Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Returning to Israel

Where did the time go?

We JUST left Israel to spend Christmas with family... is it time to go back already?

Yes it is. Our time at home has gone by way too fast! We leave tomorrow afternoon for a long day of travel to return to Jerusalem and the Garden Tomb. We will be staying until March 31st.

Yes we have been watching the news. We are aware of what is going on in Israel. We have also been looking at what is going on around the world. We face bleak days at best and are reminded of a need to proclaim the gospel all the more while we can. We are expecting many visitors at the Garden from Nigeria as well as other countries in the near future. Our job is to present the gospel clearly. Pray for us as we attempt to faithfully do what God has called us to do.

We are also making plans for two other missions trips in 2009. One to the Philipinnes in June and another to Mali in West Africa later in the New Year. We are excited about the opportunities God has given us to serve Him. You can help by praying that God will keep us safe, in good health and faithful to Him as He provides all that we need to do all that He calls us to do.

Our next post will be from Jerusalem... until then SHALOM!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Homeward Bound

Sunday, December 14th, we drove to the Dead Sea and hiked up into the Wadi at Ein Gedi to the falls. David hid from Saul in this area and it was pretty exciting to visit. You can see the Dead Sea from up near the falls and our hearts were drawn to wonder if David wrote any of his Psalms while hiding out where we were.

The hike was quite streneous and we did very well thank you very much. We could not have done the hike on our first visit to Ein Gedi when we first arrived. But today we are in significantly better shape than when we came - some what lighter as well! One of the especially good side benefits of serving the Lord in Israel!

This morning we will leave Jerusalem for Tel Aviv and our 11:15 AM flight to the USA. We are looking forward to seeing some of our family (and wish we were seeing the New Hampshire family as well!!!!) and friends while we are home.

We will return to Israel January 1st and will stay until March 31st. If our new President invites us to one of the Inaugural Balls, we will give our tickets to our friends Jack & Nardos Shuler!

To everyone, we wish you a blessed Christmas. We have been reminded every day over the past six weeks the tremendous price God paid to ensure that we could have eternal life through His Son - the Best Gift ever given!

Friday, December 12, 2008


It's beginning to feel a lot like Christmas??? Well perhaps somewhere but not in Israel! Not even a visit to Bethlem, the city of the birth of our Lord, was enough to make us feel like Christmas is in the air.

We are looking forward to and even counting the days until we leave Isreal bound for the USA to spend Christmas with at least some of our children (we leave Israel Tuesday morning arriving in Tampa near midnight the same night). You would at least think that since we live in the Holy Land now we would feel like Christmas... not so.
On our day off this week we visited Bethlehem. We enjoyed our visit but didn't feel like Christmas.
Manger Square & The Church of the Nativity

Judy at the door to Nativity Church

The Star marks "the place" of Jesus Birth

If any of you traveled with us to Jerusalem in 1980, you have very fond memories of Phil Pantana getting in trouble at this confessional in St. Catherine's Church!

On our return to Jerusalem we walked through the Old City... Judy bought me my Christmas gift... I get it on Christmas day. Yes, I helped her pick it out - "I am my beloved's and my beloved is mine" from the Song of Solomon (6:3a) in Hebrew is your clue... I love it and will appropriately act surprised on Christmas day! Or Christmas Eve as I understand the Houston plan is... but that's OK because Judy has promised to act surprised when I give her her gift as well... Yep she helped pick it out too. We are such dorks!

After our shopping trip we climbed up onto the roof tops of old Jerusalem (now, we finally begin to feel like Christmas! "up on the roof top click click click" ) ... HEY! I already confessed to being a dork, leave me alone! What an incredible thing to do. We got some amazing pictures and had a wonderful time. Especially when we came down the wrong staircase and wound up in the Yeshiva restroom to the shock and great dismay of one of the Jewish students! We retreated to the roof top giggling and laughing (remember I said we were dorks?) and found the correct staircase down.

Up on the roof tops

Doesn't Judy look relieved ... not from the restroom but by virtue of the fact that I finally found the way down!

We plan to go to Ein Gedi on Sunday and walk to the springs where David hid from Saul. However, if it rains, the spring may be closed because of flash flooding. In which case we will visit one of Herod's palaces on the Herodian instead. Either way, we will travel about with our friends from England and have a great time.
We are looking forward to seeing some of our family and friends in Tampa in a few days. May God bless you with a wonderful Christmas from Jerusalem!

and just incase you ever wondered...

New York doesnot hold the patent on weirdo's ...

Meet King David of Jerusalem circa 2008!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Dreams Fulfilled...

We have been coming to Israel for thirty one years and there were always some places and things we wanted to do but never have had time. In the midst of serving God every day in the Garden, He has graciously allowed us time to

1. Walk the Walls of Jerusalem,

2. Visit areas of the city we never had time to, and

3. Do things at a leisurely pace.

This past week we have been able to spend two hours on a double decker bus driving around the city of Jerusalem. This was a lot of fun as we were able to fix in our minds where things are in relationship to where we are. We were able to spend a long time at the Israel Museum where the Shrine of the Book is.

The Scroll of Isaiah that was discovered in the caves of Qumran is housed here.

The Model of Jerusalem has been moved from the Holy Land Hotel to the Museum. It is displayed in a much better setting and we spent a lot of time just slowly walking around it. There is a great viewing platform that puts you above the model where you can get a really good perspective of how the city of Jerusalem looked in the time of the Second Temple.

The other thing that I (Al) have always wanted to do was to go inside of David's Citadel and we never had time to do so. We have been inside twice!

Once for a Sight and Sound show of the history of Jerusalem and again today just for a visit. We spent a couple of hours at the Citadel. I loved it! The view of the Old City are fantastic!

Adding to all of that, we have dearly enjoyed our leisurely walks through the old city. We had lunch today at our favorite Falafel Cafe and joined the Sunday mobs in the narrow old city streets.

This week we plan to visit Bethlehem on our day off and Ein Gedi with our friends next Sunday. We will walk to the falls and visit the caves where David hid from Saul in Ein Gedi.

We are excited that we will be heading home in a few days (December 16th), looking forward to seeing the kids in Tampa, going on to Houston for Christmas with our family there, and spending time afterwards with our church family at our home church. Those two weeks will go by all too fast as we return to Jerusalem January 1st for three months.

We are so incredibly thankful that God has chosen to use us here at this time to share His love with countless individuals in the Garden Tomb.

... and, as usual, we end our day in the Garden!