January 16, 2015
On our last night all together in Israel, we gathered and shared how we’ve been impacted on the trip, encouraging our TBS leadership and our tour guide Ronan. What a wealth of knowledge and passion for teaching they’ve each brought to our trip! After farewell hugs, we got some sleep and woke up early this morning to depart for home. We will bring with us so many stories to tell. Can’t wait to share them with each of you!
January 15, 2015
Today we walked the Via Dolorosa, the road of pain that our Lord Jesus took on His way to the cross. Along this journey I was reminded of the many “contrasts” that we have seen these past two weeks between faith in God and other things of this world. So what do we put in place of our faith in God?
January 14, 2015
Today our group of adventurers tackling a water-filled tunnel, gaining insight at a model of the city of Jerusalem from the time of Jesus, learning more about the Dead Sea Scrolls, enjoying a traditional Jerusalem lunch, praying in the Garden of Gethsemane and gazing into the Garden Tomb – the possible site of the burial of Jesus Christ.
January 13, 2015
From the ultra orthodox Jews walking around in black coats and ringlets to the Palestinian boys banging on the bus doors trying to sell us souvenirs; from the intensely reverent prayer chants of the Western wall to the Muslim call to prayer which rings through the streets five times a day; from the Valley of Gehenna (pit-like valley outside ancient Jerusalem known for trash and child sacrifice) to the ritual hand washing stations of the Temple Mount, Israel is a city doused in dichotomy.
January 12, 2015
Like Jesus and His disciples 2,000 years ago, today we headed out from the Galilee region and “went up to Jerusalem.” Though directionally, Jerusalem sits south of Galilee, in terms of altitude, this statement perfectly describes the journey to Jerusalem. Along the way we stopped off to see Scythopolis, a major Greco-Roman city similar to Caesarea Maritima that attracted folks from all over with its bustling commerce and ease of life. After Scythopolis, our travels brought us to the Jordan River at the location where John the Baptist likely baptized Jesus and his other followers. It was likely also the place where Joshua led the Israelites across the river into the promised land. Our route also included a detour to Qumran where the Dead Sea scrolls were accidentally found by a Bedouin shepherd. As the sun sank toward the horizon, we made the ascent from the Dead Sea (lowest point on earth) up to Jerusalem which sits at the highest point in the region.
January 11, 2015
Our trip through the Holy Land thus far has been life changing, and today followed suit. We began our morning before dawn, leaving our hotel, the Kibbutz Ein-Gev. Our morning’s first activity was a surprise. Jokingly we were told that we would have an opportunity to experience the “kibbutz” life (a kibbutz originally referred to a community farm formed by Zionist immigrants returning to live and work together, but now its a general term for a house) and help in picking bananas from the fields, or by milking the kibbutz’ dairy cows. However, instead what awaited was an unforgettable boat ride on the beautiful Sea of Galilee.
January 9, 2015
Our 7th day of adventure began very early with a 4:45 a.m. wake up call, followed by a quick breakfast in the restaurant of the Ein-Gev Holiday Resort nestled right on the banks of the Sea of Galilee. As we had arrived in the dark the night before, and were departing in the dark this morning, everyone was curious about the scenery around us! No complaints about our weary eyes however as new discoveries about Jesus and his life here await us!
January 8, 2015
Day 6 brought an unusually cold storm to Israel that brought the biggest detour we’ve taken yet. Rather than drive directly north from the Dead Sea up to the Sea of Galilee where our new hotel resides, we made our way back to the Mediterranean coast before heading north to Caesarea and Mt. Carmel, skirting the storm as much as possible. After witnessing a Roman theatre and Hippodrome at Caesarea and savoring the breathtaking view from the Carmel peak where Elijah likely called down fire from Heaven, we headed back east toward our hotel on the Sea of Galilee, Ein Gev Kibbutz.
January 7, 2015
The menu for Day 5 was made up of desert, desert and more desert… and okay, yes, a little dessert. From the heights of the rocky mountain fortress Masada to the depths of the Dead Sea (the lowest point on earth), we found ourselves on a wilderness journey much like the prophets and patriarchs. A cold and sometimes rainy wind brought a reddish hue to our noses and even some of our “toeses”, but the breathtaking views atop Masada (including a rainbow), the camel ride with the hospitable tent-dwelling Bedouins, and a dip (or rather a float) in the Dead Sea made it worth every minute.
January 6, 2015
Had you come looking for us today on Day 4, we were most likely to be found either atop one of the region’s largest hills (called a “tel” here in Israel) or underground in one of the cisterns or Israelite cave homes found throughout the region of the Shephelah (rolling hills). We began the day by touring the Biblical Garden at the Yad Hashmona Hotel and waving goodbye to our first hotel of the tour. Taking the scenic route south to our new home for the next two days on the Dead Sea, the Isrotel Ganim Hotel, we first stopped off at Bet Shemesh, the land of Samson from the book of Judges.
January 5, 2015
Our first full day in Israel was exactly that… Full! We started the day with a hearty breakfast at Yad Hashmona Hotel before taking a relatively short drive (nothing is too far in Israel which is roughly the size of the state of New Jersey) to Jericho, which fell to Israelites after they obeyed God and marched around it. After Jericho we visited Shiloh, the site of the Israelite tabernacle for over 300 years and where Samuel the prophet heard the voice of the Lord. We then enjoyed a quick sandwich on the bus and finished our travels for the day at Shechem, home to Jacob’s well and the burial site of Joseph’s bones.