What Happens When You Change Cultures?

The journey from New Orleans to Tel Aviv spreads out over a 32 hour period, which includes the loss of 8 hours in time zone changes and an actual travel and wait time of approximately 24 hours. It is a large investment of time and energy and should include significant diversionary tactics as reading, sleeping, reading and sleeping. Thrown in for good measure are a few short periods of eating. I would also recommend that you carry a few snacks and a small bottle of water in your hand luggage.

Stepping off of the plane in Tel Aviv for the first time is an open assault on your senses. The noises, the process, the emotions of being in the Holy Land and your tired body all rush together to overwhelm the soul. Generally, the arrival is an emotion that I just try to get through and think about later when I get back home.

We immediately gather up our stuff, get to our rental vehicle and dash downtown to Joppa before the sun goes down. A couple of trips we left Joppa to get back to and never did. Too much to see and do in such a short time. Experiencing Joppa, seeing the general location of Simon the Tanner’s house and hearing the waves crash on the seawall where Jonah fled from the Lord is an appropriate beginning to a life changing trip. You will never again read Acts without a renewed experience of sight, sound and smell. Joppa!

Jonah found a place to go.. a refuge big, a journey slow
He chose it on his own. “I’ll show you!”
Determined, he determined his way.
Breathing, eating, sleeping, he went. Who will know?
A hand unseen corralled him. Hurting others with him.
Sin is such a desperate act. Careless pain it sheds.
Defined and destined, he gave in, punishment in the end.
Crying out for safety. Save me.
That unseen hand, again delayed, stayed the end.
Rebelliously, Jonah changed his way. You win.

Clay April 1997

Netanya calls and we journey up the coast from Joppa, thru Tel Aviv (traffic and fatigue make this a thrilling ride) about an hour to the Maxim Hotel in Netanya. It is very different from the Holiday Inn. The elevator ride to the 4th floor is a kick. Two with luggage in the elevator is an overload! Dinner starts at 7 p.m. and we arrived at 8:30 p.m. so we quickly get back down to our meal. It is a real experience to watch three travelers on their first trip to Israel have their first meal in Israel. The hummus was good. The eggplant was okay. The meal was fun.

We were told as we got off the plane at the airport the correct local time. We didn’t question it, and obediently set all of our watches. When we picked up the rental car we noted the clock had the wrong time and I dutifully changed it. The waiter told us at dinner that breakfast wouldn’t be ready until 7:30 a.m. We all agreed that at 7:15 a.m. we would be ready and come down together to try and hurry them at breakfast. We did and to our horror they had just shown up at 7:15 a.m. We were nice but persistent and finally about 8 a.m. we finished breakfast and began our first full days journey. We dashed everywhere all day and arrived at Beit Hava at 7 p.m. that night worn out. After we checked in we went around to the restaurant to eat supper. It wasn’t ready. Odd. We also noticed that the clock on the wall had the wrong time. We went back to the front desk and asked the time. We discovered that we had been an hour fast in Israel for two days. The airline had given us the wrong time! I was very glad that I had given the kitchen staff at the Maxim Hotel a decent tip.



Netanya And A Day Of Flowers


The first trip I made from Netanya to Caesarea was a mess. First, Netanya is designed so that it isn’t easy to get from the beach back to Highway 2. Second, it’s hard and confusing to get from the beach back to Highway 2. Oh well, the location and cost are pluses and the investment of time and energy is minimal and this time, we paid careful attention and made it out in record time without any bumps or bruises. McDonalds doesn’t open until 11 a.m. so we couldn’t stop for good coffee on the way out.



Rain is a blessing in a country like Israel. They want all they can get. They got all we wanted. In between the waves of rain, we closed in on Caesarea. Green fields covered with red and yellow poppies were in sharp contrast to the brown fields that I had known on previous trips. Wild flowers were everywhere. They were deeply colored wild flowers. Deep red and deep yellow and deep all the other colors that wild flowers grow. Beautiful! Where was the brown?



The Wildflower
I am more than who you think.. wiser, richer, handsomer.
Crushed beneath a drought of luck.. but for God’s grace.
I have dreams and hopes and words unsaid.. enriching.
Forced to live this place I’m in.. watching eagles soar.
I am more than who you think I am.. thinking all the while.
Ah to be a man of dreams.. who I really am.
I would be the best I’ve been.. you’d see who I am.
Wanting, yearning ere.. to be another.
I look afar to coming days.. time is passing by.

I find that trust is like Israel’s dirt.
All brown and ordinary like.
I feel the rain and see the gain.. Wow.
A touch of water’s life and springs.
I suddenly see the life you give.. important.
In your gift you gave me life.
I am like a wild flower grown.
A moment is all I have.
I am more than who I think I am.

Clay April 1997


Caesarea In The Rain



Driving into Caesarea never seems to match with my sense of history. I can hear the importance of a place that nearly 2,000 years ago developed buildings whose foundations are still standing. Where concrete was poured under water. Buildings constructed that rival our best built structures today. Now it stands, unimportant, unused, and unsung.


Crusader Entrance


Sandy beaches and looming structures greet us. The rain is pelting us in waves, with minimal sun between the looming clouds. I shot some video and a few pictures and we walked the entire Roman City and up the road the Crusader City. We noted the excavations they were feverishly working on along the seashore and Dennis informed us that it would include administrative buildings, Herod’s home that jutted out into the sea, another smaller theater and a racecourse. Interesting the way that Herod laid out the city.

What a builder. Valued by Rome. Hated by his family, neighbors and Jews. An evil man.

The rain pushed us onward and we soon completed the site visit and returned to the trip into the history of Israel. We drove across to highway 4 and immediately, at my suggestion stopped to get coffee at McDonald’s.


Security Guard at the Mall in Caesarea


It was closed but the small, new shopping mall just outside of Caesarea was open so we visited the stores and looked around. We got stuff at the Post Office, grocery store and a hot pot at an appliance store. In addition I had an interesting conversation with the 72 year old security guard who had come to Israel late in life from Paris. He enjoyed working, didn’t speak any English, French and Hebrew only, and we had a good conversation. It seems people are indeed people everywhere.

The drive up highway 4 to Muhraqa (where Elijah slew the prophets of Baal) was exciting and eventful. We were talking excitedly, Charlie expounding on this and that with Dennis uhing and ahing. Out of nowhere a policeman ahead motioned for us to pull over. When we spoke English the policeman indicated for us to move along. What had we done? Finally we realized that it was raining and we didn’t have our lights on. Dennis turned them on.

Through the Carmel forest and up the bedraggled road we drove to the Monastery. Once there, we climbed the steps to the top of the building to lookout over the Jezreel Valley where the final battle will be waged. It is stunning, important, interesting and at the same time simply a beautiful valley. What makes the difference? God’s interest and movement here makes the difference.

God Makes The Difference
A boy of three, scared of night, faces dragons and cries.
A mother worn without a life, imprisoned by her dreams.
Along the way an evil one eats seven little strays.
And kills the heart of the dreamer, imprisoned by his hate.

How can good proceed from hell’s deep hole? Seven born to die.
The truth be told, God knows. Heaven’s child has woes.
Life is not an easy guess. A road that’s full of holes.
God’s the one, the battles won. The difference He bestows.

Clay April 1997

The Difference a Day in Acre Makes

Acco Harbor – Charlie, Dennis, Clay, Harold, Francis

I didn’t know that it was so easy to find the eastern entrance to the old city of Acre. On previous occasions we had gone in by the north side of the harbor and on a couple of times in the past wandered thru the city and finally found the front entrance. Today we went straight into the old city on the eastern side without a hitch and parked at the old guy’s place on the left after you pass through the Crusader walls. He watches the car for us and protects our clothes.

Acre was important as a Crusader fortress for two hundred years and for about twenty-five centuries was the most important port in the eastern Mediterranean. Steamships found Haifa more suitable for them and Acre receded into history, no longer an important port.

It is a small city with all of the charm and color of a typical Middle Eastern city. Its square towers, tin domed mosques and beautiful old walls give it an air of intrigue without the squalor or fierceness that we often associate with Middle Eastern cities. I can walk all of Acre without climbing steps at every turn.

I love the market. It is the center of activity and offers everything imaginable, all of it out in the open. I suspect that the market of today is very similar to the markets the Romans established during their long rule in this area. Each market stall specializes in specific things, such as vegetables, spices, beef, lamb, fish, sweets, bread and so on. Walking and listening to the sounds and smelling the melange of aromas is a real experience.

We walked all over Acre. Climbed the seawall. Looked at the ocean. Went through the Crusader city. When we left, it was still Acre but we were different.

The Difference In Me
I like to read the Bible. Morning, noon and night.
To search the sheets of wisdom filled with delight.
Bringing heavy burdens, cares and woes.
To feel the comfort flow from pages the Spirit shows.
Carrying to the One who knows my needs and lows.
To get a course correction.
Lending a helping hand, a whispered word of love.
When I get up off my knees, He’s still God.
I am different.

Clay April 1997


Abram and 318 men chased Ched-or-laomar and his allies all the way to Dan before he caught up with them. His journey to Dan was about 130 miles from Hebron and they walked all the way. We were at Dan and it was late in the afternoon. I had only walked 5 miles that day and I was worn out.

Dan was not a new place to me. “Been there, done that” and it was raining hard. I had coffee. Dennis and the others trudged through the rain and mud for two hours.

I had a quiet nap in the car after the excellent cup of espresso. Stan had pneumonia when he got back home.

I choose to lose or win or stay.
By everything I do and say.
The way to win is not the thing.
All count with coins and others say.
Winning comes from out the soul.
It’s based on things we are.
There is one who grows each choice.
I reap the growth in life’s long road.

Clay April 1997


Caesarea Philippi



Caesarea Philippi is located on the Northern Border of Israel in the Golan Heights. Israel has occupied this area since 1967. It is near Mount Hermon and is a part of the Banias watershed.

In ancient times, it was a place of pagan shrines and temples. Jesus came here with his disciples ostensibly for rest but actually for the “rock” discourse.



We came to Caesarea. It was a place of quiet and coolness. A ‘get-away” place for Israeli families. An important place for Israel because it is their primary watershed area. An important place for us because of the journey that Jesus took nearly 2,000 years ago. Jesus stressed the solidity of His and the Father’s relationship, they are one and in Him we are strong.

Strength is neither seen nor heard.
Coming from a source, not words.
The issue facing each of us.
What’s the source for me?
Reaching out to touch our hearts.
Cleansing soul and mind.
Jesus’ word provides for me.
Directions to the source.
We can have the strength we need.
We can fight the dangers.
Jesus is the Way to peace.
He is the Rock we seek.

Clay July 1997

Mount of the Beatitudes

The parking lot at the Mount of the Beatitudes is small and crowded. Huge busses come and go all day making lots of dust, noise and congestion on the tiny one lane entrance road. The concession operator acts as the yard master, directing traffic and requiring someone to stay with the vehicle so that it can be moved when needed. Dennis stayed with the van while we went in to visit the site.

The Valley of the Discourse lies immediately to the west of the Holy Site and extends all the way down, maybe 300 yards, to the Sea of Galilee. It is a natural auditorium and was well able to provide the acoustics for Jesus to speak to those thousands that were present for the Discourse.

Mussolini was the benefactor of the building on the Mount of the Beatitudes. This simply underscores the reality of sin in the world. It also shows that those best able to pay are not always the best. I like the building and have always enjoyed praying and communing at this site. Beautiful trees, quiet shade, and peaceful prayer areas enhance this site as a place of quiet peacefulness. All the while, in the background one hears beeping horns, noisy drivers and tourists, clicking cameras and whirring video cameras. Lord, how can we get holy and live life?

Babies cry at birth, at sprains, at lack of food and at other things.
How to get Holy?
I pray for peace, for joy, for health and that God
would change others.
How to get Holy?
Some they seek a quiet place, but they are there.
How to get Holy?
Sunday comes and life goes on.
How to get Holy?
Evil reigns and answers go?
How to get Holy?
Help me Lord, I’ve bent my knee.
In you I am Holy!

Clay April 1997




We stayed two nights at Dortel Kinnereth on the Northern end of the Sea of Galilee, approximately two miles east of Capernaum. Each double was actually a small cottage in a pastoral setting. Dortel is a quiet and peaceful place. The rain continued the two days while we were in the Galilee but so did we.



That first morning we went near the tel of Bethsaida, now deserted for two thousand years, and then up the hillside to the ruins of Chorazin. Chorazin has been superbly excavated. It is a good model of a small Galilean village during the time of Jesus.

“Woe to you Chorazin, and woe to you Bethsaida!”

Repent ye whited sepulchers and broods of vipers.
Selfish lives, disdaining all.
Of idols made with hands.
Of savings, separate, sent to banks of rust.
Of thousands sent to hell.
Of hearts as cold as wells.
Of eyes that shame the soul.

Clay April 1997


Jordan Valley and the Dead Sea


We left the Galilee early Tuesday morning and set our sights on finishing the day at Metsukei Dragot a wilderness camp high above the Dead Sea in the Judean Wilderness.


Metsukei Dragot – Jordan Valley


I was anticipating the end of the day when we would roll into the wilderness camp. It was an exciting goal.

Bet Shean was a two hour visit. We surveyed the Roman ruins and then clambered up 130 steps to the top of the ancient Philistine Tel where the bodies of Saul and Jonathan were hung.


Bet Shean – Jordan Valley


Dennis had been excavating on the Old Testament Tel for several seasons now and did a good job of detailing the work and the ancient civilization. I continue to be impressed with Dennis’ ability to master the meticulous detail at an ancient site. He is a real time detective.

The trip from Bet Shean to Jericho is unusual in several ways.


Bet Shean – Jericho


First, it is ruggedly beautiful all the time, and second, it is an unusually long journey where you don’t come across a single site of archeological or historical interest, as if the land wanted the traveler to appreciate the beauty of the landscape at his leisure.

We passed the Israeli checkpoint for the trip down the Jordan Valley and the sign said, “No Tourists.” Fortunately, Dennis and I must have looked like locals because they waved us through. The PLO checkpoint in Jericho was different, we were not invited in, so we took the bypass and went on to Qumran.

The mountains to the north of Wadi Qumran yielded up some 800 manuscripts during the period of 1947-1956. The site is a visitor friendly site and before we walked it we had lunch at the small visitor center. Maybe Qumran was an Essene community but I suspect that it was much more than we fully comprehend today. History has a way of hiding truth.

Finally we arrived at Metsukei Dragot. The wilderness camp is perched on the edge of the Judean Wilderness about 1,500 feet above the Dead Sea.


Judean Wilderness


The view is breathtaking. The ride up the mountainside is breathtaking. Metsukei Dragot was developed by Mitzpeh Shalem. They are a kibbutz located on the shore of the Dead Sea. They have pioneered the cultivation of winter produce and a host of cosmetics manufactured from the natural resources of the Dead Sea.

We unloaded our stuff and headed down the mountain to try and get in a Masada visit before they closed. About halfway down the mountain, Harold and Francis discovered that the left rear window of the van was falling out! We went back up the mountain. Dennis pulled the duct tape out of his luggage and we taped the window back in place. The window was definitely fixed because it held for 800 more kilometers.


Judean Wilderness


It was too late for Masada so we went into the Judean Wilderness. It was rugged, beautiful, and awesome. It was different than I had thought it would be and yet it was as inspirational as I expected it to be. David fled through this area. Anticipation had certainly not been disappointed.

Anticipating the Presence of God
Hurting then amidst the pain.
Anticipating evil’s dirge.
Reeling from the fever’s scourge,
Of sin and hate so carelessly dug.
Appealing to an unseen king,
Pleading for a way it seems.
Counting costs of wishes sent,
But soon denied by me, hell bent.
Then in His reign, He reached my pain.
A heart and soul exchanged.
And stand now I amidst my sin.
By Christ from God redeemed.
For in that day that soon will come,
The One I love will say here’s God.

Clay April 1997


The Negev Desert is located in the southern part of Israel and makes up more than half of the land area of Israel.

Ancient Tel Arad

Arad is at the northern edge of the Negev. It is close to the Dead Sea, Judean Wilderness, and the desert. It is a modern city of about 20,000 people and is about 5 miles east of the ancient Tel Arad.

Tom Brimmer at Tel Arad

Tel Arad is the richest Biblical archeological site in the Negev. Twelve towns are built on top of each other. The earliest occupants of this site were in the 3rd millennium BC. Judah conquered Canaanite city in the 10th century BC and it became an important city of Judah. Contrary to the command of Deuteronomy 12:4-5 “ a sanctuary for Him at a place He himself will select..”, the Israelites at Tel Arad built a sanctuary, complete with sacrificial activities, Holy of Holies, etc. It was an abomination to the Lord but was an operative high place until the
sanctuary was destroyed by Josiah ( 2nd Kings 23) after the Babylonian exile.

Tel Arad

Worship Where?
We are called to worship God,
Deep within our hearts.
In such a way that fertile crops,
Feed the poor each day.
That hands and feet obey His call,
Each pathway leads from Him.
False hearts fight, and evil grows,
A call for thee resounds.
On bended knee, repentance plea,
Needy souls all.
The proclamation of His life,
Me, you need Me.

Clay April 1997


Jerusalem 1997


It has been an intense desire of mine to do something important with my life. At the back of my mind, work has been the avenue that seemed to hold the greatest potential for importance and remembrance. Then, I came to Jerusalem. That city that God loves.



Barren, rocky, hilly Jerusalem that Jesus wept over. The place where the prophets were murdered.

We entered the City from the west and drove for an hour before we finally reached the “Old City of Jerusalem.”


City of Jerusalem


Comfortably seated atop two hills and bordered by the Kidron and Hinnom Valleys, Jerusalem sparkles. The walls we see were built by Suleiman in the 16th Century and therefore encompass 5,000 years of history.

A place of beauty and protection, comforting one’s soul.
Sheltered by the hand of God, centuries old.
Strong as steel should be, ever reaching out to thee.
Prophets came and told, the Holy Word of God.
Standing in the Temple’s shadow.
Never followed, never heard, death was their shepherd.
And then a pagan antichrist, ruling til today.
Giving out his holy word.
Followed, heard, shepherding death.
Would be nice to say it’s not a place of lasting peace.
Peace from God is in His hand, not an edict.
God declares this place His HOME.

Arriving at Beit Shmuel on Shamma Street we settled into our quarters. We stared across the Hinnom Valley and gawked at Jaffa Gate and the City Walls.


Jaffa Gate & City Walls


Majestic, strong and beautiful City Walls. Tired and traveled, we made our way across the Hinnom and entered the Old City of Jerusalem at Jaffa Gate.


Jaffa Gate Entrance


Supper was on our mind and we walked to the Armenian Tavern to deal with this concern.


Armenian Tavern


The meal was hearty, inexpensive and good. A meal filled with atmosphere, good fellowship, and memorable images of a Middle Eastern meal.

The food in Jerusalem is often good and sometimes very good. The prices are moderate to inexpensive on a world scale. We carefully evaluated the places we wanted to eat and enjoyed Middle Eastern food, Chinese food and on occasion Western food. We ate very well. An especially fun experience was lunch in Omar Bakri’s Olive Wood store. We had hummus brought in from a neighboring restaurant and had a great meal.


Mount Zion
Stan, Tom and Robert, praying…


The eight gates that enter the Old City are all interesting and important to the history of Jerusalem. The Zion Gate with its ninety degree turn is unusual and important because of its location and relationship with Mount Zion. The Lion Gate with its two Mamaluke Lions is at the beginning of the Via Dolorosa. The Damascus Gate facing East Jerusalem is the largest of the eight gates and was the location of Sultan Suleiman’s Palace. We walked through all of the gates and discussed their particular special relationship with Jerusalem and its walls.

Concerns that anger me, that teach and preach and badger me,
Find resolution in God’s place.
He is here. Inside my soul, He goes with me and gives me life.
I know that place is where I am but here is His place.
Reaching out to touch the stone. I connect with His place.
Burdened for a world of woe. Hurting hearts that show.
Here I am with Him. He knows and I know Him.
Job knew His presence, I too, He is.
And in this place of centuries born. With changing shapes and forms.
The Rock resides without a change.
As people come and nations die, He lives and resides.
His place where all can come.

Walking all the streets wearied the body and filled the soul. Sights and sounds so foreign to us were all around.


Armenian Patriarchite St.


The music of the marketplace; chatter, Eastern songs, Western songs, Muslim prayers, people talking, Christians praying, all blending together with the smells of Eastern foods, was overpowering. Hard to take in. A mind grabbing memory that sharpens with time.


Temple Mount with a view of the Dome of the Rock


Jerusalem grows in my heart. I spend time memorizing the map and saying the street names. As I walk, I recount the remembered ones who have been here before. The journey along the Via Dolorosa reminded me of how much Christ has done for me. The Western Wall overpowers the emotions. Jerusalem.



We drove through the Armenian Quarter one night. It was interesting, and we encountered very little traffic on the narrow streets. Skirting the edge of the Jewish Quarter, we exited the Old City at the Dung Gate. The next morning we were back in the Jewish Quarter visiting the Western Wall. We couldn’t get on the Temple Mount.

Our time in Jerusalem ended too soon. Our thoughts turned towards home and we packed our bags with mixed emotions. One day, we will arrive in the New Jerusalem.


Share Online

About clay