Our ten day Holy Land trip was an amazing experience for all 26 of us – culturally, historically and spiritually.
Food was very good, with lots of choices in the hotel buffets, where we mainly ate. We also ate in a few local restaurants in Bethlehem (in a tent with dance participation and a try at hubbly bubbly), Jerusalem (old city) and East Jerusalem, both Arab restaurants.
Everywhere the people were friendly and most spoke fluent English. There were many beggars and children selling any and everything for “a dolla.” From sunset Friday to sunset Saturday is the Jewish Sabbath, so elevators were limited, food simpler, and not as much traffic. Temps were 83-95 degrees – unusually warm for November.
On all of our stops, Pastor Frank read from the gospels appropriate to the location. We even got to celebrate Pastor Frank's birthday while we were there.
Roman, Byzantine and Crusader ruins from 600 BC to 2nd – 14th century AD are easily seen. From the airport we visited Jaffa (Joppa) the oldest seaport in Israel. At sunset we walked in the Mediterranean Sea.
Next day we visited: Caesarea, a Roman city, where Paul was imprisoned; Sepphoris, possible birthplace of Virgin Mary; Mt. Tabor the location of Transfiguration; Mt. Carmel, Haifa, Nazareth and Cana. We reaffirmed our baptism with Jordan River water at Caesarea Phillipi; took a beautiful sunset boat ride on the Sea of Galilee; then we visited Capernaum; shared communion at Mt. of Beatitudes, then crossed into Jordan.
Our Palestine Christian guide wasn’t allowed in Jordan, so we got a new bus, guide and armed security guard to visit Jerash, a city with Greek, Roman, Byzantine ruins; Petra, a beautiful 6th century BC city built into the sandstone; mountains; on to Mt. Nebo, where Moses dies (not getting to Promised land) and then crossed back into Israel to walk in the Red Sea (too smoggy to see Egypt).
The next morning we went for a 6:15 am float in the Dead Sea – water was warm even then.
On to Mesada – ruins of huge fort high on a mountain plateau that we rode up to in a cable car; Qumran caves where Dead Sea scrolls were found; Jericho, Mt. of Temptation where Satan tempted Jesus; and finally Bethany where we went into the tomb where Lazarus was resurrected.
The rest of our stay is in Jerusalem we saw much of the old city (walled) several times to visit the places Jesus was during his final days. We walked the Via Delarosa, western/wailing wall, new Jerusalem to Israel Museum, Herodium (another palace built by Herrod), Bethlehem in the West Bank, Gethsemane, Golgatha, and the upper room of the Last Supper.