Welcome Home

Welcome Home

Several people at church came and said, “Welcome home.”  It’s not like I was gone that long, but it is nice to feel missed and appreciated.  And, it is a big deal going to Israel for 10 days.  Some of these people will never visit.  I hope I can be their eyes (through my camera).

Right after Sacrament Meeting I was nabbed to play piano in Primary.  It was fun.  The kids were sure wound up, however.

Weather

It is cold today.  It’s in the low teens.  As a result, I came home from church and sought warmth.

My fingers, knees and toes are all cold.  I don’t remember my knees getting cold like this before.  It must have something to do with my baker’s cysts.

Dinner

At dinner I gave the sisters a 10 Argot coin from Israel.  I picked up several while I was there.  Most of them are going to grandchildren.

100 Argots make 1 shekel.  They don’t make 1 Argot coins.  The smallest denomination is 10.  They were worth about 3 cents at today’s exchange rate.

They are also about the same size as a 10 Shekel coin.  However, a 10 Shekel coin is worth about $3.  Unscrupulous shop owners may try to pass a 10 Argot off as a 10 Shekel coin.

Dang Snow

Dang Snow

I often welcome snow, but this dang snow is very COLD.  It started off at 9″ and is now about 12″ (and has stopped for the day.)  It took a while to clear the driveway because the snow would fall to the side of the blower and I’d have to go back for a second pass.

Someone posted a picture on Facebook complaining about the 18″ snow.  They showed two things in the picture that were points of reference:  1) a small snow shovel with a blade about 8″ hight, and 2) the 4″ clapboard on their house.  It was 12″, not 18″.

Snowstorms, like fish, are always bigger than reality.

Blog Updates

I’m working on blog updates for days missed while I was traveling.  It is a lot of work, but the feedback has been positive.

It is so cold in the studio that I can’t get things warm enough for my fingers to move quickly.  Brrr… this cold snap is a strong one.  However, I keep plodding (blogging) along.

Winter Projects

I have not touched my winter projects yet.  Of course, the year started with a 10 day trip overseas, and now I’m playing catch up.

One of my winter projects is a posing corner for my Phicen figures.  Elizabethe gave me a hard time that I wasn’t this interested when she was doing Barbie stuff.  Hmmm… I think part of it is Barbie is not realistic, and Barbie doesn’t pose well.

I ordered an older version that is hard plastic so Elizabethe can use it as a dress form.  The silicone ones are too expensive and fragile.

 

Northern Israel

Northern Israel

This is our last full day in Israel.  We leave early tomorrow morning to catch our flight home.  We’re heading to Northern Israel near the Lebanon and Syria borders.

I started the day going to the beach to watch and photograph the sunrise.  Matt and Becca took me up on my offer to be photographed.  So did Lehi and his sons Laman, Lemuel, and Nephi.  We were also joined by Mahonri Moriancumer.

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Matt and Becca
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Matt and Becca
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Lehi Finds the Liahona
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Nephi Rebukes Laman and Lemuel
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The Brother of Jared (Mahonri Moriancumer)
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The Sunrise On the Sea of Galilee
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Me Shooting the Sunrise

After a good breakfast…

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Breakfast Today

… we headed to Tiberias for Matt to see a doctor.  He’s been coughing a lot and we’re all worried that he’s getting sicker.  As a result, Becca found a place where he can get in this morning to see a doctor.

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John Ready to Head Out for the Day

We got to Tiberias, found the pharmacy and doctor’s office, and I hung out outside taking pictures.  I did go in for a short while to find they have Voltairan Gel for a fraction of the cost and over-the-counter!  (The USA is the only country according to my doctor that requires a prescription for this gel.  It’s for joint pain.)

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An Old Jewish Man Shopping

Church of the Beatitudes

The Church of the Beatitudes was the next stop.  I imagine the Sermon on the Mount covered much ground.  This church is located in the vicinity of where we suspect it took place.

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John Outside the Church
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Church of the Beatitudes
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In Latin

Banias

Banias is a spring and river near a place the scriptures calls Caesarea Philippi.  Some believe Jesus and his apostles frequented this area.  When you see it, you can understand why.  It is beautiful.

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The Falls
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Before the Hike Down the Canyon
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By the Falls

Sacred Sites

Sacred Sites

Today we visit several sacred sites.  We start with Capernaum, then where Jesus fed the 5,000.  From there we go see a 1st Century boat (like what Peter might have owned), Mount Tabor (the Mount of Transfiguration), and end with some good shawarma.

But first, a good breakfast…

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Kerei Deshe Breakfast

Capernaum

This is where Jesus begins calling his apostles.  This small lakeside village was the place of many miracles.

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A Monk Near the Gift Shop
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The Rules
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At the Entrance of Capernaum
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Our Group on the Shores of Galilee
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The Sea of Galilee
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Linda Putting Her Feet in the Water
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Matt and Becca on the Shores of Galilee

After Capernaum we drove a little west to where Christ would have fed the 5,000 from two loaves and five fishes.  It is also near here where the resurrected Christ came and told Peter to ‘Feed my sheep’.

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Christ Tells Peter to “Feed My Sheep”

John had a great idea.  He brought some bread and pieces of fish.  We partook and thought about that great miracle performed here over 2,000 years ago.

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John Breaks Bread Near Where Jesus Fed the 5,000 with Two Loaves and Five Fishes
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Loaves and Fishes

An Ancient Boat

We saw an ancient boat that dates back to Jesus’ time.  We couldn’t photograph the boat, but here’s a model of what it would have looked like.  All that remains today is a large portion of the hull.  It is preserved in a climate controlled room, and thus, they don’t allow photography in that room.

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Small Model of a 1st Century Galilean Boat

Mt. Tabor

This is a favorite of mine in the Holy Land.  It is here that Peter, James and John went with Jesus.  As Jesus prayed, they were witness to Elijah and Moses appearing and passing on sacred keys.

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The Group on Mt. Tabor
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A Monk Exits the Church

Dinner Time

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Linda Displays Our Bread for Our Shawarma
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Matt and Becca Photograph the Shawarma Toppings

Karei Deshe

Karei Deshe

We’re off to Karei Deshe today.  It is on the north shore of the Sea of Galilee.  The nearest city is Tiberias.

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Bye Jerusalem Traffic

In doing my studies on this area, Tiberias was a city Caesar Augustus (his step-father) named after him.  There is no indications that Jesus spent any time in Tiberias.  (I surmise this is because he was sent unto the Jews, and not the Romans.)

Not far the other direction is where Jesus fed the multitude, taught the beatitudes, and called his apostles.  The city of Capernaum is close by.  It is also where Peter lived.

Caesarea

On our way to our hostel, we stopped at Caesarea.  This mediterranean city was founded by Herod about 30 B.C.  and is named after Caesar Augustus.  This seaport city (its ruins) are spectacular.

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Becca and John by What is Left of an Ancient Statue
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The Amphitheater at Caesarea

We gathered at the bottom of the amphitheater for a group picture.  I got a kick out of the lady I asked to take the picture.  She complained that we were facing in to the sun.  I assured her I knew what I was doing, and so did my fellow travelers.

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Me, John, Linda, Becca and Matt – Caesarea

(By the way, you always want the sun to your subject’s back so they aren’t squinting and so you don’t have ugly shadows on their faces.)\

Inscription

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Inscription at Caesarea

I found this inscription intriguing:

“Pontius Pilatus, the prefect of Judea, erected a building dedicated to the Emperor Tiberius.”

is what they believe it to have said in whole.

The Port

The ancient port was an engineering marvel for its time.  Concrete that cured underwater was one of the marvels.

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The Ancient Port Area
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The Beach
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Aqueduct and the Five of Us Posing
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Aqueduct

And, check out these Segway tours!  That looks fun.

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Segway Tours

On to Armageddon

On our way to Her Megido (aka Armegeddon), we passed this sign…

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Route 66 in Israel

Who knew there was a Route 66 in Israel.  I can say I’ve driven BOTH.

Her Megido is an impressive site (and sight).  This mountain top city has been fought over many times and it is prophesied that the last battle will take place here.

From the Old Testament Student’s Manual I’ve copied the following.  My comments are in italics:

According to the prophets, some important events must take place before the battle actually begins:

  1. The house of Israel will be gathered from among the heathen (the Gentiles) and returned to their own land (see Ezekiel 36:2437:21).  in progress

  2. The land of Israel will be rebuilt and reinhabited by the covenant people (see Ezekiel 36:10–12, 33–36).  done

  3. The land will become highly productive and fruitful, even like the Garden of Eden (see Ezekiel 36:8, 29–30, 34–35).  done

  4. There will be one nation in the land of Israel again (see Ezekiel 37:22). in progress

  5. Jerusalem will be reestablished as the capital city of the Israelites (see Zechariah 1:16–172:1212:63 Nephi 20:46).  done

  6. Judah will become powerful in politics and warfare (see Isaiah 19:16–17Zechariah 10:3, 5–6). in progress

It is amazing to lookout from atop Megido.  The view is spectacular, thus, you can see why it is a military advantage point.

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Looking North from Megido

Mount Carmel

Our next stop is a new one for me.  Mt. Carmel is where Elijah and the Priest of Baal had their standoff.  Elijah challenged them to call fire from heaven. When they failed, he had them douse the alter with water before he called fire down.  The fire consumed the wood as well as the altar itself.

To my dismay we didn’t find much to see up there except for a nice view of the sunset.

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Sunset on Mount Carmel
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John and Linda at Sunset
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Me On Mount Carmel
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Matt Shooting the Sunset

Dinner and Our Hostel

We stopped for dinner on our way to Karei Deshe.  It is a little steakhouse just west of Karei Deshe and the English translation of its name is Angus.

I ordered lamb chops.  It is the first time I’ve had lamb (that wasn’t ground) in Israel.  I know that seems strange, but it is expensive here.

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Lamb Chops

We checked in to our rooms at the Hi Kerei Deshe Hostel.  It’s a nice place.  Furthermore, my room can sleep four!  That’s a bit of an overkill, of course.

Church Here

Church Here

Church here in Jerusalem is always a delight.  It’s funny… I’m starting to see people I know when I go to church here!  Let’s see… Jeremy (formerly of Antioch), John Howell (from Rochester), Brent Top, Gerald Lund, Jr., Dan Rona… they are who I saw today.

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John and Linda Outside the BYU Jerusalem Center
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The Halls at the BYU Jerusalem Center

After church we ventured outside.  The rain has stopped and the clouds are dramatic.

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The View from the Mount of Olives (BYU)
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The Entire Group at BYU Jerusalem Center
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At the BYU Jerusalem Center

Caiaphas’ House

We are now going to Caiaphas’ house.  This is a church built over Caiaphas’ house.  Jesus was brought to Caiaphas, the chief priest, and there he was held in the basement, whipped and scourged.  As a result, this is a sobering location.

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Looking South from Jerusalem (at Caiaphas’ House)

Under this church are a series of stone rooms where they kept the sacrificial animals.  Little did they know the man they tied was the Lamb of God.  (Here’s a good video of what happened here:  https://youtu.be/4A6usoBnqNs )

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Where He Was Held
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Mural Depicting Jesus Being Mocked

Outside Peter denied Christ three times.  Jesus had warned Peter this would happen, however, Peter did not want to accept he could do such a thing.  When the cock crowed, it was then he recognized what he had just done.  As a result, “And he went out, and wept bitterly.”

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Peter Denying Christ

What happened here wasn’t good, but it is still sacred.  Prophecies were fulfilled.

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Mural at Caiaphas’ House

While one does not need to visit Jerusalem to get closer to God.  However, visiting Jerusalem and seeing these sites will change your life.

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The Church at Caiaphas’ House

Ending Shabbat

We learned that Shabbat ends after the first star can be seen in the sky.  Because it was about to end, we made our way towards the old City to see if we could find a place to eat once the Sabbath ends.

Pictures will tell the story of our walk…

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Linda Looking Around in the Market
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Fruit is Plentiful in Jerusalem
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Matt Finds the Key
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Spices
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Fruit and Smoothies
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I Love Jerusalem
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Lightshow on the Walls
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A Men’s Clothing Shop

City of David

City of David

The City of David was a district just south of Jerusalem.  When the Romans destroyed Jerusalem in the 1st Century, they left no stone unturned, and the City of David was buried in Rubble.

It is important to note that the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. was bad.  The entire old city was razed, which fulfilled prophecy (Matt.24:1-8).  What we see today is not what existed at meridian of time.  In fact, some modern archaeologist question if the Dome of the Rock is actually on the Temple Mount!  They say it was more towards the City of David.  (Now, that is interesting because that would mean the temple could be built without disturbing any of the Islamic sites.  However, it would also mean the Western Wall was not part of Solomon’s Temple.)

We visited the excavation of the City of David today.  This modern excavation, in time, will answer many questions.

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View of Old Jerusalem in the Rain

The railing you see in the picture above are walkways.  To the center left, the slope down is the ancient City of David.  To the right of center is the Dome of the Rock.

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City of David

The visitors’ center at the City of David is quite nice.  John and Linda took time to take pictures of the carving on the wall.

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City of David Gift Shop

We were waiting for Matt and Becca in the gift shop.  It was cold and rainy outside.  The one young lady (the blond) was from San Antonio, Texas.  She explained dreidels usually say, “Something Important Happened There.”  The ones sold in the City of David say (in Hebrew), “Something Important Happened Here.”

The Tunnel

Hezekiah built a tunnel under the City of David. Today you can walk that tunnel.  Actually, there are two tunnels, one for the water, the other for access by people.  We walked the dry one.

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In Hezekiah’s Tunnel

The water from the tunnel empties in to the Pool of Shiloam (or Siloam).  This pool is where those going to the temple would stop and wash.  Today, it is an archeological discovery (discovered in 2004).  As a result of this discovery, we can now visit the very steps where Jesus healed the blind man.

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Matt and Becca at the Steps Where Jesus Healed the Blind Man

It is a special place to be in this tunnel (above).  Because of the destruction of Jerusalem, these steps would have been outdoors in Jesus’ time.  However, today they in this reinforced tunnel where they are still working on uncovering what the Roman’s covered in 70 A.D.

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Walking Where Jesus Walked
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Looking Down the Stairs

Earlier Today

I neglected to mention my breakfast.  Here’s an example of breakfast at the Abraham Hostel:  milk, salad, yogurt, bread, jam, hard boiled eggs and an orange.

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Breakfast

It’s okay for a few days, but if you’re staying long term it can get a bit boring.

On the way to the car, in a puddle of water, Linda found a glove she lost.  She was so excited to find it… as you can see (below).

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Linda Found Her Glove!

We stopped at Omar so I could purchase a carving of Jesus for Elder and Sister Riggs (you can see it on the 2nd shelf above Brent Top’s elbow.)  And, I ran in to Brent Top.  It’s funny because Omar and I were just talking about him the other day, and … here he is.

I asked him to point to his business card on Omar’s shelf.

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Brent L. Top at Omar’s

For lunch we stopped at a convenience store.  The weather got nasty and we picked up some stuff to eat at the hostel.

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Convenience Store Lunch

Dinner was at the hostel.  They put on a Shabbat Dinner every Friday night.  It’s a nice time and you always meet new people.  We sat by a couple.  He was German and she was Russian.

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Our Table at the Shabbat Dinner

John volunteered to do the blessing on the wine.

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Shabbat Dinner Blessing the Wine

Ah, dinner.  Not a lot of protien, but I survived.

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Shabbat Dinner

Tomorrow is church.  Shabbat has started.

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Singing is Mandatory

Jerusalem Post Office II

Jerusalem Post Office II

… continued… Jerusalem Post Office II

Omar’s Place

Our next stop is Omar’s Souvenirs.  Omar’s place is in the area behind the bus station near the Garden Tomb.  Omar is the world’s best woodcarver.  On our way to his shop we cut through the bus station and market place.

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Bagels

We stopped for bagels.  Bagels in Israel are long.  They are almost a loaf of bread.

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A Jordanian Man Walking Through Bus Station

You see a few people wearing kefias (headdress like the one in the picture above).  Red and white usually means Jordanian.

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People Shopping in the Marketplace

 

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Arab Fried Chicken or AFC for Short

As we got close to Omar’s office, Omar came out of the barbershop and yelled, “Are you coming to see me?”

He came over and gave me a big hug and asked how I have been doing.  We came in to his shop and one of the first things John found was this…

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Jesus Rescuing Peter

Everyone got something at Omar’s, and then Omar treated us to juice and lunch.

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Harmers with Omar
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Omar’s Brother and the Harmers

Off we went to our next destination – through the Damascus Gate.

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Kid Singing and Carrying a Load

Another Stop

We made another stop at the Garden Tomb.  It was raining and nobody was there.  That allowed me to snap a couple of photos with the place empty.

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The Garden Tomb
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At the Damascus Gate

Pool of Bethesda

We stopped to see the place where Jesus was condemned to death.  From there, it is only a short walk to the Pool of Bethesda where Jesus healed a man.

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Church at the Seven Stations of the Cross
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See Inscription on Plaque in Photo
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Pool of Bethesda

Soon we found ourselves in tight alleyways and before long, on the school grounds.  A man showed us around pointing out various sights around the old city.  He then walked us out of that quarter of the old city.

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BYU and the Mount of Olives from the Wall Ramparts
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Razor Wire Guarding Tangerine Tree
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Harmers, the Friendly Man, and the Bakers
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Me and the Friendly Man
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About the Wall
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Entrance to the Ramparts

We ended the day in the Yahuda area. I went for 1/2 a shawarma and a Coke. I’m glad I didn’t order the WHOLE shawarma.

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Shawarma and a Coke

Jerusalem Post Office

Jerusalem Post Office

There’s a lot of good in Jerusalem, but the Jerusalem post office isn’t one of them.  Think of going to the D.M.V. in California just to get a stamp to mail a postcard.  Yes, it is that bad.  And knowing this, I opted to wait outside and take some pictures on the street while others went to buy some stamps.

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Modesty in Dress is Expected in Israel
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A Typical Street Scene

Linda and John finally emerged from the post office.  Linda showed me her Israel stamps featuring the Statue of Liberty.

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Stamps
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Public Transportation

Front Desk

Backing up to earlier in the day, here’s a picture of John at the front desk of our hostel.  I love the sign on the wall, “Come on, get a room.”

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John at the Front Desk

The guy behind John was one of my roommates – Andrew.  Andrew is from the U.K. but currently living in Germany.  He was one of 3 of my roommates last night.

Garden Tomb

We boarded the train and road three stops – Jaffa Center, Jaffa Gate and Central Bus Station.  The bus station and Garden Tomb are back to back as you will see from my pictures.

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Matt and Becca on the Train
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Entrance to the Street Where the Garden Tomb Is
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Linda and Becca Outside the Garden Tomb
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John Near the Bus Station Taking a Picture

This is an old section of town just outside the Damascus Gate.  It is largely an Arab population in this part of town.

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Skull Hill – aka Golgotha
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Our Guide with Golgotha in the Background
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An Old Photograph of Golgotha
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Golgotha as it is Today

On to the Tomb

The Garden Tomb is one of two sites believed to be where Jesus was resurrected.  Several Latter-day prophets have commented this is the place.  Before getting to the tomb, our guide stopped and showed a winepress and explained this was a garden at Christ’s time.

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Panoramic of the Garden Tomb Area
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The Garden Tomb
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In the Garden Area

On our tour I saw this girl wearing a Sac State shirt.  I walked up and said, “Sac State!  My alma mater.”  She looked at me like, “REALLY!”

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A Girl From Folsom Wearing a CSUS Shirt

Dead Sea II

Dead Sea II

Something is funny about WordPress.  If I add too many photos it crashes on me.  So, here’s the Dead Sea II, as in Part II.

When I last left you we were at the Baptismal Site of Jesus.  Well, here I am at the site.

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Me at the Baptism Site of Jesus Christ

John wanted to put his feet in the water.  While I’m perfectly content to keep my feet dry, I have no problem photographing those who want to get wet.

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John Getting His Feet Wet
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Self-Baptism

Across the river is the Country of Jordan.  Many visitors come to that side too.  I found it interesting how two years ago, Google Maps would take you to either side.  Now, it acts as though the Israli side doesn’t exist.  Hmmm… I smell politics at Google.

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Looking at Jordan (the Country)

We chatted with two IDF soldiers.   They were friendly and nice.  U.S. relations with Israel are at a peak right now.

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Two IDF Soldiers Pose for a Photo
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Getting Ready for Baptism

Masada

Masada is our next destination.  It is an amazing place to visit.  It gives insight to Herod.  Herod is the man who ordered all baby boys killed in an attempt to kill the Promised Messiah.  Well, we know how that turned out, and we also know how things turned out at Masada.

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View from the Top

I rode the tram to the top with Linda and Becca.  In the pictures you can see a square below.  That’s one of the Roman encampments.

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John and Matt Just Little Specs

In the above picture, there is a hairpin turn.  Those two dark specs on the trail are John and Matt.

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John and Matt on the Trail part 2

Now they are quite a bit closer.

How Low Can You Go

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Tres Amigos

I love this spot.  The lowest place on earth.  It’s something to say you’ve been there, and you’d go back if you need to.

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The Dead Sea

We watched the sun go down and it was a beautiful sunset.

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Sunset at the Dead Sea

When we got back to Jerusalem we found a shawarma shop.  I decided to try falafel again.  This time it wasn’t as bad as the first time.  Becca convinced me when she said how much she loves the stuff.

Verdict – it was better this time, but not something I’m wild about.

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Shawarma in the Yahuda District