Holy Land - Day 1

Blog Day 1: Sharon

A lot has happened in the last 2 days since leaving Corona. We arrived in Jerusalem completing a 27 hour trip. After a short sleep we began our Sunday. We worshiped with our partners and Pastor Doug preached the message. We prepared for VBS and went to lunch to experience an authentic Palestinian meal. We are now on the bus heading back to our hotel.

My feelings about the trip so far:

We have a fantastic team that is willing, helpful, and hardworking. I was appreciative that no one complained about getting less sleep due to a delay on our connecting flight. The Frankfurt Airport shut down as a result of a lightning and thunder storm.

I was blessed by the heartfelt praise of the Church congregation as they lifted their voices in praise. Doug’s message was inspiring and funny. He would say something in English, we laughed and then it was translated into Arabic and everyone else would laugh. What joy to share and laugh with our brothers and sisters in the Holy Land.

In regards to VBS Preparation, I was grateful for everyone working hard to get ready for the children. People are working well together and enjoying themselves even though we only got 3 hours of sleep.

Lunch….all I can say is too much delicious food.

I believe that the first 3-4 days of a mission trip are the hardest. A lot is expected from everyone, there are many changes in plans…and once again, little sleep. I am blessed to be working along side each of the Holy Land team members.  I can see God’s love displayed in each of their lives. By the way, it is a quiet ride back to the hotel in Jerusalem since 11 out of 18 team members are asleep.


Blog Day 1: Devi 

It has been less than 24 hours since we landed in the Holy Land with the Crossroads team and emotions are overwhelming. As the Lufthansa Airline wheels touched the runway of the Ben Grunion airport in Tel Aviv, there was a strange feeling as though, somewhere, somehow, I landed in a place that I belonged.

As our tour bus rolled into Jerusalem, waves of emotions that were unexpected caught my breath. How can there be such a sense of belonging to a place that isn’t my home? The only explanation I have is that I landed in a place that is dear the to One I call my Father, the One who loves me the most called this HIS home. I hope what I feel is a tiny bit of the love He has for this land. Maybe it’s also because it’s the place where Jesus walked, and taught lessons through  stories.

In these sunny, busy and dusty streets around 2,000 years ago, I imagine my Jesus walking, his eyes searching for the forgotten, his stories bringing to life the lessons he wanted to teach. It is here, in this land that he told us to love Him with ALL our hearts, with ALL my souls, ALL our strength and ALL of our minds. That seems today, as easy as the breath I take in. I wonder, if I had been here way back then, would my eyes have recognized my Master here?

This morning Pastor Doug, uses a Greek work called “spunknoi”, which means having extreme emotion. That’s what I feel. Waking up to see the sunshine over the old city of Jerusalem, I felt that reckless love of God.

And THAT is why I feel as though I belong here. I belong in His love. Here, in the city, where He showed me, and all of us, how much He loved us 2,000 years ago.

When my Jesus returns to earth, He will return here….His feet will touch the Mt. of Olives. I wish it were today, so my eyes could see Him.



Holy Land Blog 2

Blogs Day 2: Maureen & Doug


Wow! Our first day of VBS was truly a hit!!  Praise God!!!

The kids were adorable all dressed in their “GO BIG” t-shirts… you could feel and see the excitement in them!

We started the day singing praise songs to Jesus and those kids were boldly singing out! Jackie is one of our partners in the Holy Land and led today’s worship. I must add that she does such a wonderful job leading those kids and getting them engaged in the worship experience.

We had 3 groups of kids who would rotate to 3 different stations (puppets, crafts, & sports).  I serve in the “crafts” station and each group of kids that came in to our team did a wonderful job expressing their artistry through drawing. Two girls (Maria and Sabrina) were just darling!  They were giggling and having such fun!

By the end of VBS I was pretty wiped out, but… there was more to do.  Quickly God reminded me of the “word of the day” which was, “serve.” Thankfully God mustered up more energy in me, and I was ready for part two of the day. Painting!

We were able to touch -up & continue some of the painted art work that the learners from CCHS (Crossroads Christian High School) started last Spring. I was glad that to see that our partners felt blessed by our team’s hard work.

Today, the Go Big message/ theme for the kids was about Jonah and the importance of being “Obedient” to God, even when you don’t want to. (Which was how I was feeling by the end of VBS. How did God know? Haha!)

The memory verse for the day was what I needed to hear…

“I called to the Lord in my distress, and He answered me.”  Jonah 2:2a (HCSB)

Granted… I wasn’t distressed to the degree of Jonah, but I was tired, and we know how we can get when we’re tired. Despite my exhaustion, God is so awesome because all day long He was reminding me of His sovereignty and provision through the devotional at the start of the day to the message with the kids, in preparation of what I would eventually need to continue to push through.  And with a joyful heart!  His promise to sustain me was fulfilled when I, like Jonah, called out to Him.



Monday!  We began our day of ministry at 6:30AM with breakfast served by our hotel staff.  A delightful conversation with Devi about education made for stimulating conversation.

We jumped on our bus driven by our intrepid driver- NaEl (Nathanial). Each of us was filled with anticipation and excitement to kickoff the Vacation Bible School with the children.  A one hour drive though uncrowded streets placed us ahead of schedule.  The checkpoint and border hardly slowed us down.  Warm greeting accompanied our arrival at RCO.

The puppetry team prepared its movements, choreography and lines.  Steve, being the rookie, was reported to be a “natural.”

The early arriving kids started trickling in… then they began to pour in. I was fortunate to meet young Darius- with a friendly personality and athletic ability. Later he would introduce me to his mom and cousin. When we parted ways he whispered, “you are my new friend now, forever.”

The children gathered in the chapel to start our VBS with singing and fun.  I served under Zane’s direction on the sports and games team. For an hour we played games and did competitions. These kids are tough… especially the girls.

Three rotations and time flew by, then lunch with chicken, bread, and rice.

Later in the afternoon, after the kids left, we painted the murals on the large walls of playground. Messy and fun.

Now it’s almost sundown and we are sleepy as we return on our bus hearing about the history of the PLO and Yassir Arafat as we drive by his tomb.

A satisfying day of ministry, for sure!



Holy Land Blog 3

Holy Land Blog 3:


Today was an amazing day for me. I started my day talking with God about gates. Gates can keep us safe, they can keep us out, they can be new or old, decorative or plain. Being in Jerusalem and seeing the various gate signs of entry I am thinking about the victorious entry of Christ and His people.

That is the kind of excitement that I hear in our team for what we will accomplish today. We saw even more joy in the children today as they laughed and played more openly with us. And it rained!! It hasn’t rained here in June in 26 years.

We got to walk around Jaffa. We’ve been fed with generous hospitality. Mark, my husband gave his testimony at the Church. Today was a diamond day for me. That means I want to lock it away in my heart and cherish it like a precious stone. I hope your day was diamond also.


What a busy trip so far. Lots of work and a little play.

It rained today which is very rare for Jerusalem.  Funny that the story and craft at VBS were about Noah’s Ark.

Everyday has had changes. Today we were in Jaffa and saw Simon the Tanner’s house on the way to the Church.

Church was amazing! The praise was great. The church sings and worships with such intensity and emotion, the presence of the spirit almost  shakes the walls. This has been my favorite activity all week.

Holy Land Blog 4

Holy Land Blog 4:


Our Day started with a light rain as a special blessing. On the way in, I was really looking forward to another great day with these sweet kids. They love the puppet characters we are using to tell them Bible stories.  My character is “Grandpa”, which is a natural one for me.

The kids were great today! They were even more animated and excited about the characters and the Bible stories. Joleen has them begging to be part of the crew that “acts out” the stories while she and I narrate and the other puppets learn the same lesson. Teacher Jackie does an incredible job singing, playing the piano, and encouraging the kids while translating the story from English to Arabic and back. She is truly amazing.

We visited the Shepherd’s Field and the Church of the Nativity today. Being downstairs where Christ was born was made even more moving when Maureen led the group singing “What a beautiful name it is.” Incredible touching moment to share with the team. It was an awesome way to end our touring day. Hope yours was blessed, too!


Hello from the Holy Land!

This is the day that the Lord has made! Each day our team leaders, Kerry & Sharon give us a “word of the day” to reflect on throughout that day’s experience. Today’s word: HUMBLE. I hadn’t heard the word of the day before I volunteered to blog, and humility has never been one of my attributes. Haha! God is so funny… “I hear you, Lord!”

We’re only 3 days into our trip and I’ve already absorbed, experienced and felt so much. Today we had the VERY humbling experience of visiting The Shepherds’ Field and the birthplace of Jesus in Bethlehem. Reflecting on how God called the lowly shepherd into a starring role of Jesus’s story, leaves me knowing that God chose them and they were made special. He chose you and me to be a special part of it too. Wow!

At VBS, we are singing a wonderful song…

“Our God is a great big God.

Our God is a great big God.

Our God is a great big God

And he holds us in his hands.


He’s higher than a skyscraper

And he’s deeper than a submarine.

He’s wider than the universe

And beyond your wildest dreams.


He knows me and he loves me

From before the world began.

How wonderful to be a part

Of God’s amazing plan!”

Looking over The Shepherd’s Field I realized one of the reasons God brought me on this trip was for me hear and believe the words in the song. I am part of God’s amazing plan! I certainly don’t how, but God knows and that’s all we need.


Holy Land Blog 5

Holy Land Blog 5

Day 5: Kenzie

Today was the last day of VBS and even though it’s sad, I know I can speak for everyone when I say what a blessing the last 4 days have been. This being my second time here I knew what to expect, but I still get emotional when the kids come up to say good bye and “I love you.” Even kids I thought didn’t notice us were hugging and loving on us. Each child has a different story, a different need, and a different circumstance. Some will break your heart. My biggest prayer is that they know how much I love them and saw Jesus through me. I leave with a heavy heart and the feeling of wishing I could do much more.

We also got to explore downtown. Since tomorrow is the last day of Ramadan, everyone was scurrying about gathering last minute necessities. I love the hustle and bustle and watching the locals as they go by. In a town that’s dirty and full of sadness, I see a beautiful place. God created each of these people whether they be Christian, Muslim, or Jewish. We are all His children and He loves each of us the same. I pray they all come to know Him.


Driving through these city streets for the last time, I realize this place no longer feels foreign as it did our first day. RCO is a part of me now. We have worshiped with this sister church, loved on their children and shared special moments with their parents. In a community where less than 1% are Christian, 90 children came and encountered the love of Jesus this week. The Spirit of God is moving here! What a blessing it has been to work alongside such faithful servant leaders for the Lord, boldly preaching the truth of the gospel and loving each person as Jesus would. Please pray for this congregation and its leaders.

“The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.” Luke 10:2

I am so thankful we began our trip here serving, learning from and growing to love the people of this land. Though we lay our heads down in different places, we are the same. We are God’s children.


Day 5: Zane 

I’ve been in Jerusalem for 5 days now and I can truly say it has some good history here and the greatest history of all being our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

If I’m being totally honest it also has some dark history as well, which continues to this present day. When I first arrived here I asked God, “What is it You want me to know?” I see all the separation, I see all the differences and division among the people, I see the difference of opinions in claims to the land. God answered my prayer the second day here. I wrote it in my journal:

Journal Entry Day #2

“Today I long for a place where no walls exist, physical walls or invisible walls. I long for the eternity with my Lord who is my Father, my Savior.  What does praying at a wall do when the hearts are not changed, what does repeatedly building a wall do when the core heart of the builder is to keep all out. ‘Lord, you alone know the key to this mystery we call boundaries. Help me unlock my mind so I can zero in on your will of what we should be doing why we are at the wall praying.’”

Confirmation came to me at the Tuesday night Church service. As I sat down in the pew, I was immediately overwhelmed with emotions when the worship music hit me. Tears started to flow from my face. I didn’t understand what was being sung as it was in a different language, but I heard Jesus’ name being repeated in Arabic (Yasue). I was  so overcome with emotions I couldn’t even stand. I closed my eyes and let the emotions flow through me. The worship made me tune in to what the Pastor was going to deliver that night. To my surprise it was about what we should be doing as Christians in America for Jerusalem. The message was to pray. Pray not for the country or the land but for the hearts of the people in that land to come to know the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To change the hearts of the people Jews and Gentiles(Non-Jews). If this is God’s will for this area and the confirmation to me, I must pray for the hearts of the people in Israel/Jerusalem/Holy Land to come to know Christ every waking day. God Bless all and I hope to see you soon. Love and Peace.


Holy Land Blog 6

Holy Land Blog 6 


This is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it!

Our word for the day is “obedience.”  For someone with a bit of a rebellious heart, this struck a chord. God placed the desire to be baptized in the Jordan River within me, and I am so blessed to be able to see that desire fulfilled.  The day was picture perfect. Was it that way for Jesus?  I was prepared for this day, or so I thought.  Upon entering the Jordan River a flood of emotion overcame me.  Tears were on my cheeks and JOY filled my heart.  As Jesus had been obedient to His Father, I was now following my Savior in baptism.  I truly believe that He was smiling down as He gave me this gift and that He was singing a love song over each of those being baptized.
Just to be in the places where Jesus walked and taught and healed and gave everything melts my heart.

I have a much deeper appreciation for the strength of my Savior who walked here with mere sandals on His feet, a robe and a staff in His hand.

As I reflect on the day, I am so grateful for a Savior who gave us an example of what our Heavenly Father wants us to be.  Just like Jesus.  Let this always be my prayer!

So today, we began our day at the Jordan River. We were given a chance to get baptized. EVERY TIME we have a baptism Sunday at Crossroads, I feel sort of “left out”. I see the people walking up to get baptized, I see their emotions, it’s like there’s a party at the baptismal and I am not at the party. Well, I got to be baptized in the Jordan River, in The Holy Land today!

Baptism is a symbol of a new identity,

an outward sign that I will follow Christ,

an inward sign that I want to copy the character of Christ.

Baptism gives me a new identity.

My past is forgiven, I don’t need to carry my guilt, or my many mistakes to my grave.

When Jesus was baptized in the Jordan River, there was a dove that appeared from heaven ( the Holy Spirit in a bodily form) and Jesus heard his Father say, “You are my Son whom I love, with You I am well pleased.” I speak for myself, and perhaps many others… that I LONG to hear those words from my Father.

I have been told how to please my Father. He has asked me to love him first .. to love people.

I just need to know how to love people.. how to speak their love language in a practical day-to-day way. Not as a burden, but as a natural result of love

It’s been six days. Still, we all have moments when we whisper, “We are in the Holy Land!”  We have packed our days to capacity…. exploring the land any minute we can.

We will rest when we get back to the states.  But not while we are here.

Where else can you worship Christ in the place He was born! Check out our video!



Holy Land Day 7

Holy Land Day 7 


We saw some amazing sites today in Jerusalem. We started the day at the Western or Wailing Wall. It was very busy, being the Jewish Sabbath. The Wall was a very historic place for me and I was happy to be able to see it, but it did not make me feel closer to God as I want to feel close to God all the time and anywhere I am.

As in our previous Wall prayers, Joleen and I wrote a prayer focusing on one of God’s promises to put in a crack in the Wall. It reminded me of a time 25 years ago, in my early 40’s, when I wrote down a prayer and nailed it to a physical cross in the front of our church during a service. I prayed for God to give me strength to stop biting my fingernails, which I had been doing all my life. That outward expression, (writing it down and nailing it to the cross), gave me the strength to stop biting my fingernails. (My mom was so proud of me.)

One of the prayers that Joleen and I wrote to place in the Wall was based on God’s promise in Proverbs 22:6.

“Train up a child in the way he should go, and even when he is old he will not depart from it.”

We wrote down the names of our 8 adult children, including their spouses, and our 16 grandkids. We pray that all of our kids and grandkids will love God and serve the Lord by loving others. I have included a picture of Joleen putting our prayer in the Western Wall. We will give this image to them as a reminder that we are constantly praying for them.

I like writing down our prayers…focusing on the scriptures and the mighty promises from God…finding a Cross to nail them to or a Wall to place them within the cracks of mighty stones, known as the Western Wall.

Holy Land Blog 8

Holy Land Blog 8


For me, this journey into Israel, the land of the Bible – has  been a trip like no other. To enter into the context of these stories that I have learned over decades has been, to say the least, amazing. Every step of the journey has been blessed with these little touches from God and the blessing that His Story in my own life has been reaffirmed again and again. To start the trip off by serving local children at our sister church, and then to immerse ourselves into this land, has really set the right focus for me. It’s truly about God’s love for His people and His pursuit of us- not just places and relics.

To stand in the place where so many of these stories came from not only makes them more real, but it also sets a deeper context to the story that is hard to share simply with words. To look out and to see what Jesus or Moses would have seen, adds to the understanding of what they may have felt.

Along this journey there have been several points for me to experience these things. Yesterday we had the chance to go to Ein Gedi and to hike back to the remains of the cave where David and his men were hiding  (1 Samuel 24) when Saul came in to relieve himself, and David had the chance to sneak up behind Saul and cut off a part of his robe. I always kind of wondered if David had ninja like skills to sneak up and do that without being caught… Now coming here and understanding that in the desert wilderness of Israel, Ein Gedi is a place where a natural spring pours out a stream of fresh water into this valley, and in the main cave in the back – where David was hiding, the entry was shrouded by a waterfall. It was the sound of the waterfall that drowned out the  sounds of David and his men, not just ninja skills. Today, the waterfall flowing from the spring above,  are the remains of that cave. The roof of it has long since collapsed. You can still make out some stalactites near the top and the rubble on the valley floor. This is where David’s obedience overrode what seemed like a gift from God, to have his enemy delivered to him. For me, being reminded that God is always in control of the details, really connected me to the story.


It seems to me that there are three different ways that a man can be wrong.

The first is most common, when a person makes the most simple of offhanded comments to be easily disproven. This type of wronghood, though edifying in information, brings with it little to no consequence as it was never a belief held too close to the person’s core.

The second wrong occurs less often than the first, and occurs when a person has repeated the falsity time and again up until the point of evidence otherwise. This wrong brings with it a certain amount of shame, as it comes with the realization that a person must have repeatedly brought up and stated their belief before others without actually bothering to look up the facts for themselves.  It can therefore be thought of as an extension of the first over a long period of time and to a worsening degree.

The third wrong is the most dissimilar to the other two, and occurs by far the least often. It occurs when a man, to his complete horror, dawns upon a truth in complete dichotomy to his overall being. This wrongness is the most aversive in consequence to the point of not being readily acceptable to the person. It is often held too deeply and requires that a person make an actual change of action.

To say that I have been made a fool by my repeated wrongs would be an understatement. I have over and over again been corrected by God to the point of lunacy. And the experience has been fantastic! I’m not even sure why I keep setting myself up for it. At a certain point you would think that I would learn something. But I’m a special kind of stubborn and God, as it turns out, has a bit of a sense of humor. So this will most likely continue on into the next week

I should start off by saying that I’m not exactly given into emotion very easily, nor am I the person who can say he feels or hears God’s voice or presence as often as He seems to make Himself known to others. Now you’re probably thinking that if I “start off by saying” something, I should put it at the beginning. But this is my blog and I’ll put that sentence wherever the heck I want.

Anyways, the first of my wrongs would be the wrong most minor. For in the days before our trip we were told that the first portion of our time would be given to serving in VBS, as though in response to our trip to the Holy Land we would need to give a tithe of our hours. My simple mistake came immediately in my doubt. So simply it came, too; the belief that because of my own nature I could not possibly enjoy a second of that time with them. And so came the first of God’s gest-ful corrections, because as of yet this has been the time I most enjoyed and I do not regret a moment of it. Now certain other people in this group might try and convince you that this last sentence was nonsense and that it looked like I was just standing there most of the time. But if I were you I wouldn’t listen to a word they were saying because they’re all just a couple of liars anyways. (Insert laughter here)

The second of my wrongs came to me in a Christian church. It came after years of constantly praying for the land of Israel. In that church, the pastor said to us what should have seemingly been the most obvious thing. It was the simple statement that westerners have the tendency to pray more for the land of Israel rather than for the souls of the Jews and Muslims within it. God would take care of the land, but souls were never promised. Now you might be wondering what kind of idiot wouldn’t have noticed this.  So let me tell you: this kind.  This truth had apparently not once occurred to me. Mom, I’m blaming this wrong on you.

The last of these wrongs, however, came particularly hard. It came on the day before this one and was one that I really didn’t want to accept. Remember for a moment that I started before by saying that I am not easily given into emotion; Especially seeing as everything leading up to this moment had been extremely good. Even when I was wrong before, I had felt blessed. Each day here with these people has been a blessing, a respite to what I would describe as a rather long year. I had felt comfort knowing that God would eventually answer my prayers as I was diligent in my asking. Then came that moment yesterday, and it came the instant that I had hit the Garden of Gethsemane.  Because it was there that I was reminded that Jesus’s prayer had also been a passing of the cup of suffering, only His prayer ended with “But not my will, but your will be done.” As soon as I remembered this, the truth of my last wrong had dawned on me. God had not promised me a thing regarding my prayers and avoidance of suffering. All He promised was that He had a will for me, not that it was necessary something that I wanted. My immediate response was to yell out in my mind, “God, NO! Please, no!” I wanted to be as Job and argue with God, or as Jonah and to run somewhere He couldn’t find me. Yet there I sat, resting in the same garden Jesus had just hours before he died. I wanted nothing like the prayer He had made. Eventually I recanted, offering up a prayer saying that I would accept what seemed like a new update to the “Terms and Agreement”. Honestly, I’m not sure how much of it I actually meant, but I got the whole thing out nonetheless.

I’m not sure I said more than three words up until the end of lunch. And that was in spite of the fact that we got to have some rather delicious shawarma that apparently gave everyone some gastric distress later that night. (Although that might not be a relevant detail.) In time, I took this wrong a little better. Today, we came to the place where Paul would have to stand trial before Pontius Pilate. It was something that I believe now was better received by my soul. Like I said, this trip has been one that was full of wrongs, but I do not regret a single one of my lessons learned.



Today was a travel day, so a majority of it was spent on our way from Jerusalem to Tiberius. On our way we stopped in Caesarea which was named after one of Julius Caesar’s children. It was a major port city and was where Herod the Great resided to rule. Even now, almost 2000 years later, you could see the lavish lifestyle of these people. His palace spanned a large portion of the beach and was right next to the Hippodrome and the theater. But Herod always seemed to be striving ahead for his own gain or goal. It was an interesting way to see the power of man reflected just a few miles up from Jerusalem, a city built with God’s power.

Why many people know of Caesarea is because this is where Paul spent most of the end of his life.  This was where he was held on trial for such a long time, and where he had been to numerous hearings. But there was an interesting thing that we learned: many of the judges who had been listening to him at hearings believed him and many of them started converting. This was an amazing thing to hear and I thought about applying it to my life. Even in the darkest times, God will be your light, and the only way to abolish darkness is by sharing your light.

Next we went to Mt. Carmel, which is most well-known for the competition between Elijah and the prophets of Ba’al. What I found most interesting wasn’t the actual mountain, but the valley that it looked over. This was the Jezre’el valley/Megiddo, and it was the location of the first battle in recorded history. But what was even more interesting was that this will be the location of the battle of Armageddon. That left me in awe imagining the conflict that is going to take place here, but then God put His hand on my heart and gave me complete peace. I realized that when looking at this battlefield, I don’t have to imagine how it will end, because I know. In Revelation 20 it says that after this battle, Satan, The Deceiver, will be cast into the abyss. This was a complete surrender moment for me and made me see that no matter what pain is to come, God will overcome and bless us.

Elijah slaying the 450 prophets of Baal and 400 prophets of Asherah


Holy Land Blog 9

Holy Land Blog 9


Our hearts are turning toward home, once again I’m reminded it’s not the stuff I miss but the ones I love.  But our fearless leaders keep us excited about what is still ahead: Mt. Tabor and the Transfiguration of Jesus. (Spoiler alert, we didn’t see Moses and Elijah meeting with Jesus.) We kept finding areas that remind us of Big Bear, CA.- Pine trees and curvy roads.

Nazareth the home town of Mary and Jesus. They have uncovered ancient ruins and reenact what village life would have been like in Jesus’ day. I learned the shepherd lays across the opening to the sheepfold. Nothing can get to his sheep because he will pay with his life to protect them. Our Shepherd has given His life for us in this sacrificial way. Our traditional meal of lentil soup, chicken, flat bread, salad, hummus and dessert of apple slices with date jelly spread was delicious. (I spent too much in the gift shop here.)

The Church of the Annunciation is where they believe Gabriel announced to Mary she would be the mother of Jesus.  I am always impressed with the courage of young Mary, “May it be done to me according to your word” she told Gabriel. I doubt I could have been so brave at such a young age.

Next is Cana, where Jesus turned water into wine at the wedding. A big water pot is exhibited here.

The important biblical sights are enshrined in churches now. Pastor Doug has brought all the biblical stories to life for us and Michael has explained the history to us. Thank you both.


If you like cats, we have seen them in most every place we have visited. Tonight we get free time! Watch out Tiberias.

To end this, Mark and I celebrated our 46th anniversary yesterday. We had a discussion at the end of the day about how in heaven we will be like the angels and not be married. We hope we get to visit one another and enjoy the memories of our marriage and family journey together.

This will be my last blog from the Holy Land. God bless you all. To our family and friends we’ll see you soonish. To mine, I love you all.

Sea of Galilee at sunrise



To the fearless leaders for our tour Sharon and Kerry-  Our team would agree that the success of our team so far has been because of your watchful eyes over us. You are the most encouraging couple! Kerry, you are quite the jokester.

They gather us like a momma hen gathers the chickies. They are always at the end of our “line” when we wander off in the old city. They treat us with dignity, respect  and kindness. They stop and listen while we process our many emotions . They hang around us  a little more if they sense we are having a tough moment.

They are both just as excited as we are, when we get to any location, like the Dead Sea even though it’s their third time in Israel. It’s like they “jump in”with us to share our joy.

Sharon has the medical bag for all our physical ailments, and she gave me peppermint oil for the upset tummy just this morning. Sharon has all the “inside” tips for the trip. Like telling us that our water sandals will get stuck in the Dead Sea.

Kerry is a coffee connoisseur. He tries to drink our extra shots of that strong Turkish coffee.. that stuff you could finger paint with!!  In Jericho, Kerry had about 7 shots of coffee. I expected him to run behind our bus, from Jericho to Jerusalem, but he wasn’t affected by it. Haha!

Holy Land Blog 10

Holy Land Blog 10


Jesus… More than a good man… He is the unique Son of God. We are sitting at the “Gates of Hell”- Caesarea Philippi or Banias. It’s here that Jesus asked the single most important question… “Who do you say that I am?”   This morning we talked about the eternal implications that are based on our answer.

Peter blurted out “thou art the Christ, the Son of the Living God”. For Peter this was an acknowledgment of Jesus’ deity and role as mankind’s Savior.  It was here that people traveled for pagan idolatrous worship… even sacrificing their sons.  But, in the midst of the disciples on this Day was The Son of God.  While there is darkness in Banias, a great hope is disclosed to the disciples ultimately to be shared with the world.

Later, we came down from the Golan Heights to the shore of Galilee and remembered Jesus’ appearance after His resurrection.  There, while cooking breakfast for the fishers of men, He restored Peter with a simple question repeated thrice: Do you love me?

And Peter did love His Lord.  As do I.


Renewed with a sense of mission, I finish this day with thoughts of each in my family on my mind as our boat cuts across the sea… I’m praying each comes to know the Man of Galilee as their Christ (Savior).


What an amazing day! The Mount of Beatitudes where Jesus instructs us on how to receive His blessings by surrendering our own will for His will.  Compassionately he is giving us this road map to help us live like He, Himself has lived His life.  In other words, live with humble servant hearts and show grace and mercy to everyone and we will receive His blessings upon blessings.  He also gives us a word of caution about the suffering that will take place because we follow Him.  What a Shepherd!   He knows the journey is not for the faint of heart, but that courage will be a breath away.  Just call out to Jesus.

Of all of the places we visited today, the biggest shock was how Jesus spoke to me at Caesarea of Philippi.  THE GATES OF HELL.

Every time I have read this scripture I have been gripped by all of the evil and demonic forces that pulled people to sacrifice their children to appease some indignant god.

But today, Jesus showed me His power, authority, Lordship and sovereignty over every evil force.  He was no longer a lamb, but a lion.  He faced the gates of hell with out fear because He is God and He has nothing to fear.  He emphatically declared that the gates of hell will NEVER prevail against His Kingdom, His people, and certainly not His design.  Nothing can ever snatch me from His hand.  Jesus has revealed His power, strength and His authority to me over and over on this trip.  He has called me to lean in closer and feel the strength  and the authority that are mine in His beautiful Name.



Holy Land Blog 11

Holy Land  Day 11


We awoke to a beautiful morning on the lake front at the Sea of Galilee, blessed and in awe of the ministry of Jesus in this area.  Seventy five percent of Jesus’ teaching and miracles happened near the water and around this Galilean region. It was hard to say goodbye to such an amazing place, but excited to go back to Jerusalem to learn and experience more about the time of Jesus.

Our word for the day is FAITH, as we consider Jesus’ return and that we will be with Him. This was especially inspiring as we continued to view numerous holy sites today.

Once we arrived in Jerusalem, the bus dropped us off at the excavation site of the City of David, an incredible find that continues to solidify the Old Testament writings of that time. We all quickly prepared ourselves to venture down through the watery pathway of Hezekiah’s tunnel, ending at the Pool of Siloam. Here is where Jesus placed mud on the eyes of a man born blind, asked him to wash the mud off in the waters and was given sight (John 9:6-41).  Such a wonderful example of great obedience to Jesus’ instructions to have his sight for the first time.

As I reflect on this fact, the life application is so ‘visibly’ clear.  Our obedience in relationship with Jesus Christ and the knowledge of God’s word gives us clear direction and provision in our daily walk. He is the answer to all of life’s questions and gives us hope for our future days.

Next, we walked through the Old City of Jerusalem and made our way to the Garden Tomb. What a beautiful place to be together as a team. We learned of its archaeological perspective, walked through the lush gardens, stepped inside the tomb, took communion together and prayed. We celebrated the fact that He is not here…He is risen.  He lives within us and we are to tell the amazing story of His great love through our actions. We are to share who He is, His forgiveness of sins and His gift of eternal life.

As our day comes to an end, we have settled in at the Hotel to get a good night’s sleep to complete our Holy Land adventure.



Holy Land Day 12

Holy Land Day 12


Well, we started our tour of Israel at the Western Wall, and today we ended it there. This trip has been amazing for all of us pilgrims and we have been blessed with great team members and great leadership by Kerry, Sharon, Michael, and Pastor Doug. As I look back on all of our adventures, excursions, and experiences, I am truly impressed with all the team has done, seen, accomplished, and learned on this rich walk through the Bible landscape of the Holy Land.

P.S. Pastor Doug said “this is a very special place” 30 or 40 times!

Some super highlights for me:


  1. The VBS experience. Kids were great, it was awesome to meet Michael and his family that run the Church and carry the Gospel message to the community. Our team was selfless and energetic, doing sports, puppets, and crafts with excited kids on very little sleep. We topped it off with some after- hours artistic painting that really added to the look of the play areas. This was an extremely rewarding part of our trip and well received by the kids and the church. The smiles and hugs we got will last forever.


  1. Singing in the Church of the Nativity. This church is built around the spot where it is believed Jesus was born. It is managed and controlled by 4 different denominations, and is usually stuffed full of tourist groups. When we went, it was incredibly low on tourists, and we were able to group together in a small spot near where He was born while Maureen led us in “What a beautiful name it is” which was incredible and we really felt God’s presence with us.
  1. Church service we attended with our partners. We attended an evening service and I was asked to share a message. The one God gave me was the story of my salvation that I really hadn’t shared in public before. It was a powerful worship, church service, and preaching message, and quite humbling for me. That evening will be stamped on my soul. Thank you, Lord.


  1. Being baptized by my wife Sue and our dear friend Jan in the Jordan River.  I underestimated the power of God’s blessing that was upon us. Sue, Jan, and I all baptized each other and it was a very moving experience I will treasure always. This made the trip even more incredible and filled our hearts to overflowing.

  1. Celebrating my 46th wedding anniversary with Sue on the Sea of Galilee. It was great to be here where Jesus taught and performed so many great miracles, to quietly celebrate 46 years together. Our time here was incredibly rich with the stories of Jesus and the disciples, including some of my favorite Bible stories around fish and fishing.  Loved the boat ride on the Sea of Galilee to reflect on all His many miracles here.


Today we were able to go up and visit the Dome of the Rock on Temple Mount. It was great having Michael and Doug explain the reasons for its holy status and importance to Jews and Muslims alike. It was pointed out that the Church of the Ascension, the Dome of the Rock, the Golden (Eastern) Gate (Jesus returns here), and the Church of the Holy Sepulcher (crucifixion) all line up and can all be seen at once from the Dome of the Rock.  Very powerful imagery. Like everything else here in the Middle East, the Dome of the Rock issues are very complicated, and the roots go back centuries.


We also got serenaded several times by groups of Jewish people going to the Western Wall to celebrate a bar mitzvah or bat mitzvah. They were dancing, singing, playing the saxophone, the shofar, drums and balloons, and making a joyful noise of celebration for the boy of girl being honored. They do this on Tuesdays and Thursdays so we got to be part of the moving party!

One of our last stops was in the City of David where we got to go through another tunnel. This one had better headroom and was shorter, but it was still a bit like an Indiana Jones adventure.

Then we ended our trip by the Western Wall and went to where some of the ancient steps to the Temple are still preserved. Pastor Doug reminded us that Jesus did much of His teaching here because you could assemble a larger group here without drawing the anger of the Romans.  We climbed on them and tried to imagine what it would have been like to sit at the feet of our Master, and have Him explain the Gospel message as He did centuries ago.

Well, this trip has been everything I thought it might be and more. Exciting, fascinating, encouraging, rewarding, enlightening, endearing, amazing, faith-affirming, thought-provoking, humbling, and inspiring all apply. Jesus was here, is here, and I know I am carrying Him home in a slightly different way having done everything we have done in the last 2 weeks.

Now it’s almost time for a plane ride and a reunion with friends, family, our little dog and some excellent Mexican Food! No Mi Tortilla in Israel!


Today is the very last day of our Holy Land Mission Trip and summing this trip up is difficult. It’s hard to type the weight of emotions you feel while watching the waves at the shores of Galilee.I cannot fully express the way every fiber of my body loves Jesus in the Garden Tomb, or the way my mind recreated Him seated on the steps to the second temple, teaching. The way tears just fell thinking of Jesus dragging a cross on these credibly uneven and hot streets of Jerusalem.

I was in awe seeing the menorah prepared for the building of the third temple, or standing on Temple Mount- looking around to see how the “probable” place for the Holy of Holies in the temple, the Eastern Gate (where Jesus is supposed to return) the crucifixion and the place of Jesus’ ascension (Mount of Olives) all are sort of in the straight line.

I have come to understand what “PRAY FOR THE PEACE OF JERUSALEM” means.

I am not praying for the land. God owns that.  I am praying for the souls living in this  divided city.  Generations of Jews and Muslims who have turned their back on the One true God.  Yet they look for a god in rituals, and traditions.  They are grasping on what they think is holy.

But God loves them.

He loves them so much.

He aches for them.

There’s absolutely no doubt that the enemy hates this place as much as God loves it.  Our part in this is to pray.

On the day I landed, I felt a kinship to this land. Today, the last day, as we walked the Temple Mount, and the old city of David I know why.  My forefathers are not buried here. I have no kin living here, but I belong here because I was grafted into this history.  My lineage was adopted in.  My Father loves me.  I am His.