by CLAY on 01/12/2012

WE-12/28/11 departed USA on Delta flight 268

Delta 268 arrived on time. The wait to get through immigration was lengthy but we finally got off about 4:15pm Israeli time.
Left the airport and drove south to Mitzpe Ramon. We checked into the Ramon Inn. Dinner and Bible study and off to bed. Everyone would be up early due to time change on the flight.

Mitzpe Ramon is quite chilly this morning. Breakfast was at 6:45am. They have several kinds of yogurt, a multiplicity of breads, homemade jams, fresh honey and the other standard breakfast items. I mention this because their breakfast is unique because of the number of items that are so well prepared.

The bus was loaded on time and we left the Ramon Inn on time at 7:45. Bye Ramon. We were with you such a short time.


                                                                 Dr. Dukes and Dr. Parker at Avdat

Avdat took about 15 min. to get to and we toured the site for 45 min. Dr. Butler lectured on baptismal founts and baptism in the early church. Gilla lectured on the Nabataeans and their cities including Avdat. This is a significant site in the history of the Negev.

Beersheba was about 45 min. away. Abraham’s well and Tel Beersheba including the water system were included in our site discussions.

The road to the Dead Sea passes by Tel Arad. It has a replica of the Holy of holies in the Israelite fortress on the site. We noted this as we zoomed by the site. Shebbat begins at sunset so we at pressing today to get to all our sites as they shut Down at 3 pm.

We stopped at the site of ancient Zohar, a Dead Sea overlook. After the completion of our drive down to the Dead Sea we had lunch at Ein Boqeq Aroma Bar.

We made it to Masada with moments to spare. We finished our site visit by 3pm and hustled back down by stopping time. Masada is an amazing site.

Qumran was now closed so we stopped at the En Gedi beach to experience the Dead Sea Water.  It is composed of 35% minerals and you can’t drown, floating is the only option except the horrible stinging that happens of you get it in your eyes. Rinse thoroughly after getting the Dead Sea mineral water on you.

1 1/2 hr drive north to Maagan Guesthouse on the southern end of the Dead Sea. Dinner and Bible Study, study and then to bed. Avner our driver does an outstanding job of getting us safely to each site and our hotel.

Sat morning on the Sea of Galilee.  Jim Dukes led our devotional on the boat. We finished out boat ride at Nof Ginnosar where where we visited the Galilee boat.

We drove up the hill to the Mt. Of Beatitudes then across to Chorazin. We took a group picture at Chorazin in front of the 1st century synagogue.   An imposing site.

We drove down the hill to Capernaum and visited the synagogue, Peter’s house and talked about the process of pressing olives.

We have devotionals and Bible readings at every site and sing hymns at many sites. Our Galilee boat ride and visits to the places of Jesus ministry have been a high water mark for our Pilgrimage. Our journey will grow in  spiritual intensity as we continue tomorrow and Monday in the Galilee and then on Tuesday turn our faces towards Jerusalem.  I was in Jerusalem for 3 days before our group arrived and I am filling the excitement growing about our time in Jerusalem.

We had lunch in Migdala (Mary of Migdala.) After lunch our next stop was the Primacy of Peter on the beach.  It began to rain at the end of our time at Primacy.

We visited a spice and dried fruit store and headed back to Maagan for Bible Study and dinner. Another great touring day. New Year’s Eve and most of us were in the bed early.

Sunny morning as we drove to Kursi. A good visit to the church and site.

We drove up to  Mahanaiim and met our jeep group for an off-road ride across the Golan. Amazing sights including Syrian mine fields and bunkers.  Also a lot of wildlife.  We left Mahanaim about 9:30am and finished about noon.

We continued our touring be driving to Mesada for lunch.

Caesarea Philippi was our next stop. We saw the Gate of Hades and toured the summer palace of Herod Philip.

We drove to Dan and saw the Ahab Gate, Horned Altar, nature walk and the Abraham Gate. This is a Tel that was occupied in Antiquity about 4,000 BC.

Kiryat Shimona was our last stop of the day at the Aroma Espresso.

Our return to Maagan was in the rain. Another great touring day.

Rain day. Rained all night and still raining this morning. We drove by Nein where the widow’s child was raised from the dead and where the witch of Endor lived.  Mt. Tabor was on our right. The rain continued.

Our first stop was at the Nazareth Overlook. The rain stopped for a few minutes and then returned.

Zippori was our second stop. The rain stopped and the sun came out. Then after 30 minutes the rain returned with a vengeance.

It rained heavily on the way to Megiddo.  We ate lunch and toured the site and the sun is now out.

We are driving through the Jezreel Valley on the way to En Harod, Gideon Springs.  Along the way we visit the Jezreel Palace of Ahab and Jezebel and stop at Naboth’s Vineyard.  Just a little way east of us is Shunem and to our South are the Mts. Of Samaria.  What an Old Testament run.  Not far to the west is the area where Deborah Judged.  Our stop at En Harod was picturesque. It was a place of mighty acts of God.

We had to get to Bet Shean quickly. They let us come in at closing and stay late. Yea. It is a huge Roman city from the time of Christ. The Tel dates back to occupation by Israel, Philistines, Egyptians and others in antiquity. It has a beautiful theater and Roman Mall.

Last stop of the day at Aroma Coffee at the junction.  Back to Maagan, Bible study, fellowship, dinner and off to pack. Tomorrow we head to Jerusalem.

Devotional this morning on the shore of the Sea of Galilee. On the bus and off we go toward Jerusalem.  Just a few blocks away was our first stop-Aroma. Coffee to go and back on the road to Muhraqa-the Carmelite Monastery on Mt. Carmel.  This is the place where Elijah confronted the prophets of Baal.  Great statue and excellent view.

Caesarea Maritime was our next stop. So much happened at this site. It is the birthplace of Gentile Christianity. This site has Roman, Byzantine and Crusader antiquities.

We had lunch in Or Akiva.  Amazing how quickly the day passes. We are on the road to Jerusalem.

We arrived in Jerusalem and dropped Gilla our guide off and went on to Bethlehem.  Long wait at the Church of the Nativity but worth the wait. Visited Edward Tabash and then to our hotel in Jerusalem. Wonderful dinner, Bible study and off to bed.

Beautiful day-Crisp, cold-started our tour with morning devotional at Haas Promenade by Dr. Kelley. Extensive view of the Old City of Jerusalem from the south. Wow!

The Mt. Of Olives was next with camel riding and an outstanding eastern view of the Old City.  We walked down the Mt of Olives Ascent to Dominus Flavit where Jesus wept over the City of Jerusalem and David wept for Israel as he fled from Absolam.  After our devotional we continued down the Mt of Olives to the Church of All Nations and then across to a private garden in Gethsemane.

Crossing the street in front of the Garden of Gethsemane is a real experience. 10 people trying to turn, go straight, get around parked cars and busses what a zoo. We connected with Avner and he took us up to the Damascus Gate where we entered the Old City.

The walk into the Suk (shopping area) was crowded and hectic. It is different than any experience you’ve ever had. We connected with the Via Dolorosa and went to the Russian Orthodox Church of the Judgment Gate and then around to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. After our tour of the Holy Sepulcher we took an hour to shop in the Christian Quarter and then over to the Jewish Quarter for lunch.

Moshe Kempenski lectured and interacted with us at Shorashim and the group had an hour to shop in the Jewish Quarter.

Late in the day we walked down from the Jewish Quarter to the Kotel Tunnel Tour.  Seeing the foundation stones from Solomon’s Time for the Temple Mount is breathtaking.

We had dinner at Ramat Rachel and Bible study and then to bed. I’m tired!

We began the day at Haas Promenade with Dr. Kelley leading our devotional.  Another sparkling day.

Avner drove us around the old city to the Dung Gate where we planned to visit the Temple Mount but the line was too long and Avner picked us up and took us around the city again and we went into the Lion’s Gate visiting Bethesda, Church of St. Ann, Ecce Homo-Lithostrotos, Via Dolorosa and back to the Western Wall.

Our appointment at the Davidson Museum was for 11am. This is the place that has a model of the Old City at different periods in history.  This is a very interesting model.

We got in line for the Temple Mount at noon and were on the Temple Mount about 12:45pm.  We walked across the Temple Mount visiting various sites and then exiting by the Lion’s Gate.

We went up to the Aroma French Hill for lunch.  I love their Sweet Potato Lentil Salad.  Their coffee is excellent.

Avner took us out to Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum.

Rained most of the night and turned windy and cold. It didn’t look promising as we ate breakfast but by the time we got on the bus the weather was clearing.  In a very short time the sky cleared and the sun came out and it was a beautiful day.

Today’s devotional was at the Haas Promenade overlooking the Old City from the south.  Dr. Dukes led us.

Our next stop was the Upper Room where several including Don sang. Don did a Gregorian Chant.  All was superb.

We jumped back on the bus and rode down to St. Peter in Gallicantu.  I love the Roman Stepped Way that comes right by the church and dates back before Christ.

Ein Karem would be our next place to visit.  We walked down to Elizabeth’s Well and then up to the Church of John the Baptist.  This is a very picturesque little town just outside of Jerusalem.

We had lunch at the mall in Mevaseret  Zion some at the Aroma and others at McDonalds or a sandwich place.  Nice mall and good to mingle with Israeli’s.  Everyone is friendly.  Avner parked in a space that was impossible to get the bus in but he did.

We drove across Jerusalem to the North to Nabi Samuel at Mizpah of Gibeah.  This site dates back to before the time of the Judges.  The building, a Crusader building that has a synagogue downstairs and at one time housed a church and a mosque dominates the skyline.  Their is a wonderful view of the city of Jerusalem.

Our last stop today was at the Hebrew University Overlook of the Dead Sea.  The rain last might cleared the air.  The Jordan Valley, Dead Sea, and Jericho were clearly visible.

We went all the way across town to Ramat Rachel, our hotel and ended out touring day.  Dr. Dukes complete our study in Revelation.  Dr. Warren completed out study in Luke.  Dinner, pack for the return home and off to sleep shortly.

On the road to Jaffa for dinner on the Mediterranean.  We go from Jaffa to the airport and fly home.  It has been another good pilgrimage to Israel.  We are sad to leave and happy to be heading home.

We began the day at the Herodion.  Luckily we were fresh for the climb.  The weather today is chilly and beautiful.  Herodion has a great 360 of the Judean Wilderness with towns such as Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Tekoa and several other Biblical towns. We could also see the Dead Sea and the mountains of Jordan.

Our next stop was the Israel Museum. We visited the Jerusalem Model, the Shrine of the Book and the Museum collection. We spent about 3 hours.

Then we drove across town to the Garden Tomb. We had a lecture, worship and communion.  It was just perfect.

Our next trip was down the Elah Valley following the route David would have traveled to take food to his brothers when they were fighting the Philistines.  We stopped at the place where David fought and slayed Goliath.  Most everyone got smooth stones.

This has been an excellent Israel Pilgrimage.  Pray for us as we pray for you.

SU – 1/8/12- return home in the USA. Uneventful flight home!


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