“Tell it to your children, and let your children tell it to their children, and their children to the next generation.” —Joel 1:3
On pondering this evening, the theme for my day seems to be remembrance. This morning I found myself remembering the details of my day yesterday (sometimes quite a challenge), and struggling to write down what I did recall; I don’t want to lose a thing, so I have been trying to make notes as I go. I plan to create a scrapbook with not just photos and memorabilia from this trip, but the things God spoke to me throughout, as well as Scriptures that were preached at each site and others that came to mind during those visits.
After giving myself permission to miss the morning convention session, I took the 11am bus to the conference center where I’d meet up with my tour group for the afternoon. I got there early enough to take a wonderful walk around that area of town (very safe, no worries!). I met several locals, bought a newspaper, went to the ATM, and it felt very normal. I found what I thought was a subway station, but upon asking around for a subway map, I don’t think that was really a subway! When I found myself somewhat turned around (the area has many crisscrossing roads), an arrow-prayer seemed to set my feet to remembering where they needed to go.
We boarded our tour bus and were taken to Yad Vashem, the holocaust memorial. It’s a difficult place to describe; and a difficult place to be in. It’s a beautifully created place, full of powerful memorabilia of all sorts from personal items left by those who were executed in the gas chambers, to photos and videos, text descriptions (all available in Hebrew and English both), audio and music. I read the captions and descriptions for a short time . . . but found it overwhelming. I began to cry as I wandered the zigzagging hallways, stopping to look at a photo that caught my eye, or a piece of video, but most often turned away and walked slowly through the exhibit. My pace slowed, I looked at fewer and fewer of the exhibits, and the hallways seemed to go on forever and I just wanted out. The evil that was perpetrated on the Jews—and in the name of Jesus—was horrendous, and somehow seeing this quantity of information at once tore me apart inside.
Close to the end of the exhibits is a Hall of Names—a large round room with a “cone” above the center, that space covered with photos and details of those who died. The outer walls were lined—and I mean lined—with hundreds and hundreds of notebooks filled with the names and biographical details of those who perished at the hands of the Nazis. The sheer size of the room and the number of books makes the victim count so very real. And so very crushing.
Two other buildings follow a walk through the memorial: one is pictured below, a fire in a very large dark room, with ashes gathered up from the gas chambers, a place for those who died to be buried and remembered as one people.
The final building is the most devastating, and is dedicated to the 1.5 million children who perished. The exhibit is a very very dark, large, round room with railings needed to make your way through. Mirrors around the outside reflect the dozen or so small votive candles in the center of the room; the reflections go on and on forever as haunting vocals float through the space. The names, ages, and countries of the children are read one by one, in voices that seem to come from different parts of the room, and are in the languages of each child.
I left with a profound sense of loss, and my spirit drained from the visit there. I’m glad I went, but I know that remembrances of that memorial will be with me for a long time to come.
Our next stop was something called “Model City”—a huge model of the old city of Jerusalem! Talk about a wow. It really helped in orienting my brain to all that I’ve learned, and gave me a real sense of what Jerusalem was probably like in Christ’s day. It helped that our tour guide reminded us of places we had been, and those we would be going on in the last two days of touring. (Last two? Did I really just type “last two”? Now I’m bummed!)
My final episode for the day was our convention session for the evening. We began with wonderful praises to the Lord, led by Tommy Walker again (he rocks!) . . . and were treated to a solo by a Venezuelan man playing some sort of Armenian flute-like instrument. This is the instrument he used when recording music for The Passion of the Christ! His interpretation of O Come O Come Emmanuel could not have been more appropriate for this place.
Pastor Jack Hayford preached the Word tonight, including a prophetic message concerning the breaking of strongholds. The whole assembly then broke into small groups to anoint one another and pray for one another, and the man who prayed for me reiterated so much of what God has already spoken to me on this trip! It felt as if the Lord was telling me, “Okay, let’s give it to you again, just so you remember this when you get back home!”
So I’m off to write in my (paper!) journal about those things, to engrave them even more fully into my heart. Goodnight, all, and be blessed!