Jon DeBell's Blog

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Location: Charlotte, North Carolina, United States

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Pottery washing area at Hazor

Our last sunset at Ramot
Patrick blowing the shofar at Mt Ben Tal
Seeing how I can hardly keep my eyes open, I'll defer to my ghost writer, Sheila.
Hello again from Israel!!
We woke up again to beautiful blue skies and a clearday. We couldn't wait to get going to explore somemore of Israel with our guide Gila and our expertdriver Albert!
Here are Wednesday's highlights. We started the day atTel Hatzor - the archeological site that Pastor Jonwas a part of 2 years ago. His excitement about thedig was contagious. He explained how this Canaanitetemple was discovered and the progress that had beenmade while and since he was there. We left Hatzorheaded north to Dan. Dan is a nature preserve and theDan River flows into the River Jordan. This is thelargest spring area in Israel. We saw Ancient Dan andstopped at a lovely pool area before seeing the City.You could see Nimrod's Fort off in the distance on topof a mountain. We sat where the elders sat at the CityGate.
We had lunch at a McDonald's. Gila translated for usand we enjoyed our meal.
Back on the bus we headed toward the Golan Heights andpassed the old border with Syria. There were signsthat said "Danger Mines"!.
We stopped at Banias Caesarea Philippi - the Temple ofPan. We saw niches carved directly into themountainside. After Dan, we drove through themountainous area of the Golan Heights. We drove thru aDruze willage called Massadeh to go to Mt. Bental, avery high mountain that gave us a good view of thearea. You could see into Syria and Gila discussed theconflict of 1967. Pastor Jon discussed thetransfiguration passages in the Bible. We startedback to Galilee for dinner and our final night at thislovely area.
Our last e-mail from Israel. We check out of our hotelin the morning, spend the day touring, and then headto Tel-Aviv for our flight home arriving on Friday.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Tuesday in Israel

Sunset from our hotel room!

Cap'n Dennis steering our boat on the Sea of Galilee

Three baptism buddies preparing to take the plunge in the Jordan. Not only did I get to baptize two wonderful brothers, Bryan and Patrick, I got baptized myself and got to swim just a bit in the Jordan too!

I defer the rest of our report tonight to our ghost writer, Sheila Sommers. Thanks Sheila!!!
-Another exciting and beautiful day. Warm temperaturesand sunny bright blue "Carolina/Israel" sky.
Here are highlights. Our day started at Kursi whereJesus cast demons into pigs that ran into the sea.Then on our way to Capernum we walked across the RiverJordan. In Capernum, "The Town of Jesus" we sawremains of a Church built over the spot where Peter'smother-in-law lived and Jesus stayed. Capurnum is alovely place with lots of flowers. Our next stop wasTabgha the site of the feeding of the 5,000 andPrimacy of Peter. We went down to the Sea of Galileeand got a rock. Just standing there at the Sea wasreally exciting. Jon did a reading and prayer. Nextstop - the Mount of Beatitudes where Jesus preachedthe Sermon on the Mount. We read the Beatitudes fromthe Bible and had some free time to walk around thegrounds. Then off to Tiberias and lunch.
After lunch we went to the baptism site at the JordanRiver and Jon baptized two of our group, Patrick andBryan. This was a great experience!! After the men gotcleaned up, we went back to Tiberias for a wooden boatride across the Sea of Galilee. Jon read a greatstory and Gila had the captain stop the boat so shecould point out interesting locations on the shore.Our last stop of the day was The Ancient Galilee Boat.We saw a very interesting film on how the boat wasdiscovered and unearthed and then we got to see theboat itself. It is 2,000 years old and was inremarkable shape. The display was a combination ofvideo and photo presentations. Very well done.
Only two days left. We leave the hotel on Thursdaymorning for a full day then on to Tel Aviv and theairport.
Another busy day on Wednesday.

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Monday, March 10, 2008

Headed North

Authentic Roman road Jesus and disciples walked down to Kidron Valley and Garden of Gethsemane following the Last Supper
Group shot outside Lion's/St Stephen's Gate. (Click on and enlarge if you dare!)

What a great day we had today as we visited Masada, Qumran, and Beth Shan before arriving at our hotel above the northeastern shore of the Sea of Galilee late this afternoon. We heard stories about the last of the Jewish Zealots who revolted against Rome and chose death instead of slavery when their valiant resistance on their mountaintop fortress was obviously at an end. We listened as Gila told the interesting stories surrounding the discovery and revelations of the Dead Sea Scrolls. We sat in the remarkably preserved ampitheatre of Beth Shan/Scythopolis and recounted the tragic story of King Saul and how his great potential as Israel's first king never was realized. We gazed at the ancient walls from which the bodies of he and his sons were hung.

As we pulled up to our resort hotel we discovered our rooms have balconies and a spectacular view of the Sea of Galilee. Many words of excitement were shared among us. We are having a good time. We have been blessed with wonderful weather. We anticipate three more days of exploration, information, and inspiration together before heading home on Thursday. God has been so good to us. Continue to pray for us. Thank you from all of us and God bless! (Pictures of our hotel and the sea to follow tomorrow. Here's a couple from the last few days...)

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Day 2--Too tired to give it a title!

Our group in front of Western Wall
Church of All Nations in Gethsemane

Laura and Jon on Mt of Olives

Our second full day started off in great fashion as we visited Mt Zion and the traditional site of the Upper Room. Next we saw St. Peter Gallintu (the rooster crowing). This church is built over the possible site of Caiaphas' home, complete with a cellar prison where Jesus may have been held during the night of His arrest. Outside is the courtyard where Peter failed to keep his vow to the Savior and where the rooster's crowing cut him like a knife. 1st Century steps leading down to the Kidron Valley gave the route of Jesus' last free day on earth--first up to the Upper Room, then down through the Kidron Valley to the Garden of Gethsemane, then following His arrest back up to Caiaphas' house. A panoramic view of the southern city provided a great place for teaching and varied questions on biblical issues as well as the politics of life in Israel today...

We saw the Pool of Bethesday where Jesus healed the crippled man and the church of St Ann where the echoes of our voices singing Hallelujah continued to reverberate through the Crusader-era structure long after we had finished. Patrick loved leading us in that brief but wonderful time of worship.

Before your eyes glaze over...we traversed the Via Dolorosa and toured the Church of the Holy Sepulcher--with more reminders of the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus than we possibly had time to take in. We finished the day with a trip to Bethlehem to see the Church of the Nativity and the Shepherd's Fields.

Another full day! Our group is meshing together quite nicely. With four engineers with us one (I) might think that we'd have more than enough people telling us what to do and how to do it! Amazingly new friendships are being formed, a spirit of comraderie has already developed, we seem to be sensitive to each other's needs, and we are all enjoying ourselves!

We've met some nice people here. Patrick and I met Imad at the YMCA last night. He is a former Muslim who came to faith in Christ through the encouragement of a friend and by reading the Bible. Tonight at a supermarket near our hotel Laura and I wanted to purchase an item and were 2 shekel short of having enough of the local currency. A couple behind us gladly converted one of our dollar bills to shekels and struck up a friendly conversation with us.

Continue to pray for us. Gila, our guide, has the utmost concern for our safety and is mother-henning us in a protective and proactive don't be too worried about us! I'll try again to post some pics. I think I figured out my missteps from last night so here goes...

Friday, March 07, 2008

Friday's Exploits

We had a great, exhausting day today. Our itinerary had to be shuffled around a bit because of the uncertainty around the city due to the killing of the semiary students yesterday. We began this morning with a beautiful view of the old city of Jerusalem from atop the Mount of Olives. After enjoying the view we walked down the mount to the chapel of "Dominus Flevit", "The Lord Wept." There I met Brother Leo.

We then walked the Palm Sunday Road down to the Garden of Gethsemane and after spending some time there traversed the Kidron Valley and walked by the eastern wall of the Temple Mount, took some public transportation to meet our bus and had lunch.

The afternoon was highlighted by a trip to the Garden Tomb, a wonderful oasis in the middle of a hectic city. After having the Lord's Supper there we went to the Western Wall of the Temple. Gila did a great job of juggling. We saw so much and walked so far that we are all exhausted.

Betty Lamberth joined us today after missing her flight. She has only been positive since arriving. What a great attitude and spirit. More later. We're all fine!

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Safe arrival & concerns

Hello everyone. We arrived safely in Israel late this afternoon, met our tour guide, Gila, and our bus driver, Albert, and drove 1 hour to our hotel in Jerusalem. We had a wonderful buffet meal with so many possibilities to select. My plans to lose weight while here may prove to be wishful thinking! We had lamb's tongue, meat loaf, salmon, chicken on a stick, soups, vegetables, salads and desserts too numerous to mention.

I just read on the AP that there has been an attack on a Jewish seminary here in Jerusalem. From what I have read 7 people were killed and many more wounded. Please pray for our safety and for the collective peace of mind and spirit for our group. I'll update as soon as I can tomorrow--certainly before you go to bed in the US! I'm going to catch some sleep myself.

God bless!

Wednesday, March 05, 2008