Leading Groups to Israel
It has been Geoff's dream to lead study groups to this land where the Bible was experienced, and recorded. Geoff has studied for this opportunity for years. His mentor for the last 6 years, Dr. James C. Martin (Jim), is an incredibly respected teacher of the land of the Bible, and has been leading groups for about 30 years.
By leading study groups, and not tours, he invites people not only into the land - but the time period, geography, history, and culture of the Text in which it was written. There’s a difference between going from site to site, learning about each along the way, and traveling with a teacher who is sharing a big picture story, weaving threads together and helping you make connections you never even knew to look for.
Geoff long ago had studied and learned enough to lead incredible journey’s through this land. (I should know, he showed me around back in 2006 and I enjoyed learning from him so much that I married him as fast as possible to secure my place.) However, he takes his teaching responsibility incredibly seriously and is taking the time to study and learn from a variety of teachers, professors, and from the experiences of those who have come. He is studying everything from geological details to which bathroom stops are best for groups.
Jim has about 8 groups remaining while we are here. Geoff will spend at least some time with each group as he will begin leading his own groups next season. Dream come true for Geoff; he looks forward to leading groups to this land as often as GOD allows. Geoff's goal is to bring the experience of traveling the Text in this land to as many as possible, whether that means leading groups through the land, or bringing the land to them. Which brings me to the primary reason we are living here right now...
For some, there is no possibility of traveling all the way to this soil. Geoff's primary job is research for an interactive curriculum development project that will allow students of all ages to experience the valuable perspective of being in the land, and on-site..no matter where in the world they are. Jim and his partner have one of (if not the), most extensive archives of aerial video, ground video, and still photography of sites in this land accumulated over the last 3 decades. Much of this, especially the aerial footage, is impossible to get anymore with security restrictions.
From this footage they are building interactive, 3D, reconstructions of sites throughout the land, set in biblical time periods. I know - really cool. There are many curriculums, studies, videos, etc. about the land of the Bible, but the intensive research being done to ensure the accuracy of geography, culture, archaeology, and history is unmatched.
Geoff is thrilled to be on the research end - his bread and butter. He gets to do what I would call the "boring part." Triple checking the accuracy of reconstruction models of biblical sites across the land, meeting with archaeologists, visiting the actual sites over and over, studying ancient records, etc. Last time I was in a meeting, they were talking about stuff like what degree of slope the hill under the site has now, rate of erosion, and what it would have been X-number of years ago...totally not my thing.
What's The Point?
Furthermore, we are well aware of the tension in the Middle East. If tourism here becomes unwise, or just totally closed, the project Geoff is working on will allow preservation of these sites and we can continue travelling to them - in the next best possible way.
So, that's what we're doing here at the moment. Geoff is prepping to become the best study group leader ever while working with Jim and a talented group to bring the land of the Bible to all who want to experience it from their own homes...and I'm helping with all the details in between, which suits me just fine! Pretty cool, huh?