Janine and I just got home from Israel and I would like to share with you just a little bit about it. We took 44 people with us, Including eight of our missionaries and their spouses. I was their mission president over 30 years ago and these eight missionaries and their spouses were with us. Some strip, we had a wonderful time. And I'm happy to report that they're all active in the church and they all have good marriages and they all have sent their kids on missions. Their kids are all getting married in the temple and it's a wonderful thing. We always tell people that if you go to Israel to find Jesus you may be disappointed by the vendors. There's vendors everywhere. One dollar, one American dollar, they're selling relics and odds and ends, and there are church's everywhere, there's more contention about religion and ethnic backgrounds in Israel. We tell people that, but if you go to Israel and take the Savior with you, and go to the places that he went and see the surroundings that he lived in, you'll be greatly enriched, by reading the scriptures and singing the hymns.
We went to Nazareth and read the prophecies about the Messiah coming and we visited a replica of an ancient synagogue. We read the scriptures where Jesus said, "This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears." He was rejected that day by his own city, "A prophet is not without honor in his own country, and his own city among his own kind." Then we sang the song "Jesus of Nazareth, Savior and King....triumphant over death, life thou dids't bring.
Then we went to the Sea of Galilee and we read, "Come follow me and I will make you fishers of men." They forsook all and left their nets and followed him. Then we sang,"" Come follow me the Savior said, :Then let us in his footsteps tread for thus alone, can we be one with God's own loved Begotten son."
Then we went on a boat in the Sea Galilee and we read, "Master cares thou not that we perish, the waves, and the angry deep. And then we sang, The wind and the waves obey thy will, peace be still. Whether the wrath of the storm tossed sea or demons or when or whatever it be, no waters can swallow the ship, where lies the master of ocean and earth and skies." And every time we read the scriptures and sang, the hymns, we could feel the spirit and we felt close to the Savior and realizing we were walking the very places that he'd been.
We went to Caesera Philipp and we read where Jesus asked Peter, "who do men say that I am? And he says, "some say thour art." "But whom say he that I am?" And Peter said, "thou art the Christ, the Son, the living God." And then we sang, "I believe in Christ, He is my king! with all my heart, to him, i'll sing. Ill raise my voice in praise and joy in grand amens. My tongue employe, I believe in Christ, he is God's son on earth to dwell, his soul did come. H healed the sick, the dead he raised. Good works were his name be praised.
We went to the upper rooms and we read, "Take, Eat this of my body, which is given for you. This do in remembrance of me. And likewise also the cup after supper, saying, This is the new testament of my blood, which is shed for you. Then we sang, "How great the wisdom and the love that filled the courts on high and sent the Savior from above to suffer, bleed and die! His precious blood he freely spilt; his life he freely gave, a sinless sacrifice for guilt, A dying world to save, By strict obedience Jesus won the prize with glory rife; "thy will, O God, not mine be done," Adorned His mortal life.
Then we went to the Garden of Gethsemane and we read, "And he came out, and went, as he was won't, to the Mount of Olives, and his disciples also followed him. And when he was at the place, he said to them, pray that ye enter not into temptation. And he was withdrawn from them about a stone's cast, and kneeled down, and prayed, saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me; nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done. And there appeared an angel unto from heaven, strengthening him. And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground. And when he rose up from prayer, and was come to his disciples, he found them sleeping for sorrow.
And then we sang, "I stand all amazed at the love Jesus offers me, confused at the grace that so fully he proffers me. I tremble to know that for me He was crucified, that for me, a sinner, he suffered, He bled and died. And then we went to the Garden Tomb and we read from the Scriptures. We read from the scriptures these beautiful words: Now upon the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they came unto the sepuichre, bringing the spices which they had prepared, and certain others with them. And they found the stone rolled away from the sepulchre, And they entered in, and found not the body of the Lord Jesus, and it came to pass, as they were much perplexed thereabout, behold, two men stood by them in shining garments; and as they were afraid, and bowed down their faces to the earth, they said unto them, Why seek ye the Living among the dead? He is not here, but is risen; remember how he spake unto you when he was yet in Galilee, saying, The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified, and the third day rise again, and they remembered his words, and returned from the sepulchre, and told all these things unto the eleven, and to all the rest. Then we sang, " Christ The Lord has risen today, alleluia! Raise your joys and triumphs high, allelujah. Sing, ye heavens, and earth reply, alleluia! Loves redeeming work is done, allelujah. Fought the fight, the battle won, Allelujah. Death in vain forbids him rise, allelujah! Christ has opened paradise, Alleluia! Lives again our glorious King, Alleluia! Where, O death, is now thy sting? Alleluia! Once he died our souls to save, Alleluia! Once he died our souls to save, Alleluia! Where's the victory, boasting grave? Alleluia!
Then we went to Bethlehem and we read, Luke 2. And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed. (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.)
And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; to be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child. And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn. And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over there flock by night. And, lo, the Angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them and they were more afraid. The angel said, fear not; for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ The Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes lying in a manger.
Then we sang, "Far, far away on Judea's plains, Shepherds of old heard the joyous strains:
Glory to God,
Glory to God, Glory to God in the highest;
Peace on earth, goodwill to men;
Sweet are these strains redeeming love,
Message of mercy from heaven above:
Lord, with the angels, we too would rejoice;
Help us to sing with the heart and voice:
One of the highlights of our trip was going to the BYU Jerusalem Center.
The first time we went to Israel, there was no BYU Center. Nobody had ever heard of the church. I mean, it was Some far off religion from Utah. It's not right that the only true church has no presence in Jerusalem where so many prophecies are going to be fulfilled.
And I'm now reading to you the words of Elder Jeffrey Holland. We finally came to a piece of property just the side of the hill to your left.It wasn't a wonderful place, but it might be available if we could just pull the loose ends together. It was by the old city and didn't have any kind of a view, if anything it looked over the back side of a garbage dump. But who's complaining it was Jerusalem. Remember the brothers said, they wanted the church to have a presence in Jerusalem. President Kimball & President Tanner were here for the dedication of the Orson Heights Garden. The we're here to look at the piece of property. It wasn't much. Everybody was a little embarrassed kicking the ground and trying to explain to the first presidency. What you have to understand is how difficult it is to find property in Jerusalem. Well, President Tanner's hope was stronger than President Kimball's at the time, they came to see the property first. He walked up this circle over the rim of the hill And He came and sat down. There wasn't a piece of property in the entire city more special than this spot at that time. You would have to see it to believe it. The BYU church has a multi-multi-billion dollar school overlooking, the city of Jerusalem. I was there two weeks ago taking the sacrament and taking the sacrament looking at Golgotha, Calvary, Getsemene, The Temple Mount. It's unbelievable and on that.Sunday happened to be the primary children's program. And there were six kids in their little primary in the Jerusalem branch of Israel district. But they had a hundred BYU students in there and 12 of them had been called to be teachers of those little kids. And there was another 500 tourists in this beautiful chapel with an incredible organ, It was unbelievable. That building is a miracle. We walked around the building President Tanner stood there looking to the city. Everybody came rushing over. It was a wonderful view. President Tanner stood there in majestic silence for a moment and said, "This is the piece of property." Well, brothers and sisters he might as well have said, "go get Buckingham Palace." For there's no way in the world to convey how utterly inaccessible this property was. But if I had two hours, I could tell you some of the miracles that took place. Today, everybody in Jerusalem knows about the church. And everybody knows about that big beautiful building the school for near Eastern studies and everybody knows those beautiful BYU students that roam around the city, getting an education. I want to bear my testimony that if you were to go to Jerusalem, Looking for Jesus, she might not find it. But if you go to Jerusalem, with a testimony of Jesus and love of the scriptures you will Still have a wonderful experience. I bare that testimony in the name of Jesus Christ.