While walking the streets of the Holy Land, we saw constant reminders of what our Savior has done for us. He healed the sick, calmed the storms, and rose from the grave in locations that we were able to see with our own eyes!
The experience of visiting Israel is hard to explain. Reading about the locations and towns in the Bible seems to transform these areas into fairy tales in our minds. It seems to create this mystical sense about the locations. Then you arrive in a town such as Nazareth or Galilee or Jerusalem and you grasp the reality of these locations; it really becomes a special experience. The students would constantly be heard saying "I can't believe I am actually here?!" What a Blessing it is to have had this amazing experience at such a young age. We hope and pray that this experience impacts the way they read the Bible for the rest of their lives.
The majority of this blog will be our students using their own words to describe these incredible places and the significance this trip has had on their lives.
Sea of Galilee
“It was surreal to be able to be on the Sea of Galilee where Jesus had performed so many miracles. It was our first site at the beginning of the trip and it was also one of the sites where I felt the Spirit so strongly. God told me to ‘Relax and listen. To quiet myself, no longer worry about my future and to no longer give people control over my happiness, to give it all to Him.’” -Melissa
“I began to take in all the sights and tried to wrap my head around the fact that my savior walked on that water. I took out my journal and started to write down my feelings. I was in awe. I was so moved to think about the fact that Jesus calmed these waters. It brought tears to my eyes. I was so grateful to be there in Israel.” … “While I was on that boat God felt more real to me than he ever has.” - Miranda
Mt. of Beatitudes
“As soon as I came in the door [of the chapel] I felt moved to my knees to pray. I found a bench and began to pray for peace for the world and that the violence would stop and that people would just understand the peace of Jesus. I felt a presence of peace and love unmatched in the other sites we visited during our trip.” - Seth
Dome of the Rock
“I look back and think of this place frequently because there started a sense of urgency. An urgency to reach the lost, and go after the billions of people looking to these things that hold no truth any longer, or never did in the first place. I finally realized the importance of Jesus, and the want to have relationship with us that he made such an epic sacrifice for us while standing on Temple Mount.” - Kristen
“I picture Jesus on his knees at the spot I was standing, and weeping over the brokenness of his people just like he wept over the destruction of the Temple. That image broke me, and I broke down and cried for his people, because I felt his love for them and saw them through his eyes...That day changed the way I see the world forever. Overall, the experience I had while at the Golan Heights, made it easily one of the most impact-full places for me. ” - Josiah
“To be in such an amazing place, is such a privilege. My heart could go on about the history, the bible, and my experience because stepping into the Garden Tomb was like breathing in new life. My heart could go on about the significance of the Garden Tomb. My heart could go on forever, speaking about this place how it has encouraged me to be at peace, to accept my joy, and to receive life from God. It is a place full of impact and full of hope. The Garden Tomb could not be better described than the most peaceful and awe filling place on earth.” - Sheraiah
“There are no real words to describe what it is like seeing the Bible come to life. After you read the same stories so many times and then go to places where it actually could have happened the realness and reality comes all the more clear. It was a profound and incredible time to walk around and just experience His love and the freedom and forgiveness that His resurrection brought.” … “God is so good and even in the midst of such heartache I remembered how big He
is and great His blessings are. It really helped and gave me such a peace being in a place where Jesus could have risen for me. No matter what goes on in this life to remember how great and big our God and the strength and love He extends to us should get us through anything.” - Minda
New life is something many students who enter PackYourBags strive for and I believe that the experience of being baptized in the Jordan river, the very same as Jesus, is a moment where they are able to declare the New Life God has given them. It was truly a powerful time for each of us as we saw our teammates going down in the water, proclaiming their lives unashamedly for Christ, and coming up a new creation. It continually proves to us that God is alive and well in our students lives.
“I was baptized again in the muddy waters of the Jordan. It was not only an amazing experience, but it was also freeing . It was in front of my companions and friends that I was able to shake off the chains of fear and rejection that bound me, and move on to the greatness that our Heavenly Father has for me. Another one of my reasons was to declare that I trust God’s plans for me and not only trust his plans but I also trust Him.” - Olivia
“The day we went to the River I felt so at peace with myself, I finally felt my soul was calm. The whole let go my soul thing that people say? Well that was on my heart the entire trip and I felt my soul just finally be at peace. Going under the water was such a powerful moment for me, I have been driving for purity in all I do for the last couple months...Going under was my moment to God that I made it clear that I was going to strive for purity for the rest of my life. This was me proclaiming to Jesus that I was done with the depression and suicidal thoughts. This was me rededicating my life completely to God.” - Amber
Though we face death and sorrow on this earth we serve a RISEN Savior who has the victory. We needed this to be our anthem on this trip and God taught us that He can bring life in the midst of any situation. Nothing stopped them from choosing to continue to live a life worth living, a life that proclaims Christ, no matter the cost.
It truly was an incredible trip and a life changing experience. All we can truly say is: "God is Good!"