I will be going on a trip to Israel from Feb 6-15. Our Presbytery (District administrative body where multiple local churches hold membership to) is funding the major portion of the trip cost as a “Pastor Education Program”. The remaining cost is graciously funded by our church. I will be going with two other pastors in our church.
I’ve always wanted to visit Israel. I’ve been to a few countries like China and Egypt but walking on the land that Jesus actually once lived felt really special to me. Of course, due to the cost and schedules, I never thought the opportunity would come this soon. It’s truly my dream come true. And the fact that it is happening in my 10th year in church ministry, it almost feels like a special gift from God.
Though I was very excited, since it is the first trip for all of our team members, I really didn’t know what to expect. Last week we had a team meeting and the organizer invited a pastor who’ve been to Israel more than 10 times. He shared a lot of great tips but one thing I remember is this: “Don’t take pictures”. He did not mean we shouldn’t be taking any pictures. What he meant to say was “try your best to feel the land”. He said when we are too busy taking photos, we miss all the details of the land. He emphasized there is something special in “the land”. We will probably end up taking some photos but it helped me to know what to focus on during the trip.
We will be landing at Tel Aviv and taking a bus up to Jerusalem. The main sites we will be visiting are Galilee, Jericho, Bethlehem, and Jerusalem. I’m particularly excited about visiting the Dead Sea. It is 400m below sea level, Earth’s lowest elevation on land. It is known for its hyper-salinity. It is 9 times saltier than the ocean and it’s impossible to drown in this lake. For a poor swimmer like myself, this is a good news. (And who knows, I might be able to “walk on water” for a few seconds!)
I’m not a great traveler. Every time I look at travelers who make the best out of their trip, I often get jealous. But hopefully, I will be able to enjoy the moments in the “land” that Jesus once walked on. I also hope that the Bible stories will come to life after the trip, helping me to communicate God’s message with more vividness. I will have to miss one Sunday but thankfully Rosalyn will be filling in for me on that Sunday. Please keep me in your prayer!