JOPLIN, MO. --- "The air raid sirens just went off in Jerusalem and we had a rocket hit the city."
College Heights Christian Church Pastor Randy Gariss is reading from a blog he wrote about his trip to Israel.
He, his wife, and 10 other members of the congregation arrived there on November 5th.
"When we got there it was very quiet. It was the normal kinds of tension that occur in the area," he says.
The violence escalated right in the middle of their 13-day trip when the Hamas military chief was killed in a missle strike.
"During the night the U.S. Consulate had letters delivered to us telling us two things."
They were ordered to stay home while in Jordan and not enter the West Bank.
"They began to close off Palestinian area and not want you to go in those," he says.
Even with the tensions, he wasn't scared for himself, but more concerned for the people who live there.
"You just felt sick for the people who have to live this way," he says.
Gariss says he heard ambulances, air raid sirens, and rockets. The group was just four miles from where one of the rockets went off, but still he felt no personal fear.
"If you start worrying too much about yourself you have almost begun to hope that the rocket will hit somewhere else, well who do you want it to hit?"
What Gariss hopes others can learn from this can be summed up in one word.
"The Jews and Arabs we were with they just wanted peace," the pastor says,.
Gariss says he was deeply impacted by religious landmarks he visited and plans to go back to the region again.