This week has been pretty fun and a little more laid back than past weeks because we’ve been getting reading to leave for Egypt TOMORROW! (actually we leave in like 11 hours) I have been told that there will most likely not be wifi or I’ll at least have to pay for it…and I’d rather live in the moment than be on my phone, so I probably won’t be posting on social media for another week.
ANYWAY, this post will be shorter than the past two because I need to go to bed since I’m getting up at 2am.
This week we went to the area of what was originally Gad when Israel’s territory was split into the ten tribes of Israel. That is where David courageously beat Goliath and we had the opportunity to throw rocks with sling shots in the valley of where they fought! It was a pretty cool experience. We also saw these beautiful bell caves that were caved into soft limestone from the top down, so they have holes in the top of the cave here and there and the caves are surprisingly ENORMOUS! It was a pretty fantastic thing to see.
Here are some of the deeper thoughts I had this week that impacted me most:
In my Palestine class, we learned that Muslims believe that faith and behavior/action is the same as belief. If you don’t act, then you don’t truly believe. VERY COOL PERSPECTIVE. If you truly believe something, you should live it. Rather than defining a Muslim by what their beliefs of doctrine are, they define themselves by action. They set themselves apart from others by their behavior and actions and that shows what their beliefs are. We should do the same with our own beliefs! If we truly believe in becoming like Christ, we should be making the effort to act like Him! If we truly believe in keeping the commandments, we should be making a greater effort to do so!! Temptation is never too strong for us to handle if we understand where our intentions are in following Christ and if our testimony is something we really live up to.
Muatazila (chief advocates of free will) (followed Abbasid caliph Mamun who reigned 813-833AD) saw reason and revelation as complementary sources of guidance from a just and reasonable God. So, not only do we have the scriptures to edify us with the pure word of God, but we also have them to help us make better decisions every day. The scriptures enlighten our minds in a way that we can see life clearer, with a more eternal perspective. The more frequently we read, the more history, doctrine, and gospel principles make sense to us. THIS allows us to more profoundly incorporate these teachings into our lives as we understand scripture on a deeper level and it is more frequently embedded into our thoughts. I have seen this change in my life since I’ve been here–the more I understand about the Old Testament, the deeper my understanding of Christ’s role in my life has been. I understand the context of where He lived better and I understand the symbolism as well, which has opened my eyes to a whole new reality of life and God’s plan for us.
Later this week, we went to a synagogue and worshiped. It was SO beautiful and the singing was so touching. I think it’s beautiful that they sing their scripture because I feel like scripture coupled with song is a very powerful combination and allows us to worship with even more of our souls.
My Jewish teacher, Ophir, who took us to the synagogue explained that in Jewish culture, they have a story that helps people see the importance of the Sabbath that goes like this: The Sabbath is talking to God about how each day of the week has a partner, but she’s the odd one out. Once they talk it over, God tells her that her partner will be the Jews. I really liked this perspective because it made me reconsider how I view the Sabbath. I need to dedicate all of my time, thoughts, energy, and activities to focusing on the Sabbath. In change, God will strengthen, nourish, and rejuvenate my mind and heart.
During the worship service, there’s a part where everyone is singing, welcoming the Sabbath, and we all faced the door as if she was walking into the service to join us. It was such beautiful symbolism!!
All in all, the cultures and religions here are strengthening my faith so much and I can’t put into words the amount of love that fills my heart every day. Today we fasted (since it’s the first Sabbath of the week), and it was the first time I’ve fasted without asking for anything!! I only fasted thanking God for His mercy and this life-changing experience with life-changing friendships because I honestly tear up every time I talk about how grateful I am to be here. I hope everyone can have the chance to learn about the historical, cultural, religious, and geographical aspects of Israel at some point in their lives because all of them put together is seriously like putting a puzzle together and LIFE JUST MAKES SENSE NOW!
I don’t know if that last thought made sense to most of you, but my point is that ignorance is NOT bliss. The more you learn, the more you grow, and the more life MAKES SENSE. So, hunger after knowledge because it truly is empowering.
HAVE A GREAT WEEK EVERYONE! Love,