Can I have a drink of water?

You know how, when you have a situation or question that really needs an answer and you toss the pros and cons around and around in your mind endlessly and you just keep ending up in the same place, which confirms your suspicion you’re actually going in circles and getting nowhere?  You know how it is…. when what you really need it a baptism of wisdom poured out from God but instead of praying, you’re standing at your kitchen sink, stirring the pot in your brain once again, hoping truth will somehow just rise to the top??

I kept 3 children for a friend all night last night and this morning I was washing up some dishes when I heard a little voice behind me.

“Can I have a drink of water?”

I turned around, almost startled at the sweet request. He needed a drink. He was thirsty. But he had no way to get it himself. The cups were much too high, the faucet too far back. The task was way too huge for him and he needed my help. From down there at his eye level he probably couldn’t even see the water, much less reach it.

Such simple words…and ordinary, really… but something about the way he said them struck me. Maybe it was the formation of his sentence as a request instead of the more common “I need a drink of water” or “I’m thirsty”. Maybe it was the hope in his sweet voice. Whatever it was, I responded immediately because I wanted to. “Of course you may have a drink!. Here, let me get it for you.”

With not much more than a flick of my finger I was able to grant the child his desire. It took me all of 5 seconds and used up basically no energy, emotional stamina or mental strength from my storehouse.  Just nothing at all. Easiest thing I will do all day probably.

I watched him walk away…..the churning of my mind had settled. And instead of starting it up once again, I lifted my eyes to Heaven and opened my mouth.

Father God, can I have a drink of water?

 

PS: (Can blog posts have PS’s?) Eve, my friend! If you see this…use email slb52063@gmail.com to contact me. I can’t get your email to work and you mentioned in a comment back in the spring that your can’t get mine to work. Try this one :)

2 thoughts on “Can I have a drink of water?

  1. So so happy that you are revisiting your blog!!! And even happier that I just happened to check my mostly ignored email and saw the link! Just such a sad sad waste for you to not be writing…..☺️❤️

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The End of This Story

I wake up somewhere over the Atlantic Ocean and am delighted to find we have been flying 7 1/2 hours! Other than stirring a few times to re-position, I slept soundly. These seats lay back farther than most and I have a WINDOW seat thankyouthankyouthankyou, Lord!

So we’re feeling pretty spy when we arrive in New York and decide to go to Times Square Church. An airport worker snags us as we’re walking toward Ground Transport. She asks where we want to go and proceeds to give us a crash course on the city metro-transport. Buy a $5.50 ticket, hop on the air-train, get off at Station #5, take the bus to Union Station in Queens, get the subway there, make sure it’s the E train and get off at 42nd street. Sounds easy enough. It’s 20 degrees and the wind is blowing hard as we wait in the little bus stop thingie. We’re thankful for our down jackets and wish for hats.

Settling on the bus, we leave a seat with spilled coffee on it between us. A couple of stops later a fashionably dressed, older woman boards. She takes one look at the coffee and sits down anyway. Our new companion strikes up a conversation and quickly informs us it will take an hour to get where we are going. We had forgotten that buses stop every few blocks. “No worries”, she says, “just follow me. I’m taking the same subway.” She seems delighted to have an audience and wants to know what church we attend. “Oh yes,” she nods, “I know all about you. I’ve studied religion. All of them except Islam. I can’t stomach that one.” This leads to interesting dialogue between us on the history of the Catholics and we listen as she expounds on the Franciscans, Jesuits, Dominicans, and Catholic Orders. She knows about the persecution of Anabaptists, the Inquisitions, and the Crusades, but anything bad is blamed on the Dominicans, of which she is not a part.

She is in the Fashion and Film industry, graduated college at age 17, reads 5 books a week and has a photographic memory which she claims can actually be a hinderance when it comes to learning because one may learn information without understanding the concept. When she took college tests, she would close her eyes and run the books text through her mind until she came to the answer she needed.

Our bus stops. “Follow me”, she directs, telling me to zip my purse, hold the zipper in front and hold my purse close to me. Down the subway we go. There are signs and I suppose we could have found the E train on our own but they are doing construction and it’s really nice to just follow her. Ignoring the apparently homeless man stretched out on the subway bench she settles opposite him and we sit on either side of her like the rapt students we are. “Don’t worry,” she repeats, ” I have a weapon in my purse”.

Her discourse continues. As we listen to her talk about artists, her girls who walk the runway, etc I pick up that she volunteers in the church, at a shelter which rescues abused cats, and in an Art Gallery in her spare time. She’s never been married and Jesus is her best friend. Yes, she prays directly to God…the priest are like fathers. Confession is like talking to your dad. In fact, she goes on to say, Catholics are the only people in the world who don’t spend a fortune on psychologists because they have their own…the priests.

Then suddenly she is gone. Whew. That was a fast hour and I am left to wonder…who exactly was that lady??  I don’t know but I guess when I get home I’ll google her favorite artists and check them out.

Everyone has a story.

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42nd Street is a few blocks from the church and we arrive an hour late but we’re still in time for a song and the main sermon. And what a fitting sermon it is for us right after our trip! The topic is Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread and the exhortation is to be IN the Word, to partake of the provision God has already given us.

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A few of the ministers words that I jot down….

These are the last days. Soon we will see Jerusalem surrounded by armies.

In the last days, many will be deceived because they are not in the Word.

LORD, take me a little farther than I’ve gone before.

The volume or amount I read won’t make me holier…I have to *believe* it and ask God to reveal truth to me.

My opinions will not go with me into heaven…only the Word.

Forgive us for having insufficient strength to get through the day because we have not consumed the Word in the morning.

Refine my character with truth. It’s never too late. I’m alive and I’m breathing.

The sanctuary is full of people of all ages and ethnicities. It’s inspiring to be here and especially so when I think of the setting this church is in. Our walk back to the bus station takes us down Broadway and past multitudes of people. I decide to slow down even though it’s really cold and try to catch someone’s eye. I am unsuccessful. Not one person looks at my eyes even though I am trying my best. No one even glances my way. I think about how everyone has a story and hope that some of these folks will venture into Times Square Church on Friday nights, the night they preach to the unsaved. Maybe some who I am passing already go. Maybe they are just too cold to look at anyone.

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Without our friend, trip back to the airport feels long and we are getting tired. A conversation with a young man is welcome…he is adopted, about to graduate as a Chiropractor, can’t wait to get out of the city and back to his family, and is trying to eat a plant based diet. This gives us quite a bit of common ground and we share our story of Zeke with him. He tells us he has found his bio mom on Facebook but is reluctant to “tear up her life” by reappearing.

Everybody has a story.

We pick up our luggage and decide to take a taxi to our motel instead of a bus as we had planned. We’re kind of tired of buses by now. I won’t bore you with taxi details except to say it costs twice what they told us it would and it was already a LOT. We must look like suckers.

Note to all: get online and order a taxi. Don’t just hop in one at the airport. We use an “airport approved” taxi instead of the hounds who are shouting out to everyone but we still get ripped off.

Home Sweet Home will feel good. We have learned much these past weeks and walking where His-story actually happened has been amazing. 240 year old America suddenly seems kind of new-baby-ish.

I keep asking myself what my favorite place was. If I could do only ONE stop again, what would it be. I’m pretty sure the answer is En Gedi and I’m not even sure why except that it’s not ruins, it’s real. It probably hasn’t changed much in thousands of years and David, a man after God’s own heart, is such an inspiration to me. Don’t miss it if you go to Israel.

The End,  I guess. I’m going to miss writing each day. :)  We slept well, left Newark this morning after a 2 hour delay and are currently flying over snow covered square mile roads somewhere in the midwest. It looks like we might miss our connection to Pasco but after being gone for 24 days, we don’t feel any stress. Shelly has sweetly agreed to pick us up and God will take care of us.

I’m so thankful God is writing our Story. <3

6 thoughts on “The End of This Story

  1. Hi! Someone sent your laat blog to me on new York.. so glad to c…Good thing we didn’t try to go…Not enough time. Was sad, really wanted to.wayne was so cold once we got outside!Will try to c if I can find d the rest of your blogs now….Really enjoyed it all! Thx

  2. Thank you so much for allowing us to follow you! It has been great to review some of the places we have seen and how some of them have changed. It is a trip you will never forget!! Blessings to you!

  3. You can’t imagine how much I loved reading this. I love the fact that you were able to talk–really talk–to people in New York, to go to Times Square Church and feel kinship, and I am so sad that making eye contact is so very difficult!

    And I wish so much that you wouldn’t quit writing. You do it so well. It is a huge blessing to me to hear your thoughts and share your life.

  4. What an adventure you had in New York! Glad you made it to the city and back to the airport safely. I’ll miss reading about your adventures every day just as I have missed reading your blog entries for so long. Thank you so much for sharing your trip with us…you’ve given us insight to places we might never see. Continued safe travels and please keep in touch!

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All good things….

Our last morning in Israel…

Today, breakfast is simpler because it’s Shabbat. No fresh squeezed juice or omelets made to order. We pack up and load everything onto the bus one last time.

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One more adventure in the Old City….a walk along the top of the wall in the Armenian section.

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The view is spectacular from up here and I can appreciate it much more now that we have visited many sites. It feels good to have perspective…which I didn’t have that first morning in Jerusalem when we stood on the Mount of Olives.

Nabil was born in the Old City and lived his whole life here until a few years ago. As we walk along, I ask him if he was free to roam and play as a child and he smiles as he answers. Yes, he could run around with his friends where ever he wished…they just had to be home by 8. If they were late and the house was locked, he would have to find another place to sleep. He and his young playmates would look for sneaky ways to get up on the wall without buying a ticket and they would run and skip to their hearts content!

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They were careful to only run in the walkway or along the inner wall, not on the outside where you would have to jump over each open place. He tells us the guards sometimes chased them but they never caught them!

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This was one of the stairways he used as a child. It has since been gated off. Probably to keep kids off the wall, I’m guessing :)

It’s a wonderful walk and I wish we could do the whole thing!

Climbing down again, it’s only a short walk to the Cardo from the Roman-Byzantine era.

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This would have been Main Street in Jesus’ time.  In another area a painting on the wall shows what the busy street might have looked like then.

We can’t see more of the Cardo because it is closed for Shabbat, as is every shop in the Jewish Quarter.

As we walk out of the Old City for the last time, Nabil stops by one little shop and tells us, “Last shopping…5 minutes”. We beg for 10. After all, we’re experts by now at bartering. Why not barter for time too? I see a nativity set. I’ve seen several since buying mine and they’re all nicer. My people look kind of like Egyptians and their faces are sort of weird. But I’ll always have good memories of buying it and that’s the main thing!

One more coffee mug…we will have a nice selection when I get home. We can drink our coffee and reflect on this place…looking forward to the New Jerusalem <3

Leaving the highlands behind, our bus takes us through the Jerusalem forests and on to the shfela, or the slopes of the lowlands.

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Cars look funny driving on these very old-fashioned looking streets.

 

Elah Valley~

We read in I Samuel (or Sam-well, as Nabil says). This valley, where David fought Goliath, is small and it’s easy to see the hills on both sides where the two armies would have camped. We drive right across the brook, now dry, where the young David would have picked up his stones.

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A roadside stand is serving Druze bread, a flat bread spread either with nutella or cream cheese and spice and grilled on what looks like the top of a very dirty and well used wood stove top. It’s a fun cultural experience and the bite I try is good.

Molly needs something healthy to eat so she and I sneak into a coffee shop when we make a WC stop where she gets a carrot juice and her daily coffee.

Jaffa~ (Or Joppa)

In 1000 BC Solomon brought cedar wood through this port for building the Temple. “And we will cut all the cedar logs that you need and float them as rafts by sea down to Joppa. You can then take them up to Jerusalem “. II Chronicles 2:16

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Simon the Tanner lived here and Peter was in this town when God gave him the vision that led him to preach the gospel to the Gentiles.

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Not to forget Jonah! He may have stood on this very sand I am standing on, heart pounding, adrenaline racing, wanting to get OUT of here ASAP. Just get me on a ship to Tarshish and I’ll be away from the presence of the Lord……out from under this annoying conviction. In Tarshish I can shake it off. Jonah 1:3

Sigh. I can relate sometimes. I may not jump on a literal ship but I do sometimes jump ship. Or want to. Or ignore God’s gentle prodding, secretly hoping it will stop.

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Anyway. I like thinking about Jonah on this beach.

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Megan, Heather and I are talking to a woman who was raised Southern Baptist but moved to Israel and converted to Judaism. We have met so many interesting people on this trip from different faiths and a variety of countries.

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Unlike in Jerusalem, this beautiful town on the Mediterranean Sea is busy on a Saturday.  Lot’s of Israelis from Tel Aviv come here because the Arab shops are open on Saturday.  In this pictures you can see two soldiers…a visible presence in most of the places we visit.

We are free to roam around for a couple of hours, then meet at a nice seafood restaurant for dinner. The food choices are St. Peter’s fish, a fancy word for Octopus, Lamb, or Chicken and Lamb Shish Kabob.

The Lamb is good. I try the Octopus because I am brave and want to fully experience life. It’s awful but if you like shrimp you might like it…kind of the same texture.

On the way to the airport a few share thoughts about the trip or words of appreciation to Nabil, Wyatt & Gail, and Lloyd and Opal.  Ihab, our driver, left us yesterday.  We have a long wait at the airport…nearly 5 hours….but we are content to rest :) .

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I lose count but my passport is checked either 6 or 7 times. After clearing security I buy a water bottle and the clerk scans my passport *and* boarding pass before I can pay. Carry on’s not only go through normal security but are re-checked by hand at the gate. No lack of security in Israel.

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I forgot to mention….the Jewish holiday of Purim is this weekend. People dress up for this holiday much like Americans do for Halloween. We see lots of costumes and some decor around town.

2 thoughts on “All good things….

  1. I have so enjoyed ‘following along’! We really hope to go some day. You did such a good job writing down your thoughts and descriptions of the places you visited. I’m curious, did you make notes as you went along, or try to remember it each evening as you wrote?

    • I took a few notes as we went in a tablet I kept in my purse. It’s hard to remember everything at the end of the day. I had an ipad with attached keyboard so sometimes typed on the bus between stop. Of course pages and pages could be written on each place :)

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Shabbat

Boker Tov!

My Jewish friend, Eve, told us to respond to this morning greeting with “Boker Or!” We try it this morning and our guide is very impressed :) He says Boker Or is an even nicer way of saying Good Morning.

You’ll be happy to know that I have now fully adjusted to Israeli time, sleeping soundly from 9:30-5:30 the past 2 nights. Just in time to go home.

Ah well. I’m thankful for the good sleep.

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Hertzl Museum~

I am easily bored. It’s one of my faults and I know it’s a bad one but I seem to be stuck with it.

So today begins with me being pretty sure this museum won’t nterest me much. After all, I’ve never heard of this Hertzl guy. I know the term “Zionist” but I don’t really know what it means.

I am wrong.

I may be hooked on Jewish history….it’s so fascinating. I knew nothing of this movement and the museum explains it in my favoite way…an audio-visual  that provides us an encounter with the Jewish visionary himself, Theodore Hertzl.

One quote worth noting: “A state who has suffered so much must know how to treat the minorities in it’s midst with respect.” I see this in Israel as they attempt to treat all their citizens with respect while maintaining their statehood. It’s a challenge, as we all know.

I could never have believed a two week trip someone else planned would not hold a single moment of boredom for me. But it hasn’t….not one. I have been engaged and excited to learn the whole time we’ve been here.

Much credit for this goes to Nabil, our wonderful guide, who is a walking history book. It has also been a huge blessing to be here with others who have made this journey before and can help answer my zillion questions.

And, sadly, I’ve been spelling Nabil’s name incorrectly this whole time. Along with several other names :)

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Golgotha, or the place of the skull today….

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…and a picture taken in 1900. A lot of erosion has happened.

Golgotha and the Garden Tomb~

Seeing this place in real life was wonderful. The perspective of seeing the city blocks where Jesus’ trial took place…then Golgotha…and the valley in between, which Romans would have used for executions…it was a touching time.

I never realized that the Bible doesn’t actually say Jesus was crucified on a hill. Our lovely British-accented guide, Ann, tells us that it’s likely the crucifiction took place in the valley below the hill of Golgotha,  along the busy road from Damascus to Jericho.

She shares several other details about the place itself that are nteresting before we walk over the Garden Tomb and are able to step inside.

Lloyd points out that when the disciples went into the empty tomb they saw two angels, one at the foot and another at the head of the place where Jesus had lain, just as angels were on either side of the mercy seat.

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We all have plenty of time to go in and out of the tomb then we hold a worship service nearby. Kendal shares a personal dream he had a few nights ago. He speaks of the joy that was set before Jesus…that He could SAVE us….and also quotes a portion of Martin Luther King’s speech…

” I have a dream that someday every valley shall be exalted and every mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight; and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together. ”

So many scriptures take on new meaning when you have seen this country. My friends told me this before I came. I didn’t really believe them but it’s true.

Believing, we share in His Joy!

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It’s spring time over here…we’ve had beautiful weather since leaving Galilee.

We have free time in the afternoon and Dwayne and I choose to spend it in the Old City with Wyatt & Gail and Wayne & Carolyn. We walk a few streets, talk to a few merchants, and eat lunch. And Dwayne buys another suitcase…this time from the $35 guy!

Lisa Miller, a Washington friend who has lived in Jerusalem 2 1/2 years, joins us after lunch, takes us to see the CAM office just outside of the old city and gives us a peek into her life. It is so good to see her again and inspiring to hear her stories!  Fluent in Hebrew and Arabic, she is building many relationships with women of all ethnic groups….which take a lot of time and energy. She can use our prayers.

I ask Dwayne a question about Palestinians as we are walking down the busy street and suddenly one shopkeeper, who obviously overheard us, yells out an answer. We stop short..look around…and spot him. This leads to an extremely enlightening conversation where I learn a lot about life from his Arabic point of view.  I could spend even more time in the old city. I’m so thankful we got to come back this afternoon for awhile.

A taxi ride to the motel is uneventful and we have time for a short nap before our evening outing…a Shabbat meal with a local Jewish family. The couple is probably in their 30’s and full of excitement to meet us. The wife, especially, has an exhuberant personalily. They  have 4 young children and there are 18 of us so it is noisy and difficult to hear everything but still extremely interesting as they share their customs and blessings. The food is good and all in all, it’s a fun evening with a lively family. I love the blessings they pray over their children.

Elena, I think I may have met your Jewish twin! :) :)

Tonight is the beginning of Shabbat. Shops close, public transport shuts down, few cars are on the road and there are 621 forbidden things for the observant Jewish people to remember.

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Our bus driver, Ihab, is a wonderful Arabic man whom we have grown quite attached to. I declare that he can drive within a centimeter of a bus beside us and never hit it. He parks on sidewalks if that’s what it takes to get us where we need to be. We have appreciated his expertise and his big smile. I tease him that he’s going to be able to have a nice night out on the town with the water money he’s made off of me!

One more day, then Home Sweet Home. We spend a week in Ohio before this trip so we will be gone 24 days in all. Long time.

2 thoughts on “Shabbat

  1. Okay, you know me. I want to know ALL about the conversation with the Arab shopkeeper! :D And I *really* wish I could have been with you at the Shabbat meal.

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Thursday….Museums and Markets

Boker Tov!

Today is the day this whole “levels of the city” thing finally clicks for me. Our first stop is to see the Temple Mount wall that has been excavated from the time of Jesus (or King Herod) . We saw it yesterday from the top as we were walking up to the Temple Mount but today we go to the bottom of it and look up.

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We can see the pools where Jews would cleanse themselves before ascending the steps to the Temple Mount Entrance. Wyatt thinks the apostles stood on these steps to preach and used the cleansing pools along with the Pool of Siloam (which is very near us) to baptize the 3000. The pools are large and there are many so it’s easy to imagine the baptizing might have taken place here.

How brave those apostles were, to stand in this spot and proclaim the New and Living way!

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IMG_2746We can see some of the old steps, carved out of stone on the side of the mountain. The new ones are built in the same fashion the old ones were…uneven…so that worshippers were not able to rush up them. Instead they would have to slow down and think on their way to the temple.

The peak of the wall, in the first picture of this post, is called the pinnacle of the Temple. From here, the trumpets were blown.

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The street is here that the money changers would have been on and these are the remains of little shops that would have been outside the Temple Mount.

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Little notes have been left in these walls, just as we saw in the Kotel (or Wailing Wall)  yesterday so Jews must come here sometimes to pray or meditate.

I thought this stop would be a little side stop but it turns out to be one of my favorite places! I’m not sure why. I love the visual that I will have now when I read of someone “going up to the Temple”…of all the multitudes of men and women who made the pilgrimage to Jerusalem and went up these steps. And I love the thought of Peter standing here, boldly preaching…

“Men and brethren, let me freely speak unto you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his sepulcher is with us unto this day.  Therefore being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him, that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, he would raise up Christ to sit on his throne; He seeing this before spake of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in hell, neither his flesh did see corruption.  This JESUS hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses.” Acts 2:29-32

Yad Vasham~ Holocaust Museum

“They came for the communists and I did not object for I was not a communist. They came for the socialists and I did not object for I was not a socialists.  They came for the Jews and I did not object for I was not a Jew.  When they came for me there was not one left to object.” Martin Niemoller, German Pastor

“People ask me how I can smile. I think that it saves me, being able to smile.  Because otherwise I would cry endlessly.” Holocost Survivor

So many stories….

The stories that grab my heart most are those of survivors who, when they finally found themselves at the end of the war, came to realize that they were all alone in the world. Not a single one of their family members remained. They had lost children, parents, siblings, their spouse…every one.

I have lost a son. I cannot fathom losing everyone. And I know the heartache Zeke experienced during his long years in an orphanage with no family. No mama to ever kiss him goodnight or touch him…..no brother…no Baba…not a single living relative whom he knew anywhere. That’s what these survivors lived with for the rest of their lives.

No, it’s not the only hard thing or the worst kind of suffering ever. But it’s still hard.

 

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We eat lunch at Yam Vashem. I’m going to miss this hummus. I don’t know the name of most of what I eat but I love the hummus and the other thick sauces with all the fresh veggies.

I didn’t know that all of Israel would be kosher when it comes to food. I think it’s interesting that even the Jews who don’t keep all of the old law still eat kosher and I wonder why that is?

Opal buys me a book here and it looks wonderful. It’s called Israel Then and Now and has pictures with overlays to help one see what a site looks like now compared to what it would have looked like in Bible times. I told her earlier today how difficult it is for me to picture things as they were so it was a very thoughtful gift!

?~

 

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I’m not sure of the name of the next musuem but we are here to see a large model of the city of Jerusalem as it would have looked when Jesus was here. Because we have already visited so many sites, this model is very helpful in putting it all together in my mind. It also makes the elevation changes more evident. The Mount of Olives is steep. It would be quite a climb down and out of the Kidron Valley. It’s a long walk all the way to Caiaphas’s house and then to Pilate, to Herod, back to Pilate and finally to Calvary. And not much is flat here. Pretty much everywhere you walk is either up or down.

We can see the tunnels we went through, the pools, and the City of David all on the model. The geographical fog that I feel like I’ve been walking in the past 2 days clears a little.

As we drive to Mea Shearim, Nibeal points out places of interest such as Kensset which is the Jewish Parliament, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the Supreme Court.

Mea Shearim ~

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The oldest Orthodox Jewish section of Jerusalem. Nearly everywhere we have been on this trip, we have seen other tourists but here we are the only ones…everyone else is an Orthodox Jew. Nibeal tells us to be back at the bus in 45 minutes and turns us loose. Dwayne and I walk around, weaving in and out among the busy crowds. Most of them seem to be in a huge hurry, walking fast and with purpose. Up and down the streets we see men standing in pairs, talking. Women push strollers, a man helps his son try on yarmulke, a boy who looks to be about 12 goes racing down the sidewalk on his bycycle, narrowly missing us. These folks are not always receptive to visitors and one shopkeeper completely ignores us when we ask him a question. But another is very friendly and it is interesting to see the community and get a little glimpse into their world. One lady approaches us. She is holding the hand of her little girl and tells us with a big smile that she is from America too.

I promise I wasn’t rude when I took these pictures.  I just held my Ipad at waist level and clicked occasionally.

Last stop is Mahane Yehuda~

When I look up the spelling I see the definition of this place is:

Iconic street market lined with stalls selling fruit, vegetables, apparel and prepared foods.

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That’s just what it is! I love it! We pick up some strawberries and grapes to share at supper and I grab a bag of pita breads. I know they won’t keep but they’re only 10 shekels and they’re sooooo good.

Heather buys some pj pants. She gives the guy a 20 dollar bill and he gives her 25 shekels back. It gets confusing :) I’ve been having so much fun with Heather and Megan, Lloyd and Opal’s granddaughters. Young people add so much spice to life!

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Heather and I are trying to figure out why two ladies skirts are hanging by the market. We finally realize it is artwork and supposed to be a flower. I think Nibeal is rolling his eyes at us.

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I’ve been trying to include a picture of each couple on our trip as I go along and I think I missed these folks.

Shalom!

 

 

3 thoughts on “Thursday….Museums and Markets

  1. Boker Or! (when someone says “Boker Tov” to you if you respond this way they will be impressed with your Hebrew!) Your days are so packed you must be exhausted. Each day I’ve been reading and in one day you often cover what we do in several days! The museum where you saw the model is the Israel Museum. While you were there did you go in the Shrine of the Book? I can’t remember if pictures are allowed in there.

    I can’t believe that you got let loose in Mea Shearim for 45 minutes! As you saw, they are not very welcoming. I always thought they were that way to us because we do not dress as modestly as they do, but your group is dressed so beautifully and modestly. Once we were walking through to visit a friend who owns a shop there. It was in the summer and a bazillion degrees….we were wearing short sleeve shirts – a man stopped and was pointing at our arms and SCREAMING. Most speak Yiddish there and not Hebrew…I didn’t know what he was screaming but I am pretty sure I had a good idea! LOL

    I love Machane Yehuda….we fine that the fruits and vegetables there are so much better than what we can get here in Miami. I wish you were there in cherry season cause I would love to hear how your cherries compare!

    And you don’t have to miss the hummus when you get home….I can give you some recipes and also there’s a brand that you can buy in Costco that is pretty similar. Not perfect, but close!

  2. Ah, I love Mahane Yehuda! All the sights and sounds and smells. Mmmm.

    I don’t think I had ever heard that about the steps being irregular on purpose to provoke thoughtful approach. That is really an interesting concept! It had never occurred to me that maybe sometimes we could possibly make things too efficient, too convenient, too automatic. I’m thinking about that…how else to apply the idea. :)

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Wednesday….The Old City

 

We’re off bright and early, standing in line before 8:00 to enter the Temple Mount. It’s quite a deal. Arab men rummage through my purse and wave me through the security scanner while Israeli guards stand watch. I see a sign from the Rabbi, strictly forbidding orthodox Jews from entering.

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Honestly, I spend 50% of my time here bewildered. It takes me until noon every day to get my bearings about where exactly I am. Each day we are in a different area and some mornings I am so exhausted. About noon my sluggish brain perks up and I feel good. Usually by that time I can sort of figure out where we are. Side note…I am directionally challenged :)

I have seen a bazillion pictures of Israel over the years but I’m still totally unprepared at each stop. The reality is so very different than what a 4×6 protrays.

This same thing happened when we visited Haiti a few years ago. I would put the camera up to take a picture, look at the viewfinder, and think to myself, “No, this isn’t a good picture. This just looks like every other picture of Haiti I’ve ever seen”. Then I would put my camera down, look around at the real life, panoramic view and try again, only to have the same thing happen.

Pictures are wonderful for memories but they rarely capture the wholeness of a scene.

Temple Mount~

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Pages could be written about the Temple Mount but I’ll just include a couple of things I didn’t know, or at least had never really thought about.

# 1. This building was built in the 7th century.

So just FYI, that basically 700 years BEFORE Columbus sailed the ocean blue.

I can grasp  the fact that *events* happened centuries ago but it’s hard to look at a *building* and comprehend that it has been here that long.

#2. Jews believe this mountain is where Adam was created, where Adam built an alter, where Able offered his sacrifice to God, and where Jacob dreamed of the ladder going to Heaven.

#3. It’s a big place up here. There’s tons of extra room even with the two huge buildings.

We see Muslims washing and praying. Muslims pray 5 times a day.

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We leave the Temple Mount, walk a little through the Old City and arrive at the Temple Institute. This organization has prepared all of the items needed so that, when the time is right, they can once again build their Temple and begin their sacrifices again. I was reading in Leviticus before our trip so many of these items are fresh on my mind. This place is fascinating and their longing for their Messiah to come is evident.

The City of David~

So BEFORE Jerusalem was here, The City of David was here. David conquered the Jebusites here and we walk through tunnels David’s men would have climbed through to conquer the city.

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“On that day David had said, “Anyone who conquers the Jebusites will have to use the water shaft to reach those ‘lame and blind’ who are David’s enemies.[a]” That is why they say, “The ‘blind and lame’ will not enter the palace.”

We misunderstood and didn’t think we would be allowed to walk Hezekiah’s Tunnel so we weren’t prepared with the right shoes, etc…  I think Lloyd is a little sad about that. He told me, “You’ll never visit here this young again” :)

We see The Pool of Siloam built by King Herold and beside which Jesus healed the blind man. John 9

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One more tunnel…I run my hand along a Temple Mount wall built  in King Herod’s day. The large stones were cut to lay together perfectly…you couldn’t fit a piece of paper between them.

There are little prayer rooms off of this tunnel for Jews who love to come down here, under the Old City, to pray. This is as close as they can get to the original Temple, which is lower yet, and to the Holy of Holies.

Speaking of that…they told us at the Temple Institute that the Jews believe they know exactly where the Ark of the Covenant is.

We walk through an aqueduct and inside of a huge cistern which was used, along with the springs, to supply the city with water.

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Above: We stand on paving stones from a road from days Jesus walked in this city.

After all that walking, the little Franciscan Chapel of Inquisition (commemorating the questioning of Jesus by Pilate I think) was a good place to rest a while.

I had never understood the whole destruction thing before. I always knew the City was completely destroyed in AD 70. But your don’t really *destroy* rock. You just rearrange it. So yes, it was destroyed. But in the process of doing so, huge piles of rubble ended up on top of some partially intact buildings or walls or whatever. As the excavate, they find these ruins, many of which are recognizable as walls or arches or buildings.

Wailing Wall ~

I like to think these dedicated and sincere people are praying personal prayers but I am told they are mostly reading prayers and they are wailing for their lost temple.

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We walk a little of the Via Dolorosa. This is the Catholic version of The Way of the Cross, or the path Jesus would have walked on the day of His crucifiction.

The Church of the Holy Sepulchre ~

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People praying over a stone in the Church of the Hold Sepulchre.

This is our last stop…a place where 4 churches wrestle over where, exactly, Jesus was buried. It’s a large, oppressive building. Dwayne and I walk down into one enormous, ornate “tomb” and decide we don’t even want to be in the building. We wait outside in the sunshine and the others soon join us. There are lines of people waiting to get into some of the “tombs” areas.

Old City~

We have already walked quickly through small portions of the Old City to get to some of the places we visited today. Now Nibeal takes us to the Christian Section of the Old City and gives us 45 way-too-short minutes to shop.

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It’s SO much fun and Dwayne finds an olive wood nativity set for me! It’s not as beautiful as yesterdays but its $10,900 cheaper and I’m pleased with it. He buys a leather suitcase for $75 and literally 5 seconds later, as we pass the next booth, a man holds out an identical one and offers it to us for $35. There is no rhyme or reason to their pricing methods. The only thing I find that works is if I show them that I only have $5. Only then will they sell me their “$35″ scarf for $5. I buy some fabric and the merchant hugs me and tells me he likes me very, very much.

I would so much love to have 2 or 3 hours to just walk in the Old City. I want to walk slow, look around, take it in, all 4 quarters. I want to see the houses and the grocery stores, the schools and more of the shops.  I feel like we hardly got a glimpse of it, other than our short shopping time and a couple quick walks going from one place to another.

There is just so very much to see in Israel! Wyatt and Gail have done a super job of organizing our trip and honestly, I feel like the pace has been perfect. Today was the first time I’ve felt like I needed more time. I’m also thankful for our guide. Today there were many other tourist groups nearby and I could overhear some guides. A couple of them sounded like they were reciting memorized information and I even heard one declining to answer question. Nibeal has been a really good guide!

I don’t know exactly how I feel about today. I love the Old City and would like to know it better. I liked seeing all the things we saw and wouldn’t wanted to have missed any of them.

But somehow, it feels like so much Herodian History and Hebrew here in Jerusalem….and so little Jesus.

I guess that’s because Jesus *isn’t* here.

“He is not here: for he is risen, just as he said..” Matthew 28:6

Hallelujah!

8 thoughts on “Wednesday….The Old City

  1. I’m so glad you found a more reasonable nativity–that price was mind-boggling!

    Enjoyed seeing your temple mount pics…that’s one place we haven’t ever been able to go. I totally agree about Holy Sepulchre…didn’t care for that at all!

  2. Oh Sherri! Your comments are just perfect! :) We actualy stayed inside of the old city, Knights Palace! A hotel built in the 1700’s! We got a lot of interaction there! lol We also bought a nativity!

  3. I was waiting for this day and to see what you saw. We are not allowed to go to the temple mount so have only seen it from afar. I fear you were given some misinformation about the people praying at the Kotel (what you called “The Wailing Wall”) – many of us do read prayers there…mostly Psalms. Many of us travel from all over the world to pray here. Like you I am guessing, we feel that G-d can hear our prayers no matter where we are praying. But for us, praying here is special because it is a place that G-d chose. We do not “wail” here for the lost temple…although I am often overcome with tears here because the connection I feel with G-d here is so strong that it is a little overwhelming sometimes. I pray for all sorts of things there….my family, my friends, the world we live in….I remember praying for dear Zeke and your family there too. Those little pieces of paper you see in the wall – it is our custom to write prayers to G-d and leave them there. Often before I travel there I will ask from prayer requests and include them in the note I leave there. I’m interested at your reaction at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. You’ll have to tell me more when you come home. I went there last year at a friend’s request for pictures but I didn’t really know what I was taking pictures of. Continued safe travels….

    • I’m so glad to hear this! I wanted so much to think that these women were praying personal prayers as they appeared to be sincere and genuine. Thank you for sharing…it is all so interesting to me. And thank you for praying for us…I am grateful. Yes, we will have to talk more later! I hope so much I have not offended you by anything I have written. My heart feels much love for the Jewish people while I am here! I can tell you more of my thought about the Temple Mount too…there’s much to say, I just didn’t want to be too lengthy.

      • Oh no – not offended in the slightest! I love so much of what you have written. At the end of the day I truly feel that at the heart of it all, we are all children of G-d – no matter what religion we are. I’ve said it several times while you have been on your trip, I love so much seeing this all through your eyes. I’ve seen the country through mostly Jewish eyes though and you have shown me so much more despite the fact that I have been there more times than I can count. I can’t wait to hear more about your trip when you get home!

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Tuesday…Around Jerusalem

Nibeal gives an overview of the orthodox Jews as we drive through their section of town on our way to the Mount of Olives. These people live in their own community and neither the men nor the women hold jobs.  Instead the men spend their lives studying the Torah and I suppose the women care for the home and children.  They are supported by the state and are also exempt from military service, as well as some taxes and permits. I ask Nibeal how the rest of the Israeli citizens feel about that and he responds by explaining that the orthodox Jews run the Department of Interior.

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Where ever we go, Dwayne always has to check out the health of the trees :)

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Mt of Olives ~ From up here we have a wonderful view of Jerusalem and the Temple Mount.  David came through here when he was fleeing from Absolom and Solomon built groves on this mountain for his idol- worshiping wives. From this place Jesus ascended up to heaven and here is where His feet will one day stand again.  “And his feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, and the mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst othereof toward the east and toward the west” Zechariah 14:4

A church is built on the mountain top and has a tiny hole in the floor, revealing a bit of rock that Jesus supposedly stood on. Dwayne and I are both disappointed with the area. Dwayne was supposed to speak here so he has studied it and has been anxious to see it. It’s just all buildings and pavement…so much so, that it’s hard to get perspective. I can’t even tell I am *on* a mountain until we get down to the bottom later and I can look up.

I find myself silently repeating a little rhyme I learned along time ago. “Feeling, Faith, and Fact were standing on a wall. Feeling took a tumble and Faith began to fall. Faith was so entwined with Feeling that when he fell, Faith fell too. But Fact remained, and pulled Faith up, and that brought Feeling too.”

In visiting some of these places, there are no feelings at all and I just have to be satisfied with the facts that I know that I know. Jesus suffered. Jesus died. Jesus rose. Jesus Lives!

From the Mount of Olives we walk down to the Garden of Gethsemane. A few very old olive trees are gated off here and across the road is a grove of younger olive trees set in a garden of various other plants. The pictures above are of the Garden of Gethsemane.

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We see the Dome of the Rock in the distance. I always think the Dome is beautiful in pictures but standing here, it seems more like an eyesore. It doesn’t belong here. I tell Dwayne that and he says, “Well, we don’t want temple worship there either.”

And it’s true. What we want is every eye to see Jesus and every knee to bow *now* so that these dear Jewish people can be spared the tragedies that are coming some day.

IMG_1204We enter the church which holds the rock over which Jesus supposedly agonized. A group is worshiping there. The whitish area in the foreground of this picture is the rock.

I am struck with how much worship happens in Israel in public places. So different than in America.

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Chinese believers. We love stopping to talk to people of all different ethnic groups. We see large group from India today…so exciting to see them all.

We visit an upper room which would have been like the the one the Lord and his disciples used for the last supper.

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At King David’s tomb we separate since women must enter one way and men another. The men all must wear yarmulkes. Dwayne asks if he can keep his and the keeper of the tourists says sure. D thinks it might help with his sunburn problem.

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Caiaphas House…the place to which Jesus was brought for trial after being arrested in the Garden. Under this house we see the prison Jesus may have been put down into overnight. This seems very authentic and it was certainly a deep pit of some kind. Note the place where prisoners hands might have been tied up.

Kendall is speaking in the chapel or church (I forget) that has been erected where Caiaphas house would have stood, over the jail.

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These are the steps Jesus would have climbed while being escorted by the temple guard from the Kidron Valley to Caiaphas’ house. They are fairly certain this was the place of Jesus trial.

Back on the bus, we head to the West Bank again and into Bethleham. A delicious lunch of Falafel again…a favorite of mine…at an Arab restaurant called Ruth’s restaurant. The owner who takes our orders tell us her name is Ruth and her husband is Boaz. I love eating at these Arab places. In fact, I just like being in the West Bank. I can’t explain why…maybe it reminds me a tiny bit of China.

I thought about Zeke often today. I am really, reallly missing my usual morning cup of tasty, home brewed coffee. I remember how homesick Zeke was about 3 weeks after coming home and today I can imagine a little of his yearning for familiar drinks and food.

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Shepherd’s Fields ~

We are in the Judean Hills, where shepherds would have kept their flocks.

We drive by fertile fields thought to be the Old Testament feilds of Boaz and Ruth. There are no rocks in them :)

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A stop in the Olive Wood store ties my stomach in knots. All this time I have been trying not to buy anything because I am planning to buy a nativity set here. I’m prepared to pay a good price. Ha.

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This one immediate captures my heart.

It’s $11,000.

Sob.

The clerks follow me around for FOURTY-FIVE minutes talking and gesturing and making deals and trading figurines around until they finally come down to $5000. I go outside to get away from them and immediatly am surrounded by 3 men selling purses. $10 apiece. I offer him $5 and buy one. A little while later another merchant tries to sell me the very same purse…3 for a dolla’!

I might have seriously felt like crying by this time.

Dwayne has a good conversation with an Arab Christian clerk at the store. She tells him life is not difficult for her in Bethlehem and that she has friends from all religion groups and gets along fine. She believes Bethlehem is a good area to live in and says not all of the West Bank is the same.

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The rest of the day we spend seeing grottos, or caves, sometimes used by shepherds for protection in Bible times, and the area around the Church of the Nativity.

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I love this painting. My photography doesn’t at all capture it’s beauty. So many of the churches we visit are filled with stunning paintings and mosaics. I haven’t been writing down all the names of all the churches we visit. It gets confusing after a while…there are so many, many churches, chapels and other buildings commemorating everything.

Was Jesus born in a cave or a stable made of wood?

Back at the motel we eat supper and then have a choice of evening activities. We can walk a few blocks and do some shopping, take a taxi to the King David to visit with Gary Garber’s group who are staying there, or stay home and relax. We choose the walk/shopping. It’s a cool evening and it feels good to be out at night.

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Apartments we walk past in the evening.

Another full day and we drop into bed exhausted but happy :)

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Oh, one more picture…graves along the slope right outside of Jerusalem.

So. Many.

And one more!

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See that house on the left? There are tons of these all over…houses with an open and unfinished upstairs. In the Arab sections, people build homes with unfinished stories on top of the lower level. When your children marry, then you finish an upper floor and they live there. So no nursing homes….you just move down a level as you age. :) I think this is a great idea. How fun to have my married kids living upstairs!  Dwayne and I were going to downsize soon but now we’re thinking of just adding an upper floor or two instead….

 

 

2 thoughts on “Tuesday…Around Jerusalem

  1. Let me know how the housing plan goes! :D
    The olive wood nativity…appalling that they charge such prices! I am so sorry. :( And we had that exact same thing happen with bags! So ridiculous.

  2. Oh Dwayne and Sherri! Now that we are home I am just enjoying following you so so much! I am also kind of sad because I am already ready to go back! It was just the most special trip we have ever taken. All your pictures I recognize from just being there! Enjoy every minute! Love and God’s blessings dear friends! Roger’s

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Monday…Up to Jerusalem

That was quite a swim! Very relaxing…felt like I was floating on a raft in Margaret’s pool only there was no raft. We had a healthy, side-splitting laughing session when Galen did a few roll-overs and a lot of hollering before getting situated into his floating position! So funny! Vickie was wishing someone had gotten a video for their grandsons.

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I sigh with relief when I see our lovely room and it even has a balcony for watching the sun rise over the Dead Sea this morning.

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After an early breakfast of…surprise…cheeses, salads and other familiar dishes we are back on the bus at 7:30.  Vickie and I spotted real, true cheese pizza on the way out of the dining room and even though we had just eaten, we stopped and grabbed a piece. Mmmm….a taste of home. I’ve been pocketing butter from the breakfast bar to use on my rolls at dinner but feel pretty guilty so last night I just took my roll up to my room and enjoyed it there. The food seems pretty much the same at each hotel and I wonder if tourists who visit the U.S. feel like the food is pretty much the same everywhere in our country. They probably do and I must say, the huge selections here make our hotel waffles, donuts and pre-cooked eggs look pretty paltry.

I’m thinking the negotiations between the two countries need to broaden their horizons. Maybe the Israelis could teach us about healthy eating and we could teach them a thing or two about bathrooms. Just saying.

But those are all side issues…most of the day isn’t spent in hotels…it is spent looking around with wide eyes and adrenaline flowing, always learning, and experiencing the country in wonderful ways.

Camel Rides~

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This morning we drive via the Judean Desert for a visit to a Bedouin camp and camel rides. Everyone is still smiling when we’re finished!

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Our beautiful Jewish tour guide shows us around the camp and we see the tents where tourist can spend the night. They will feed you local cuisine for dinner and you can make it to Masada to watch the sunrise.

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A Bedouin woman tells us about her life as we sit and enjoy coffee she has made. It’s a hard life for women. Her husband now lives with his second wife, having left her alone to raise her 10 children. I’m not clear on if he supports her at all but it’s very clear that she is in favor of liberation for Muslim women. She tells us that all Bedouins are Muslim. Historically, they live in tents and caves in the desert.

Masada~

Below, Megan and Heather look over the valley from the top of Masada.

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Picture above…looking at model of Masada, remains in background and the Dead Sea beyond. Two pictures up…the colored wall is original from Herod’s time.

We ascend Masada by cable car to see this fortress and sanctuary King Herod built for himself and where, in AD 73, 1000 Jews were forced to choose between slavery or death. All chose death except 2 women and a few children who hid. Later Joshephus was able to hear the stories these women had to tell and record them for us. By all means look it up. I’d love to tell it all here but I would ramble and some of you already know it.

I said yesterday that I was having trouble feeling. At Masada I felt chills. There are simply no words to describe the engineering, organization and labor it took to build this place in King Herod’s day. And not only is the castle incredible, but the history of the Jewish rebels who were here in 73 AD….it’s fascinating. I keep using that word. Sorry.

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Dwayne and Brad decide to skip the cable car and hike down Masada…about a 30 minute hike if you keep it at a good clip.  You can see them in the picture if you squint. I would love to do it too but have a history of ankle twisting and don’t want to take any chances so I spend the lunch time shopping and eat a pita bread on the run. The pitas here are like none I’ve ever tasted. So soft, chewy and yummy, I enjoy it plain.

Shopping here…oh my. I finally had to look the sales lady square in the face and say “I can not THINK with you talking to me and I need to THINK.”

 

Ein Gedi or Engedi ~

“And it came to pass, when Saul was returned from following the Philistines, that it was told him, saying, Behold, David is in the wilderness of Engedi.” I Sam 24:1

These are the springs which sustained David and his men as he hid from King Saul. One of these caves, or one nearby, might have been the cave Saul slept in when David crept in and cut off a piece of his garment.

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I almost missed it. For a few fleeting seconds I thought of skipping out on this stop. It’s hot, I’m tired, and I felt like I was kind of done with rocky places.

I am SO glad I didn’t skip it! Besides the Sea of Galilee, this is my favorite spot so far. We hike up and up and up, feasting our eyes upon waterfall after waterfall coming out of enormous rocks set in gigantic mountains. Caves are here and there and a few green plants grow around the springs of water. It’s way, way better than I captured on the pictures. I didn’t get any of the waterfalls and my amature photography can’t possibly show the enormity of the stones.

This is the first real hiking we’ve done and it feels good.

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Today there are lots of school children here and we get to talk to some of them. They have me surrounded (above)…they’re so excited to meet Americans and ask all kinds of questions. Yes, I know Justin Bieber, No, I don’t like his music and Yes, we know about football :)  Dwayne tells a couple we are here to see where Jesus walked and they look baffled.

I wonder which psalms David wrote while at Engedi?

This blogging on the fly is good for remembering what all we have seen but frustrating that I don’t have time to make corrections…I looked back today and see some things I have wrong. Hopefully anyone reading understands. Do famous bloggers have paid proof-readers? Just wondering. I have a lot of questions today.

Speking of questions, we get to sit in the front seat of the bus today which a marvelous place to get so many questions answered. I think I would like to be a tour guide in Israel.

Now we are driving along the Dead Sea up to Bethany. There are many sinkholes along this sea from salt accumulation which then caves in. Nibeal says they are worried about sinkholes under the motel we stayed in and are looking for new places to build. Yikes.

We turn west and are taking the same road the Good Samaritan would have taken when he came upon the wounded man. We will ascend around 2500 feet in 17 miles as we make our way up to Jerusalem.

Bethany is under Palestinian control and therefore is not subject to Israel’s traffic control, permits, etc. It is less organized and the area of Lazarus tomb we are visiting is subject to pick-pockets. Nibeal warns us ahead of time to be careful and not to stop and buy anything.

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We all get a chance to walk down, down into Lazarus’s tomb.

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This Arab section of town looks so old-world to me, I feel like I am in a museum instead of on a modern-day street. Nibeal commends us for doing a good job staying together and says this short walk was good practice for tomorrow in Jerusalem. He puts it this way: Jerusalem is the Holy City but some people in it are not so holy.

I ask Nibeal why the muslim shopkeepers along the streets are not throwing tomatoes at us Americans and he says we are safe with him because he is Arab.

Back on bus, we pass through the checkpoint separating the West Bank from the rest of Israel. Around the bend and suddenly…

There is Jerusalem!

 

3 thoughts on “Monday…Up to Jerusalem

  1. I am so loving seeing this through your eyes. Many of the places you have been, we have been too. We see them through Jewish eyes though – so using your word — your journey is “fascinating” to me. I’m so excited to see your posts every day and your trip has already given me some ideas of new places to see when we take our annual trip there in May.

  2. Oh, no! You can NOT be done with rocky places!!! :D As you, said, it’s all rocky. Ein Gedi is a favorite of mine. Love the hills and hollows and waterfalls.

    I am curious, though, about your guides reassurances about being safe because he is Arab. Apparently the other Arabs don’t realize that he is a Christian? Does he ever talk about that? Arab Christians have rather difficult lives, I thought.

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Sunday…Down to the Dead Sea

It’s a melancholy feeling to leave the Sea of Galilee. This is such a beautiful and peaceful place. Opal tells me that in the summer the lake is full of boats and vacationers but this time of year it’s quiet. If I stand on the shores and let your mind wander, I can almost imagine the busy fishing docks of Jesus’ day. Rough fishermen working on their boats…small cities dotting the shores

I don’t have a good picture that shows what it really looks like to stand on the bank and gaze across the sea. I even looked for one online and there’s nothing that suits me. I guess you’ll just have to come :)

However…I am NOT melancholy about leaving the kibbutz. I stumble to breakfast, wondering if all the rooms have flashing lights on the ceiling all night long, cardboard walls, leaking appliances, and dirty unmentionables on the bathroom floor left over from the last guest. I’m trying to be nice and don’t want to get a maid fired so I don’t complain to the front desk. Only to you :)

I do wish I could have gotten pictures of the Jewish children playing last night at the Kubbutz. It was their Sabbeth evening and there was quite a crowd of kiddos of all sizes racing around, inside the door and out again, their mothers occasionally shushing them or directing them back outside. I was struck with the common language that all children speak….Playing Games. The rules may differ a little from culture to culture but the running, cheering, whispering, and laughing are the same. The children here are so cute with their olive skin and dark, often curly, hair.

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Bet-She’an ~ This ancient city from 5000 BC. In the Roman period it was the most important of the Ten Cities, the Decapolis, and the only one on the west bank of the Jordan. They are excavating large portions. We don’t have time to walk through them but get a good overview.

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You can read of this city in II Sam 21:12 and II Sam 31:12. It speaks of the Philistines hanging the bones of King Saul and Jonathon here.

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Nearby we see the Spring of Gideon, the waters where Gideon chose his men Judges 7.

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Except I’m pretty sure Gideon’s men didn’t drink this murky water. The actual spring is 10 miles north and in a park. We can’t get in there today so they bring us to this site downstream. Dave and Dwayne are standing on a portion of the old city wall of Bet-She’an.

Even when a site leaves me underimpressed, I enjoy the sunshine, palm trees, and other beautiful vegetation that is everywhere.

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We stop at the traditional site of Jesus baptism and I dip my toes in the muddy water. They tell us that only 10% of the water from the Sea actually makes it down to the Dead Sea these days. I like to think that when John baptized, this stream was a rushing flow of clear, rippling water.

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We worship here

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Listen to German tourists worship

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And watch as some of them are baptized.
No one knows for sure where Jesus was baptized but we are very near to the Judean wilderness where He likely went afterwards and was tempted of the devil.

We follow the Jordan river south for an hour. If I look down for even 2 minutes the scenery has changed. We pass thousands of greenhouses, forests of palm trees, and hills that remind me of the Yakima Valley except they are lush and green.
Shepherds keep their sheep in these hill, living in caves and sometimes tents. The sheep blend in with the stones and are hard to spot.

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Jericho ~ We visit the ancient section which the British began to excavate in the 1920’s and can see part of a watchtower (pic above) they have uncovered. This is the area the spies would have seen when they first entered the land of milk and honey and the city whose walls came tumbling down. Zacchius lived here, Bartimaeus was healed here, and the Mount of Temptation and is nearby. The remains found here at Jericho are believed to be the oldest in all of Israel. We see a lot of agriculture here.

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This is the Mount of Temptation….the mountain where Satan may have tempted Jesus to jump down. From the peak, all the fertile valley along the Jordan could have been seen. We don’t have time to take the cable cars up but view it from the bottom.
Since entering Jericho, we have been in the West Bank area of Israel. Many Israeli tour groups cannot get into this area because it is controlled by the Palestinian people. They need special insurance policies in order to come in and may not be well received.

Nibeal, our guide, is a Christian Arab and our bus driver, Ahab, is Arab Muslim so we have no problem.

 

 

It’s fun to eat a traditional Arab lunch, shop in their stores a little and we pick up a sack of the most delicious oranges!

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Shopping is *quite* the deal here. This picture shows just how it goes. First they sidle up to you being all nice and helpful and talking a mile a minute…

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…and the next thing you know they’re demonstrating their product all over your face…

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…or better yet…they have you atop a camel :)

Nibeal helps us by taking us to shops with the best prices and then helps us barter. I’m trying not to buy much because I think I know what I really want….it’s expensive and it’s in Jerusalem :)
Qumeran ~ My mother has some really interesting information in her diaries about the Essenes who lived here and copied the scriptures. It is believed that John the Baptist was a part of this sect who immersed twice daily in water to purify themselves. They lived in this desert mountain, secluded and a little like you would think of monks living. How interesting that John began to immerse the common people, calling them to repentance and preparing the way for the Lamb of God!  These men all scattered in AD 70 and never returned. It is here that the ancient scrolls were found in…uh oh…I forget. Recently :)
Gotta run! We’ve been driving right along the salty Dead Sea, with barren hills against us on the other side and are nearly at our motel where we will swim in the Dead Sea before dark and, hopefully, I will not do awkward summersaults in front of everyone.

 

 

 

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Saturday….Golan Heights

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Finally I sleep. I caved and took a whole Benedryl even though they reportedly will give me Alzheimer’s and wake up only when the heater went on and off. I feel much better.

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We both are awake by 5 so we walk down to the Sea of Galilee and watch the magnificent sunrise. Today promises to be warm and sunny. The sky is clear and the view much better than yesterday. Here and there along the shore people are sitting on rocks or standing alone. Many of them are reading or praying. Just a few…it’s easy to find a quiet spot.

 

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At 6:30 we join the others in our group for a morning worship service out on the pier. It’s pretty cool in the early morning and Dwayne wonders how cold Jesus must have gotten when he went up into one of these mountains at night to pray.

Breakfast is the usual spread of many cheeses, fruits, salads, and eggs. This morning they also have a plates made up of hummus, some kind of white sauce, beans, spices and herbs. I add some saurcraut that is sitting nearby to mine and it is absolutely delicious.

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Golan Heights~ A 50 mile range of mountains which connect to Mt Hermon. Assume all of you know the history here and the strategic importance of this area. Lloyd tells us stories from his first trips to this country, when some of their guides had actually participated in the 6 day war. He shares accounts of miracles that happened….some very similar to old testament miracles, such as clouds suddenly blocking the enemies view.

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On the way up the mountains we see the snow capped peaks of majestic Mt. Hermon.  This mountain sits at the junction of Syria, Israel, and Lebanon and is highly valued as a source of water. I would have thought it was clouds if Nibeal hadn’t pointed it out to us.

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We all load up onto jeeps and go exploring!  I had no idea it was so beautiful on the Golan Heights this time of year. We see donkeys, cows, egrets, and even a partridge in a pear tree!

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Today is a day we hear more recent history and get an understanding of the springs up here that provide 38% of Israel’s water supply.

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We don’t stand on the Jordan River’s stormy banks but we do cross it a couple of times. :)

The highway leading to Damascus is within sight.   In ancient days, these Golan Heights were on the route from Damascus to the sea ports on the Mediterranean.  Paul would have journeyed here as he went from Damascus to Galilee.

Our jeep stops at a fort where the crusaders fought the muslims and we drive through an area that was part of Syria until 1973. The cows have cleared most of the land mines by now but there are still many warning signs.

After 2 hours, our jeep ride ends…we have a little mud on us but we don’t care. I mean, how often do you get a chance to get Golan Heights mud on you???

Back on the bus, we head north. We drive by an area where there are archeological finds from King Solomon’s day but we don’t stop. This part of Israel is very green right now and there is much agriculture. Buzzing past our windows are all manner of fruit and nut trees. There are palm trees and greenhouses, pine and eucalyptus trees. Such a variety. I’ve also noticed the songbirds. Beautiful and so many different ones.

Lunch is a quick stop and Dwayne and opt to skip it. We sit in the sun and rest.

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Ceaserea Philippi ~ By Jesus time, this was a Roman town and is one of the 3 water sources for the Jordan River. Here, they worshiped a God called Pan, the root of the word panic. This god was believed to be 1/2 goat and 1/2 man. We are 40 miles from the Sea of Galilee and it’s interesting to think that Jesus walked that far, to this pagan town, so that He could give His disciples a visual of what He was about to tell them.

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The Rock is enormous and the cave you see in the picture is where the people would throw an infant as a sacrifice to their god. If the water that ran red with blood, the sacrifice was not acceptable and they would have to do another.

 

Those poor, dear mamas…

 

The disciples had just seen some exciting events and Jesus wants to know…”Who do *you* say that I am?” Then He tells Peter…”upon this rock I will build  my church and the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it”. It’s a powerful statement and interesting to think how Jesus courageously said this right here in what was very much Satan’s domain.

 

Tel Dan ~ This is 2nd source of Jordan.  Settled in 2000 BC, you can read of the city of Dan in Judges 18:1-2, Judges 8:27, and Joshua 19:47 ( I *think*) Also 1King 12:28-29…where Jereboham made the idol of golden calves. We see all kinds of remains here…the gates to the city, the city itself.

 

Nabil shows me how to tell original stones from those which are reconstructed and I feel a bit better about all this archeological stuff. I am way too skeptical, I guess :)

 

On up above the remains of Dan, we climb up onto some stones and look across the valley into Lebanon. Pretty cool. I’ve almost been to Lebanon.

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Last stop ~ a few feet away they have discovered much older gates to an older Dan…the one mentioned in Genesis 14:14. These would be 5000 years old and from the time of Abraham.  This gate has survived to it’s full height.

Seeing the two time periods of Dan leads to interesting discussion. Obviously Gen 14 happened long before Jacob named his son Dan. So there are two possible explanations. One is that  the city of Abraham’s time happened to be named Dan and then….the man, Dan, came to live in it later after it was given him in the division of the land among the 12 tribes. OR. The Old Testament writers just used that name in Gen 14 as a way of describing the location Abram ran to, knowing we readers would understand.  Oh boy. Never mind. Too much to explain.

I like these places this afternoon because no huge church’s have been built around them. They are now set in nature preserves that are beautiful to walk through.

I’m trying to “feel this” but my brain is so busy thinking and my feet are so busy walking that I honestly don’t feel as much as I’d like. My quiet time down my the Sea this morning was good.I think maybe a trip like this needs a day in the middle for rest, reading and reflection.

Random pics….

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Galen has a super handy place to keep his Bible…

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Taken at Tel Dan. I think.

 

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