So it’s been a number of months since I’ve been back. John asked me to make this little blog available to the public (I had written it for my family to keep them up to date on my whereabouts) and link to it off his site to give anyone interested a brief look at one person’s experience on the trip.

I admit Israel was not on my top 10 list of places to visit (probably not even in the top 50), but after being in John’s Sunday school class for the past four or five years, the desire to go grew substantially. The basic gist of John’s class is Jesus was Jewish and if we want to be like him and if we want to understand this thoroughly Jewish book we call the Bible, let’s try to learn more about that culture and see if it changes the way we think about things. Personally I can say it does. I look at the Bible a little differently now as I try to see it as a 1st century Jew would. I try to figure out what names mean, where places are, what Jews would have done for their festivals, what word-pictures are trying to be painted, how things in the new testament link back to events in the old.

I’ve been asked what has surprised me most about the trip. I’d have to say the biggest surprise was I just didn’t realize how big a deal it would be to actually stand in these places I’ve read about all my life. Now that sounds pretty obvious, and after being in John’s class, I’ve pretty much seen all the sites we went to and knew the stories associated with them. So being a bit of a cynic I thought being there wouldn’t be that big of a deal, but I was wrong. You can insert your favorite clich├ęs here about a picture being worth a thousand words, or being there makes all the difference, and they apply.

The other thing that surprised me was the relationships I formed with the folks in my group. Being a little on the anti-social side, I had not considered at all how I would get along with my tour mates. But in that short time I feel like I came to know the six others in the group extremely well as we shared our lives and these experiences together.

The team – baddest folks this side of Mt. Carmel

I can’t recommend the trip enough (John regularly takes groups – check his site: I’d love to share more if you want to get together for a shawarma laffa and a Maccabee beer. My favorite food there.