Hostess Gifts and Currency

As we continue to prepare for our Holy Land Trip, we need to consider additional items for our packing list: hostess gifts, offerings, and tips.

Hostess Gifts are such an important way to say thank you.  We will have the opportunity to thank the families that prepare dinner for us on the Sunday we visit Bethlehem.  These families are Palestinian Christians.  It would be nice for us to show our brothers and sisters in Christ some Texas gratitude by taking a small gift. 

Suggested items from recent travelers includes peanut butter.  There are many specialties in Texas that we could share.  If you like to craft or sew please share your handiwork. One traveler talked about making a small table runner for her host family.

Any way you wish to share your love of Christ and gratitude toward your host family is wonderful.

Other things to keep in mind as we travel.  Many of the sites are holy places of worship and reflection.  Candles are offered if you wish to pray and light a candle in exchange for a small offering.  Be prepared and bring some change with you.  This might be a time where you wish to use local currency.

 We will take a love offering during our study sessions prior to the trip.  This offering is for the church in Bethlehem when we attend worship services on the Sunday of our trip.

 Also tipping is encouraged at meals as well as the tour guide and driver.

 Also, keep local currency for public restrooms.


Walking here… Walking there…

Walking has long been a tradition in the Holy Land.  Once as the main mode of transportation and now just the only logical way to navigate some of the modest streets of towns.

Prepare yourself for a wonderful experience by walking here so you are prepared to walk there. 

One short walk, about 1 mile with hilly terrain, is in the historic neighborhood of McKinney. 

  • Exit First UMC McKinney and turn south down Church St.
  • At W Virginia St turn right (east). 
  • Walk a few blocks to College St and turn left (south).
  • Walk 1 block to W Louisiana St and turn left (west) toward the downtown square.
  • Enjoy the nice hills as you walk a few blocks down W Louisiana St. Turn left (north) onto Church St.
  • End at First UMC McKinney.

 Another practice walk, about 1 mile with uneven terrain,is in the Stonebridge neighborhood. The uneven pavement in this neighborhood is similar to what you will find in the older towns in the Holy Land such as Jerusalem and Nazareth.

  • Start at any parking lot in Adriatica, at the corner of Stonebridge and Virginia Parkway.
  • Walk east on Virginia toward Highway 75. Turn right on Adriatic Parkway.
  • Walk toward the Tower and follow Adriatic Parkway as it turns right at the tower and curves on toward Stonebridge.
  • Turn right on Stonebridge and head back to Virginia Parkway.



A Few Logistic Questions

Logistic Questions 

Do I need to receive any special vaccination before my trip to Israel ?

Israel is a modern, developed country with levels of health and hygiene equal to those of Western countries. Visitors entering Israel are not required to undergo vaccinations prior to their arrival.

Can you drink tap water in Israel?

You can drink tap water. But, you will also find mineral water everywhere. It is important to make sure you drink a lot, especially when out walking and on hot days.


The electric current in Israel is 220 volts AC, single phase, 50 Hertz. Most Israeli sockets are of the three-pronged variety but many can accept some European two-pronged plugs as well. Electric shavers, traveling irons and other small appliances may require adapters and/or transformers, which can be purchased in Israel.


Israel enjoys long, warm, dry summers (April-October) and generally mild winters (November-March) with somewhat drier, cooler weather in hilly regions, such as Jerusalem and Safed. Rainfall is relatively heavy in the north and center of the country, with much less in the northern Negev and almost negligible amounts in the southern areas.

Regional conditions vary considerably, with humid summers and mild winters on the coast; dry summers and moderately cold winters in the hill regions; hot dry summers and pleasant winters in the Jordan Valley ; and year-round semi-desert conditions in the Negev .

Weather extremes range from occasional winter snowfall in the mountain regions to periodic oppressively hot dry winds that send temperatures soaring, particularly in spring and autumn.

For a table of average annual temperatures,

Do I need a visa to travel to Israel ?

All visitors to Israel must hold a passport that is valid for at least six months from the date they enter the country. People with no nationality must hold a valid laissez passer, as well as a visa back to the country that issued it.

USA Citizens will be issued tourist visas free of charge at every port or entrance terminal to Israel.

Is it safe to travel to Israel?

Israel is an extremely safe country to visit and to tour. 2010 was the best year ever for tourism to Israel, and 2011 is on the way to breaking that record. In 2010, 3.5 million tourists came to Israel , and all went back home safe and sound. We would not encourage tourists to come if we felt they would be in the slightest danger.

Are tourists allowed to enter areas outside of the Israeli responsibility (Palestinian areas)?

Passage to the two major tourist cities of Bethlehem and Jericho in the Palestinian Authority is direct without prior clearance or required authorization.

Currency / tips

US Currency is accepted in all tourist places. Local restaurants will require Israel currency of shekels. One stop where we will have the opportunity to purchase larger or more expensive items will accept credit cards. (Check with your credit card company as there may be fees involved for exchange rates).

Prepare your tips early for the driver and tour guide and set them aside in an envelope.

Also, tips are not included in the fixed price of the trip. Please tip your servers.

Phone / PC connections.

Most hotels will have Internet connections in a business office with computers available for use. Many restaurants will also have wi/fi available. If you have a smart phone, you can contact your carrier to enable international coverage if you wish, it is not required. Many smart phones will have the ability to utilize wi/fi only and not the cell phone portion.

Packing List

Packing List and Other Information

Know that it can be rainy, snowy and as cold as 40°F in Israel during the winter.

 • slacks (for touring or going out at night)
• 1 Sweatshirts/ Sweaters
• 2 Long sleeve shirts
• 4 Short sleeve shirts
• 1 Bathing suit
• 1 Hand towel (for swimming outside of hotels)
• 2 Plastic bags for wet clothes
• Undergarments
• Socks
• Light jacket with a hood
• Sneakers or walking shoes (with traction for wet Jerusalem stone, and with straps or laces)

• Sandals or water shoes for swimming in the Dead Sea
• Sleepwear/ Long Johns
• Travel alarm
• Flashlight (mini)
• Camera
• Film / batteries (bring extra, because it’s much more expensive in Israel)
• Fanny pack or money belt

Airplane Backpack
• Passport

• Change of clothes
• Deodorant
• Camera
• iPod/MP3 Player
• Toothpaste
• Toothbrush
• Magazine, books, etc.
• Journal
• Snacks


• Bible

Touring Attire
We recommend modest dress.  You can wear exactly what you’d wear here. For example, a nice shirt and pants or a casual skirt. Comfortable walking shoes are essential. FYI- many of the streets are paved with stone…it’s challenging to wear shoes with awkward heels/soles on uneven pavement.Toiletries
In Israel, most of the same products they sell in America are available, although they are at a substantially higher cost:

• Shampoo/Conditioner
• Soap
• Toothbrush
• Toothpaste
• Deodorant
• Lip balm
• Razor
• After-shave
• Band-Aids
• personal products

• Sunscreen
• Tylenol/ Ibuprofen
• Eyeglasses/ contact lenses
• Anti-bacterial hand lotion
• Any prescription medicine (acquiring the generic name is recommended)

• A small bottle of febreeze or air freshener.

A few more suggestions that will make your trip to Israel more comfortable:

• Batteries
• Tissue packs
• Sunglasses
• Photocopy of your passport
• Gum/ candy/ snacks

• Cash for shopping, lunches, etc.

You can find more information about Israel at the Israel Ministry of Tourism

A Testing Ground of Faith

In our Sunday evening session this week, we took some time to notice a fundamental connection in the Scriptures when it comes to the Promised Land: God chose this land that would be called Israel specifically for God’s people, and it was to be a place and a means for the people to live out a relationship with their Lord.

The Promised Land of Israel was different from the rich, river-watered lands of Egypt or Assyria or Babylonia. The Jordan River that runs through the deep rift valley from the slopes of Mount Hermon into the Sea of Galilee and out again to the Dead Sea did not water the land by flooding its banks like the Nile, Euphrates, or Tigris. In fact, even living near the Jordan River was difficult in ancient times because it was jungle-like, inhabited by wild animals, and flanked by difficult terrain.

The Promised Land lived because just enough rain fell from heaven and just enough dew watered the ground. The land itself invited ancient Israel to trust the God of heaven for its very life. This was exactly where God wanted his people to be—completely dependent on him. And it’s where God always wants us to be, too. It is a blessed place, because it is where faith is lived.

Read Deuteronomy 11:8-25 as part of your own preparation to continue your journey of faith. And remember, “It is a land the Lord your God cares for; the eyes of the Lord your God are continually on it from the beginning of the year to its end” (Deut 11:12).

We’ve Got Class

Ready to go? It’s time to begin preparing our hearts and minds together as a group for our journey to the Holy Land. We invite and encourage you to join in our short series of study sessions leading up to our departure.

These 8 sessions will include Bible study, a preview of the sites we will visit and their significance, some discussion of the geography and archaeology of the land (and why it matters), and other topics that will inform our experience of the locations we’ll visit. Also, each session will include a brief time for talking over the practical travel tips that we will need for our trip.

So through these sessions we plan to:

  • give you additional information about the land and the sites that we will visit,
  • provide you with additional resources if you wish to go deeper into the topics,
  • share travel tips of things you need or things that might make the trip more comfortable, and
  • create a community:  It is our desire to ensure that we all know each other and that we are traveling as a community of believers to enhance the enjoyment and experience of the trip.

The class will meet on Sundays, October 16, 23, 30, November 6, 13, 20, and January 8. A special Bonus Session will also be offered in January, date TBA. Sessions will be at FUMC in Room C210 from 6:15 to 7:45 p.m. See the Classes page for the full schedule. We will post a reminder of each session here, and we hope that you will use this blog to comment, share, ask questions, and engage with one another about what we learning in anticipation of our journey.

Pastor John Harman will lead the sessions, and Tina Ripperger will provide the travel information each week. All are welcome to participate in the study, whether you are traveling with us or not. Although this experience is tailored to the group going in January, the learning will still be valuable and is available to anyone who would like to join in the spirit in which we are gathering. Here is what’ s up for session 1:

The Holy Land is a Land (Oct. 16)

We’ll get the overall lay of the Land in this first session. We will look at the route we will travel, get our bearings on the size, shape, and contour of the Land, and talk about the major geographical regions and their importance. And, of course, we will spend time in Bible study to understand what the Scriptures tell us about the Holy Land and to raise the question, Why does the physical and historical geography matter?

See you there!