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Location: Charlotte, North Carolina, United States

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Home Sweet Home

After an uneventful flight home we touched down in Atlanta at 5:30 am Monday morning. I managed to just beat the rush hour traffic through town and arrived back in Charlotte before lunch. There was no time for long goodbyes at the airport. I will miss my new friends. Each one is special in their own way:

-Gordon Franz, our tour leader, has an amazing knowledge of the Bible and made the Word truly come alive as we visited the places where it all happened. Thanks for your insights Gordon. Many will remain with me for life.

-Larry Fuller, board member of ABR. A rock. Quiet, confident and strong. An amazing testimony of coming to faith in Christ later in life and how nothing is the same after you meet the Savior!

-T.J. Betts, a professor at THE Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky. It makes me feel good to know that we have men like T.J. teaching future generations of church leaders. There is nothing pretentious about T.J. I thoroughly enjoyed talking with him--his open and positive spirit, his passion for giving his students practical insights into the scriptures, and his love for Christ. Did I mention that he is also a fan of the Buckeyes?!

-Elise Bosse, a grad student now living in Brisbane, Australia with her husband, Michael. (Well, actually she's now stuck in Amman, Jordan and is having difficulty getting out of the country and back home!) Elise is studying ancient history and was in Israel for several reasons--not the least of which is searching for that special something God wants her to do in life. In Elise I found a kindred spirit in one who loves to explore, climb and see what's around the next bend. People like Elise help me to feel young (except when my muscles are aching from trying to keep up).

-Michael Lassiter, a lay student of archaeology, paeleantology, Hebrew and so much more. Michael had several nice finds on the dig. He also is gifted vocally and in playing the guitar. Michael blessed us by sharing his musical gifts with us on several occasions in worship.
Thanks Michael for the picture DVD. The pics will bring lots of memories to recollection.
-Joyce Morrill realized a longtime dream in being able to take part in our trip. She has 5 daughters, #s 4 & 5 adopted! Joyce obviously has a heart for the Lord and was a joy to be around. Her husband operates a commercial fishing boat off the waters of Alaska.

-Jim Muehling, an algebra teacher from California, is a seasoned world traveler. He has participated in numerous overseas mission trips and regularly uses his summer vacations for that purpose. Jim left us early Sunday to head for Turkey with another stop in Egypt before coming back to the states.

-Brendon Witte is a student at Bryan College in Tennessee. At 20 years of age it is amazing what Brendon has read and studied. It will be interesting to see where the Lord leads him in the future and what plans He has for Brendon's special gifts. (BTW--Thanks Brendon for putting up with me as your roommate!)

-Jessica Zeidler, just graduated from high school and wants to be an archaeologist. What better way to chase your dreams than by jumping right in? Jessica celebrated her 18th birthday while on the trip. It happened to be the Thursday the rocket hit close to the dig and we packed up and moved south to Tiberias. Talk about fireworks for your birthday! Jessica possesses great maturity for her age, is a good sport and is fun to be with (and make fun of).

-Frank Zeidler, accompanied his daughter because 17 year olds were not permitted to come on their own. Frank's love for his daughter was apparent every step of the way. He made no bones about not being particularly fond of the digging or the Israeli food for the most part...but Frank enjoyed himself because Jess was happy. Frank works with a prison ministry and has an awesome testimony of how God called him out of the business world and into this particular ministry vocation.

Geography, circumstances and God's will may mean that some of us will renew acquaintances in the future, but in all likelihood most of us will never cross paths in this world again. Isn't it good to know that one day we will meet again, not in a place where Jesus walked (past tense), but in a place where everyone will bow down and worship Him! That will make our trip digging in and exploring the Holy Land pale in comparison. But for now I'll cherish the experience and the memories...

FYI: I'll be leaving for Ecuador with Erin, Evan, Laura and a friend of Erin's from high school on Thursday, July 27th, God willing. News of the eruption of Tunguruaha greeted me on my arrival home. We had planned on spending several days in Banos at the foot of that volcano. Oh well! Not the first explosions we've had to deal with this summer. Future blogs will begin to focus on this trip for those who are interested.