I lived in Israel with my young family between 1979–1981, doing graduate work in Middle East Studies and Historical Geography. I lived there again with my family between 1984–1985. I became interested in Israel after joining Brigham Young University’s six-month Israel Study Abroad program in 1975. I had just returned from serving a two-year mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. And yes, I am old now (70 on my next birthday). I returned to Israel several times after 1985, but not later than 1990. Returning to Israel in 2021 after thirty years was a real treat. In early November 2021, I managed to slip into Israel between COVID country closures. A few months later, I was caught in a snowstorm while visiting a small Druze village below Mount Hermon. Believe it or not, the date was March 15, 2022, and I wasn’t expecting snow.
Much has changed in Israel. It is no longer a place where you can go wherever you want without restrictions. No walls or barriers existed in the early years except along the borders. There was a main highway along the coast, but nothing like today’s highways crisscrossing the country from north to south and east to west. It was a different Israel—one I would see again. Progress is progress, however, and I know there is no going back. Besides, Israel has done a great job preserving ancient sites for us. Dozens of National Parks that didn’t exist thirty years ago dot the land.
View east: This photo was taken from Mount Carmel, looking across the Shephelah of Galilee. The highway exchange (lower center) leads north toward Tiberias and the Sea of Galilee or east toward Beth Shean and the Jordan Valley.
Survival is an ongoing struggle in Israel. Its leaders are willing to make peace with their Arab neighbors, but not with only a promise of security from the United States. It isn’t enough. Israel has learned the hard way: trusting its military is vital to its continuation as a Jewish state. I only wish more of Israel’s leaders, and people felt an equally strong desire to trust in God. Indeed, to my knowledge, He has not rescinded the promise He gave to ancient Israel: “I will give peace in the land, and ye shall lie down, and none shall make you afraid: and I will rid evil beasts out of the land, neither shall the sword go through your land.” But, as always, God’s peace comes with a price: we must keep His “sabbaths,” reverence His “sanctuary,” walk in His “statutes,” and keep His “commandments” (see Leviticus 26 KJV, NASB, NIV, ESV). Like other Western nations, Israel has not been immune to the anti-God, evil onslaught of secular ideology ravaging the world. Returning to God and His dual promise of security and peace is the answer for Israel, the United States, and all other nations.
I was never a big fisherman, so going to the lake with a fishing pole was not much of a retirement option. Israel had been my passion, even after I got involved in web design and computer programming. Thus it was not hard for me to transition back to my early educational roots. I kick myself for leaving them, especially after beginning work on a PhD. I hope the adage “better late than never” still applies. So here I am, walking around the country, taking pictures, wondering what it must have been like two thousand years ago.
I have big plans for the site, so I hope you’ll stick with me and come back often. As long as my health holds out (and my legs), you’ll find me, camera in hand, walking ancient paths from “Dan to Beersheba,” looking for that next great view of the land to share with you.
View west: Wadi Qelt not far from Jericho and the Lower Jordan Valley.