April 2, 2017
This morning Mike read Revelation 21:1-4 which is his favorite passage in the Bible and verse 4 is his favorite verse. “Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea. Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, ‘Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.’” Mike compared his excitement of watching his bride walk down the aisle to the excitement we should have about these verses. He gave a list of things that will be no more: doctors, funerals, missiles, politicians, even broccoli (if you hate broccoli like Mike does).
April 1, 2017
Shabbat Shalom! This morning as we drove to Masada, Chris gave a devotional on our bus. He gave an overview of the book of Romans then landed on Romans 9-11 where Paul focuses on Israel. Something that struck me was when he talked about the wild olive trees being grafted into the cultivated olive trees. Being in Israel and seeing olive trees all around, this part of Scripture really came to life.
The road we were on went through the desert then we turned right and rode along the Dead Sea. I loved the view along that road. Our first stop was the AHAVA factory where they make Dead Sea beauty products. Because it was Shabbat, the factory was closed. But the store was open which was great news for the women but not so much for the men!
March 31, 2017
Jim, our director gave a devotional on our way to Israel’s Kenesset (where their government is run) this morning. He shared from 1 Chronicles 29:10-15. David is before the assembly and prays. He calls them strangers and sojourners. Jim compares how we are sojourners in Israel on the tour. Tito and Ronnie are our guides and we rely on them. Similarly, we are pilgrims in this world.
March 30, 2017
This morning both our tour bus groups were able to gather together at the Mount of Olives for devotions. Our backdrop was a spectacular view of Old City Jerusalem. Mike spoke about the Sermon on the Mount. We then took some time taking pictures of the view and then walked down to the Garden of Gethsemane. The walk was extremely steep and everyone walked nice and slow and arrived safely.
March 29, 2017
Mike started devotions this morning reading some Psalms of Ascent since we will be going up to Jerusalem today. He read verses from Psalm 121, 125, 128, 129, and 130. We got our last views of the Sea of Galilee and Jordan River. It is sad to be leaving. The views were beautiful. We’ve seen many farms, hills, and fields in northern Israel. A lot of the landscape doesn’t look like it has changed in thousands of years.
March 28, 2017
We began our day early, an hour early to be exact. Our morning wake-up call came an hour earlier than it should have. It was okay with me, I took time to sit on my balcony overlooking the Sea of Galilee. It was a little hazy and cool but the view was gorgeous and again my mind went back to the picture of Jesus walking on the water.
Since I haven’t mentioned it yet, our group enjoys a buffet style breakfast and dinner at the hotel each day. While they serve many food familiar to us in America, we are also able to try many middle eastern foods. I try to be brave and try as many new things as I can. My favorite is enjoying shakshuka at breakfast. Shakshuka is a dish of tomato sauce with eggs cooked overtop. It is delicious!
March 27, 2017
This morning as we set out to our boat tour on the Sea of Galilee, our guide pointed out all around the places Jesus ministered. It’s exciting and almost surreal to be in the place Jesus did the majority of His ministry.
We enjoyed seeing some of the area wildlife. We saw little hyrax in the rocks on the side of the road. They are groundhog looking animals. We enjoyed pointing them out as we rode along the coast.
March 26, 2017
We enjoyed our first full day of touring. I am amazed that we are able to get so many sites in each day.
We packed up our bags and headed to the Sea of Galilee. That’s our final stop for the night. On the way we took a bus tour through Tel Aviv. We also enjoyed a devotion on the bus about why we should love Israel. The first is because God loves Israel. Then because of the promise of the land, God’s land, in Genesis 15. Rabbi Heschel said, “To abandon the land would be to repudiate the Bible.” And last, because God’s presence is in Jerusalem. It was a great reminder as we set off for the day.
March 25, 2017
I’m Catie and I work at The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry in Southern New Jersey. This is my second time in Israel but my first tour. Last summer I had the privilege of coming to Israel with The Friends of Israel young adult group, Oʀɪɢɪɴꜱ. We volunteered at Kaplan Medical Center in Rehovot. I’m excited for the opportunity to document our time here through writing and pictures.