It's been almost three weeks since I blogged last. A whole lot has happened! And yet what is there to tell? We're down to 9 days left in the Holy Land, and I've hiked so many tells and seen so many sites that I'm completely saturated with it all. We just watched the first presidency's Christmas devotional, and every time they mentioned a location such as Galilee, Bethlehem, Jerusalem, Judea, etc... images flashed through our heads. We all laughed together when the story was told of the man who wrote the song, "Far Far Away on Judea's Plains" and then corrected it, saying they are more like rocky hills. Been there, seen that, blogged a picture about it! (See my last entry)
Speaking of pictures, they save me from many words. Here's some of my latest:
Elder Tad R. Callister of the Presidency of the Seventy came to visit us for district conference! The students got a special fireside with him on the night he arrived, and a Q&A session the night he left. One of his biggest points of advice was about balancing priorities in life during college. He said, "Dating first, and then the others!"
I'll get right on that, Elder Callister!
|Me with Elder Tad R. Callister, of the Presidency of the Seventy|
One day I went to the YMCA to play the carillon bells in their bell tower. The mechanism is like a really big piano where each key is a lever attached to a bell. Good times.
|Me and MJ Boud playing the carillon bells. Look closely at that contraption we have our hands on!|
Galilee is easily my favorite place in the Holy Land. In fact, it's my favorite place in the world. If anyone asks me where I could be at the drop of a hat, it would be here. There is no wonder that Jesus Christ loved to spend his time here. When the winds aren't blowing (which are pretty darn windy) the peace just permeates everything so much. It's a really stark contrast against the hustle and bustle of the Jerusalem tourist trap.
|View of Galilee from Mount Arbel|
There is a lot that happened at Galilee, but much of it is personal and it wouldn't be fitting to share here. But I can tell you this much: when I sat by myself on top of Mount Arbel on our first day in Galilee, I tried to set myself a goal for what I wanted to see happen while I was there. But as I prayed and pondered, no goal came to my mind. Instead, I left that mountain with a theme in mind. That theme is the story of Peter walking on the water toward Jesus. Ever since that day on the mount, I've seen how that story applies to so much of what we go through every day.
Surely when Peter jumped off the boat onto the water, it must have been a very singular experience for him. In that first moment when he landed on the water, everything in the world must have made sense for an instant. His faith was confirmed; nothing could go wrong. He knew that his faith in Jesus Christ was sufficient, and that he truly could put his trust in him. We have experiences like this, in which we powerfully feel the spirit and it feels as if nothing could go wrong in the world because of the truth that we know. And then, just as Peter did, we all continue to walk through the storms and chaos of life and eventually sink underneath the waves. Sometimes it is because of sin, and sometimes just because of distraction. But then we get to experience the grace of God as he reaches out his hand, lifts us back up to his level, and walks with us side by side back along the top of the water to the safety of our boat. And surely like Peter, we are never the same after those experiences.
I went to Galilee hoping to learn to walk on water, as Peter did. And I think I did.