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'I will never read the Bible the same'

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July 07, 2010 - Rachel Morlock was on a bus in Israel with her grandmother and about 40 other American tourists when their guide asked if anyone had family members who didn't want them to visit Israel because they were concerned for their safety.

Everyone on the bus raised their hands.

He then asked how many had felt threatened while in the middle eastern country.

No one raised their hand. The guide told them to go home and tell their families how they felt.

Morlock, 19 and a 2009 Brandon High School graduate, wants to visit the country again one day.

"I was not afraid," she said. "It was a great learning experience from beginning to end and it was really great to hang out with my grandma for those two weeks, too. I'm thankful I got to go with her on the trip. I would for sure like to return to Israel. Grandma said maybe I could go back with my children some day."

The only security measures Morlock noticed were that whenever the tourists had to exit through a gate, armed guards would come on the bus and check their passports.

The trip overall was a spiritually moving one for Morlock, who landed in Amman, Jordan on June 21 after a 10-and-a-half-hour flight.

The sophomore at Moody Bible Institute in Spokane, Wash. who is majoring in youth ministries was excited to see places she had read about in the Bible and was learning about in school. She spent the first two days of her trip in Jordan, where she went to the top of Mt. Nebo, which overlooks Jericho and the Jordan River.

"That is where God told Moses, this is all the land I'm going to give you, this is the Promised Land," said Morlock. "It was really cool to see that."

Also in Jordan, she saw the area where it is believed that Jesus was baptized in the Jordan River. From the tour guide, Morlock was surprised to learn that 95 percent of marriages in Jordan are arranged and the divorce rate is 3 percent.

"Most Jordanians are Muslim," she noted. "The tour guide talked about their king and that they really respect Christian sites, but it was also saddening to me that they don't know Jesus or see Him as the Lord."

In Israel, Morlock visited the birthplace of Jesus according to the New Testament—Bethlehem, which she was surprised to find surrounded by a cement wall, with barbed wire and guards."To me, this was like Goodrich having a wall around it for no reason, and us not allowed to go in it," she said. "We were allowed because we are tourists, but people who live in Israel are not allowed to go in unless they have special travel papers."

At the Church of the Nativity, Morlock and her travel companions were shown a hole in the ground which they were told is where Jesus was born.

"I don't know about that, but you can stick your hand in the hole," she said.

They left Bethlehem and traveled to the Sea of Galilee, where they rode on a boat on the body of water where Jesus reportedly walked and the guide pointed out the Mount of Beatitudes where Jesus gave the "Sermon on the Mount," recounted in the book of Matthew.

"They were playing some music, the hymn 'Hiow Great Thou Art,' and that moment was wonderful," said Morlock. "It was a very spiritual moment."

Next up was Jerusalem, where it is believed Jesus died on the Cross and where he was buried. The group visited numerous churches.

"I will never read the Bible the same," Morlock noted. "Christmas and Easter will never be the same. Before, I had pictures from children's books, but now when I sing, 'O Little Town of Bethlehem,' I can close my eyes and be in that spot. Don't trust the pictures in children's books. Some of it is what it looks like, most of it is not."

Susan covers Brandon Township and Ortonville
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