israel: the april trip.

I was asked a few times if being in Israel was different knowing that we would be back to live there soon. It was. I couldn’t help thinking about my and Michael’s long-distance dating relationship and the months when I was finally able to move back to Idaho. The “long-distance” part of our relationship was coming to a close, and we intentionally prepared to not only live in the same place but to enter into a more serious layer of our relationship. We wanted to give our relationship the full chance it never got and discern (once-and-for-all) if we were going to get married. There was some nervousness, excitement, and some sadness in that preparation season for me as I was essentially preparing to leave my family. I knew that I likely would not come back- whether it was because I got married or because I was off pursuing another dream. 

I am recognizing a lot of these same feelings as we prepare for our move to Israel. I am a little nervous about living somewhere so unfamiliar to my mind, but mostly excited about living in a foreign place and getting to know the local people. I joyfully anticipate the time I’m going to spend with the Lord there. He stays the same from day to day and season to season, but I will keep changing to look more like Him. I’m looking forward to seeing how that unfolds in this new place where I will be stretched with new experiences, knowledge, and perspectives. 

In this way, our connection to Israel feels like a sort of long-distance relationship and I’m anticipating the lack of distance. This trip with the Bridge Gospel Academy students in April felt like a visit where we knew we would soon be together and our relationship would never be the same. 

This flag was spotted on the Israeli side of the Jordan River. A Jordanian flag was right on the other side!

Packing for the trip felt so easy I’d wondered if I forgot anything. Getting ready that first day went smoothly up until I looked for deodorant. Alas, I did forget one (important) item but it was the only thing I forgot, and I got the experience of shopping for deodorant in Israel- so I’d say we did pretty well! Shopping for everyday items like food and deodorant gave a sense of realness to the trip and I found myself regularly imagining what it would be like to finally live there. 

We also rented cars for this trip and dealt with Israeli numbers (three of our leaders had Israeli SIM cards in their phones to stay in touch easier). When we stayed in Jerusalem, we got to stay on the JHOP base and see the room that we might stay in. All of these elements also made this idea of “living in Israel” come to life and feel more real. It’s crazy to think that in three months we will be living at JHOP starting a new season in Israel. 

Seeing the students experience the country and its people for the first time was a fun experience for us all. Traveling around with fourteen people, instead of three, brought some new challenges, but overall it was sweet to see the people and places from the perspective of the students.

The Upper Room and the Garden Tomb were two of the most influential experiences for our group. We read verses that highlighted the history in that room, both the Last Supper and Pentecost, and then took communion together as a team. It was a special moment to acknowledge the sacrifice of Jesus that allows us to be filled with the Holy Spirit and unified with God in the very same room that the Spirit first came upon man after the resurrection. It was powerful and deeply moving.

We had a guide for the Tomb, which gave us a little more information than the first time we visited. After seeing what they believe to be Golgotha, walking through the garden, and visiting the empty tomb, we had the chance to sit and reflect on what we had seen. I thought of Mary Magdelene, her encounter with the newly-resurrected Jesus, and her response that became a blueprint for the response for all who meet Jesus to this day: “I have seen the Lord” (John 20:18).

Since we started most of our sight-seeing in Jerusalem, we continued the rest of the trip in light of what we had experienced at the Jerusalem House of Prayer, David’s Tomb, the Upper Room, the Garden Tomb, and many more key places of the past and present. We ended our journey in Tel Aviv, ready to fly back home with fresh perspective on life and faith.

As coordinators for the All Nations Convocation in Jerusalem, we are excited to welcome people from all nations to see the beauty of Israel and gain revelation of the Father’s heart for Israel, the Jewish people, and the Middle East. Reach out to us if you are interested in more information or if you know you’d like to come!

Please join us as we continue to unveil the goodness of God in our story! We will be consistently sharing updates and stories via this blog, Email, Facebook, and Instagram. Sign up for email notifications for updates through our Connect page! For our most recent list of prayer requests, please click here. To support us financially, please visit our Give page. Thank you for visiting our blog! We are so grateful for our team of prayer warriors, generous givers, and Kingdom family! Love and shalom, from the Stevens.

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