Tuesday, September 8, 2009

On the road to Jerusalem - Sunday, August 30th

Our morning started out with sense of anticipation of being together with 268 people who shared a common purpose on Sunday. We were headed to the shores of the sea of Gallilee in an area called Tabgha which is believed to have been where Jesus took 2 fish and 5 loaves and fed thousands. The open shoreline was inviting and again easy to imagine the multitude of people hiking and coming together to hear the teaching of Jesus. As a group we enjoyed a time of song and teaching from the passage in Luke 8 led by Mark Driscoll. It was a beautiful start to our day and can only be described as knowing that a living God cared so much for me that he would send a rescuer into a broken human history to establish a purpose for my life and yours – it’s all about Jesus.

We left these shorelines after one last view and headed for the historic city of Beth Shan, south of Gallilee and enroute to Jerusalem. The city in ruins held a deep history going back to the time of Saul and his brutal defeat against the Philistines where they posted the carcasses of he and his sons on the city walls. The Greeks occupied the city for 1,000 years before the Romans rebuilt and occupied. The remains of the Roman theater and the high tell where a former temple existed convey an active lifestyle that was attractive for many to visit and call home. This area would later become a city that the followers of Jesus would go as part of the Decapolis to spread the news of his redemption. Evidence of gathering places tell many stories of the life of the people here.

We pushed off for the highway and drove through the West Bank, the Judean desert, past Jericho and watched as the landscape became barren. For much of the ride we could see across the border to Jordan and began to experience how short the distances between cities and nations in this region. As our guide explained the complicated conflict among the Arabs, Palestinian and Israeli’s, it became apparent that the rooted history will not lead to peace in this day and age.
As we approached Jerusalem and climbed up to an altitude above 3,000 feet, the Bedouin nomads caught our eye as they managed their sheep, goats and camels in the wilderness. Our first view of Jerusalem came as we came to an elevated point and entered into Hebrew University overlooking “the city of peace”. With first impressions capturing how small a geography area contained so much diversity, tension and beauty. Our guide pointed out how over centuries and millenniums that the city had been built upon previous buildings and structures….time and time again.Checking into our hotel, we wondered what the next day would bring as we visited the Mount of Olives and the city of Jerusalem…..

Sunday - Tabgha is the town where the miracle of the multiplication of the loaves and fish was performed. Here, we also listened to Mark Driscoll preach.

Later, we left for Jerusalem! It took us about two hours to get there, and on our way we past Jericho, and Samaria. To get there, we went through a lot of the dessert of Israel, which was an interesting side of the country to see. Along the way, we visited Beit She’an. Here Is where the ruins of an ancient city was found. It was wonderful to be able to see another ancient city found in the Bible.

We woke up and got on the bus and put all of our stuff back inside the bus because we were going to Jerusalem. When we where looking for the bus it says what color bus. Someone put on top of that PARTY BUS because the tour guide calls the bus the party bus. While we where about to start driving a guy walked by the bus and read it and walked away. That is the new bus name. Then we drove about an hour and a half and went to a small town. It was really really hot even for us (since living in Florida). I started sweating. At one place (Beth Shan) in it was a bathroom for about 50 people and it was the same but bigger in Caesarea. Then we went to the place where they think that Jesus picked the disciples. There was a sunken ship over by there today. Mark Driscoll teached there about when Jesus was really tired and went to sleep on the boat while a storm was happening. (He said he was so tired the bottom of the boat looked like a good place to sleep). Then after he calmed the sea he probably went back to sleep. He taught it really well. Now we got to the hotel and are going to the pool and played volleyball again and did a relay race. My team won and daddy and Caleb’s team lost. Then we went upstairs and took a shower and went to dinner and now. That’s all I have because I don’t know the future.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Times in Gallilee

Mark –

Shortly after sunrise, we trekked out for a group teaching w/ Mark Driscoll nearby at a hilltop location believed to be where Jesus spoke the sermon on the mount. The drive took us nearby an active archeological dig (inaccessible to the public today) along the sea of Gallilee shoreline that is believed to be the home of Mary Magdalene. The beautiful bowl like scene on the hill and view of the calm sea in the morning made it easy to envision Jesus there with his disciples and other fishermen coming ashore, and people moving through the hillside from their remote towns all to hear Jesus layout the beatitudes found in Matt 5 – 7: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, blessed are those who love their enemies, etc.”. Mark Driscoll (http://www.marshillchurch.org/) spoke on the humanity and divinity of Jesus, highlighting how he would seek solitude when fatigued particularly after walking from town to town and after contending with the needs of his followers. From our experience in the area, the distances by foot were measured in number of days! We saw his fatigue as he fell asleep on the boat with his friends (Luke 8). At least on one occasion, Jesus would also hike up to Mt. Hermon (some 6000 feet!), perhaps sailing in a friends boat just to get away for recuperation. Meanwhile he possessed the power to command the wind and waves of the sea of Gallilee to stop when a storm brought the fear of death to his friends on the boat. In this act, he revealed his divinity and authenticated who he was before friends who lacked faith in him. An application to appreciate here is the appreciation that God became man to live among us as compared to the thinking that man becomes god.

We later sailed on the sea of Gallilee and enjoyed singing traditional Jewish songs. Following that we visited a museum featuring a first century fishing boat discovered in a dry season on the lake shore in 1986. For lunch, we enjoyed eating at Saint Peter’s Fish restaurant where would taste the local catch. Our day was not yet complete as we briefly visited Capernaum where Jesus would visit a number of times and the place of work for the fishermen that would become his disciples. We saw Peter’s mother in law’s home and an early synagogue that was used for worship in the first century and subsequently. Our day was capped off w/ watching some our new friends get baptized in the Jordan River.

What a great day! And when we think that it can’t get any better of an experience, we still have the next day to look forward where we will meet on the Gallilean shore where Jesus fed the 5,000 with two fish and five loaves for Sunday singing and some great teaching….stay tuned.


On Saturday, we went to the mount of beatitudes, where Jesus gave the Sermon on the Mount, and preformed many miracles. Here, we heard Mark Driscoll preach, and then we visited the Catholic Church that was established there. Later, we went to Capernaum. This is where Jesus, Peter, and his mother-in-law lived for a certain amount of time. We took a little time here to tour the area, and then we got back on the bus to Tabgha. Tabgha is the town where the miracle of the multiplication of the loaves and fish was performed. Here, we also listened to Mark Driscoll preach. Last but not least, we went on a boat ride on the Sea of Galilee, and got to see a 2,000 year old boat! The whole day was full of amazing sites to be able to see and experience.

Ben -

In the morning we went to the mountain of Beattitudes. And 5 minutes after we sat down this huge bee stung me and it hurt so bad so I pulled the bee of, of me and it stung me when I pulled it off. Now its just a big rash it really itches. Then later when we got back to the hotel we went to the pool and the rest of the bus went to the pool so then we played volleyball and they thought I was the best at it and of course I was the youngest playing and they asked me to serve most of the time playing that I mad 2 friends - Brendan and Ruth.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Arriving in the land of Israel - August 28/29th

We have experienced quite a bit since our last update when we left Athens. We have not had convenient access to the internet (only 1 workstation available in Tiberius, Gallilee) and have been on a constant move. We are now in Jerusalem and where our remaining days of touring will be spent. In a nation that is comparable to the size of New Jersey, we quickly realized that the driving distances between our points of interest were relatively short (max 1 ½ hours) and there is much to see, touch, smell and hear. Here are some highlights from our time in Israel so far.

We arrived in Israel at a predawn hour and after breakfast and quickly paced through Tel Aviv enroute to Caesarea. Herod the Great rebuilt Caesarea in 21 BC with permission from the Romans. In so naming it, he honored Caesar Augustus and designed it with a massive harbor, castle, theater and hippodrome facing the Mediterrean Sea. Pontius Pilate later ruled from here during the time of Jesus as the Romans controlled Israel. The Romans enjoyed the competition of chariot racing in the hippodrome, but our imagination was filled with the many crashes that brought roars from the 20,000 spectators. This seaside town is where Paul would have sailed during his travels. It is also where Peter brought the good news of Jesus to a Roman centurion (Roman commander) named Cornelius found in Acts 10.

While the ruins filled our imagination with the life experiences of what many encountered in Caesarea, it was soon time to move on. We traveled to Mount Carmel and crossed the Jezreel Valley. The view was spectacular and gave us a perspective on Elijah and King Ahab’s encounter with the idolatrous folly of the prophets of Baal and their destruction (I Kings 18). Across this valley, you can see Nazareth (town where Jesus grew up), the international road and up into the Megiddo valley. Many other biblical accounts are recorded or referenced here among the lush olive three lined forest and fertile valley. Solemn to think that on this valley, John the revelator, has described the scene of what will be the battle of Armageddon.

We arrived at our hotel in Tiberius for the evening, resting on the edge of the Sea of Gallilee. The surrounding mountains have not moved and would have been the same view as what the fishermen of the early century would have enjoyed, as well as Jesus. More to come on the sea of Gallilee – a favorite….

Although this blog is brief, we look forward to sharing our full account with you all. Our days are packed and we are worn out when we get back to the hotel. Thus our blog encounters are sporadic… so keep your comments coming as we find them encouraging. I am sure that you will find the accounts from our family interesting and entertaining.

We went to the city of Caesarea today, which was so far, my favorite area of ruins. Here, we’ve learned of Chariot racing, The Romans love for blood, & the two items that the Romans created – the bikini and concrete. We also learned of the public toilets they used back in King Heorods day. They would have toilets lined up and both men and women would use the bathroom. What would they wipe with? Yep, you’ve guessed it: Their hands! Also, there would be a stream flowing right in front of them, and that’s where they would wash their hands. Caesarea was a fantastic place to be able to visit and see with our own eyes. Caesarea was definitely one of the highlights of this trip for me.
(sea of Galilee boat ride?)

Saturday, August 29th:

On Saturday, we went to the mount of beatitudes, where Jesus gave the Sermon on the Mount, and preformed many miracles. Later, we went to Capernaum, where Jesus, Peter, and his mother-in-law lived for a certain amount of time.


When we got on the plane I was really tired so I ate then went to sleep. Once the plane landed I was ready to get off. Then we waited for the bus leaders and drivers. Then we put our luggage in the bottom of the bus. (We went on the a different bus because our bus was not on at the air port so we took the blue ours is the purple. Then we went to breakfast and it was at A hotel (not the one we were staying at). It was really good! Then we left for the hotel that everyone was staying at the we took them and went on the purple bus. On the bus we drove to Caesarea and it was really cool! I learned that there they created concrete. So the king created a base out on the shore line and made a pool and a house on the farther side (by that water). And also they have a horse cart racing area and a lot of people played there and the prize is the blood that the people that died in the game. They died by the turn. If the driver was going to fast the cart will flip and the people that were sitting there will get some parts of the cart flying at them. At the entrance was a place where men will use the bathroom and its right in front of the other people. NASTY! You wipe your hands with your left hand because you shake with your right. The sink was underneath your feet and it runs down the front of all of the toilet. (I hope no one put there hands in when the other persons poop hand was in it and the poop will go on your hands then you will really need to wash your hands) NASTY EH?

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Corinth/Leaving Athens for Israel -Augusst 26/27th, 2009

Exploring Corinth as a former international marketplace was exciting. This bustling city was a main crossroad as it sits between the Aegean Sea and Ionic sea. After being taken over by the Romans, entertainment was formalized in their theater (which was common w / Roman occupation). Among the ruins that have been excavated, we found an inscription in Latin on a stone from the first century declaring "Erastus as commissioner of public works". Erastus assisted Paul in his work in Corinth and across the region. It is revealing to see the text in the Bible revealed in this way.
In the afternoon, we journeyed back to Athens and hiked up to Mars Hill (Ares Rock - god of Mars as named by the Romans) next to the Acropolis. The dramatic scene surrounding this hill is stunning: The Acropolis slightly elevated above w / the Parthenon and other temples glaring down at you, and below you have the temple of Zeus, the Agora and other temples to numerous gods. Mark Driscoll took us through the passage in Acts 17 and of interest, the parallel of what consumes life and time today is very similar. We can't wait to celebrate our next "American Idol", fame - an idol. People want wealth at all cost! People want pleasure and comfort - today found in porn, addictions (drugs, sports, food, keep up the list) and abuse of others. At one point, it was easier to find a god in Athens than a man. At the time that Paul visited Athens he spoke to the court that ruled over the religions of the day. He was able to tell them about Jesus in a way that it shook their world since they were only familiar with distant gods and not a creator God with whom they could have a relationship. As in Paul's experience when he contended for the exclusivity of Jesus - his life, death and resurrection - some believed and followed the way of Jesus, and in our day it is still the same as we speak about Jesus. A great day - It's all about Jesus.
Corinth was spectacular! We saw Corinth Canal which was very deep, but not wide at all! We were able to have lunch at a quaint restaurant right on the canal.
Also, the archeological excavation of the ancient city of Corinth was beyond unbelievable. So much has been discovered over the past 100 years, but so much more to be discovered over 100's of years to come. The Bema was a very special site to see.
We ended our day with Pastor Mark Driscoll speaking to us from Acts 17. This was on top of Mars Hill. - Which still has the inscription to "the unknown god".
Woke up early and head out to Corinth. Our first stop was at the Corinth Canal. We were able to see a boat go threw the canal, which was very interesting to watch. Once we got to Corinth, we took a tour of the museum and then a tour of all the ancient remains of the city. I thought it was amazing to be able to see what was left of a city from 2,000 years ago. Later in the afternoon we were able to go on top of Mars Hill. While we where there, Mark Driscoll spoke on Acts 17. One of the main things that he spoke that stood out to me was that during the time Paul was there, there were more idols than men! Im pretty sure he said there where 30,000 people living in the city of Athens. - That calls for a lot of false gods! After Mars Hill, we went back to our hotel, had dinner and headed to bed. Once again, it was a long but enjoyable day. (: (Mars Hill ->)
Early in the morning the next day we had breakfast only to find out that we actually had more time to wake up and eat. Because of this, after we ate we went back to bed for like two more hours. Once we started our day, we went to the National Archeological Museum. There were so many naked statues man! I don't think if ever seen so many naked statues in one museum. It was nice to visit all the prehistoric artifacts, but the naked statues I could've done with out. (; After this, we went to The Plaka, which is the Roman Agroa. (Market place.) We spent some time here, and then we headed to the Parliament building to watch the changing of the guards. After this we headed to the hotel to pack up for our early morning flight .- Next stop, Israel! (Hopefully if there happens to be statues here, they'll be fully dressed!) ! I don't think if ever seen so many naked statues in one museum. It was nice to visit all the prehistoric artifacts, but the naked statues I could've done with out. (; After this, we went to The Plaka, which is the Roman Agroa. (Market place.) We spent some time here, and then we headed to the Parliament building to watch the changing of the guards. After this we headed to the hotel to pack up for our early morning flight .- Next stop, Israel! (Hopefully if there happens to be statues here, they'll be fully dressed!)
In the morning we had to wake up really early to eat, get ready and leave for the bus to Corinth and got to see the Corinth canal. And I got to see one boat go through and then we got to eat right by the canal and sail boats came in. I had a Greek salad and it was not the salad leaves it was just cucumbers and tomatoes. After we ate we drove for about 10 minuets and went to a shop that had art and I got one with a guy holding a discus (coach Joan if you are reading this Im putting this on top of my picture of the track team). Then we went to the bus and drove for about an hour and we got to mars hill and we got to hear Mark Driscoll teach on Acts 17 the bad thing was the speaker for mine was not working but I heard most of it. On the bottom of mars hill there is the inscription on the sign that said TO THE UNKNOWN GOD!
The next morning we went to the restaurant in the hotel and after me and daddy ate and then we found out the first place we were going wasn't open till later so I took a nap until about 11. Then we went to walk to the laundry mat it took a long time to find it but it worked okay. Then we walked over to the museum and after that we ate. After that we went back to the hotel and Hannah and daddy went to the laundry mat and got ready for the airport and then we ate dinner and then left for the airport. And that is where I am right now and tomorrow we will do the next day.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Touring Athens!

~ 8/25/09 ~


Today the work of man of centuries past left me in amazement. Wow! The ancient Greek custom for occupation of territory required the selection of the highest point to place their highly valued temples and monuments. However, the Acropolis is the second plateau in Athens as they preferred the larger surface area of the two peaks. Beyond the wonder of the great architectural structures is the fact that archeologist are still learning how they were built. For example, marble was hauled ten miles to assemble the Parthenon between 427-422 B.C. to join other established temples on the Acropolis. Today, a cross on an orthodox Christian church sits atop the highest peek in Athens.


Today we changed hotels to meet up with the Mars Hill Church (Seattle) tour group. We had a nice tour through the city and then went up to the Acropolis. Here we saw the Parthenon, the Temple of Nike, the Temple of Athena and Poseidon. We could also see Mars Hill which we look forward to visiting tomorrow. The Parthenon is under reconstruction at this time. It would be great to come back in years later to see the finished product. The history of the Acropolis was incredible – the Parthenon is in its 5th cycle and there are many natural springs. So much more could be said of the wonders of the Acropolis and the Parthenon.


We hiked this slippery rock to the Acropolis in the sun. My eyes hurt. The Parthenon is being renovated because it is very old.


Today (Tuesday) we checked into our hotel that the Mars Hill Tour Group set us up with. We settled in and then at around 12 we went on a tour. We first were able to visit where the first Olympics were held. It was/is capable of holding 69,000 people! Next we were able to take a tour of the Acropolis. We saw the Parthenon here, and were able to look of the whole city of Athens. We also could see Mars Hill from the Acropolis. After this, we went back to the hotel and rested, then went downstairs for dinner. Today was very full, but so awesome to be able to see the ancient ruins of Athens. (Acropolis under my hand ^)


When we were packed, we went to the next hotel. When we got to the rooms (we had two rooms this time) ours had smoke in it, so we turned the AC on. Then we went downstairs and waited for the bus. When I saw it I was amazed at how big it was. When I got in the bus I wondered where we were going. We first went to the actual track and field of the original Olympics. I think it was smaller than it really is. (If Hannah and I ran on it we would probably beat our 400 pr.) Next we went to the Acropolis and saw the Parthenon. It was under renovation. I learned that its higher in the middle of the floor and shorter on the sides to help rain come out. After this tour, it was the end of our busy day.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Good-Bye London, Hello Athens!


A trek from London via the Underground tube to Heathrow began w/ swimming upstream against all the commuters – we made it! We flew into Athens amidst the backdrop of spreading wild fires that were within 20 miles of the city. Fortunately for us, we did not have to haul buckets of water for our first night. Instead we celebrated Sheri’s youthful birthday with a lively Greek dinner show – what a night! I am sure that Sheri’s memories are filled a festive evening that I can only try to duplicate next year by wearing a “gooftastic” costume and work in my high stick step to rekindle the night in Greece.. Tomorrow, we set out to join our tour group from Mars Hill Church (in Seattle) to explore the Acropolis. On Wednesday, we visit Corinth and end with a highlight back at Mars Hill where Pastor Mark Driscoll will speak where the Areopagus once ruled and Paul was proclaiming Jesus with the backdrop of the Greek and Roman mythical gods of the ancients.

Caleb: 8/24/09

We had to take the tube to the London airport. It was a long ride. The 24th was my mom’s Birthday! I love her very much!


8/24/09 – On the 24th (my moms birthday) we flew from London to Athens, Greece. The flight was about 3 and a half hours long. Once we flew into Athens we took a taxi to our very beautiful hotel. After we settled in, we took my mom for her birthday (Happy Birthday Mom!) to this Greek restaurant. At the restaurant they performed a couple traditional Greek dances. There was a lot of live Greek music throughout our dinner. We left the restaurant at about 11:30pm. In the end, our first night in Greece was a long but fun night.


8/24/09 – it was mommy’s birthday: the time was 00:00 & I was the first one to wish her a happy birthday! Then we went to bed. When we woke up, we packed up to leave the hotel. We took the tube to the airport. When we got to the airport it was huge! When we got in the airplane, the seats infront of us were right in our face. (British Airways) Once we landed we took a taxi to the hotel. After we unpacked, we went to a restaurant. A little while after we started eating, hundreds of people came in. Then the band started playing, and dancers came out. It was a fun night. Happy Birthday Mommy!

8/24/09 – What a great birthday! We traveled from London to Greece. We started with an adventurous trek on the Tube with ALL of our luggage – 7 pieces and our carry-ons. The looks from the locals traveling in the opposite direction during rush hour told us that we were indeed crazy – how else would we be – but we saved about $120 and it was worth it! Once we arrived in Athens we settled into our hotel and headed out to a spectacular birthday dinner – My Greek Birthday!! It had wonderful Greek food and live entertainment with music, dancing and lots of clapping – Opah! It was the most modest entertainment I have seen in a while – except for the brief bellydancer (Ben covered his eyes/Caleb was asleep/Hannah kept shaking her head in disapproval/ Mark and I laughed at it all)! Did I say that it was a wonderful birthday?!?

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Arriving in London!


Crazy trip getting to London - 3 city stop before arriving in London; Ft Lauderdale, Miami, Chicago and then we were able to stroll through Green Park over to Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, Big Ben and across the River Thames. The family fought through the fatigue as we enjoyed dinner along London sidewalk performers. Love hearing the British accent from the boys: "Glass of Wata anywun??

The flight to London was looooooong, but we got upgraded to business class in a 777! Well worth it! We've managed to see so many pretty sights during our short visit here. We've been to Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, Big Ben, & the London Bridge. I definitely love the weather here also! its been so nice and cool, probably around 75 degrees. The weather was really great to be walking around the London area today. We say good-bye to this wonderful city of London tomorrow morning, but i hope that someday in the future I'll be able to come back for a third time to the beautiful city of London (:


We have had a lot of fun! We have now seen the London Eye, Big Ben, & the Rosetta Stone.


8/22/09 : When we got to the London airport, we got in this awesome taxi called a Lorry. Me and Caleb sat backwards in a jump seat. Once we got to the hotel, everything was small. Then we walked and saw Westminster Abbey. Then we walked a little further & saw Big Ben. (I have to share a name with a clock on stilts.) Then we crossed the bridge... & WE WENT ON THE LONDON EYE!!! it was really slow, but at the end we took a picture.

8/23/09 : In the morning, We took the tube (The British subway) to the British Musuem. My favorite thing that we got to see was the Rosetta Stone. Then we went to the London Bridge, now called the Tower Bridge. After that we crossed the London Bridge/Tower Bridge looking for somewhere to eat. Once we ate, we took the tube back to the hotel - The rest is still to come...


8/22 Wow! Our trip from the USA to London began our Adventure to say the least! However, we enjoyed a wonderful transatlantic flight in Business Class (thanks to Mark's travels for CIT). I loved watching the kids enjoy the fine meal, the reclining chairs into beds, and the amenity bags were a hit! Once we arrived and settled in at the hotel, we walked through beautiful Green Park just in time to see the Buckingham Palace in all its glory as the sun cast a glow upon it as it was beginning to set. We continuedr on to Westminster Abbey and then to the London Eye. Ben was thrilled, Mark wasn't sure of the heights and Caleb was getting hungry! We ate at a wonderful Italian restaurant on the The Thames River and the boys fell asleep at the table - we manged to get everyone back to the hotel!

8/23 Today we headed out for the British Museum. We learned so much about the Greek and Roman Empires. We are really stoked to get to Athens now! Hannah was scarred for life with the male Greek statues and the boys were embarrassed by the female ones - ahh the joy of teaching kids about cultural arts! ;) The kids taught Mark and I what a sarcophagus is - do you know? They were thrilled they knew something we didn't know. We later went to the British Library and saw the Magna Carta and the Guttenberg Bible - we have now seen 2 of the 3 - one is in the Library of Congress. We ended our day at the Londo Bridge/Tower Bridge - it was spectacular! We have had a wonderful time in London and hate to leave tomorrow, but are ready to head to Athens. On to the next part of our Adventure!