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

The Dead Sea

The Dead Sea

The Dead Sea is our destination today.  A good healthy breakfast is what’s required for a visit to Masada.  (My heel is killing me.  I’m hoping I’m not a slow-down for the group.)

The breakfast here is different for Americans.  They eat salad for breakfast, however, salad to them is chopped cucumbers and tomatoes.  They also have chocolate/hazelnut spread on bread, boiled eggs and apples or oranges.

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Our Abraham Hostel Dining Room

Yes, that is a foosball table in the background.

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The hostel in Jerusalem is pretty low budget.  You rinse your dishes and put them in the dishwasher racks.  Matt volunteered to do the dishes today.  (Matt’s a great guy.)

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Matt Washing Dishes
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Outside the window a Jew begins his day with morning prayer.

The view from the hostel isn’t the most picturesque, but it tells a story.  Below we load in to Jumpy for a trip down to the lowest place on earth – – the Dead Sea.

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Jumpy Getting Loaded

Sea Level

As you drive from Jerusalem you drop down to a valley.  It is dry, desert land.  Part way down the mountain is a sea level marker.  It’s a good place to stop for a picture or two.

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Becca, Matt, John and Linda at Sea Level
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Me at Sea Level
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Sushi the Camel

Each time I visit here I see Sushi the Camel and his owner.  This is the guy’s full time business, and this is his location.

When we reached the bottom of the valley, guess what?

We saw an entire herd of camels!

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Herd of Camels

Baptismal Site

I remember incorrectly.  I thought the baptismal site was quite a ways from the main highway from Jerusalem going east.  We drove to it first.

There are many improvements since I was here two years ago.  The road is paved all the way.  Before it was dirt.  While there are signs warning about mines, there are fewer.

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Becca, Linda and John and a Mine Field
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John at the Gates of a Church with Landmines

The water’s edge has been set up to accommodate tourist as well as people wanting to be baptized.  I found it interesting so many people were baptizing themselves.  They put on a white shift, entered the water, and dipped down.

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Becca and Matt at the Baptism Site of Jesus Christ
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John and Linda at the Baptism Site of Jesus Christ

to be continued…

Toronto to Tel Aviv

Toronto to Tel Aviv

I picked up Matt and Becca Baker at their home and the three of us drove to Toronto to catch our flight to Tel Aviv.  Toronto to Tel Aviv is cheaper than JFK (New York City) to Tel Aviv.  So, we’re doing it this way.

Whoa!  When I got to the airport, long term parking is EXPENSIVE here.  I’m beginning to wonder if it was such a good deal to fly from here.  Oh, but we’re splitting the parking expense.  It might workout okay.

Matt and Becca made it on the flight and we met up with John and Linda at the Toronto Airport.  We’re all going to be on the same plane together.

The Flight

The people at Air Canada are nice and friendly.  The plane is a new Boeing 787, however, I am not impressed with the cabin.  They took the cheap way out.  I’m sure it is fun for the pilots and perhaps the crew, but here’s what isn’t good about Air Canada’s rendition of the 787…

  1. The seats are too narrow.
  2. The seats are too close together.  (Delta probably has barely 12″.  I think this had about 9″ between the front of the seat and the back of the seat in front of you.  For a size 11 foot… that’s not enough.)
  3. For a brand new model, the air quality still sucks.  When will they figure out how to fix the smells and stuffiness on an airliner?

Tel Aviv

We touched down in Tel Aviv and were on our way to pass through the passport checks and getting our luggage.

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On Our Way Out of the Airport
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Passing Through Passport Checks
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Passing Through Passport Checks

We got our rental car in Tel Aviv and they discovered it had a leaky roof.  So, we had to wait about an hour for them to find and clean a van for us.

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Worn out from the flight
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Jumpy – A good name for this van
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In the Van en Route to Jerusalem

The van is a Citroen Jumpy.  It’s a fitting name for a van with a Jumpy clutch.

Jerusalem

We arrived at the Abraham Hostel in Jerusalem, got checked in, and took some time to get settled.  I’m in a 4-bed dorm room, and so far, it looks like only one other person is in it.

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Father Abraham

The dorm room was too small to photograph and not impressive, but above you can see the hallway.  But, for the price… it isn’t bad.  5 nights for about $220 and that includes breakfast and earplugs.  (Yes, they have free earplugs so you can blockout your roommates’ snoring.)

Our next stop is the Mount of Olives and the Orson Hyde Gardens.  There we viewed the old city and then visited the Catholic’s version of Gethsemane.  I say the Catholic’s version because we don’t know exactly where Christ suffered and bled, just that it was somewhere on the Mt. of Olives just outside the city walls.

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A Jewish Funeral Procession

Traffic was held up and Matt spotted this funeral procession.  He stopped so I could jump out and get this picture (above).

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Outside the Orson Hyde Gardens
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Matt and Becca Baker
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John and Linda Harmer
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Gethsemane
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Matt Baker Describing the Location

Dinner

Dinner on the first night at any new location is always difficult.  Matt and I knew of places, but finding a place was another story since is getting late.

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What Are They Looking At? (I can’t remember)

We discovered a market I didn’t know existed.  (It’s rather cool!)  We went looking around and found a shawarma shop that was closing, and so we kept looking.  Finally we found a shawarma/burger place open.

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A Nice Burger with a Mid-Eastern Flavor
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Our Little Sidewalk Cafe
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The Jewish Market Area

It’s back to the hostel (the building with Abraham at the top) to get rested for a big day tomorrow.

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Our Hostel

 

All Nations

All Nations

The scriptures talk about all nations rising up against Israel.  (Zechariah 12:3)  Like many of the prophecies for the last days, I’ve often wondered how that would play out.  This last week I’ve watched as many nations voted against Israel.

I did a search and it returned a full page of results reading, “PROPHECY ALERT: “70 Nations Rise Against Israel””, “All NATIONS ARE NOW AGAINST ISRAEL ITS TIME TO WAKE UP”, “Nations Gathered Against JERUSALEM: Anti-Israel Vote At UN Fulfills Biblical Prophecy”.  These are just a few of the headlines from this last week.

Israel is also representative of the church.  We see that happening too as those who seek to do right are persecuted for righteousness sake.  Both of these things are happening simultaneously.

Elizabethe and I were watching a movie where a couple meet and within minutes after meeting, they are having sex.  I commented, “Will things get so bad that the entertainment world has someone walk up to another and just start having sex without even saying, ‘Hi’?”

Yet, things are so bad if you publically decry such behaviour you are labeled as a “hater”, “bigot” and so forth.

Watching It Unfold

We are watching it unfold right before our eyes.  I cringe when I hear people say the Second Coming is still a ways off.  They say there is too much prophecy to be fulfilled.  But, as this last week has pointed out… as the last 50 years have pointed out, things turn on a dime.

I have read many speculations about what has to happen before the Second Coming.  I say speculation because they are personal interpretations by well meaning members of the church.  For example, one member wrote that the Savior must come quickly to his temple, and perports this needs to take place in his temple in Jerusalem.  While others believe this happened in the Kirtland Temple in 1836 (of which I subscribe to the belief this fulfilled that scripture Malachi 3:1).  Regardless of which it is, if it hasn’t happened, it can happen quickly.

Mostly, I like what one of the people I used to home teach once said, “The second coming might be different for each of us.  You can die tomorrow and that will be your second coming.”

So, the best we can do is be prepared.