Current Tour News

Itinerary & Photos for 5/19

On Mt. Zion we visit a traditional Upper Room, revered as a site to recall the Last Supper (Mark 14:12-26). ~  Near the Lion’s or St. Stephen’s Gate is St Anne’s Basilica, honoring Mary’s mother. The crusaders built the church over a grotto they believed to be the birthplace of Mary & dedicated it to Anna & Joachim, her parents, as the traditional location of their home. ~ Just beyond we begin our walk through the 14 stations of the Via Dolorosa, Christ’s route to the Cross, meditating at each & ending at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, where we have mass. We share the crosses we carry. As we pass through the streets of the Old City we see the colorful Arab bazaar, usually an active scene as it would have been on that Friday long ago. We then depart Jerusalem for nearby Ein Kerem, where John the Baptist was born, to visit the Church of the Visitation (Luke 1:46-55). This lovely hilltop church displays the Magnificat in many languages of the world. It is well worth the climb to the top.


Itinerary & Photos for 5/18

Today we have mass at Notre Dame Center. ~ Returning to the Old City, we explore the Jewish Quarter & the amazing discoveries found after the destruction of the area during the 6 Day War in 1967. These discoveries were only possible after the Reunification of Jerusalem at that time. The archaeologists excavated what had been hidden under the buildings of the Old City for 2000 years. We see evidence of the Roman period & even earlier Old Testament walls exposed during the restoration. ~ Previously known as the Wailing Wall, the exposed part of the Western Wall is always active with visitors coming to pray or just enjoy the setting that is so important to Jews. We have the opportunity to pray with those who gather daily at the wall. ~ The slope just below the Temple Mount & outside the Old City wall is the City of David, the oldest part of Jerusalem. The area tells the story from the earliest days when David conquered Jerusalem. Recent excavations have revealed the Pool of Siloam (John 9:1-12) in the area of the Springs of Gihon & Hezekiah’s Tunnel, part of the original water source for ancient Jerusalem. We walk down through the dry areas of the tunnels.

 

Itinerary & Photos for 5/17

Many events from scripture occurred on the Mount of Olives. ~ From the observation point, we have a beautiful view of the Old City of Jerusalem. We walk down the Palm Sunday Way” to Dominus Flevit Chapel for a teaching. ~ At the base we are at the Garden of Gethsemane (Matthew 26:36-56; Mark 14:32-51) & the Church of the Agony, also known as the Church of all Nations because so many people contributed to its construction. It encloses the rock revered as where Jesus prayed. ~ Mass is across the narrow street in the Grotto of Gethsemane. It is held to be the place where Judas betrayed Jesus with a kiss, the Cave of the Betrayal. Perhaps the only Holy Site in Jerusalem that has nearly retained its original appearance, this natural cave was used to store grain. ~ At the Israel Museum we see the model of 1st Century Jerusalem, a wonderful way to understand the Old City of Jerusalem as it was in New Testament times. The museum also includes the Shrine of the Book, home of the Dead Sea Scrolls. 




Itinerary & Photos for 5/16

Today we go to the area of the Dead Sea. ~ En Gedi, a refreshing oasis (Song of Solomon 1:14), is where David hid from Saul (1 Samuel 26). It is a national park where we enjoy refreshing shade, the sounds of cooling waterfalls & hopefully view the ibex & irex, animals here since biblical times. ~ At Qumran we see where the Dead Sea Scrolls were found & hear the story of the community that hid them. ~ We continue north for mass at Qasar El Yehud, renewing our baptismal vow at the wilderness part of the Jordan River thought to be where John the Baptist baptized Jesus (Mark 1:9-11). It is also where Joshua brought the Children of Israel across the Jordan River into the Promised Land (Joshua 3). We have mass here. ~ At a resort we can go to the shore of the Dead Sea & enter this unique body of water. The mineral rich waters are so buoyant that it seems more like bobbing than floating! ~ We return to Jerusalem, again on the Jericho Road. Shabat begins at sundown.




Itinerary & Photos for 5/15

We have an early start today. Out first visit is to Mt Tabor, the site of the Christ’a Transfiguration (Matthew 17:1-13; Mark 9:2-13; Luke 9:28-36), & the Basilica of the Transfiguration. ~ As we depart the Galilee we go south through the Jordan Valley. We tour Bet She’an, a Roman city that has been restored enough to see the excavations of the streets & shops as they originally were. It lies beside the Old Testament tel (Joshua 17; Judges 1; I Samuel 31:10-12) from the days when Saul was king. ~ We follow the Jordan Valley to the Judean Wilderness. We pass by the oasis of Jericho (Joshua 2, 6; Luke 19:1-10) & the Mount of Temptation (Matthew 4:1-11.). ~ We ascend to Jerusalem with a detour to Bethlehem which is very close to the south. In addition to being the birth place of Jesus, Bethlehem was also the birthplace of David (1Samuel 17:12), the residence of Ruth & Boaz (Ruth 4:11) & the resting place of the matriarch Rachel (Genesis 35:19.) Passing Rachel’s Tomb en-route, we enter the West Bank & meet our local Palestinian guide for our visit to the Church of the Nativity.  ~ We visit an olive wood shop owned by Palestinian Christians for some shopping before returning to Jerusalem. It is important to support Christian brethren in the West Bank.


Itinerary & Photos 5/14

At Capernaum, the center of Jesus’ ministry for over a year & a half (Matthew 4, 8, 9,) we see Peter’s house & the remains of an early synagogue on the site of the 1st century synagogue where Jesus taught (Mark 1:21-34). Mass is in the modern Franciscan church which stands over St. Peter’s house. ~ The Church of St. Peter’s Primacy recalls John 21:15-19 where Christ queries Peter about his future role, reinstating him. A stone called mensa Christi or “The Lord’s Table” is thought to be where He prepared the meal for the disciples he found together that morning. After a teaching there is time for meditation at the water’s edge. ~ We drive up the hill north of the Sea of Galilee to visit the beautiful Mount of the Beatitudes church (Matthew 5:1-12.) Overlooking the Sea of Galilee from above Capernaum, in the area where Jesus gave the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7), we find a serene place to meditate on the same view of Galilee enjoyed by Jesus & his followers. ~ We travel north through the Hula Valley which divides the Galilee from the Golan Heights. ~ At Caesarea Philippi, Peter first identified Jesus as the Messiah & Jesus announced Peter's role in the church (Matthew 16:17-19.) Also called Banias, the Arabic pronunciation of “Paneas”, referring to the Greek god Pan, we see the ruins of the Roman temple, known as “The Gates of Hell” (Matthew 16:18).  We end the day back at the Sea of Galilee with a boat ride on the Sea of Galilee.



Itinerary and photos for 5/13

13MAY Tuesday ~ Nazareth, Cana, Kfar Kedem, Mt of the Beatitudes, Ancient Boat ~
This morning we experience our first Israeli buffet breakfast & it is an experience. It is a feast of cheeses, yogurts, fish, eggs, raw vegetables, fresh fruit, cereals, wonderful breads & unique Israeli dishes. We may find that lunch is not much of a need after an Israeli breakfast! ~ Today we tour the area west of the Sea of Galilee. We begin in Nazareth at the Church of the Annunciation (Luke 1:26-38) built over the Grotto of the Annunciation, revered as M
ary’s girlhood home. Many countries are represented in beautiful portrayals of Mary. They adorn the upper church & courtyard. ~ Not too far away, we visit Cana, where Jesus performed His first recorded miracle at the wedding feast (John 2:1-11), turning water into wine. By tradition, many couples renew their wedding vows in the church. ~ At Kfar Kedem we experience life in the time of Jesus. Here we see, touch, taste & smell 1st century Israel. ~ We end the day at Kibbutz Nof Ginosar. In 1986, a 1st century fishing boat was discovered buried on the shore of the Galilee, a boat like the disciples would have used.


Itinerary and photos for 5/12

12MAY Monday ~ Arrival day in Israel, Tel Aviv, Caesarea, Mt Carmel, Magdala ~
Our flight arrives at Ben Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv in the morning. ~ As we get on our way, we drive north from Tel Aviv along the coastal plain of the Mediterranean Sea. We begin our tour of Israel in Caesarea Maritima where Cornelius, the centurion, was baptized as the first Gentile convert (Acts 10). It is also where Paul was imprisoned before traveling to Rome to appear before Caesar (Acts 23-26.) The archeological site at this Roman capital, built by Herod the Great in honor of Augustus Caesar, includes restored Crusader fortifications, a Byzantine street, a Roman theater, amphitheater & well-preserved aqueducts. In Caesarea, Jeff uses the acoustics of the Roman theatre as a perfect setting for our tour orientation & teaching. Each group, divided by motor coaches, tours the archeological site with their Israeli guide. ~ A further drive up the coast brings us to Mount Carmel, also known as Muhraka (in Arabic- "place of burning".) The Carmelite monaster
y is built on the traditional site where the prophet Elijah slew the false prophets of Ba’al (1 Kings 18.) The panoramic view of the Jezreel Valley reminds us of the stories of Elisha & Elijah (I Kings 17 - II Kings 2.) ~ As we travel on to the region of the Galilee, we actually descend below sea level to the Sea of Galilee. ~ Mass is at the newly opened site of Magdala on the shore of the Sea of Galilee. Only recently excavated, this is the site of Mary Magdalene’s home town. ~ Tonight we check in for 3 nights on the shores of the Galilee.


Safe Arrival!

Jeff arrived in Tel Aviv along with a group of travelers including co-host Curtis Martin and others from his organizaton FOCUS. Today they will stopped at Caesarea Maritima, an ancient city built by King Herod the Great. Jeff gave an orientation in the restored theatre that overlooks the Mediterranean Sea. After a tour of the site, they headed north toward the Galiee where they will spend the next few days.

 

May Pilgrimages Departing Soon!

This spring, two groups of pilgrims will head off for the Holy Land! The first group to set off on May 11 will be accompanied by Curtis Martin of FOCUS with several from his organization. The next wave to follow will depart on May 15 and join the first group for a few days, but then go on to Jordan to visit Mt. Nebo and Petra and then to Bethlehem to join with the Holy Father in Manger Square for a Mass! 

We will post updates here of the travels for both pilgrimages as well as on Facebook at www.facebook.com/simplyjeffcavins.

Day Ten, Jan 29

Today we went to Mass at the Shrine of Our Lady of the Ark of the Covenant near Kiryat Yearim, the town where the Ark of the Covenant was housed. Next we went to The Church of the Dormition and the Upper Room. We ended the day with visits to the Israel museum and the Bible Land Museum followed by a fabulous farewell dinner. Tomorrow is a free day and pilgrims will chose from a variety of activities and excursions. Jeff and Emily are flying back to the States tonight. 

Day Nine, Jan 28

Today started with a windy overlook of the Old City from the Mt. of Olives, but we were rewarded with a beautiful rainbow. Next we visited the Garden of Gethsemane and the Church of All Nations. We then walked and prayed the Via Dolorosa, ending at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre for mass and time to see inside the tomb and to touch the hill of Golgotha. For lunch we stopped in the Jewish Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem. We went through two museums and then headed to the Western Wall where many pilgrims went to pray. Our last stop of the day was the Church of St. Peter Galicantu over the house of Caiphas where Jeff gave a teaching.

Day Eight, Jan 27

We started the day with a visit to Herodion, a fortress of King Herod where his tomb was recently found. Then we went to Bethlehem for Mass at St. Catherine’s and a visit to the Church of the Nativity. Jeff gave a teaching at the Shepherd's Fields and then we did some shopping at Christian-owned olive wood shop. On the way back to the hotel we stopped at Rachel's tomb. After dinner Emily gave a teaching about the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, which we will visit tomorrow.

Day Seven, Jan 26

Today we experienced the variant scenery of the Negev Desert with a stop at the Tomb of David Ben Gurion for a teaching by Jeff about the Children of Israel during the period of the Wilderness Wanderings. Next we walked through the natural gorge of Ein Ovdat, followed by a visit to ancient city of Ovdat stationed on the spice route, where we had Mass in the ruins of a Byzantine church. After lunch we stopped at Tel Be'er Sheva before heading toward Jerusalem.