Going to Israel - anyone interested?

For a while now I've been thinking about leading a trip to Israel. As a follower of Christ there are not very many trips that appeal to me more than a trip to the Holy Land to walk in the places that Jesus walked. We're finally looking to put a trip on the calendar. So, that's where you come in. We're trying to determine how many people might be able to go on the trip with us. The number we take will dictate whether or not we are able to sponsor our own trip or whether we will be placed with another group.

We are considering the idea of going sometime in the early spring of 2011. The cost will probably run somewhere between $1500-$2000 per person. I've placed a sample of what the itinerary might look like below. If you are interested in possibly going, please leave a comment so that we can include you in our planning and have a better idea of who might be able to go.

DAY 1 — USA • ISRAEL Depart from the USA on our flight to Tel Aviv. Meals and overnight on board. After dinner relax and enjoy the on-board entertainment.

DAY 2 — TEL AVIV Arrive at Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion Airport and meet our guide who will welcome us to the Land of the Bible and escort us throughout our stay in Israel. Israeli guides are legendary for their knowledge and dedication. Ours will instruct us on the many sites we will visit and their relationship to the religion, history, archaeology, culture, and modern life in Israel. Visit Old Jaffa, the traditional home of Simon the Tanner, and from where Jonah sailed. Proceed to our hotel for dinner and overnight.

DAY 3 — CAESAREA • MEGIDDO • TIBERIAS Refreshed from a good night’s sleep you’ll be ready for a full Israeli Buffet Breakfast. Today we pass newly settled towns en route to Caesarea, site of major events in the lives of Peter and Paul. It's on to Megiddo, inspiration for James Michener’s “The Source”. Archaeological digs reveal 20 layers of civilization, including fortifications of King Solomon and the water tunnel of King Ahab. Megiddo provides a magnificent view of the fertile Jezreel Valley, prophesied site of Armageddon, at the crossroads of the ancient Via Maris. We drive up Mt. Carmel to Mukraka for a magnificent view of the region. Continue through the rolling hills of the Galilee to Nazareth, site of Mary’s Well, and Cana, site of His first miracle, before arriving at the Sea of Galilee. Dinner and overnight in the area.

DAY 4 — SEA OF GALILEE • UPPER GALILEE This day alone is worth the trip! We are now literally walking in the footsteps of Jesus. We will take a most memorable boat ride on the Sea of Galilee, in a replica of the ancient wooden boats used in Jesus’ day. We walk into old Capernaum with the ancient synagogue; on to the site of the Multiplication of the Loaves and Fishes (Tabgha) and up to the site of the Sermon on the Mount, the Mount of Beatitudes. You will have an opportunity for a lunch of St. Peter’s fish (optional). In the afternoon we will journey north to Caesarea Phillipi, (Banias Spring) where Jesus decided to return to Jerusalem. Return via the Golan Heights to the area around the Sea of Galilee where we will visit the Jordan River and have the opportunity for a baptismal service. Dinner and overnight.

DAY 5 — JORDAN VALLEY • JERUSALEM Drive along the Jordan Valley to Beit She’an to see the expansive excavations taking place at this ancient Roman city. It’s now time to “go up” to Jerusalem. We will enter the city as pilgrims did since ancient times to fulfill the words of the prophet “I was glad when they said unto me: ‘Our feet shall stand within thy Gates, O Jerusalem’.” (Psalms 122:1-2). Dinner and overnight.

DAY 6 — JERUSALEM • BETHLEHEM Start the day with a view of the Old City from the top of the Mt. of Olives. Walk to the Garden of Gethsemane, the Church of All Nations and drive across the Kidron Valley. Enter the Old City through St. Stephen’s Gate (Lions’ Gate) to the Moslem Quarter, visit the beautiful Church of St. Anne and the Pool of Bethesda, Pilate’s Judgement Hall, and the Ecce Homo Arch. Walk along the Via Dolorosa, into the Christian Quarter, and see the Stations of the Cross. Drive to Mt. Zion to see the House of Caiaphas and the Upper Room of the Last Supper. We will visit Bethlehem and see Manger Square, the Church of the Nativity, and view Shepherds’ Fields and the Fields of Boaz and Ruth. Dinner and overnight in Jerusalem.

DAY 7 — MASADA • DEAD SEA • QUMRAN Depart to Masada, overlooking the Dead Sea, where we ascend by cable car to visit the remnants of Herod’s Palace and where from 70 to 73 A.D. the Zealots made their last stand against the Roman Legions. Visit Ein Gedi, fabled Spring of David, and proceed to Qumran where the Dead Sea Scrolls were found in 1947. Time permitting, we will go for a swim, rather a “float”, in the salted waters of the Dead Sea. Return to Jerusalem for dinner and overnight.

DAY 8 — JERUSALEM We will begin the day with a visit to the reconstructed Jewish Quarter, walk through the Cardo, the original Roman street, and see the amazing Israelite wall. See the important excavations taking place at the Western Wall and the Southern Temple Staircase. Our tour also includes the new Visitors Center, highlighted by a three-dimensional virtual reconstruction of the Second Temple. We have an opportunity to observe Jewish Bar Mitzvahs at the Western Wall (Mondays and Thursdays only). Then on to the Temple Mount and the Dome of the Rock, where Abraham was to sacrifice Isaac, and now the site of a mosque. End the afternoon at Golgotha (Gordon’s Calvary) and the Garden’s Empty Tomb. Special time is planned for worship, communion, meditation and inspiration. Dinner and overnight in Jerusalem.

DAY 9 — ISRAEL • USA Today we transfer to the airport. Our guide will assist us with check-in procedures. Depart on our flight to the USA. We arrive home today with wonderful memories of a visit to the Land of the Bible!