Come with Me to Israel in 2018

A year from now, I’ll be in Israel. And I’m inviting you to go with me!

It’s a beautiful place – the landscape, the history, and the people. It is a place like no other.

This will be the third trip I’ve led a trip to Israel. At the end of my first trip in 2010, I felt sad as I left what seems like a piece of home. There is something grounding about Israel. It is a small country in size but a vast country in its diversity.

Many people travel to Israel each year to experience the past, the biblical history. But history is alive, you are a part of it, and travelling through Israel becomes more of a journey than a sightseeing adventure. You will not be an observer but a participant. You will interact with people, places, and most importantly, God, in ways that will likely surprise you. You’ll face challenges, make discoveries, and take steps into growth. If you allow him to do so, God will change you.

My style of journeying through Israel is experiential. We will serve for several days, setting ourselves aside and meeting needs of others. We will sift through dirt and pieces of history in an archaeological dig. We’ll float in the Dead Sea, walk through the streets of the Old City of Jerusalem, and reach the heights of Masada. We’ll explore Nazareth, Caesarea, Haifa, Jaffa, Capernaum, Tiberias, Bethlehem, and many areas of Jerusalem.

I coordinate the trip through Lifetree Adventures/Group International Mission Trips. They do an amazing job of working with our partners in Israel and taking care of all aspects of registrations and travel details. I will create a private Facebook group, where we can connect with one another and I can share suggestions, answer questions, and make sure you feel prepared. With both trips I’ve led, people have walked away with changed hearts and lifelong friends. Many of us have kept in contact long after our trips.

Additional information from Lifetree Adventures/Group International Mission Trips is available here. It costs just $100 to reserve your space. Please don’t delay in registering or in travelling to Israel if it’s something you want to do. While I won’t say “never,” it’s very possible this is the last time I will lead a group to Israel. With the service aspect, small group size, and hands-on experiences, it’s a unique opportunity, and I hope you’ll join me!

Check out highlights from a previous trip…

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Have you ever wanted to go to Israel?

What’s stopping you?

More important, why is it stopping you?

How is what you have “not enough”?

Are you certain it’s not enough?

Here’s what happened the last time I led a group to Israel…

We received a list of items need by Bridges for Peace, where we served in Israel.

  • New baby clothes
  • Children’s toys
  • Toothbrushes
  • Backpacks for kids for school
  • School kits (pencils, erasers, crayons, glue stick, scissors, pencil sharpener, etc.)

We gathered as much as we could pack, and we lugged around our extra suitcases for the first several days until we began serving. We combined our bags and packed them on the bus. We rolled them into the building where they would sort, store, and distribute the items, and we started unpacking.

11.4.14 Bridges for Peace (5)


Little by little, those working and serving at Bridges for Peace that day came to see what all the commotion was about. They found an explosion of suitcases as we filled bins.

And they had tears in their eyes.

We started with a list, but what we didn’t know was donations were down because of the change in airline baggage fees.

We didn’t know they had been out of baby clothes for three months.

We didn’t know the baby clothes we had brought were enough for six months.

We didn’t know they had been praying for provision and witnessed God’s answer.

They cried for joy, hugged and thanked us.

11.4.14 Bridges for Peace (23)

We cried, too…partly for joy, and partly because we wish we had known. We wish we had done more.

It was pretty easy to gather items, pack them, and roll them on and off our planes and buses. What we thought was “not much” was an abundance for those in need.

Yes, we could do more, but what we did was…something.

Look around. You are surrounded by needs in your home, church, community, and world. You can’t solve every problem or meet every need, but you can do something. Don’t let “not much” stop you. It might just be more than enough.

And don’t let your “not enough” stop you from exploring the possibilities of journeying and serving in Israel. Space is limited, so we can get to know each other well and serve and travel well. Click here for more information.

Travel to Israel

Join me November 1-14, 2016, as I lead a group to journey through Israel, with an optional add-on trip to Jordan. This is the third time I’ve led an adventure trip to Israel, and each time, I learn, grow, and make lasting friendships.

What’s different about this trip?

We will serve the people of Israel. Yes, we’ll experience the sights, sounds, and tastes of Israel, but we’ll also interact with, get to know, and serve its people. This trip is available for both women and men, individuals and groups, but space if very limited!

Serve. We will work along side an organization that continually builds bridges among people in the region, repairing relationships between the Jewish people and Christians, which has been damaged for generations through misunderstandings, persecution, apathy, and more.

Tour. We will journey to such places as Tel Aviv, Jaffa, Caesarea, Haifa, Sea of Galilee area, Jordan River, Nazareth, Cana, Dan, Masada, Jericho, Dead Sea, Judean hills, Mount of Olives, Western Wall, Mt. Zion, Hezekiah’s Tunnels,Garden of Gethsemane, Bethlehem, the Garden Tomb, and much, much more.

Experience. We’ll visit an olive oil factory, participate in an archaeological project, and shop in the Old City bazaars. We’ll see the Dead Sea Scrolls and Second Temple model at the Israel Museum and take a reflective journey through the Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum. We’ll walk along the shore of the Mediterranean Sea and Sea of Galilee, float in the Dead Sea, walk through the sand of the Judean hills, and have an opportunity to be baptized in the Jordan River.

Journey. Journeying through biblical lands isn’t simply a journey into the past. It’s a journey into God’s presence. You will be amazed at what God teaches and reveals to you as you seek Him in preparation for your trip, during your time in Israel, and in reflection afterward.

Optional: For those who choose to extend their trip several days to experience Jordan, we’ll have additional free time in Jerusalem before driving to Madaba, Mount Neb, and Petra, where we’ll spend the day. We’ll continue to Amman, then Jerash, to explore the ancient Roman decapolis and modern city.

Call Robin at Lifetree Adventures at 877-783-3066 to reserve space today. This will truly be a trip of a lifetime, one that impacts your faith and challenges you to grow.

Read Susan’s blog posts of previous trips.

Digging Deeper. Climbing Higher.


The first time I visited Israel, it was as if I sliced through a tell and looked at the grandness of the cross-section. As tell (or tel) is a layer of civilization. It’s a mound-like structure created by a long series of human occupation and abandonment. As I experienced the cross-section, I savored as many details as I could, but I mainly tried to see the bigger picture so that I didn’t get confused by disconnected pieces.

I connected more pieces when I returned. I recognized roads and oriented one location to another. I steeped in familiar places and discovered new ones. With nearly every step, something “clicked” as if I could identify something familiar with something new. Not all the connections were between the two trips. Many were between places, stories, people and the Bible. Some involved research and reading I had done in preparation for the trip.

If my first trip was like slicing through a tell, my second trip was sitting at various layers and studying details.

Of course, the more I experience, the more I know there is to experience. The more I know, the more I want to know.

Learning is a lifelong adventure. No matter how much you know, there is more to learn.

Faith is no different.

No matter how strong your faith, it is only a fraction of the faith you can have. We can focus on the faith we have and be content. We can also focus on the faith we don’t have and give up on growing. Neither is productive. Instead, we can claim the faith we have, stand firmly on it, but continue to examine, tear down, build up, and take one more step at a time.

Faith is a journey. It is an adventure.

The Benefits of a Language Barrier


I sat at Cafe Hillel, enjoying my hot cocoa and a good book. Most of the time, I was people-watching. It was my last day in Jerusalem, and I wanted to savor every moment. I had walked throughout many parts of the city. I watched people in their everyday routines. I noticed mannerisms. I caught parts of conversation.

I love hearing people speak in different languages. The foreign sounds have an intriguing beauty. Of course, the language barrier can be frustrating at times, too, but I have found there are many ways to bridge the gap, and the effort is always worth it. It creates a focused connection. It’s not really a benefit of the language barrier itself; the benefit is more about overcoming the language barrier.

As I sat at Cafe Hillel, I discovered a benefit of the language barrier. A man sitting nearby was speaking loudly on his phone. His tone was animated, but that’s not unusual in his native tongue. It didn’t assume anger, just passion and excitement. His voice was difficult to avoid, and I found myself lulled by the pattern of the conversation.

The moment was shattered when he broke into English. It took me a moment to readjust and realize what I was hearing. He was talking about someone, using extremely derogatory language. I often think people have mastered a language when they can accurately use humor, especially sarcasm. I don’t know how funny this man could have been, but he had certainly mastered a plethora of offensive words in English.

Thankfully, his tirade (at least, in English) lasted less than a minute. My peace was temporarily rattled. I could still hear him continue in his native tongue, but I didn’t find it nearly as soothing.

Maybe not fully understand everything and everyone around us is a blessing at times. Let’s bridge the gaps when we can but realize that sometimes understanding is not a must.

Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not rely on your own understanding. Proverbs 3:5

Squeezing Every Memory Out of Time

The first group of women left Israel the evening of our last day of touring. We arrived at the hotel in just enough time for them to shower, eat, and shove the last few items into their bags. We all met in the lobby and hugged each other, saying our goodbyes. We followed them to the bus, waved, and ran alongside them to the end of the sidewalk.

Over half of our group was gone.

Few of us knew each other before landing in Israel. Some people knew no one. We had connected leading up to the trip. We emailed updates and chatted through our private Facebook group. But meeting face to face and living alongside each other for two weeks was different. Many became lifelong friends. Several had to deal with irritations and conflicts. We processed our experiences together. We shared our backgrounds and our dreams. We talked about our struggles, and committed to staying in touch to support one another. Our time together united us…

…and we squeezed every memory out of the last few hours.

The next group wasn’t scheduled to leave until 1:30 a.m., but we didn’t want them to stay awake on their own, so we piled into my room and chatted and played games. It was a sweet time. No one seemed to mind sacrificing sleep. It was as if we were already full and content with our time together, but we added a pile of whipped cream and a cherry on top of the experience. We laughed and shared until it was time to roll the heavy suitcases to the lobby and wait for the van. Again, we waved and ran alongside until the end of the sidewalk. There were fewer of us.

We had time for a short nap before the final group got up to eat and leave at 7:30 a.m. I hugged them and waved as I ran to the end of the sidewalk by myself. Then I ate breakfast at one of our group tables…alone.


I prayed for each women. I was alone but not lonely. My heart was full.

People come and go out of our lives, but what we do with the time we spend with them is essential. We can be nourished by our friendships or take them for granted and waste the limited time we have. We can long for more with discontent and never be satisfied, or we can long for more so that we continue to invest and receive and end up grateful for the time we’ve had.

I am grateful.

Hazy Vision

Jordan was just a short distance across the Dead Sea, but I couldn’t see it. I could see an outline of the mountains, but details were blocked by the haze that hung thickly in the air. I had stood near the same spot a few years before and seen much more clearly. Nothing had moved. Jordan was no farther away. No huge skyscraper had been built in the middle of the Dead Sea to obstruct my view. All that got in the way of my sight was air.

The air was saturated. It obstructed my view.

What gets in the way of our vision?

How do we see other countries when we stand at a distance and look through the haze of our assumptions?

Perhaps we have looked through the haze for so long that we don’t even realize how poorly we see.

We might not be looking through the haze at all…but at it instead.

What area of the world do you ignore? What nation do you look at through a haze? What people do you miss out on knowing because you focus on the space between you and them? They might be far away, or they might be right across from you. You might have to get closer and take some risks to push aside the obstructions and find truth instead.