Saturday morning we left the Galilee area and drove to Cana for a visit to the Church of the wedding, where Jesus performed his first miracle. We then went into the bustling town of Nazareth and visited Mary's well, where the women drew water (not we women, but the women of old!). Leaving there we drove on thru the Wheat fields of the Bible and onto Meggido, Armageddon. Meggido was a most interesting tell, or fortress on a hill, which was the site of Soloman's chariot stables and situated at a very strategic intersection on the Via Maris, from Egypt to Damascus. Much blood has been shed here as many wars and battles have taken place in the valley below, also known as the field of blood. We were able to walk much of the old fortress and to climb 183 steps down to reach the wellspring which supplied the water for Soloman's fortress, then climb 86 steps back out, in the same way that the women of old transported their water jugs on their heads daily. Those women must have had some great calf muscles!
We then drove to the Mt Carmel Range to the site where Elijah built the altar and called down for God to light the altar fire. We were able to see the Valley of Jazreel in the distance. Another very memorable site.
From there we headed to the Mediterranean, and Caesarea by the Sea, the luxurious Roman resort which Herod the Great constructed in the late first century BC. What a gorgeous setting he chose for his palace and the well planned town he constructed around it. And the setting on the Mediterranean Sea is so beautiful! We sat in the Amphitheatre there with the sea in front of it...then we all waded in the Sea and longed for more time to take in the lovely area. Pontious Pilate, the Roman governor had his summer home in this place. Most of the city has been destroyed, but they have handsomely recovered and/or rebuilt much of it.
We then headed to Jerusalem and arrived at our accommodations for the next four days. Of course, this was the Jewish Sabbath, so many things were closed, but we had a nice dinner and then went shopping in Bethlehem, after sundown and the end of their Sabbath. Now, Bethlehem is a bustling city and is under Palestinian control (West Bank) so we had to cross the checkpoint and enter thru the wall erected by the Israelis; it is reminiscent of the Berlin wall. We are gaining a new and clearer understanding of the many issues facing the Israelis and the Palestinians, but that is a topic for another time.
Our group is having a great experience and a lot of fun here in The Holy Land. JuneBug got locked in the bathroom leaving Mt Carmel...the locks on the stalls are the heavy duty version, but she managed to break out just as we were coming to her rescue. Now, we ladies are somewhat skeptical about locking our stalls. But June knows we'll rescue her!!
Susie collects our leftovers and feeds all the stray kitties everyday. She and Barbara are the animal catering committee! We've got some really sweet 'Carolina girls on this trip. Vicky and Gary Bell have been such fun to be with. Vicky is a big 'ol bundle of smiles and laughter, and we were concerned about the fact that she wasn't eating much at some meals. She then showed us these delicious "oranges" that she found on the buffet...but they look like large round limes and taste like sweet mandarins. They are so yummy! When we told her we were afraid she'd waste away to skin and bones, she said" I wouldn't waste away if I stayed here forever!" She is a joy to be around!
Our internet access is very poor and therefore we are behind with posting and there may not be pictures for a few days, but we'll get them up as soon as we can. We have to write as fast as possible and don't always get to proofread, so please forgive our errors!
Here www.mpbc.ws is a link for the blog Pastor Kevin has up, if you want to read more about our adventures. He is the young man which we thought the Jordanians were going to retain when we crossed into Israel! But we still have him with us and he is an inspiration to us every day!
Tomorrow, The Dead Sea, the Wailing Wall, the Crypt of the Scrolls and more of Jerusalem!
Love to everyone and thanks for your responses...we love hearing from you guys!