Bob Rice

An internationally famous speaker, musician, and writer, Bob Rice looks at the beautiful and the bizarre of life through a Catholic perspective. Also includes articles and excerpts from books he's working on.

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Location: Steubenville, Ohio, United States

My desire is to share the love of God to everyone I meet through the many gifts God has given me. My full time job is teaching evangelization and youth ministry at Franciscan University of Steubenville, OH. About two or three times a week I travel around the country proclaiming God's word or do a concert/lead worship. I've published many articles and I'm working on my first novel. 12 years ago, I married the love of my life and now we have 5 beautiful children. You can find out more about me and download lots of free stuff on my webpage-

Monday, March 19, 2007

The Adventures of Flat Bobby in Israel

So I said goodbye to my family, excited to go to the Holy Land but sad to leave my wife and kids. I looked down into my backpack, and… it’s FLAT BOBBY! “I came to keep you company!” he said. “That’s awesome,” I said. “Let’s have a great adventure!”

We left America at 3 PM and got into Tel Aviv at 9 AM. It was a long day of travel and Bobby and I were both tired. We took a nap, and I saw a little bit of Jerusalem on Wednesday: the Wailing Wall, the upper room (where Jesus celebrated the Last Supper and where the Holy Spirit descended on Pentecost). I met up with my good friend Andre who played in the band with me one summer at Steubenville and who is studying in Jerusalem now. Bobby stayed in the room and caught up on his rest. Travel is tough when you’re flat. But I had a great time with Andre and met some of his friends. He had classes the next day, so I was on my own for Thursday and Friday morning.

But Flat Bobby and I woke up on Thursday morning, ready to see the city. First stop was the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. That’s the tomb where Jesus was buried and where He rose from the dead. I wanted to take a picture of it by itself, but Flat Bobby kept jumping in the picture. He was very excited to be out of the room and in the Holy City of Jerusalem! I can't say that I blamed him.

It might not look like a tomb, but they built a church over where it was. Pilgrims lined up to go in 4 at a time to spend a moment of prayer there. The line looked pretty long and Flat Bobby was impatient, so we went to another part of the Church. You see, the Church was built on where Mt. Calvary was, so up some stairs on the other side of this large church is where Jesus was crucified. They have the rocks under glass and you can reach down and touch them through a hole under the altar (which I did). They have life size icons to represent where Jesus was. You can kind of see the rocks beneath the plexiglass. It's really beautiful, and I was very thankful that I almost just stumbled upon it (all the signs were in latin, but I saw something that read "crucifixium" so I followed it. Can you find Flat Bobby?

Then we went to the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem. This is the most sacred site for Jews, because it is the only remaining wall of the old Temple. You can also see the Dome of the Rock in the background. This is where the temple used to be before it was leveled by the Romans in AD 70 and turned into a mosque in the 8th (?) century. And there’s Flat Bobby! He’s such a camera hog.

We then went down to the Mount of Olives, to the Garden of Gethsemane where Jesus began His passion by praying on a rock, “Father, not my will but Yours be done”. They built a church over the site, but left the rock exposed in front of the altar that they built to celebrate Mass. Flat Bobby and I spent some good prayer time there.

We got into a rent-a-car and headed north up to the sea of Galilee. It was a three hour drive. We arrived and slept at a hotel.

The next day we got up, and decided to drive around the sea of Galilee. We started off at the “Mensa Christe”, a church built on the spot where Jesus called Peter for a second time at the end of the Gospel of John (where He asked Peter three times, “Do you love me?”). This is an important place for Catholics because it is where Jesus reconfirmed Peter’s call to lead the Church and forgave him for his denials. Flat Bobby and I had a nice time of prayer there.

Then we went a bit north to the home of Peter, Andrew, James, and John- in Capernaum. Peter’s house is there as an archeological site. It’s where the paralytic was lowered through the roof, Simon’s mother-in-law was healed, and many other miracles. This is the house that Jesus stayed at between missionary journeys. There’s a big bronze statue of Peter at the front. And who’s that standing at Peter’s feet? Flat Bobby, get down from there!

We drove around the rest of the sea, which is really just a large lake. It was very beautiful. Everything was so green and the wildflowers were in bloom. Sometimes people think Jesus did ministry in an arid desert. Though Jerusalem is in a more desert region, most of His ministry was done here, in the beautiful and fertile area of Galilee. It was really breathtaking.

That evening, Andre came and met us and we stayed at some friend’s of his. Their names were Paul and Mary, and there were so wonderful! Flat Bobby really liked them, too. He wanted his picture taken with them, so I took it.

The next day, we headed even further north to the ancient town of Caesarea Philippi. It was an important place in the Roman Empire, and the place where Jesus told Peter, “You are Peter, and upon this rock I shall build my Church”. It was pretty cool.

The site was located on a huge park which we all hiked across. There were great hills and places to climb. And there was water running down the mountain that would eventually empty into the sea of Galilee. At the edge of the park was a beautiful waterfall. Andre took our picture by it.

We headed back, but this time drove on the eastern side of the lake along the Golan Heights. We pulled over and saw a breathtaking view of the sea of Galilee. Trust me, the picture doesn’t do it justice. It was absolutely awe-inspiring.

The next morning, Andre and I got on a boat take a short trip on the lake. “Where is Flat Bobby?” asked Andre. “I don’t know, isn’t he with you?” I asked. “I haven’t seen him,” Andre replied. I got back to the house, and there was Flat Bobby, still in bed! Get up Flat Bobby! We have a busy day ahead of us!

We said goodbye to Paul and Mary and headed east towards the Mediterranean coast. We drove up to Mt. Carmel, the place where the prophet Elijah called down fire upon the altar to prove to the Israelites that Yahweh was God. My Aunt is a Carmelite Hermit, so we were really excited to see the monastery… but it was closed! Flat Bobby was really disappointed. He tried to climb in through the fence, but I pulled him back, because the friars need a day off just like everybody else.

We headed south to Caesarea (not to be confused with Caesarea Philippi). This was the center of Roman activity in Israel, and it’s where King Herod had a large and beautiful castle. It was built upon the beautiful Mediterranean coast.

Then we got to see an ancient ampetheatre that is still used for concerts today! It’s amazing to think that something built 2000 years ago was so well built that it is still being used for what it was created for. Amazing. They really don’t make them like they used to…

Flat Bobby wanted to play a game while we were there, and we had some time to kill so I agreed. I closed my eyes and counted to 20. When I opened them, Flat Bobby was sitting somewhere in the stadium. Can you find him?

Finally, it was getting late and we continued to drive south to Jaffa, a city that has over 4,000 years of history. It’s where Jonah the prophet fled when God told him to preach to the Ninehvites. It’s also where Peter had the famous vision from the Lord that pronounced all foods clean, and that’s why Christians aren’t bound to the “kosher” dietary food restrictions that Jews have. To be specific, it’s why we can eat bacon, and I thank God for Jaffa every time I have pancakes and bacon (which is almost every day). I let Flat Bobby play in the bushes and run around a bit while I took a picture of the beautiful Tel-Aviv coastline, which is what Jaffa is known as today. Then we said goodbye to our friend Andre and headed home. Flat Bobby and I were pretty tired- it was a 12 hour plane trip just to get back to the United States! But we had a wonderful time together, and the stories of the Bible became more real than ever. Thanks for keeping me company, Flat Bobby!