Vol. 9, No. 2 – February 2020

For the first half of February, the HUG (Harding University in Greece) group went on an excursion to both Egypt and Israel. This 16-day trip provided our students with the opportunity to see and learn extensively about these two historic countries. We asked two of our students, Emily Kymes (right side of photo below) and Holland Chupek (left side of photo below), to reflect on their time in Egypt and Israel.


Emily Kymes

This semester, our group was able to go on a combined Egypt and Israel trip, and in preparation for this semester, this was the trip I was looking forward to the most. The sixteen-day trip to these two locations has truly changed my life. My faith was strengthened, challenged, and changed in unique ways that have brought me closer to God and have become a part of my faith walk forever.

In Egypt, one of the most amazing experiences was viewing the pyramids. Yes, those pyramids. Those pyramids were around in 1850 BC when Joseph was in Egypt, and they were built 600-800 years before Abraham. Suddenly, the pyramids are not just a cool visit, or a neat stop at one of the great wonders of the world, but instead something that transports you back to the time of the Old Testament heroes. If you close your eyes and block out the tourists, you can imagine Joseph or Abraham walking through the same locations, striving to serve the one true God. Egypt harbors the incredible Nile river, animals, people, markets, and its sights are dizzying and gorgeous, leaving you unable to imagine a more incredible place on Earth.

Yet as these thoughts consume your mind and the beauty captures your heart, you’ll board another plane to the Holy Land, and find yourself in the land of Jesus. Soon, you will be sailing on the Sea of Galilee, walking through the city of Capernaum, where Jesus spent the majority of his ministry, and entering into Church of the Holy Sepulchre, where tradition says Jesus was crucified and buried. As you sail on the Sea of Galilee, if you close your eyes and imagine being an apostle, you can hear Jesus telling you to cast your net onto the other side. As seagulls fly overhead and the seawater splashes onto your face, the stories you’ve read and heard become so much more real. You walk through Capernaum and Jesus’ ministry is suddenly alive in locations and landscapes that amaze you. Then, walking through the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, viewing the adornment and decoration of the church, you suddenly stop and wonder – what does it look like to see Jesus? Do you see Him in nature? In architecture? What draws you nearer to God? While on tour, the ‘Jewishness’ of everything forces you to be more aware of what you believe and why. I grappled with awe and wonder, with questions and frustrations, but through all of these, I grew my relationship with the Lord in the most unimaginable way. My faith is forever changed because of this trip, and it is a trip that my passport, my faith, and my heart will never regret.

Holland Chupek

Our Egypt trip was everything I dreamed of and more. We spent our first days in Cairo where we had the opportunity to see and explore the Giza Pyramids, and a few of us even crawled our way into the center of the pyramid where King Khufu was once buried! Being able to see this great wonder in person was incredibly surreal and humbling as our group realized Abraham, Joseph, Moses, and Jesus had all seen these pyramids for themselves. Personally, it took me a while to comprehend the fact that I had really seen the pyramids—it is one thing to hear about them in school, but seeing them in person is shocking and is something I will never forget.

While Egypt was incredibly eye-opening, Israel was more life-changing for me. We started our Israel journey in Galilee, where the land feels more untouched, leaving you with the feeling that you are truly seeing what Jesus would have seen! We were able to sail on the Sea of Galilee and read the story of Jesus calming the storm all while it rained on us, which truly made the story come to life in a new way! In each place we went, we noticed other Christian brothers and sisters around us, and it helped me realize how much Jesus affected the world in these little places and is still affecting the world 2,000 years later. On one of our days in Jerusalem, we were able to see the Dome of the Rock and the Western Wall back-to-back. I have personally never seen so many religions interact peacefully in one space. Muslims, Jews and Christians all stood in these significant places and understood that these spots are meaningful for each other. Seeing the cultural practices of other religions has not only made me respect the world more, but has also motivated me to become stronger in my faith as I have seen a deep dedication to faith in the people of other religions in the world.

Now that our trips have come to an end, I look back and see the bonds and laughs that we have had on these trips. From slipping and falling at the Dead Sea and singing ‘Deep and Wide’ in Hezekiah’s Tunnel to praying together and standing in the places that the greatest kings of Israel were anointed, our friendships have grown stronger and our love for Christ continues to grow more and more every day.

Below are a few sketches by HUG director Daniel Adams from the trip to Egypt and Israel. They are of the Hanging Church in Old Cairo, the Capernaum Synagogue and the Alexandria Fortress.

HULA 2020 begins!

On Wednesday, February 19th, the HULA (Harding University in Latin America) students arrived in Arequipa, Peru, their home for the semester. The first few days of their semester have been spent both in class and exploring Arequipa. Stay tuned to our social media and the coming newsletters for more of HULA's adventures. 

HUF Spring 2020 returns to the US

We are heartbroken to share the news that out of an abundance of caution related to the potential threat of coronavirus in Italy, the decision has been made to close the Harding University Florence campus for the remainder of the semester, effective Feb. 29. The specifics of course completion and financial details are being communicated to HUF students. 

We want to continually keep our community informed on this rapidly changing situation. In order to provide the most up-to-date information, harding.edu/coronavirus will be updated each day or as new developments occur. Please continue to pray for the health of our students and our world.

Photo Credit

  • Egyptian Statue, Garden Tomb & Dome of the Rock photos from Ginger Blackstone 
  • HULA picture from Jeremy Daggett

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