March 12, 2016
Now that we’ve returned from our study tour you’ll hopefully be able to talk to one of us in person about what we saw, heard, learned, and experienced!
Below is a wrap up video that serves as a nice summary of the trip and a reminder of all that we did.
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February 24, 2016
Today was a long day full of special sightseeing in and around the old city of Jerusalem. Our first stop was the Mount of Olives, which overlooks the Temple Mount and old city, with the Kidron Valley in between. At the base of the Mount of Olives is a Jewish cemetery and off to the side were excavated burial caves and vessels. We then walked into the Garden of Gethsemane, also on the Mount of Olives and saw olive trees, some of which were enormous; through scientific dating processes, at least one is strongly believed to have been there when Jesus and the disciples were there. Unbelievable!
February 23, 2016
We arrived in Jerusalem Monday evening after dark and we are now staying at the beautiful Dan Hotel, Jerusalem for the remainder of our trip. It’s quite a contrast staying in a large (and very fancy) hotel right in the center of such a bustling metropolis than it was in the quiet kibbutz by the Sea of Galilee. Jerusalem is the capital of Israel and Tel Aviv is the center of commerce.
Our day started with devotions in the hotel’s lobby area where we sat on plush sofas…another contrast to our standing or sitting in plastic chairs by the Sea of Galilee. Terry read from Psalms 121 and 124, which are both Psalms of the Assent. King David conquered Jerusalem in approximately 950 B.C. and it became a Jewish city. Psalm 124 was written by David and it describes how God made this event happen and how He got Israel through difficult times. Our lesson was short but it centered on how our reach should exceed our grasp. In other words, we should step out in faith, knowing that in our own power we are weak, but with God we are strong and anything is possible.
February 22, 2016
Our team has certainly come together well during our first week. While many of the team are from Crossings Community Church in Oklahoma City, we have others who have joined from places like Michigan, Louisiana, and Texas. We have people from several different denominations and church backgrounds within the group. Members have consistently demonstrated love and kindness to one another in small ways while also managing to laugh about some of the unexpected turns along the way. This feels like true Christian unity – or what I imagine it should feel like.
February 21, 2016
It’s Sunday in Israel; the Jewish Sabbath is over and our normal day of worship has begun. We again started with a devotional time on the shore of the Sea of Galilee in gorgeous weather. Because it was Sunday, Pastor Terry preached a mini-sermon on Matthew 8 where the disciples and Jesus, who was sleeping, were in a boat in the middle of the Sea of Galilee when suddenly a fierce storm came up. The lesson was that often in life we are abruptly faced with a ‘storm’ that is totally out of our control. It could be something like as a tragic car accident or bad medical report, etc. We don’t know what to do, and often there is nothing we can do. The disciples were afraid for their lives during this storm and they did not know what to do. Jesus simply spoke and calmed the seas. Our lesson today is that faith drives out fear. Our time in Israel has provided us with many history lessons about how trustworthy God has been throughout the ages. Rather than focusing on our circumstances, we should instead focus on the strength of our faith in God.
February 20, 2016
The day again started on the shores of the Galilee with a devotion. As we looked out over the Sea of Galilee where so much of Jesus’s three years of ministry took place, the sky was overcast. The day looked like it would be gray all day and we expected rain.
After loading the bus it was a short trip through Tiberias to Mount Arbel. There was rain on the windshield of the bus, but Yehuda said it was just moisture from the clouds. We hiked up the mountain and was mostly hidden in the cloud cover. On top we discussed that the valley below was the way from Nazareth to the Sea of Galilee.
February 19, 2016
Is it really already Friday? Gosh the time is flying and we are all happy that we still have another week to go. We started today with devotions on the shore of the Sea of Galilee…pinch me, I have to be dreaming. What an honor to stand where Jesus and the Disciples stood and sing.
We are now in the region of the Galilee and it is very lush and very green. The local crops are primarily bananas, mangos, and avocados, but olives are a very prominent crop here too.
February 18, 2016
Today was our last day in the Dead Sea region and it was another picture-perfect day. We had our devotion and then set for a short ride to Masada, which is its own mountain that Herod the Great built into a huge fortress/palace/city. We could either take a nearly one hour hike up the mountain or enjoy a six minute gondola ride. We chose the gondola! The views and the ruins remain impressive even today. Scrolls from the books of Ezekiel and Leviticus were found by the synagogue at the top of Masada.
February 17, 2016
Everyone said it would be pretty chilly in Israel in February, but so far it’s been short sleeves, sunscreen, and gorgeous weather. Will it last? Who knows, but we are enjoying it.
Today we began with a devotional down by the beautiful Dead Sea and learned that water flows from the Jordan River into it and then goes no where. It’s the lowest elevation on earth and because it has no outlet, it becomes very salty (almost 10 times saltier than the ocean) and is no longer potable or life giving. The analogy was clear…while things can appear beautiful on the outside, if there is no substance inside, it’s dead.
February 16, 2016
Our second day in the Holy land began with a huge breakfast buffet and another day of unseasonably warm weather. We then headed out to Yad Hashmona, which is a complex built by Finnish Christians to honor seven Finnish Jews who died in Auchwitz. We toured the grounds that included a Biblical garden planted on a hillside that replicates agriculture in ancient times and saw firsthand how grapes are farmed, stored, and made into wine. We also saw a replica of an olive oil press and a threshing floor for wheat. Terry taught from Isaiah 5 and the grape metaphors used to represent those with faith and those who wander came to life.
February 15, 2016
After a three hour delay in Newark, we spent the next almost ten hours flying the friendly skies and arrived today in Tel Aviv just before noon, local time. The weather was picture perfect and our first stop was a picnic lunch in a nearby park. We were surrounded by almond trees, olive trees, mustard bushes…and yes, the seeds are super small and they taste like mustard!
January 4, 2016
Our trip to Israel will be here before you know it!
Once we’re on the ground in Israel, we’ll post periodic updates and photos. Check back often or get update notifications using the subscribe options on this page.
We’ll be sharing our travel experiences online with you, our friends and family, to not only bring you along on the journey with us, but to also solicit your ongoing prayer and support. Most of us on this trip have been preparing mentally and spiritually for what will be a life-changing experience in the land. We’re also preparing physically as we train our bodies to handle all the time we’ll spend on our feet walking. So please pray that we would be diligent in our preparations and we would all be ready to learn what God has to teach us!