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.

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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.

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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,

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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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