Sunday we went with the JUC group on the student activity day. They do one each semester. Last semester we went hiking in the Golan Heights. This time we went on a short hike in the Shephelah and then to the beach in Ashkelon.

The Shephelah is agricultural land here so it was really green. We got rained on a bit and it was cool, but the hike was beautiful and not too difficult for the pregnant lady. 🙂

At noon we barbecued and then headed to the beach. Joanna’s been near the beach a couple of times here but never in the water. This time she got to go in the water. She was very hesitant at first and took a little while to warm up to the idea of water rushing at her feet. Eventually, she figured out that the water came to her and she got excited each time a wave came close.

This was our last big outing as a family in Israel, and it was so much fun!


Since Brandon’s classes don’t start again until Feb. 1, he’s been keeping busy painting at JUC. It’s been quite the experience for him, especially since he’s worked for professional painters in the states. One of his first projects was to repaint the classroom walls and ceiling. Hundreds off egg cartons were glued to the ceiling to help acoustics 20 years ago. He and another guy had to tear them off, scrape the ceiling and then paint with rollers all while standing on ladders. JUC doesn’t have scaffolding. Looks pretty good now, doesn’t it?

Since then they’ve painted the hallway, several doors and windows and now they started a bathroom. This picture of the hallway gives you an idea of how tall the ceilings are. You can also see that they painted the bottom glossy and the top flat. The glossy part is about up to my shoulders.

Tomorrow afternoon Brandon’s dad comes which means tomorrow morning is his last day to work. We are grateful he had this opportunity to earn a few extra bucks while we’re here.

In the middle of November I had the opportunity to travel to the country of Jordan for 4 days.  Although there aren’t as many Biblical events that happened there compared to what happened in the country of Israel, it was still a very important area and it played an important role within the Biblical narrative. 

At the height of the Roman Empire, during the first century, a number of cities were established in Jordan.  These cities were known as the Decapolis cities.  These cities were very pagan in nature.  Inhabitants would worship a number of different gods and they were typically a center for theater, education, entertainment, and politics.  Each city had similar characteristics; however the layout and  size varied.  A good comparison would be the major cities in the US: NY, Miami, Chicago, Dallas etc.  Each city has a sports stadium, a theater, schools, parks etc., but they don’t all have the same layout.

On our trip we went to 4 of these cities (Philadelphia, Gadara, Gerash, and Pella).  Here are a number of pictures from these very impressive cities.       

All Decapolis cities are known for their paved roads, theaters, hippodromes, and columns. 

Gadara is especially known for their black basalt columns.  None of the other cities posses something like this. 

Philadelphia is known for its huge temple dedicated to Zeus.  As you can see I am significantly smaller than the columns in the temple.  It is also known for its large theater.  At this site we were able to spend time at a museum that had a number of ancient artifacts from the past 3000 years. 

Our next stop was the city of Gerash.  This is my favorite Decapolis city.  They call it the city of 1000 columns, but as you will see from my pictures the city has significantly more than a 1000 columns.  I like to compare it to the Minnesota slogan “a land of 10,000 lakes”.  I really like this city not only for its columns but also because of its hippodrome and its large theaters that are really fun to sing in.

As you can see, every street throughout the city is lined with columns.  It is really impressive.

These are just a few of the pictures that I took at these impressive Decapolis cities.  I didn’t show you any pictures from the city of Pella, because it was severely damaged by an earthquake in 572.

On the third day, I went to Petra, a Nabatean city.  It was a very impressive city back in the day.  The Nabateans were known for their ability to collect water.  Petra is located in the southern part of Jordan.  They get very little rainfall there and the Nabateans created ways to collect every drop.  In addition to their ability to catch water, they are also known for their graves.  They created huge burial chambers for themselves.  Here are a couple of impressive chambers. 

FYI this actual tomb was featured in the final Indiana Jones Movie.  In the movie Indiana Jones goes far into the tomb, but that’s not how it actually is.

This is picture is of the “monastery.”  In order to get to the monastery you need to climb 975+ stairs and walk a good distance to get to the top.  I was with a bunch of younger guys who didn’t know how to pace themselves.  Let’s just say I was huffing and puffing when I got to the top. 🙂  An average person with good knees, a strong back, and a positive attitude usually takes about an hour.  My group got there in 35 minutes. 

In order to fully appreciate these pictures it is very important that you look at how small the people are.  The doorway into this is huge.  In order to get inside it takes a lot of work. 

Here are some of my friends.  See how small they are!

Here are some other tombs that are located throughout the city. 

We spent 7 hours at Petra.  It was a full day of hiking and taking in the sites. 

After Petra we headed north.  We stop at the Edomite capital of Bozrah.  There wasn’t much to see at all and it was cold, but I can say that I was there.  If you are interested, read Obadiah.  It references the Edomites.

The final stop on this field study and our last stop of the entire semester was at the top of Mount Nebo.  Mount Nebo is the place of Moses’ death and the place where Moses saw the Promised Land.  Check out Dt. 34.  This is a picture of what Moses saw when looking towards the present location of Jerusalem.

When it was all said and done, I was able to travel on both sides of the Jordan River and see a number of Biblical sites.  I have shown you a very small sampling of my pictures.  If you are studying the Bible and have any questions dealing with the land please feel free to send them my way.  I would be more than willing to provide answers for you and send you some pictures. 

I will be posting soon regarding my trip to Egypt.  It might take me awhile as I have close to 1000 pictures to sort through. 🙂

The Galilee trip included a boat ride on the Sea! It was a great experience to be on the Sea of Galilee.  I wished we could have been on the sea longer, but we had a full day ahead so we had to keep going.  This is the boat we rode and view of the shore from the middle of the sea.

After our boat ride we went to Capernaum, the home base for Jesus’s ministry.  This location helped me gain great insight into the life of Jesus Christ.  It was interesting to hear what scholars thought about what Jesus did from the age of 12 to the age of 30.  Scripture doesn’t say anything regarding his actions, but based upon the Hebrew language and knowledge of the land and the culture scholars believe Jesus did ministry and served the town as a construction know it all.  A Jack-of-All-Trades you might say.  

 After going to Capernaum we spent some time climbing Mount Arbel.  This is the tallest “mountain” around the Sea of Galilee.  It was a long steep climb, but the view at the top was totally worth it. Some scholars believe that when Jesus would go to a secluded place to pray he might have climbed to the top of Mount Arbel. 

 After resting for the night we started on the way home and visited the cities of Zappori, Nazareth, and Kursi, and then we visited one of my favorite cities… Beth Shan. 

 Beth Shan is a Roman city that was that flourishing during the first century AD. This city was an important city throughout history as its location provided security and accessibility to other major highways.  This also made it a major military target and it was conquered a number of times by different empires.  (This is the same place we took Kelly’s parents when they visited.)

Before we left for home, Dr. Wright encouraged all of us to make sure we went to the water closet before we got on the bus as Beth Shan is a two-hour drive to Jerusalem.  So my friends and I made sure to listen.  Good thing we had some reading material along.  🙂

That concludes my trip to Galilee.  I will be posting some picture from my trip to the country of Jordan soon.

My semester is finally over. My tests are completed, my papers have been turned in, and I am done traveling for a while. Over the course of this past semester I have been to 3 different countries; used 6 modes of transportation (plane, train, bus, camel, boat, horse and buggy); went to places where Jesus, Moses, Abraham, Paul, David, Solomon, Herod the Great, Saul, Elijah, and the 12 disciples wer;, swam in the Mediterranean, Dead, and the Red Seas; wrote a number of papers; and to top it all off I only got sick once. 🙂

It is now time for me to share some pictures and stories of my adventures.  In October I had the opportunity to go to Galilee for 4 days.  We started the trip by going to Caesarea, a Roman port city along the Mediterranean Sea.  The city is known for its great amphitheater, one of Herod the Great’s palaces, the place of Paul’s imprisonment, and a place of ministry for the disciple Peter. This is a picture of the theater.

Here I am standing on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea next to Herod the Great’s palace.  

After Caesarea we spent some at the ancient cities of Megiddo and Hazor and eventually went to the top of Mt. Carmel (the sight of Elijah and the fire from heaven). This is a picture of the plain at the top of the mountain where the sacrifices were made.

After my time on Mt. Carmel we went to the ancient city of Caesarea Philippi.  It  was there that Jesus said, “Upon this rock I will build my church.”  

Tomorrow I will post some pictures from around the Sea of Galilee.

It’s finals week and my first semester of working in library is nearing an end. Although I laughed at the pay rate when I started, I’ve been very blessed by being able to work there. It’s given me several opportunities to meet students and is always a good way to get out for a bit. Some of you have asked how big the library is. Here’s a look inside.

In the far right corner is the front desk where I work. The entrance is to the right of the blue 1/2 wall.

This is the main part of the library. The only books you can’t see from here are the ones by the entrance, 2 rows of reference books and 3 rows of journals. Told you it was small!

Since the library is so small and there are only 60 students who use it, it pretty much runs itself. Students are responsible for checking in and out their own books. Reshelving, cleaning and processing acquisitions is left to the 3 of us who work there. One person works each day for 2 hours. Other than that, there is no staff for the library. Thus each time I go to work, I see this…

Crazy as it may seem, I love it when the stacks are huge. Puzzles, filing, alphabetical order, the Dewey Decimal System…my brain is wired for stuff like this. Plus, the more time I can reshelve the less time I have to spend dusting old books. 🙂


Last night was our first Thanksgiving away from family, but we are so thankful to have our JUC family in Israel. We saw this when we arrived and knew we were in for a wonderful meal.

Brandon and Keith were servers so Laura and I were on our own with the girls for a while.

Dinner was amazing!!!

And this entire bird was leftovers…

After dinner we had dessert…pumpkin pie, pecan pie, cherry pie, apple crisp, cheesecake, baklava, cookies, chocolate banana pie… There are major benefits when 20 people are contributing. Oh, and I was too busy eating to take a picture at this point. 🙂

Happy Thanksgiving!

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