March 23, 2010

Nothing says home like...

Chic fil a! We are safely back in Texas and stopped for lunch on the way home! Thanks for watching our trip! The End! :)

Almost Home!

We made the first leg to Newark with no problems! Now just one more flight and then we are home! We are so excited to see everyone!

March 22, 2010

Last Day in Israel!

Just a quick note to let you know that we had a fantastic last day in Israel today. We made it on to the Temple Mount first thing this morning! For those of you who were praying, thank you! It was an outside shot and we made it! After the Temple Mount we spent the rest of the morning in Bethlehem to see the Church of the Nativity and the Herodian. After some shopping at Johnny's, we walked the ramparts of the Old City one last time before heading back to the hotel to shower, change and head to dinner and then to the airport!

Next time you hear from us, we should be in the States! Please pray for our travel - we certainly would not like to have a repeat of our adventure over here. :)

Looking forward to seeing all of you very soon!


Marty teaching our group on the Temple Mount:

March 21, 2010


It was a BIG day today as we spent our entire day hiking through the Old City of Jerusalem. We began at the Mount of Olives and followed the chronology of Jesus' last week from there down to Gethsemene and then up into the city (with a quick stop at the pool of Bethesda), down the Via Dolorosa to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher where Jesus was crucified and buried. After a lunch of Jewish bagels, we studied on the Southern Steps of the Temple (beneath the Huldah gates) and then walked down into the City of David where we got to walk through Hezekiah's Tunnel and see the recently excavated Pool of Siloam. As if that wasn't big enough, we finished the day with a visit to the Western Wall before heading back for our last night here in Israel!

Such a BIG day it's hard to believe that we have one more left! We are all doing well and we are eager to see each of you. We had fun celebrating Michael's birthday today and look forward to celebrating Lindsey's tomorrow (how cool to have your birthday in Israel!).

This might be our last post until we hit the airport in Newark on Tuesday morning, but I hope to be able to post one more time before we leave tomorrow evening - we'll see. Until then...

1. Forgies on the Mount of Olives (Temple Mount in background) 2. Ross leading us in communion in Gethsemene 3. Marty teaching us on the Southern Steps (Mt. of Olives in the background) 4. Finishing our day at the Western Wall


March 20, 2010

Another BIG Day!

Shalom from Jerusalem! We've made it to "the House," as Marty likes to say. It's exciting to be here and we are looking forward to our time tomorrow.

We spent today making our way out of Galilee westward towards the Mediterranean, making some BIG stops along the way. First, we visited Megiddo - one of the world's most ancient and prominent cities. Next, we rode up to Mt. Carmel and re-lived the story of Elijah vs. the prophets of Baal - on the same mountain where it happened! Then a big hike down! We ended our day by visiting Caesarea. There we began to learn of Harod's audacity and what it means to build something that lasts.

We're now in Jerusalem where we'll finish out our trip. Everyone is feeling well and in good spirits - thanks for praying! Our hotel is right inside the Old City walls, and we are looking forward to another BIG DAY tomorrow as we explore the city - with the Text in hand - and see what God has for us.

Until tomorrow!

1. At the pagan altar in Megiddo. 2. At the top of Mt. Carmel. 3. Forge girls on the way down from Carmel. 4. Mt. Carmel from the bottom - quite a hike! 5. Caesarea. 6. Whole group on the Mediterranean Sea at Caesarea. 7. All of us! 8. Forge guys atop the aqeuduct.

March 19, 2010

A Day in the Decapolis

Shabat Shalom! It's Friday here, which means that this evening begins the Shabat, or Sabbath.

Today we began our day at Mt. Gilboa. We read the story of King Saul going up against the Philistines and his lack of faith in going to see a medium in Endor. (on the next mountain over) We learned about what it means to inquire of the Lord rather than seek wisdom elsewhere. We hiked down to the stream below where it is believed that Gideon led the army against the Philistines, and where God dwindled his troops down from 22,000 to just 300 so the glory could only be given to God for the victory.

After Gilboa, we took a quick trip east to Beth-Shean - a Decapolis city on the west side of the Jordan. There we were confronted with the dilemma of how you offer the Gospel to someone who lives in such luxury that they see no need for it.

Then, after lunch, we visited Susita, another Decaplios city, close to where Jesus cast Legion into a herd of pigs. We found resolution to the question posed at Beth-Shean, concluding that the blood of Jesus and our testimony are the most effective things we have to offer the world.

We finished our day at the mighty Jordan river to reflect on our trip thus far, have a time of prayer & repentance, and baptize 4 people in our group!

That wraps up our time in the Galilee. Tomorrow we visit Megiddo, Mt. Carmel & Caesarea before heading up to Jerusalem!

On to the pictures!

1. At the top of Mt. Gilboa. 2. Marty teaching in Beth-Shean in the ancient lavitory. :) 3. Walking down the Cardo in Beth-Shean. 4. Atop Susita. 5. Hiking down from Susita. 6. Matt teaching at the Jordan River. 7. Matt's baptism. 8. Jason's baptism. 9. Singing hymns and saying the Sh'ma at the Jordan River.

March 18, 2010

A Day in the North of Galilee


We had another great day in the Galilee today. Our morning started with a devotional on the Golan Heights looking down upon the Sea of Galilee - a great way to start our day! We then made our way north and made our first stop at Gamla where we learned what happenend at the site as well as got to sit in a 1st century synagogue that Jesus likely would have been in. On the way to our second stop we had lunch. Since it was Jon Quick's birthday today, we thought it might be fun to do a Birthday Rap in Israel! It was great fun - especially for our guides who thought we were crazy. :) Our second stop of the day was Caesarea Phillipi where Marty introduced the importance of the site to Jesus' question to his disciples, "Who do you say that I am." This site is also one of the sources of the Jordan River, so we hiked down and were able to find the beautiful and famous waterfall. We finished up our day at the ruins of Omrit - a city attributed to Harrod which was possibly a stop on the Damascus road.

All in all - it was, of course, another BIG day! Your comments are so encouraging! I'll pass those along to everyone. As always your prayers are much appreciated. Everyone is healthy, but we have aches and pains and a few minor injuries developing (nothing serious). Please pray for health, rest, and for our hearts to be open to all that God has for us each day! Thanks!

Here are some pictures:
1. Marty teaching at Gamla 2. Marty teaching at synagoge in Gamla, 3. Our group at Caesarea Phillipi 4. Doing the Birthday rap for Jon! 5. Kimberly, Emily & Patoya at the waterfall 6. Grant showing you that we are often-times off the beaten path 7. Ruins at Omrit 8. Standing on the Damascus road?

March 17, 2010

A Day in Galilee

Good evening from the Sea of Galilee!

Hope you all are doing well! We are having such a wonderful time here, but we do want you to know that we miss our families and are looking forward to seeing you soon. Hope all is well with each of you.

Today, of course, was another BIG day. It all started with an early-morning climb up Mount Arbel which led to a breathtaking view of the entire Galilee region. There we talked about discipleship and prayer before a thrilling hike down the mountain. Then, we headed up to the northern end of the Sea where we made stops at Tabgah and the Mount of Beatitudes. At Tabgah, we learned a little bit about fishing and Jesus's lordship in our lives. The Mount of Beatitudes was an exciting adventure as an Arab-Christian man, named Basaam, happened upon our group and asked us to pray for him. He openly confessed a lot of sin and struggle and we prayed for him there in the same area where Jesus spoke the words, "Blessed are the poor in Spirit." It was quite a moment. Afterwards, we had lunch at Chorazin and toured the city there - learning about insula (community), synagogue, and gethsemane. Our last site of the day was Capernaum - the home base of Jesus' ministry. We got to read Jesus' great discourse from John 6 on the foundation above the very temple where he would have preached those words. A powerful time. We finished up the day with a chance to swim in the Sea of Galilee. It was a much-needed time of refreshing after a long, hard day of hiking.

We are having a great time and really do appreciate all the hello's, well-wishes and prayers. Everyone is feeling good for the most part (aside from achy joints and muscles) and we are all pretty much over our jet-lag now which is also a blessing.

Enough talk....time for more pictures!!

1. Big group shot at Arbel, 2. Marty teaching at Chorazin, 3. Matt teaching at Chorazin 4. Our friend, Basaam - pray for him! 5. Matt teaching at Tabgah 6. Forge students on top of Arbel 7. Amanda, John, Jason and Kimberly atop Arbel 8. Having fun on the hike up Arbel 9. Fun in the Sea of Galilee at the end of the day!

March 16, 2010

BIG Day!

Greetings from Galilee!

BIG day today! It was our last day in the desert, so we definitely made the most of it. We began the morning with a hike up to the top of Masada. A challenging hike for us all, it didn't get our hearts racing as much as Boaz's (our Israeli guide) account of the events that transpired there. After a brief tour and a pat on the back for making it up the Snake Path, we promptly hiked back down to the bus to head to Ein Ghedi. There we learned about David's retreat from and confrontation of Saul. We also spent some good time experiencing "living water." After we finshed our hike in Ein Ghedi, we made our way to the north end of the Salt Sea for lunch and then a tour of Qumran. There, we learned about the Essene community and their passion for the Text. We finished the site with a tough hike to the top of the mountains next to the ruins (1500 above the Salt Sea) and enjoyed a beautiful sunset. We then got on the bus and drove north to Galilee to stay the night. It was easily our biggest day of hiking so far - easily 8 miles today and everyone did great!

We now all have our bags (yay!) and it looks as though everyone is feeling and sleeping well. We are certainly wiped out after a long day of hiking and learning, but the lessons God taught our hearts today are resonating loudly tonight.

Here are some more pictures for you: 1. Group shot of those who made the hike to the top of Qumran. 2. The guys after a long and difficult hike to the top of Qumran 3. Kimberly taking notes while at Qumran 4. Matt teaching the group at Qumran 5. Hiking out of Ein Ghedi 6. Boaz teaching the group about Masada 7. Some of the Forge girls celebrating their ascent of Masada

March 15, 2010

Day 2 With Pictures!

We are writing to you tonight from our hotel on the shore of the Dead Sea! Today was a great day of hiking through the desert and learning from the Text. This morning we began our time at Makhtesh Ramon where we learned first-hand what it must have been like for the Israelites as they were wandering in the wilderness (some scholars think that Israel spent 35 of her 40 years of wandering here). Then, we made our way north for a quick stop at Ein Avedat before heading to Tel Arad. After a brief introduction to hospitality there, we had the chance to experience it at a Bedouin community. Hadijah & her family welcomed us into her home for tea & bread. After a long day, we were able to make it home for a relaxing dip in the Salt Sea just before dinner. It was a full day and God is already pealing back the layers of our hearts as we walk & learn. Thankfully all but one of us got our bags tonight at the hotel! We hope to see the last one arrive tomorrow.

Tomorrow is a BIG day! Please pray for us!

These pictures are 1. Hiking at Makhtesh, 2. Group picture at Ein Avedat 3. Forge class at Avedat, 4. Matt teaching at Arad, 5. Hadijah's hospitality, 6. Floating in the Salt Sea, 7. Our guides (from left to right): Doron our driver, Boaz our Israeli guide, Tracy our facilitator and Marty our teacher, 8. Fun and games at the hotel tonight!

More tomorrow,