The Holy Land
Trip Start Nov 16, 2009
28Trip End Jan 02, 2010
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We boarded our bus in Haifa and drove thru the town out to the country side and out toward Nazareth. Everywhere you are in Israel is a historic and religious site. Here in Haifa, Jeremiah challenged the priests of Baal to a contest to determine the true God. They built two pyres of wood; one for Baal and one for God. Jeremiah called on God to light his pyre as the followers of Baal cried out in vain for a response from their idol. God answered Jeremiah
Soon we out in the country side heading to Nazareth, the town of Christ’s childhood. The Basilica of the Annunciation stands over the site Mary was visited by the Archangel Gabriel and told that she would be the Mother of Christ. The church was consecrated in 1969, and is the largest Christian Church in the Middle East. Inside of the church is the area that is believed to be the spot that Gabriel appear to Mary. Most of the spots of religious significance were mapped by Hellenia, the mother of Emperor Constantine, the Roman emperor that made Christianity the official religion of the Roman Empire. She visited the Holy Lands with Christian Scholars and mapped out the holy sites of Israel. This was done a few centuries after Christ. The church is located on the original town of Nazareth.
Off again across the mountains down to the Sea of Galilee, the lowest spot in Israel. The landscape that passes by is very reminiscent of Northern California. The road that we are taking is approximately the same route that Christ did as he left his town of Nazareth to begin his ministry in the town of Capernaum which sits on the shores of the Sea of Galilee. On the mountain side beside of Capharnaum is the Mount of Beatitudes where Jesus gave his Sermon on the Mount
We are soon back on the bus and taking the short drive to Capharnaum. This is the center of Christ’s ministry and where Christ gathered his apostles. We walked thru remains of the town past Peter’s house to the synagogue where Christ once preached. The entire area from location of the Sermon on the Mount to the town of Capharnaum is smaller than Blossom Valley in South San Jose.
From here we went to a Jewish Kibbutz which is a small community that is completely self-sufficient in that they grow their own food and make their own furniture. Each member contributes according to their abilities and receives according to their new needs. It is located on the Shore of Galilee. Located in their small harbor was a small fleet of four fishing vessels. The lunch was a traditional Jewish lunch with wine and lemonade. It is a quiet and peaceful spot that rests on the shores of the Sea of Galilee
After lunch we proceed to the north side of the Sea of Galilee to the River Jordon. I can still remember hearing the old hymn "Now we shall gather at the River". To me that river was the River Jordan. We stopped at another Kibbutz which offers baptisms. Five of the members of the tour including myself requested the option of being baptism in the River Jordan. They supply the robes, the river location, a video recording and a shower afterwards. Everything was provided except a person to perform the baptismal. We would not be deterred; so we baptized each other. We provided the physical manipulation of taking each other under the water and prayed for the Holy Spirit to perform the actual baptismal. As the song goes the waters of the river were cold, but all was quickly forgotten in the excitement of the moment. It was a special time for us as we stood on the banks of the River Jordan and remember the Baptism of Christ.
It has been a full day, but we have far to go before we rest. We journey south around the Sea of Galilee to the other exit of the River Jordan that flows south toward Jerusalem. We drove south past the hillsides and farms of Israel along the shores of the River Jordan which marks the border between Israel and Jordon. We travel south toward Jerusalem as the sun sat in the west and created a beautiful backdrop for the mountains of the Holy Land
We reach Jerusalem in the early evening at the Olive Tree Hotel. But our day is not yet done. We have dinner and again return to our tour. This evening we will be going to the Holiest site of the Jewish Religion. We will be going to see the West Wall Also known as the Wailing Wall. This is part of the wall of the old Temple that was the closest to the Holiest of the Holy, where the Arc of the Covet was kept. This is considered to be the closet place on earth that man can get to God. Here we stop and were allowed to approach and pray at the wall. The tradition here is for men to wear a head covering at the wall. Also the wall is divided so that men and women both have their own section to pray. From here we go to the Time Elevator which is a modern ride that explains the history of Jerusalem. Now with a full day’s of memories of the Holy Land, we can go to bed and rest for a completed day tomorrow.
The day begins early with a breakfast and the boarding of our bus for the ride to the Gardens of Gethsemane. Here Christ prayed just before being betrayed by Judas. The day is a good day for touring as the weather is warm and the sun is shining brightly in the skies over Jerusalem. The Gardens are much smaller than they were as a large church had been built on the site to commemorate the events that occurred here
From here we travel farther away to the town of Bethlehem. Bethlehem is located in Palestine and is controlled by the Palestine Authority. Our Israeli guide had to leave the bus just before the border. We crossed the border, and picked up our Palestine guide. Here we were taken to a tourist shop to buy souvenirs. Afterwards we were driven to the Church of the Nativity. To see the area where Christ was born and placed in a manger. It is a big church that is a combination of three churches. The main area was maintained by Greek Orthodox and Albanian Orthodox. It is old and not well maintained. The monks are very stern and not well equipped for large crowds which are normal for the area. We walked in and after a considerable wait were at the steps that lead us down to the manager area; which is a slow and crowded journey thru a small area that only shows a small part of the original site. We were move thru as fast as they can move us. Then it is up and thru the old church to the last of the three churches which was Catholic. This is the church that is seen on television on Christmas Eve. It is remarkable in that it is as well maintained as the Orthodox churches were not maintained.
After the churches, we boarded the bus for our return to Israel and back to Jerusalem. We were glad to be back in Israel as it appears cleaner and safer. After the return past the border and an inspection by Israeli security, we are returned to the location of our Israeli Guide. He boards and takes us back to Jerusalem. There we disembark at the Jewish Quarter and walk to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher which is the location of Christ’s crucifixion and burial. We are now here at Golgotha. We are where Christ spent his last mortal hours. It is in a dark and broody church run by Greek Orthodox monks. The atmosphere of the church is appropriate for the events that occurred here over two thousand years ago.
From here we again go to the Western Wall before boarding the bus for one last journey to Port Ashdod and the waiting Princess. It is dark as we travel down from the mountains to the port and we are quiet as all of the images that we have seen over the last two days begin to sink into our consciousness. We have been in the Holy Land and walked the same areas as Christ and the Apostles. We will always remember our time here.
Where is Dan Hunt
The search for Dan for this time is in a shop in Bethlehem
Chris was the first to find Dan.
Chris Roy on November 27, 2009
Uncle Dan in on the left side with the baseball cap and papers in his shirt pocket.... looking at the camera.
Linda Ferguson on November 27, 2009
I agree on this one.
Sharon Roy on December 2, 2009
The white baseball cap was easy to spot in this one.