Israel Day 5 Jerusalem.... December 20, 2013

Israel Day 5

We spent all day Friday all around different parts of the old city of Jerusalem.  Our family, Penny, Joe, Gary and Alexis all hopped into one of the big Jerusalem Center vans and started the day out at the Seven Arches.  There was a great view of the Old City, just slightly south on the Mount of Olives from the Jerusalem Center.  Gary and Alexis spent some time pointing things out to us and sharing scripture references and the history of things that had happened in the area.  

In the picture below you can see the archaeological site on the south side of the wall.  That is where we had gone on the tour the day before and where they had uncovered the 2000 year old steps, that certainly Christ would have walked up and down.  Alexis said that there is a museum nearby where you can go and sift through some of the rubble.  People are still finding ancient artifacts.  It is truly mind boggling at how much history is right there in that relatively small tract of land!

From this view you can see the Garden of Gethsamane a little way down the side of the mountain.  To the right (off the picture) and over the hillside is Betthany (technically in the West Bank).  The New Testament tells us the Christ would walk from Betthany to the Temple.  From this view we could see the general path he would have had to take, and the rugged terrain he must have walked.  

While Sophie spent time with Penny, Joe, Gary and Alexis she passed this Santa who would dance.  Sophie learned to swing her hip in a circular motion like this Santa, and gave everyone a good little chuckle!

We ate a fabulous Palestinian lunch with the Gunther/Howard clan in the Old City. It was delicious!  I could have eaten the hummus by the spoon full!


We went on the Ramparts Walk, which is just a walk up and along the wall surrounding the Old City.  We walked from the Jaffa Gate to Zions Gate.  The kids loved it.  I was a little more nervous someone was going to fall off somewhere.  They were mostly the tall stone walls on both sides of us, but occasionally a metal railing that didn't look as sturdy as it should have been.  We all survived and were glad we took time to walk on the city wall.

This is a view from the wall.  It was the area where the Jews first settled when they left the Old City.  You can see in the middle there is a wind mill that helped them get the energy they needed for their settlement.

I think this was the monastery where Orson Hyde stayed when he came here to Jerusalem.

From the wall we could see up to the Seven Arches, which is the area on the Mount of Olives where we started our day.  You can see the arches in the middle of the picture if you look closely.

Sophie and me walking out of Zions Gate and down of the wall.  I was a little relieved at this point that we all made it!

This was the door to an old Armenian Convent close by Zions Gate.  I thought it looked so old and cool. 

Next Alexis took Katie, Aaron and I to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher.  Many churches believe that this is the place where Jesus was crucified, entombed and resurrected.  Right next to the church is the Mosque of Omar.  After the Siege of Jerusalem in 637 by the Rashidun army under the command of Abu Ubaidah ibn al-Jarrah, Patriarch Sophronius refused to surrender except to the Caliph Omar (579-644) himself. Omar traveled to Jerusalem and accepted the surrender. He then visited the Church of the Holy Sepulchre where Sophronius invited him to pray inside the Church, but Omar declined so as not to set a precedent and thereby endanger the Church's status as a Christian site. Instead he prayed outside in the courtyard, in a place where David was believed to have prayed.

The entrance is on the bottom left, but you can see how many of the entrances were blocked during the time of the Crusades.  And for some reason, there is a ladder under the window you can see on the left. It has been there for as long as anyone can remember and it is protected.  For some reason, it is a permanent fixture there!

For security, if a bag or package is left unattended it is put in here and detonated.  It seems a little out of context with the ancient surroundings, but unfortunately it is necessary.

I was intrigued with the carving in the stone entry way.  Pilgrims worldwide have come here and many wanted to leave their mark.  Who knows how many hundred of years old some of these carving are.  

The rock they believe Christ was crucified on.

Where they believe his tomb was.

Outside the city gate.  Apparently this gate is the locations of some riots and things.  There are a lot of political protestors that come here.  

Finally!!!!  I have wanted an olive wood nativity for 20 years!  I was so excited to come to Jimmy's shop and see his amazing creations!  Aaron was so good to me and bought me a beautiful set!

Israel Day 3... December 18, 2013 Caesaria and the Sea of Galilee

Israel Day 3
Caesaria and the Sea of Galilee

We went over to the Jerusalem Center for breakfast and got to see Penny and Joe for the first time.  They had arrived the night before, and Aaron and Gary had gone to pick them up, but it was late, so the kids and I had gone to bed.  It was so great to see them, and so fun to be with them in Israel.  We have met them in so many countries all over the world... one of these days we will have to do a count!
After a great breakfast (of too much Nutella and pita bread for Ryan), we stuffed ourselves in our rental car (seats 7... we were 8).  Poor Katie, Ashley and Ryan squeezed in the already tight 2 passenger 3rd row.  It was tight, but they did great all day.  Especially considering we did a lot of driving that day.  
Our first stop was Caesaria.  This old port city on the west coast of Israel was amazing!  It was settled by the Romans and the kids had a great time running around the chariot race track and sitting in the "bleachers".  They collected shells from the shore, which we brought home with us.  Sophie wound up with her pockets FULL of rocks, which we didn't bring home.  It is mostly all in ruins now, but so fascinating to imagine it in its prime.  The coastline is so beautiful, and I am sure it was bustling and exciting.  I like to think of the people that must have come there to sail off to adventures in various parts of the world.  And also the people that came and anxiously awaited the return of a loved one.  We know from the New Testament that Paul sailed from Caesaria as he left on journeys to preach the gospel.  The kids enjoyed running around in the open space and the warm, sunny day.  We has some delicious pizza right before we hopped back in the car for another 2 hour drive to the Sea of Galilee.

Uncle Gary knew the branch president of the branch in Galilee, President Fox.  Gary called him and told him that we would be there that afternoon, so President Fox and his wife offered to take us around for a while.  It was wonderful to have their help and their knowledge.  It was such an incredible afternoon.  

The view from the balcony at the meetinghouse.
Me and Sophie on the balcony overlooking the Sea of Galilee.
The view from inside where they hold sacrament meeting.
Ashley, Katie and Ryan.

We drove up the northern side of the Sea of Galilee where the Mount of Beatitudes is.  This is the place where Christ taught his disciples the Beatitudes and expanded on the long-standing Law of Moses.  There is a church built here now, with each of the Beatitudes inscribed in various places inside and outside on the very well taken care of gardens.  

Also up on the north shore is the town of Capernaum.  This is where Jesus lived for a long time and where soooo many of his miracles were performed.  The raising of Jarius's daughter, the loaves and fishes, when Jesus walked on the water... and many more.  The remains of the temple are here, and right next to the temple (where we knew Jesus spent a lot of time), was Peter's house.  This was one of my favorite experiences of the whole trip.  We knew we were actually right where Christ lived and served and performed miracles.  Where he dwelt with his Apostles and taught so much of the gospel that we still have today.  It is a gorgeous area overlooking the sea and there is such a beautiful and peaceful feeling there.  We absolutely loved the chance we had to be there.

This is what is believed to be the remains of Peter's house.  
This is the church that was built over Peter's house.  It has a glass bottom in the middle of the floor of the church so you can peer down into it.

About 30 years ago there was a bit of a drought and the waters of the Sea of Galilee had receded significantly.  A couple of people walking by the shoreline noticed something in the mud.  It turned out to be the remains of an old fishing boat.  After a very careful and scientific excavation, they were able to move the fishing boat in tact, and now it is kept in a museum right along the shore of the Sea.  It has been dated to be around 2000 years old.  It is amazing to imagine that this boat could have been on the Sea of Galilee at the same time Christ was there.  Maybe it was the boat of one of his Apostles?  Maybe Jesus was on the boat himself?  Who knows, but it is fun to speculate.