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ISRAEL : GALILEE

July 27, 2015

I haven't blogged in so long and I have a dozen things to catch up on! Last week we celebrated Pioneer Day in Utah - the day the first group of Mormon pioneers made it to Utah after their long, long trek from the Midwest. Since I'm doing my internship with Provo City's Special Events team, we had a heck of a week leading up to our huge Pioneer Day event. It was.. exhausting. And awesome. Except the part when I lost my keys and still haven't found them. Anyway, first things first I want to finish my Israel posts! And we are going out with a bang, people. This final post is all about our time in Galilee, my favorite part of the trip!

Our first night in Galilee, we dropped our luggage in our room and headed down to the beach. The water was warm and the breeze was cool. We begged our tour guides to schedule in a little extra beach time the next day, and luckily they did!

But before we could swim the next day, we had to spend some time doing something just a little more amazing. The whole family boarded this wooden boat and we road out to the middle of the water. Stefan's grandpa took advantage of the boat's speakers and played recordings of some of the scriptural events that took place on the Sea of Galilee. We heard Christ bid Peter to walk to Him on the water, we heard the Savior calm the stormy sea. When the recordings started playing you could tell they were a few years old, and I wondered if it would all be kind of cheesy. But I really enjoyed listening to those scriptural accounts knowing, knowing that those things I was hearing actually happened. And they happened right where I was! Right on that very water. That's why Galilee - the Sea of Galilee especially - was my favorite part of the trip. Throughout our trip we visited other places where we think something happened or we believe Christ did this.. Now I don't doubt anything the scriptures teach of Christ. I believe it all happened, He performed every miracle we read about and more. But so often we just can't know the exact places where the miracles took place. And that's okay, I don't need to know all the locations to know that it's real. But in Galilee, I did know. I felt it so strongly. I know Christ walked on the water and calmed it when it was raging. I know he spent time on the hills surrounding the Sea, teaching and feeding and healing those who followed Him, those He loved. And being there, feeling that, was so special to me. Every part of Galilee felt so real for me. I felt my Savior's presence there.

After the scriptural accounts we listened to Master, the Tempest is Raging.

1. Master, the tempest is raging! / The billows are tossing high! / The sky is o'ershadowed with blackness. / No shelter or help is nigh. / Carest thou not that we perish? / How canst thou lie asleep / When each moment so madly is threat'ning / A grave in the angry deep?

The winds and the waves shall obey thy will: / Peace, be still. / Whether the wrath of the storm-tossed sea / Or demons or men or whatever it be, / No waters can swallow the ship where lies / The Master of ocean and earth and skies. / They all shall sweetly obey Thy will / Peace be still; Peace be still. / They all shall sweetly obey Thy will: / Peace, peace, be still.

2. Master, with anguish of spirit / I bow in my grief today. / The depths of my sad heart are troubled. / Oh, waken and save, I pray! / Torrents of sin and of anguish / Sweep o'er my sinking soul, / And I perish! I perish! dear Master. / Oh, hasten and take control!

The winds and the waves shall obey thy will: / Peace, be still. / Whether the wrath of the storm-tossed sea / Or demons or men or whatever it be, / No waters can swallow the ship where lies / The Master of ocean and earth and skies. / They all shall sweetly obey Thy will / Peace be still; Peace be still. / They all shall sweetly obey Thy will: / Peace, peace, be still.

3. Master, the terror is over. / The elements sweetly rest. / Earth's sun in the calm lake is mirrored, / And heaven's within my breast. / Linger, O blessed Redeemers! / Leave me alone no more, / And with joy I shall make the blest harbor / And rest on the blissful shore.

The winds and the waves shall obey thy will: / Peace, be still. / Whether the wrath of the storm-tossed sea / Or demons or men or whatever it be, / No waters can swallow the ship where lies / The Master of ocean and earth and skies. / They all shall sweetly obey Thy will / Peace be still; Peace be still. / They all shall sweetly obey Thy will: / Peace, peace, be still.

After a lot of fun swimming during the middle of the day (AKA Stefan dunking me without permission, the me trying my hardest but obviously never succeeding at getting him back) we visited the Mount of Beatitudes. We found some benches in the shade and took turns reading passages from the Sermon on the Mount. Seriously some of the most beautiful, simple, powerful scriptures. I loved hearing just about everyone in our group take a turn to read their favorite verses - kids, adults, those I hear speak openly about religion often, and some I don't. It was a beautiful experience, and I loved sharing it with Stefan's family. We also sang some beautiful hymns there, which extra special performances by the younger kids. 

That night we wandered down to the beach again. As it grew darker and later, people started heading back inside to play games or put kids to bed. After a while it was just me, Stefan, and some of his teenage boy cousins sitting on the shore. I felt a no girls allowed heart to heart talk coming on, so I went and played games for a while. When I went back to look for Stefan all the boys were still there talking, so I sat further up the beach by myself and enjoyed hearing nothing but the sound of the waves. It's no secret at all that I really enjoy, and actually really need, alone time pretty frequently. During a big family reunion like this I didn't expect to get much of it, so this hour to myself on the beach was a special surprise. It was the perfect chance to reflect on everything I'd felt. It was the perfect ending to a perfect day.

On Saturday we were back at church, this time with the small but mighty group in Galilee! On our way there we stopped at the Jordan River where lots of people we know were baptized. Everyone kept mentioning how Stefan's mom and some of her siblings were baptized there, and at one point Stefan goes, "Also Jesus." Haha, yes. Let us not forget! But, seriously, how cool would it be to be baptized where Christ was?

At church our family filled the room and played a big role in the meeting. Some highlights included hearing the Sacrament prayer in Hebrew, seeing the number of hymnbooks in several different languages on hand, and listening to both of Stefan's grandparents share messages from the pulpit with a huge floor to ceiling window overlooking the Sea of Galilee behind them. After church we saw the valley of Armageddon and visited the kibbutz where "one of the greatest romances of all time" began! Stefan's grandparents met and fell in love there, and several people we met on the kibbutz that day remembered them! Next we took a walk through Caesarea, then headed to Tel Aviv for dinner and a nap before heading back to the airport. WHAT A TRIP. AMEN.


.   .   .   .   .

Sometimes I still can't believe I was fortunate enough to go on this trip! It truly is something I never dreamed I would do, and I know I will be thanking those who made it possible until the day I die. While I can't deny that my love for, and testimony of, Jesus Christ grew exponentially throughout this incredible trip, I also can't help but remember the words of our living prophet, Thomas S. Monson: 

"We need not visit the Holy Land to feel Him close to us. We need not walk by the shores of Galilee or among the Judean hills to walk where Jesus walked. In a very real sense, all can walk where Jesus walked when, with His words on our lips, His spirit on our hearts, and His teachings in our lives, we journey through mortality. I would hope we would walk as He walked - with confidence in the future, with an abiding faith in His Father, and a genuine love for others."

2 comments :

Jake said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

While I never have visited the Holy Land, my testimony is always strengthened when I read first hand accounts from people who have been there. Thanks for sharing your experiences and insights.

Joel Galbraith said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

In the shot above the arabic hymn book, I'm in the window (white tower) taking a picture of you...taking a picture of me...just so you know.

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