May 25, 2010

Day Two.

This morning's wake up call was at 6:30. Waking up so early definitely messes with my head. Let me explain; at home I wake up at nine and before I know it, it's already 3 in the afternoon. But here in Israel, I wake up at six, and the next time I look at the clock it's only nine. Long days for sure. But the early morning was worth it, as the sun was streaming through the balcony windows and bouncing off the walls of our hotel room. There's something about the morning sunlight that gives me peace.
There's something that occurred last night that I didn't inform you about yet. I'll start from the beginning. Before this trip even started, I was told that one man on the tour would be getting baptized in the Jordan River. The moment I heard this, something just clicked inside of me; it's like the wheels of my heart were in working motion again. Baptized in the Jordan River...hmm.... These words were bright inside my head like a neon marquee sign for the next few days, until last night. People on the tour soon learned about this Jordan River baptism that would be happening soon and so some of them told the pastor that they too would like to be baptized. Because of this, Pastor Wee called a meeting after the worship session for everyone who had never been baptized before and felt in their heart that this is what God was calling them to do tomorrow. One would say that I made an impulse decision that night, a decision that yes, I was ready to make a public declaration of my faith. My decision did seem like one of spontaneity, but it wasn't. Baptism has been on my mind for almost two years now, I just had never felt ready until now, today. So I went to bed last night excited about my decision, but woke up deeply saddened in the morning, suddenly realizing that I would have no family or friends from back home here to witness this amazing moment in my life. Even though at breakfast I was sitting amidst a sea of people, I felt lonely. Can you blame me for wishing that my siblings and parents and best friends could've been there with me today? So after breakfast, the pastor apparently noticed I was acting differently and asked if I was OK. I told him the truth, "I wrote my family a quick email this morning about my upcoming baptism, but I just wish they wouldn't have to find out that way." He then offered me his cell phone and I was able to call my parents! My Dad answered the phone, surprised to hear my voice. In his usual joking manner, he said "Jenny it's midnight here, you woke us all up." And in my head I was like Ohh shoot. I forgot about the eight hour time difference! So as I apologized and gave myself a good kick, I heard voices in the background and asked what was going on. My Dad said that they were all at the table playing Dominos. HAHA. That was definitely a laugh out loud moment. Seriously, only MY family would be playing a firing round of Dominos after midnight. I knew instantly that I called at a good time, since 6/7 of my family members were sitting in that room, all able to hear the news at once. Don't tell them, but I felt like crying. I'm such a baby sometimes.
After that morning charade, my tour group and I hopped onto a wooden boat that floated across the Sea of Galilee. On this boat we had a sermon, worship songs, and learnt a fun Hebrew dance. And let me tell you, age does not stop your ability to dance. You should've seen some of these grandparents move, Wow! I could definitely learn a move or two. ;)

When we were right in the middle of the sea, the captain turned off the boats' engine, and it was like we were placed on a sheet of glass; the water was still, the breeze a constant sigh, and it was quiet beyond imagination. It was an incredible moment, trying to picture what it must've looked like to see Jesus walk on this very same water.
We then sailed to the town of Ginosar where the "Jesus Boat" is located. Meaning, that some researchers found a 2000 year-old boat at the bottom of the Sea of Galilee. Meaning, that this could've been the boat the Jesus once sailed on. Only God knows!
The rest of the day was filled with an endless amount of bus rides. We went to the town of Capernaum (where Jesus taught), ate a fish dinner for lunch (I refused to eat the eyeball), and went to Mt. of Beatitudes (where Jesus had the sermon on the Mount and fed a multitude of people with only 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish).
You may have noticed how little skin is shown in my photos. This is because you're not allowed to enter a religious site unless your shoulders and knees are covered; it's all about respect, my friends.
Our last stop before heading back to the hotel was finally, the Jordan River! Arriving at this river, I was surprised. I picture it to be located in some desolate forest; you know, hearing the peaceful trickle of water and the wind rustling the leaves of the trees. Boy, was I wrong. It had an actual parking lot with like 5 tour buses! Haha, call me naive why don't you... There was even a gift shop. And you had to pay $10 in order to rent the white robe for your baptism. It was all very touristy and commercialized, unfortunately. Anyway, there were 11 of us altogether wearing these white robes, and the rest of our group sat on the concrete steps beside the river, in total support. Let's just say this experience flew by with guitars, hymns, video cameras, camera flashes, tears, hugs, and testimonies. And let's just say that I forgot that my immediate family wasn't there. I felt so included and loved and supported by the rest of the members in my group, that I immediately considered them as my family away from home. Right then and there I knew that the rest of this trip was going to be wonderful, because these people are so wonderful. I can't even describe it.
Is it strange that I didn't feel any different after my baptism? I mean, I felt a little wet (ok, I felt SOAKING)... and I felt a little light-headed, giddy, and shaky. But I didn't feel like the "Ultimate Christian". I didn't see a flock of doves sprout up from the water around me or notice the clouds part in the sky above me. Then again, I didn't expect any of that anyway, so what am I really even talking about? Haha. What I do know is that it felt good and it felt right, and I also know that God is working in my heart as we speak (or type), and that his timing is perfect. I was so incredibly blessed today to have been able to share such an experience with 51 of my new friends, in the Jordan River of all places. I will never forget that.

After the buffet dinner at the hotel (forgive me for my gluttony), Charmaine and I walked some of the streets in Tiberius, believing that it looked pretty touristy and safe. These streets were filled with those classic vendors, selling sundresses, jewelry and little trinkets of all sorts. I ran into this beautiful brown fringe purse, and then this Israeli guy (about my age) asks me if I like that purse. Yes, will you buy it for me? Ok, I didn't say that aloud, but before I knew it I got asked out on a date. Believing that I have a pretty good head on my shoulders, I had to turn him down. Aw shucks... As Charmaine and I were walking away we couldn't help but laugh at how forward some of these guys are. A few minutes later we hear somebody yell "HEY CANADA!" behind us, and we're like, ohh boy...that's him. He's following us... We casually yet hurriedly went inside a brightly lit store, in the hopes that we lost him. Turns out he sat himself down on a beach RIGHT outside the store. Realizing that we weren't going to come out anytime soon, he entered the store. So Charmaine and I snuck out the side exit. The only way back to the hotel was through this dark and depopulated alleyway. (figures!) We both weren't in the mood to be kidnapped, so we decided that we'd hang out by the shops until we found some people from our tour group who could be our "protectors". And alas, God sent 12 angels to us. And when our crazed Israeli follower saw that we were associated with numbers greater than him, he went the other direction. We told our friends about this creepy guy, and they all insisted that they walk us back to the hotel. This was a wonderful experience. It was on this walk back where we got to know more members of the group on a more personal level, and it was also when I felt how caring and loving they are. I know that I didn't tell this stalker story as well as I could've, and I probably didn't have you on the edge of your seat, but it was a pretty scary experience. It was also a relieving experience, just knowing that God is looking out for us little 19 year olds.
When we returned back to the hotel, we were invited by some more members of our group to sit outside by the pool. We were hesitant, until they bribed us each with a glass of white wine. (Hahah) I'll never forget this night. Full of laughs and making new friends. Here is a tiny entry I wrote in my journal that night "if I had the option of being raised by both my parents and 51 more mom's and dad's, I would."
This was such an amazing day, and my writing doesn't do any justice towards the strength of emotion I felt today.
Thank you so much for reading, and congratulations to you if you made it this far into this entry!


  1. Jenni!!! I love it!!! I remember that night that you called! It was so funny when Dad said it was midnight. We all had a good laugh!

    I said it before, and I'll say it again, I am so proud of you and I pray for you often! God is working on/in you to mold you into a beautiful woman who is sooooo precious to him!

    I'm glad you're stalker story ended well. Those are scary!!! (I don't actually know from experience...but I've got a good imagination!)

    What an amazing experience this trip must have been! I cannot wait to hear the rest of it!

  2. Yes Jenni, your call was perfect timing! Dad & I are pleased and proud of you, too.

    I've been stalked a few times....usually coming home from church choir practice. It scared me so badly, that I refused to walk home from church alone at night.(I did a lot of walking in those days and parts of our neighbourhood was pretty iffy.) My brother Heinz had to come walk me home.

  3. Oh and your pictures of the Jordan River look pretty. Not at all commercial. I guess as a tourist, we sometimes have to pretend that we aren't tourists and just enjoy the moment.