February 25, 2008

Back to Babies!

Now that we're back from Israel, we thought we'd give the latest update on all things small. Darcie is at 17 weeks and feeling great! The hiking trip in Israel was quite a feat, and she hung out at the back of the hiking trail, but it was well worth the effort - the trip of a lifetime. Here's the latest tummy pic, there's a little baby bump there and the pants are starting to get a little snug. :-)

stay with us this we were gone and they wore him out! We look forward to having some friendsWe were also happy to return home to our other little guy, Cinco and are enjoying a more subdued puppy. He got to play with some doggie friends while month that have a beautiful golden retriever, so Cinco is excited to have another playmate. Here's the latest pic of the boys taking it easy on a Sunday evening. Awww, isn't he so cute? (and Matt too!)

February 18, 2008

We're back in the US!

We just landed in Atlanta and had a great flight! We've got one more flight and then we're home! Cant wait to see you guys! -Matt

February 16, 2008


Good evening from Jerusalem! We have just made it back from another long day of sightseeing and taking in many of the wonders here. The weather was absolutely beautiful today - a mere accent to the amazing things God has been showing us.

This will be our last post from Israel. Our schedule tomorrow is kind of crazy and I don't plan on having internet to be able to update you all. We're going to spend one more day in the city and then we're having dinner at our Israeli tour guides house and then heading to the airport (our flight leaves at 11:50pm). Once we get to Atlanta, I'll post our arrival via phone.

Today was FULL! We started the day by going to The Herodian (Herod's palace just outside Bethlehem). After exploring caves and secret tunnels there, we made our way into Bethlehem and (by God's grace) were able to actually get in to the Church of the Nativity (typically there are lines for hours you have to wait in). So we got to see the supposed place of Jesus' birth! After that, we proceeded to the Mount of Olives which overlooks the eastern section of the city and the Temple mount. We then made our way down to the Garden of Gethsemane in the Kidron Valley. We then walked into the Old City and got to sing in St. Anne's church right before going to the pool of Bethesda. After that, we made our way down the Via Delarosa to the Church of the Holy Seplucher (sp?) - the virtually undisputed location of Jesus' crucifixion. And our last stop of the day brought us to the Western Wall (pictured below) for a time of prayer and reflection.

It was a "Big Day", as our tour guide likes to tell us every morning. We've got so many stories to tell and can't wait to share them with you. It will be hard to leave this place, but we are eager to get home. We are still in good health and spirits! Please pray for our passage home and that God will cement this experience in our hearts.

See you soon!

February 15, 2008

Another BIG DAY!!

Good evening from Jerusalem! We've made it to the House, as our guide likes to say, and so begins the final days of our time here. We continue to see God's hand with us each day and can't even begin to describe to you all the blessing it is to be here.

This morning we awoke in Galilee and packed our things to head out. After one last look at the Sea, we headed west over the mountains and down through the Valley of Jezreel. Our first stop today was Mt. Carmel - the very same place where Elijah taunted the prophets of Baal. It was a magical place as we re-told the story while overlooking the Jezreel valley (the same valley where the Bible says the battle of Armeggidon will take place). Quite something. Since Elijah made it up and down that mountain so many times, we hiked down it as well into the oldest working Olive Tree grove in Israel.

After Carmel, we made our way out to the Coastal Plains to visit Caesarea - the huge town of Herod the Great and the same port from which Paul sailed on his missionary journeys (among numerous other Biblical events). After learning about the city, we got to go touch the Mediterranean Sea! When the Romans destroyed the city in 67, they leveled it and through much of it into the sea. As we walked along the beach, pieces of marble from the city were everywhere - so we all have some to bring home for show and tell.

After Caesarea we made our way inland through the Valley of Elah to the ruins of Azekah - the very same location where David met Goliath! After learning about the history and geography of it all and the vast spiritual applications from it, we got to make our way back down into the valley to the same river where David would have picked up the 5 stones to slay Goliath. It's the only river in the valley, so there's no mistaking which one! We got some show and tell things there too. :)

Then we made our way up to Jerusalem just in time for dinner. The Sabbath began this evening, so it's been cool to observe that here in Jerusalem. The next two days we will be visiting some of the most holy places in the world! We cannot wait to share with you not only the details of where we've been, but also all that we have learned in being here.

Thanks for all of your comments - they are such an encouragement to us! Hopefully I'll make one more post tomorrow night (around 11am CST) and then that will be it until we're home!

We're all still, praise the Lord, in good health and our bodies continue to surprise us - allowing all of us to participate even through aches, pains, blisters, etc. The Lord is good!


Post from Yesterday

Hello all! Didn't get to post this entry yesterday because the internet was down again. So, here's a recap of all that our 4th day had in store:

It sounds silly to start the entries the same way every time, but what a day we had today! We started the moring by traveling to Beth She'an - just south of the Sea of Galilee. It was breathtaking and humbling all at the same time.

We then traveled to the east side of the sea and visited the ruins of Sousia (aka Hippos). After a hike down the mountain, we had enough time to get to go up to the Golan Heights and hear from Boaz, our Israeli tour guide, his thoughts and history on that disputed territory. (Incedentally, our time with him has been extremely helpful in understanding the political and religious tensions over here). After we finished up, we drove back down to the North side of the sea. We walked down an old farm road and then into some farmland. Just over the ridge we happened upon the Jordan River. We had an amazing time of devotion there and even got to get in. Cecily, in particular, got all the way in when she was baptized! Very exciting for all of us.

It was a full day and a rainy one. It was the first day that we were rained on all day and got pretty soaked. And it was kinda cold as well. It didn't deter us much, though. We made it through and had a great experience nonetheless.

We've got a few blisters and cold, wet feet, but other than that, by God's favor, we all remain in good health and spirits!


February 13, 2008

Bless God for His Favor to Us!

Good morning from the Sea of Galilee! Sorry we weren't able to post last night, the internet was down here. We're up and going this morning, though! Yesterday was nothing short of miraculous. It rained everywhere where we were not! Then, it cleared up and, in the words of our Israeli tour guide, it was "the most beautiful day in Israel ever for GTI Tours." Yeah, we were blessed yesterday. We got to sit atop Mt. Arbel and pray on one of the mountains where Jesus prayed, visited the Mount of Beatitudes where Jesus delivered the Sermon on the Mount, made it to Tabgha where Jesus called Peter to follow him (the very spot!), went to Bethsaida where Peter James John and Andrew were from and even got to squeak in a visit to Capernaeum - Jesus' home town. We even got to have some "St. Peter fish" (talapia from the Sea of Galilee) for lunch!! It was a FULL day and it was all breathtaking. I wish you all could be here with us and I pray that each of you have this opportunity at some point in your lifetime. It is very special here.

Marty teaching us as we sit on the Mount of Beatitudes - the Sea of Galilee just behind us.

We are all still happy and healthy. A few sore muscles now and maybe a headache here and there, but nothing too bad.

A few of the students wanted to say hello, so here are some comments from them! Shalom! Matt

Caitlin is having a blast. The knee is just fine… that’s for you, mom. Wish you were here for Valentine’s day… that’s for you, Matt.

Rachael is having an AWESOME time! Thanks so much for the prayers mom and her class, God is so faithful! It has been incredible. In fact, it’s flying by way too fast, there’s so much to take in. I love you mom and papa! Hope ya’ll have a wonderful valentines day…tell the boys I love them too! =-)

Adam says “Hey everybody! It would be so cool if y’all could be here to experience the sights, sounds, and tastes here, on top of learning so much new context to apply to text. Don’t worry, I am staying very safe and taking pictures (though probably not enough)! I love you all! Bye!”

Chase is tugging on his ear here wanting to wish Hannah a happy Valentine’s day.

Cecily: "I am having such an amazing time here! Israel is so much more than I expected. It is truly touched by the hand of God. We have gone from desert to lush greenery- all in one day and it is all gorgeous! Anyways- Momma, Daddy, Dustin- I love you guys! I hope y’all have a wonderful Valentines Day- I know I will here- spending the day with my God! Mom- I decided not to buy a calling card to call you because it is too expensive for what little minutes you get- But keep checking here and you will get updates! I love you all! Peace Out!"

Jane: "I sat on or near the mountainside where Jesus spoke Matthew 6:33-34! Glory to God for the phenomenal weather and sunshine. My knees and heart and voice are all strong, thank you for praying! I’m loving every moment of it."

Jenny loves and misses her friends and family!

February 12, 2008


I found some free wifi, so that means you guys get pictures!!! Here are a few from our first 2 days (mostly in the Negev and Judean deserts):

Bedouin women preparing fresh bread for us just outside Tel Arad (this has been one of the coolest experiences thus far)

Wadi Avdat was our first site to visit. Here's a group picture after we hiked up the canyon behind us. Our tour guide, Marty, is the one on the far right.

Here we are hiking through the desert - literally in the middle of nowhere. This is just before we walked into the Bedouin village and received their hospitality.

Mighty fortress of Masada. This place was unbelievable. Pictures do it no justice.

One cistern (holding place for water) at Masada. The water was full up to the window at one point. No, I'm not kidding.

Here is our group swimming in some 'living water' in Wadi Argot in En Ghedi. It's possible that this could be one of the aquifers that David used when hiding from Saul. How cool is this?

End of day 2. Marty is teaching us about Mikvahs at Qumeran (where Dead Sea Scrolls were found) while the sun sets behind us, reflecting on the Mountains of Moab and the Dead Sea in front of us.
I cannot express to you all how wonderful it is to be here. Hope you enjoyed the pictures!

Big Day!

Hello to all!

What an amazing day we had today and what sights we got to see! We began the morning with a devotional by the Dead Sea. We then hopped on a bus and drove up to Masada. Once we made it atop the fortress, Boaz, our Israeli tour guide, gave us the entire story of Masada and its significance to the Jewish people. After hiking up, down and around the palace, we made our way down the serpantine trail (long, steep hike down the mountian) back to our bus. We then drove up to En Ghedi and hiked into Wadi Argot - a place where it is believed David hid while Saul was pursuing him. We had a special moment as we learned about living water (as opposed to the dead water we swam in the day before) that you'll definately need to hear about. After hiking back out of the wadi (no small feat either), we had a late lunch and made our way to Qumeran (where the dead sea scrolls were discovered). We learned much about the Essene way of life and their influence on our scriptures today. After all that, we made the 2 hour drive up to Tiberias (southwest side of sea of Galilee) to our hotel. We are all pretty exhausted, again, but are excited for our day tomorrow.

Israel needs rain, badly. We do not. It's supposed to be rainy and cold tomorrow, so we're hoping the Lord will be gracious and give rain to all the places where we are not. :)

Everyone continues to remain in good health and good spirits! We continue to see God's favor and blessing wherever we go. Thanks for your prayers and thoughts!

I have internet access at this hotel and will be able to post again about this time tomorrow night. I hope to include special messages from the group so they can say hello. I wish I could post pictures, but that's not a possibility here.


February 11, 2008

Good Morning from the Dead Sea!

Hello friends and family!!

We had a WONDERFUL day yesterday! We didn't do anything that I thought we'd do (turns out we're doing Masada, Qumran, etc today). Instead we went south into the Negev desert to visit Tel Arad and Tel Avdat. We spent the majority of the day looking at ruins of ancient sites there. We even got to have tea and bread with a Bedouin family (easily the coolest part of our day yesterday). We made it to the Dead Sea last night just in time to put on our suits and go float in the (very cold) sea. It was quite an experience and we loved it. Our hotel last night was quite nice and we're well rested and ready for another BIG day ahead of us. Today should finish up our time in the south and we will be staying up in Galilee tonight. All of us are feeling well and are in good spirits. We continue to see the Lord's favor as we go along our way each day.

Internet access is harder to come by than I expected, so I'm hoping the Lord will continue to allow us to find ways to get you guys updates.


February 10, 2008

We're In Israel!!!

Hello friends and family! At long last we have made it to our hotel in Arad, Israel and we are safe and sound. We're headed to bed for the night after a really long day of travel. It's not every day that you get to see the sun set twice in one day (or travel over 6500 miles around the world!). Tomorrow we're off to Masada to see the great palace, En Ghedi where David hid from Saul, and Qumran where the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered.

We are all feeling great and REALLY excited to be here. Thanks for checking in with us and for your thoughts and prayers. I hope to be able to post pictures of our day tomorrow.


February 9, 2008

Not so Sleepless in Atlanta

We made it to Atlanta! In order to try to beat jet lag, we slept in the airport during our 5 hr layover (since it's the middle of the night in Israel). Everyone is feeling fine and in good spirits! Thanks for your prayers!


at the airport!

We made it to DFW and are anxiously awaiting our flight to atlanta and then on to tel aviv! More updates to come as we have opportunity! Even figured out how to make posts from my phone! :)


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