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.
We 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.
Wednesday 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.
Thursday 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.
Friday 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!
After 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
Next: The Sea Wall and Palace Ruins in Caesarea
Mount Carmel view overlooking the Jezreel Valley and the Mediterranean Sea
Mount Precipice (Nazareth) overlooking the Jezreel Valley:
Mount Precipice looking back on Nazareth:
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!