ISRAEL DEC 30-JAN 8 2014

Dinner in Jaffa at the Old Man and Sea


ISRAEL 12/30/13

Tomorrow closes out 2013.  This has been a particularly difficult year on top of the challenges of 2102.  I am thinking and writing from SI COFFEE, LATRUN.

I’m in Israel recovering from the trip over getting ready to receive our Israel Pilgrimage Group on the afternoon of the 31st.  Our group will tour Israel studying the Bible and historical events related to Israel’s history.  It will be a marvelous experience.  

Dr. Jim Parker is just a few km’s from Latrun.  He is working at Tel Gezer for a couple of hours and I’m drinking coffee at SI with Jim Dukes.  He has been my friend since 1976.  Sharing these Israel Pilgrimages with him has been one of the great joys of my life.  Thank you lord.  

Every trip I take to Israel is better than the last.  I suspect familiarity for me breeds happy, happy, happy!

I miss family but have a real sense of urgency to get every one of your students at New Orleans Baptist Seminary to Israel. It is so critical for those sharing the Gospel to visit ground zero, to know what the land looks like and the nuances of the people that lived here and that write under the Lord’s direction the Good News for us.  I’m encouraged by every group that comes.  Once they come to Israel the Bible is now in living color.  

The weather today is chilly 52, and the sun is shining.  I’m  am still drinking coffee and enjoying thinking DEEP THOUGHTS (actually mostly daydreaming.)

I slept 8 hrs last night after sleep deprivation for two days and nights.  I’ll be in good shape tomorrow.  

Yesterday we went to Jerusalem which is fairly close-15 km’s.  We are staying at C Hotel in Neve Ilan.  It’s comfortable and has good food.  It also is less expensive than staying in Jerusalem and is closer to Gezer.  

This afternoon we will drive over to Ein Karem (Spring of the Vineyard) which is the home of John the Baptist.  It is southwest of Jerusalem and is a very pleasant town.  We don’t often get by there and I take every opportunity I can to get there.  




Travel frees us from the ordinary

Letting us see and participate in the extraordinary

People count and we see that in distant lands

They count with God and with us

Their differences melt away- they are like us


The Human Experience is similar across the world

People want to be valued

Societies extoll their virtues but they are like us

We are like them even in our dissimilarities

History measures us, reminds us, encourages us, worries us


I am who I am

Not better or worse than you

Knowing you completes me

My quest is fulfilled in travel

Enjoying, reveling, coaching, tired, rejuvenated-blessed


Clay Corvin.  12/30/13.  Latrun, Israel


ISRAEL 12/31/13

Last day of 2013. I’m at Ashkelon this morning. Jim is out in the rain. I’m sitting in the van. I know they need the rain so I’m thanking The Lord for the trip down here from Neve Ilan this morning and ignoring the rain. We are about 200meters from Gaza but all is quiet. 

We travel back to Ben Gurion to meet our group arriving about 3pm. Our Pilgrimage will kick into high gear when the group arrives and we will be traveling at a high level of intensity. Hopefully we can all keep up. 

The Herod Exhibit at the Israel Museum ends before we get to Jerusalem on our tour so we will take everyone into Jerusalem to the Herod Exhibit this afternoon. 

Ashkelon continues to get the rain. We are moving along driving thru the site. 

We finished at Ashkelon, had lunch at Latrun and returned to Neve Ilan. 

We went to the airport at 2pm. 

Our group arrived at the airport at 2:40pm. They ran the gamut of airport things, we loaded the bus and on to Jerusalem to the Herod Exhibit at the Israel Museum. 

The group has been traveling a long time. 

We will go to our hotel in about 1 1/2 hrs. Good start to our pilgrimage. 


ISRAEL JAN 1, 2014

Tel Gezer, an ancient treasure city overlooking the Via Maris was our first stop. Amazing work being done on the Tel by Southwestern Bapt Theo Seminary, and the water system by NOBTS – the Moskau Archaeological Institute. Standing stones, ancient gates and secrets being uncovered at Tel Gezer. 


Lots of bus riding today. We traveled the via Maris north to Caesarea. We visited the Crusader City and the ancient Roman City. Walking thru the site it is easy to imagine ancient cultures living here and the way this place impacted the ancient world. In Acts 10 we see the pivot point in history when Cornelius came to Christ. 


Ok. The day is passing too fast. We drive by the aquaduct at Caesarea and then head to Megiddo to visit the 2nd treasure city in Israel. 


Megiddo was our lunch stop and then tour the site.  Megiddo has 26 layers of civilization and is designated as a world heritage site.  It has many specific items to see on the site from several different strata including a water system. 


Mt Carmel where Elijah slew the prophets of Baal. We went to the very top of Mt Carmel next to the Carmelite Mission. Amazing site. When turning to the Biblical story it is overwhelming to see what The Lord did- 1 Kings 18


Now we turned towards the Galilee and went straight to the Aroma on the outskirts of Afula.  Great stop. 


We arrived at Nof Ginosar, checked in, ate dinner and the Bible Study – Matthew. Now it’s 10pm and I’m done for the day. 



ISRAEL JAN 2, 2014

Thursday must mean quick because our morning has gone quick. 

First stop was the Primacy of Peter. Jesus told Peter he was still useable!  

Capernaum was our 2nd stop. The town of Jesus. He based most of his ministry around the Sea of Galilee here. 

Mt of the Beatitudes our 3rd stop was just up the hill. Beautiful location overlooking the Sea of Galilee. Moving location and stirring charge. 

Chorizin is just 2 1/2 miles away. It is overlooking the Sea of Galilee. It was one of the 3 cities Jesus cursed. The synagogue and the city is made from the black basalt stone.   

Now we are on the road to Tel Dan. 

Morning in Galilee. 




ISRAEL Jan 2, 2014- Afternoon

Tel Dan where we visited the gate Abraham walked thru. Stopped at the Ahab gate. Beautiful nature park with lots if water from Mt Hermon. 


Caesarea Philippi is the location of Pan worship in the north. We are on the border of Lebanon. Huge pagan worship site. Interesting that Jesus would bring His disciples here to announce that He was God. 


Beautiful weather. 


Lunch in Masade, a Druze village on the slopes of Mt Hermon. 


We met Ilan at Merom Golan, a local kibbutz. Ilan and his folks took us on a jeep ride thru the Golan and the militarized zone. 

We were right on the Syrian border about 35 miles from Damascus.  We had herbal tea and cookies on the border and had a lecture on current events. Our jeep ride ended at Ben Tal at Cafe Anon- Coffee in the Clouds. 



ISRAEL JAN 3, 2014

Stunning sunrise over the Galilee. We begin our touring at the Ancient Boat Museum at Nof Ginosar (1st Century AD boat recovered from the Sea of Galilee) and then onward to a boat ride on a very choppy Sea of Galilee.  

We finished about 9:45am and transferred to our bus and rode to Bet Shean. Tsvika Tsuk with Gilla guided us thru Bet Shean. TSVIKA is a world renowned scholar and journeyman in archaeological sites in Israel. We always enjoy his visits. 


We had lunch at a small falafel stand near the park entrance after we completed Be Shean. Excellent falafel and schnitzel. Good magnum bars also. 


Next stop was Beit Alpha. The location of an ancient synagogue. It evidences syncretism early on in the life of the Central Galilee. 


En Harod, Gideon Springs was the next stop. JP shared. It brings to full color the Biblical story. Once you’ve visited Gideon Springs you will read the passage much differently. 


We met Tsvika at Sepphoris in Central Galilee, just 2 miles from Nazareth. Outstanding mosaics, cistern, ancient synagogue, Roman Streets and public buildings and the Mona Lisa of the Galilee. Wow. This is a 5 star site. 


Clay- Friday- nearing Shabat. Shabat Shalom from Israel




Shabat shalom!

Jan 4 – SA

Today we move from Nof Ginosar in Tiberias to the Dan Panorama in Jerusalem. But in between we had a few stops. 


Jericho was first.  We visited the site at the Temptation Inn, the overlook to the Old Roman Road and the Sycamore Tree in downtown Jericho. 


Qumran was next. Amazing site. Dr. Parker shared from his dissertation on Qumran and pointed out the physical points of the site. 


We drove down to Masada and had lunch and visited this stunning site. It is an overwhelming physical presence rising up out of the desert floor. 


We went from Masada north to Kalia Beach. Many of our folks went swimming in the Dead Sea. The water is oily and heavy. The water is so heavy that you float and make sure you don’t get water in your eyes. When you get out you have to rinse off very well. 


Now we are going up to Jerusalem. Another typically wonderful day in Israel. 






Today was Jerusalem All day.  Gethsemane, Mt of Olives, Dominas  Flavit, walk down Mt of Olives, Church of All Nations, Jewish Quarter, Shorashim, Kotel Tunnel, St Anne Church, and Bethlehem.  


Lots of walking. Aha moments. Great lunch in the Jewish Quarter. Shopping in several places. 


Returned to our hotel, the Dan, by 6:45pm for dinner.  A fast paced, non-stop day. 


Clay from Jerusalem




Our weather has been just perfect throughout the whole trip. One more day of touring and then home. 

We began in the line at the Temple Mount. It’s amazing and disappointing at the same time. Jim Parker reviewed the physical aspects of the site last night so I think all were prepared to visit the site. It is disappointing we can’t read the Bible or pray on the site. Lord change this situation. Gilla took our PILGRIMAGE GROUP thru the site. She does a remarkable job. I really like having ear buds to hear her details of the site.  

I went ahead of the group to visit with a shopkeeper at the Lions gate and had mint tea. Very enjoyable. 

St Anne’s Church and Bethesda was next. Maddie and Gilla sang in the church. 

We began the Via Dolorosa, visiting the Lithostratos, the Judgment Gate and finishing at the Holy Sepulcher. Our group shopped for a short while and then had lunch in the Jewish Qtr. 

A visit to the Upper Room and then a visit at Yad Vashem Holacaust Museum. 

Devotionals before dinner. 

Clay from Jerusalem. 




All journeys come to an end. Today is the final day of our Israel Pilgrimage and it has been outstanding-many aha moments-The Lord has spoken in many different ways to the pilgrims on our journey.  Our goal was to discover and we did!  Biblical insights too many to recount. Tears of joy at several junctures and encouraging reminders as we met history.  Jesus came with us and guided is and we traveled the Land of the Bible. Thank you Lord. 

TU was to be a bit of a slower pace-we were packed for our return to USA and left the Dan Panorama at 9am. 

We went to St Peter in Gallicantu where Mel and Lionel shared. This was the location where Peter denied The Lord. Their is an ancient Roman stepped way that comes from the Mt of Olives across the Kidron Valley and up by this location.  I’m always touched by history here. 

Our next stop was the Garden Tomb. One of my favorite places in Jerusalem.  Always very emotional for me.  A very visual site.  When I read about, think about or study the crucifixion this location is in my minds eye.  Again, thank The Lord. 

Lunch was at the Jewish Market, Mahane Jehuda (sp).  Lots of people, overwhelming number of small shops that served food, coffee, fresh fruit, etc. Fifty one people spread over several acres of a local market is a recipe for disaster but our master guide Gilla, JP, Mel, Paul and Adam kept up with everyone and the group did a great job of making it to our meeting point, loading the bus and we were on the road. I think this place was an excellent stop. It put us in the midst of the local Jewish population letting us mingle with real Jerusalem. 

It didn’t take us long to get to the Herodian but it was 2:30. This day time is passing with a vengeance.  Our visit took us back to where we began on Dec 31 at the Herod Exhibit at the Israel Museum. Herod was an evil megalomaniac and a great builder.  When you come to Israel don’t miss the Herodian. 

Elah Valley and the David and Goliath Confrontation was our next stop. Most of our pilgrims picked up 5 smooth stones. Although this was the place of confrontation, there have been about 100 million stones picked up but they will serve as a remembrance.  

We had to get gas for the van and I discovered there was a coffee shop with superb espresso so I got one for me and one for Jim Dukes. 

Our farewell dinner is at the Old Man & the Sea in Jaffa at 6:30. We have to rush to make it arriving at 6:45pm.  Oh my the meal was spectacular-pic attached. 


It’s 3:22am EST- 10:22am Jerusalem time. We’ve traveled a long way and have in the last few minutes crossed onto North America. We will arrive at JFK about 5:45am.  Praying for safety and a quick return today to New Orleans and another successful Israel Pilgrimage. Thank you Lord for a safe journey and for Your constant presence. 


Clay Corvin 



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