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Trip reaches one of Israel’s oldest cities: LaVonne Ackerman

Posted 7/31/19

Hello, August! Goodbye to July. What a hot mess you were!

That’s not very nice, but even though it is summer it should not be so hot!

I hope you are all keeping cool. We did have a …

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Trip reaches one of Israel’s oldest cities: LaVonne Ackerman


Hello, August! Goodbye to July. What a hot mess you were!

That’s not very nice, but even though it is summer it should not be so hot!

I hope you are all keeping cool. We did have a little bit of a cooler spell in between these muggy sticky 90-something days! Yay for summer!

Speaking of summer, water helps to make it really fun. What do you like best, ocean, lake or river? Check out answers below to see what inspires us the most.

Israel trip, Day 4

Dr. Jim Ayers led the tour group to visit Rift Valley and the Judean wilderness on Friday, June 14.

The first stop was Bet She’an. This is one of the oldest known cities in Israel. Civilizations were built layer upon layer due to its important location. Read 1 Samuel 31:10-12 to see what happened to King Saul and his sons there.

These ruins were vast. We walked up steps to get a good look at everything. The amphitheater, public toilets, columns and platforms were all so interesting to look upon. We were told on Jan. 15 in the year 749 there was an earthquake that caused the destruction, which we could very clearly see.

On the bus again, we traveled on Road 90, the longest road in Israel south to north. We drove through a checkpoint, leaving Israel and entering the West Bank. We went to Qasr al-Yahud, which is the closest point to where Jesus was baptized. See Matthew 3:13-17.

Church groups and others were present, singing hymns and baptizing people in the Jordan River. It was quite small, narrow and very muddy.

Ayers said he believes Jesus was baptized out of the current of the swift waters in Bethany. This is the other side from where we were sitting, in the country of Jordan. We saw plenty of soldiers with rifles across the river.

John the Baptist did most of his baptizing here. He preached repentance, that we must have evidence of repentance in our lives. Luke 3:21-22 tells us how much God loves his son. He proclaims his love.

Ayers pointed out that we need to proclaim our love, to our family, to friends, neighbors and even strangers.

The body of Christ, the church, needs to show love to others. John preached repentance, for people to turn around, and walk in a closer relationship to Jesus.

We should proclaim the Good News, call out sin and practice our faith by loving others. The takeaway: be who God calls you to be. We are uniquely wired for our mission field.

Next stop, Wadi Qelt! This place brings the parable of the Good Samaritan to life, Luke 10:25-37. This is near the Roman Road and a monastery built in the Byzantine period. It’s a desolate, dry area of rocks and sand!

We left the West Bank to go to Jerusalem. There, we saw our first panoramic view of the Old City. We gazed upon the Mount of Olives and tried to take in so much.

It was beautiful and overwhelming ... we were halfway through our sightseeing tour! Next week: Day 5!


A huge happy birthday greeting is sent to a very special lady of Lower Swatara Township, Sue Lawruk! She celebrates her cake day on Thursday, Aug. 1. I wish I were there to have a piece!

Jordan Carr of Middletown marks his 17th happy birthday on Thursday, Aug. 1. I hope it is your best one yet, Jordan!

David Alcock of Lower Swatara celebrates his final teener birthday on Friday, Aug. 2. I hope your weekend is fantastic, David!

Happy birthday bouquets are sent to Karen Guenther of Lower Swatara on Aug. 2. Have a fun-filled Friday!

Happy landmark big-deal 18th cake day to Ben Knisely of Lower Swatara on Saturday, Aug. 3. Congrats to you, Ben!

Tom Harvey of Lower Swatara celebrates his super Sunday birthday on Aug. 4. Many sunny smiles are sent your way, Tom!

Happy 35th balloon-flying day to Jared Schaefer on Sunday, Aug. 4. Have a sensational day!

Christopher Shock of Londonderry Township observes his 20th snappy-happy birthday on Sunday, Aug. 4. I hope it is an over the top day!

Aryanna Griswold of Middletown marks her 17th confetti-popping day on Monday, Aug. 5. Make it the merriest!

Happy high-five day to Myles Gutierrez of Middletown on Monday, Aug. 5. He turns 19!

Devon Finsterbush of Middletown marks her last teen birthday on Monday, Aug. 5. Happy 19th to you. Enjoy!

Here’s a happy birthday shout-out to Kali Cleckner on Tuesday, Aug. 6. I hope 28 wonderful things happen on your day!

Happy birthday greetings to John Carberry of Lower Swatara as he hits his 23rd cake-and-ice cream day on Tuesday, Aug. 6.

Happy landmark big-deal 18th birthday to Lexi Hulstine of Middletown on Aug. 6. Have a terrific Tuesday!


Best wishes to Gregg and Donna Hughes, who celebrate their 45th wedding anniversary on Saturday, Aug. 3. Have the best time ever, kids!

John and Susan Parkhill of Lower Swatara Township celebrate 28 beautiful years together on Saturday, Aug. 3. Enjoy!

Happy 46th anniversary to Wes and Sheryl Cyphert of Lower Swatara. Their romantic holiday is Sunday, Aug. 4. Congratulations!

Harry and Diane Myers of Lower Swatara celebrate 41 years of wedded bliss on Monday, Aug. 5. I bet it will be just marvelous!

Ebenezer Church news

Mark your calendar for some important August events at the Ebenezer Church located at 890 Ebenezer Road in Lower Swatara Township. All are invited!

Every third Sunday, there is a food bank benefiting the Middletown Food Bank.

On Monday, Aug. 5, Partners in Prayer will be held at 7 p.m.

On Monday, Aug. 19, Game Night will be held at 6:30 p.m.

On Saturday, Aug. 24, the Peach Festival is at noon.

Ladies brunch buffet

All women are invited to attend the “Let Us Entertain You” brunch buffet from 9:30 to 11:15 a.m. Aug. 14 at Hershey Italian Lodge, 128 Hillcrest Road, Hershey.

The musicians are sopranos Amy and Megan Burghdorf of Lower Swatara Township presenting a mini-concert. Nancy Richard of Smyrna, Delaware will share “The Day I Said ‘I Do’,”, a true, dynamic story of “for better or worse.”

For reservations, call Edna at 717-652-0997 or Mary at 717-533-3497 or email The deadline is Aug. 9.

This is presented by Hershey Area Women’s Connection, affiliated with Christian Women’s Clubs of America.

Cool Chip Dip

1 (8 oz.) package of cream cheese

1 small onion, finely chopped, or dry onion equivalent

Ketchup (add according to taste)

Mix softened cream cheese. Add onion and catsup, until it is dipping consistency.

It’s great with chips or crackers. Enjoy!

Township meetings

The following Lower Swatara Township meetings will be held in the municipal building located on Spring Garden Drive at 7 p.m.:

Board of Commissioners: Wednesday, Aug. 7; Wednesday, Aug. 21.

Planning Commission: Thursday, Aug. 22.

Municipal Authority: Monday, Aug. 26.

Zoning Hearing Board: Wednesday, Aug. 28.

Quote of the Week

“Each person who plays a part in our lives offers something we might learn.” — Anonymous

Question of the Week

What do you like better — ocean, lake or river? Why?

“I like the ocean because it is vast and therapeutic.” — Wendy Weiss, Aledo, Texas.

“The ocean, because of the waves, and it is huge! And it has sand!” — Will, Jon and Ryan Benkovic, Lower Paxton Township.

“I like lakes best, because I like competitive water skiing. My team, Lake Mohawk Ski Hawks, competes on a lake! My heart is where my ski is!” — Whitney Wood, 22, Sparta, New Jersey

“The ocean. I like waves!” — Gabby Frost, 15, Royalton.

“Lakes. They are calm, peaceful and usually surrounded by woods!” ­— Stacey Frost, Royalton.

Proverb for the Week

The crucible is for silver, and the furnace is for gold, and a man is tested by his praise (27:21).

Reach LaVonne Ackerman at 717-649-7366 or by email at