Saturday, April 13, 2019

VIP's Arrival

This morning Amy and I went to the ferry in Stari Grad to pick up a VIP.

No, it wasn't any of the soccer players returning home to the island.

Nor was it a child or adult!

No, what we were picking up was not a VIP, as in a very important person.

Rather, we were picking up a very important PIECE!

After four days of being missing since our flight back to Croatia from Israel, Amy's missing piece of luggage was found. If only luggage could talk and tell us where it'd been!

It was delivered by a flight from Israel to Zagreb, then on a flight to Split. Somehow it was then transported to the ferry port in Split, and taken on a 2 hour ferry ride over to the island!

That's what I call a VIP! πŸ˜And I'm so glad it made it back to its very important person!

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Time to Process

We landed in Zagreb, Croatia last night, after our week in Israel on an Old Testament study tour with a group of JV singles.

What a contrast today was to sunny Israel!

After meeting with some of our JV missionaries in Zagreb, we headed down towards Split, stopping at a beautiful rest area for lunch.

When they built the A1 highway back in the early 2000's, they put in some beautiful roads, tunnels, rest areas and bridges, making the drive so pleasant! 

Of course it helps that spring foliage is out and the flowers are blooming!

We're all feeling so thankful and satisfied with the week we had in Israel. Now for a little down time to process it all.

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Goodbye Israel

This morning at the Gloria Hotel in Jerusalem, I had breakfast with Claire and a few others from the group, talking about how this Old Testament study tour in Israel had impacted them. It was so beautiful to hear all their different reflections and thoughts on how they'd experienced our time here. We're all a little sad to leave

I said goodbye to Claire in the lobby later in the morning; she's flying back to Czech later today while I'm flying elsewhere.

We arrived three hours ahead of time at the Tel Aviv airport; if you've never been here, you wouldn't know that it's required in order to leave enough time for all the extra security you encounter here. I feel safer in Israel than I do almost anywhere else!

Dave, Mel, Amy and I headed to our gate as we're flying together today.

Our flight goes through Istanbul, which we were all excited about since we'll be flying into the brand new airport that they've just opened a few days ago.

We were hoping we'd have time to explore and check it all out; but in the end, our flight was late getting in and we wondered if we'd even make our next flight due to such a short connection.

Thankfully they opened up a shortcut security line for all of us on that flight to go through, which we assumed would put us closer to our gate.

Having never been in this airport before, we had no idea what to expect when you exited the elevator.

Would you believe we found out that our gate was on the complete other side of the airport?? And there are no trains, or other modes of transportation to get you there. Just your own leg power!

Thus the race to get there began!

One of our singles from the trip was with us as well!

While Dave ran ahead in hopes of getting to the gate to let them know we were all on our way, we speed-walked through the new airport.

I'd read about the "Old Bazar" shopping area here, but sadly had to be content with just a photo!

Most likely it just had the same old stuff as every airport, but I was at least hoping for a free sample of Turkish Delight!

This new airport is quite magnificent, not to mention HUGE!! I look forward to another time when we're here and can see it!

We made it to the gate with about ten minutes to spare, which was amazing considering the distance we had to travel to get there. That was an all out effort to make it there in time for our flight! We're tired!

We did make it to our destination, minus one suitcase of Mel and Amy's. Hoping they'll find it by morning before we leave from here.

Again, so thankful for this past week and the blessings God had for us in Israel with our JV singles!

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Wrapping Up

We finished our JV Old Testament study tour this afternoon by coming up to the Mount of Olives for a group picture, and lots of personal ones...because you know, you can't go to Israel without taking a picture here!

I love Claire laughing from the side of Dave's ear! πŸ˜‚

To be honest, I still wasn't feeling great from the food poisoning or virus that several of us had picked up. But I wasn't going to miss photos like this!

Thankful for my dear friend Amy!

I rested much of the afternoon and was feeling better by the evening when we met together for our last worship and debrief.

People's reflections on what God did in their hearts and lives during this week was very precious. This is a trip we will all be thinking about for a long time to come.

I loved this Instagram post by sums up the whole trip!

No trip to Israel comes without a stop at our favorite ice cream shop! So off we went, for one last little adventure together!

Amazingly, they had eight dairy free options for those of us who don't do well on the regular ice cream. It made Kecia's and my night to get to enjoy ice cream with everyone else!

Starting at 2:30 AM tomorrow morning, the group will begin departing back to their homes and places of ministry. For many, they jump right into major events like Fusiondary, where 900 young people and leaders will gather in Czech for our largest JV event yet, a festival for Fusion music groups!

But I'm praying for all of us, that we'll still have time to soak in what God showed and taught us, through Dave and Tyler, or just our own times with Him during the trip. It's been a profound week together with our single missionaries, and I'm deeply grateful to have been a part of it with them!

The Heart of God

Our last day of this year's Josiah Venture Old Testament study tour is here.

We took our tour bus out to the Herodion, a fortress and palace on the highest hill in the Judean desert, 15 kilometers south of Jerusalem. Built in the years 23-20 BC by Herod, it includes a fortress on the upper city and a palace and gardens in the lower city.

From this spot, Dave did his last teaching on Christocentric Leadership.

He spoke about how as leaders we should: talk about Jesus and the Gospel over and over, let Christ shine through our weaknesses, demonstrate the Spirit and Christ's power, and teach His counter-cultural wisdom.

At some time all these talks will be uploaded so you could listen if you were interested!

We also did our walk-through, the completed version of it that we've been working on all week to cement in our minds the timeline of the Old Testament. Our tour guide recorded it for us!

After finishing we did a literal walk-through of the Herodion tunnels, popping out at the bottom of the palace.

The view walking down allowed us to see out to Tekoa, where the prophet Amos was from, as well as Bethlehem which is just behind us.

Back in the bus for a short drive to Bethlehem, I loved seeing these two sitting together, which they've done several times throughout the trip!

As we drove into Bethlehem, we saw a sight that is still common today, as it was back at the time of Jesus' birth...a shepherd keeping watch over their flock!

On the main street into town we encountered another flock being cared for, this time of goats.

As we watched the shepherd on his donkey from the window of our bus, our tour guide shared something that I had never heard before.

Usually the sheep, or goats, are not all his!

This is basically "goat daycare" and he's the caretaker of them for the day. At day's end he'll return those that aren't his to their owners, and go home for a night's sleep before getting up and going out to collect them all again for the next day of daycare! Fascinating little tidbit of shepherd life in Israel.

We headed down to the Shepherd's Fields chapel, a Catholic church that marks the place where, according to tradition, the angels first announced the birth of Jesus.

Built to resemble a nomadic shepherd's tent, there are beautiful paintings inside depicting scenes from the story of Christ's birth. After having just driven by shepherd's and their sheep, this one captured my heart, imagining this very moment when they received the angel's news!

And then, here they are again, having found Joseph, Mary and Jesus!

Ron, our tour guide, told us that each Christmas Eve, they light the inside of the chapel in such a way that light streams out from these tiny windows, and lights the sky as a reminder of that holy night when our Savior was born!

From here we walked down to our last teaching spot on this Old Testament tour, which is ending with Tyler teaching on how to read the Gospels of the NT, through an OT lens.

He led us to Matthew 26 where the High Priest says to Jesus, "I charge you under oath by the living God: Tell us if you are the Messiah, the Son of God."

"You have said so," Jesus replied. "But I say to all of you: From now on you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven."

Have you ever wondered what Jesus was referencing here? If you go to Daniel 7:13, you'll see something amazing!

In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all nations and peoples of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed.

Tyler then unfolded for us an absolutely stunning walk-through of the Old Testament that points to Jesus our Savior, beginning in Genesis all the way through his birth, death and resurrection, and to the Great Commission he left us with -- a great commission foreshadowed in Genesis and Daniel -- then given by Jesus in Matthew before he ascended to the Father.

"All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."

Tyler ended with this: "When we dig down deep, we see the purpose of it all: God's heart for his people! Put your roots down deep and draw out God's truth; then direct it forward, in His Name, for the glory of God, and the spreading of His Kingdom!"

And this is what we are all about! Our Josiah Venture team in 15 countries longs to know more and more of God's heart, and share it with others, so that they too know his heart and then God's Kingdom grows.

We pray that this study tour through Israel, looking at our roots in the Old Testament, will deepen our walks with God as we comprehend his love, his plan, and his heart for each of us!