Monday, February 27, 2023

Day 4

Day Four's first stop was on the border of Israel and Jordan. Literally, the water was the border and there were armed folks across the water so no one would swim across and try to enter Jordan.

That would be Jordan right there
On the past three trips, we have gone to a "fancy" Jordan River  . . .maybe John the Baptist baptized Jesus here kind of places. I liked this place so much better. There was a group of women from another country and one of them was speaking in tongues LOUDLY. Our tour guide reminded us that as U.S. Citizens . . .who evidently had enough money to fly around the world . . .our experience might not be the same as someone who never thought they would EVER be able to see and walk where Jesus had been.  He did NOT use those words and he was not shaming us. He was allowing us to think and maybe feel like someone else. 

We left the baptism site and drove to Bethlehem. We visited the Nissan Brothers wood shop. These Palestinian Christians have been in business a LONG time and we always go to their woodworking shop/tour/store. We also always pick up a Palestinian Christian tour guide for our time in Bethlehem. The Nissan family also owns a restaurant so we always eat lunch there.

After we ate, we headed to see the sights in Bethlehem with our sweet day tour guide. For some reason, everywhere we went was closed during the exact time we were there. It was actually quite bizarre and we ended up sitting by the Shepherd's fields for a while.

Finally our tour guide was able to get in touch with Hesem, our bus driver and he came back to get us. This day did not go as planned but we rolled with it. We all had plans to dine in different Palestinian Christian homes that night and our rides weren't coming for a while. Someone's friend was opening a new restaurant and he invited us to come in and have a beverage and wait on our rides. Look down at the end of the room - the guy is handpainting the mural on the wall.

We ended up having a fun time talking and laughing until our rides picked us up.

I have no pictures from the evening. I have NO idea why we didn't get a picture with our family. There were six of us who went to one home. We were self-divided into groups of four and six. Our couple was about our age with young adult children and grandchildren. It is so important to hear both sides of the story and that is one reason we always spend some time here. We ate with just the couple but since several generations live in each home (one family has one floor, etc.) we were able to meet a few other family members. A funny thing happened . . .they have some family that lives in the U.S. and we were asking how often they got to see them, etc. We asked if they sent "care packages" or "gifts" from the U.S. They actually didn't know what we were talking about so we tried to explain it. Mark asked the husband what he would like to receive from the U.S. thinking he might say something like Cheetos. The man said, "American women." We cracked up. His wife hit him on the shoulder and I said, "I bet y'all are going to talk about this after we leave." I think it is so funny that couples everywhere . . .are couples. I love being in the home of folks who live an entirely different lifestyle. He was a cabinet maker and we heard about his work.

Edit: We had all brought host/hostess gifts for our families. We hadn't checked into the hotel (see below) for the rest of the week and everyone's gifts were in their suitcases. I think every single person on the trip asked me, "are we going to be able to get our gifts from under the bus?" It actually became quite funny and those words were said to me throughout the rest of the trip as an "inside" joke.

After dinner, we headed to the David Citadel . . .one of my favorite hotels ever. It is in the perfect location in Jerusalem and it is a Five Star hotel . . .and it is lovely!!

Saturday, February 25, 2023

Sunday Stealing

Thanks to Bev for Sunday Stealing! She stole the questions from Compassion Int’l.

1. Do you ever have funny dreams at night? This is a great question! I’m not sure I’ve ever had a funny dream before. It would be awesome to wake up laughing.

2. f you could make a law for your country, what would it be? I could probably come up with a few. This morning I was yelling at someone who was driving 34 ON THE INTERSTATE. I actually think there is a minimum speed so I guess there is a law. I know a law wouldn’t help but it sure would be a better place if we were all nice to each other. Yes, I realize that I was yelling at someone for driving 34 and that doesn’t qualify as nice. I don’t think I have an answer. The more I think about it, the more I realize that there are probably already laws for some of these things and no one follows them.

3. What would you do if you were invisible for a day? I started to say that I would sneak into meetings and friend groups to hear the conversation BUT WHAT IF they were saying bad things about me?

4. If you could be someone else for a day, who would you be? I don’t know if I want to be anyone else. Everyone has their own set of problems and their own good things. I think I’ll stay me which is probably boring.

5. What would you like to change about yourself? I have a critical spirit (nature?) – I’m not sure what you call it. I criticize myself and I find myself criticizing others. I really hate this about myself (hear it?). Anyway, we’ve been cooped up with covid for a week so my mental health is probably not great today hahaha!

6. What is your daily routine. We wake up (which is a really good thing). I have a diet pepsi and Mark has coffee with half and half. We don’t talk right away. I usually head down and ride the stationary bike for 30 minutes and then come up and take a shower and get ready for work. I leave for work around 8:00.

7. What would your perfect day be like? What would you be doing? The sun would be shining and the sky would be blue. The temp would be just right and there would be NO POLLEN in the air. I would be surrounded by family and friends and there would be good food and LOTS of laughter.

8. How old were you when you learned to read? We didn’t have kindergarten in our school so I didn’t attend kindergarten. I learned to read in first grade, I assume. Once I learned, I read everything in sight.

9. What is the most interesting thing you know? The most interesting thing I know is that I can’t wait to read all of your answers because I’m not totally sure I know anything interesting. Actually, this semester I’m taking Survey of the Old Testament and I’ve learned some pretty interesting things.

10 What makes you nervous? It depends on the situation. I’m writing this on Saturday night. Tomorrow morning, I’ll be standing in front of a group teaching . . .even after a LOT of years, that makes me nervous. Just a week ago, we were on a 12 hour flight from Tel Aviv to Kennedy. Flying makes me nervous but I love to travel. Hospitals make me nervous. I don’t need to tell y’all anymore hahaha!

11. What is your favorite flower? I love peonies. They might be my favorite.

12. Have you ever ridden on a horse or any other animal? I have ridden on a horse years ago. We were in Gatlinburg and went on a trail ride. We also rode horses on the Parker Ranch in Hawaii.

13. What time do you go to bed? Mark likes to go to bed at 9:00. Sometimes I read for a little bit.

14. What time do you get up? We get up at 5:00 a.m. almost every day.

15. What is something that is always in your refrigerator? Diet Pepsi and Half and Half are always in our fridge.

This has nothing to do with anything but as I said, I’m writing this on Saturday night. I don’t have the TV on nor any music playing. I cannot even begin to tell you how loud our next door neighbors are at this moment. They have little kids and they are playing hard and one of them is hooting continuously like an owl. I’m just going to laugh about this one and give thanks that this is a temporary living arrangement!

Friday, February 24, 2023

Day 3

Well, I thought I would be able to write a little every night and keep up with the trip chronicles but that didn't happen! We are now home . . .and stuck at home . . . .with covid. We have been fully vaccinated and boostered and have avoided it for 3 years but it has caught us. I feel really bad because I've already been away from work for 2 weeks and now I'm at home. I've been able to do some work from home but I had to miss an important meeting this week It can't be helped.

Anyway, what did we do on Day 3?

We headed to the Basilica of the Annunciation which sits atop the historical site of young Mary's home. I didn't take nearly as many pictures on this trip - I just kept trying to absorb and be in the moment.

The traditional childhood home of Mary
sits beneath the sanctuary

There are representations of Mary
donated by different countries
all around the walls
We headed to Jericho. There is an excavated site there but we've never explored the ruins. We did drive by this time and Rafi, our guide, seemed to indicate there isn't that much to see.

We've seen this tree on all four of my trips and it gives me goosebumps. This is a sycamore tree that is VERY old . . .like old enough it COULD have been there when Zaccheus needed to climb up in that tree.

Jericho is the oldest city in the world that has been continously populated. We bought our dates at the "glass blowing" shop. If you don't think you like dates . . .you might never have tasted dates like these.

We went to a restaurant for lunch where we were served "green juice" and it was delicious. It was lemons and sugar and who knows what else. We also ate chicken spiced with Sumac (not our kind of sumac). It was really good. At every meal, you are served a lot of small bowls of salads to be shared among those at the table.

After we ate, one of the employees (could have been the owner??) played his drum for us and he was quite entertaining!!

After lunch, we headed to Masada.

this is a horrible picture of me - selfie
from the cable car!

We've always made an afternoon visit to the Dead Sea with an opportunity to "float." We made different plans this year and stayed overnight at a resort. This made a huge difference in our experience. It was awesome!
The resort provided big fluffy robes and beach towels

The water was soooo cold!!

That looks like a white sand beach but it is
salt and it is hard on your feet! I found
my old water shoes from water aerobics
20 years ago and took those!

Sunrise over the Dead Sea

Another shot of sunrise - since
we were awake, we got dressed
and headed outside for a walk
before breakfast

Wednesday, February 22, 2023

Ash Wednesday Hodgepodge

Thanks to Joyce for the questions! Feel free to copy and paste and join up!

1. What do you find is the most boring part of your life at the moment? We have covid . . .we flew in on Saturday and tested positive on Sunday. We've avoided it for 3 years and are fully vaccinated but it caught us. We are trapped in a two bedroom apartment. We are just now getting to the bored phase. We've slept a million hours since Sunday - seriously . . .we've never slept so much in our lives. I've tried to do some work from home but I need to be in the office.

2. February 22nd is George Washington's birthday. You'll find his face on the US $1 bill. What's the last thing you bought for roughly $1.00? (.94 €/ .83 £) I cannot remember buying anything for $1 lately - $5 yes. $20 yes. I did have a LOT OF $1's over the last two weeks though. We always take a lot of ones when we travel plus I was in charge of the tips for the tour guide and the bus driver. So I've seen and handled lots of $1 but everything I've purchased was at least $3.

3. Is it ever okay to tell a 'little white lie'? Explain. I don't know that it is ever ok to lie in any way form or fashion but I do know that as a southern woman, I've been taught to be nice . . .and sometimes nice has a tinge of a white lie to it.

4. What's the last thing you 'chopped'? Cherry pie, chocolate covered cherries, a bowl of cherries, cherry vanilla ice cream, maraschino cherries, a cherry lifesaver...your favorite cherry flavored something? I haven't chopped anything cherry lately. I haven't had any fresh cherries this year. I wonder if they are in the grocery store? I do love them! I did brown some lean ground beef last night and "chopped" it with the spatula into tiny bites.

5. Describe yourself with three words using your first, middle, and last initials. L W E

L is for laughter

W is for welcoming

E is for enough (even though I never think I am)

6. Insert your own random thought here. I will try to write some more posts from our trip. I've started Day 3. My boss made amazing videos of each day and I need to figure out how to include those. 

My real random thought is I love Ash Wednesday. I actually love the season of Lent. I can't believe I'm sick and can't go to church tonight (and work today!!). 

Sunday, February 12, 2023

Day 2!

 We headed down to breakfast and there shining through the window was sunrise - Good Morning!

Since Shabat (Sabbath) is from Friday p.m. to Saturday p.m., the meals are more simple. I had yogurt with grapes and toasted oatmeal, a couple of bites of fruit, a piece of cheese, and a bite out of a couple of breads.

We dressed warmly for today because we were headed to the northernmost part of Israel for a jeep ride. OH MY GOODNESS - this was such an adventure and so much fun! From the youngest in the group to the oldest, I think everyone enjoyed it.

See the sign below . . .our guide warned us not to step off the road. Seriously.

This was the view from the window!

Someone in our group took the following photos and they are all so beautiful. I have never felt wind as strong or as cold as the wind we felt today. I had on a cami, a shirt, a fleece zip up vest, a non-down puffy coat, and a jean jacket pulled on top. I also had on gloves and a toboggan.

At the midway point, we parked the vehicles and stood in the snow and heard one of the guides speak about the geopolitical climate here in Israel and directly across from where we stood. They had thermoses of hot tea . . .and I don't normally like hot tea but it was sooo good. They also gave a cookie to everyone. We were supposed to tour a bunker but there was too much snow and ice at the entrance.

We ate lunch at a Lebanese restaurant. It was still Shabat for the Jewish restaurants. After lunch, we wandered around Caesarea Philippi - I love that place. The spring is one of the ones that runs into the Jordan River. This is where Jesus asked the disciples, "who do you say that I am?" while surrounded by all sorts of pagan gods.

We also went to Tel Dan. Do you remember how they were 12 tribes of Israel? Dan was one of them. Our weather was gorgeous and we were outside all day.

We ended our day with dinner back at the hotel and we had to pack up and get ready to head out to see more on Sunday.

Saturday, February 11, 2023

Day 1 - Galilee …

Every grouping of pictures is in backward order . . . oh well! What can I say?
We are here in Israel. We have begun our stay in Tiberius right on the sea of Galilee.

Mark and I slept so well last night. We had traveled for so many hours and neither of us had slept much on the plane but we slept last night.

We awakened this morning ready to go and went down to breakfast with some of the group. The breakfast buffet includes all sorts of breads and cheeses and avocado and fish and salad bar ingredients and yogurt and cottage cheese. You can even make a salad for breakfast!

After breakfast we boarded our bus with our guide, Rafi, and our wonderful driver. Donna Nelson gave a great devotion for day one about the Light!

Our first stop was
the Mount of Beatitudes.
Brian led us in a time of scripture. Rafi led us in a time of learning facts. Then we spent about 20 minutes wandering the grounds and church.

The Mount of Beatitutdes is a beautiful place. These photos don't do it justice. It was sunny wih a breeze today so we wore jeans and coats for most of the day.

We went to Tabgha next. Tabgha is traditionally considered the place where Jesus multiplied the loaves and fishes to feed the thousands.

We walked to the next site which is St. Peter's Primacy. The Church of the Primacy of St. Peter is a Franciscan church located on the northwest shore of the Sea of Galilee. We are standing on Holy Ground - ground where Jesus and the disciples walked. This may be my fourth time here but I think this may be the most powerful so far.

The girls from our Sunday School class!

We also went to Capernaum. A church is built on top of Peter's mother's home which means that Jesus spent time in that place. The temple is just down the "street" and it is so amazing to know that you are standing where others worshiped God many years. . . and once again, to be standing where Jesus and Peter and others would have been standing.

We rode out onto the Sea of Galilee. They raised the American flag alongside the Israeli flag and played the Star Spangled banner. It was windy!!

This is the first time we've ever been on a boat all by ourselves. It was so beautiful and peaceful.

Here is the whole group (minus someone who got sick and had to return to the hotel).

One of my favorite parts of the day was the Jesus Trail. This is the path that Mary and Joseph and Jesus and the disciples would have walked between the Sea of Galilee and Nazareth. We just walked a short portion and read scripture and soaked up God's glorious creation. You can actually hike the whole trail and camp along the way.

We ate tilapia from the Sea of Galilee for lunch. Tilapia is native to the Sea of Galilee and folks have been eating it for generations and generations!

After lunch,, we went to Magdala which is a newer site. We saw it in 2020 but we didn't see as much in 2020. The Catholic Church was going to build a hotel/guest house where visitors could stay and when they started digging . . . they found a whole village underneath. Mary Magdalene . . .Mary of Magdala.

This mosaic floor is amazing and in great shape.

Before dinner, we went for a walk along the boardwalk in front of our hotel . . .on the Sea of Galilee and we walked around the town a little. Most everything was closed because it was the beginning of Shabat (Sabbath).

Mark and our friend, Debbie

Here we are -- windblown look!

This picture is totally out of order - this was
at Magdala and you can see the Sea
of Galilee behind us.

Isn't the Sea of Galilee beautiful?

Stay tuned for day 2. I'll try to get the pictures in the correct order. I'm trying to use my phone to load the photos and there must be a trick I don't know.