather have to go through the check points and know that the security team is doing their best, than worry about who or what is getting on the plane.
Thankfully I was able to sleep about half of the flight home, which is pretty good for me. And there were no screaming babies next to me, either! Yay for a relaxing flight home! I spent the next week trying to re-acclimate my body to the Eastern time zone.
It is so cliche’ to say it, but it truly was one of those “trips of a lifetime.” I encourage anyone to go to Israel if given the opportunity. In fact, Infusion Ministries takes a trip there almost every year. Check the website for information if you are interested. (www.infusionnow.org)
Thank you for following along in my journey through the Holy Land. I hope you enjoyed my memories and musings from my experience!