I’m packing my bags.

This time next week we will be in Israel on the Proverbs 31 Holy Land Experience with Lysa TerKeurst.

No need for you to pack your suitcase, though. Just sit back and be refreshed.
I, on the other hand, must get ready. The truth is, I’m procrastinating, not packing. I always have a hard time deciding what to take with me. I want to pack my whole closet—just in case. Considering how much I travel, you’d think I’d be better at this task.

Deciding on books to bring with me is easy though, and I hope these add depth to our experience, because I can fill my Kindle with as many titles as I wish without the weigh of paperbacks or hard covers. If only stuffing a suitcase was as simple.

Here is my reading material:

Jesus through Middle Eastern Eyes gives a deeper understanding of Jesus in his own cultural context rather than our modern Western interpretation.

Exclusion and Embrace is a book about reconciliation. I read this in Seminary and I want to refresh my memory of its advice. I am about to walk into an area of the world that has known centuries of hostilities and violence. I have seen the fear in which the Israeli people live and I have witnessed the despair of the Palestinian people first-hand. If anywhere in the world needs God’s message of reconciliation, it is the Holy Land.

The New Story of the Holy Land –history of three thousand years of faith, war and conquest. This BBC magazine in Wholefoods caught my eye. It gives a potted history of the region in just over 100 pages.

The Gospel of John. Last, but not least. Lysa recommended we read this Gospel.

Will you join me in reading through the book? If we start today and read three chapters each day, we will have completed the Gospel by the time I set foot in Jerusalem.

Pack layers and scarves to cover your shoulders and knees at holy sites, Lysa advised. I’ve been to Jerusalem before in November and, to my surprise, it was cold. Then, I had only a thin sweatshirt to keep me warm.

You’ll discover the Holy Land is irresistible.

My first visit to Israel I volunteered on a kibbutz. Straight out of college, I was eager for new experiences. I fell in love with the way Israelis pronounced my Hebrew name. I worked in the laundry alongside a holocaust survivor—the tattooed number on her wrist clearly visible. We communicated with the only German word I knew: “Kaputt” I would say, holding up an item of clothing with a tear, or a button missing. She would smile broadly, nod her head, and reel off a string of words. None of which I understood.

I dipped my toes in the Sea of Galilee, wandered a market in Nazareth and avoided the fruit thrown by a stall-holder when my friend tried to take a photograph, floated in the Dead Sea, travelled the bus before sundown on Shabbat alongside military personnel going home for the weekend, their guns propped against the seat beside me. I took a coach to Egypt and a Palestinian taxi into the West Bank, but I didn’t make it to the Red Sea or Masada.

My second visit. I had only been married three months. My husband was working with the Israeli Philharmonic Orchestra and, not wanting to be apart so soon after our wedding, I took time off work to join him. However, having my maiden name in my passport and my married name on my plane ticket was not acceptable to El Al security. After intensive questioning, I had to wait at one side, along with another solo female traveler, while the other passengers boarded the flight. I wondered whether I would get to Israel at all, but I did.

This adventure will be different. Then I backpacked alone, or with a girlfriend, into some risky places. This time we will explore and learn as a group of over one hundred and we will only go to areas that are safe. Last time I barely acknowledged God as he watched over my steps. This time I want to be attentive to him as I walk the dusty paths where Jesus trod.

What questions do you have as we start this journey? What would you like to know about the Holy Land?

This post is part of a series written as I travelled with Lysa TerKeurst and Proverbs 31 Ministries in the Holy Land.  Click below to see all of the posts in this series.


I’m linking up with Suzie Eller at #LiveFree, Missional Women at #FaithFilledFriday, Susan Mead at #DanceWithJesus, Holly Barrett at #TestimonyTuesday and Susannah Kellogg at #FaithandFellowship

  • Rachel, this is so awesome! This is my first time visiting with you, but I just subscribed to your blog so I can keep up. I so wish I was going with you guys. Happy that I can live vicariously through you since I’m not. 🙂 I pray safe travels over you and I look forward to hearing about your journey. Thanks so much for sharing! GOD bless you, Love! 🙂

  • Have an amazing and blessed time! I look forward to reading all about your journey. (It’s a dream of mine to visit the Holy Land some day. So for now, I will live vicariously through you!)


    • Alyssa, I am so glad to be able to share this visit with you. My bags are packed. I have my passport and shekels, and I’m ready to go! I hope your dream comes true sooner rather than later.

    • Thanks Chad. I’m looking forward to visiting the Garden of Gethsemane where Jesus prayed alone the night before his death, while his disciples – his closest friends – fell asleep.

  • I’m very excited and really looking forward to journey with you on your experience in the Holy Land. Thank you for sharing and may you have a blessed trip!

  • Wow! What an exciting adventure! I pray that this will be a time of learning, refreshment, and renewal for you. I can’t wait to read all about it. God bless you on your journey!

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