Freeman Cebu Business

Trip to Jerusalem

BUSINESS AFTER BUSINESS - Romelinda Garces - The Freeman

Took a short trip to the Holy Land. It was worth the long stretch with nine hours to Dubai and another three to Tel Aviv. Not to mention the waits in between. It was a trip of patience and endurance. And I began to count  the fruit  of the sprit that I harvested one by one. And it started with patience.  Oh yes, we had to quell our excitement and wait patiently ‘til our flight to our adventure.

The next that I packed-in was joy. Our first stop in Israel was at Migdal. The resort we stayed in was restful in spite of the many people on holiday. The food in Selena was sumptuous with all the natural flavors. But what struck me was the serenity of the Sea of Galilee where Jesus walked on water. We could not resist touching the sand and wading in through we were totally unprepared for a swim.  The birds that flew over the waters would dip now and then to wither wash or pick some fish.  Utterly picturesque just like scenes from the movies.

From our spot, the dried mangroves stood reed-like.  Leafless and bleak.  The total landscape had a certain loneliness that I could not understand.  It dawned on me that Jesus was here.  Physically!  Alive!  And now He watches over us.  Distant, yet almost palpable.  Perhaps that was why I felt initially bereft.  Because I hoped to see Him there.  And He was there.  In the wind, in the ripples of the sea, in the buoyant flight of the birds.  Then there was peace.

The vast lands of Israel basically spoke of sand and stone.  There was a smattering of Olive trees here and there.  And the arid landscape made me wonder how they could produce vegetables larger than my head, and fruits so big and fresh and tasty!  It was awesome!  Lined up, competing with the numerous olive trees were the stately crowns of date palms.  It was in season and the trees were flourishing with fruit.  And the seas boasted of catch.  How great God’s provision!  How faithful to His promises.

In the coolness of the night, we could only gaze at the outline of Mt. Tabor.  It was imposing in size, and at daytime, like the rest of  the country, it stood in nude hues.

When we moved to visit various churches, we were treated to kindness.  In different forms.  A man, we did not know or even speak to, just approached our panting group.  Possibly recognizing our lack of breath after the arduous climb in the slopes.  Without so much as a word, he gave us bottles of water so we could be refreshed.  Kindness from a stranger.

We experienced several doses of goodness too, one of which was from our van driver, Sharon,  married to a Filipina, who  generously invited us to have barbecue in his home.  Although our schedule could not oblige, we were grateful to see God’s hand in the people He provided us so we could have a safe journey.

We travelled to Bethlehem.  Now part of Palestine.  Our Arab host from our small hotel,  Azaraya, was warm and very helpful.  Edi helped us understand the nuances of the culture as he gave us directions on where to go, what rides to take while in Palestine.

It was a treat to see the manger in the church of the nativity.  We got to touch the spot where Jesus’ makeshift crib was said to be laid.  We also had a view  of the place where Jesus was first bathed, although the latter looked deplorable as people inadvertently just threw their garbage indiscriminately in the area, compelling one of our companions to pick up a garbage bag and start cleaning.  We all had to remember this was the early path of Jesus, starting as a baby and it took a lot of self-control to press on and not lament the lack of upkeep.

Daily we crossed the border from Bethlehem to Jerusalem for the few remaining days of our trip.  We trekked to the Gethsemane Church, the Old City of Jerusalem, the Dead Sea, museums and Via Dolorosa where Jesus suffered sorrow for our sake.  The roads were narrow and perhaps then, the stonework at our feet was not as polished as it is now.  Barefoot, He must have had to endure the sharp stones and the burning heat.  No wonder His suffering is called the PASSION because it needed that great love to endure all the humiliation, and pain that was undeserved by a sinless king! Here I found love.  The empty tomb, and the indentation of Jesus’ footprint at the Ascension Chapel bear witness to the truth in Jesus’ presence here and in eternity.

There were many other sites we went to.  And I noticed that in every place, there was always a sweet smell.  The trees that grew there had different scents, and the leaves of the bushes also smelled good.  The flowers were of different shades and shapes.  Some common, some unique.  Perhaps a foretaste of Eden.

The whole journey gave us a glimpse of the strength and endurance of Christ.  As he travelled from one place to another, preaching, healing, ministering.  His endurance was long.  And in our own climbs,  I had to hang on to His hand knowing He was keeping us company as we traced His steps and made our own trip to Jerusalem.

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