Posted by: revmotoe | March 20, 2009

March 18, Wednesday

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From Barbara Hiura

So many places, so much information…that we are filled to capacity before even entering our final day in Jerusalem…and yet…God fills us to overflowing. Tears flow and powerful emotions overtake many of us, as we witness, walk the walk, follow the torturous path that Jesus took to His death along the Via Dolorosa, called the 14 Stations of the Cross. See how He suffered for us.

The noises along the way of merchants selling their wares was much like it was when Jesus, a common criminal, passed that way to be crucified 2000 years ago, but now there are other pilgrims and penitents going in the same direction as the Wesley group.  Many of us are finding we struggle ourselves just walking that uphill climb to Golgotha. I admit that as I went from station to station, I was a mere shutter-flicking bystander, an observer, almost irreverent at these various Holy places and shrines as I even tried to imagine Jesus, beaten and bloodied, taking one agonizing step after another, bearing the weight cross to his execution, as our tour guide passed on a mountain of information at each stop.

Bringing me back to Jesus’ Passion were the Bible verses read at each stop.  I grew heavy and burdened with my own sins feeling so unworthy of God’s sacrifice for me, so unworthy of God’s saving grace, humbled at the immensity of Jesus’ suffering in order to pay our debt to God, to atone for our sins. Such cruelty, such inhumanity, such an injustice—but all necessary if we were to be saved.  God is compassionate. And  God’s love for us is bountiful, unending, as He sees the beauty in each of us.  

We end out tour at the Garden Tomb where Rev. Motoe led a worship service and Holy Communion and Carolyn provided guitar music as she’s done almost every evening throughout the journey.  Rev. Motoe reflected on our trip, from Jesus birth, ministry, death and resurrection and the Holy and Sacred places we visited on our journey with Jesus.  “Here is Jesus body broken for you. Here is Jesus blood shed for you.” In this place, the impact of Jesus’ sacrifice, strikes my  soul. Is the Holy Spirit not present in us at such a time, in such a moment?  In every breath we take?

And then she asks, “How has this journey changed you? What will you do differently when you go home?  How are you a new person?

Difficult questions, yet indeed, each in our own way has been changed.  How could we not be?  All 39 of us grew in the knowing of each other, grew in building relationship. We became family on this pilgrimage.  We became God’s church even though we differ in faith.  And that is what God’s wants from each of us—not to proceed in isolation and alone—but by His grace, be in touch and touching one another.

Many of us began this trip by expressing one or two words of what we were feeling about this journey. Hear their voices: Don, “Being with friends”; Jackie, “Excitement”; Violet “Agape, unconditional love”; Mae , “Investigation”; Hi, “Reaffirmation”; Lupe, “Thanksgiving for a chance to be where Jesus Christ was”; Roy, “Peace”; Carol, “Contentment”; Bernard, “Jesus, The Gospel”; Aron, “Fulfillment”;  Betty, “Hallelujah, I’m here”; Nancy, “Religious fulfillment”; Crystal, “Revelation”; Lydia, “Holy Spirit”; Dorothy, “Inspired”; Paula, “Faitfulness”; Tami, “Stronger in Faith”; Selma, “Inspiration on our Lenten journey”; Mitsue, “Hope”; Pat, “Learning”; Shirley, “Spiritual Growth”; Pat, “Education”; Esther, “Long awaited”; Mareille, “Enlightenment”; Tad, “Imagine how it was 2000 years ago”; Rosie, “Shalom”; Warren, “Being here”; Grace, “Peace and Hope”; Lillian, “Ephiphany”; Mona, “Amazement”; and I said, “Blessing.”

By the end, all our thoughts received responses, our queries answered, our quests completed…and yes,  we’ve received so much more, especially in the many unpredictable God moments experienced but not anticipated. God has blessed us and guided us in our learning, in our  fellowship and the growth we experienced, and for many a blossoming of love for Jesus, and truly an affirmation of faith.

Posted by: revmotoe | March 18, 2009

March 17, Tuesday (Jerusalem)

From Roy Takeuchi

Although we visited many sites in Jerusalem today, the two major highlights included the Holocaust Museum and the Western “Wailing” Wall.

The Holocaust Museum began with a visit dedicated to the children who were part of the six million Jews who were systematically massacred by the Nazis. The dark room with high ceilings and glass reflecting the flicker of the candles created a haunting and very somber feeling inside each of us. The roll call of each child killed is softy announced; it takes an entire year to call off the list of all the children killed.

The second portion of the museum led our group into a triangular shaped (like the Toblerone candy bar) building partially dug into the hillside. Personal testimonies shown on video and photographs provided a very intimate touch to this horrendous tragedy.

Our visit to the Western Wall or Wailing Wall provided an equally moving experience. At Rev Motoe’s encouragement, many of us left a tiny written prayer in the wall. The Jews present at the wall prayed with obvious passion and deep commitment to their faith. It was a sight I never dreamed to experience first hand.

Reflections on this Journey to Israel:

Although walking in the steps of Jesus has been a most enlightening “once in lifetime experience, I am reminded that one does not need to fly to Israel to experience a closer walk with Jesus. One can nurture that relationship right there in San Jose.

As a tourist it is easy to assume the role of a spectator; however, as many in our group experienced baptism in the River Jordon, this trip nurtured one to a deeper faith and desire to transition from a spectator to a participant.

One memorable moment we experienced yesterday was to join a Korean tour group sing a Christmas carole in the cave-like setting of Jesus’ manger. In reflection, it is truly amazing to see how God’s word has spread throughout the world from this very humble beginning.

Tomorrow we follow Jesus’ final steps along the Via Dolorosa on his way to the Cross. Shortly after midnight we fly overnight to JFK where we catch another flight to SFO landing “back home” in the afternoon.

Although it has been a wonderful and memorable trip, it will be nice to return home to San Jose and our Wesley family.

The Holocaust Museum

The Holocaust Museum

The Holocaust Museum

The Holocaust Museum

The Jerusalem Archaeological Park

The Jerusalem Archaeological Park

Western Wall

Dome of the Rock

Dome of the Rock

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In the "Upper Room"

In the "Upper Room"

Posted by: revmotoe | March 17, 2009

Eighth Day, March 16, Monday

From Marielle Tsukamoto

We are here at Jerusalem, city of David, site of the Jewish Temple, the holy place for Jews, Christians and Muslims, site of conflict and of hope. The day began with great anticipation as we walked on the Mount of Olives, through the garden of Gethsemane and stood looking towards Jerusalem. It is fascinating to learn of the influence left by Romans, Crusaders, and the Muslim invaders and how each changed the holy city.
We crossed paths with large groups from many countries, seeking meaning in each sacred place marked by churches and monuments. You could not help but feel emotion as you heard scriptures read in each key location and actually walked down the steep narrow road, the path that Jesus took on Palm Sunday.

Bethlehem is in the Palestinian sector was our next stop. We crossed the border and had to transfer to a different bus to be allowed into Bethlehem. You begin to understand how difficult it is for people living in a place where you cannot freely move from one area to the next. We are told that many Christian Palestinians are forced to close their shops and move out of Bethlehem because they cannot survive in this economy. We stop at a store run by Christians and happily purchase souvenirs and gifts for family and friends.

For me, the most impressive experience of the day occurred at the church of the nativity. A group from Korea was also in the small cave where Jesus was born. They began singing“ Angels We Have Heard on High” in their language. Without any prompting we joined in the chorus. It was a moving experience to hear voices united in a familiar tune, singing in different languages. We left, quietly, each with our own thoughts and hope for a peaceful future.

Jerusalem

Jerusalem

the Garden of Gethesemane

the Garden of Gethesemane

The Church of Nativity

The Church of Nativity

Posted by: revmotoe | March 16, 2009

Seventh Day, March 16, Sunday

From  Rosie Shimonishi

What was different about our refreshing morning swim in this clear turquoise water?  How about if it’s in the Dead Sea?! The Dead Sea has 37 percent salt in it so we’re buoyant and float up. The Dead Sea is 60 miles long and is 1,200 ft. below sea level, the lowest point on Earth.

All around is the dry Judean Desert. On a cable car we soar up a flattop desert mountain to Masada which means fortress. Using creative engineering and artistic skills, Herod the Great built Masada. Many years afterwards, the fortress was abandoned and later occupied by Jewish zealots. In a final battle against the Roman army, 960 Jewish zealots decided to die rather than submit to slavery. Today Masada has become a symbol of Jewish courage.
We travel on to the northern edge of the Dead Sea and the Judean Desert and beyond, glimpse a greener Jordan Valley and Jericho.

At Qumran, we stop to see the caves which had hidden the Dead Sea Scrolls for 2,000 years. There we learn about the Essenes, another early Jewish group and the writers of the Dead Sea Scrolls from which 23 books of the Bible have been deciphered. The Essenes gave up wealth, shared a monastic life and developed practices, such as purification, total immersion, and the communal meal.

Tonight our hotel is located 2,500 ft. above sea level, and our journey continues in Jerusalem.

the Dead Sea

the Dead Sea

floating on the Dead Sea

floating on the Dead Sea

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Posted by: revmotoe | March 16, 2009

6th Day, March 14 pictures

Petra 1

Petra 1

Petra 2

Petra 2

Petra 3

Petra 3

Elephant Stone

Elephant Stone

the Treasury

the Treasury

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Posted by: revmotoe | March 15, 2009

pictures

Due to the very low internet connection, unfortunately I was not able to upload any pictures. I am sorry. I hope that I will have a better connection tomorrow.

You can see some images from this website.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Petra

blessings,

Posted by: revmotoe | March 15, 2009

Sixth Day, March 14, Saturday

From Pat Hamada

PETRA! The Seven Wonders of the World, indeed! We witnessed today the sights, sounds and smells of our God’s creations far beyond our finite mind could absolve! We were very fortunate to have James as our very knowledgeable and excellent guide to teach us as the he rattled off names and dates of our biblical founders. Using our imagination, he pointed out animal figures that the sandstones formed with their colorful minerals deposits.

The walk to the Treasury taxed our strength and stamina (3 _ miles) but it seemed to be an illusion as we feasted our eyes on the brilliant formation of the sandstone with groves and mineral deposits etched by age.

We are all familiar with the patience endured at border crossing. Our memories of today will be engraved in our minds forever.

And our Pilgrimage continues on…

Posted by: revmotoe | March 14, 2009

Fifth Day, March 13, Friday

From Carolyn Iida

Today we began our journey in Amman, Jordan. We saw many points of interest in the large city, including the Archeological Museum where parts of the Dead Sea Scrolls are displayed and where they are uncovering more ancient ruins.

Perhaps the highlight of the day and possibly, of the whole trip, was our visit to the top of Mt. Nebo, which overlooks part of the Jordan River, Jericho, etc. The view was breathtaking and spectacular, as our photos will indicate – looking down over several valleys and mountain ranges. But the most moving part was knowing that this is where Moses came to his end here on earth. After leading his people in circles for 40 years, they would go on to the Promised Land without him. This was particularly interesting and moving for me because my weekly international Bible Study Fellowship (BSF) is studying Moses this year.

Interesting that, though today was Friday the 13th, and we were told that we might have rain showers today, when we reached our destination, we were able to see it all so clearly. The lesson? Trust in God to help you get you where you’re going, to give you the vision and understanding, so that you can interpret His grand and glorious message.

Jordan Archaeological Museum

Jordan Archaeological Museum

the Dead Sea Scrolls

the Dead Sea Scrolls

Jordan Archaeological Museum 2

Jordan Archaeological Museum 2

Madaba, Mosaic floor in the Greek Orthodox Church of St. George

Madaba, Mosaic floor in the Greek Orthodox Church of St. George

Madaba, Mosaic floor in the Greek Orthodox Church of St. George 2

Madaba, Mosaic floor in the Greek Orthodox Church of St. George 2

Mosaic Store

Mosaic Store

Mt. Nebo 1

Mt. Nebo 1

View from Mt. Nebo

View from Mt. Nebo

Ash-Shawbak, Castle of the King (Crusader Castle)

Ash-Shawbak, Castle of the King (Crusader Castle)

Ash-Shawbak, Castle of the King (Crusader Castle) 2

Ash-Shawbak, Castle of the King (Crusader Castle) 2

Posted by: revmotoe | March 13, 2009

Fourth Day, March 12, Thursday

From Mona Otomori

Family. It’s all about family. We entered into country Jordan today. The process of moving from Israel to Jordan was time consuming and some might even say arduous. There were procedures to follow on both sides of the border, exchange of buses, drivers, and guides and schlepping of luggage through security screening and across long parking lots. Through that process, it is easy to forget why we are even here. This is not Branson, Missouri, folks. It is the Holy Land!

Today we are in the Land of the Ammonites, Moabites and the Edomites. The Edomites are from the lineage of Esau. And who is Esau but the twin brother of Jacob, the father of the twelve tribes of Israel. And do they have some family stories to tell!!

We entered into Jordan and began to drive the roads and highways, we passed thought both small and large towns. The architecture is simple, most structures are made of limestone, unpainted and white in appearance. But what is interesting is that nearly all of the homes appear to be unfinished with exposed rebar emerging upward at corners and sides like spindly fingers reaching heavenward. The rooftops are flat and most are encircled by two to four feet high walls, giving a terrace like appearance as, if a roof-top gathering of friends might be customary. We learned that this unfinished look is by design and is something of a symbol of family unity. Here in Jordan the family unit is hugely important and the parents home is already ready to add an upper flat to the structure in order to accommodate marrying children and expanding families.

How appropriate then that we, children of God make this trip together to a land where family is so important. The land of Esau, brother of Jacob the father of the twelve tribes of Israel. He to whom God promised a huge family and a whole nation.

Yes, it really is all about family. We 39 Holy Land Trekkers have began to act and feel like family. But more than that we are all united as God’s children forever.

May we all find comfort and peace among our sisters and brothers, here and everywhere – And may you know God’s love and blessings for all of your days. Amen.

In Jordan

In Jordan

Jeresh

Jeresh 3

Jeresh 3

Jeresh 2

Jeresh 2

Jeresh 4

Jeresh 4

Posted by: revmotoe | March 12, 2009

Walking with Jesus

from Barbara Hiura

Today was truly a soul-searching pilgrimage where we walked in Jesus’ footprints—where the words Jesus spoke to his disciples, to the gathering multitudes he inspired, to the healed and to the Pharisees, were spoken once again in the very places those messages were given by a new set of pilgrims 2000 years later.

At the Mount of Beatitudes (Church of Beatitudes) Violet read Matthew 5:1-12; at The Church of Multiplication (Tabgha) where Jesus fed 5,000, Roy presented (a little later) Matthew 14:14-21; at the Primacy of St. Peter, Betty cited John 21:1-19; at Capernaum, Carol presented Matthew 4: 13-17; and at Kursi, Hi read Luke 8:26-39. Imagine taking a “boat” ride much like Jesus did, across the Sea of Galilee, singing praise Jesus songs and hearing the words of Matthew 14:20-32. Of course, we were not afraid as we took in the awesome beauty of our surroundings. Although there were no readings at our next to final destination, we saw a 2000 year old preserved fishing boat of Jesus’ time. Or was it really Jesus boat???

It was a day of reliving Jesus spoken word, his blessings, miracles, healings, preaching to Gentiles, and a covenant Jesus made with Simon Peter to “Feed my people!” Jesus ministry came to life at these historic Jesus locations that his followers, through the ages fought to preserve, as the growth of Christianity spread across the World.

Filled with hope and filled with the Holy Spirit as our path mirrored our Lord and Savior, we came to our commitment to faith. At the spot where John the Baptist baptized Jesus, there came 17 Wesley Pilgrims who entered the Jordan River to be rededicated including Rev. Motoe (surprise and hallelujah), who renewed their covenant with God and one very special woman who was baptized. It was a time Joan chose to commit her life to God and to become God’s disciple and servant, in faith and love. She read Matthew 3:13-17.The water of life touched our very souls as we each reached for God in our lives and we were answered and we were renewed.

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