For the few of you who are interested, here is what I’ve been up to this summer. It’s probably best to organize it by location.
West Palm Beach – I moved out of my apartment this past May, which left me in some sense homeless in my hometown of West Palm Beach. Luckily, my friend David took me in, and I was able to spend a few weeks in WPB, during which I was privileged to be in two of my best friends’ weddings. It was a nice, restful time.
Jacksonville – More resting, but this time with my family.
Milwaukee – I had not returned to Wisconsin in two years, so this was a much-needed time to reconnect with friends who are like family.
Sanibel Island – Even longer, I had not returned to Sanibel (our family’s longtime vacation spot before we had moved to Florida) for any extended time in seven years! So, it was very nice to spend a week there with family again.
Nashville – On my way overseas, it was perfect timing for me to have a little layover in Nashville in order to see for the first time one of my favorite bands, Third Day, for their second-last show ever at the legendary Ryman Auditorium. This may wind up being the greatest concert I’ll ever attend, and I’ve been to a lot of great ones. The show concluded with an actual, unscripted, 11-song encore, during which they took requests from the audience, which, of course, included Free Bird. It was an emotional show for the band, as they said that they were treating it more like their last show than they were their actual last show, given the importance of the venue and of the audience in attendance. It was a special night for the band and for those of us in attendance.
Jerusalem – From Nashville I made my way overseas for the remainder of the summer. The primary purpose for my travels was to work at an archaeological site in the north of Israel (see below), but I was going to make the most of my transatlantic flight. So before heading north, I spent about four days in Jerusalem, staying just north of Damascus Gate. I had been once before, but it was especially nice to explore the Old City on my own, at my own pace. I now feel that I know the Old City like the back of my hand, though there is still so much left to see next time. I’m looking forward to it already. Random anecdote: While walking through the narrow, winding streets of the Old City, some IDF soldiers came through and told us to get up against the wall. Stranger things happen on a daily basis in the Old City, and I didn’t think anything of it. When some important looking people walked by, I did a double take and recognized one of them as Prince William! Sharing the narrow street, if I would have stuck my hand out, he would have run into it. You never know what you’re going to see in the Old City.
Hippos-Sussita, Ein Gev, Sea of Galilee – Leaving Jerusalem, I set my face to Galilee to get to work. I was privileged to participate in the 19thseason of the Hippos-Sussita Excavations Project, led by Dr. Michael Eisenberg and his team from the University of Haifa. Hippos (which in Greek means horse, as does its Hebrew equivalent, Sussita) is an ancient city occupied from the late Hellenistic to early Umayyad periods on a plateau east of Sea of Galilee. In the Roman period it was a city of the Decapolis, a league of ten relatively independent, Hellenistic cities (deka=10, polis=city) east of the Jordan River (except Scythopolis). The region of the Decapolis is mentioned three times in the Gospel tradition (Mk 5:20; 7:31; Mt 4:25), and Hippos was the closest Decapolis city to Capernaum, the base of Jesus’s Galilean ministry. Excavating this site is a unique and excellent way to learn about the people and the world to which the Kingdom of God drew near in Jesus. Obviously, you can learn more by reading about the ancient people and the ancient world in which Jesus lived, but there are just some things that you learn better when you dig them up. To learn more about the dig, visit http://hippos.haifa.ac.il. This year’s team was a lot of fun, and it was great to get to know some new people. We stayed at Kibbutz Ein Gev, right on the eastern shore of the Sea of Galilee. I spent my weekends on the northern shore of the Sea of Galilee in and around Capernaum. It was a wonderful time.
Jordan Evangelical Theological Seminary, Amman – After a month in Israel, I crossed the border into Jordan. There I was hosted by Jordan Evangelical Seminary (JETS) in western Amman. I was very happy to help organize their English library. It was a very restful two weeks (especially in comparison to a month-long dig!). JETS is a seminary in the Middle East that trains Arab church leaders for the Arab world, something which is greatly needed. It was a privilege to meet and to learn the stories of many of the students, faculty, and staff at JETS. If you like to financially support Kingdom ministries, I can’t think of a better organization to help. Visit jets.edu to find out more about the seminary or to donate.
Athens, Corinth – Once again trying to make the most of my transatlantic travel, I figured, why not make a stop in Athens? I had never been, and I definitely don’t think it will be my last, because I learned at least this: You cannot do Athens in two days. Nevertheless, I was able to at least see the must-sees in Athens – Mars Hill, the Acropolis, Acropolis Museum, hills of the Nymphs and of the Muses, and others. But the main reason why I especially wanted to stop in Greece this summer was because I will be in a 1 Corinthians class this upcoming fall semester. So, I took a half-day tour of Corinth from Athens. Once again, let me say this: You cannot do Corinth in a half-day! What an awesome site, though, for NT nerds. I am very glad that I went, but, nevertheless, I’ve left myself plenty unseen for a future tour of Achaia.
London – Technically, this was a layover, but it was long enough for me to transfer from Stansted (north of London) to Gatwick (south of London) airports, during which I saw the English countryside via train, stopped at Victoria station to see Buckingham Palace, and enjoyed some genu-ine, English earl grey. I’m counting it.
Up next – I’m now recovering from an eventful summer with my family in Jacksonville and preparing to begin a new semester at PBA next week. I am eager to get back to West Palm, to my classmates, professors, and all of the School of Ministry at PBA, to my church, and to all of my other friends in WPB. My classes this semester are all very exciting, as are other projects I’m working on. Also, shout-out to my roommates who currently are moving our stuff into our new apartment while I sit in Chick-fil-A, drink coffee, and blog.
If you made it this far, you must be my grandparents. I love you, grandparents!