I wish you could have been with us as Lee Grisham and I spent last Christmas in the Holy Land. Lee and I had been companions together in the mission field and had received permission to visit the Holy Land en route home. I was a typical Latter-day Saint who had read all my life about the Holy Land, and Lee was a Jewish convert of a few years. So together we shared a desire to visit the land of his forefathers.
We flew into Tel Aviv, where the climate was warm. Once there, we quickly learned how Israelis try to make the best of everything—on the bus ride into town we listened to excerpts from a Haydn symphony to help us forget the rough ride.
The next day we went by bus to Jerusalem, where instead of seeing our mental image of a 20,000-year-old town, we were shocked to find a very large and somewhat modern city, although it is divided into what are called the old and new sections. But the old city really doesn’t have too much to do with Jesus’ life, as much of it was built by the Crusaders and others. Rome destroyed the Jerusalem Jesus knew, leaving not “one stone upon another.” (Mark 13:2.)
After we had seen these sights and many more in Jerusalem, we spent several days in other parts of the Holy Land. One special thrill was conducting our own little sacrament meeting, having been previously authorized, on the shores of Lake Galilee, where our bread was broken from the Jewish bagel and the water came from the sea. A few days later, after having walked the hills, put our bare feet into the rough soil, tasted the water, felt the cold night air, and heard the bleat of the sheep, we found that the scriptures had become a living reality to us. But that wasn’t all. We had tried to follow in the actual footsteps of Jesus. Now our hearts tell us to follow the Savior in all the other paths of living that he has set for us. With the help of the Spirit, I know we can all do it.