The entire narrative for this trip was taken verbatim from my journal. This was my first overseas trip, and taken on the threshold of my first pastorate:
Note: The purpose of this paper is to give a day by day account of a ten day trip to the Holy Land. Well over one hundred pages of notes were taken on this trip, many post cards were obtained which picture the key places visited, and over eighty photographs were taken. Notes, post cards and pictures can be kept for a lifetime, and greatly enhance the learning potential of such a trip. By no means does this paper claim to be totally inclusive of everything seen. It is based on the viewpoint of the author, and it is his interpretation of what he has seen, and is backed up by what he knew before going on the journey. What was learned on the venture can be divided into three different categories: 1. Bible lands, places and people that we can associate with the holy scriptures. Many things we saw were supported by modern day science, history and archaeology. There is Bible history throughout the Holy Land, and when one visits Israel he should always be asking himself: “What happened here?” 2. We should examine the culture of the people currently living in Jordan/Israel. So often, the culture of modern day dwellers is similar to, or even exactly the same as that of the people during Bible times. Walking into modern day Israel is truly walking into the past. Many examples will be cited in this paper. 3. Topography. Israel is an amazing country with its diversity in landscape. Although it is only the size of Vermont, every part of the land reveals a different kind of beauty. Among the beautiful features of Israel is the Jordan Valley, the scenic Sea of Galilee, towering mountains and deep valleys, picturesque hamlets perched on hills, various oasis (Jericho, En Gedi), the Judaean Wilderness, the Negeb Desert, and the Dead Sea Area (over 1200 feet below sea level, the lowest place on the face of the earth) which has a topography all of its own and is one of the most interesting places in the world. Not only is there diversity in landscape, but also in climate. Although Israel winter temperatures are relatively mild with a high in the 60 degree range, the Dead Sea reaches 80 degrees due to its lowness and tropical climate. It rains at the Dead Sea very rarely.
This trip was planned for a long time and how the tension and anxiety mounted as the day grew closer! Would the trip have to be cancelled due to illness, emergency, snow, etc.? What a boost this gave to my prayer life and what a relief it was when the departure time finally came. When it was time to go on this “once in a lifetime journey,” I could hardly believe that I was going.
Preparation for the trip included packing the essential items needed, securing a passport and a visa, obtaining a few travelers checks in case of an emergency, and making the usual arrangements for a departure from home, such as securing leave from work, etc.
We departed for Jordan/Israel on 12/26/87, the day after Christmas, and we were scheduled to come home on 1/4/88. We were scheduled to fly via Royal Jordanian, with a brief stop in Amsterdam, Holland. Our host was Dr. James Bill Grimes. Accompanying him were James Taylor, Dawn Presti, Steve Thompson, Jo Anne Abbott, Steve Abbott, Mark Abbott, and Paul Abbott.