Friday, March 30, 2018

Refreshed in Israel

Want to know a secret? The fish are really beautiful in Eilat, Israel!

I usually do research on new places that we visit, but in the case of Eilat, I hadn't done any.

It turned out to be a fun surprise that we're staying right by a famous coral beach, where the underwater life is absolutely fantastic. And this is only the fish swimming right at the water's edge! Dave said the coral reef out further was much more amazing.

This evening was the celebration of the Passover Seder, so all restaurants were closed, except those that had taken reservations earlier for those who wanted the Seder.

When we found out yesterday that nothing would be open tonight, we picked up a few things at the grocery store and had a meal out at the beach by ourselves.

These have been a couple of very refreshing days here in Eilat! We leave for Tel Aviv in the morning, and fly home to Czech later tomorrow.

I've loved being here in Israel for a few more days! And I am glad we'll get to celebrate Easter with our family and church family at home in Czech on Sunday.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Eilat at Passover

If it looks like there is a brown filter over this photo, you're right. But it's not an artificial filter; it's the real thing.

We woke up in Eilat, Israel this morning after finishing our week-long study tour yesterday with our JV family. Since it's our anniversary, and our friend Amy's birthday, we came down here for a few days to celebrate as well as get some rest.

What we didn't know until now that someone told us, there is always a storm before every Passover (which is tomorrow), and this is it!

A sandstorm blew in, as well as rain and wind last night, leaving a brown filter over everything today. The temperatures are cooler than usual, though still warm enough to enjoy a little time in the sun.

In the evening we headed out to a restaurant to celebrate Amy!

It turned out to be one of the most memorable meals we've ever had.

If by some chance you happen to be in Eilat, try out the Fish Market restaurantIt's a special place!

What joy to share it with these dear friends.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Thirty One Years

We woke up for our last time in Jerusalem this morning, finished with our study tour of the life of Christ.

It's been so special to share this impactful week with our JV family, and with these two!

Dave and I said goodbye to Claire, who is staying to visit friends in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, and headed down to the southern most part of Israel. Didn't see any camels on the road, but definitely saw them off in the fields!

This area is much more desolate than anywhere I've yet to see here.

And a storm was brewing so it looked even more ominous as we drove. You wonder how Abraham and the patriarchs survived in this land.

They sure didn't ever come across this!

We arrived into Eilat this evening where we'll stay for the next few days.

It's special to be here on this day because it's our 31st wedding anniversary!

What amazing adventures I've gotten to live with Dave over these past 31 years. I can't wait to see what the next 31 look like!

"I love you Dave! It's a joy and privilege to share life with you as your wife!!"

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Extraordinary Week

How I love the Good News of Jesus!

This morning we began our day at the Garden Tomb, a beautiful spot in Jerusalem that proclaims the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, conquering sin and death for all. How I love standing at the empty tomb!

 Jesus is risen, he is risen indeed!!

We took communion here this morning, remembering his body that was broken for us, and his blood that was shed as the perfect sacrifice for our sins.

This is my happiest place in all of Jerusalem!

Afterward we headed up to the Mount of Olives for a view over Jerusalem, and a few last words from Dave.

It's been such a joy to share this trip with our JV family, and to serve them with Mel and Amy.

This has been an extraordinary week, traveling in the footsteps of Jesus all the way to Jerusalem where he gave his life for us.

May we forever remember his sacrifice, thanking him daily for making a way to the Father by giving himself as a ransom for our sins.

And may we walk in his steps, laying down our lives for the sake of his name and the Good News that it brings to people everywhere!

Monday, March 26, 2018

Tracing the Last Day

We arrived into Jerusalem last night, on our tour of following the story of Jesus from Galilee to this place where he was crucified and resurrected.

It's a powerful place, a jumble of sights, sounds and smells that brings to life our Lord and Savior.

This morning as we started our day, our tour guide stopped to buy bread and hyssop, saying that to enter Jerusalem properly, you should begin with this tradition.

We each tore off a piece, dipped it in hyssop before going on our way for the day.

Today is the day we trace Jesus' last day in Jerusalem before he was crucified. We stop at the traditional spot of the Last Supper, in a room below this rooftop spot where Dave taught this morning about the failures of man and the faithfulness of Christ - a theme that continued throughout the day.

We walked from there to the Garden of Gethsemene, just as Jesus and his disciples did after the Last Supper.

It was here that Jesus was betrayed by Judas.

Within eye sight of where the temple was, Jesus was taken to the house of Caiaphas.

It was here he was held in a prison cell and condemned to die.

It is sobering to be here in Jerusalem so close to Easter this year, and be in the very place where the most significant event in human history took place.

As we sat over the sight where tradition tells us this event took place, I felt such heaviness.

I can't imagine what it must have felt like for the disciples and Jesus' followers when the one they thought would save them, was put in the grave.

I'm so thankful that though they didn't know what would happen next, Jesus did. He was willing to pay the ultimate price of sacrifice for mine, theirs and your sins and endure the agony of death for us all. Hallelujah, what a Savior.

I'm glad I know know how the story ended.

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Family in Israel

Being in Israel is one of life's greatest gifts; it's my fifth time here and I love it more each time I come.

One of the sweetest joys this time is sharing it with a few family members!

Our daughter, Claire, recently joined JV to work with our JV Kids, so gets to be on this trip with us.

At the springs of En Gedi!
Not only is Claire with us, but my niece, Kendra as well! We had fun getting a "Patty girl" picture in the valley of En Gedi.

She is on the trip with her dad, Josh, who is Dave's brother. With just one more year left of Slovene high school, he brought her for their special dad-daughter trip before she goes off to college.

Watching them share this experience has been so delightful, especially having fun in the Dead Sea together!

Love these dear family members!

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Deep Appreciation

How very much I appreciate this man!

He loves God's Word, and is in the middle of teaching and bringing it alive to us this week as we are on a study tour in Israel with our JV family.

When we're finished, he will have taught 22 times over seven days.

Here in Bet She'an, an ancient city of ruins that were destroyed by an earthquake back in 749 AD, Dave took us through a review of all that we've learned up to this point.

This place does not have any known significance connected with the life of Christ, but it is a very cool spot!

I am so proud of Dave, and deeply thankful for his commitment to the Lord that plays out in how he faithfully teaches God's word.

Our lives will all be different because of it!

Friday, March 23, 2018

Connect Truth and Life

Although we don't know exactly where Jesus taught from when he gave what is now known as the Sermon on the Mount, it is thought to be somewhere on the northwestern shores of the Sea of Galilee.

Walking in the fields, towards a spot where we can stop for teaching that overlooks the lake, you can let your imagination take over and "see" the people who came hungry for his teaching.

I stayed up on top to get a picture of our group heading towards that spot, imagining what it would have looked like with thousands heading towards Jesus, anxious to hear what he had to say.

I'm sure families came, but probably there were many who came alone as they weren't sure who this man, Jesus, was. But imagine sitting there hearing his voice for the first time, and more importantly, what he had to say.

Dave memorized a portion of Matthew 5 and 6, where the Sermon on the Mount is recorded. I closed my eyes while he spoke, and let Jesus' words sink in along with everyone else.

Jesus' teaching methods there were brilliant, using common things around the people to teach them, like the birds of the air, and the flowers of the field.

Jesus connected "Truth and Life", as he gave to the people then what would become one of his most powerful and well known sermons today.

"If you want to teach like Christ, connect Truth with Life"!

This was Dave's take-away from a powerful lesson right here where Jesus himself preached to the people.