Walking in the Footsteps of Jesus – Part 2

11-12-2016 Saturday

 

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The Shepherd

An early breakfast is served and we are on the bus by 7:30am. Our first stop is the village of Nazareth. It is a restored area designed like the original village of Nazareth. I really enjoy this stop. There are characters acting as the shepherd with the sheep and our guide explains passages of scripture such as “separating the sheep from the goats” that Jesus talked about and “going through the narrow gate”. This refers to the smaller door into the house so the animals couldn’t enter. We visit the carpenter shop where Son-in-law, as the youngest man, is chosen to try the rope run hand drill.

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The olive press

From the village of Nazareth, we move on to the Church of the Wedding of Cana. Due to double booking of the church, we wait almost an hour to get in. Once we get in, we sing “How Great Though Art” and then have a short devotional by one of the pastors, Pastor Mark. There is no dearth of pastors in our group.  I have counted 4 in this group of 120 people. Pastor Mark then leads those of us who want to through a reciting of our marriage vows.

We leave the church about noon and drive to the south side of the Sea of Galilee where the Jordan River leaves the sea. We drove from Cana across farmland spread in both directions. One could look to the left and see farms and then towns on the hill and to the right, farmland spread out away down into the valley. Just above the south side of the Sea of Galilee, we stopped and got off the bus. We could see across the valley to the Golan Heights, to Jordan, and where the border of Syria traversed those areas in the middle.

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Looking down at the Sea of Galilee where the Jordan exits

We re-boarded the bus to travel down to the restaurant at the Jordan River. We order our lunch in a large open room. Today, I chose the chicken and rice.

After lunch, those who want to be baptized, got their baptismal gowns and towels, and made their way to the area reserved for our group. There are steps going down into the water for those being baptized. There are concrete steps for us who are not being baptized to sit upon and watch.

There must be at least 100 people who line up to be baptized. All 4 pastors help with the baptisms (Chris Page, Steve Chupp, Mark Lantz, Paul Begley). Son-in-law chose to be baptized though none of the rest of us did. It was a warm, sunny, beautiful summer day for November. It was 4pm before all the baptisms were done and we wandered around for a short time before getting back on the bus and heading for the hotel. Hubby and I bought ice cream cones as we are getting goodie deprived.

There are 5 buses unloading when we get back to the hotel. I take one look at that and decide to walk up the 11 flights of stairs to our room. Hubby is puffing behind me and convinced I am trying to kill him but it was so much faster than waiting hours for an elevator. Supper is at 6 pm and then we can relax in our room. People just love to blow the shofar on the street below. I think it is potential customers trying out the instrument before buying it.

We were told to have our suitcases out between 9:30 – 10 pm. Hubby and I put ours out early (maybe 9pm) so we can go to sleep. I guess Son-in-law and Daughter put theirs out earlier (around 8pm) because they want to go to sleep too. It isn’t long before there is banging on their hotel room door. Son-in-law is already asleep and ignored the banging and Daughter was in the bathroom. She finally was able to answer the door.

“These your bags?” demands security.

“Yes.”

“You can’t leave them here.”

We had just been educated by Eli, our guide, today about the importance of not leaving any baggage lying around unattended and that such things were cause for the police to be called and the bomb squad to blow them up. So much for trying to put bags out before the allotted time so that one can go to sleep early.

Today is Sunday. We eat breakfast at 7am and are on the bus by 8am. Our first destination is a stop to help plant trees on public land.

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Planting trees

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Planting trees

Each one of us receives a tree and then we walk across a dry, thistle infested, rocky field to place our tree in a pre-dug hole. The soil is red in color, dry, and hard. It looks like all living plants need irrigation in this land. Everywhere one looks, there are hoses strung with small holes in them to water each plant. From there we board the bus and drive along the Jordan River valley to the excavated ruins of the Roman city of Beit She’an.

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Beit She’an

We explore the ruins of a Roman bath house, the amphitheater, and the remains of a Roman brothel. The temperature is warm, probably in the 80s and I am soon hot and sticky. By noon, it is time to get back on the bus and head to our dinner spot. It is at a hostel in the modern city of Beit She’an. There are not nearly as many people as other days making for a more relaxed time. The meal is served café style.

After we get back on the bus, we head south through the West Bank. The land is mostly barren and hilly. Where there are crops and trees, the farmers are irrigating with the small hoses that run everywhere. The closer we get to Jerusalem; we start to see herds of goats on the hillside with run down homesteads. These are the Bedouin people that no longer are nomads.

It is going towards 3:30 pm when we roll into Jerusalem. We are taken to the top of the hill above the Garden of Gethsemane.

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Garden of Gethsemane

The road is narrow, steep, and winding that we walk down to the garden. We spend a few minutes in the church of All Nations before re-boarding the bus for our trip to the hotel. The sun has pretty much set and the lights are coming on around the old city of Jerusalem. It is beautiful and old and distinguished. Our arrival at the hotel goes rather smoothly compared to the last hotel. We have our luggage within 5 minutes and then are off to the elevator that is fast, efficient, and sports no waiting lines. Supper is way more than I should eat and our group is the only one competing for spots tonight. This is the Dan Panorama Jerusalem hotel and it is a step up from our last hotel.

 

 

Walking Where Jesus Walked

11-10-2016 Thursday First Day in Israel – Sleep Walking

 

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View from Tiberius hotel room

We had a fairly smooth 10-hour flight. I think I phased out for maybe an hour but never really slept. Hubby and I had good seats in the exit row with lots of room but it also tended to be the area people wanted to congregate to talk. There were also 3 babies close by that spent a good amount of time crying. We arrived in Tel Aviv around 6:30am. I went to get Hubby’s camera bag out of the overhead bin. As I was doing so, a coat flopped out too. As I tried to catch the coat, the camera bag got away from me and flipped back over my head, landing right on the 7-8-month old baby. Thankfully, he wasn’t hurt but I was horrified and his mother, I’m sure, thought what a careless person.

011Getting through customs actually went well but then, there was trouble with the belt bringing out the luggage bags. An airport worker finally came crawling up through the luggage chute and started throwing bags around. We soon had our luggage and gathered in a group. There are about 120 people. We are assigned to Bus 2. Even though we are dog tired, we set off on our tour route for the day. We start by visiting Caesarea

by the Mediterranean Sea. The huge coliseum is our first stop. We trail along looking at the different areas of the destroyed city. The sun beats down on us. It must be over 80 degrees and I feel like I am going to fall over. I am not dressed for summer and my sweater soon comes off. After a couple hours of walking, we get back on the bus for a trip to

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View from Mt. Carmel

Mount Carmel where Elijah called down fire from heaven to consume his offering. This was to show the prophets of Baal who the real God is. We climbed to the top of the roof of the Catholic church built on the spot and look out over the Valley of Jezreel where the battle of Armageddon is to take place. It is an awesome view. It is 1:30 pm and we are getting very tired and hungry, grouchy, and have little stamina left. We board the buses one more time for our trip to the destroyed city of Magiddo (or Armagadon) where we are told we will eat lunch at a restaurant there. I sigh when I see the long line at the restaurant. Serving is cafeteria style and the line creeps along slowly. It seems like mass confusion in the restaurant. I buy juice which costs $3 a glass.  We finally get food. Everyone is at their wits end. Daughter ends up in tears. Soon, though, we feel refreshed after we have eaten and head up the trail to the gate of the city with many ruins under it. The walk down 182 steps to the water source of the ancient city is like going into a cave. We climb back up some 80 steps and board the buses for the hotel @ 4pm. We have a chance to rest ½ hour before heading downstairs for supper. After supper comes a refreshing shower and a collapse into bed as I can no longer keep my eyes open. The biggest problem in getting to sleep is that I feel like I am moving and moving and moving. Outside, there is a shofar being blown over and over and a huge amount of noise from a party. That’s when the ear plugs I have brought along come in handy.

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Fireworks on Sea of Galilee

11-11-2016 Friday

Wake up call was at 6:30am with breakfast at 7. It is always chaotic in the restaurant with the hotel trying to feed masses of people in a short time. I had some fruit and yogurt that did not taste at all like I am used to. Daughter says she is hot and does not feel well. I dig out my small supply of Tylenol. Once a nurse, always a nurse. I am a walking drug store.

It is a beautiful, warm quiet morning. We walk to the boat dock and board a wooden boat built like the fisherman of Jesus day would have fished in. Hubby and I got the very front where the breeze touched our faces and cooled off our hot bodies. We have about an hour for our sail around the Sea of Galilee. They stop for a brief time of devotions and then some praise songs are sung over the loud system which is uplifting and beautiful. The boat is docked at the museum that contains the 2000-year-old actual remains of a boat from Jesus time at Nof Ginosar.

From there, we travel on to Capernaum where Jesus spent 3 years of his ministry. There is a Catholic church built over where Peter’s house was found. We explore the remains of a synagogue and basically the village of Capernaum.  We then drive around to the kibbutz at Ein Gev and eat our lunch at the restaurant known for “Peter’s Fish.” Hubby and I both have the whole fish, cooked without scaling and with even the eyes remaining. It doesn’t taste too bad if one can get past the eyes staring back at you.

The day remains warm and beautiful. We climb back onto the bus and head for the Mount of the Beatitudes. It is a beautiful spot with flowers and trees and another Catholic church built on the grounds. We have 15-20 minutes to walk around and enjoy the scenery. We make one last stop on the shores of Galilee where many people wade in the water. Another church, The Primacy of Peter, is located here. It has beautiful stain glass windows.

By 4:30 pm, we are headed back to the hotel for supper and rest. Supper is probably the most chaotic meal I have seen yet. The waiting line wraps around the cafeteria. Hubby & I get some basic food and then decide to give up trying to get more food.