Masada: Jewish resistance’s last stand against Romans

The first time I went on a pastor’s familiarization tour, Masada was not included. In this pilgrimage I led, Masada was included but a flash flood spoiled our plans. The Israeli tour guide said they will try again the next day. We were all so glad the electric cable car system was restored to working order. I heard so much of the last stand of the Jewish resistance, I wanted to see it myself. The fortress does look formidable and impenetrable and unreachable on the top of a steep and bare hill. The Romans surrounded and besieged them till the resistance force took their own lives. The guide said the Israeli armed forces now pledged their loyalty at the site.

Depiction of Masada on the wall of the cable car station
Depiction of Masada on the wall of the cable car station
Looking out from the entrance into Masada
Looking out from the entrance into Masada
The Dead Sea in the distance
The Dead Sea in the distance
Briefed on the various features of the fort
Briefed on the various features of the fort
Our Israeli guide was suave, handsome and speaks with an American accent
Our Israeli guide was suave, handsome and speaks with an American accent
The fort was a few football fields in size
The fort was a few football fields in size
Standing amid the quarters
Standing amid the quarters
Another view from various high spots in the fort
Another view from various high spots in the fort

Genesis Land: welcomed by Abraham

This was an interesting experience: a camel ride and some hospitality from Abram. Great idea and fun. We rode the camels to Abrams’ tent and there he welcomed us to a meal. We were blessed.

It started with a historical and geographical sketch.
It started with a historical and geographical sketch.
Steven and Tiffany gets on their ride
Steven and Tiffany gets on their ride
Baby and Joyce
Baby and Joyce
Lay Choo and Caleb
Lay Choo and Caleb
Sumei and Ezra
Sumei and Ezra
Sam and Caleb
Sam and Caleb
It was about 15 minutes ride to Abram's tent
It was about 15 minutes ride to Abram’s tent
This was just starters. Sadly no fatted calf was included in the meal. Just Jewish chicken.
This was just starters. Sadly no fatted calf was included in the meal. Just chicken.
The desert has its own beauty
The desert has its own beauty
With my wife and sister in law.
With my wife and sister in law.
With wonderful Raffles Air tour organizers and owners Albert and Jenny.
With wonderful Raffles Air tour organizers and owners Albert and Jenny.

 

Dead Sea fun

The Dead Sea was the fun part. This is one place in life where you simply cannot sink. We were at the beach in front of the Ahava factory and retail store. Yes we had fun shopping and we had fun plastering our bodies with black mineralized mud that would take years off our skin. Haha.

Steven and me
Steven and me: perfect poise
The ladies soaking in salt-concentrated waters.
The ladies soaking in salt-concentrated waters.
The price you have to pay to look younger.
The price you have to pay to look younger.
Jacob the masseur giving Jenny the finger treatment.
Jacob the masseur giving Jenny the finger treatment.

Qumran community archaelogical site

We visited the remains of an ancient site of a Qumran community in a semi arid landscape. It was cool but stark. It must have been hard to live in such circumstances where water concerns were predominant and this was reflected in the architecture and the space given for cisterns. The desert made me feel alone, forlorn, quiet, meditative and reflective.

Joyce Leong and Jenny in the museum
Joyce Leong and Jenny in the museum

 

At the Qumran community ancient site
At the Qumran community ancient site
Mr and Mrs Tan Jee Lian
Mr and Mrs Tan Jee Lian
Another view from the hotel
A view from the hotel in Jericho

 

Sea of Galilee: dancing with seagulls

We couldn’t sail on the Galilee lake on the scheduled day because of the strong winds. It wasn’t safe. That night we gathered and prayed that the unexpectedly cold weather would not sabotage the pilgrimage . The next morning it was not a particularly bright day but the sea of Galilee was sail safe and we were happy to get on board the boat. It was a very joyous moment as we saw it as God’s gracious gift and answer to our prayers. To rejoice with us the seagulls played and danced with us as we celebrated God’s faithfulness and love. A satisfying playful morning.

Looking out of the hotel balcony to the sea of Galilee.
Looking out of the hotel balcony to the sea of Galilee.
On the boat sailing out into the deep
On the boat sailing out into the deep
Seagulls came looking for their breakfast
Seagulls came looking for their breakfast
Lovely dance and play in the skies
Lovely dance and play in the skies
Seniwati and Baby
Seni and Baby
Peter and Eunice Lim
Peter and Eunice Lim
You filled our hearts with joy and our lips with laughter
You filled our hearts with joy and our lips with laughter

 

 

Jordan River: Coldest baptism

It was, and probably would remain, the coldest baptism I have ever done. We did it at Yardenit – the baptismal site of the Jordan River. In the days leading to the baptism the unusually cold weather led me to give a way out for the parents of the baptism candidates, You know the weather is extremely cold and you may be concerned for your children. Think about it, if you do not want to go ahead with it, let me know. We can do it back in Singapore, in warmer waters. Later I was told, The children want to go ahead with it. I had no choice then. So after donning swimming tights and baptism robes we took some photos, went down the steps into the river, and pastor Thomas and I baptized them in the fastest speed ever recorded. Remarkably, I was cold when outside, but in the waters I felt unusually “uncold”. This was in 13th December 2013 in the cold and holy land.

Ps Kenny, Ps Thomas and the 5 baptism candidates
Ps Kenny, Ps Thomas and the 5 baptism candidates
The holding area is by the bank of the river and well fenced
The holding area is by the bank of the river and well fenced
Brave boy.
Brave boy.
Brave girl
Brave girl
Go for it Aaron
Go for it Aaron
After baptism the parents quickly put on jackets on their kids except one kid
After baptism the parents quickly put on jackets on their kids except one kid
After its all done and with a hot beverage we are ready to leave
After its all done and with a hot beverage we were ready to leave

Cana: a renewed commitment to faithful marriage

There is no magic nor a special blessing about doing a renewal of commitment to marriage in Cana. Jesus graced a wedding party at Cana and did a great miracle of changing water to wine. However this does not mean your renewed marriage will turn from water to wine. However doing a renewal of commitment can be memorable, special and may mark a milestone for marriages that have gone through some turbulence, or have turned from wine to water. I led the service in the church: a song, a short exhortation, and some statements of renewed commitment, and a prayer of blessing. Then it was photo taking time! (All photos: Euhan)

Giving the exhortation to all the married couples.
Giving the exhortation to all the married couples.
Group photo of married couples that renewed their marriage commitment.
Group photo of married couples that renewed their marriage commitment.
We did it too.
We did it too.