15 things I learned in Jordan and Israel

This summer, Brady and I joined a group from College Church of the Nazarene (Kankakee, Illinois) on a trip to Jordan and Israel. It was essentially a Vision Tour – a time to visit the sites of the Holy Land as well as pray for and bless the local pastors in both countries.

But we were the ones who were blessed.

A trip like ours (hitting ALL THE SITES in just a few days) is awesome and overwhelming all at once. You are still trying to swallow the fact that your feet are walking the same ground Jesus walked while you buzz from place to place, attempting to process the gravity of it all.

We prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane. Took a boat across the Sea of Galilee. Walked around the rubble of Jericho. Explored the beauty of Petra. We visited Madaba and watched mosaics made by hand.

I rode a camel.

I was baptized in the Jordan River. Brady stood on the steps Jesus would have ascended into the Temple. We visited the little town of Bethlehem and explored Old Jerusalem. We prayed at the Wailing Wall and sang at the Pools of Bethesda. I floated in the Dead Sea and ate falafel (but not at the same time).

We prayed with pastors and wives and their kids. We experienced a beautiful ministry to thousands of Syrian refugee families. We listened to testimonies of persecution and faith. We hung out with our brothers and sisters from across the ocean and listened to their hearts’ cry to win the world for Jesus.

I am still learning from that experience – and part of that process is writing it all down, the stories registering deep in my soul over time. There were many mind blowing, Jesus centered experiences. But I also learned some interesting, little known facts I didn’t expect to learn on my adventure to Israel and Jordan. These are JUST A FEW:

  1. Camels can kiss. It’s kinda scratchy and soft at the same time.
  2. St. Peter’s fish means with the bones. And the eye. And you’re supposed to eat it. All.

3. Sometimes you need a little help from your husband (especially when climbing an ancient aqueduct).

4.  When you’ve psyched yourself up to climb a mountain and they close the trail because “severe weather conditions,” (OR better said: you might die in the heat) just take the cable car.

5. After riding a camel, it sits down front legs FIRST. That means you almost crack your skull open if you don’t hang on. TIGHT.

6. It is COMPLETELY worth it waking up before the crack of dawn to see the sun rise over the Sea of Galilee.

7.  Singing at the Pool of Bethesda with strangers feels like you’ve always known one another in your heart.

8.  Coffee can be found anywhere. And you need it everywhere.

9. Petra exists. I had absolutely no idea about this place. And this is JUST A FACADE built to trick enemies into believing it is an ACTUAL THING. But it’s not. All that time HAND CARVING such a magnificent fortress. Oh, and I rode that camel.

10. Israel solidified it for me. No trip is better than one shared with your best friend.

11. There are a lot of cats.

12.  You might just need a chiropractor after riding one of these.

13.  There are thousands, millions of people who still need to know about the beautiful love of Jesus. Even right in His birthplace. And next door, in Jordan.

14. Buildings crumble, flowers fade, but the Word of the Lord will live forever.

15. There are moments in life that will forever be engrained in my memory as the ones that matter. Being baptized in the same river John baptized Jesus. By my husband. Surrounded by witnesses. Holding on to Brady, knowing we’ll be doing this worship thing in heaven. For eternity.

This doesn’t even scratch the surface of our experience this summer. There are countless stories yet to tell, but those are for another post, another day. Jesus is still teaching me about those. Isn’t that just like Him?


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