In Honor of my Mom

This blog is in honor of my dear mother. She died last Friday at the Grandview Hospital in Sellersville, PA. She lived a long 92 years. My heart is grieved about her loss. Yet while the void of losing one’s mom cannot be filled, I, along with my siblings and family, are also thrilled now for mom in that her longing to go “home” to heaven is complete. We rejoice with her! Her eternal peace with Jesus has just started. What a thrill to think of this precious promise!

Mom was one who served in many ways, even after my dad died in 1986. Both of them traveled the world on mission trips, creation-science trips, and biblical trips. They went to Israel many times. They toured the land with enthusiasm for how the Bible came alive before their very eyes. They also excavated at two sites, Jericho and Herodium. They would come home and show their friends and family a slide show in our living room of their experiences. Positioned on the floor (since the adults got the sofa and chairs), I watched with great interest. In fact, I owe my personal love for Israel and my entire Israel ministry to them. They were the ones who got me started with studying in Jerusalem for a year and excavating myself. Thanks mom and dad!

My mom went with me to Israel. She joined one of the trip I was leading. She was a little over 80 when she joined me. She kept up wonderfully. “I am so very proud of my son,” is what she told many in the group. She also loved the food! As years went by she continued to tell her fellow residents at Rockhill Community how proud she was of me being a pastor and leader of Israel trips. Personally, she would always say to me, “Daddy would be so proud of you, John.”

Up until about two years ago, she regularly collected articles about archaeology and the Bible. She kept up with most news from Israel in a notebook (one of dozens of notebooks she had for everything). She prayed for Israel daily. She also had many DVD’s on Israel. She watched Israel-oriented special on TV. Afterward, she would call me and ask if I watched the same thing.

When I would lead trips, she would follow along each day on our web site. She was interested in the sites we went to and how many people I had in the group. I would occasionally call her as well from Israel. My guide would occasionally say hello as well to her. As my groups got larger and larger, she would ask a series of fun questions like, “Where in the world do you get so many people?” and “How do you manage such large groups?” She kept track of every trip I was leading. No doubt, she kept me in prayer too. Once again, thanks mom!

One very interesting experience she had while digging in the 1970s in Israel is that she and her team had the privilege of having lunch with one of the two Arab shepherd boys (now of course a man in his late 40s) who found the Dead Sea Scrolls in Cave 1 at Qumran in 1947. That must have been thrilling for mom to hear the story.

By the way, she also broke her leg while hiking down the north side of Azekah. She ended up with a late plaster cast on her leg after spending time at the Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem. Still today in honor of my mom, I tell my groups the “Azekah leg story” as we pass by or even visit the site. 🙂 She was a true trooper!

(by the way, the large pic is of mom and dad actually in Egypt in 1983)



“My mother loved Israel. She visited the country numerous times. She even dug at archaeological sites. She was always thrilled to talk about Israel. Humbly, she was very proud of my Israel-oriented ministry.” (picture of mom on her 90th birthday)
Mom at her 90th birthday

Boxes of Slides

After her passing last Friday, we cleaned out her room at Rockhill’s primary care unit. We went through all her belongings at her residence as well as boxes stored at our niece’s house. This of course included boxes of slides of Israel that she used when she went teaching at churches. She knew her stuff well! She even had boxes of pottery, most of which is in boxes in my garage now. 

Her Digs

At both of the sites where she dug (Herodium and Jericho), she worked with the late Ehud Netzer. He was the foremost expert on Herod the Great before his untimely death. At Herodium, mom and dad dug at the Herodian pool area. At Jericho they dug in the Hasmonean and Herodian winter palace area.

My mom also helped out at the dig at Khirbet Nysia (the first alternative site for Et Tell, or biblical Ai). The late Dr. David Livingston was a dental patient of my dad’s prior. My mom helped as the dig “cook” back at the hotel. She also helped with cleaning and scrubbing pottery brought in from the field. Later in 1982, I actually dug for three weeks at Nysia myself thanks to the connection mom and dad had with the Livingston’s.

Her new life

As I type this, I use do miss my mom. I would call her to keep her up to date with my travels to Israel and other lands of the Bible and my speaking engagements around the country. I loved telling her because I knew she would be behind me in prayer.

So mom… I love you and I miss you. You lived 92 full years. Your faith was as genuine as it gets, period! What an incredible testimony you were of Jesus. You are now with Him now. Let’s just say this is much, much better than being in Israel! And it’s for all eternity too! Mom… you are now in thee “Holyland,” that is, heaven! To be absent from the body is to be present with Christ (2 For. 5:8).

In honor of my dear mother! I love you!


(pics: Herodian Jericho, Herodium & pool area, Eastern Gate in Jerusalem, and Sea of Galilee)

NT Jericho
Eastern Gate
Sea of Galilee

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