Goodbye to Jerusalem

IMG_6553Tonight I’m getting on a plane that will take me home. Back to family, back to school, back to work, back to “real life”. I won’t lie and say it feels like I just got here. I’v been here a while, and it feels like it. But that’s because of how much I’ve done, how many things I’ve seen, and who I’ve become since arriving in the Holy Land.

So yes, it feels like I’ve been here a while. And there are certain things about Jerusalem that I won’t miss. I won’t miss having to walk everywhere in groups of three. I won’t miss the sack-lunches we’re given when we go on field trips. I won’t miss the four-person shared bedroom that is almost smaller than my personal bedroom at home. I won’t miss the crowds of tourists that have shown up in the last month. And I certainly won’t miss the extremely challenging course load.

IMG_5777But as much as I won’t miss those things, there are things I will miss. Most of all, the people I’ve met at the center. They are all amazing. I’ll miss having instant social interactions every day just by going to breakfast. I’ll miss the teachers who changed my understanding of things I thought I knew. I’ll miss one of the best views of the Holy Land from by bedroom balcony. I’ll miss studying together with a group of people all invested in learning and helping each other. I’ll miss spending my days learning about the politics and religious significance of this land. I’ll miss how much I’ve seen myself grow and become better in the past 4 months. And I’ll miss the land itself. The unquantifiable quality of simply being in the same place that so much history occurred.

I’ve tried over and over to come up with a way to adequately describe my feelings of being in the Holy Land, but always seem to come up short. I could provide a detailed list of sights I’ve seen and why they are significant, but you could get that from a Jerusalem Tourist Guide. I could tell you about each individual class I took, but without having experienced them they would sound like just any other class. I could just fill this blog post with photos, but even the 1,000 words that a picture is worth couldn’t do this place justice. However, this video created by one of the most talented guys in our program does a pretty good job of showing not just how much fun we had, but how close we grew together and how impactful this experience was for us.

But even more important than all of that is how much my personal testimony and conviction of Jesus Christ as my Savior and Redeemer has grown. I know that not all of my readers are Christian, or even interested in hearing about this, so feel free to stop reading now, but for those who care, I’d like to share what being in the land where Christ lived has taught me about Him:

IMG_4493He is real. He was not just some literary character designed to teach good morals or principles. He was a real man, and I got to walk on the same exact stones where He once walked. Before coming here, I had a belief in Jesus Christ as the center of my faith, but that belief was mostly theoretical. I believed everything I had been taught about Him – that He suffered for the sins of the world and died on the cross, and then rose from the dead on the third day so that He could save all mankind. But it was never real before this. But it really happened. He really lived, He really did what the Bible says He did. He really healed the sick, raised the dead, and fed multitudes. He really suffered unspeakable pain for me, and for you, and He really was killed. And three days later, He really did emerge from His tomb. He really did all of that, and He really did it for me personally. He knows the worst parts of me, and He has seen the darkest corner of my soul, and somehow, with His infinite wisdom, even knowing all my flaws, he still finds me worthy to receive His grace and His love, never holding back His power to save me, and all he asks in return is that I love Him and turn to Him. I cannot pretend to understand how this is possible, but I can testify with complete and total confidence that it is true. I have felt it deeper than anything in my entire life, and it brings me peace beyond comprehension. I am so eternally grateful for, and so impossibly indebted to, my closest friend, Jesus Christ, for saving me from myself.

4 thoughts on “Goodbye to Jerusalem

  1. TJ, thanks for the blog posts about your trip to Jerusalem. My daughter just started her first week at BYU Jerusalem and I had fun reading about your adventures so I have more of an idea about what’s in store for her! I’m also planning my itinerary because we’re going to pick her up. (Along with the grandparents). It looks like you hit all of the awesome sites while you were there.. We will be spending several days traveling with her before she flies home for spring semester… and then remain a few extra days beyond that.

    If you had a few extra days to travel with your parents, what are the sites/areas which you’d really like to see one more time before you left? (except Egypt & Petra… those aren’t options. :-( ).

    On a side note, one of my husband’s old college roommates was a prof of yours over there. :-)


  2. “. . .teachers who changed your understanding of things you thought you knew. . .” What a great tribute to teachers. I glory in your testimony, feeling anew the wonderful “person” of Jesus – Lord and Redeemer. Thanks.


  3. TJ, thanks for that beautiful account of your time in Jerusalem. Even your writing has matured and gotten so very good. We are excited to see you and hear more of this in person. Love you!!!Grammy

    Date: Wed, 20 Apr 2016 11:35:50 +0000 To:


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