Israel Study Tour - Troy Thomas & Marshall Holtvluwer

Mar 18-28, 2019

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Our final day in Israel

Day 08!!  Our final day in Israel.  We have been joyful all day.  Laughing together.  Telling stories.  Continuing to get to know one another.  Learning.  Growing.  It truly has been a wonderful time.  Time that at some points seemed like we have been here a lot longer and at other times seemed as if it was passing by swiftly.

All of us are leaving changed, the people we were when we stepped off of the plane in Tel Aviv and the people we are stepping back on the plane are completely different.

We have seen a gate that Abram walked through, where David fought Goliath, we sloshed through the tunnel Hezekiah and the people of Israel dug, drifted on the waters where some of Jesus' disciples fished, and so much more.

For those of you who we have left behind we appreciate your prayers and support during this time.  We have enjoyed the safety and security of being guests of the Israeli government.  This is one of the safest places in the world to be.  Everyone has been so friendly to us.  The hospitality has been fantastic.  We have truly enjoyed the generosity of a kind people.  Both Arab and Jew enjoy peaceful coexistence within Israel's borders.

These ancient streets and walls have seen a lot of conflict; and will no doubt see more.  We must "pray for the peace of Jerusalem (Psalm 122:6).  We must pray that both the Arab and the Jew can continue to coexist peacefully in Israel's borders and that the truth of Israel would be clearly seen by all.  She is a beacon of freedom in the Middle East.

If you have the opportunity to come here please take it.

Please do not forget to ask us about this journey.  What you have read in the blog only hints at what we have studied and learned about.  We have much to share.

I cannot help but think of Luke 24, where Jesus encounters two of His disciples "discussing and arguing" on the road to Emmaus.  Jesus opens the scriptures, "beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, He interpreted for them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures." (Luke 24:27) Jesus leads them through a version of the Passover Seder meal and then disappears.  Their hearts were on fire and they went and told the other disciples what happened.

This narrative is similar to what happened to us this week.  We opened the Bible and saw with our eyes the places that our heros walked.  We didn't just read the Bible we SAW the Bible.  And our hearts are on fire!  We cannot wait to go home and share with you what our Messiah Yeshua Ben Yoseph (Jesus son of Joshua) has done inside of us.  Just as those disciples had their perspective shifted so have we.  I bless God for this!

I want give a final shout out to our amazing driver who got us safely to and from every location, Eli!

And our fantastic teachers Troy and Marshal, they gave us everything every day.  They set us up for success every day and gave this tremendous opportunity to learn in Israel.

And finally Ronen!  Our awesome tour guide. He gave us an informative and insightful look into our locations and the Bible as well. He would keep all of us on track to be on time for our next stop and he always had us laughing with his jokes and quips about life.

All of us are deeply appreciative of these men.  They made our trip that much more meaningful.  We are all very humbled and grateful for your service.

What happens in Bethlehem stays in Bethlehem!! ;)

Well, I hate to be anticlimactic but I need to be up at 4:15am and I still need to pack.

I leave you with the words of my favorite hymn.  I think it contains fitting words for all of us as we prepare to take the journey home.

O Thou who camest from above,
the pure celestial fire to impart
kindle a flame of sacred love
upon the mean altar of my heart.

There let it for thy glory burn
with inextinguishable blaze,
and trembling to its source return,
in humble prayer and fervent praise.

Jesus, confirm my heart's desire
to work and speak and think for thee;
still let me guard the holy fire,
and still stir up thy gift in me.

Ready for all thy perfect will,
my acts of faith and love repeat,
till death thy endless mercies seal,
and make my sacrifice complete.

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