By Bryson Durst
Imagine a place where you can serve others in a foreign context and visit famed historical locations. Sara Freeland, a recent Cedarville graduate, got this chance when she traveled to Israel this past summer as part of the Origins 2018 service trip. She spoke about her trip to a group of current Cedarville students on Tuesday, November 13 in the BTS.
The team members stayed in the city of Rehovot, a mid-size town in central Israel. Sara described the primary purpose of their service trip as to “show love for the country and people.” Their service work consisted mainly of volunteering at Kaplan Medical Center in Rehovot; Sara and her group aided in the kitchen.
Sara described the hospital where they served as “state of the art.” In fact, people from surrounding countries often go to Israel for medical treatment. The children’s hospital in particular provided a comforting environment, and even included a school for children who had to stay there long-term.
In addition to serving at the hospital, the team also had the chance to explore historical sites in Israel. They hiked through the Valley of Elah, a wide expanse in between two hills where David killed Goliath. At the former city of Midras, the team hiked through an underground cave network, where women and children could hide during battles.
They ascended the Mount of Olives, and passed through the Garden of Gethsemane. They also entered the remains of the complex from the Second Temple (516 BC – AD 70), stopping at the Western (Wailing) Wall. Other sites in the city that the team visited included the possible site of David’s palace, a few possible locations of Jesus’ tomb, and the possible site of Jesus’ crucifixion (Golgotha). Among all of the sites they got to visit, Sara particularly recommended Hezekiah’s tunnel. This structure was built during the reign of King Hezekiah of Judah to bring water into the city in the case of an enemy attack. Two teams started building the tunnel, one at each of the ends. The teams managed to connect the tunnel in the middle, something which, as pointed out by Sara, is difficult now, let alone in the eighth century B.C.
The team next traveled to the Dead Sea and the ruins of Tel Be’er Sheva (also known as Beersheba, a water well used by Abraham). Other sites they visited included Masada, Caesarea, Nazareth, Capernaum, and the Sea of Galilee. Masada has a particular significance for the modern Israeli people. Here, in the first century, Jews rebelling against Roman rule endured a long Roman siege. After the Romans broke through the walls, all the Jews committed suicide, refusing to be taken captive by Rome. This tragic event remains a powerful motivator for Israeli security forces.
Sara described some of the cultural differences she encountered during her trip. For instance, in accordance with Jewish dietary laws, meats and dairy products were kept separate at all times. The dishes which had contained those foods had to be washed at different times and using different equipment. In addition, meats and dairy products could not be consumed at the same meal. Other differences included a heightened security presence, an expectation that city streets would be safer to navigate at night and, interestingly enough, higher quality food at McDonald’s.
Sara provided one suggestion for any Cedarville students interested in experiencing the culinary side of Israeli culture. She recommended that students check out the Yaffa Grill in Beavercreek. She likes the buffet there, particularly the hummus.
Another Origins trip will be conducted on June 12-30, 2019. Any interested students can go to the following website for further information: https://www.foi.org/what-we-do/outreach-opportunities/origins/.
Bryson Durst is a freshman Biblical Studies major. He enjoys theology, history, playing strategy games with friends, and anything Star Wars related.