Monday, January 27, 2020

Day 7 - Israel Anniversary Trip!

Wed. May 15, 2019
Got to see a beautiful garden that some argue is where Jesus was buried. The hillside does look a lot like a skull where He could have been crucified. Not so much in the picture, but in real life it does. I love gardens anyway so I like to think it was where Jesus was buried. It's easier to imagine Him here instead of the enshrined, overly decorated cathedrals. We had communion together and sang worship songs. I was so happy here. Quite a contradiction from the day before.

At the Pools of Bethesda and the church of Anna, Mary's mother, we explored all over the ruins and down into caverns. This is where the man was waiting to be lowered into the pools when the angel stirred the water to be healed, but Jesus told him to, "Stand up, take your mat and walk." From there we saw more Roman time stones and a an etching in one of the stones of a game that the soldiers would play with dice to mock those waiting to be crucified along the Via Delarosa. We were all set free for lunch and the Ourys and we followed a man named Abraham, who wanted money, who led us to the Quarter Cafe Restaurant where we had a delicious quiche and wonderful view.
The church of the Holy Sepulchre, where many say that Christ was crucified, wrapped in linen and buried in Joseph's tomb was crazy, crowded and again covered in gaudy gold, curtains, marble and angry priests violently shaking their incense at everyone. Peter's waterbottle dropped out of our backpack pocket and before I could pick it up a very bothered priest swooped in and grabbed it in frustration and ushered it briskly into the wastebasket. People were kissing the Stone of Unction, the place they believed to be where Jesus was laid after being taken off the cross and where they think He was buried there was a long line to get into this tent looking thing, actually a shrine called the Aedicula, in the middle of the cathedral. We didn't go in, but got very mean looks from everyone because they thought we were cutting in line while we were trying to just get through to the other side. These are the steps outside the Holy Sepulchre, which is shared by many different Christian denominations and who argue about how to maintain it. 
The bus took us to the Mt of Olives, which is now a bunch of tombs of Jews who wanted to be buried there so they will be ready & the first to be resurrected they believe because of their placement in Jerusalem. We walked from there down the Palm Sunday Path to the Garden of Gathsemene.
That is where I met the gardener, who gave me branches from the over 2,000-year-old olive tree that he believes makes a healing tea. He waited to give them to me until everyone else went into the chapel because of course there is a chapel there!!

We had dinner at the hotel.
That night we took the city bus to the city center and had coffee and met a Jewish family that we talked to for an hour. We walked back to the Tower of David and went to see a light and sound show that was projected on the walls of the tower.

Saturday, January 25, 2020

Day 6 - Israel Anniversary Trip!

Tue. May 14, 2019

Seeing the Western Wall and how huge the original stones were that Herod build the temple was amazing! I loved going the underground tunnels to see what it would have looked like when Jesus was there or at least the level that it was when Jesus walked there. We watched a movie and saw a model that showed how they would've moved such ginormous stones. We also saw underground pools and tunnels.
We walked through the Christian Quarter part of the Via Dolorosa to get to
The Wailing Wall. There is a men's side and a women's side. Cara and I put our prayers in the wall together. 
We saw the stones that used to be on top of the wall that the Romans pushed off to try to destroy the temple.
These stones are so huge! The cornerstone was about 3 times the size of the one they are standing in front of.
We had a devotion in front of the steps where Jesus would have gone up to the temple. Also, this is where Pentecost happened. The Southern Wall. Eli reminded us the when the golden calf was formed 3000 lives were lost and at Pentecost 3000 lives were saved.

We walked through which some say was the Upper Room where the disciples at the Last Supper with Jesus. It is now a type of cathedral - everything is.
We went from there to Caiaphas' house where Jesus could've been flogged and put in a pit. The courtyard where Peter heard the rooster crow after he denied Him three times is right outside there.
Behind us are the steps He walked up to get from the Garden of Gethsemane to Annas Caiaphas' father-in-law's to Caiaphas house and I cried and cried sitting on them.
We ate Biblical meal in Yad Hashmona for a late lunch.

Then along with the Durrs, Wells, and Ourys we went rouge and hopped off the bus. While everyone else drove back to the hotel we walked around Jerusalem, mainly the Muslim and Christian Quarters. That's when I realized that even though they are named differently, all the shops are actually owned by Muslims. We walked some of the Via Delarosa and met the VI station man and wandered through many market shops where Erik and Jer bought drums and Niki got a nativity and I got a juice and then walked back to through the Damascus gate to our hotel where we had dinner.
Peter and I snuck into the spa, hot tub, and pool and I cried again thinking of all the unsaved people living right here in the one place that Jesus Himself came to earth. And I felt so small in relation to God's great plan, but wanting to be used by Him somehow and not knowing how.

Day 5 - Israel Anniversary Trip!

Mon. May 13, 2019  - Our Anniversary!
We ate a quick breakfast at our hotel in Jerusalem and then headed up to the temple mount. We walked around and saw where the temple would be built in the future and saw the Muslim Dome of the Rock. Men and women are not allowed to touch here, so we are not touching.
 Because it is a Palestine controlled area our guide Eli could not come to Bethlehem with us so we had a new guide come aboard our tour bus, Sana, who led us through the Church of the Nativity. It was so crowded and we had to wait in line for about 45 minutes, which she said was pretty good, just to see the cave, which now looks nothing like a cave since it is adorned in marble and jewels and all things gaudy, where they think Jesus was born.
You have to go down these stairs set in a semi-circle which leads to a one-person tunnel that your have to duck to go through and it opens up into the tiny area where the birthplace, now red-curtained, marble, metal star, and hanging lanterns and opposite supposedly the manger in which Mary laid Jesus. But a group of about 10 Russian Catholics were having a service in there and wouldn't let anyone see it.
This was about the only cave looking party of the whole thing above the service happening in the manger area.
Right outside the church building are these stairs leading down to where St. Jerome translated the Bible, they are blocked off by metal bars, but this is us next to them .
She next took us to the Boaz and Ruth fields to see some cool caves where the shepherds would have been tending their sheep. This was a very cool part because the other tour groups were just standing at the touristy part above and she led us down past the fences and through gates into this cave she had found as a schoolgirl when the nuns would take the girls on field trips and she would wander off. After everyone left the cave I found a cool tunnel that went deep into the hill that I followed for a while until Tyler made me come back to the group. The bad thing about touring with a group is that you don't just get to do what you want, or you mess up everyone else's timeline. And we had a lot packed into our trip. 
However, I could've stayed at cave land longer and skipped the next museums. We had lunch at the Shrine of the Book Museum where we saw the real Dead Sea Scrolls or at least part of them. I only got one-tenth of the way through the Holocaust Museum. But I did get a good pic with our tour guide, Eli, without knowing it at the Friends of Zion Museum, a technologically advanced center where we stood under domes which lit up and told the stories of different people who helped the Jewish people after WWII.
At dinner, we were given an anniversary cake and card signed by our tour mates. Then we found out we couldn't go in the spa anymore only pastor Jim and Jaci could because they were the organizers, but Jer and the Knacks got in somehow. The staff was notably not happy with us for asking why we couldn't use the spa and wouldn't even serve us drinks in the lobby. We talked for a while and then went to bed.

Friday, January 24, 2020

Day 4 - Israel Anniversary Trip!

Sun. May 12, 2019
We woke up at 5:00 so that we could be up with the sun floating in the Dead Sea. The Wells were the only ones that joined us for this magnificent memory. Thankfully one other couple was there also, but the wife didn't want to float and she asked if we wanted her to take our picture. So we were able to have amazing photos of our float with the sun just rising over the hills!
We come back for breakfast at our hotel and got ready for our hike up Masada to see Herod's palace. The brave hikers of the group were us, the Wells, the Ourys, the Pritchards, the Durrs, Dan, and Tyler. We explored all over and found the lower terrace with Tyler and Tony.
En Gedi, where David cut off part of Saul's robe while he was relieving himself in the cave, we hiked and saw and played in some waterfalls and drank a delicious mango drink. It was beautiful!
At the Jordan river, we heard all of the people's testimonies who were going to get baptized for the first time. Then we dunked in the murky waters while Jordanian soldiers watched from the other side of the river. So many groups were there to get baptized that we had to wait a while and some forceful preachers shoved their way into the water. Our guide, Eli, was the most patient man. Wherever we went he made sure to be polite and let other groups go first. A true Christian.
At Genesis Land we rode camels (which was quite an experience, especially the getting on and off the camel part!) down to our interactive dinner in a tent where Abraham was there to greet us! It was a memorable meal that we ate on pillows on the ground semi-dressed in our Biblical garb. We dined on honey-date chicken, rice, pitas, shepherd's bread, hummus, meat kabobs, toppings, and dried fruit, tea and coffee for dessert. It was the best meal of the trip.
After this, we went to a gift shop in Jerusalem which was owned by a Christian Arab. I didn't buy anything but got the owner to pay me for throwing away his trash.
We went to our hotel, the Dan Jerusalem which was full of teen soldiers since they have to serve at the age of 18. We went to dinner and then went to the spa with the Durrs, Wells, and Knacks. I did my nails and went in the hot tub.