Friday, June 4, 2010

Day 6 Israel

Today was the great day of walking! We saw a million and one things!

We rose early, ate breakfast and were out of the Dan Boutique by 8 am. Our first stop was the Mount of Olives.
We walked down the Mount of Olives past the tombs at Dominus Flevit
and into Gethsemane and the Church of All Nations.
On the walk down we saw the Beautiful (or Golden Gate) which has been sealed.
The olive trees here are hundreds if not thousands of years old and some may have been around at the time when Jesus would walk here to pray to God in solitude, including the night of his trial.
Next we walked to the Garden Tomb. This place FEELS like the place where Jesus was crucified and buried to rise from the grave 3 days later. However, traditionally and based on history the Church of the Sepulchre is probably the true location of Jesus' crucifixion.
inside the tomb:
From there, we walked to the Gate of Damascus and into old Jerusalem.
We at lunch at a pizzeria and then walked to St. Anne's.
Unfortunately St. Anne's was closed so we walked back stopping a many of the Catholic stations of the cross scattered throughout the city leading to the Church of the Sepulchre. We also people watched and saw tons of little children and interesting people. (I could have people watched and just taken photos all day long!)
A woman selling fresh fruits and vegetables:
Inside one of the churches making up the stations of the cross.
Inside another tucked away church in Old Jerusalem.
The Church of the Sepulchre is an extremely ornate church commemorating the location of Jesus' crucifixion and burial location. Many different christian denominations worship here and it was PACKED with people. While the church is lavish in it's decoration, the Garden Tomb felt more the place. There were many people in the Church of the Sepulchre and it was heavily laden with incense... and I was more than happy we powered through the building quickly and returned outside to Old Jerusalem.
All the incense made for a crazy (stinky) blue haze that quickly gave me a headache!
We continued our walk up through Zion Gate (with it's bullet holes from Israel's war of independence)
and on to Caiaphus' house where Jesus was held before his crucifixion. This was another emotional site for me, to see the place where Jesus would have been beaten before his crucifixion.
The above is St. Peter Gallicantry church: or church of the rooster. Commemorating Peter's denial of Jesus.
Below is one of the cellars or "dungeons" in Caiphus' house. The holes here would have been used to hang meet... or the hands of a prisoner (like Jesus) when they flogged or beat them.
After walking back to the bus, we took a drive to a more remote area for dinner: a traditional Seder experience which was a ton of fun. One table was set for 9 to enjoy eating the way Jesus and his disciples would have. The rest, sat at tables to enjoy their meal. Only 7 of us braved the lounging table.
To eat this Seder, we had to lay on our left elbow and NOT use our left hand. VERY difficult. Tearing the bread required team work and passing food was very hard, too!
After dinner enjoying the cool weather:
Our last stop of the night was the wailing (or Western) wall. In order to get entrance to the tunnels UNDER the wall, we had to wade through a huge throng of people who were there to celebrate the graduation of hundred's of Israeli Army cadets.
This is a model that shows old Jerusalem in the time of Jesus and what it looks like today. We walked under the city to view the Western wall where foundation bricks were the largest in the world. These massive bricks could weigh 470 tons. AMAZING!
We exited to nightfall and this is as close as we got to the Wailing Wall. The crowds were still too dense.
We saw so many neat things with so much history to bring the Bible to life. This is a short post because it's late and I'm almost out of Internet time (and I'm fighting a cold (pray for healing my dears! A number of us are fighting colds).)

To be continued...