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Lady Flames' Israel Journey: Day 4

June 9, 2014
|  Jerusalem, Israel
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Athletic trainer Ben Galley (left) and assistant coach Alexis Sherard visit the Garden Tomb on Monday.

Audrey Rettstatt describes the Lady Flames' Monday, which saw the team tour Jerusalem for the second consecutive day. On Tuesday, the Lady Flames will fly to Eilat, Israel for the start of the Friendship Games tournament.

Hey everyone! Today was day four of touring around the Holy Land for us Lady Flames, and it was jam-packed. It was amazing? :)

We started the morning off with a bang by going to the Garden Tomb. Owned by the United Kingdom, the Garden Tomb is a beautiful sanctuary free of charge to anyone and everyone. We were welcomed by our temporary tour guide, Ken from Texas, who walked us through the garden.

First we went to the corner of the garden where, when looking over the fence, we could see Golgotha or Calvary. Due to the two eyes and the nose shaped into the side of the hill, Golgotha is also referred to as "The Place of the Skull." This is believed to be one of the possible locations of Jesus' crucifixion (John 19:16-18).  Golgotha is located a little bit outside of the Northern Gate, also known as Damascus Gate, with a major highway running right in front of it that is still there today. Only instead of being occupied by donkeys and carts, today it is filled with buses and cars :) This would have been an ideal spot for the Romans, because they wanted many people to see the crucifixion as it took place.

Fun Fact #1: Did you know that the crucifixion most likely occurred at the bottom of the hill, unlike most illustrations that place the three crosses on the top?! This is because the Romans would have wanted the people passing by to be able to look into the eyes of the ones being crucified. However, there is no complete certainty of the actual crucifixion site. With that in mind, Ken put everything in perspective by reminding us that we did not come all the way to Israel to worship a slab of concrete somewhere or a pile of stones somewhere else, but we came to worship Jesus for what He did for us.

After Golgotha, we walked to the Garden Tomb where Jesus was buried.  This tomb was no poor man's tomb. Hand cut into the stone, this large family tomb must have belonged to a wealthy man. 

Fun Fact #2: Did you know that today we would most likely use a jackknife to carve out that tomb?! That means a lot of time and hard work was put into that tomb! Having to duck to enter, the tomb was nice and cozy. It was so amazing to get to stand in the actual tomb where Jesus was buried and resurrected? It is something I am sure none of us will ever forget!

We then went to another spot in the garden where we held communion and worship, remembering the sacrifice Jesus made for us and His defeat over death.  It is humbling to know that Jesus suffered through all of the pain, agony and stress of His crucifixion, all because of my sin and His love for me. 

Fun Fact #3: Did you know that a Jewish custom when eating dinner is that if a man gets up from the table and will not be returning he will throw his napkin on the table?! However if a man leaves the table but will be returning, he will carefully fold his napkin?! In the same way, Jesus's burial cloths were found folded in the tomb. He will be returning?

After the time of worship, we walked along the eastern wall and entered the city through the Lion's Gate to the Pools of Bethesda. This is where Jesus healed the crippled man of 38 years on the Sabbath, as mentioned in John 5. At the sight of the Pools of Bethesda, were built two churches, but only one stands today, the Church of St. Anne. The Church of St. Anne is known for its phenomenal acoustics, so of course we had to test them out :)

Fun Fact #4: Did you know our new G.A., Joyous [Tharrington], has a beautiful voice?!

We then walked to Antonio's Fortress (Pilate's Palace). This is where Jesus was held after being sentenced to death. While in the fortress, we read from Matthew 27:27-31 and John 19:16-17. The mockery and pain Jesus went through prior to His crucifixion came to life while I stood in the area he spent His last moments.

We exited Antonio's Fortress and began to walk Via Dolorosa exiting the city through Damascus Gate, the path Jesus walked carrying His cross to Calvary. It was not exactly what I expected in that it was a crowded street with lots of vendors. It was hard enough for me to make my way through the crowded uphill street merely carrying a backpack, and yet Jesus was forced to walk these streets carrying a heavy cross after His long night in Pilate's Palace. It was truly an amazing and humbling experience.

Later today, after a break for lunch, we toured the Holocaust Museum. I could have spent hours upon hours in there. It was so interesting and yet terribly heartbreaking hearing and reading all of the stories from the survivors. It is a great memorial remembering and paying tribute to those lost and those who survived.

Yesterday, we were told that this afternoon we would be receiving a surprise! All of us were trying to guess what it could possibly be. Lots of ideas were being thrown out, but personally, I was just hoping the surprise would be pizza or burgers or ice cream. I could really go for some good American food right now. :)

However, when we were told that we would be going to the site where David defeated Goliath, my cravings momentarily vanished and I was pumped! We made it to the top of the hill where the Philistines set up camp. From the top we could see the hill where the Israelites set up camp, as well as the valley between where the battle took place (1 Samuel 17). We even got to pick up stones from the stream David chose his five stones he used to defeat Goliath.

Fun Fact #5: Did you know Goliath had four giant siblings as well?! That is why David chose five stones instead of just one!

Well, that concludes day four of touring! We have one more site to see tomorrow and then off to Eilat to play the game we love!

Shalom :)

Audrey Rettstatt #12