“Do you want to go to Israel with me??”

Kathy & Bryan Vandertuig in the Negev desert of Israel

Oceans Ministries is planning another Israel trip in 2020, so I asked Kathy Vandertuig and John DeVries to share a few highlights from our last trip to give you a taste of the gift of visiting the land of Promise.

“Do you want to go to Israel with me??”  These words had been spoken to me by my husband, Bryan, several times in the previous years.  He was now planning his 4th trip and really hoping I would say “Yes!” this time. But… I’m not an international traveler.  What would I do with my boys for that many days? I don’t think I can be on a plane that long. Will I be able to handle the rigors of the trip…walking, heat, long days, overnight flights, etc.?

Somehow, after much prodding by Tim and Patty, he got me to go on this trip!  And, OH, what I would have missed had I stayed home! The group was a mix of people from all over the country… some that I’ve known for years and others that I got to know and it soon felt like I’d known for a long time. Not only did I become an international traveler that is excited to go back, my kids survived just fine without me,  the plane rides went faster than I anticipated, and the other parts of the trip I worried about were nothing in comparison to what God taught me while I was there. I am continually amazed at how the pictures I have in my mind make the Bible so much more real to me. I used my 5 stones from the brook in the Valley of Elah to lead a chapel for elementary students and made the David and Goliath story come alive for them!  During the week leading up to Easter, I pictured Jesus among the olive trees praying in the Garden of Gethsemane and then later walking on the Via Dolorosa carrying his cross with the crowds on each side of that narrow road watching and jeering at him. I realized why Jesus and His disciples spent so much time on the Sea of Galilee–it’s peaceful and beautiful! And I remembered the amazing times of worship we had as our group sang songs of thanksgiving and praise to our God in so many different places. 

We are having an Israel 2018 reunion in a couple of weeks and I am so excited to see the group again and hear how their lives have been impacted this past year with all that they saw and learned while in Israel.  My husband is planning another trip for next summer, and he doesn’t even need to ask if I want to go this time! The answer is, “OF COURSE!!”

John & Wanda DeVries at the oasis of En Gedi,

There are many reasons to want to go to Israel.  For me, I just wanted see where the Old Testament stories happened and experience walking were Jesus walked.

In 2017, Tim and Brian announced that they would be hosting a 2018 trip to the Holy Land, and they promised that our Israeli guide, Boaz, would be awesome.  That truly was a great combination.  If you have had the privilege to listen to Pastors Tim and Brian, they are teachers.  Boaz is a Jew who taught why the places we visited are so important for a Jew.  So much was seen, so many things explained, so much taught.  So, I really did get my chance to see and feel.  But also, to learn.

But for me, the real wonder of the trip has been the year after.

I now see the Bible with different eyes.   Passages from the Bible, which I have heard before, sound different, the image in my mind is different, and then it occurs to me, “Hey, I was there!”  Old Testament people and places; The sea of Galilee; The Garden as it looks over the city; The hilly terrain; The Jewish lifestyle.  It is as if God is saying: If from that one visit you see the Bible in a new way, what else is there for you to learn again?  The teaching continues.

There are so many things about the landscape of Israel that are just like the arid regions in Southern California.  However, there are so many parts of the land which are just like they were, so many years ago.  There are archaeological digs all over the country and so much of the former Israel being uncovered.  New things will be seen that weren’t there just a couple years ago.  I am planning to go again, in 2020.  I have been told it is better the second time.   

If you are interested in finding out more information about the trip please visit our website at www.oceansministries.org or email us at israel.trip@oceansministries.org.

1 reply
  1. Patty Spykstra
    Patty Spykstra says:

    I seriously got the chills reading the posts by Kathy and John. Yes memories flood my mind as all my senses were awakened while we explored the land of Israel. The 2018 team was blessed with a medley of travelers who loved to sing and worship. The voices in one accord or in harmony in caves, cathedrals, “the upper room” or during communion resound with my whole being!


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