FINALLY. It's taken me an age, but today is the day.
For those of you wondering what I'm babbling about, let me catch you up to speed: last October-November, I traveled to Israel with my chums Jess and her family to spend two weeks in Jerusalem. Which I'm still trying to wrap my head around: I was in Jerusalem, Israel for two weeks. Goodness. We took two day trips out of the city and spent one night in Tel Aviv, but other than that we stayed right outside the Old City walls. Every day, we crawled all over that city, walking the streets and visiting historical sites and trying the most amazing Israeli food and shopping at outdoor markets and just attempting to take it all in.
Israel was unexpected in every way, not because it exceeded my expectations, but because I had no clue what to expect (okay, Payton, why don't we at least try to make some sense). What I found was a beguiling, rich country, full of life and history and delightful people and the best food ever (can we please talk about shawarma?). But the people really were my favourite. You could stop in the street or markets and talk to anyone (a breath of fresh air for this outgoing American), and everyone was so friendly and welcoming. Not to mention drop-dead gorgeous. WOW. We felt like toads. Jerusalem was such a lively, active place, always busy and always something new to see. It was a first to be immersed in a culture completely unlike everything I had ever known; observing, learning, and figuring things out every day. We even taught ourselves some Hebrew words. Some of our favourite times were in the markets, shopping, bartering, mingling, and interacting with all the people. At the end of the day, we were exhausted and our feet ached like crazy, but we were always ready to go again the next morning. There was so much to see and do and eat and experience. We saw something different every day and never ran out. Two weeks was nowhere near long enough.
In this first batch of photos, I'm sharing our first few days in Jerusalem, including the street markets of the Old City (particularly in the Christian and Jewish quarters), the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Gethsemane Gardens, the Mount of Olives, the Tomb of the Prophets (Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi), the Western Wall, and Ben Yehuda Market (you will be seeing more photos of this in later posts because we went there a lot). Several people have asked me if I ever cried or became emotional at seeing the places Jesus lived and taught. Honestly, no. But that's not to say the significance of Jerusalem didn't overwhelm me at times. Jesus lived there, my Jesus, the Jesus I call Lord. I was in His home! Walking where He walked and taught and lived. It was unbelievable. The place that felt the most "real" was the Mount of Olives; realizing its Biblical prominence, gazing at the stunning view of the Old City, seeing the thousands of Jewish graves built up the side, knowing Jesus had stood upon it many times and one day He will again. Yeah, I got chills.
part two coming soon...
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