Day 5 5/21

By Reilly Reis
Today we had the amazing opportunity of hiking through the Wadi-kelt, which is located near the Wilderness of Israel. On our way to our our hike we took a historical route for part of the way. As we journeyed up the Ascent of Adumim (the historical route) it was neat ti imagine the Israelites of Biblical times traveling these same routs. The hike went through a very steep, yet beautiful canyon. On our hike we were able to see the Greek Orthodox Monastery of St. George, which happens to be one of the few monasteries that allows women to enter into it. We did not go in, but we were able to admire it from afar. It was also fascinating to see the lara cells (the caves) sporadically throughout the canyon. We learned that monks would and still do live in these cells for thirty to forty days with only the necessities. We also learned that the wilderness was used by God to bring his people closer to him. There is truly something beautiful about removing one’s self from the busyness and distractions of our fast-paced lives and solely depending on God to meet out every need. From the Wadi-kelt we took our bus to Jericho, where we looked around the ruins of Biblical Jericho and ate lunch. From Jericho we traveled to Mitzpe Danny, known as the Lookout during Biblical times. Mitzpe Danny has a stunning view of the various cities and geographical features of the land of Israel. It was exciting to look out and fund various cities both on and off our maps! We simply stood there, took it all in, and listened to stories from the Bible that took place in the cities that we had located. Physically seeing the layout and design of Israel is significantly changing the way that I read and comprehend Scripture. From Mitzpe Danny we drove to the Tel of Gezer (a Tel is a city that has been built upon layers of previously built cities). At the Tel of Gezer we were able to see remains of Canaanite and Solomonic gates. Our last stop of the day was at Nebi Samuel, which commemorates the death and burial of Samuel. The building is shared between two different religious groups. Our professor seemed to think that the Muslim mosque was located at the front of the structure and that the Jewish synagogue was toward the back of the structure. Unfortunately, we were not able to enter due to timing conflicts, but we were able to walk around and get a gorgeous view of the land! I have been continually amazed by the hospitality of many within the Israeli population. We ended our day with a lovely time of sharing, eating, and singing at the President of JUC’s apartment. The President and his wife welcome each new group with a sweet time of fellowship, which is accompanied by a plethora of delicious desserts! Their hospitality and love for Christ is inspiring! Tomorrow is Sunday and I am excited to see what these next two and a half weeks have in store for me. I have enjoyed being surrounded by Biblical scholars (professors and students); I am trying to soak up every ounce of knowledge that I can!