Tuesday, February 5, 2013
Israel 2013 - Back in the Footsteps of Jesus
We travelled from Tampa to Tel Aviv and began a Holy Land pilgrimage with 15 people. The trip will be similar to the trip I took last year with a group of pastors. Here, I will do my best to keep up with the experience.
It is a different experience already to come back a year later. Two things are different. First, I know the places and I am not experiencing everything brand new. This allows me to see and hear details I missed last year in trying to take it all in. For example, we went to the coastal city of Caesarea today. I forgot that in the ruins of what was a booming port city at one point is the only non-biblical reference to an individual named Pontius Pilate. We saw a stone that had his name inscribed on it. The thought is that he lived in Caesarea and travelled to Jerusalem for big days like the pilgrimages the Jews took. He didn't travel to participate; rather, he traveled because Jerusalem's population would triple for events like the Passover Festival and he wanted to make sure peace was kept.
The second part that is different for me this year is I now have a leadership role. Last year, I just showed up. This year, Cile and I are hosts. We have a seasoned tour guide taking us through each site. His name is Ezra Eini. He told us today that "guide school" is a two-year course of study he took after his mandatory military duty (he fought in two battles: 1967 and 1973). He also was the teacher of the teachers of the guides. This man knows his Bible, history, and geography. He is connected to this land. My role here is to work with Ezra to set each day's specific agenda and to make sure all of our pilgrims are taken care in every way.
We are here, tired, safe, and excited. I'm excited it is much warmer than last year, although Caesarea was chilly with the wind blowing in off of the Mediterranean Sea.