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We were awake this morning at 5 am, Miami time. We are about half way to changing to Eastern Time. We finished the "The Way of the Cross" blog and posted it. Then we left on our first leg home.

We stopped in Palm Bay, FL (just south of the Cape Canaveral area) and had lunch with a long-time friend, Kirk Casteel; he was the best man in our wedding. We enjoyed lunch with him and catching up with each other's families. Then we resumed our trip north.

We stopped at Costco for gas and supper in Jacksonville, and have checked into a hotel for the evening. Our goal is to be home by tomorrow evening.

A few general observations about our tour:
• Morning Star Tours and Moody Bible are both well organized and do an outstanding job. We would strongly recommend them to anyone looking to do a tour in the future.
• It was really nice to have multiple Bible teachers on the trip as it presented multiple perspectives rather than just one. Sometimes different teachers disagreed on specific points but it was very friendly and professional. They just presented their different viewpoints and let us decide which made the most sense to us.
• Arriving a day early was very beneficial as it provided time to catch up on our sleep and also gave a substantial time margin for flight delays.
• If we were to do a tour with such a packed schedule again we would probably add an extra day at the end to give a little time for recovery before we made the long trek home.
• Morning Star recommended that couples pack half of their clothes in each suitcase in case one gets lost. We forgot to do that and everything was fine, but one woman didn’t get her suitcase for 5 days and was very sorry they didn’t follow this advice.
• The food provided for breakfast and dinner was excellent and plentiful if a bit different from what we are used to. Breakfast was dairy and eggs only, no meat, and dinner was meat but no dairy to keep Kosher rules. Salads and cold fish (salmon, sardines, etc.) were available for both breakfast and dinner.
• Israeli security is very good, very polite and omnipresent. Since all Israeli citizens must serve at least 2 years after graduating High School and additional time in the Reserves, a significant percentage of their population are in the military at any given time.
• One of the men on our tour had a date without his wife’s knowledge. The next morning his face was all puffy and his eyes were almost swollen shut. Who knew that you could have a food allergy to dates?
• Israeli agriculture is amazing – everywhere you look are massive groves of almonds, dates, olives, oranges, peaches, bananas, and lots of things we couldn’t identify.
• Many of the historic places mentioned in the Old Testament are large (cities, hills, rivers) and have been found and validated but some of the places in the life of Christ are small (houses, gardens, etc.) and are less certain. What we realized is that the specific place is not nearly so important as what happened, wherever that place might be.
• Understanding both the Old Testament and the Jewish mindset is critical to really understanding the New Testament.

The things that stuck out the most to Dan (all of it was great but he had to pick 2) was understanding the history and geography of Cesarea, where Paul was held in Herod’s palace prison, and Cesarea-Phillipi where Jesus asked his disciples, “Who do you say that I am,” within a stones throw of a super-center of pagan temples.

Sandy’s top 2 were Hezekiah’s Tunnel and Megiddo/Jezreel Valley. Hezekiah’s tunnel was an amazing feat of human perseverance to dig that much all that distance, as well as being a miracle of God for the two tunnels to actually meet in the middle. Megiddo has been destroyed and rebuilt so many times, we got to see parts of just a few layers. The Jezreel Valley, also known as the valley of Armageddon, is very large and very fertile, and it will be the scene of the last big battle on Earth. If I were to pick a third, it would be the northern part of Dan. It was so lush; I did not expect that at all in a desert country.

Thank you for reading our blog. I hope you enjoyed it and learned some things about the Holy Land and the Bible, as well.

Posted by dasafish 18:46 Archived in USA

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