Hello to all our friends. My wife Beth, our daughter Michelle, and I were privileged to to travel to Israel from June 10 - June 20 of this year 2014. Our Pastor Dr. David Higgs led a group of 60 people from our church to Israel and we will be forever grateful. He made the trip so easy to participate in. Practically all we had to do was show up with our running shoes on, and with our passports in hand.
Before we start the trip please take a look at the map below and a few facts that follow.
Many people think about Israel from only a religious standpoint, but you cannot get a good idea of the country from just that.
As we begin, we want to thank Toni Hale for sharing her Narrative from her notes that she made on our trip. If it were not for seeing her Narrative, we could not remember half of what our pictures are of. Her Narrative of the trip is very complete with the places we visited, the time we spent there, and its history. Thank you Toni!
Our purpose as we work through this is try to show as best we can what you will see if you go to Israel. We want you to feel like you are along with us on the trip.
There are small trips and large trips, this one was a trip of a Lifetime. Beth and I wondered just what it would actually be like. We had lived in Turkey for 3 years back in the 70's while I was in the Air Force. How different from the past would this trip be? Would we be disappointed? This turned out to be a great trip, it exceeded our expectations. We hope to return again! At our church where we were assembling that afternoon for departure - to say that there was excitement the air would be an understatement. We were all ready to travel! There is an old proverb in the Middle East that goes something like this; " Don't tell me about what you know, we want to hear about where you have been, what you have seen, and who you have met. That is what we want to hear about!"
Our shuttles parked beside the Church ready to be loaded.
The excited travelers awaiting departure.
Our Shuttle driver.
On the Road.
Arriving at the Houston airport.
Checking in our baggage. Next came security, I do not like going through security. It reminds me of herd of cows being rushed through a chute. Here we go, pulling our carry on luggage, bags around our neck, coats tied to our waist, passports, flight boarding passes -just typical tourist. As I was feeling through my pockets, getting ready to unload in the basket - oh no - I found my favorite pocket knife, bummer. I had used it that morning and forgot leave it home. In the cattle chute line they had lots of trash cans so in to one it went. I did not want to be arrested before I even got on the plane! We made it up to where we unloaded our contents. One line of all our carry on baggage, pocket contents, passports and all - go one way to be zapped by the machine. Then we stepped to the left to go through the full body scanner to be checked. After exiting on the other side we walk over to the conveyor line where hopefully we meet up with all our stuff. At the same time others are picking up and grabbing there stuff as well; challenging to say the least!
Later in Jerusalem when we were at the Western Wall of the temple mount going through security, when I picked up my bag that had all my stuff inside that I normally carry; the neck strap was dripping wet. Somehow coffee was spilled over it. I haven't figured out that one yet. I carried it by the handle until it drip dried out. I'm thankful they did not spill it inside the bag where my movie camera and stuff was.
This is all kind of funny now - but I wasn't laughing when it happened!
Inside the Houston airport terminal waiting to board, one of our restful moments.
Inside our Turkish Airline flight with TV screens on the back of the seats. On the wall is a TV screen that showed the location of our flight as we flew in a large arch from Houston, over New York, over the Atlantic Ocean, over England, then Europe, and finally landing in Turkey. A long long long way! I thought that little plane on the screen would never land!
We flew through the night, so when we arrived in Istanbul we were into Wednesday afternoon already. Turkey and Israel are in the same zone which is 8 hours ahead of Henderson. That first day of traveling was a long one.
Coming off the 12 hour flight leg in Istanbul, Turkey. Here we had to hop on a shuttle, ride to the terminal, go inside the building and then walk it seemed all the way through the building to the last gate which was in the far end of the last hall. Yes - I remember, this is the adventure of plane travel.
Assembling together at the Tel Aviv, Israel airport picking up our checked luggage. I believe at this point we were finished with security, kind of relaxed finally, and getting very near heading out to our tour buses.
Finally we loaded onto our buses. This is our daughter Michelle on the bus in Israel headed to the Sea of Galilee to spent the first night.
On the Bus with our Guide Olga, this lady was a wonderful person that we would all learn to appreciate and respect.
We had two excellent guides on the trip; our guide Olga on the Blue bus and Malcolm on the Red bus. They were like walking encyclopedias.
The first day was a lo -------- ng day. We had a 12 hour flight from Houston to Istanbul Turkey and then a 2 hour flight from Istanbul to Tel Aviv , Israel. Then came the two hour bus drive to the hotel at Tiberias. By that time most of our smiles had faded away and we were all just looking for someplace to lay down and go to sleep.
How wonderful to get some good rest! The next morning we woke up, dressed, and then looked out the balcony window. The two pictures below were our view from our room onto the Sea of Galilee. Just beautiful! The sea of Galilee is over 500 ft below sea level. Also Tiberias seemed to be the only large city around the lake, this is where all the tourist come. Then we headed down to the breakfast room to check out the place. Both our hotels had wonderful food. I'm not sure what every thing was that we ate, but it was good. Lots of good fruits and vegetables and probably more healthy for us than we eat in the states.
Looking out our bedroom balcony early that morning. The night before on the bus ride all we could see was lights around a dark area that was the lake. We arrived coming over the mountains descending into a sea of lights that went down and down.
Looking out our of our bedroom balcony. Here we were in the land where Jesus Christ walked and lived during his earthly ministry.
The hotel dining room where we ate our breakfast and dinner meals, they had great food.
The boardwalk outside our hotel, we are moving toward the boat.
Waiting to climb aboard the boat.
These small digital cameras amaze me., they take wonderful pictures for their size. I'm glad not to be carrying around those large metal film cameras from the past.
Another group on the Sea of Galilee.
On the boat. I plan to put up some of our video with our group dancing. Heaven will be a lot of fun because it will include good times like we had that morning. The Israeli person on the left elevated and standing up had a wonderful singing voice. He had everyone dancing and moving.
Disembarking on the north shore of the lake.
Our two wonderful fellow passengers who signed up online from Houston and traveled with us.
In 1986 a boat from the time of Christ was found on the sea floor. They had to encase it in plastic form for it to be brought up to the service without disintegrating. If there is a will there is a way, amazing ingenuity can be brought to bear when needed. This museum was built to hold it. There was a place inside to get snacks with a wonderful souvenir shop inside.
The real boat from the time of Christ supported by its metal frame.
This is how the boat looked 2000 years ago.
This is how it looked when they raised it.
Leaving the Museum.
Notice the road signs, they are in Hebrew, Arabic, and English.
A Red Tree. So many blossoms in this land were large with vibrant colors.
Look behind this arch stonework. There were dark volcanic rock everywhere laying along the ground.
The synagogue in Chorazin. Jesus worked miracles here, but not many people from this area believed. All the synagogues faced towards the Temple mount in Jerusalem. Solomon in his prayer of dedication of the Temple asked the Lord to hear from heaven when the people prayed towards it.
2000 years ago when the synagogues and temples were erected here, the contrast in colors must have been beautiful. Imagine the blue water, the green grass, the darker volcanic stone, with elaborate carvings. What an eyeful that must have been.
Replica of the seat of Moses where an elder would sit.
The thorny crown Jesus wore was made from this kind of a tree.
In Israel a tel is a hill or mound, and the word is used to refer to a type of archeological site. As one digs down through this mound, there would be different layers representing different time periods and civilizations. Sometimes there would be over 20 different levels.
Next we rode to Tel Hazor. This powerful Canaanite city was destroyed by Joshua and rebuilt by King Jabin and then by Solomon as a chariot city to command upper Galilee. Deborah and Barak are mentioned along with area.
Olga carried an archaeological Bible. When we would arrive at each site, she would open it and share scripture dealing with that particular area.
.Loading onto the Buses heading to Tel Dan. Look at the way the mirrors are attached on the buses. These reminded me of antenna on bugs or ears on rabbits. The bus drivers are the heros of the tourist. They took us on those buses to places on narrow roads that I didn't see how the large vehicles could fit! These drivers were good!
Danny Ricketts, a fellow KCDI airman visited Israel in 2009, click on the link below to see his website,
This area has ice cold water from the mountains and contains the headwaters of the Jordan River.
Olga going over the history of the area.
Jeroboams Golden Calf. He did not want his people worshiping God in Jerusalem, so he built two alters here and at Bethel. He thought that Rehoboam might change the minds of his people if they went to Jerusalem to worship. He wanted his subjects to want him as their king.
Getting on the Air Conditioned bus again. Isn't it wonderful to live in this day and age.
Banias/ Caesarea Philippi - Here is a waterfall. This is the location that Jesus chose to ask his disciples who do the people say I am. Here Peter makes the statement "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." Matt. 16:16
Our lunch stop at a Druze restaurant in the town of Thella. These people speak Aramaic and split off from the Muslim religion. They believe in Reincarnation. On the right of the restaurant is Lake Huleh shown in the picture below.
At Mt. Avital we looked across the Syrian borner and could see the United Nations compound on the left.
After this we hopped back on the bus and headed south.
After driving south we reached a pull over on the northeastern side of Lake Galilee. This would be the last stop of the day before we returned to our hotel.
Just across the Highway was this sign identifying the Golan Heights.
This was the area where the Arabs used to send rockets and shells into Israel before Israel took control. See the yellow sign on the side of the opposite hill.
The yellow signs reads "DANGER MINES!" At some point the area was mined.
These are two cool markers written in Hebrew on the western side of the highway.
From the same hill we looked down on the site where the demons went into the heard of swine and they ran into the sea and drown.
The Sea of Galilee in the evening when we returned from a full day of discovery.
The boardwalk from our hotel balcony.
Our hotel was in a wonderful location. Michelle and I walked in the evening along the boardwalk by the sea and up the hill into the shopping area with all the stores. Everything was close by!