I can sum up my trip to Israel in one word: SABABA. It’s a Hebrew term meaning awesome, cool, great, no problem, all right, or having fun. Sababa can also be a way of life, similar to HAKUNA MATATA. To solidify this, I found a store with the same name while on a walk-about near the Angel Hotel in Bethlehem. Walk-abouts not only support the local economy, but they build international relations. It’s important to contribute to society.

My trip to Israel really was sababa. The significance and beauty of the sites were overwhelming. There were many times during this trip that my surroundings took my breath away.

In Jerusalem, I wrote prayer requests on a slip of paper and pushed it into a crevice on the Western Wall. (Notes on the Western Wall are collected twice a year and buried at the Mount of Olives.) I rode a camel. Near the Church of the Multiplication of the Loaves and Fishes, I met Joseph, a fruit stand owner, who let me press my own pomegranate juice. I saw beautiful stained glass windows and tile mosaics in churches, temples, cathedrals, synagogues, historic ruins, and other structures that date back hundreds (or thousands) of years. I walked along the Via Dolorosa, remembering Jesus’s footsteps to the cross. In Qumran, I floated in the Dead Sea and covered my face with its nutrient-rich black mud.group1

shawarmasmallI walked the streets of Old Jerusalem and ate the most delicious shawarma in the Armenian Quarter. Shawarma is an Arab cooking technique for roasting meat (usually chicken or lamb) on a vertical spit that spins around an open flame or heating element. It’s a popular dish from street vendors too. My touring group ate at Grandma’s Kitchen, an Armenian family restaurant nestled beside a Catholic Church and courtyard with outdoor seating. They served shawarma chicken inside a freshly baked pita with hummus, lettuce, tomato, cucumbers, and thinly sliced red onions. After walking nearly five miles around the Old City, lunch was not only delicious, but it also offered an opportunity to sit and relax.

A week ago, I began this Holy Land tour in Bethlehem, where Jesus was born, then meandered through the hills and valleys where He ministered, including Bethsaida, Galilee, Capernaum, Tabgha, and Tiberias. The final day’s tour included walking the Via Dolorosa to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher (the traditional site of Jesus’s crucifixion, burial, and resurrection), through Jerusalem’s Archeological Park, the Western (or Wailing) Wall, and the teaching steps along the Temple’s southern wall.


The group and I exited the Old City through the Damascus Gate and concluded our tour, appropriately, at The Garden Tomb. It was here that I learned another Hebrew word: DAYENU (pronounced day-new). Dayenu means enough, or sufficient, and is a popular Passover song.Β The song is about being grateful to God for all of the gifts he gave the Jewish people, such as taking them out of slavery, giving them the Torah, and had God only given one of the gifts, it would have still been enough. As a Christian, however, Jesus’s birth, ministry and miracles, and death do not finish the story. My dayenu β€” the cornerstone of my faith β€” is Jesus’s resurrection. Praise God, that tomb is empty!

21-thousand miles and two Trans-Atlantic flights later, it’s good to be home. I can say with assurance that I have fallen in love with Israel’s sites and people and I will return to the Holy Land. After all, I have new friends there and they are expecting to see me again!


By |2013-02-08T00:05:35+00:00February 8th, 2013|Blog|0 Comments

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  1. Helen (@EatEnjoyLive) February 8, 2013 at 2:17 am - Reply

    This is so fantastic! I’m SO glad you had an amazing trip, and I loved seeing all your photos on Facebook. I’m sure its will have been one of those trips that is going to be life-changing.

    • Nicole February 8, 2013 at 9:11 am - Reply

      Helen, thank you for taking this journey with me virtually. You are correct: this trip WAS life-changing. The old saying is true too, the Bible came to life on this trip. I can’t wait to go back!!!!!

  2. Julie February 8, 2013 at 8:15 am - Reply

    Talk about the trip of a life time! So glad that it was such a wonderful experience for you. We missed you while you were gone. Big hugs and welcome back!

    • Nicole February 8, 2013 at 9:12 am - Reply

      Julie, thank you (as always) for your kind words and big hugs. This trip to Israel was so cool, I can’t wait to go back!!!!

  3. Amanda Barstow February 8, 2013 at 8:26 am - Reply

    Wow what an awesome experience, thanks for sharing!

    • Nicole February 8, 2013 at 9:56 am - Reply

      Amanda, thank you for visiting and enjoying this post. My trip to Israel was amazing and I’m thankful to technology that I was able to share bits-and-pieces along the way and before I could get home to download all the photos on my camera. It was an experience of a lifetime, one I will not forget, and I know I’ll return very soon. SABABA!!!!!!!!!

  4. Alyssa February 8, 2013 at 11:52 am - Reply

    How amazing to be able to walk where Jesus walked!

    • Nicole February 8, 2013 at 11:54 am - Reply

      Yes Alyssa, it is amazing to walk where He walked!!!!!!

  5. April February 8, 2013 at 12:30 pm - Reply

    I have loved following your story! There’s something about being THERE. There where He walked. Where He slept. Where He cried and laughed. My heart bursts thinking about it and I wasn’t even there! I can only imagine that your world was rocked in the best way!

    • Nicole February 8, 2013 at 12:56 pm - Reply

      April, you said it perfectly. My heart burst with overwhelming joy and my soul, my world, was rocked in the best way possible!!!!!!

  6. Celeste Zachry February 8, 2013 at 2:13 pm - Reply


  7. Dani February 8, 2013 at 11:50 pm - Reply

    That is so amazing Nicole! I am glad that you had such a great time. I would love to go there some day!

    • Nicole February 9, 2013 at 12:07 am - Reply

      Thanks Dani! The trip was wonderful and I hope you’ll go to Israel someday too. You will love it. πŸ™‚

  8. Bob Russo February 9, 2013 at 10:34 am - Reply

    Wow, to see through your eyes and words this Holy Land trip is fantastic. We enjoyed your daily posts, pictures, and reflections. We receive a blessing in your journey. Some day the trip will be made. Grace and peace, Claudia & Bob

    • Nicole February 9, 2013 at 8:28 pm - Reply

      Bob and Claudia, thank you for the sweet words. My experience in Israel was beyond what words can describe and definitely a trip of a lifetime. I also had a great tour hostess (Lara) that made the trip extra fun. Big hugs to you both!!!!

  9. Margaret Feinberg February 11, 2013 at 11:08 am - Reply

    Nicole, absolutely loved seeing the photos! Thrilled you enjoyed your journey!

    • Nicole February 11, 2013 at 11:29 am - Reply

      Margaret, there will be more for sure, but it’s going to take me a while to sort/edit all of the photos from my trip. It was incredible, life-changing, life-affirming, and WONDER-full. (wink) I’m glad I got to share a piece of my trip with you too. πŸ™‚

      BIG HUGS!!!!!

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