Monday, November 24, 2008

How Not to Feed a Camel

I wanted to test posting a video. Let's see how well this works.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Wrapping Things Up

Time to wrap things up. Yes, everyone got home on time and with baggage. The connection at JFK was tight, but everyone made it.

I’ve had a few extra days, as have the Brittan’s. Big as this city is, I kept running into them. We walked the 500 year old walls together on Tuesday and had lunch. They were off to Athens-London-Seattle at 6am on Wednesday.
I spent today photographing the Jerusalem model in detail (about 300 pictures). I always seem to need an angle I don’t have on file, so I should be covered now.
I then headed over to an area known as the Jerusalem souk—the fresh market that many Jews shop in. I love the balance of everyday life of the living city to the Biblical treasures this city also houses.

If you don't know what this is, ask Karen Jennison.
One thing I do like about the old city is that there is an interesting looking person on just about every corner.

This guys just stands by the Jaffa Gate every day.
It took me the longest time to figure out from a distance this was not a hat, but his hair.
This girl couldn’t have been more than 21 years old (she looked younger from the front). She is obviously a private security guard for some Jewish touring or study group.
Tomorrow I have a midnight flight to the USA, so this will be my last post. Thanks for looking. Come with us next time. I’ll see you in church Sunday, but don’t expect me to be too awake.

Monday, November 10, 2008

A Free Day in the Old City to Wrap Things Up

Sadly, today is our last day. We had to meet at the Western Wall at Noon to tour a tunnel that ran along the 2000 year old foundations of the Western retaining wall Herod built in Jesus time. We had no tour guide, so I had to fill in what little I knew.
This part was a 2100 year old water channel cut in bedrock.
After this, everyone wandered off to shop, sightsee, eat, whatever.
At 6:15 we loaded on the bus and had a special dinner at a place called Pasha’s. By the way, if any of you see any pictures of me with a nargile pipe, let’s just assume the picture is digitally altered.
We went off to the airport of a late night flight. We had a few misty eyes as most of our folks said goodbye to Sam and the most unique place on earth.
I include this for my friend Todd Bolen, so he can see how his old friend Shabban's new shop is coming along.
Always nice to finish with a scenic shot....but...
Just when I thought the story was about to close, I got a phone call from Ariana, saying that baggage handlers were on strike and the plane might not be going anywhere. That sparked a few frantic phone calls, but it does look like the plane finally left, just a little late.

I hope that A: the luggage made the flight too; B: they made their connection at JFK. I’ll know soon.

Last Guided Day

Yes, I know I’m behind in the posts. We’ve been in transition mode.

Our last touring day had us passing Bethlehem again and heading into the mouth of a old, small volcano. Once again, Herod had built another fortress/palace in this spot between Masada and Jerusalem, just in case he needed to escape from angry Jews or if the Romans turned against him. Note the huge swimming pool in the foreground.
We wandered around the ruins inside the hill and walked through the underground tunnels that were later used by Jewish rebels in 135AD.

This next picture sure looks like nothing, but imagine this: On the left is the hill the Philistines are camped on. On the right (OK just behind the hill), is another hill the Israelites under Saul are camped on. In this valley is where Goliath would stride out and taunt the Israelites each day, trying to bring them down off there defensive hill.

And…this is where David wacked him.

We did a few more tunnels at a site that was mostly non-Jewish by the time they where built (lots of underground in this trip).

Finally, we stopped at a hill that once was the site of a great and important city-Lachish. It guarded the north-south road that bridged Africa to Asia and Europe. It was destroyed by the Assyrians, them 100 years later destroyed again by the Babylonians.
After this we did a couple of sites in the Old City, then everyone had some free time to get their feet wet in wandering its streets.

On the way back to the hotel, our driver Hasam (Sam) brought three of his four kids to meet us. He was the best, most friendly bus driver I have ever worked with and his kids are absolutely beautiful.
Our guide Mike and driver Hasam.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Dead Sea Area

The Romans had to build a seige ramp. Herod had to climb the face. I like the cable car option to ascent to Masada.

Inside a Roman bath built on the top. This whole place is a wonder.
Next, a stop at Qum'ran nto see where the Dead Sea Scrolls were found. Her is one of the easily seen caves.
The next stop to just to float in the Dead Sea. You can't sink in the 35% salt water, but have to be careful not to drink.

On the way back to Jerusalem, we stopped at the village of Bethany, the home of Martha and Mary and the place where Jesus brought their brother Lazarus back from death. This the a mosaic from a 5th century church build in the town.
Today, Bethany is a sad looking, somewhat run down village that is in a fog between Israel and the Palestinian controlled areas.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

A Long Day in the Old City

We spent all of today in the old city of Jerusalem. Personally, I think this is the most amazing place on the earth. We started with the Temple Mount, now the home of several Islamic mosques and sacred sites--especially the Dome of the Rock.
After that, we went to St Ann's church; a Crusader church with amazing acoustics and a echo that lasts about 8 seconds.
We visited a water storage pool built by Herod 2000 years ago and still in great shape.
After that, we turned into the Moslem quarter where many people still live and shop. I love the sights, sounds, and smells of the old city life here. It is the most exotic part of Jerusalem.
Our guide, Mike, treated us to a tradational Palestinian treat---don't ask me to remember what it's called. People come from all over to buy it from this place and it was very good.
We then went to one of my favorite places, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Like the church in Bethlehem, it suffers from being loved too much and was choked with crowds. It's hard to appreciate the place with it is that full.
Still, there are some stunning views.
In the Jewish Quarter, we visited a mansion that had been destroyed by the Romans in 70AD. It is now under a building. I think this very well could be the house of Annas (read John's Gospel).
Here is a model of what it would have looked like 2000 years ago.

After that, we dropped down to the Western, or Wailing Wall for a visit.
Then on to the site of a 1st century road by the corner of the Temple mount, one Jesus and the disciples would have walked on.
By now, feet are starting to get tired.
Here we sit on the steps leading up to the Temple, a place I think Peter preached on Pentacost and the church was born.
We finished the day walking through the 2800 year old water tunnel built by King Hezekiah. It is quite the adventure. Ariana had her camera (and I did not) so you get a rare pictue of me.
Another view (Tom Brittan in the distance)
Yet another truly amazing day. We head to the Dead Sea tomorrow.