This is from my first full day in Israel. It was so busy. Hannah, our tour guide, did an excellent job in keeping us moving. She wanted us to see as much as possible and yet give us plenty of time to take everything in. She was FANTASTIC!!!!
I am sorry some of the pictures are a little blurry. I was using a combination of my Nikon and Kodak Easy Share. I kept my telephoto lens on my Nikon and used my Kodak for wider angle pictures. Most of the pictures I am posting were taking with my Kodak. I think the Kodak did pretty good for being a cheap point and shoot.
Jan 13 9 am Israel
We just left the Mt of Beatitudes. We stopped before we got to the church to read the scriptures and have a challenge.
My first thought was, “Wow! I can’t believe that I am standing where Jesus taught.” It was amazing to see how perfect the area was for speech. It was a natural amphitheater.
When we got to the church there were some Korean tourists on a pilgrimage. I do believe that they were catholic. I saw several kneeling and praying in the chapel. To me, it is so sad to see people so devoted to a religion that is sending them to hell. They are trying and praying and doing everything they can not realizing that it is not anything they can do to get them to heaven.
We just left the site of the Church of the Multiplication of Fishes. The hillside here was very densely vegetated. During Jesus’ time, there would have been very little growth.
There was an olive press in the church courtyard. Hannah explained that the first oil used without extra pressure was the virgin olive oil. Also, this church was first built during the byzantine empire. Then it was destroyed during the Persian invasion. Then rebuilt in the 1980’s around the original mosaic of the loves and fishes.
We are now leaving Capernaum. I got to read the scriptures in the Synagogue. Luke 4:31-41. It was the story where Jesus cast out the daemon in the Synagogue. The Synagogue that we were standing was built on top of the Synagogue that would have been there during Jesus’ time. I can’t explain how it felt to be standing above the Synagogue where it actually happened.
The one thing that stood out to me in Capernaum was the millstones. Hannah explained how two ladies used it to grind their wheat. It brought a whole new meaning to “Strength and honor are her clothing.” from Proverbs 31. Those ladies must have been very strong to do something like that.
We just had our boat ride across the sea of Galilee. That was an amazing experience. Before we got on the boat we stopped at the museum that houses the boat that they dug out of the sea. It reminded me of what they did with the Iron Clads that were found on the bottom of the Chattahoochee. They had a beautiful museum and a very short video of how they got it out. They had to encase the whole thing in polyurethane foam so that it would not completely fall apart. The wood was decaying so bad that if they had let it dry out it would have turned to powder.
The boat ride was amazing! While on the boat we read the scripture about Jesus walking on the water and calming the storm. I looked across the sea and was in awe. It must have been a great distance that he walked across the choppy stormy waves. I never thought about the distance. Another thing that was awesome was seeing the cliffs that the pigs went off when he cast the daemons out of the man.
The views were spectacular. I got to see pretty much 360 of the sea and what was around it. Being American I think of big wide open spaces. Really the area that Jesus spent the most time in and healed the most people in was not that big. It was pretty small. Imagine an area maybe the size of Harris county.
For lunch, we ate at a restaurant across the sea. It was very good but different. The soup was a basic vegetable soup served with a side of pita bread. The salad is not like we think of salad. The base is cabbage. It looks a lot like cole slaw. Then they had cubed beats, hummus, carrots with a spicy sauce and something that looked like salsa but I don’t think it was. It was very good but once again different. The main dish for me was a whole Tilapia fish which they called “St Peter’s Fish”. They fried it scales and all. They did do me the service of cutting off the head. I really was not excited about eating the fish with it looking at me. It was very good but messy. For dessert we had dates. I did try one and the taste was very sweet. Almost like honey. The texture was the problem it was a little tough on the outside and soft and squishy on the inside.
We are back on the bus now heading out to the city of Nazareth. The scenery is once again amazing. And changing every minute. We are now high above the sea of Galilee. Just passing the horns of Hittim.
We just went through Cana of Galilee on the way to Nazareth. It is a city slapped on the side of a hill. It was a wonder that the bus could get through. It was really strange. It was a mostly Muslim town. There were ladies walking around in their burkas but then I saw dress shops that were selling dresses that looked very much like what they have back home. Strange if you ask me. There were shops all along the street that had advertisements for their local goods. Most of the pictures they had looked very Western and not at all Middle eastern.
Last night on the way in I kept seeing green lights on towers. I just found out for sure what they are. They are the Muslim Minarets. Green is a very important color in their religion. Hannah said two things that give away if a town is Muslim or not. 1. The Minaret 2. Unfinished houses. The Muslims build the house as they have money. So when the money runs out the building stops. In Jewish communities, they build for profit. The Jews build to sell. If it is a Christian community you will notice the church bell towers. One thing I also noticed that the Muslim communities use Arabic in everything. I know that is their language but it is an odd jump to go from Hebrew to Arabic.
Next stop church of the Annunciation.
The church of the Annunciation was totally dedicated to Mary. Everything in the church celebrated Mary. It was built on the site where tradition says Mary was living when the Angel announced that she was going to have Jesus.
We entered the church through the lower level in the area where they had connected to the original house of Mary. We followed a staircase to the upper level and main sanctuary. All along the stairwell was Latin phrases. I really am starting to think that I need to learn some Latin and Hebrew before I come over here next time. It gets a little aggravating not being able to understand.
All around the outside of the church and thorough out the main sanctuary they had beautiful artwork. The artwork sent by the different countries that had helped sponsor the building of the church.
The next stop was the Mount of Precipice. This was the traditional location of where they tried to throw Jesus off the cliff. It was an amazing and beautiful sight. From the Mount, you could get a 360-degree view of everything. We could see the Church of the Annunciation and the sprawling metropolis of modern-day Nazareth.
On the other side of the Mount was the Jezreel valley or the valley of Har Megiddo. It was amazing to look south down the valley. To the north was Mount Tabor. One of the things that really added an audible dimension was that we were up there when the Mosques were calling for prayer. They were calling and echoing through the valley. It was something that I had heard on TV but had never heard in real life.
One of the things that really added an audible dimension was the Muslim call to prayer from the Mosques Minarets. The call was and echoing through the valley. It was something that I had heard on TV but had never heard in real life.
Honestly, the sights and places I get the most from have been the natural ones. Like the Mount of Precipice and the boat ride on the Sea of Galilee. You can feel that it is the place where the Biblical events happened. On the Sea of Galilee, I could just imagine we were in a storm and that there was a figure walking on the water towards us. It made the Bible real. Standing on the Mount of Precipice I could look over the edge and imagine an angry mob pushing Jesus up the
Standing on the Mount of Precipice I could look over the edge and imagine an angry mob pushing Jesus up the hillside in front of them. They were ready to push Him off and, in their rage, they missed the fact that He had just walked away.
The churches are beautiful and grand but I just don’t feel like I am experiencing the Bible. I feel like I am walking into any other church. I guess it is all the glitz and glam. In their attempt to make it Holy they have made it common place.
I walk into the churches and see sour looking Nuns faithfully standing there. I see stoic Monks pouring over the scriptures. I see pilgrims kneeling and praying trying to earn favor with God. Trying to earn their way into heaven. It is so sad. They are doing all these things trying to make God happy. They are devoted to a system and not to God. There is no joy or peace on their faces. I look at the other Protestant groups touring and I see joy and peace. There is a stark difference in the Catholics and the Protestants.
As we pass through the villages on the way back to Tiberius I am looking at the lit windows of houses and shops. I wonder what the shops are selling. What people are living in those apartments. Are the Muslims? Are they Jews? Are they Christian? Are they happy? Has anyone told them about Christ? They are living here in the land of the Bible the land where Jesus walked and they are lost. They are in the land of light and they are so dark.
We are still on the road to Tiberius. As I look out the bus window I see valleys and hill spread out as far as the eye can see. Something about that just came over me like a thunder clap. The reason I can see so well is the lack of trees. I can see whole cities just as well in the day as in the night. There is a lack of big tall trees like we have back in the South. There are palms here and there but nothing like an oak. Only in cultivated areas like the church courtyards do I see big trees. I think of Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge those cities I can’t see during the day because of the trees. Here you can see for miles because of the lack of trees. The cities are just as visible during the day as they are at night.
I am sitting here in the lobby of the Hotel. It is a very interesting place if you are into observing people. I think the bulk of their business right now is the tourists. I am trying to understand what is being said but it sounds like several different languages are being spoken.
I am trying to upload pictures to Facebook. Tried uploading them directly from my camera and ate up most of my time and did not work. Now I know to put them on my computer choose a few and go from there. Jon was right that they do have slow internet. I will probably buy more time tomorrow night. I hate to do it but I would like to get the pictures out there. I want my friends to at least get a glimpse of what I am seeing. Even if I could put all the pictures out there unless they come here they can’t understand what it is like.
I just looked at my pictures. I was quite happy with the job both of my cameras did. Totally amazing that I got those pictures. I am also surprised that I did not take as many as I expected to take. I thought I would have one memory card and all my batteries used up. As it is right now I only used one of my Kodak batteries and did not even have to dip into my Nikon store. I think I am just drinking it in right now. I am seeing, hearing, touching, and feeling my surroundings. Using all my senses to try to grasp just a little bit. I want to learn more about this place. It is so rich.
Open the eyes of my heart Lord. Help me to see You!