Israel Trip – Day 8 (Masada, Qumran, Dead Sea)

Leave a comment

Monday, June 17th was our eighth and last official tour day. We headed out of Jerusalem by bus early for Masada, Qumran, and the Dead Sea.

Our drive to Masada took us past miles of date palm groves. Soon we caught sight of the Dead Sea, gleaming oily blue in the distance.

IMG_1743

Groves of date palms. (Photo © 2019 by V. Nesdoly)

IMG_1750

View of the Dead Sea. (Photo © 2019 by V. Nesdoly)

Masada

At Masada we boarded the cable car that took us up the mountain. Before looking around, our guide gathered us in a shaded area and told us the story of Masada.

This fortress settlement was built up as one of King Herod the Great’s palace complexes, though rarely visited by him. After his death, Jewish zealots conquered its Roman guards and took refuge there. They converted the palatial rooms to their uses, even constructing a synagogue. They lived in Masada for about seven years, taking advantage of the fortress’s designed ways of collecting water and storing food.

The Romans came after them, laid siege to the fortress and finally breached it by constructing a ramp on its most accessible side (in April of 73 C.E.). When the Romans entered the complex, they found the entire population dead, having chosen to commit mass murder / suicide instead of yielding to Roman rule. (The story is told by Josephus, who, it is said, got this account from two women and five children who hid during the massacre).

IMG_1753

The view as of the surroundings as we travel up Masada in the cable car. (Photo © 2019 by V. Nesdoly)

IMG_1760

IMG_1759

The ramp Romans built to breach the fortress of Masada. (Photo © 2019 by V. Nesdoly)

IMG_1762

IMG_1763

Casemate of the Scrolls. (Photo © 2019 by V. Nesdoly)

IMG_1764IMG_1765

IMG_1766

Ernie and me, in the synagogue, Masada. (Photo © 2019 by V. Nesdoly)

IMG_1769

IMG_1771

Masada cistern. (Photo © 2019 by V. Nesdoly)

IMG_1772IMG_1773

IMG_1774

Guard room, Masada. (Photo © 2019 by V. Nesdoly)

IMG_1776

Panoramic view of the storage rooms. Our guide told us that the Masada inhabitants destroyed and burned only half of the stores, so that the Romans would know they had not starved to death. (Photo © 2019 by V. Nesdoly)

IMG_1777

Looking down from Masada. Cable car is halfway down. Terminus and parking lot is at the top left. (Photo © 2019 by V. Nesdoly)

After descending from Masada and shopping at the Ahava Store (which sells skin care products made from Dead Sea mud and minerals, along with other tourist goodies) we boarded the bus again for Qumran.

Qumran

The desert community of Qumran was once the home of the Essenes, a devout sect of Judaism. It was in caves near here that the Dead Sea scrolls were found from 1946 to 1956. These scrolls were probably the work of the Essenes who spent much time copying Scripture. They also placed great emphasis on purity and we saw many mikveh (ritual bath enclosures) as well as channels dug to aid the movement of water.

IMG_1785

Ceremonial bath enclosure or Mikveh in Qumran. (Photo © 2019 by V.Nesdoly)

IMG_1786

Channel for water flow at Qumran. (Photo © 2019 by V. Nesdoly)

IMG_1789

IMG_1790

Pottery kiln at Qumran. (Photo © 2019 by V. Nesdoly)

 

A short walk took us to a lookout where we viewed Cave 4.

We ended our day at the Dead Sea.

Dead Sea

Earlier, when we drove by, our guide pointed out the sink holes that are developing near it—a response to lessened amounts of water feeding into the sea for various reasons.

IMG_1748

The dark blotches on the shore are sinkholes. (Photo © 2019 by V. Nesdoly)

Now our bus dropped us off at the one of the Dead Sea beach areas. We left our valuables locked in the bus, changed into swim wear in the busy change rooms and walked a short distance down to the beach. (No photos because I left my camera on the bus).

The water makes you as buoyant as everyone says it will, which is tricky because splashing around in the water, even to regain your feet, is not a good idea lest you get the extremely salty water in yours or others’ eyes. I experienced a little of that; it burns!

All around people were coating themselves with the salt-laden mud/clay that you can dig up with your hands just under the beach rocks.

After coating yourself with mud thus, you’re apparently supposed to let it dry before washing it off to obtain maximum smooth-skin results. I discovered that even without leaving it that length of time, it did smooth and soften my skin.

I’m glad I experienced the Dead Sea in this way, but I was quite ready to rinse off in clear, fresh water and get out of my very salty swim suit.

IMG_1797

IMG_1796

Deserted Dead Sea beach houses seen as we drove away. (Photo © 2019 by V. Nesdoly)

 

 

Israel Trip – Day 7 (Jerusalem and Bethlehem)

Leave a comment

Our day of exploring  the King David’s City part of Jerusalem (Sunday, June 16) began at a beautiful brass harp sculpture.

IMG_1674

Brass sculpture welcoming us into the City of David. (Photo © 2019 by V. Nesdoly)

IMG_1675

View of the city across the valley (Valley of Hinnom, I believe). (Photo © 2019 by V. Nesdoly)

Our guide explained the layout of the land, the need for a water source, and the importance of Gihon Spring. He told of how at least two tunnels have been dug to bring water from the spring into the city. Then we descended stairs to walk those tunnels—dry and wet.

IMG_1677

Information sign, explaining the various underground constructions. (Photo © 2019 by V. Nesdoly)

IMG_1678

Our Jerusalem tunnel experience began with our descent of these stairs. (Photo © 2019 by V. Nesdoly)

IMG_1682

In the tunnel system. (Photo © 2019 by V. Nesdoly)

The wet tunnel, constructed during Hezekiah’s reign, still has water flowing through it. Those prepared for a little water walked through the wet tunnel while the rest of us squeezed our way through the dry one.

IMG_1687

A pool of water in the Jerusalem tunnels. (Photo © 2019 by V. Nesdoly)

IMG_1693

Ernie emerging from the dry tunnel. (Photo © 2019 by V. Nesdoly)

Both tunnels emerge near the Pool of Siloam. However, the nondescript puddle of water labeled Pool of Siloam was obstructed by dusty construction so we didn’t linger or take pictures.

Next we drove to the Davidson Centre to experience the Southern Wall excavations We viewed the now blocked three Huldah Gates where the crowds entered the temple. We walked up the ancient steps, imagining Jesus and His disciples at these very spots.

IMG_1703

Panorama view of the Southern Wall. (Photo © 2019 by V. Nesdoly)

IMG_1713

Panorama view looking from the Southern Wall. (Photo © 2019 by V. Nesdoly)

IMG_1715

The three blocked Huldah Gates, where the crowds entered the temple. (Photo © 2019 by V. Nesdoly)

We were awed by the massive temple stones, marveling at how ancient builders had put them in place so precisely without using our modern devices. A display in an open area helped us understand how these massive stones were moved using simple machines.

IMG_1717

Rubble from the destruction of the temple. (Photo © 2019 by V. Nesdoly)

We were awed by the massive temple stones, marveling at how ancient builders had put them in place so precisely without using our modern devices. A display in an open area helped us understand how these massive stones were moved using simple machines.

IMG_1700

Large temple stones and pillars. Dome at the right is the Al-Aqsa Mosque. (Photo © 2019 by V. Nesdoly)

IMG_1720

Early building machines, used at the time the temple was built. (Photo © 2019 by V. Nesdoly)

We also drove to the Israel Museum to visit the Shrine of the Book (housing the Dead Sea Scrolls) and Yad Vashem, Israel’s memorial to the holocaust. That was a sobering hour and a half, viewing photos and reading of how the whole world seemed to turn against Israel in concert. (Photography was not allowed in the museum.)

IMG_1723

Sculpture outside Yad Vashem (Israel’s Holocaust Museum). (Photo © 2019 by V. Nesdoly)

Finally, we boarded the bus for Bethlehem, about a 45-minute drive away. Our first stop was at a market, where our late lunch was waiting for us (ordered ahead by our guide). We also had time for some shopping. Besides the lovely wood mementos in the market, other vendors soon drove up with jewelry and scarves.

Then it was back on the bus to the Shepherd’s Fields (we decided to skip Bethlehem’s Church of the Nativity, wanting to avoid the crowds we had encountered at the Holy Sepulchre Church).

A boy with a lamb greeted us (I think he wanted a little coin for posing, but, sorry, I was too slow).

IMG_1727

Boy with a lamb. (Photo © 2019 by V. Nesdoly)

IMG_1728

IMG_1729

The Shepherd and Sheep Fountain in the plaza of the Shepherd’s Chapel. (Photos © 2019 by V. Nesdoly)

Down a short path, we came to some meeting alcoves, overlooking grassy fields. Here we reviewed the Christmas story and had a short devotional. Then some of our group clambered through the caves in the area that led back to the plaza and chapel. (I walked out above ground.)

I saw a lot of Jerusalem crosses in Bethlehem. I purchased a mother-of-pearl one, a wonderful memory of this day.

Here are some of the things the Jerusalem cross symbolizes.

– The five wounds of Christ (the four little crosses symbolize wounds to Jesus’ hands and feet, the large cross the wound to His side).

– The gospel (large cross) spread to the four quarters of the earth (four small crosses).

– Christ (the large cross) and the four evangelists Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John (four small crosses).

Israel Trip – Day 6 (The Jerusalem of Jesus’ passion)

Leave a comment

We started Day 6 (Saturday, June 15th) of our “pilgrimage” at the top of the Mount of Olives From this vantage point we got a panoramic view of the Kidron Valley, with its generations of tombs directly in front of us with, above that the Dome of the Rock and the city.

IMG_1590

Panoramic view of the city from he Mount of Olives. (Photo © 2019 by V. Nesdoly)

IMG_1591

Tombs in the Kidron Valley, with the city of Jerusalem in the background. (Photo © 2019 by V. Nesdoly)

From here I well understood Jesus viewing the city on His ride into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, and weeping over the city and its fate (Luke 19:41-44).

A photographer was all set up to take group photos, so we posed for him before carrying on.

IMG_1970

Our group on the Mount of Olives. (Photo © 2019)

IMG_1595

Another photo moment for the two of us. (Photo © 2019 by V. Nesdoly)

Then we walked downhill, along the Palm Sunday route to the Garden of Gethsemane.

IMG_1597

Our walk took us down, past the grave sites in the valley. Our guide told us that visitors leave stones on the graves (instead of the flowers we leave). Thus graves with many stones have received many visitors. (Photo © 2019 by V. Nesdoly)

 

At the Gethsemane site, we visited the Church of All Nations.

IMG_1568

Church of All Nations façade (Photo © 2019 by V. Nesdoly)

IMG_1606

Church of All Nations interior. (Photo © 2019 by V. Nesdoly)

At a quiet park along the way, we had a time of group devotions and reflection. I wrote in the journal I carry with me as I thought of what we had seen and would see today:

“Heaviness—the sight of Jerusalem and His (Jesus’) love for it, He, knowing its destiny, weeping. Juxtaposed against this the sounds of dailiness—for us sirens, horns honking, traffic—beggars begging, birds singing.

“Time marching on and He, realizing that the cloud that has hung over Him His whole life is lowering, getting very close, is engulfed with the immensity of it, the dreadfulness of it, the loneliness of it. He casts Himself on the Father.

“The ripples of His obedience now lapping every continent to millions of believers over the centuries, as seen in all the holy memorial places built. I love being part of something so vast and eternal.

We walked along the Via Dolorosa, which took us to the Pools of Bethesda. Though the site is a puzzle of archeological ruins, our guide pointed out the spot thought to be the pools where Jesus healed a man (John 5:1-15).

IMG_1612

Walking along the streets of Old Jerusalem. (Photo © 2019 by V. Nesdoly)

IMG_1614

Bethesday site–a puzzle of archeological finds to the untrained eye. (Photo © 2019 by V. Nesdoly)

IMG_1619

The area thought to formerly house the Pools of Bethesda. (Photo © 2019 by V. Nesdoly)

The church on that site, St. Anne’s, is known for its acoustics. We sang “Praise God from Whom All Blessings Flow” as a group inside, and enjoyed the beautiful sound.

IMG_1618

St. Anne’s Church facade (Photo © 2019 by V. Nesdoly)

IMG_1613

We sang inside the old St. Anne’s church and enjoyed the excellent acoustics. (Photo © 2019 by V. Nesdoly)

Continuing on the Via Dolorosa, along narrow streets, walkways and busy Arab market stalls, we came at last to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre—the traditional site of Jesus’ death and burial.

The plaza was crowded with people and our guide cautioned us not to get stuck in any long lineups

IMG_1623

Walking along the streets of the Old City. (Photo © 2019 by V. Nesdoly)

IMG_1631

Church of the Holy Sepulchre, courtyard crowded with visitors. (Photo © 2019 by V. Nesdoly)

Once inside, though, the mass of people made it difficult to even move. I made it up some stairs but quickly realized that this press of people was not for me, though I did manage to snap one photo. I soon found a fellow tour-mate and together we managed to make as quick an exit as possible, alas without encountering the historic things people came to see and venerate.

IMG_1632

Inside the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, (Photo © 2019 by V. Nesdoly)

We continued walking through the Old City alleyways till we came to Jaffa Gate where we caught the bus.

It took us to the grounds of the Israel Museum. There we bought lunch, ate it in a shady alcove on the grounds, then joined our guide as he explained the city of Jerusalem,  a miniature Second Temple Period city on display (from the time of Herod’s Temple and Jesus).

IMG_1637

Mini display of Jerusalem from the Second Temple period. (Photo © 2019 by V. Nesdoly)

From there we boarded the bus again for a trip outside the city walls to the Garden Tomb and Gordon’s Calvary. This alternate site suggested for Jesus’ death and burial does have a “skull hill” and an ancient tomb, making it a good candidate.

“Skull Hill” at the Garden Tomb site. (Photo © 2019 by V. Nesdoly)

IMG_1649

IMG_1653

Pastor leading us in a communion service in the Garden Tomb. (Photo © 2019 by V. Nesdoly)

IMG_1651

Scenes from the Garden Tomb. The bottom one is of the tomb thought to be Jesus’ burial spot. (Photo © 2019 by V. Nesdoly)

Finally, we drove into the city again to visit the site thought to be the Upper Room, where Jesus and His disciples ate the Last Supper and the early Christians gathered on the Day of Pentecost. A church building occupies that space now.

IMG_1665

*The stained-glass window from the Upper Room Church (or Cenacle). (Photo © 2019 by V. Nesdoly)

Altogether, this day was beautifully designed to help us visualize and understand Jesus’ final days, death and resurrection.

 

 

Israel Trip – Day 5 (Galilee, Jordan Valley, Jerusalem)

Leave a comment

We began Day 5 (Friday, June 14, three weeks ago today) boarding our bus with all our luggage for a day of sightseeing and a move to Jerusalem.

Yardenit

Our first stop, a very short one, was at Yardenit, a baptismal site on the Jordan River. No one from our group had requested to be baptized so, after a few photos, we carried on.

IMG_1440

Posi

IMG_1441

Yardenit baptismal site on the Jordan River. (Photo © 2019 by V. Nesdoly)

IMG_1444

Posing by the Jordan River in Yardenite. (Photo © 2019 by V. Nesdoly)

Nazareth

Our first major stop of the day was Nazareth. Here we went first to the land form just outside the city. The story of Jesus rejected by the religious leaders of the Nazareth synagogue, then taken outside the city where they threatened to push him off the cliff to His death came to life for me (Luke 4:16-30). This is where that would have happened.

IMG_1464IMG_1465

IMG_1466

View from the cliff cliff from which the Nazareth townspeople wanted to push Jesus to His death. (Photo © 2019 by V. Nesdoly)

Then we drove into town where we toured the Nazareth Village, a sprawled-out village with buildings, animals, and people in costume, similar to what Jesus would have experienced.

IMG_1484

Phyllis and Theo (our children’s ministry puppets) got a moment of attention from two of the locals. (Photo © 2019 by V. Nesdoly)

IMG_1489

A vineyard watchtower. (Photo © 2019 by V. Nesdoly)

IMG_1490

The sheep-pen. (Photo © 2019 by V. Nesdoly)

IMG_1491

Phyllis and Theo, eager to see the sheep. (Photo © 2019 by V. Nesdoly)

IMG_1493

A donkey, grabbing some lunch. (Photo © 2019 by V. Nesdoly)

IMG_1494

The olive press. (Photo © 2019 by V. Nesdoly)

IMG_1496

Woven basket, used to help strain the olive oil. (Photo © 2019 by V. Nesdoly)

IMG_1499

A Nazareth Village vendor (food truck?). (Photo © 2019 by V. Nesdoly)

IMG_1500

They ate vegetables similar to ours, along with herbs like Hyssop. (Photo © 2019 by V. Nesdoly)

IMG_1501

The woodworking shop; he might also have been a stone mason, as most of the houses were constructed of wood and stone. (Photo © 2019 by V. Nesdoly)

IMG_1502

Oven, for baking bread. (Photo © 2019 by V. Nesdoly)

IMG_1510

The dining room. (Photo © 2019 by V. Nesdoly)

IMG_1511

The spinner and weaver. (Photo © 2019 by V. Nesdoly)

IMG_1514

The synagogue. (Photo © 2019 by V. Nesdoly)

Beit Shean

Next we drove to Beit Shean. It is the city where the body of King Saul and his sons were nailed to the wall by the Philistines (1 Samuel 31:10).

Our itinerary informed us that curently Beit Shean is “…the largest ongoing archeological dig in the land of Israel.” The dig has unearthed a Roman theatre, colonnaded Roman streets, mosaics, Roman bathhouses, and even a public latrine.

Judean Wilderness

Finally, we made our ascent to Jerusalem through the Judean wilderness.

A Bedouin encampment and settlements along the West Bank. (Photo © 2019 by V. Nesdoly)

Jerusalem!

IMG_1564

The first sight of Jerusalem was a thrill. (Photo © 2019 by V. Nesdoly)

We visited the Western Wall late Friday afternoon, just hours before the start of Shabbat (during which we would not have been allowed to take photos). I was especially fascinated by the many Orthodox Jews, men dressed in black suits wearing black hats, yarmulkes, even black fur hats, little boys with yarmulkes and side curls, little girls in their pretty dresses, women all dressed up with turban-type hats pushing babies in strollers, as families made their Friday night visits of the wall together, along with us informally dressed tourists.

IMG_1573IMG_1575

Prayer at the wall is segregated. In the women’s section I witnessed women in fervent petition, many reading from prayer books in Hebrew (and the odd one in English). These were sitting for anyone to use on podium-type tables and on a bookshelf at the back of the prayer area.

IMG_1576

Women sat and prayed, or went up to the wall, to touch it as they prayed fervently, often in tears. (Photo © 2019 by V. Nesdoly)

IMG_1577

Many tucked folded prayers into the cracks of the wall. (Photo © 2019 by V. Nesdoly)

IMG_1578

Prayer books were available for anyone to use. Most were in Hebrew.  (Photo © 2019 by V. Nesdoly)

IMG_1580

Poster on the wall enclosure, opposite the wall. (Photo © 2019 by V. Nesdoly)

IMG_1581

Western Wall poster. (Photo © 2019 by V. Nesdoly)

 

IMG_1583

Another poster from the wall enclosure area. (Photo © 2019 by V. Nesdoly)

It was a moving, and slightly unsettling experience as I thought about the prayer fervency I was witnessing and asked myself—what did this fascination with praying at the Western Wall really signify?

Israel Trip – Day 4 (Golan Heights)

Leave a comment

We left Banias, with the road taking us farther up into the Golan Heights. From the bus window I captured these Golan Heights vistas with terraced olive orchards and other gardens—quite beautiful.

Vistas of terraced hillsides in the Golan Heights (Photos © 2019 by V.Nesdoly)

We stopped for a late lunch at Alsultan Restaurant where we had more delicious Droze food—pita with falafel or crunchy chicken, along with a variety of sauces, garnishes, salads and drinks, served family style at a long table in the sunny courtyard.

IMG_4141

A memory of that meal from my sketch journal. (Photo © 2019 by V. Nesdoly)

We drove further into the heights, stopping finally near Israel’s border with Syria, at a spot named the Valley of Tears. Parked on a high spot overlooking the valley before us stood several old tanks—Russian tanks, it turns out, supplied to Syria and deployed against Israel during the Yom Kippur War of 1973.

IMG_1415

At the Valley of Tears – Soviet tanks left over from the Yom Kippur War. (Photo © 2019 by V. Nesdoly)

IMG_1416

Looking over the Valley of Tears. (Photo © 2019 by V. Nesdoly)

Our guide, who was active in the army during that time (though on the Egyptian front), told us the moving story of that battle. This place was called the Valley of Tears after it became the site of a major battle (between October 6-9) of the Yom Kippur War.

IMG_1417

Valley of Tears. The settlement in the distance is in Syria. (Photo © 2019 by V. Nesdoly)

Our day ended on a lighter note when we made a last stop at an olive manufacturing and market establishment.

Olive manufacturing plant with a painting that shows olives being pressed using donkey power, the large foyer of the facility (top right), and an olive press (bottom right). (Photo © 2019 by V. Nesdoly)

Though the complex was officially closed for the day, the staff had prepared a variety of olive oils for us to sample with bread and seasonings. Then a young woman showed us the cosmetic potential of the olive, inviting us to sample various creams and lotions—much to the amusement of the boys (disguised as men) in our group. Of course the shop was open for our purchases too.

Demonstration of the many uses of the olive. (Photos © 2019 by V. Nesdoly)

We made it back to our Tiberias hotel in time for a late dinner.

I loved this spot—its warm, humid climate, pretty décor, and lush plantings.

 

Israel Trip -Day 4 (Capernaum, Caesarea Philippi)

Leave a comment

Capernaum

IMG_1357

 Welcome to Capernaum (Capharnaum).  (Photo © 2019 by V. Nesdoly)

Capernaum (“Capharnaum, The Town of Jesus”) was our next stop. It was to Capernaum Jesus went after his native Nazareth rejected Him (Matthew 4:13). Capernaum was the centre of Jesus’ Galilean ministry and the site of many of His miracles.

Again, there were many ruins.

IMG_1358

Capital from the synagogue in Capernaum (note the Jewish menorah middle top). (Photo © 2019 by V. Nesdoly)

IMG_1360

The synagogue where Jesus read scriptures and taught. (Photo © 2019 by V. Nesdoly)

IMG_1364

The layout of the town in stone foundations. (Photo © 2019 by V. Nesdoly)

Remains of Peter’s house, where his mother-in-law was healed (Matthew 8:14,15) are preserved under glass skylights. The information sign says:

“The traditional house of Peter was close to the lake shore and was flanked to the east by the main north-south road (cardo maximus) of the village. Spacious courtyards with a staircase and terra refractaria fireplaces were shared by several roofed homes.”

IMG_1372

Phyllis, excited to see Peter’s house. (Photo © 2019 by V. Nesdoly)

Altar-St Peters Church-Capernaum

St. Peter’s Church (in the same complex as Peter’s house) features a beautiful mosaic altar. (Photo © 2019 by V. Nesdoly)

IMG_1374

Outside, a statue of St. Peter attracts many visitors and camera moments. (Photo © 2019 by V. Nesdoly

Caesarea Philippi

From Capernaum we drove north to the Golan Heights for a stop at Banias, the site of ancient Caesarea Philippi.

This spot, at the foot of Mount Hermon, is one of the sources of the Jordan River. The waterfall was a rare and welcome sight.

A grotto to the god Pan was located here. Mike Mason describes the beliefs about this site:

“In ancient times, it was called Panaes, after Pan, the goat-footed Greek god associated with nature, fertility, and carnal excess. The dark opening in the cliff… was the Cave of Pan, believed to be the doorway to the underworld (Gates of Hades) where fertility gods lived in winter, returning to earth each spring on the subterranean stream that formerly gushed from the cave mouth. To the right of the cave are several niches where pagan statues would have stood. Today this is an archaeological site, but in Jesus’ time it was an active center of pagan worship with a temple, courtyards, and shrines—the focal point of the Romanesque city of Caesarea Philippi” – Mike Mason, Jesus: His Story in Stone (2017), p. 53.

IMG_1382

The cave of Pan, believed to be the Gates of Hades. (Photo © 2019 by V. Nesdoly)

IMG_1385

Ernie, standing in a section of the ancient worship site honoring Pan. (Photo © 2019 by V. Nesdoly)

IMG_1386

Niches where pagan idols would have stood. (Photo © 2019 by V. Nesdoly)

IMG_1388

More ruins from the Caesarea Philippi worship site. (Photo © 2019 by V. Nesdoly)

IMG_1384

Artist’s rendering of the sanctuary of Pan. (Photo © 2019 by V. Nesdoly)

It was to this site that Jesus brought His disciples and asked them “’Who do men say that I am… Who do you say that I am?’” – Matthew 16:13.

When Peter replied, “’You are the Christ (Messiah) Son of the living God,’” Jesus answered, “’Blessed are you, Simon, Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you but My Father who is in heaven. And I also say to you that you are Peter and on this rock I will build My church and the Gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.” (Matthew 16:17,18)

A huge rock at the site is a wonderful visual, reminding us of Jesus’ words.

IMG_1391

Rock at the site of Pan, reminding us of Jesus’ words to Peter.  (Photo © 2019 by V. Nesdoly)

 

Israel Trip – Day 4 (Sea of Galilee)

Leave a comment

Day four (June 13th) saw us on the bus bright and early, leaving our Tiberias hotel to experience the Sea of Galilee.

We started our day with a visit to the ancient boat, found preserved some years ago, in the mud of Galilee and now, carefully bolted together, kept in a climate-controlled space at the Kibbutz Ginossar Museum.

Galilee boat

Ancient Galilee boat from the time of Jesus. (Photo © 2019 by V. Nesdoly)

Then our entire group went out to the lake.

IMG_1310

Our guide noted how high the water level was, due to a much-appreciated wet winter. (Photo © 2019 by V. Nesdoly)

IMG_1312

We boarded the boat Noah for a trip across Galilee. (Photo © 2019 by V. Nesdoly)

It was a beautiful, calm day—hard to imagine the storms described in the gospels disturbing this sparkling surface.

We also gathered on the boat’s prow for a group photo.

IMG_20190613_093700

A photo of our 22-member church group, taken on the prow of  the boat Noah, on the Sea of Galilee.

Returning to land, I spotted this little Galilee lizard from the dock!

IMG_1327

Lizard, on the shallows of the Sea of Galilee. (Photo © 2019 by V. Nesdoly)

Back on the bus, we enjoyed the beautiful roadside colour of the Galilee region as we drove to the Mount of Beatitudes.

IMG_1333

Bright flowering shrubs line many of the roads in the Galilee region. (Photo © 2019 by V. Nesdoly)

A walkway to the church area  was lined with quotes of the Beatitudes (Matthew 5). I took photos of each one with the little puppets our children’s pastor sent with me. (These photos of “Flat Theo” and “Flat Phyllis” will be used by our church’s children’s ministry staff to help the kids relate to the Bible places we visited.)

IMG_1344IMG_1337

The church had a beautiful mosaic floor, striking marble panels and a painting of Jesus teaching.

Then it was on to Tabgha, where we walked on the beach of Galilee.

We also spent a few minutes in the beautiful Church of the Multiplication of Loaves and Fishes, enjoying the stained-glass windows (along with hundreds of others; it was a very bus-busy day around the Sea of Galilee).

Being here in person sure brings to life the Bible stories of Jesus and His disciples and their the Sea of Galilee experiences!

Inside views of the Church of the Multiplication of Loaves and Fishes. (Photos © 2019 by V. Nesdoly)