Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Tuesday

Today we started out by visiting the traditional site of the upper room where Jesus and His disciples had the last supper. Our group sang a hymn inside the room and I think even the other tourists enjoyed the Spirit there.

We went to the oldest Christian church in the world (in Bethlehem), the Church of the Nativity, and we had to wait in line for about two hours to see the site where some people believe Jesus was born. It wasn't worth the wait.

Yad Vashem was pretty neat. It is the official memorial to the 6 million Jews who died in the Holocaust in Europe. I didn't get any pictures because they told us cameras were not allowed inside (although I saw a couple of people with cameras inside), but it was a humbling experience. They also have a memorial to the children who died in the Holocaust, which is just a large dark room you walk through with reflections of small lights that seem to go on forever, and a voice reads the names of murdered Jewish children.

Because of the long wait at the Church of the Nativity we didn't do the other things that were planned for today.

Dad gave a nice presentation tonight on how the BYU Jerusalem Center came about. We get to visit the center tomorrow or the next day. I can't wait!

Nice Jewish Boys

Monday

This morning I woke up early and went running along the Sea of Galilee. I ran in Tel Aviv at sea level and really enjoying the easy breathing, so I wanted to try running at the Sea of Galilee (around 800 feet below sea level) to see if it would be even easier running below sea level. It was about the same.

We drove by Jericho today, the oldest city in the world. We visited the Qumran caves where the Dead Sea scrolls were found.

We stopped at the Dead Sea, the lowest point on the surface of the earth. I don't remember floating in the Dead Sea as a child, so this was a really neat experience. It was so funny to lie back in the water and float without any effort.

We went to Masada and heard how the 960 Jewish zealots preferred suicide in the fortress rather than suffer the indignity of surrender to overwhelming Roman forces.

After a full day of traveling we drove over the hills into Jerusalem and what a feeling! I spent years growing up here and it is so cool being back. It's also quite a bit cooler (temperature) than Tel Aviv and the Sea of Galilee.

One of our tour coordinators, 'Ala'

Hey Dad, I'm raising Jarem from the Dead....See!

The ramp the Romans built to attack the Jewish zealots at Masada

Trying to feed the ibex at Ein Gedi

Jarem says, "Look, no hands and only one leg."

Floating with Mom at the Dead Sea

Walking (or hopping) into the Dead Sea

At Masada

At one of the old churches we visited

Sunday

Today we visited Mt. Tabor (some claim it was the site of the transfiguration of Christ). We went to the waters of Ein Harod Springs where Gideon once chose the army which delivered Israel from the oppression of the Midianites.

We swam at Gan Hashlosha which brought back more memories for me. I remember looking over that waterfall as a kid. We had some more great food for lunch there. I'm sure I was the whitest guy in the area.

We visited the ancient tel of Bet She'an, where 6,000 years of civilization seems to unfold among the ruins, including the country's best preserved Roman theatre which in its day seated 8,000. My favorite section was the ancient bathroom.

Our last stop was the Jordan River. We passed by the section of the river (which is no longer accessible) where I was baptized 20 years ago.

The ancient bathroom

Swimming at Gan Hashlosha

With Jarem at Gan Hashlosha

Is this how they used their bathrooms back then?

We ran into Daniel Rona in one of the old churches we visited

Saturday, April 26, 2008

More Israel pics

These are additional pictures from the post below. I won't be putting any video on here while I'm in Israel because it costs $8 per hour to use the internet and it would take about an hour just to load a short video. I'll get them on when I get home.

With Mom, Dad, and Jarem on the Sea of Galilee

We don't look like tourists at all

Reading something during church on the Sea of Galilee

At Caesarea

On the Sea of Galilee

Church on the water

Yesterday we started out our tour at the little city of Jaffa. From there we went to Caesarea to see a Roman theater and crusader fortress. I actually remember being there over 18 years ago dancing on the old stone stage with BYU students. I also remember the old aqueduct that runs along the Mediterranean Sea.

We visited Mt. Carmel where the Prophet Elijah had his contest of faith with the priests of Baal. We drove to Megiddo, the site of Armageddon, where the battle of all battles is yet to come.

We also visited Nazareth where Jesus grew up. It's a nice little town, but there's not much to see there. We traveled by Cana before reaching the place where we are staying now, Kibbutz Nof Ginnosar. It is located on the shores of the Sea of Galilee and it's much more humid than I'm used to. Pretty little place.

[Day 2]

Today we started out the Sabbath (the holy day is on Saturday here in Israel) having church on a boat on the Sea of Galilee. What a neat experience! We sang "Master the Tempest is Raging", but it wasn't raging. It was a calm and breezy morning. The owner of the boat played the US national anthem and raised our flag alongside the Israeli flag before we started our meeting. That was a little weird, but hey, I appreciate their efforts to make us happy. Immediately after we said the closing prayer the owner started up the engine and started playing a CD of traditional Israeli music. I grabbed my aunt Danette and did a little dance to the music. Is that appropriate on the Sabbath? :)

Dad gave a nice, short talk for church, and that, along with the Sacrament, was our church meeting.

We visited Tabgha, the traditional site of the miracle of the loaves and the fishes (feeding the 5000). We went to Capernaum, where Jesus lived and recruited his first followers among the fishermen. We went to the Mount of Beatitudes and studied Jesus' Sermon on the Mount.



At Nazareth


Courtney, Danette, and Mom listening to Dad


Dad preaching at Caesarea


Dancing with Mom on the Sea of Galilee


Jarem with our church program on the Sea of Galilee

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Shalom

I've been in Tel Aviv for a couple of days now. Jarem (my brother-in-law) and I came to Israel before the rest of the tour so we could meet with potential customers for his prosthetic knee. We have enjoyed the great food at the hotel and we even grabbed a taxi and went to the movie theater to watch a movie at 12:30am this morning because we couldn't sleep. That was an experience in and of itself. I've never been to a theater where they have assigned seating. We ignored our assigned seats and ended up closer to the screen after we got kicked out of the seats we wanted by their rightful owners.

Tomorrow morning our tour starts bright and early.

Gas costs about $7.00 a gallon here.


At the movie theater in Tel Aviv


Breakfast with Matza (the cracker they eat instead of bread during Passover)


Tel Aviv beach.....with Matza


Our hotel in Tel Aviv