Trip to Israel Journal Entry Day 8

Today we visited the Mt. of Beatitudes where Jesus preached the Sermon on the Mount (St. Matthew 5,6, and 7).  Together we read through Matthew 5 and compared it to the things Jesus taught in 3 Nephi chapter 12.  After we read and talked we sat for a moment in silene, to reflect upon the things we had seen and felt.  I didn’t really want to leave that place but we had other places to see.

We are now looking at the Jordan River.  It is not very wide but looks very pretty.

Now we are driving through a mine field.  When Syria had control of the Golam Heights they planted mines and did not map them.  It is against International law not to map mine fields.

I just discovered that the film in my camera was not advancing so I lost a full role of pictures.

We stopped in Qazrin for a quick break and then off for some of St. Peter’s fish.

When I first saw the fish, I was quite surprised.  We were told that it was some of the best fish in the world, but some of the people insisted that it didn’t matter how good the fish was, they just didn’t like fish.  Dave told the people that didn’t like it, he would buy them something else.  Well, I don’t think that anyone who got the fish was disappointed.  It looked like fish, including fins, gills, and its head.  Despite the strange fully formed appearance of the fish, it sure tasted great!

After supper, we took a boat ride across the Sea of Galilee. The Galilee area is beautiful and the cool breeze made the ride an even more wonderful experience.  We stopped and read some scriptures in St. Matthew 14. I really enjoyed the peaceful feeling.  Looking out over the Sea of Galilee, you knew without a doubt that Jesus really was there and that he did walk on the water, and that this was the place that it happened. I imagined Peter stepping out onto the water, and Jesus stretching out his hand and catching him. I will always remember that day.

The next place we visited was a kibbutz to see what the life was like there. A kibbutz is a small colony of people that live without income, but have everything they need provided for them.  It seemed a lot like the Hutterites there, but they had some major differences which might make life there more enjoyable.

The most amazing thing happened there.  I was feeling kind-of down and out, and we walked into the kibbutz gymnasium.  When it came down to a game of 5-5 I was sure to get on the old guys team (Phill Tollestrup, Jack Hicken, Dave Clark, and Bruce) because I’ve learned that the young team will hardly ever win, especially when it’s half court. I had a really good time playing with those guys. The rest of our group cheered us on from the stands. It really cheered me up. Even Phill Tollestrup told me he was pretty impressed. He said I could have easily played for his team in Magrath.

Later that night, some of the kids went swimming in the Sea of Galilee. Jesse slipped on the rocks and got his shirt a little wet and slimy, but he was ok and we all laughed, but felt bad for him. The water was pretty cold at first, but we all got used to it very quickly.

I love it here in the Galilee area.  We had a little bit of rain here, but it was so soft and didn’t last very long. It’s too bad we are leaving so soon, but that’s the way it has to be.


Trip to Israel Journal Entry Day 7

This morning I went to have a shower but the boiler was off and the water was freezing.

Last night, after supper I went for a walk with Julie Whitehead. She found out about the trip one day while buying shoes at Doug’s sports and came home with a trip to Israel. She also told me about her missionary boyfriend whom she is actually waiting for. He is coming home soon and she is very excited for his return. She is 22 and her missionary is the same age.

We are heading toward the place where Jesus was transfigured—Mt. Tavor. On top of the mountain I can already see the church of transfiguration. Mt. Tavor is a very round mountain with trees and a small village on its side. Buses cannot travel up the mountain, so we must take a taxi to the top.

The top of Mt. Tavor was beautiful. The church there was very nice and I enjoyed the short time we had to spend there. Today I decided to wear shorts, so did Jamie Clark. But when we reached the top we discovered that you were not allowed to wear shorts on the church grounds. Luckily I brought jeans to change into if I got cold. (I just put them over my shorts). Jamie had to wrap a coat around her legs.

We are now on our way to Nazareth. We are going to Mary’s Well, (the place where the angel Gabriel announced the birth of the savior to Mary). Nazareth is a good example of a town where Jews and Arabs live together. About 25 000 Jews live along with 40 000 Arabs in Nazareth.

Nazareth was Jesus’s childhood home, where he studied and worked. While we were there, we saw a rock quarry, the place believed to be where Jesus was threatened to be stoned. We read Luke 4:16-30. After that we sang the first verse to the song, “I Wonder When He Comes Again”.

Nazareth has been inhabited since biblical times, although no mention is made of it in the Old Testament. Its history was marked by successive cycles of destruction and renewal, and Christian residence in the town was prohibited following its devastation at the hands of Sultan Beibars in 1263 until the 17th century.

We just visited Mary’s Well. It probably was the true place, but I didn’t really find it that exciting. There is a giant church (300 years old) built over a Crusader church (1200 years old) built over a Bezenien church (1600 years old).

At the bottom of a small walkway is a tiny well with running water. There were many people chanting/singing and they poured water from the spring on their faces and heads.

We are just leaving Nazareth. There are lots of very expensive houses that Arabs live in. Some of the homes are not finished yet. People here will start a building (for example; if a young couple has enough for a foundation, that’s all they’ll build) and finish it later when they have the money. In the mean time, they will live at a relatives house.

We just drove by the place where Jesus was invited to a wedding and they ran out of wine, so He turned water into wine.

We visited St. Peters home and read St. Mark 5:23-43 and saw an old synagogue built on top of a church from Jesus’s time. The scriptures mention this church.

We are now on our way to Tiberius. On the way we passed some “rock rabbits” and mango trees that live in this very green area. The Galilee area is very beautiful. Ami told us that almost (if not all) plants will grow here. (I think he was referring to fruit bearing plants). Tiberius is a winter and summer resort. We are going to stop in the center of Tiberius where we are going to be able to see most of the town. We are going to an outlet to shop “till we drop” (We are going for an hour and a half, and I’m already ready to drop).

I am now very worn out from shopping. I bought a panoramic photo of the view of the Old City of Jerusalem and a postcard with Albert Einstein on it.

We are now on our way back to the hotel. Supper will be at 6:45pm as usual. Tonight there will be a disco dance (although I doubt it will really be a “disco” dance).((I think that the English term for dance used to be disco and it probably just stuck. I found the same thing in Japan.))

life travel

Trip to Israel Journal Entry Day 6

Last night I never slept very well. They told us to have our bags ready in the hallway to be picked up no later than 7:15am. I think I dreamt that I forgot to put my bags out and woke up. I asked Rob what time it was and he woke up and just said he didn’t know. I was worried that I wouldn’t have my bags out in time so I asked him again to check what time it was. I felt bad that I had woken him up when I found out that it was 2:15am.

We travelled (on the bus) back out of Jerusalem the same way we came in (toward Tel Aviv). We drove past some orange trees and through a city with many skyscrapers. Our tour guide explained many of the situations in Israel, including information about terrorists. The Palestinian Liberation Organization (P.L.O.) is a very large terrorist group that has begun negotiations with the Israeli government. To understand where and how this group was formed you must understand the history.

During the 20th century many, many, thousands of Jews from around the world immigrated to Israel. The Palestinians did not like this and as a result of civil unrest in 1947 the U.N. suggested a peace plan in which the state of Israel give the Arabs designated land. The Arabs in Israel did not object to this but other Arab countries did and they attacked Israel. Israel lost some land known as the East Bank, the Golan Heights, and others. Before the Arabs attacked they told Arabs living in the area to move out for two weeks while they attacked. Some Arabs said no and lived in peace but others left. After the war in 1948 many of the Arabs that left Israel were stuck in refugee camps. (Israel left the border open for ½ a year allowing those Arabs to come back). These refugee camps became the home for many terrorists who are angry at Israel.

We just visited Caesarea. Some of the things that I saw there were the theater, the aqueduct, and the Mediterranean Sea. I picked up some pottery, coral, and a shell, that had all washed up onto shore.

We are now driving to the top of Mount Carmel where we are going to eat falafels. Falafels are made of peta-bread with salads and chick-peas inside. Each falafel is made with different spices so the taste of a falafel will be different depending on who made it.

We are passing a Drewz village. There are about 50 000 Drewz in Israel.

At the top of Mount Carmel we read from the bible 1 Kings 18:17. It tells of a story that happened at the very place we are—Mount Carmel.

A jet flew over our head and disturbed our reading. Someone asked if it was an Israeli plane. Ami explained, “When you see a plane flying over Israel, count to three and if it is still there, then the plane is Israeli.

The next place we visited was the city of Haifa. We encouraged our bus-driver to go on the less travelled Eagle’s View road. Ami said that if we liked Ouries driving that we could all sign a petition from the Israeli Department of Transportation and maybe he can get his license.

We just visited the valley of Armageddon (Revelation 16:14-21) The valley here is covered with beautiful green grass. It seems ironic, that such a nice looking place, will be the ground for such a horrific battle. In my mind, I have always imagined Armageddon as a dry, dark, desert. Maybe it is just the season though, it probably is not this green all year round. We walked through the city’s underground well. It was a source of water for the people outside their city, but was kept hidden by sealing up the entrance and camouflaging it.

We are now driving through the valley of Jezreel. Along time ago this valley was covered with swamps and mosquitoes. Arabs owned this land but did not live here because they were afraid of the mosquitoes and malaria. When the Jewish people offered lots of money for this land the Arabs could not understand why they would want to invest so much into this useless land and quickly sold it to them. The Jews pumped the water out and built their homes on the fertile soil. Only five years later, when Arabs saw what had been done with their land, did they want it back.

We drove by the place where Jesus feed 5000 people with only two fish and five loaves of bread.

I can now see the Kineret Doret Village Hotel where we’ll be staying for three days. It looks out over the beautiful fresh water—Sea of Galilee.


Trip to Israel Journal Entry Day 5

I woke up this morning to the sound of a loud ringing phone. I picked it up to hear a computer generated voice speaking in Hebrew. Dave told me that he never had our wake-up call arranged so it must have been our bus-driver. The reason our bus-driver would even care is because the hotel is situated in a very Jewish orthodox area of town and if someone drives after 9:00 (the third hour in Jewish custom) they will throw rocks at your vehicle. We were on time, so we never had any rocks thrown at us.

On my way to Church this morning I had my first view of the Dome of the Rock and the temple mount. My whole life I waited for this moment and this being the 5th day of my trip I was beginning to think I would never see it.

The Church Service at the B.Y.U. Jerusalem Center was probably the best service I have ever been to. Because our bus-driver insisted on leaving so early before the service started, we were left with an hour to look around the centre.

Unfortunately the main chapel was closed for renovations, but hopefully it will be open next sabbath. The view in the main chapel is hard to describe. There is a fantastic view of the old city with the Dome of the Rock in plain view. The seats of the chapel all face giant sized windows giving a panoramic view of the old city. Although I never got the chance to have service in there, I am sure the view and effect would be great.

Church went by so quickly. I would have really enjoyed going for another couple of hours at least. After church some people wanted to go back to the hotel. I was really excited to go and see the Garden Tomb. About 15 of us went together and walked from the B.Y.U. center to the old city. We were fortunate enough to be allowed into a small privately owned Garden right beside the commercial Garden of Gethsemane. It was a very nice park, but we were only there for 15 minutes, I would have enjoyed staying longer.

The next place we visited was the old city. We walked through the Lion Gate. We wanted to visit the Dome of the Rock, but the Temple Mount was closed due to some threat of civil unrest.

We walked through the old city but did not buy anything today because it was the Sabbath.

Some of our group were tired and went back to the hotel, but a few of us kept walking and were able to see the grave-site of Oscar Schindler.

When we finally caught a Taxi back to the hotel, the Taxi driver did not know the way and had to ask directions. He asked a person on the street, and that person lied to him. The Taxi driver told him he was full of it, and then drove off. Our group thought that was kinda funny.
One of the turns we took trying to find our hotel lead us into a very orthodox region of town. The road was blocked off with carts that were full of garbage. The Taxi driver didn’t have enough room to turn around, so he jumped out and said, “I’ll move it myself”. I thought he was going to try and drive through this orthodox area. Mandy was in the front seat and quickly rolled up her window. But as it turned out the Taxi driver turned us around the first chance he had and no rocks were thrown at us.

Later that night we went to the Market on Ben Yehuda Street. I bought a couple of necklaces but that was pretty much it.


Trip to Israel Journal Entry Day 4

We are on our way to the lowest point on Earth. 1300 feet below sea level lies the Dead Sea. One of the reasons it is called the Dead Sea is because it is a dead end. The only way water escapes is through evaporation. The other reason it is called the Dead Sea is because nothing can live in its salty waters. It is made of 33% minerals. The four main minerals in the Dead Sea are: potassium, magnesium, bromide, and ______.((This was left blank because I couldn’t keep up with the tour guide. Looking this up in 2019 I found that the forth element is sodium chloride. Israeli companies generate around US$3 billion annually from the sale of Dead Sea minerals (primarily potash and bromine), and from other products that are derived from Dead Sea Minerals.))

Ami told us that a swim in the Dead Sea will help for many illnesses. If you are healthy, a swim in the Dead Sea puts five years on your life. Another puts 10 years. One more and you may lose your pension.

We can see the mountains of Moab across the Dead Sea. (These mountains are in Jordan).

Before we swim in the Dead Sea we are going to visit the mountain fortress of Masada. King Herod built Masada as a summer palace and a place of refuge in the unlikely event of a revolt. He died in the year 6AD and never had to use Masada as a fortress.

In the year 70AD, 968 Jews escaped the Romans in Jerusalem and found refuge in Masada. They remained there for several years while an army of 10 000 Romans and 10 000 of their Jewish slaves attacked them. The siege was not an easy one (to say the least). Masada only had entrance before the Romans arrived; the snake path. When Roman soldiers would try to climb up the path, the defenders would roll huge boulders down on them. Finally the Romans realized that they would never make it up the snake path, so they had their Jewish slaves build a giant dirt ramp up to it. The 968 Jews defending Masada realized that when the ramp was finished they would have a life of slavery. All 968 killed themselves (except for three people, who lived to tell the story).

I ran down the snake path, and you could tell that it wouldn’t be an easy siege.

Our next stop was swimming at the Dead Sea. Ami told us that the water would probably be very cold, but as it turned out, the water wasn’t that bad. It was so awesome to be able to float with your hands and legs out of the water. The next place we visited was the site where the Dead Sea Scrolls were found.

The Dead Sea Scrolls were hidden when the Roman Army of 10 000 were seen approaching a small city. This was the same army that was headed toward Mt. Masada.

The scrolls were found almost 2000 years later in 1947.

A sheep was separated from its flock, hiding in a cave. The shepherd through rocks into the cave to try and scare the sheep out. When he heard the sound of broken pottery he investigated and found probably the most important find of the 20th century—the Dead Sea Scrolls.

After supper Dave called a wood-carver “friend” of his named Omar. Omar is an Arab and an “entrepreneur”. Entrepreneur is Dave’s friendly way of warning us that he is a scan-artist. Well maybe scam-artist is a bit strong but he just wanted us to maybe take whatever Omar said with some reservations.

Omar and his two brother’s drove up to the hotel and this being Friday evening (the Jewish Sabbath) the hotel security was not happy.

Dave came and straightened everything out, but the security personnel were still mad.

When we arrived at Omar’s shop there were a lot of different wooden carvings filling the shelves.

Omar seemed very friendly assuring everyone that the carvings in the store were all carved out of high quality dry olive wood. He said that all the wood was dried for at least seven years before he carved it. He also said that he did most of the carvings himself and that he did all the important features, like the faces, himself. I asked him if he had any blocks of olive wood to sell but he said no, which raised my suspicions. Why wouldn’t he have olive wood in the back of his shop if he actually did all the carvings himself. I asked him what kinds of tools he used for carving and he didn’t seem like he wanted to talk about it at all. He answers quickly, “I use diamond tipped cutting tool.” And that was all I could get out of him. Later I talked to Dave about the guy and Dave explained that Omar couldn’t carve anything if his life depended on it. However, some of the carvings truly were beautiful. He had statues of Jesus, Moroni, Lehi, Mormon, the Liahona, Joseph Smith, Joseph and Hyrum, and a lion with a lamb, the BYU cougar, and many more.((Before we went to Omar’s, Dave told us that it was probably a good idea not to buy anything tonight, but that we would come back next week. Well, I don’t know what happened but in the excitement I think I was one of the few people who didn’t buy that night. Oh well.))


Trip to Israel Journal Entry Day 3

The flight was long! We are about 180 miles away from Tel Aviv right now. I am sitting in a window seat because Greg, one of the people in our group, was nice enough to let me sit here. The view isn’t that great though. All I can see is clouds and blue sky (and the wing). We have started our dissent and are currently at 35,500 feet above the ground (actually above the Mediterranean) The movies I watched were “The Mirror Has Two Faces” and “Ransom”.

Jesse commented on the fact that we were going to “get bread”. Greg asked what he meant and Jesse said, “get bread, lots of it, from peoples hands… Just give them a dime and BREEEEAD!” (Jesse is kind of a big guy so you could tell he would like some bread. Yum.)

We have arrived in Israel! The airport check-out went smoothly and I loaded onto the bus eager to see the sights. Our tour guide explained to us that our weather looks pretty good and that on his last tour it rained the whole time. He also explained that the sites we have seen on CNN will not be on our tour.((During this time there was intifada in Israel and some places were not safe for travel.)) The countryside is beautiful. It is very green here. I have already seen soldiers with their guns. Some other places we passed our Golan Heights, and the place where Joshua lost the battle of _____.((I think this was left blank in my journal because I couldn’t keep up writing as fast as the tour guide was speaking.)) We are on our way to Jerusalem and past the point where the road was cut off in 1947 when Jerusalem was under siege during the war of liberation. We are climbing the mountains (hills) of Judea or the Mountains of Jerusalem. There are a lot of rocks and stones in the soil here. (Limestone). I just saw the first camel here. (eating grass in an Arab village).

We are entering Jerusalem from the west side so we can’t see the old city yet. After 1967 and the 6 Day War, Jerusalem was able to double its size. Right now it has about 1/2 million people. There are many terraces (steps on the mountain) for growing food / vegetation. Some of the terraces are from biblical times. Welcome to Jerusalem! We are going to have “Porters” carry our bags in. OK just regular bellboys. We are at our hotel now. The hotel is nice and very big.1

After almost an hour to get set up and cleaned up we took a bus to see Yad Vashem. Yad Vashem is a park honouring the lives of those who were killed in the holocaust. One of the most beautiful things I saw there was a very tall room (more like a long, tall hallway) that was dimly lit by the reflection of only five candles. Although there were only five candles they were reflected millions of times giving the appearance of candles leading into infinity. In the background a tape recording read names of children who were killed in the Holocaust. To hear the same name twice you would have to come back to Yad Vashem in 2½ years.

After we left Yad Vashem I was very tired and fell asleep on the bus.

The next place we visited was the model city. It was so cool. (I have lots of pictures.) It showed a 1 to 50 scale representation of the city of Jerusalem during the year 66AD. The detail that was put into the model is really amazing.

Before we went to Yad Vashem the tour guide took us to Israel’s answer to the greasy spoon. “Clean” in the Middle East actually means “clean enough — the North Americans will eat off anything.”

So we all got in line for some food. This meal was not paid for ahead of time. I got up to where the food was and it dawned upon me that I would not like ANY of the food. I had already grabbed a Sprite so I opted out for the rest of the meal. 600 shekels, or some sort of Hebrew currency anyway, round up on the machine. I said, “American money”. He said “two dollars”. Ouch I thought, “for a can of pop?” Luckily, I didn’t order any food as the rest of the kids did. Theirs cost between $10 and $12 USD and they thought it was the most disgusting thing they had ever eaten. Live and learn I guess.

  1. It is a very orthodox/Kosher hotel. []
life travel

Trip to Israel Journal Entry Day 2

Swimming was good except for the fact that I hit my head on the side of the pool. I have a big scrape on my forehead now. Everyone is asking what happened.

The food at our hotel was excellent. The breakfast they had was an “all you can eat” buffet. I went away stuffed.

Jeff at the airport

The flight to New York took about an hour. We had to wait another hour for people from New York to board the plane. Some of them have long curly sideburn things on their faces. I asked the person beside me, Jesee, why they have those things (I knew it must be something religious). He answered, “I don’t know, but they sure are cool!” I thought that was pretty funny. Sitting in New York is very boring. On the way into New York I moved to an empty window seat. I saw lots of large ships as well the shadow from our plane on the clouds below. We were really high above the clouds. The houses that I saw in New York looked pretty big and lots of them had pools and large yards, so I imagine the area near the ocean must be a really nice place to live, although as we cut closer there was a lot of litter and garbage on the fields near the airport. It seems weird that I will be leaving New York at 2:20 p.m. local time and arriving at 9:20 a.m. local time in Tel Aviv. “Ransom” will be the in-flight movie, although the flight attendant wasn’t positive.

Jack Hicken just talked to me, and he told me how he remembered my dad, “especially when he used to shoot baskets.” Jack is originally from Raymond, but now lives in Sterling.

Jeff in Israel

life travel

Trip to Israel Journal Entry Day 1

Yesterday I left home for my trip to Israel. I am very excited. Mandy picked me up around 4:30 and we arrived in Lethbridge with no problems. Mandy’s grandparents are very excited for us and have shown us video’s of Israel and have been giving lots of travelling advice. I am very excited. We will be leaving Lethbridge at noon by bus. I can’t wait.

Mandy and Jeff

I am now on the bus on my way to Calgary. I was kind of surprised at how old the adults coming on the trip are. They probably are all retired and have waited their whole lives to travel to Israel. I don’t know anyone here except for Mandy and her cousin and I don’t really know her that well. Everyone is excited. I guess the other kids don’t know each other that well either. All the boys sat at the back, the girls in the middle and all the old people up front. I think I will enjoy the plane trip a lot more than the bus ride. The bus ride is so boring. There are some girls just ahead of me telling each other how much they already miss their boyfriends and who is going out with who and other girl stuff like that.

I am now on my descent into Toronto. Nothing can be seen out the window except darkness (which isn’t very exciting). The seatbelt light is on now. Arrival in Toronto at 9:25 local eastern standard time. Toronto is HUGE.

It was very cold outside the airport waiting for our ride to our hotel. The pilot told us that it would be 6° C, but I think it was colder. Toronto seems like a nice place. When we flew in I could see lights going on far over the horizon, until the point where they were so far away they just faded off. The hotel here is very nice, and very big. My roommate Rob Goth seems like a nice guy. We watched T.V. for a while and then talked. He told me that he doesn’t really know anyone on the trip either. I am so tired right now. It is 12:48am (Toronto time) which is only 10:48pm Alberta time but I need to go to sleep, we have to get up at 7:00am tomorrow. I think I will go swimming first thing tomorrow.


Skiing in the Middle of Nowhere

Created in the summer of 1996, I just discovered, “Skiing in the Middle of Nowhere” on an old hard drive.

Photography travel

International Junior Art Camp in Japan

It’s March 6, 2012, but I’m writing this here to point out some of the oldest stuff I ever put on the web.

My “International Art Camp” trip to Japan.

Update: My brother scanned all of our family negatives including the photos I took on my trip to Japan. Here they are: