Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Israel Day Seven!

We got to Galilee around 8 p.m. and found our hotel—the Tiberius Hostel. Let me just tell you that I know the one place you should NOT stay if you go to visit the Galilee! This was truly my third-world experience on this trip! We looked at our rooms, and my initial response was “lets get the heck out of here!” But Todd and Bob were making fun of us for being so spoiled, so we decided to give it a shot. I figured I was so tired anyway at that point that I could sleep anywhere…WRONG! I pull back the sheets to get in bed and immediately see big stains on them, in places where you don’t want to see stains. So I look under them to the mattress cover to make sure the stains aren’t fresh, and I see that the mattress cover has many more stains on it—in fact I thought it may never have been laundered at all. I got into my pajamas and tried out the “satellite T.V.”, one of the selling points of the Tiberius Hostel—3 channels, all in Hebrew. Great! Sue asks about the free breakfast, and the guy says, “we have a kitchen right over here, and you are welcome to cook any food that you want. It’s a filthy kitchen, with coffee that could have been there for days, with a microwave. Fabulous! Not only that, but we had just swam in the Dead Sea, and we wanted some soap—and the guy says, sorry, we don’t provide soap. Are you kidding me? Right before we went to sleep, I was sitting up against the headboard journaling, and Todd gets up, gets a shoe, and proceeds to kill a cockroach right above my head on the wall. Nice! Now I’m completely grossed out, and begging to get the heck out of here, but Todd says—we’ll be fine, and to stop making such a big deal. Meanwhile, he proceeds to get another sheet to wrap around him so he doesn’t have to lay right on the stained ones, then he curls up to go to sleep—fully clothed, including his shoes! And I am the one freaking out—right! There was one blanket left, but not knowing whether it had ever been laundered, I passed. I would rather freeze. Freeze I did! I woke up so many times I lost count. Todd told me to take a sleeping pill but after we had killed 3 cockroaches, I decided I’d rather be alert and awake than let the roaches crawl all over me and be sedated! At 5 a.m. I got up to see on my computer what time it was and Todd points over to the door and we see yet another cockroach crawling up the door frame—UUUGH! That was all the sleep I could handle, I got up and started to count the minutes down until we could leave this place. What a night! I don't have pictures of this place--cause I don't really want to remember it!
We started our day meeting our guide, Michael Hansen, a member of the Galilee Branch of Israel, who would take us around and show us the sites where Jesus walked. He is an amazing person, with a truly photographic memory. He had so much information it was hard for my pea-sized brain to comprehend it all (especially going on so little sleep)! First we went to one of the most amazing exhibitions in Galilee, a museum where they have a 2,000 year old boat that someone found just about 11 years ago. The water level in the Galilee was down, and some brothers were out with their metal detector and happened upon the ruins of an old boat. It was very difficult to dig it up without ruining it because of the wood, and how fragile it was. They ended up having to cover the whole boat with polyurethane foam and transport it to a huge water tank where it took a few years to clean it, and figure out how to preserve the wood. It was so awesome to see a boat that Jesus could very well have been in so long ago. The construction was amazing. From there, we went over to the Mount of Beatitudes. There is a Catholic church there now, but they have beautiful grounds where you can walk and look at the Sea of Galilee and think about the Savior. It was a beautiful setting for reflection. I stole a little flower from the ground to put in my scriptures to remind me of this place. It was amazing to sit and read the beautiful words of our Saviors sermon on the mount, and think about the people gathered in that place listening to this beautiful sermon. I wonder what they thought. When I sat and read it, I thought about all of the things I need to work on, (which are many), but my favorite part of the Sermon on the Mount comes in the end where Jesus tells us: “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Take therefore no thought for the morrow; for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil therof.” Matthew 6:33-34. All we are asked to do is to set our priorities so that God is first on our list, and he will add to it.From there, we went to an old 16th century monastery in Tabgha where it is said that Christ performed the miracle of the loaves and the fishes. What an amazing example that if we just trust in our Savior, and have simple faith, he will provide for us. There was a baptismal font there that dates back to the 5th century. There is also a huge olive tree in the courtyard of the church that is probably a thousand years old, you can tell by the huge base of the tree.Then we went to the city of Capharnaum, where Jesus spent much of his life and ministry. In Jesus’ time, this was a little town that held probably close to 2,000 people. There is a statue here honoring Peter, and his being the rock that Christ’s church would be built. This is the place where Peter and Andrew were called by the Savior to be fishers of men. There is a church built here, right over top of the ruins of what used to be this town. It was amazing to walk through 2,000 year old ruins, and think about what this place was like when Jesus was here. There was even a carving in a stone that depicted the Ark of the Covenant. The scriptures take on a whole new meaning when you travel around and put them into context with the places where they actually happened. There were even the remains of what used to be the synagogue, and we were able to talk about the place they came to worship and pray, and where Jesus taught the people. It was amazing. We headed up to Caesarea Philippi—or the party place for the Romans. This was a place built by Herod, where the Roman citizens would come for fun, and pagan worship. There are 2,000 year old ruins all over this place as well, although most of it has been destroyed. They had several temples built for pagan gods at this site. They would come here to offer sacrifices to the Pagan God, Pan—sometimes these would be human sacrifices. They also had tons of fun sacrificing goats after making them dance. I don’t know about you, but to me, this sounds like a blast! It just tells you that even in those days, you had people who were worshiping worldly gods, and perverting the ways of the Lord. We drove up into the mountains of Mount Hermon, and saw Nimrod’s castle, a Crusader’s fortress, but we were too late to get in. It’s a beautiful huge castle overlooking the Sea of Galilee up near the border with Syria. We drove through a Druze Village to get up into the Golan Heights. They are an offshoot of the Muslim religion, and have communities that are mostly farming communities. We stopped for some apples, and honey. Then we stopped in the village at a Druze bakery for some Baklava! This was our first taste of Baklava, so we tried several different kinds…some okay, but I still prefer good old American desserts!Next we went to the war memorial up in the Golan Heights, called the Valley of Tears, honoring the military that died there in a battle with Syria. You could see the lights of Syria right there in the distance, and it was crazy to read the signs that warned you about the land mines all around the area. Needless to say, we stayed close to the marked paths and roads! By this time it was dark and cold—and we had a LONG day, considering how it started out! We checked into the Holiday Inn Tiberias (YEAH!!!), and had a cockroach- free night’s sleep! Hooray!

1 comment:

Kathy P said...

That hotel sounds like a keeper! I have been to places like that before -- IN SHOWLOW! We ran to walmart to get new sheets. But I suppose the walmart selection in Galilee is pretty limited.

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