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

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

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

Recalcitrant

Recalcitrant

Recalcitrant – it’s the best word I can come up with to describe it. I’m talking about the Fast and Testimony Meeting participant who ignores all previous pleas from the bishopric to keep it short and restrict comments to brief statements of beliefs.    I’m ultra sensitive to this, I know.

And, perhaps recalcitrant is a little harsh.  However, we don’t really have a word in the English language (that I know of) that describes someone who ignores instructions.

I once heard a talk that said valid words during a testimony are, “I know… “, “I believe…”, and “I hope…”.  They went on to mention a few phrases that should never be used, such as, “I exhort you… “, “You/We should… “, as well as telling jokes or long stories.

During one of these dissertations I admit my mind drifted someplace else.   Just before I did, Elizabethe leaned over and said, “We’re three for three,” in reference to some ramblings from the podium.

Daydream

I imagined myself in a Fast and Testimony Meeting where a bishop asked that person who would come to the pulpit, because of the great number of people, would give one statement about what they know or believe.  He wanted them to keep things VERY short.

I sat there thinking, “Hmmm… I know the Book of Mormon is the word of God.  Or, I know Heavenly Father loves all of us.  I know Joseph Smith was a prophet of God….  Which one do I say?”

In my little daydream  it hit me.  Just get up and say the one you feel the strongest about.  The others will probably be said by someone else.

Just thinking about it helped me feel better about how the meeting was going.  As a result, I may just do that one of these Fast Sundays.  I may just stand up and give one sentence.

Shwarama

In honor of the U.S.A. recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel I made shawarma for the missionaries.  My hummus turned out very well and Elizabethe even liked it!

Primary Photos

Today I photographed the Primary after church.  LDS.org wants photos of singing time and stuff like that, so many of the children stuck around after the meeting for a photo session.  They were sure cute.

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Primary Singing Time

I went to upload the pictures and the upload site was down. And, it being a Sunday, I’m sure nobody in the church IT department is working on a Sunday afternoon. I guess I’ll have to wait until Monday.

All three full-time missionary companionships received new missionaries. Tonight we had Sisters Hovey and Noble for dinner. I decided I had been away from shawarmas long enough that I would fix them for dinner. We had enough left over meat and trimmings that I think we’ll be eating shawarmas all week.

I’m not sure what they call the devices they use for cooking shawarma and gyro meat, but I just took a skewer and layered chicken breast and thigh meat (alternating), and seasoning each layer. Then, I put it on a broiler pan and roasted it in the oven at 450F. It turned out perfect.

Israel Day 10 – Yosemite in Israel

We drove to the top of a cliff overlooking the Sea of Galilee.  The cliffs reminded me of Yosemite.

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Overlooking the Sea of Galilee

In the caves of these rocks, Jews took refuge from the crusaders.  Using long poles with hooks, women and children were pulled from the caves to fall to their death.

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Basket and Hook Used in Attack Against the Jews
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Cliffs and Caves
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Top of the World

The view here at Arbel National Park is amazing.  It is good place to get yourself oriented to the Sea of Galilee area.

Today is a good day to see how rough this little lake can get.  I can see why, in a little boat, Peter would get worried about the storm.  I can imagine it can get a lot worse than today.

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Tempest Raging

Our next stop was the ancient city of Bet She’an.  It was here that Saul and Jonathan were killed.  Saul was beheaded and his body hung upside down on a wall above the city.

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Bet She’an

I could have spent all day at this impressive dig.  There was a lot to see and we only gave ourselves 30 minutes.  (Really?  30 minutes?  This is a good day visit.)

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The Fence

As we drove south, you could see the high-tech fence to protect Israel from Jordan.  Our destination was the traditional baptismal site of Jesus on the Jordan river, but as you can see, it is a well watched area.

We passed through mine fields on the way, and then to a check point with a big sign reading “NO PHOTOS”.  We told the guard we were on our way to see the baptismal site, and annoyed looking, he waved us through.

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Was This the Spot?

Was this the spot where Jesus was baptized?  Probably not.  Rivers meander (change course) over time.  It may have been close, but the fact of the matter is, he was baptized by John the Baptist in the River Jordan, by immersion, to fulfill all righteousness.  (Matthew 3:15)

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Jordan River is Muddy and Cold

Remember when we used to sing the song in school, “Jordan River is muddy and cold?”  Well, it is muddy and I put my hand in there and it is cold.  It is amazing that crystal clear water up near Caesarea Philippi could become so muddy in a few miles.  I think there is an object lesson there too.

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Diane Poses Where You Can See Jordanian Guards

Diane asked if I’d talk her photo so that people could see the soldiers on the Jordanian side.  There were soldiers on both sides.  Seems silly that a sacred place like this would require M16s and soldiers, AND that we’d pass through mine fields to get to it.

What’s even more silly is the gift shop selling bikinis.  You heard me.  In a country where women cover their bodies completely, they sell bikinis at the baptismal site of Jesus.

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Ask, WWJD?

I think I’ve seen it all now.

Continuing on our journey…

Diane asked if we’d stop so she could ride a camel and if I’d photograph it for her grandchildren.  Wait.  It’s Monday.  It’s not Hump Day.  Oh, but we did it anyway.

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Doug and Diane Pose with Camel

Camels are strange animals.  I have no desire to ride one.  (But, I do like the GEICO commercial.)

We returned to Jerusalem and to the Abraham Hostel.  I went with Elizabeth and Kelly to find a place to eat.  Again… shawarma is about all you can find.  But, this place did serve fresh mint steeped in hot water.  It was quite good.

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Spearmint Tea

The shawarma was good too, but I’m getting a little tired of them.  They are the fast-food of Israel.

The ladies found a scarf shop and the sales guy, Ahymen (he pronounced it Amen), was quite a character.  He was minding the shop for his dad, but usually teaches high school chemistry.  he insisted on demonstrating on the ladies the different ways they can wear a scarf.

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Elizabeth Demonstrating How to Wear a Scarf

He also showed us in the back of the store a very deep well that’s a couple thousand years old.  I bought a keffeyah for Elizabethe.  Now we’ll both have them.

I asked Ahymen about the colors of the Keffeyahs.  He said my black and tan was “fasionable”, as was the one I bought for Elizabethe.  The white with red are Jordanian.  The white with black are Palestinian.  Plain white Egyptian, and so forth.

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A Very Old and Deep Well

While riding the trolley back to our hostel, I saw this guy outside.  He was happy and singing.  He waved to me when he saw that I took his photo.

Speaking of singing, it is not uncommon to hear people walking down the street singing.  It is also quite common to see people holding hands, especially families.

 

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Street Performer

 

Israel Day 1 – Getting Settled

We arrived at Tel Aviv about 2 and a half hours early.  Doug rented an SUV and we headed towards Jerusalem.

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Heading to Jerusalem

Israel has some nice highways and most exits are labeled in English, Hebrew and Arabic as you can see from the photo.

It’s the Sabbath here and so many places are closed.  Since the Jewish Sabbath runs from Friday sundown until Saturday sundown, comes sundown things will start to open up.

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Arrival at the Abraham Hostel

The car ride was a little cramped.  This Mitsubishi SUV should be called a 4 passenger + 2 small children.  Everyone had something on their laps and we were glad to make it to our destination.

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Front Desk Board

The hostel is clean, and it appears they cater to the young adult crowd.  We quickly checked in and then headed out to see some sites of Jerusalem before calling it a day.

In our attempt to find the Orson Hyde Memorial Gardens (https://www.lds.org/ensign/1979/12/news-of-the-church/president-kimball-dedicates-orson-hyde-memorial-garden-in-Jerusalem) we ended up on the back side of the Mount of Olives.  This entire end of the Mountain is covered with graveyards.  Because of the rocky ground, the graves are above ground boxes as you can see in this photo.  (Looking towards Bethlehem I believe.)

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Back Side of the Mount of Olives

After hiking around this grave yard in the dark, we decided to head back to the car and drive around the mountain to find our intended destination.  We found it, parked, and enjoyed the view of Old Jerusalem.

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The Group Near Gethsemane with Old Jerusalem in the Background

We then packed in to the car and headed to the BYU Jerusalem Center (aka Mormon University).

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BYU Center and Hebrew University.

This is an amazing city.  I can’t wait to see it in the daylight.

We went back to our hostel and after a short break we headed back out to the Ben Yahuda area to get some dinner.  Matt took us to a shawarma shop he had eaten at before.  (We’re about to find out that shawarmas are about as common as hamburgers are in the USA.)

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Sister Babcock poses with our shawarma chef and a skewer of shawarma chicken meat.

The shawarma was quite tasty.  Like Subway, they let you pick your toppings.  If memory serves me correctly, I had them put hummus, coleslaw, chopped tomatoes and cucumbers, eggplant and chicken on mine.  It was made on a large lavash (like a thick tortilla only lighter in texture).

We continued our walk back to the Abraham Hostel as we checked out the shops along the way.

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Bakery… yum

My favorite was the bakery where they had some of the best pastries.  I’m not real wild about some kosher foods, but these baked goods were great.  I went for the baklava – both walnut and pistachio.

Our first night in Jerusalem was fun.  We got a good view of the city and I can’t wait until tomorrow to see it in more depth.