Stuck in the middle of Armageddon..
Trip Start Feb 17, 2013
12Trip End Mar 02, 2013
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We started our morning learning a fellow group member lost their passport. Thankfully, our bus driver Khander (pronounced Ha-der) found it on the bus. As we took off in the bus our guide, Iyat, mentioned something about one location only being 2000 years old. Seriously, how many places can you go to and say that?!
Our first stop was Caesarea Maritima, a city built by Herod. It is also the location of the first Gentile conversion by Paul, in the book of Acts
It was a beautiful, clear day, just a bit on the cool side. Driving through the hillsides, looking at the rugged landscape, the olive groves and the wildflowers, I could totally imagine Jesus walking this road. We were able to pass a natural cave tomb with a rolling rock, similar to what they would have put Jesus in.
Our next stop was Mt. Carmel, where Elijah challenged Jezebel's 450 priests of Baal to light the fire. Their gods suck and didn't do it. Our God rocks and did, so Elijah killed all of them and left the bones to dry in the Jezreel Valley, which is also the place predicted for Armageddon.
We had lunch after that- yummy falafal and of course, the requisite veggie selection. Olives super strong here, but I'm committed to trying every olive and hummus we come across. Next stop: Megiddo. We walked through the ruins - which date back 7000 years (not a typo). Archaelogists have uncovered at least 25 layers of civilization there, from all the times it was conquered, demolished, and rebuilt. Then we walked down into their well, where we descended 452 feet, down 182 steps, and then walked through the tunnel that brought water from the spring outside the city walls, then up 80 steps to get out. Megiddo is known as the cradle of Biblical archaelogy and the laboratory of modern research methods.
Sooo.....we're 5 minutes out of Megiddo, in Jezreel Valley - remember this is the supposed site of Armageddon- and we both hear and feel a bump bump bump bumpbump under the bus. No more than 30 seconds later, we were pulled over on the side of the road, waiting for God to rapture us. We just knew this was it. We were in the right spot, after all. No kidding, within 30 minutes a new bus had arrived and the men of our group had unloaded all our luggage off the broken bus and did the chain pass to load onto the new borrowed bus - with the new bus we lost our driver, since apparently the driver can never abandon the bus, just like the ship captain. Serioulsly.
On to Nazareth! There we went to the Church of the Anunciation, where it is believed the angel Gabriel appeared to Mary and told her she would give birth to the Christ child. The church outside portico and the inside church walls were covered with beautiful mosaic Virgin Mary's from all of the world. They were stunning. Then we got to the one from the good ol' U S of A. Pastor Larry said it looks like Lady Gaga Virgin Mary. It's that bad...soooooo embarrassing. I think we all did a duck and run at that point, and pretended we were at the moment of Pentecost, and started speaking every language we knew except for English. Underneath the church are ruins from old Nazareth, from the year 800 BC, when people lived in caves there
On to the site of Jesus' first miracle - the Wedding Church of Cana! I finally know what they mean when they say, "stone jars." GIANT cisterns. Alas, we did not get to partake of any wine. I mean, who wouldn't want to have a glass of wine there?! That was our last stop of the day, followed by a new hotel, this one in Tiberias, right on the Sea of Galilee.
Hopefully I will be able to go back and post some pictures for you tomorrow - I'm having trouble with the internet here. At least tonight the programs on the computer are in English, not Hebrew! Talk to you tomorrow :)