Israel Post 2: Decompression

We got home from Israel this morning after 18 hours in a plane.  I am wiped out! To say that the trip was mind-blowing and life-altering is not really to do it justice.  The trip was the trip of a lifetime; just to stand in the synagogue in Capernaum where Jesus undoubtedly worshiped and taught, to look at Nehemiah’s wall and to stand on the Mount of Olives and take a boat out on the Sea of Galilee are experiences that every pastor and every believer should try to have.

 

I will post thoughts and interesting tidbits from each place that we visited.  I have 1200 pictures and 150 videos to wade through, upload, and then process.  Please bear with me as I do.

 

IMG_20120224_034523All in all, I have a great respect now for why Israel is called “the Promised Land” in Scripture. The fields were so green, and the produce is ridiculous in the marketplace! Laura made me take a picture of her hand next to some celery just to see what it was like.  It seems like every other vendor had a huge pomegranate press, squeezing fresh pomegranate juice for people in the souq. The land produces a bountiful harvest; it is truly the land of milk and honey!

 

The people of Israel are also amazingly welcoming. There is a mishmash of cultures, with “traditional” Jewish predominating, but ultra-orthodox Jewish culture and Muslim and Arab Christian and even Baha’i all playing a part.  There are parts of Israel that are ultra-modern and some that are blasts from the past.

 

Laura and I have come home changed.  I am trying to put it all together and get some perspective, and ABF will definitely play a major role in that.

 

Thanks for praying for us as we  were away!

 

Israel Trip 2012: Just Getting Started!

Hello everyone! I’m enjoying my sabbatical immensely; Israel has been amazing for the first 5 days. We really started our tour today with the larger group and after a full day of touring I am EXHAUSTED!

 

This will be very brief, because I am tired and we have an early morning.  I have more pictures, video, and many more stories of what we’re doing but this is just a thumbnail sketch.

 

IMG_20120224_034019We got in on Tuesday afternoon.  The flight was really hard, but we made it in one piece and our room in Tel Aviv was amazing.  We went to the market in Tel Aviv, called the Souq (that’s the Arabic word for “market”). It’s fun and a bit crazy, and the produce is HUMONGOUS. The picture to the left is Laura and Ellie in the souq, and this is actually pretty tame.  The souq is nuts and fun.

 

 

 

IMG_20120222_072205Wednesday we went with about 6 other people to old town Jerusalem.  WOW. We walked the old town wall from the Jaffa gate (far western gate) north and east to the Lion’s Gate, which is also the Eastern Gate which Jesus would have walked through on his way from the Mount of Olives to the Temple. It was unbelievable to walk Old Jerusalem. We toured the Museum of the Tower of David and shopped and enjoyed ourselves immensely. This picture is of Laura and Will walking through old town Jerusalem shopping.  This quarter is the Arab quarter, inhabited by Arab Christians.

 

101_4103Thursday we hopped in a bus and traveled to Haifa and Rosh Hanira, which is the northernmost city in Israel on the Lebanon border along the coast.  There are some caves there that the seawall has formed that reminded me of the movie “The Count of Monte Cristo.” We had a blast looking at them and touring the city of Acco, which was an important crusader city and had a really cool sea wall.  The pic at the left really doesn’t do it much justice; the water is amazingly clear and the cave openings were a sight to behold.  We had a great time and while this wasn’t really a “biblical” site (you could stretch a long way and say that Abraham came through here on his way from Ur), it was still cool.

 

IMG_20120224_053453Friday was pretty chill. We went to the Souq again with a bunch of the staff and bought some spices and souvenirs, then went to Jaffa and walked around.  Jaffa is the modern city we’re familiar with as Joppa, where Jonah boarded a boat to Tarshish. It’s also the place where Peter was staying in Acts 10 when Cornelius sent for him and the Gentiles first heard the Gospel! We walked around the old town, went to a flea market, and had a blast.

 

 

Today was a whirlwind as the tour started in earnest. We started the day in Caesarea, which is huge in Acts, and then went to Tel Megiddo (the site of the battle of the hill of Megiddo…aka Armageddon).  We left there and went to Mount Carmel, where in 1 Kings 18 Elijah had it out with the prophets of Baal for dominance in the religious landscape of his day. The view was ridiculous!

 

IMG_20120225_101913After Mount Carmel we went to Nazareth and stood on Mount Precipice, where it is believed that the people of Nazareth tried to throw Jesus over the cliff in Luke 4. It was intense.

 

I also want to put a few of the panorama pictures I was able to take in this post for you to see.  I am not at all sure that they will show up appropriately, but they’re awesome.

 

First: The Hippodrome in Caesarea

 

2.25 Caesarea Hippodrome seats

 

Next: The Sea Wall and Palace Ruins in Caesarea

 

2.25 Caesarea Sea Wall and Palace Ruins Panorama

 

Mount Carmel view overlooking the Jezreel Valley and the Mediterranean Sea

 

2.25 Mount Carmel East to West Panorama

 

Mount Precipice (Nazareth) overlooking the Jezreel Valley:

 

2.25 Mount Precipice Valley Panorama East to West

 

Mount Precipice looking back on Nazareth:

 

2.25 Mount Precipice Nazareth Panorama

 

Tel Megiddo:

 

2.25 Tel Megiddo View of Valley of Jezreel Panorama

 

We are doing tremendously and really enjoying ourselves.  I’m having a great time not really worrying about anything much, just being “present” with no cell phone, no email, and no responsibilities. It’s a lot of fun. 🙂  Israeli food is just fantastic, with fruits and veggies to die for.  Eating Kosher is kinda interesting (milk products in the morning, meat in the evening), and the Israeli coffee franchise called Aroma absolutely, positively, without a doubt would put Starbucks out of business in the states.

 

More later! Thanks for praying for us, keep praying!