June 2018 Israel-Jordan Tour Update – Days 1 & 2

DAYS 1 & 2 – SUNDAY-MONDAY, JUNE 10 & 11: DEPART FOR & ARRIVE IN TEL AVIV, ISRAEL

Welcome to Israel

Welcome to Israel sign at the Ben Gurion Airport

Our day of departure finally came! The group of 82 that God has brought together used primarily three flights, with some flying to Israel on their own. All the flights went well with the unfortunate exception of part of the group flying out of Chicago. Because of the delay of their flight, 14 in our group missed the international flight. We hope they are able to be re-scheduled in a timely manner.

Jaffa

Jaffa Tel Aviv

Jaffa and Tel Aviv beach

The rest in the group arrived at the Ben Gurion Airport in the Lod/Tel Aviv area. Arriving at various times and meeting each other, we loaded up the two buses after the usual passport and luggage procedures. with sunny skies and temps in the mid 80s, we drove to Jaffa/Joppa, a southern suburb of Tel Aviv (600,000 people). We walked the alley-ways, read from Jonah 1, and Acts 9 & 10, and enjoyed our first great view of the Tel Aviv coastline.

Hotel/Med Sea

Med Sea sunset

Sunset on the Med Sea

Arriving at our hotel just north of Jaffa in Tel Aviv and right on the shoreline, some enjoyed a nap while others enjoyed a swim in the Med Sea. The water was very warm (about 80), the sane was white and soft, and the waves were beautifully rolled in.

We enjoyed dinner at 6:30, followed by an orientation meeting to help prepare us for the trip ahead. We met out on the beach and enjoyed a marvelous sunset on the Mediterranean Sea! Following the meeting, some enjoyed a stroll on the promenade, while others retired for the evening.

It was a long day but we’re excited to be here in Israel, the land of the Bible! We pray for a timely arrival of the rest of the group!

DAY 3 – TUESDAY, JUNE 12: CAESAREA, CARMEL, MEGIDDO, SEPPORIS, PRECIPICE OF NAZARETH, TIBERIAS

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March 2018 Israel-Jordan Tour Update – Days 1 & 2

DAYS 1 & 2 – SUNDAY-MONDAY, MARCH 11-12: DEPART U.S.A. – ARRIVE IN ISRAEL

Departure & Arrival

Israel coastline

The Israel/Tel Aviv coastline

Our day of departure finally arrived, With great excitement and anticipation, we embarked on our flight to Israel, the land of the Bible! With thanksgiving to God, we all made our connection flights. Enduring the long night-flight, the coast of Israel came into view. Landing at the Ben Gurion Airport (named after Israel’s first Prime Minister in 1948), with patience we passed through the long lines of Passport Control. Grabbing our luggage (it all arrived!), we met Shlomo (our guide) and David (our driver).

Joppa/Netanya

Jaffa Israel

The quiet alley-ways of Jaffa

After loading the bus, we departed the airport for a brief stop in Jaffa (Joppa). Located on the coastline of the Mediterranean Sea, this is where Jonah ran from God (Jonah) and where Peter leaded Dorcas and had his vision (Acts 9, 10). We walked through the quiet alley ways and gained a great view of the coastline of Tel Aviv.

From here we drove north to Netanya. After checking in, we enjoyed a late dinner together followed by a brief orientation meeting. 

It is great to be here in Israel!!

 

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February 2018 Israel Tour Summary-Update – Days 1 and 2

DAYS 1 & 2 – FRIDAY-SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 9-10: DEPARTURE FROM U.S.A /LAND IN ISRAEL

Welcome to Israel

Welcome to Israel sign within the Ben Gurion Airport

Our trip began today! Our group of 25 flew drove from MN to Winnepeg where we caught a flight to Toronto. While the international flight was delayed a little because of snow, we were able to take off despite deteriorating winter conditions. Once on board, we we served dinner and breakfast.

We landed at the Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv around 11 a.m. where we proceeded through Passport Control. After securing our luggage, we met our guide (Shlomo) and driver (David). We loaded the bus and left the airport to spend a half a day in the Shephelah (Lowlands) of Judah. The weather was mild, with afternoon highs in the mid 70s.

Gezer

standing stones gezer

The group at the “standing stones” of Gezer.

Our first stop was Tel Gezer. Located along get Aijalon Valley, this was an ancient Canaanite and Israelite city located strategically on the Coastal Plains. The city was conquered by Joshua (Josh 12) but not fully controlled until the days of Solomon (1 Kings 9). We also read from the Gezer Calendar (10th century BC agricultural seasons) and Ecclesiastes 3 about the seasons of life. Several times the Egyptians conquered this city from the Canaanites as well. At the site we saw the Middle Bronze tower, wall, gate and water system as well as the Iron Age (or Israelite) ruins including a 6 chamber stone gate built by Solomon. We also saw the standing stones of Gezer, probably used by Canaanite).

Beth Shemesh

Driving south to the Sorek Valley, we stopped briefly at Beth Shemesh. Close by (on the other side of the valley) is Zoar and Eshtoal, the home area of Samson (Judges 13-14). He was attracted to Delilah, just a few miles west down the Sorek Valley. We also remembered the story from I Samuel 6 about the return of the Ark of the Covenant here from the Philistines.

Azekah

Elah Valley

Elah Valley (the battle took place at the far eastern narrow end of the valley)

Our last stop of the day was to Azekah. Located along the Elah Valley, this ancient city is mentioned a few places in the Bible. With a great view of this valley below, we read from 1 Samuel 17. It was in the narrow end of the valley where the battle between David and Goliath took place. Looking west from the top of the site we could see Gath (Tel es Safi), the home of Goliath.

Netanya

From here we hopped on Israel’s toll road straight to Netanya. We checked into our hotel and enjoyed dinner together. Over half in the group then enjoyed a great walk to the beach of the Medeterraian Sea.

We are feeling very blessed to be here in the land of the Bible!

DAY 3 – SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 11: CAESAREA, CARMEL, MEGIDDO, PRECIPICE OF NAZARETH, TIBERIAS

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Day 13 Trip Summary – January 2018 14 Day Israel Tour

DAY 13 – FRIDAY, JANUARY 26: CITY OF DAVID, SOUTHERN EXCAVATIONS, A FEW FREE HOURS, GARDEN TOMB

Today was our last day in Jerusalem and the last day of this trip. While it was once again cold, at least the predicted rain didn’t come until we finished the day! What a blessing!

City of David

Hezekiah's Tunnel, City of David

Hezekiah’s Tunnel (1,720 feet long, chiseled from bedrock between 705-701 BC).

After breakfast, check-out, and loading the bus in preparation for tonight’s flight home, we drove to the City of David. This small 11 acre piece of land was first taken by David (2 Samuel 5).

We would spend over 2 hours here seeing the excavations. We saw David’s palace, Jebusite and Israelite fortification walls and houses. Further down the slope we walked through Warren’s Shaft. This series of tunnels leads to the massive tower that protected the source of water for the city, the Gihon Spring. Solomon was made king here (1 Kings 1). It was also here where a number in the group walked through Hezekiah’s Tunnel (1,720 feet long that still flow with water, see 2 Kings 19-20 and 2 Chronicles 32) while others walked through the dry Canaanite tunnel. Both groups converged at the Siloam Pool where we read from John 9 in “dramatic” fashion!

Southern Excavations

Temple Steps

The steps of the Temple in Jerusalem

After we all loaded the bus, a number in the group were dropped off at the new Gavati excavations where we walked to the SW corner of the Temple further north through the northern end of the drainage channel just recently discovered a few years ago. Meeting at the SW corner of the Temple (Robinson’s Arch), we saw massive stones lying on the Herodian street. This was a stone street for sure used by Jesus! On the southern steps of the Temple we remembered passages like Luke 2 and 18, Mark 13, and Acts 2 (among others). Jesus would have used these steps many times.

Walking up to the Jewish Quarter for lunch and a few hours of free time, we enjoyed shopping and exploring on our own. Some went to Oscar Schindler’s grave on Mt. Zion. Some also climbed the 178 steps up the tower of the Lutheran Church in the heart of the Christian Quarter. What a view from there!

Garden Tomb

Garden Tomb

The Garden Tomb

Our last experience of the tour was to visit the Garden Tomb. This is another possible location for the crucifixion and burial tomb of Jesus. Here we enjoyed a brief time of worship & Communion. It was a special time together!

Flight Home

As we said goodbye to Jerusalem, we drove west through heavy rain (it held off until now) to Abu Gosh for our Farewell Dinner. The meal was excellent (lamb chops!) and we enjoyed a time of reviewing the trip and sharing stories! Continuing driving west, we arrived at the Ben Gurion Airport for our night-flight home.

At present… we are through the ticketing and passport procedures and are waiting at the gate for our non-stop flight back to Newark and then to our respective states.

DAY 14 – SATURDAY, JANUARY 27: ARRIVE BACK IN THE U.S.A.

We plan to arrive back in the States early Saturday morning. Praise be to God for a life-changing experience!

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January 2017 Pastors Israel Tour – Days 1 & 2

DAYS 1 & 2 – MONDAY-TUESDAY, JANUARY 23-24:

welcome to israel sign at ben gurion airport

Welcome to Israel at the Ben Gurion Airport

Our arrival day finally came for this pastor’s “FAM” trip to Israel. Unfortunately the flights we used were delayed for weather and/or mechanical issues. However, the flights eventually took off. Arriving at the Ben Gurion Airport about 10 hours later on Tuesday afternoon, we met Pastor John and Shlomo (our Israeli guide) once we went through Israeli customs and baggage.

Leonardo Hotel Netanya

Leonardo Hotel – our first night’s hotel in Netanya

Loading our luggage onto the bus (driven by David), we drove through Tel Aviv traffic to Netanya. After checking in, we enjoyed dinner together followed by an orientation meeting and a walk down to the Mediterranean Sea. The weather was still very pleasant, around 65.

We are looking forward to our first full day tomorrow!

DAY 3 – WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 25: CAESAREA, CARMEL, MEGIDDO, SEPPORIS, PRECIPICE OF NAZARETH, TIBERIAS

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First Steps in Israel

Ben Gurion Airport, Israel

Ben Gurion Airport, Israel

There is always excitement in anticipating the departure date of any Israel tour.  After a time of planning, packing, and preparing, the day of departure finally arrives.  We meet tour members, we exchange new friendships, and then board the plane.  After a few meals, a few movies, and hopefully some sleep, we finally arrive in Tel Aviv.  It’s hard to sleep on this 10.5 hour flight because of the building up of excitement!  Finally, the coastal plain of Israel now comes into view. We land at Ben Gurion Airport.  We exit the plane and look out the windows of the airport.  We can see the Judean Hills to the east.  We also join the masses of other pilgrims making their way to the passport lines and then onto the baggage area.

Although tired from the flight, it’s truly a remarkable experience landing in Israel for the very first time! It is really indescribable when one steps in Israel for the first time.  Yes, even at the airport one senses how blessed one is when having the privilege to be in land of the Bible, the land where Jesus walked!

A few years ago now, a Japanese group landed at the Ben Gurion Airport.  Their arrival was marked, however, we a wonderful celebration.  The arriving of this Japanese group is extra-special.  Below is what happened when they arrived at the Ben Gurion Airport.  Really fun to see the joy!

If you don’t yet have plans yet to visit Israel on one of my tours, it just may be time to experience this yourself!  God is inviting you to His land to encounter the many narratives from the Bible, and to walk where Jesus walked.  And believe me, once you land and step foot in Israel, the journey really begins!  It is a journey that you will re-live may times over every time you read your Bible!  It’s a life-transforming faith-journey, a trip that will take you to the next level of your walk of faith.

Get ready for a joyful and life-changing time!  An Israel tour is just that … life-changing!

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