Hello from Israel!

We all enjoyed yesterday’s nature walk so much that we once again began our day outside in God’s creation, hiking through Tel Dan Nature Preserve. The Dan Stream (pictured top left) is the largest and most important source of water for the Jordan River and is fed by snow and rain that fall on Mount Hermon. All throughout the park, smaller streams fed into this larger one and this main current flowed with fury! Excavations at Tel Dan have also uncovered settlements dating to the fifth millennium BCE, pictured above.

Our next stop was Caesarea Philippi, a city built in the 2nd century BCE by the Greek to honor the God “Pan” (God of the wild). It was rebuilt by King Herod Philippi in the 4th century (to honor Caesar) and hence was given its name. As Pastor Kip explained in a preaching moment held there, Caesarea Philippi is a very consequential place for history of Christianity. It was the location of the first recognition of Jesus as the Messiah (Matthew 16:13-20) and was also the place where Simon was given the name “Peter” and Jesus declared that the church should be built upon him. Kip’s message to us was this: Had you been meeting with Jesus that day as one of his disciples and he asked you who he was, what would you say? Christ is building his church upon us. We must answer His call.

We stopped for lunch and snatched up fresh fruit from vendors along the way. The landscape of Israel is covered with fruit trees and lush vegetation and the orange I tasted today was the best I’ve ever eaten!

We spent most of our day today in the Golan Heights, an area located in the Northern part of Israel on the borders of Lebanon, Jordan and Syria. Don’t worry: we were very safe and only saw an Irish U.N. soldier (pictured above with Pastor Kip) visiting this former Syrian bunker as part of his vacation! The Israelis acquired this bunker and a large part of the Golan Heights in 1967 in what is known as the six-day war.

Our last two stops for the day were somewhat of a rest (we are always moving and learning!) and we visited Golan Chateau to sample some wine and learn how it’s made. Finally, we tasted some terrific olive oil from a producer based on the Sea of Galilee: Olea Essence. Ranea and Leslie (pictured above) are exfoliating with olive oil!

Tomorrow we head south to Bethlehem. More to come!

God Be With You,

Day 3: Tel Dan, Caesarea Philippi, Golan Heights