So much has happened since the last time I updated this space, which was about 1.5 weeks ago. Trying my best to be very intentional about posting here 🙂 it’s funny because I’ve only been here for about 3 weeks but it feels as if so much has already happened. In the past 1.5 weeks, I’ve started school and attended a bible camp during the Purim break as well (which also allowed me to walk around the beautiful Casarea along the Mediterranean Sea).
First, great grandma passed away on the 20th of February. I remember waking up to finding out about her death on my cousin’s insta-story which left me at a loss of words for a moment. I recall not knowing what to feel about it – it wasn’t an immediate wave of sadness. I can’t put a word to it actually (I realised I struggle quite a lot when it comes to pinpointing my emotions – it’s always all over the place) if I were to be very honest with myself, it was a sense of disappointment, with God and with myself because it seemed like I’ll never be able to know if she truly accepted Christ. It seems funny even if there’s the only concern I have. It was the uncomfortable truth of “yet another death in the family – as if death looms in the place, slowly taking away the people I love” 3 years ago it was grandpa, now it’s her. I cannot imagine losing my grandma (she’s still alive and well, Thankfully). It’s scary because it’s not just the physical loss of one, its the loss of a life – that I have no control over. Sure I’ve done my part to share about Christ with her but it just seemed like all odds are against me when I can’t even have anyone come pray with/for her because the tradition of the family is as such – a different religion and no foreign western gods. When the odds are stacked against me, I ask myself if I trust God enough for Him to work. It’s interesting because I have confidence in Him for so many other things – just not when it came to the salvation of my family. Sighs haha. All I can say and hang on to – is that He is just and He is merciful. It’s gonna be different when I return to Taiwan, the big house a little emptier. But we’ll see, and we’ll hope.
that morning sky on the 20th Feb. God is gracious, loving and kind. His steadfast love endures forever.
I’ve been coping well though – despite the passing of great-grandma. I’m not the closest to her and perhaps that’s why. But it’s got me thinking a lot. That aside, school has begun officially and I’m really thankful for the kind of classes I’ve been taking. Currently, I’m doing
- Archaeology in Jerusalem
- Theories of International Relations and the Middle East
- Bible and Babel
- Multicultural Civic Education
- Jerusalem in Art,History and Literature
- Messianic Eschatology and the 2nd Temple
4,5 and 6 will begin in two weeks time as they are faculty and graduate modules. It’s just so fascinating to be learning about ancient history and things that use scripture as sources for learning – I find it so amazing. Sitting in archaeology and learning about the First Temple Period and how Jerusalem came to be conquered by David, and how he eventually bought the threshing floor from Ornan, a Jebusite (former inhabitants before the Israelites conquered Jerusalem) despite Ornan’s offer to give it for free – that act of purchasing land will not give anyone any reason to fault him and say that the land was given. Instead, it would rightfully and legally belong to David and essentially the Israelites. It really gave new meaning to “I will not take for the Lord what is yours, nor burnt offerings that cost me nothing” (1 Chronicles 21:18-30) This land was believed to be Mount Moriah, upon which David wanted to build the temple and supposedly where Abraham sacrificed Isaac.
It really is a thing to be in bible land and to have these professors make the bible come alive for you – through the explanations and the excavations etc. No they don’t preach or like comment on the bible. Instead, they present it in a very professional and intellectual, factual manner for all of us – no theology involved haha. That’s what we as students make out of it. Haha but its really my prayer that learning all of these will give me fresh vision for scripture. There’s also so much to discern and to take a stand on. We discussed about the canonicity of the bible and the first 5 books – the issue of authorship and credibility that is so deeply intertwined with theology as well. It really causes me to ask for wisdom and understanding for the things I do not yet comprehend and for the strengthening of convictions. What a privilege really – to be learning in the wonderful land of Israel 🙂
this is the balcony view from our school – stunning stunning beauty! See the Dome of the Rock right there!
That’s about school…I can’t wait for the rest of the modules to start. I’ve been a hardworking student and it’s really a humbling process of learning about this region of the world that I’m so unfamiliar with. It’s okay to not know, okay to sound silly, just learn 🙂
Then, Idelle, Elaine (my new HK friend) and I headed for the Bible Camp over the Purim break. Was initially unsure about going for this camp but I became really psyched for it nearing the camp as I found out that we’re going to meet Arab Christians, Jewish Christians as well as other International students!! Nothing better than meeting the body of Christ heh. So off we went – my first time out of Jerusalem!! Not sure what to expect but the camp was SO GOOD.
It was a first for me – in depth inductive bible study. We covered 1/3 of the book of Mark and imagined that we were the first readers of the book of Mark and had only the Old Testament to rely on. They called it the “Manuscript Study.” We were all given a blue folder with the printed manuscript of Mark (without chapters and verses) and each session of bible study was about 2 hours. They organised us into the English group, Hebrew class and then the Arabic class. I had a really good time – pushing myself to discover things in the word that I tend to overlook, to ask questions that I usually made assumptions about etc and we would bring it to a group discussion level. As a group, we would then focus on that one thing we want to learn.
Perhaps, I’ll share takeaways in point form quickly heh
- Following Jesus demands so much more from us
- Desert as a place of limbo, purification, place of judgement and yet also the place that God easily woos back His people (Hosea 2) It was also a place of beginnings (where promises were given and stepping into promised land)
- Jesus picks the Rabbi rejects. Simon Peter and the rest of them were probably really young – 15-20 years old when Jesus called them to be His disciples. The Jewish tradition for Rabbis was to pick the brightest and most eligible for discipleship. Guess Jesus broke that – He chose fishermen, tax collector and rabbi-rejects.
- The ‘follow’ in “Come, follow me” in Jesus’ call of the disciples involves – blessing, eating together, doing EVERYTHING together. Not just a literal mere following, chasing after.
- “In you I am well pleased” at the baptism of Jesus. In Greek, the tense is not just in the present, but in the future as well. “I have always been and will always be” well pleased. How beautiful is that 🙂 refer to pic above, when God tore the heavens open and said “You are my Son, whom I love, with you I am well pleased”
(I’ll be happy to share more when we Skype or Facebook call or WhatsApp call!!) too much to type. Haha.
But besides that, it’s really also about meeting the wonderful people – hearing briyani love stories and meeting such sweet, genuine, Jesus loving people :’) there were so many highlights – worship in Hebrew, Arabic and English. And seeing eastern and western instruments + people serving each other.
during the Purim reading of Esther – we read through Esther in our different languages: hebrew, arabic, malawi, danish, german, cantonese, mandarin, english, spanish etc. When you hear Haman, you go “BOOOOO” and “WOOHOO” when Mordecai is mentioned.
Purim is a festival celebrated by the Jews to remember the day the Jews were delivered from the evil hands of Haman who plotted against the Jews during the Persian period. Mordecai and Esther were the wonderful people that God used to rescue the Jews in exile. In present day Israel, Purim is celebrated like a Israeli version of Halloween haha.
some of the wonderful friends we’ve made! most of them are graduate students/working! But all so humble and willing to learn together 🙂
Check out one of my favourite Hebrew ones Delle and I managed to find: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=chG6xRsX7ns Gadol Adonai. Been my jam the past few days since camp heh. Another highlight was meeting big brother Alex. I barely meet such fun and candid people who are also Jesus-loving and so sincere + intentional. Puts a smile on my face still whenever I think about it!! Haha its so funny cos Delle and I get extra attention from big brother Alex. Glad the Caesarea car ride got us talking, always a joy to meet wonderful human beings and to hear him share about his love story with his wife hahaha. It won’t be long till we meet again with stories to share 🙂
The cool big brother who does the flower pose when waiting to hear our testimonies HAHA. So blessed :’)
this is the Herodian amphitheatre built by Herod during the Roman period.
the aqueduct that carried water for the Roman and Byzantine city.
Haha it’s been such a long post but hopefully that helps in visualising my experience here in Israel! I’m learning to be steadfast, to hold fast to His word and heart for myself and the people around. Learning what it means when we sing, You are my All in All. Pray along with me too :’) I give thanks too – for the prayers answered. Knowing that even in my absence back home, He is working in the lives of people around me. We take the tiny steps of faith and love, act in obedience and He will multiply! 🙂
Peace is joy resting and joy is peace dancing.