Monthly Archives: April 2014

In and around the cities in Israel

In this last week of April I am posting my final blog on Israel. It will take us from Haifa to Jericho sharing some  interesting scenes from several cities we visited. In the picture below we are high on top of Haifa and are looking down at the place where the scud missiles came in from Lebanon several years earlier.  Haifa is a beautiful city and it may surprise to learn that there is a large population of Baha’i Faith followers in this city. It is also near Mt Carmel, and we visited a church that honored the prophet Elijah.


Here is a picture of a street in Cana, where Jesus performed His first miracle, turning ordinary water into extraordinary wine. This is a miracle of change and if we let Him, He can perform this miracle in our lives, changing us from ordinary people to extraordinary as we live in the Spirit of Christ.  In Cana you can taste some wines, visit the church built over the home of the wedding host, or shop along the streets.


Now we are on the lovely Mt of the Beatitudes.  A series of well manicured gardens laden with date palms and hedges, over look the Sea of Galilee,


A  place of contemplation and enjoyment of the atmosphere.

Next stop is the Sea of Galilee.  This is an amazing activity that most people who visit Israel have a chance to do.  For us it was on a Sunday morning and we enjoyed sailing around the calm waters for about an hour.  It was wonderful to recall all the happenings on and around this lake that has been named a sea.  Do you remember the story of Peter casting the net all night and not catching any fish?  Jesus tells him to cast the net on the other side and he catches a net full of fish.  On our boat they cast the net out on both sides, but  no fish were caught.


After our ride we walked over to the shores and wet our feet in these famous waters. We spent time looking at the many flat and odd-shaped stones on the beach, where once Jesus cooked some fish for the disciples.


Here is one of my favorite crock pictures taken near the Sea of Galilee. It was just sitting there in the grass, looking like it needed its picture taken.


Nearby is the old city of Capernaum where we see the remains of the house of Peter and the synagogue where Jesus healed the withered hand.


The structure is a church built over the house site.  You can see here how close the houses were to each other, with connecting walls.


This is one of many beautiful scenes along the Jordan River, near where they do baptisms today, but not near where Jesus was baptised as that was closer to Jericho.   From here we travel down to the area of Jericho.  The landscape changes dramatically on our journey. The land becomes sandy and barren hills appears.  We see the “tell” where they continue to excavate the city of Jericho.    Soon we are viewing Temptation Mountain, where Jesus spent 40 days preparing for His ministry.


I was excited to visit this little out-of-the-way place termed Elisha Springs.  It is the spring where Elisha changed the bitter waters into sweet water.  A little old man stays there and is the keeper of the springs.  The water is very clear and is good for use today.


And from there we visit the sycamore tree where Zacchaeus watched for Jesus.


There was a another little old man there selling pictures of the tree for fifty cents.

Our hotel here is called the Jacir Palace inter-continental in Bethlehem.  It is quite a mass of hallways and rooms on different levels.  Once when we were trying to find the reception area, we caught up to a couple in our group who were approaching the same elevator.  We started asking each other, “Is this the right one?”  No one knew for sure, then we noticed doors on both sides of the car.  Our friend said “If those doors open and we are in Phoenix, just stay on the craft.”  We all laughed and soon were finding our way around easily.


A view over the city of Bethlehem from the church of the Nativity.  We saw much of inner city Bethlehem and watched traffic negotiate around the very narrow streets.  It seems the driving follows no particular pattern. Although horns blow, most people are patient and will give the right of way, if there is such a thing.


I love this picture of an innovative Palestinian making a living on the streets of downtown Bethlehem.  Sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do.

There is a lot more to share, but I will leave you this:  As we go about our daily lives let us remember to pray for the Peace in and around Israel.

And a final note about this rainy month.  We can only hope that April showers will indeed bring May flowers.   Happy Spring.

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A day in Jerusalem

One day in Jerusalem is not nearly enough, but we made the most of the time we had.  I was so excited to see the city, and our first sighting was the wall that surrounds the old city.  Walls and fences are not my favorite thing but one must get used to them if he is to spend much time in Israel.  Another familiar sight are armed guards, especially around Jerusalem.  In spite of all this defence, we never felt we were in danger and everything around us looked  peaceful and ancient.425                                  500

None the less we felt compelled to comply with the admonition on this sign.

Our first  stop certainly seemed peaceful and brought close to us the happenings of Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter Sunday morning.   As we walked through the Garden of Gethsemane the memories of these Holy Days were more precious to us than ever.


This small grove of very old olive trees was near the place where Jesus prayed the night he was betrayed and led to His death.  There is a church built over a large flat rock.  I remember the church of my childhood had a great picture of Jesus praying by/on a huge rock, my mind immediately envisioned that picture that covered the space behind the pulpit in that church.   Inside the church on the rock in Gethsemane they were holding a mass in a foreign language.


I loved this Muriel of the ancient temple grounds.


Our next stop was the wailing wall. I never knew, but should have guessed, that there is a side for men and a side for women.  It was a very solemn moment for me as I stood near this wall that dates back thousands of years.


As we were leaving I spotted two young women sitting near the back, they were dressed in black robes and I figured them to be Jewish.  I thought here is my chance to talk with some local Israelites.  I went up to them and asked them if they spoke English.  The answer was yes and so I proceeded with the question of could I talk with them for a minute.


It took only a few moments into our conversation to discover that they were two Jewish girls from New Jersey studying in Jerusalem for a year.  So much for local Israelis.  They asked me if I were Jewish.  I said No, that I was a  Christian, but I held great love and respect for the Jewish people and counted it a privilege to be there.  They said it was also a privilege for them.

From there our guide is calling “Quickly, Quickly come, we must go to the next place.”  “Yella yella!” he shouts. When we arrive at the Upper Room there is all kinds of praise and worship going on, and our guide can’t talk over it, so he calls us out, just as I was getting into the music.


Then we went over to the house of Caiaphas where we saw this monument to the cock crowing after the denial from Peter.


The realness sets in as we continue to see places where Jesus walked, was tried and later to the garden tomb.


Reflections of the Passion of Christ.



Praise God for the empty tomb!



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Israel: A good blog for Easter

It was November, I was awake, and the room was hot and stuffy. It was just after four in the morning, I should be asleep.  I close my eyes, and begin to think.  Forty-eight hours ago, I was at home, but already so much has happened that I’m feeling the excitement of a wonderful new adventure.  I get out of bed, wrap myself in the fluffy bathrobe provided by the hotel, and venture out onto the small patio.  My sister, and roommate for this trip is still asleep.  Suddenly the silence of the still night, waiting impatiently for morning, is broken by a loud wail that fills the air and calls people from slumber.  Well, not Cindy.  I had closed the door and she is still sound asleep.  The wail with the piercing shrill of a whirling fire siren, is the Islamic call to prayer.  Welcome to Nazareth.


The unfamiliar sound was coming from a tower of sorts that was fairly close to the patio, and now, just after five, and a little praying on my own, I was watching daylight creep over the city, known as the home of Jesus.  The night before, our bus had climbed the steep hill, making many switch back turns to deliver us to our lovely hotel on the very top of this city of cliffs.

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Just before six, I woke Cindy and we started getting ready for the day ahead.  I had figured out how to charge the camera battery last night, and so this morning, I figured this plug fits, lets use it.  I forgot about the part with the low setting.  I plugged in the curling iron and went into the bathroom as Cindy was coming out.  Moments later I hear her screaming. “Wanda, come out here, I can’t this iron out of my hair.”  When I stepped out she was holding a smoking curling iron with a roll of burnt hair on it.   062

Checking for damage, I found burnt hair but no burn on the scalp.  Cindy wanted my scalp, but I wanted pictures.  It seems we needed to add the converter for the curling iron. After propping the heavy little square box up with gum packs, it finally stayed in the socket and the curling iron still works.  With a little cover up job and some hair spay we were off  to see a re-enactment of what a Nazareth village looked like 2000 years ago.


This two-hour tour turned out to be one of our favorites of the trip.  We learned the farming practices of the times of Jesus.  Our guide was a young Arab Christian who had enthusiasm for the work he did.


He showed us the door that is referred to as the “eye of the needle” in the Bible.  Sure would be hard for a camel to get through it.  Next we watched a home maker spinning wool and some carpentry work.

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Many of things we were shown, our guide related to the stories we knew from the Bible.  I loved being in a place where the Bible is not just stories, it is history.


There were donkeys grinding at the mill and sheep in the sheepfold.  The picture below shows the typical walls of the homes, connecting with each other.    This village opened in 1984 and continues to add exhibits to make a living history site.  Kind of reminded me of Gettysburg.


We listened as he told the teachings of Jesus in reference to everyday life in Nazareth, and we were amazed to see the true background for many of them.  The wide and narrow gate, the wheat and the chaff, the shepherd and the fold, and letting the crippled man down into a room through a roof like this one.  He explained that the thatch and beams were easily removed and easily replaced.


Next we went into a synagogue where a team member reads from a scroll.


I love pictures of crocks, and so I leave you to contemplate this blog with this picture of these old water or wine crocks, so useful, so long ago.



Next time, another city in this  Holy Land.

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