May 2023 Tour to Israel Reflections

Day 1

Having just returned from Israel on May 15th, I thought I’d share each day’s activities and stand-out moments with you.

Trip number 48 got off to a great start. Watching people experience the biblical sites of Israel is always a highlight moment for me. I’m thankful for the amazing 42 people who joined me on this tour.

Day 2

Today was epic. I really work hard to make sure that when people choose to join one of my tours, they will have the absolute best time.

We started the day off with a panoramic view of the Sea of Galilee while on top of Mount Arbel. It was amazing to learn that this location could very well be the mountain that Jesus took his disciples to after his resurrection, and gave them the great commission. It was such a beautiful moment and provided such a deep and special connection to Jesus.

We drove out towards Nazareth to visit Kfar Kedem, a place that is operated by my good friend, Menachem Goldberg. We always have the greatest time when we are with him. From learning how to make fresh cheese , to having him spray my tourists with goats milk, to making our own pita bread, to learning about what life was like during the time of Abraham. Oh yeah, and riding a donkey is always so much fun. Visiting this place is something that people never forget!

We closed off the day by visiting Yardenit, the baptismal site at the base of the Sea of Galilee at the Jordan River. I had the privilege of baptizing 22 people today. We had perfect weather and the water temperature was just right.

Day 3

What can I say, today was such another great day. We started off by doing one of my favourite things in the whole world—sailing on the Sea of Galilee. Many of the people on the tour were moved to tears as they connected with Jesus in such a beautiful and special way.

The boat took us to Capernaum, where we had an awesome time reading various Bible passages that took place in that very place. Walking through the ruins of an ancient synagogue connected us to the people and stories from the life of Jesus.

We traveled north to Caesarea Philippi, to the place with the story of Matthew 16 took place. Understanding that the gates of Hades mentioned by Jesus were an actual place, brings this passage of scripture to life.

Day 4

People were really digging today’s itinerary. That opening line will become a little funnier once I tell you that our first site of the day was taking part in an active archeological dig here in Jerusalem! We started off the day by having the amazing opportunity to take part in something known as the “temple mount sifting project”. Each person in the group had a chance to sift through buckets of dirt and rubble that were taken from the Temple Mount. Many people found pottery shards while one person even found some ancient glass that used to be part of a mosaic. It was such a fun experience and everyone really enjoyed themselves.

We continued to one of the major gates in the old city that gets you access to the Western Wall Temple Complex. Since it was Thursday, there were many bar mitzvah‘s happening. It was pretty awesome to watch these young men take this next step of their lives. We were able to enjoy the lively music as well as hear multiple shofar blasts. We continued to the Western Wall where people had a chance to approach this historical place and join in praying like millions of others from all around the world. We then went deep underground and walked through some very cool tunnels where we ended up walking on streets from the first century that Jesus almost certainly walked on.

After a wonderful lunch at the Austrian Hospice in the old city, we continued to the Pools of Bethesda where John tells us in chapter 5 that Jesus healed a man who had been paralyzed for 38 years. I did a special Hebraic Roots teaching to help people understand the full cultural and religious context of this extraordinary miracle.

We ended the day by exiting the Lions Gate of the old city and walking through a path in the Muslim cemetery that took us within just a few feet of the Eastern Gate, the very one that Jesus went through when he rode the donkey from the Mount of Olives.

Day 5

This may have been our most meaningful day so far on this trip. Today was all about connecting with Jesus and his incredible sacrifice for us.

We began our day with a panoramic view of the old city of Jerusalem from the mount of olives. It was from this place that Jesus rode the donkey through the Eastern Gate.

At the bottom of the mount, we had some time to talk and consider what happened in the Garden of Gethsemane 2000 years ago. Many people sat under an olive tree to reflect on what happened the night Jesus was betrayed. It was a powerful time and many people wept as they thought about the great love and sacrifice of Jesus.

We ended our day at the Garden Tomb. It’s a beautiful place that shows us what Golgotha, the place where Jesus was crucified, and what his tomb may have looked like. We concluded the day by sharing in a time of communion together. I had the privilege of teaching on the elements and symbolism of the bread and wine that Jesus used at the last supper.

Day 6

Today was the first day where people began to realize that the tour is almost over, and that we all have to go back to our regular lives in just a few days. The bonds between the people in this group are strong. Friendships have been forged, and lifelong relationships have been born.

We travelled from Jerusalem to the area of the Dead Sea in the wilderness. We started off by visiting Masada, a fortress high up on a mountain, built by king Herod the Great. There is so much history at this site. The story of the zealots and of the Roman legion is heartbreaking. Geographically, it’s one of the most beautiful vistas in the country. Nothing but desert and rolling-hills for miles and miles in every direction. The highlight view is of the Dead Sea. It’s receding by 3 feet per year due to weak winters and 97% of the water from the Jordan river being used up before spilling into the Dead Sea.

After a wonderful lunch and an opportunity to purchase some of the highest quality skin care products from the Dead Sea, it was time to head to the beach and float in its salty waters.

The day ended with many hours of fun conversation around the dinner table in the dining hall.

Day 7

Well, trip number 48 was coming to a close. We would be flying back to Canada the next day, but we would leave with our hearts filled with memories that will last a lifetime.

We visited Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Museum: to reflect and remember the 6 million Jews that lost their lives. It was a sobering moment, and made us appreciate all that Israel has accomplished, despite the odds being stacked in its favour.

We had a lovely afternoon as we shopped until we dropped at the famous Ben Yehuda pedestrian market. It’s always nice to take the members of our group to visit my friend at his store. He had no idea I would be there, and was very surprised to see me.

We ended the trip by attending a lively service at the King of Kings Church in Jerusalem. It’s always a wonderful time to worship God in English and in Hebrew. I personally ended the trip by having dinner with my dear friends, Wayne and Ann Hilsden, in their lovely new home.

Closing Thoughts

I’m really gonna miss these amazing people. It was truly one of the best tours I have had the privilege to lead. It’s such a honour to be a part of helping people make memories that will last a lifetime. I really hope I get the chance to guide you through this amazing country one day, to help make the Bible come to life and to help connect you to the God of your faith. Spending time in Israel and visiting all of these amazing sites helps not only connect us to the Jesus of history, but it helps us understand the history of Jesus. It would be my honour to lead you.

God bless you all, and thanks for following our journey.

Come to Israel and touch the past!