Monday, July 16, 2012

Israel: day two & three.

The past few days have been a crazy whirlwind! We've only been here for two and a half days and it seems like weeks! First things first, IT IS HOT!

We started our first "real" day touring. We hoped in the tour bus, with our driver George and guides Clemmie and Molly and we're off to Jerusalem to pick up another guide, Andre. Clemmie and Molly came from the states long ago and live over here. They are a sweet couple who as dedicated their lives to the Israeli people. Andre lives here and runs a touring company but is also a believer along with his wife. We were so happy to have him becuase he shared some great Biblical insight to the places we were seeing/going.

First we started the drive to the Dead Sea area. It's so amazing to be in the bus and talk about how we are driving "up" to Jerusalem like they say in the Bible because we quite literally are driving up. It was also cool to hear things like look to your left and there you see Jerico and just beyond that hill there is the Jordan River. It was neat to see the places we have read about for years.

After driving around an hour we arrived at Massada. I feel like I had heard of this place but maybe not necessarily from the Bible. Here we took a cable car to the top of a flat mountain and saw the ruins of where first Herod had one of his palaces and then later the Jews fled there to escape the Romans but were later taken over there. Now let me refer back to my statement about it being so hot here.... On top of this flat mountain is no trees and hardly any shade. Many times they told us to drink lots of water so we were drinking all morning to prepare! Well, being the crazy pregnant lady I am I about had a heat stroke. I don't think it actually had to do with dehydration just purely over-heating. After stopping to take a few group pictures my eyes got blurry and everything seemed kind of sparkly and I couldn't really see. Well at that point I pulled my hair back, drank some more water and slowly started to cool down. It was a miserable feeling but it reminded me to remember not to push too hard. I told the group I'm not used to being the "pansy" of the group and I would try to do better :) I had a gatorade shortly after that and was feeling much better!
{View from on top of Massada of the Dead Sea}
After that we went to Qumran where they say they found the Dead Sea Scrolls. It was similar to Massada in being flat and hot with a lack of trees (We were in the desert I suppose!) Thankfully no heat strokes happened here and we all survived a quick tour through that area!
{At Qumran}
Next was the Dead Sea! We were hoping for some awesome refreshing water... well it was practically on fire! It was a super neat experience seeing how you just float because the salt density is so high! Another thing to do there is get the mud from the bottom and put it on your skin for about 20 minutes before washing it off. We saw some crazy people doing that but decided beautiful skin was not worth the 20 minutes!
{before going floating}
{floatin' with my hubby}
After that we loaded up and headed for our hotel for the night in Jerusalem! After taking showers and cleaning up a bit we headed to the Prayer House right down the road. This place was great! The actually building has heritage with the man who wrote "It Is Well". I already love that song but something about singing it there in Israel (while surrounded by so many religions and faiths) it was extremely moving! After spending some time in the interactive prayer room there and praying for the nations we back to the hotel for dinner. After a long day I was about ready to head for my bed but instead we decided to walk to the Wailing Wall. Walking there was definitely the most scared I have been on this trip. Along the way we saw two teenage boys bust out in a fist fight, had some guy yell at us that we were crazy Americans and needed to leave and almost had construction debris fall on us from up above. It was intense! But we all made it and watched so many Jews go up to the wall and pray. It was a very interesting experience. Some of the group went up to the wall but a few of us stayed back. After this we saw how this wall comes right up to the Muslim temple and that is the spot where the Jews are so patiently waiting to get back so they can build the 3rd temple. Thankfully we all made it back to the hotel in one piece and headed to bed!
{the Prayer House}
{hotel dinner enjoying our Fantas!}
{The wailing wall}
The next morning we woke up early (I was still suffering from jet lag and woke up in the middle of the night wide awake! We didn't have any kind of clock so I had no idea what time it was and I was worried for some reason we wouldn't get our wake up call). We had breakfast at the hotel (I was thankful for some normal Cocoa Puffs for me to eat!) and were off for more touring! We first went to the Mount of Olives and had a wonderful view of the city. It was neat to hear that this is where Jesus ascended and then will one day decend! From there we went down a little bit and went to the Garden of Gethsemane. Here they have a little garden of where they think Jesus actually went with his diciples and prayed! (We learned that they build churches around anything they think is sacred or significant.) So there was a whole massive building surrounding this flat rock. That rock is where they think Jesus actually prayed. (Who's to know really???)
{View of Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives}
{the group at the Garden of Gethsemane}
From there we went to the Garden tomb. We had a sweet guide who had actually visited Alabama just three weeks ago. He took us to where they think is Golgatha and then to the tomb where they think Jesus was actually buried and rose from the dead!! (PTL!!) I had no clue that the two sites were so close together, but the Bible clearly points that they were. After going in the tomb we gathered as a group and had the Lord's Supper. How neat it was to experience that in this Holy Land. Now know, we do not worship a place but a person... but it is extremely powerful to see these Bible stories come to life!
{the actual tomb where they think Jesus laid and was raised from the dead}

After visiting the Garden tomb we headed for the City of David. Here the neat thing is that you can actually walk through Hezekiah's water tunnel. This was a tunnel they used to take clean water from a spring and bring it into the city. The tunnel is dark and cold and the deepest it got was up to my knees! It was maybe around half a mile and quite an experience!

After this we went into the Old City for lunch, shopping, the temple institute, and to see the other different areas. We walked through where the Jews live and then where the Aramaics live! By this time we were all feeling quite exhauseted and headed back for the bus! The heat takes it out of you!! From there we went to eat dinner and had an interesting spread. It was a Kosher restuarant with meat so no dairy! They had meat on skewers and it was basically the first meal I have really enjoyed!!
{enjoying our Coca-Cola's at dinner}
Off to camp we went! When we arrived we went straight to work and helped clean up from the kids first meal there! The kitchen is warm and its going to be hard long week! But we are excited to serve with the two M wives and get to know some of these kids!

Please continue to pray for our group and that we will have endurance as the week goes on! Pray that things run smoothly and effeciently! And also pray for the people of Israel- here they know so much but are missing the main thing they need to know!!

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