We're Home!

We safely arrived at LAX at 5:50 am after a long 15 hour flight from Tel Aviv. However, the adventure is not over yet! In fact, the real adventure is just about to begin. WE just finished moving everything out of our apartment and are preparing for the big move in 2 months. Please pray with us as we have a lot on our plates. We would greatly appreciate prayer in the following areas:

- wisdom in seeking jobs and an affordable place to live in Wheaton
- gracious and serving hearts as we live with Brian's parents this summer
- guidance in financial aid, scholarships, loans, etc.
- for a timely and profitable sale of our two cars
- that we may continue to grow in our walks with Lord, in His Body and especially in love towards one another.

Thank you! More Israel photos to come soon!


Lessons from the Temple

Yesterday and today we have spent the majority of our time talking about and learning about the Temple/Temple Mount. Yesterday morning we went to the Temple Mount as a group and spent a good amount of time discussing the importance of the Old Testament Temple as well as the significant events that took place on the Temple Mount in New Testament times. We had a free afternoon (and spent much of it shopping! By the way - Pop we got your new Israel hat!!) which enabled us to do two really cool things: we went to the Temple Institute and the Western Wall Tunnel. The Temple Institute is in the process of recreating all of the items necessary for a modern day temple to function. They are just waiting for the opportunity to rebuild the temple on the Temple Mount (obviously a lot would have to change for that to happen!) and to resume all of the Temple functions of the Old Testament times.

Everything we have seen in the Jewish people shows an amazing hope and expectation in the future of Israel. They are anxiously waiting for the Messiah and are activtely pursuing preparing a way for him to come. It breaks my heart to know that they can be so zealous, but without the Truth. After spending so much time thinking through the OT Temple, the sacrifices and the desperation of a people - it was a great joy to spend the afternoon on the Mount of Olives. There Dr Varner gave a fantastic sermon going through the hope of the Gospel. What a privilege to be reminded of the truths of who Jesus Christ was (and is!) and of what He has accomplished by His death, burial and resurrection. Here are a few photos from yesterday and today. I hope these images will remind you of the true hope that is found in the Gospel and to spur you on to boldness in sharing our reliable faith.

Here Brian and I are in front of the Dome of the Rock on the Temple Mount.

Another view on the Temple Mount

View of the Temple Mount from the Southern Excavations.

View of the Temple Mount from the Mount of Olives.


Life in the Old City

If you have never been to Israel, you might not know what I mean by saying the "Old City." Let me explain. Jerusalem is divided into two parts: the Old City and the New City. The Old City consists of everything within the city walls which we built, destroyed and rebuilt by Moslems and Crusaders in the 1200's. The New City is the modern city of Jerusalem which is outside of these walls.

While we have traveled all over the country of Israel, we have spent the most time in Jerusalem due to the significance of this place in both the Old and New Testaments. Walking through the streets of the Old City you can experience everything from outdoor meat markets, to ancient churches, to ice cream stands, to arab bartering in the shops. We are currently staying at the Gloria hotel which is a cultural experience in itself. We are inside the wall of Jaffa Gate which is one of the busiest gates in all of the Old City. We have enjoyed hearing all sorts of activity especially since yesterday was the holiday of Shavuot (Pentecost in Greek). This festival celebrates the giving of the law to Moses and thousands of pilgrims have flocked through Jaffa Gate to celebrate by the Western Wall.

One other important thing to note about the Old City is the fact that it is divided into four different sections. The sections are not equal in size, but they are all called quarters based on the majority of the people inhabiting a particular area. The quarters are as follows: the Jewish Quarter, the Moslem Quarter, the Christian Quarter and the Armeniand Quarter. We have been free to wander through any of these quarters, but the Moslem quarter is much dirtier and it is safer to stay out of this particular area. Everything in the Jewish Quarter has been rebuilt since 1967. We were here on the 40th anniversary of the recapturing of the Old City and witnessed some of the celebrations for what is known as Jerusalem Day.

Here are some pictures of everyday life within the walls of the Old City.

A Mezusah on the wall of Jaffa Gate. This contains the Torah and is a reminder to all who enter of the law.

This is the outside of the Citadel which was a fortress inside Jaffa Gate.

This is our teacher, Dr Varner. He is showing us a map of the Old City while we sit on a roof of a house to get a better idea of where we are at.

One of the many tunnels/arches in the Old City. It doesn't get much better than that!

A picture of me looking over the city from the roof of the Citadel.

This is inside the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. This dome covers the traditional spot of Jesus' tomb. While the church is an experience in itself with incense and hundreds of people paying homage - the historical importance of this site is undeniable.

Walking through the Jewish Quarter.

A look at Zion gate on the South Western side of the city. Yes, that really is a car trying to fit through this gate. The clash of ancient and modern is really an impressive thing to see.

Well, I hope you enjoyed the quick lesson on the Old City. We are really enjoying staying within the Old City gates and experiencing all the sounds and smells that are associated with the above pictures. We wake up to the sounds of church bells, cars honking, music blaring, the Moslem call to prayer and people chattering in the streets. If you like cultural experiences - it doesn't get much better than this!


A Legitimate Update!

All right, we have made you wait long enough!! We finally have consistent wireless internet at our hotel for the rest of the week so we can upload some of the fun pictures we have taken in our time so far in Israel. Just to give a quick summary of all we have done I will list our activities and then the pictures will come later:

We spent the first three days in Jerusalem exploring the Old City. We spent this time mainly in the Old Testament talking about the city in the time of David, exploring some of the excavations and just a bit of NT stuff in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. Then we made our way to Galilee by way of Caesarea Maritime, where we spent four wonderful days at the En Gev resort right on the shore of the Sea - it was beautiful!! The weather was much warmer and more humid in the Galilee area but it was a nice change of pace to all the rain in Jerusalem. We visited Nazareth, Capernaum, Chorazin, Megiddo, the Golan Heights, Caesarea Philippi, Nimrod's Castle, Tiberias and probablly others that I am forgetting. We then left Galilee and made our way to the Judean Wilderness in the Southern part of the country. We drove on the West Bank to Jericho, Qumran and the Dead Sea. After a nice float in the sea, we spent last night at the Masada Youth Hostel. This morning Brian hiked Masada and I opted to take the tram up since I have already hiked it before. Now Brian knows why I only needed to do it once! :-) Anyway, today we covered much ground from the Judean Wilderness through the Negev and are now back in the Old City for our final four days in this beautiful country. I hope I didn't overwhlem any of you with this huge paragraph - but I am sure you can get a picture of what a whirlwind tour we are doing by the above explanation!

Ok, as promised a few highlights in the form of pictures:

This was taken on our first full day in the Old City. We are standing on the Citadel by Jaffa Gate with a nice view of the Dome of the Rock behind us. Aren't we cute?

After a brief but strong rain storm, we were a little wet. Here we are inside a tunnel by the center of the Jewish Quarter.

Here we are at Caesarea Maritime. Unfortunately the picture is marred by the fog and a random tourist on the right side of the photo. David Jeremiah has a group in Israel right now and there were about 500 people milling around this site!

This was taken at Kursi overlooking the Sea of Galilee. It is the traditional site of where the legion of demons were cast into the pigs that ran head long into the sea.

Brian is very excited about this inscription. We fell in love over Greek texts and this reminds him of our dating days!

Here is our entire group (except the person who was taking the picture of course!). This was taken right before we hiked down Mt Arbel. And I do mean hike - this is a serious incline!

Brian took this picture looking through a window in Nimrod's Castle. The castle is above Caeseara Philippi half way up Mt Hermon. Here we are fairly close to the Lebanese border and the Syrian border.

Our bus driver, Joel, became a Christian 2 years ago and is finally getting baptized by Dr Varner. This was a wonderful time on the Jordan River of rejoicing over his salvation and remembering the joy of our own!

Hope you enjoyed the pictures!


Floating in the Dead Sea

Well, after a few days in the Galilee area we just left our wonderful resort in En Gev this morning. We drove down through Jericho and Qumran and enjoyed a late evening swim in the Dead Sea. So much has happened in the last few days but internet has been sparse. We have a promise of Wireless Internet tomorrow and promise some new pictures! Tomorrow morning we hike Masada and head back up through the Negev to the Old City for the remainder of our trip. God has been very good to us and we have been having a wonderful time!


Off to Galilee

Well, there will not be any pictures for the post today, but we thought it would be better to post something! We just finished our first 3 days in the Old City and are now moving on to Galilee. Brian is loving his first visit to Israel, and I am so excited to be back in the Holy Land. We had a special treat yesterday...a rain storm hit us while we were walking around the Old City. That made for a very interesting afternoon! We also were able to experience the finest driving that Israel has to offer. Well, our bus is leaving in 10 minutes so we must get going. Shalom!


Day 1 in Jerusalem

Well, we have arrived safely here in Israel and have already spent a half-day in the old city of Jerusalem. And it was wonderful! In addition to touring through some of the old gates, we got to go to the Western Wall and pray as well as see the nightly closing of the Church of the Holy Seplechure (a 1300-year old tradition). Now we have just woke up after a good nights sleep and will be spending the entire day in the old city! Here are a few pics from yesterday:

We're having slight problems with our technology stuff, but we should have that resolved in a day or so. Well, off we go for today!