The Big Push

The Big Push

Three other members of the team had walked out of camp an hour earlier. We assumed they were already pressing the envelope on the ridge above us. It was now our turn.

They were resilient

They were resilient

The weather threw the book at us, But this cadre of pastor-teacher-professionals was up to the challenge. They were determined to the see the land of Jesus with their own eyes.

A Nick Visit

A Nick Visit

Local tradition suggests that the real St Nicholas (of Christmas fame) lived for a short time in the Bethlehem area. I pulled on my coat to visit someone who could tell me more.

The Most Interesting Man in the World

The Most Interesting Man in the World

Ernest Hemingway dangled a riddle of death at the front end of his short story, "The Snows of Kilimanjaro." But what kind of epigraph is this? A freeze-dried window decoration? A chewy historical tidbit? The most interesting man in the world may have solved the riddle.

It has an Odd Ring

It has an Odd Ring

The old king climbed into the icy womb of Kilimanjaro. On his finger was the ring of Solomon. His porters carried a vast treasure. None of it has ever been found, of course.

15K+

15K+

It was one of those nice mattresses with a heat-reflective layer that is supposed to keep you snuggly warm even if you choose to bed down on an iceberg or glacier or such. It also shared many qualities with a Wham-O Slip-'n-slide.

Starry night

Starry night

The icy peak was silhouetted against the night sky. But the longer I looked, the more I saw. And the more I saw, the less I noticed the mountain of our obsession. It was stars--sweet Jesus!--the stars that dominated this glorious night. They were everywhere, from horizon to horizon.

Mush Balls

Mush Balls

West African fufu has a an unusual odor and taste. And that's just the upper end of the experience. This is why I shuddered when they brought in the East African ugali.

For Fam Trippers

For Fam Trippers

How is it possible to experience an exceptional study-tour in Israel/Palestine at or below cost? The answer is a Fam Trip! But keep these four things in mind.

Come and see, the moon is dancing

Come and see, the moon is dancing

Jason turned on a small speaker clipped to his packstrap. The speaker pulled tunes from a phone. It  bounced as he walked. So did we. And we sang. And it was magic.

Breakfast Scramble

Breakfast Scramble

The icy stream clawed at the bottom of the ravine. This contest of strength was initiated more than a century of millennia ago. Water versus rock. Fluid versus solid. Speed versus size. It is difficult to imagine a struggle more sublime . . . or primal.

Valley of the Giants

Valley of the Giants

We knew that were no longer alone. Giants began to arise. Initially, they appeared as isolated figures with bad haircuts. Then they rallied and arrayed themselves on both sides of the trail.

A Team Effort

A Team Effort

The bus was nearly at capacity with 47 persons when we rolled into the airport. In a similar way, our hearts and minds were full. Old friendships had been enriched and new friendships had been forged over the course of the past two weeks. We hugged and shared goodbyes, knowing that as we returned home, we did so as changed people.

Shark Fin and Teeth

Shark Fin and Teeth

Jason offered a weather report at breakfast. "It's two degrees above zero" (it sounds more sinister in celsius). 

He meant no evil, nor did I return it, but his words did prompt a flashback to my days of fieldwork in the deserts of Jordan.

And we ate it too, twice

And we ate it too, twice

In Paul's hands was the most beautiful birthday cake I had ever seen. We secretly thanked Tommy's mother for bringing him into the world on a day when his future friends would appreciate a special dessert.

A stone-cold cauldron

A stone-cold cauldron

At some point in the distant past, planetary nausea triggered a spew of subterranean chunder. The blow was horrific enough to empty a mountain of structural support, causing it to collapse into its own throat.