Friday, January 30, 2009

Israel Day Nine!

Today, we started a little late, we have been pushing so hard, we decided to sleep in until 9, which was nice. We had to stop by the branch building in Galilee before heading out of town. This is the only property that the church actually owns in Israel. It is a cute little house in a nice neighborhood, and apparently it cost a lot of money and sweat to get it looking this way! It is a nice little chapel, which serves this little branch.It is interesting to note that they have Russian, Spanish, and English speakers, so when they sing their hymns it is quite interesting! They also have a sign up for the hymn number to be in Hebrew--hoping to have to use it someday when proselyting will be allowed in Israel. We should all be praying for that day! The church has a balcony with an amazing view of the Sea of Galilee.
We started out by stopping at Yardenit--or the Jordan River, where Jesus was baptized. This was actually a beautiful place, I didn't think it was as commercialized as some of the holy sites have been. They do have huge places to get baptized, as thousands of believers flock to this site every year to be baptized in the spot where Jesus was baptized. A flock of doves flew over the river while we were there. It was truly amazing to see, and to think about the Savior being baptized near this place, by his cousin John to fulfill all righteousness, and to set a perfect example for us to follow. It was a good time to reflect on the covenants that I have made, and to remember the Savior, and why we are here.
We drove to Nazareth next, and decided that we should’ve left earlier when we drove into town around noon. Nazareth is mostly Muslim, and Friday is their day of worship, which sometimes means they have political and religious rallies on Friday afternoons. When we drove through town, there were hundreds of people gathered in the center of town listening to a man speak. I don’t know what he was saying—I will just say that it didn’t sound nice…and people didn’t look like they were going to be very nice, or very helpful to us. In fact, we pulled over to ask directions, very near to the place where this gentleman was talking (well, more like screaming), and Bob rolls down his window and this guy comes running down the street toward the crowd with a big spear with the Palestinian flag on it running right by Bob’s window. We decided to forego directions, and get the heck outa there! This was the only time I really felt uncomfortable on the entire trip. So Nazareth we didn’t really get to see much of.
We headed out of town and saw Mount Tabor, a huge dome shaped mountain and decided to drive to the top to see the sights. This is the mountain where some people think the Savior was transfigured before his disciples, Peter, James, and John, and where Elias and Moses appeared to them. The other option is Mount Hermon, where we were a few days ago. The views from the mountain were so awesome! You could see for miles and miles around in all directions. It was such a pretty day, the weather has been so great since we got here!

We headed out of town so we could make it to Caesarea before it was too late to get in and on our way out of town, what do we see but the golden arches! We just had to stop and eat at an Israeli McDonalds. Let me tell you, that at home McDonalds is probably one of my least favorite places to eat—but that Big Mac and fries tasted like heaven today! Let’s hear it for 100 grams of fat and American junk food! HOORAY! We also were able to pull off the road and take a look at Megiddo, an ancient battlefield that has been the site for some of the bloodiest battles in the history of the world, and where most Christians believe the final war will be, Armageddon. It’s surreal to think about what will happen at this place, just a bunch of agricultural fields now, peaceful and quiet. We arrived at Caesarea around 4, and were afraid it was too late to get in, but were surprised to find out it was still open, and we even got in for free. This place was another of King Herod’s building projects, and one thing you find about King Herod—he was a master builder. I can’t believe how much of this place is still standing, and still so magnificent. It’s amazing how much vision he had, and how huge he made things, he truly spared no expense. Caesarea was another play place for the Romans, Jews, and Samaritans of that time. It was also the place that the apostle Paul was brought before the Romans as a prisoner, before being sent to Rome for his trial and eventual death. It has a huge amphitheatre that could hold 20,000 people, and an amazing coliseum that was used for chariot races. You could imagine sitting in the stands as the horses raced by. What fun that must’ve been! Caesarea was also a huge seaport for ships traveling here trading goods. It was amazing to see the ruins here, and see how long they have lasted, and how well they have held up for these thousands of years. Another amazing thing is the aqueducts that they built to get enough water to this place. There are 40-50 miles of this huge aqueduct system in place that brought water here for the people here. This was definitely one of the highlights of our trip—and I think a must see spot in Israel—just incredible!

1 comment:

Kathy P said...

I really want to go to Israel now... These pictures are amazing!

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