Good Morning brothers and sisters. I'm glad to be here with you this morning, My wife and I just returned a couple days ago from a nice trip to Israel and I was asked to talk about a few questions, and share insights about our trip. We were lucky to go with a group our second time to Israel. There was about 40 of us and we had Damon Johnson as our guide, which was good to have. We were fortunate we were able to have our two daughters with us. We were also fortunate to have our granddaughter with us. It was a great trip, the great comrade and good people.
Impression number one it was amazing how far the Savior and his disciples walked in the land, the promised land. You know, we were in a nice air conditioned buses. We were in five star hotels. We weren't exactly roughing it. The Savior and his apostles, they walked and they walked, you know, it's a hundred miles from Galilee to Jerusalem. Round trip its 200 miles. He made that trip numerous times throughout his life. He taught clear up in the cities of Tyrus & Sidon. Those are up on the coast of present-day Lebanon when Matthew gave his testimony of thou art of Christ, the son of the Living God. They were clear up to Dan. Clear over the northern end of Israel, there at Caesarea Philippi, which is, you know, loaded with tons of pagan temple & shrines. They were down, clear down in the wilderness of Judea. They were in the Dead Sea. They were in Jericho, and spent much time in Jerusalem and Bethany, Joppa, Haifa, Mount Carmel, Mount Tabor, they were everywhere. I could only imagine the Savior and his disciples were very tired men and women. I have great admiration for their their ability.
Insider impression number two was that the land of Israel is flowing with milk and honey. You know that was like a promise that the Lord gave the ancient Israelites when he came to the promised land. That it would be flowing with milk and honey. You go to Israel today that is exactly what it is. In the 1940s when Israel became a state, tens of thousands of Israelites internment to the land of Israel and the land today, literally blossomed as a rose. There are a mile after a mile of orchards, of every fruit and nut you could possibly think of. Citrus and apple and mango and banana plantations, melons you name it, it's it grows there. They have vegetables of every type that are growing in the ground. There's barley and wheat everywhere. It is literally blossoms is the rose. The Israelites and the Jewish people have caused that their land does blossom. They may not import anything because it's all right there. I can tell you this that when you go to Israel, you will never eat better. It is good food. It's great Mediterranean Fair. And I ate my fair share. It's a great and blessed place.
Observation number three is the fact that you will find people from all places in the world there. Go ahead and sit on the stairs of the stores there down in Old Town Jerusalem and you'll see people from Korea, China and from Japan. Tour groups from Brazil and Argentina. There's tour groups from Ethiopia and Nigeria, Swedes and Russians and Canadians. They're all there. And why are they all there in Israel? For one purpose, they are there to worship the Lord. They're there to worship our savior Jesus Christ. It is an awesome thing to see so many thousands of people there. There are all of the major religions of the world there. There is Islam, Judaism, Christianity. It is all well represented in Israel. Again, sit down on the steps in downtown Jerusalem and just watch all of the parade of people that walk by you. The Orthodox Jews and all of their attire, Jesuit Priests, Ethiopian nuns, Muslim woman in their veils and coverings. There are pre-orthodox that walk by with their big fur hat. Its all kinds of people that you see in Jerusalem and especially in Israel. These are all people of the Covenant. These are all people that are the seed or Abraham. They are all people that are taking part of the great gathering of Israel. My wife likes to talk to lots of people. Pam is pretty friendly. She talks to everybody on the street in Jerusalem. You know, every Muslim mother who walks by with her baby carriage Pam's got to talk to her you know. Everytime some shopkeeper wants to show us something she's gonna have a long lengthy conversation. Every lamb or sheep or camel that walks by we've got to stop and have a conversation with the owner. We get to know a lot of people there.
Fourth impression is that there are so many historical and so many holy places in Israel. You know, we have holy places here, we have our homes, we have our temples here. We have the Sacred Grove. When you go to Israel every place has a holy point to it. Would have definitely had to see the birth of the Savior there, go to Jerusalem stand on the Temple Mount. you can go to the Dead Sea. You can go to Jericho, go to Galilee and all the cities surrounding Galilee. Every place is a holy place. We had an interesting experience at the Sea of Galilee. It was a dark night, it was raining, and It was pelting rain, and the wind was just howling and white catch were out on the water. And it's just nighttime and its just pitch black. And just as we stood there on the shores of the sea of Galilee envisioning what it was like for those apostles to be out on their ship, not just once, but two different occasions they were out there. One time the Savior stood peacefully on the bow of the ship the other time they looked out across the water and they see this illuminated figure of the Savior walking across the water. When you stand on the sea of Galilee in the midst of the storm with howling winds and there is paltering rain, and this these white caps, it gives you a whole different impression of what its like to be in that boat with the Savior who is raising his hands calms the winds and the rain. It is a Powerful experience.
Fourth and final comment Is that Israel gives you a wonderful impression in areas that it is literally the place where the testimony of the Savior's atonement for each and every one of us occurred there 2000 years ago. You know, sometimes you like the categorize the atonement as this neat little package that the savior has done for us and that's really not the case. As you go to Israel and visit, you realize that the atonement of Jesus Christ was rather gruesome a bloody affair. It was not easy. It begins with the Savior on a Friday night in the garden of gethsemane when he dropped great drops of blood. Where D&C 19 tells us that he bled from every pore. From there, he was taken to Caiaphas's palace and thrown in the dungeons where he was further beaten and spit upon. From there he was taking to Pontius Pilate who there had him scourged, which is a terrible ordeal. He was then nailed upon the cross to just suffer for each and every one of us. The Savior did this all for you and I.
In closing I would like to say that I am grateful for the opportunities that we had to go there. I hope that that both Pam and I are both better people, changed people. We have stronger testimonies from our experience we had in the Holy Land. It is the place of the Savior's birth and a place of a great need. There have been many events that have occurred there and there will be many more yet to come. I bear my testimony that our Savior lives. He loves us and the day will come when you see his face again as he looks upon us. This is my testimony in the name of Jesus Christ Amen..