Friday, June 26, 2009

Home Safe and Sound

We arrived on time and are now all through customs! Now time to go home and sleep! Thank you for your prayers!

Israel 09

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Our last post from Israel:(

Well what a day! We have had a free day to explore. The majority of us started the day out by walking the Old City Wall. We enjoyed the view from above.

We then split up and visited many different places. Some went to the Jewish Quarter to explore, others went St. Peter Gallcantu ( sp). All finished their shopping for souviner. Most took snap in the afternoon to rest up for our long day of travel.

We ended the day with a wonderful dinner out in the courtyard of our hotel. We then spent some time talking about our trip. We then took a night walk around the city.

We are now sitting waiting to load on the bus to head to the airport. Please keep us in your prayers for safe travel. We will see you tomorrow afternoon.

Bye from Israel!

Wednesday seeing the city

We started the day with having a Communion worship service at the Garden Tomb. It was a beautiful place. It was a nice place to visualize where Jesus was crucified and buried. 99% sure this is not the actual place, they think it should have been where the Church of the Holy Sepluchre.

We then went to the Holocaust Museum, Yad Vashem. We only spent about 2 hours there, and boy we could have spent more time there.

We then went to the Israel Museum. Here we saw the Model City and the Dead Sea Scrolls. The Model City is a huge model of Jerusalem from Jesus' time. The Dead Sea Scrolls exhibit, The Shrine of the Book, showed artifacts fromthe sight where the scrolls were found. The exhibit had apart of the actual scroll of Isaiah.

It was hot yesterday. It is supposed to be the same today. Today is our last day here, please pray for safety as today is a free day.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Monday and Tuesday touring the Old City of Jerusalem

Sorry for no updates the past two days. We have been busy touring the Old City.

Monday we started the day out at the Temple Mount. We saw the Dome of the Rock. Not the inside, due to the fact it has been closed to the public for the last several years. We had to be off of the Temple Mount area by 11:00, for the Muslims to be able to pray. We then exited the area toward the Lions gate. We saw St. Anne's Church which was built during the Crusades. It was built on top of the Pools of Bethesda, which are mentioned in 2 Kings. We then followed The Via Dolorosa, which are the stations of the cross, down to The Church of the Holy Sepluchre. Here is where Jesus was hung on the cross, buried and resurrected. We ended our day then and were given the chance to rest or visit the street shops of the Old City. Some of us have become real barterers.

On Tuesday we started the day out earlier than normal to see the tunnel under the Western Wall. Here we were able to see the wall's foundations. We then headed through the streets by foot to the Burnt House. The Burnt House is remnants of the Kathros family home which was burned in 70 AD. We then went to our guide's home church, Syrian Orthodox Church. The afternoon was spent by some resting and most others taking a bus tour with ICAHD, more will be explained later about this. Last night we had a guest speaker of an Israeli Jew.

There are several of us that aren't feeling well again, but we know that the trip is coming to a close fast, so we are trying to see as much as possible. Please continue to pray for safety and health.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Dead Sea

Wow, what an experiece! It is true what they say... Those like me who cannot float on their back can float here. I felt like I was a human life~jacket. It is actually difficult to lower your legs into the water. When you lean back, they rise to the surface. Then it dawned on me ... What a great place to be a lifeguard. If someone is drowning, you just blow your whistle and say "Hey you, sit up!!"

Phil Kingsbury


Masada is a flat-topped mountain on the western shore of the Dead Sea, on which Herod the Great restored a massive fortress adding 2 palaces with a Roman bath, well stocked storerooms and deep cisterns for collecting drinking water. As impressive as this is, Masada is best known to Jesus as the place of ultimate courage and sacrifice. It was here in 74ad that about 1000 Jewish rebels made a last stand against a Roman legion who had laid seige to the mountain for months. When it became clear that the Romans would overtake the fortress, Eleazar Beu-Yair, the leader of the Jews inspired his followers to choose to die in freedom rather than to live as slaves to the Romans. Ten men were chosen by lot to kill all the others and then themselves, which they did. The next morning when the Romans breached the wall they found no one to meet them. All was silent. They found all bodies of the Jews in Herod's palace.

The Jewish historian Josephus wrote: "Here, encounterning the mass of slain, instead of exalting as over enemies, they admired the nobility of their resolve and the contempt of death displayed by so many in carrying it, unwavering into execution."

Today Masada is a common site of Bar Mitzvah ceremonies and the commissioning of Isreali military units. Masada is aplace of rememberance, sacrafice, freedom, and national identity.

Pastor Jeff

The Crushing

A "gethsemane" is an olive press. The garden of Gethsemane is a grove of olive trees near the base of the mount of olives, east of the temple mount. We all know that it was here that Jesus wrestled in prayer with the Father before His arrest. It was here, in this place of crushing, that Jesus, with blood and sweat on his brow, began to be crushed for our sin and bruised for our iniquities. This crushing gave us peace.

I was not prepared for how God met me here. As I entered the Church of All Nations, I quickly moved to the altar area. There I found, on the floor before the altar, the large stone on which Jesus prayed and sweat and bled. All I could do was kneel. All I could say to Jesus was "thank you."

Thank you, Jesus, for struggling in prayer. Thank you, Jesus, for following the Father's will. Thank you, Jesus, for choosing to be crushed for my sin. Thank you, Jesus, for bleeding that my sin might be atoned for, and I might be forgiven. Thank you, Jesus, Amen.

Pastor Jeff

Sunday, June 21, 2009

June 20, Saturday

This is my first post and I want to say how much we are being blessed. I am overwhelmed with being where Jesus Christ and the Bible took place. I am so excited to be able to connect the Bible with the actual places in the Bible. We have visited several Synagogues where we have read scriptures and it all comes to life- Jesus and the Apostles teaching and proclaiming the Risen Christ. Well one of the places we visited today was Qumran where the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered in 1047. The Essenes were a Jewish sect that settled at Qumran. A Bedouin Shepherd discovered a cave that contained a jar with scrolls in it. Eventually hundreds of scrolls were found dating from about the 3rd century BC to 68 AD. We have whole books of the Bible along with portions of scripture that contain all the Old Testament books except Esther. These scrolls are the oldest writer versions of the scriptures. What is really exciting is that these scrolls confirm the accuracy of the translations of the Bible that we have. In fact the scrolls have been used to update older translations and to write new translations.

The Dead Sea Scrolls are probably the most significant discovery for Biblical Scholarship in the past century.

Our God is a good God who has preserved His Word so we can learn about Him.

Pastor Steve

What a day...

First of all Happy Father's Day to all of the dads out there.

Second, well we are all still processing the day. We went and saw the shepherd's field, we then went to church, and then had lunch at a Palestinian Christians home.

That is not what we are still processing. Those items were great. It was what we did in the afternoon. We heard more on what is happening to the Palestinians here in Israel. We will write more about this later. We are still posting via the ipod. So look for more later.

Our health seems to be finally back to normal.

Please continue to pray for health and safety. Tomorrow we are walking around the Old City.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Connection problems

Due to computer problems at the hotel, aren't going to be able to post anything major. We are currently doing this one on the iPod touch.

We spent the day down south by the Dead Sea. We saw Masada, Qumran ( where the Dead Sea Scrolls were found), and floated in the Dead Sea.

Our health seams to be getting better. Tomorrow we will be attending Church in Bethlehem, and seeing more of Bethlehem.

Thank you for comments and prayers. Hopefully we will be able to post more tomorrow. We have 7 articles to post. So look for them soon.

The bananagrams

Friday, June 19, 2009

Dung Gate and Mount of Olives

Today we started the day off by walking through the City of David.

We then came to Hezekiah's Tunnel which most of us walked through. The tunnel is a very dark and narrow tunnel with varying heights throughout. We had to have on watershoes and use a flash light to guide our way. The water was at different heights throughout the tunnel. When we began our journey through the tunnel the water was above the knees and gradually went down to above our ankles. The water was a very refreshing cold. Some of us couldn't wait to get out but others had fun splashing in the water. The walk was to take about 45 minutes, but most of us were through it in about 25 minutes. We exited the tunnel into the Pool of Siloam. It is the hottest archeologist spot. We were also given a special treat by seeing the recently discovered stairs that lead up to the old city. These stairs would have been walked by the Blind Man that Jesus sent down to be cleansed. (John 9)

We then loaded back into the bus and headed back to the Old City through the Dung Gate, which is the Southwest side. We saw the Temple Mount where the Robinson's Arch would have been.

We then went as a group to the Western Wall (Wailing Wall), this is the Holiest place in Jerusalem. This is the place where the Jewish come to pray. The men and women are seperated when walking in and at the wall. The men have more space and an area under the archway to pray and study. This experience was very moving.

We then went to the Mount of Olives and Garden of Gethsemane. This also was very moving to walk in Jesus' footsteps from the top of the Mountain down to the bottom where he was arrested. The Mount of Olives looks out over the Kidron Valley and at the Old City Wall, where the Golden Gate is. The Golden Gate was sealed during the 7th Century by the Muslims. This gate is said to be where the Messiah will enter Jerusalem. There are tombs of Muslims right around the gate. There are Christiam tombs in the valley, and Jewish tombs on the Mount of Olives. All three religions believe that their Messiah will enter through this gate. The Muslims are very protective of this area.

We then headed back to the Hotel to rest and eat. Some of us are not feeling well. Please pray for our health. The weather is a sunny 90+ degrees. Tomorrow we are heading South to the Dead Sea area and Masada. This is going to be very hot. So please pray for health and safety.

Happy Birthday Jacob Pavey!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Moving from Galilee to Jerusalem

Step into the water- go alittle bit deeper! We were in the world's largest baptismal font-- The Jordan River- just below the Sea of Galilee. Some of us waded up to our ankles. After getting back into our air conditioned oasis (our beloved bus) we rode onto Bet She an, the place where Saul and Jonathan really got nailed! You can read about that in the last chapter of 1 Samual. This new testament city has the largest fully excavated theater in Israel. Earthquakes had knocked many columns which lay where they fell.

We saw the oldest man made structure in the world at Jericho- Built 5 years after Ed Young was born! LOL Oh, and speaking of earthquakes we had lamb kabob sandwiches in Jericho, which initially we were told was going to be chicken.

We then went up~ to Jerusalem just passing through on our wonderful shopping trip. We went through a check point where we had to show our passports to a red headed machine gun totting Israeli soldier. We observed the city of Jerasulem from a spectacular vantage point and then drive to the Jaffa Gate at the Old City where we climbed 50,000 stairs (oh maybe only 100) and then walked to our new residence for the next week, the Knights Palace. We got situated this quaint 16th century dwelling~ ate a lovely meal and then said "Good night, Knight!"

The Cues

Entering Jerusalem

We entered Jerusalem through the Jaffa Gate. We are in the City that is Holy to three very differing faiths. The Jewish faith comes through Isaac, the Muslim faith comes through Ishmael, and the Christian faith through Jesus. All three look to Abraham as their father. God instructed Abraham to take his only son to Mount Moriah for sacrafice. Ismael was also his biological son, but was not his "Son of Promise".

Through Jesus Christ we too are sons and daughters of God's Promise. There can be no better news!

Shalom Dale Hammond

Shopping Decree...

In those days there went out a decree from Gary and Nader that all should get Olive Wood souviners. So First Pres also went down from Galilee unto the City of David which is called Bethlehem. There, each bought there souviners, some exceeding their limits on one credit card making it necessary to use a second one. First Pres found there was no room for them in the bus so they had to have them shipped home.

As a result, we have increased the economy of the small town of Bethlehem. Wives purchased Father's Day gifts for their husbands ~ doesn't every man desire a Nativity Set for his special day? As a result, many men are looking forward to next Mother's Day when they can purchase electric drills and screwdrivers.

Even as the women sat on the bus, their shopping wasn't over as they succumbed to the high pressured sales tactics of the sidewalk salesmen. Men did not understand these things but the women stored them up in their hearts.

Randy and Carol Cue

Dig this...

We met Rami Avar, a famous archeologist at Bethsaida (he is also at the University of Nebraska) Gary has dug with him at this site on a previous trip. We saw a city gate from the time of King David. Listening to Rami tell of his 20+ years of adventure was amazing. He is always looking for volunteers to help excavate.

Tom Hartman

Our Visitors...

Hahnna and Dina Katanacho were our special guests after dinner last night. Hahnna is a Palestinian Christian who shared his testimony of coming to Christ. He went on to tell of his studies both in Palestine and America. He is now Dean of Galilee Bible College. Dina is an Arab Christian and citizen of Israel. (Hahnna is not an Israel citizen) As a citizen of Israel she has more priviledges and can pass through military check points easier. However it is not easy for them to travel freely in Israel. They ask for our prayers. Please check their website at

Susan and Peter Grometer

"The stories of the Bible come alive in Galilee"

This is what I repeatedly hear from others on our pilgramage through the Holy Land. We see the ruins of Caesarea by the Sea, a magnificent harbor city built by King Herod the Great, the King of Israel at the time of Jesus' birth. We see the only natural spring in Nazareth where Mary had to have come and collected water for her family's needs. We learn that a fault line between two continental plates lies under part of the Sea of Galilee resulting in hot mineral springs; the fish don't like the hot springs and therefore congregrate along the northern shore where fishing villages developed and Peter and Andrew fished before being called by Jesus to be "Fishers of Men". (Mark 1:16-18)
We learn how the cool Mediteranean winds can mix with the hot air created over the Sea of Galilee during the day to result in high winds and storms on the sea as experienced by Jesus and his disciples. (Matt 8:23-27)
We visited the excavation at Capernaum and walked in the Synagogue where the Bible says Jesus performed an exercism of a demon. (Mark 1:21-28)
We see a Church hovering over a house believed to be the house of Peter as Peter was from this village. (Mark 1:29) There is evidence that this house was a meeting place for early Christians. We see the remains of a first Century boat that existed at the time of Jesus; Did he ride in this boat? Did he preach from it? (Luke 5:1-11)
We visit the ruins of Korazin, including a Synagogue that contains a Moses' Seat. Jesus warned HIs followers to be aware of the hypocrites that sit on Moses's Seat. (Matt 23) We see the remains of an "extended" family living complex with a large common area in the middle and learn how this is the type of area where Jesus would have been sitting at a low table when the women "Broke in" and anointed His head with oil. (Matt 26:6-13) We see the hills where Jesus gave His Sermon on the Mount giving us the Beatitudes. (See the warnings Jesus gave Capernaum, Bethsaida, and Korazin; Matt 11:21-24)
We visit some ruins of Caesarea Philipi, a pagan city built by Herod Philip, son of Herod the Great. On the way to the city, Jesus asked his disciples, "Who do people say that I am?" Peter answers, "You are the Messiah, the son of the living God." (Matt 16:13-17)
These are just some of the things that we have seen and learned that brings the stories of the Bible to life and confirms the events recorded in the Bible. Knowing that, who do we say Jesus is and what does that mean for our lives?

The Scribe Jeff Whitt

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

What a hike!

Today we saw many excavations. We started the day off by visiting Bethsaida, which is currently being excavated by Rami Arav. He found the largest city gate that can be dated back to the old testament. We then moved onto to see Kursi, which was 5th century ad Bysantine Church. This could have been where Jesus cast out demons into the pigs.

We then travel north through Golan Heights to Gamla. This was a rigorous hike that only some were able to do. We hiked down a huge mountain side that was steep and rocky. We saw a 1st Century predestruction villege, including Synagogue and mitvah. We were hot and tired when we crawled back up the mountain to join the rest of the group. Ice cream was a well deserved treat.

We then traveled through the Druze population. At one point we could see Syria, Lebanon and Israel.

We ended the days tours by touring Caesarea Philipi (Banias). This is where Jesus was finally revealed to his disciples.

Cerutti's and Kingsbury's

Happy Birthday Kerri!

Peter's House

Yesterday we saw Peter's house in Capernum. Just a block from the Synagogue, Peter's House became a center of devotion halfway through the 1st century ad. It was a modest 1 room home that through the years was expanded into an octogonal public worship center. Today a Roman Catholic Church literally hovers over the sight.

Just think...this is the place where Jesus laid his head in Capernum, his adopted hometown. This is the place where he healed Peter's Mother-in-law of a fever (Mark 1:30). This is the place where the sick were brought seeking healing and "the whole city was gathered together at the door" (Mark 1:33). This is the place where Jesus cast out "many demons" and set people free to follow him.

If only those stones could talk... Blessings Pastor Jeff

"It's a small world when you get over here"

I was in the hotel elevator and introduced myself to the other rider. He was Pat from Wisconsin. When I told him where I was from, he said: It's a small world when you get over here. How true.

Israel is a small place. So much history, so many tourists, so many cultures all packed together into tiny square mileage. Wierd connections are bound to take place. Dr. Burge bumped into a student he taught last semester at Wheaton on a boat dock. Only five minutes sooner or later and we would have missed him! I've met many folks from the Chicago area- 1 young man was Bar Mitzvahed on the top of Mesada four days ago. I have also observed something very interesting- our guide is named Nader and he is an Arab Christian from Jerusalem. Husam is our driver, a muslim also from Jerusalem, formally from Bethany. I watched these two men interact both professionally and personally with each other and with others- Jews and Christians- and I have been inspired by their genuine friendship. In such a small place, a "small world" as Pat from WI put it with so much religious and political tension, its refreshing to observe two very different men relating to each other in such a refreshing way. Peace, Pastor Jeff

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

We walked on the Sea of Galilee

We started the day by taking a boat ride from Tiberias to Kibbutz. We then went by bus to St. Peters Primacy, which is where we walked on the Sea of Galilee (only because the Sea is low). This location is referenced in the bible, John 21, where Jesus tells the fishermen to put their nets on the other side of the boat.

We then went to Capernaum where Jesus lived and performed his Galilean miracles. We also saw remnants of Peter's home from the 1st Century and a synagogue from the 4th Century, which was built on the 1st Century's foundation.

Next we went by bus to lunch in Kibbutz, which is where a 1st century boat was preserved, that Jesus and the disciples would have used.

We left there and went to the Church of Multiplication where Jesus fed the 5000 with 2 fish and 5 loaves of bread. The church is located in Tabgha.

From there we went to Korazin, which is mentioned in Matthew 11:21. The city is a part of the Evangelical Triangle, which is where most of Jesus’ ministry took place. Here we saw the remnants of a late 4th Century city.

We then went to the Mount of Beatitudes, which is where Jesus preached the Sermon on the Mount.

The day ended by us heading back to the hotel, where we had dinner and enjoyed spending time together. We survived the 90+ degree day!

Posted by:
Ceruttis, Cues, Kingsburys, Sammy, Whitt, and Ferrises

"Things are not always what they seem."

That's what our guide, Nader, said when we first met him. Now I know what he was talking about!

Yesterday we went to Nazareth to a recreation of the 1st Century village. It was cool to be in Nazareth, but I have got to tell you - Personally, I wasn't impressed. We were looking at piles of stone, weeds, and dusty trails. I didn't get it. I couldn't see... until our guide began to tell us what we were looking at and our eyes began to focus on a 1st Century world.

As we focused... the piles of stones became terraced gardens and a grape stomping and storing area hewn out of the rocks. The weeds became shrubs of grapes, rosemary, and olive trees. The dusty trails became paths to the olive press (the gethsemane) and the synagogue - much like the one in which Jesus would have read the passage from Isaiah the declaring that he was the Messiah.

Things are not always what you see. In the Holy Land, the more you look the more you see, the more you learn the more you understand.

With eyes wide open,
Pastor Jeff

Monday, June 15, 2009

What day is it? And how do we get a connection?

We have finally arrived in Israel! Our days are running together due to overnight flights/delays, but we have finally made it to Israel. We spent the morning in Netanya, slept, and walked the Mediterranean. We then boarded our tour bus and headed to Caesarea where we saw Herod's Palace, which is built on the Mediterranean Sea. Next we went to Mount Carmel and looked out at the Jezreel Valley. From there went and saw the town of Nazareth where Jesus grew up and visited the Nazareth Village which is a reconstruction of Nazareth based on the 1st Century AD. After Nazareth, we headed to Tiberias on the Sea of Galilee which is where we will spend the next three nights. This blog is being posted via phone due to issues with Internet connections, so hopefully we will find a way to get a connection and post blogs easier, but in the mean time wanted to let everyone know that all are well and having a good time.

Thanks for your continued prayer and support! Your prayers are being felt!


Sunday, June 14, 2009

Exploring Madrid

18 of us decided not to take a nap and explore Madrid. We navigated the subway, by transfering 3 different times to get to the area by the Prado museum of art. Praise for the day is that we didn't get lost and everyone made it back to the hotel safely. We are off to dinner at the hotel and then off to the airport for our overnight flight to Israel. Please continue to pray for safety, health, and good rest.


Lessons in flexibility

Well we had a safe flight from Chicago to Madrid. Since our flight was delayed out of Chicago, we missed our connecting flight to Tel Aviv. So we are now at a hotel in Madrid for the day. We are hoping to catch so sights before we head back to the airport. Our flight leaves tonight at 11:00pm our time. We wanted post to update everyone. Will write more later.


Saturday, June 13, 2009

We are delayed.

We are all at the airport but we are delayed for about two an a half hours. We are to leave around 7:45.
Please continue to pray for safety and health.

The day has finally arrived for this adventure to begin! Today we will all meet at O'Hare Airport at 2:15 to check in for our 4:40 flight. After a stopover in Madrid, Spain, we should arrive in TelAviv, Israel at 3:40 Sunday afternoon. Since Israel is 8 hours ahead of Aurora, it will be 7:40am back home. Something tells me that we'll be pretty tired! We are staying in a hotel along the Meditteranean Sea on Sunday night to rest up, and our touring will begin Monday morning. We're looking forward to what God has to show and teach us in the next couple of weeks. Thank you to all of you that are following our journey and especially for praying for us.


Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Preparing For Israel

We leave in three days. Wow how time flies, it feels like we just started the planning and preparing. Everyone is packing and organizing their one suitcase and backpack to leave this Saturday.