Thursday morning found us leaving Amman early, headed for the ancient Roman city ruins of Jerash...yes the Romans occupied and built the city called Jerash or "Antioch on the Corissus" around 63 bc...and what a city it was. About 15% of the city has been recovered since it was rediscovered around 1806. We were facinated by the rock sewer manhole covers in the streets; yes, until the 7th century they had a working sewage system; it was then mostly destroyed by an earthquake, when it was lost to the world. Interestingly enough, today there is no working sewage system in the modern town. Gordon declared that he surely had climbed at least 378 steps towards the heavens as we ascended to the "Sanctuary of Artemis"
For those of you who don't know our buddy Gordon, he is one amazing guy. He's just as loveable as the Pillsbury DoughBoy, and about 8 months ago went on a strict diet to lose almost 50 pounds and began walking 5 miles everyday on his treadmill with his three (yep 3, one didn't take!) artificial knees to be able to do this trip. And he has walked and climbed every step of the way with us! Kudos to you Gordon!
When we visited the ancient Hippodrome in Jerash we were encouraged to stand in the center sweet spot and sing or call out, to experience the amazing acoustics! George, did you hear Charlotte? She only called one word and that was "GEORGE!" Then she had one little tear and we all missed you being here with us!
We then traveled on to Mt Nebo, the highest point in the Moab Mountains, and the site of Mt Pisgah, where Moses ascended to view The Promised Land of Canaan. From that site we saw what Moses saw... the area that is now Jerico, the Jordan River, Sea of Gallilee, Mt of Olives, the Dead Sea and the vast fertile expanse of Israel. Words really cannot describe being there on that mount looking across to The Promised Land. It was the highlight of our day!
We continued traveling and crossed into Israel at the northern Jordan river checkpoint! What an experience! There is absolutely no customs clearance to enter Jordan, (we walked right thru, as they have no security clearance) but they sure want to know what you have when you leave!
We had to unload all the luggage from the bus and have each piece x-rayed and then we were finger-printed and photographed! Kevin Brown, a young pastor from N. Wilkesboro, NC. was selected for quite a thorough background search. Now, he's about 6'6, with blue eyes, a clean shaven head, and a winning smile, and they sure found him fascinating. The entire process was exhausting and we hadn't even gotten to the Israeli checkpoint. Amazingly, Israel, although very thorough, and with Humvees sporting 50 caliber machine guns and Light Armored Personel carriers with 20 mm cannons on them, moved us thru their security in half the time of the Jordan exodus and with much less comotion!
Finally, we were in Israel! and headed to our hotel on the Sea of Gallilee. A little tired but in great spirits as we enjoyed a great day with our group.
Now, just a little explanation may be in order. On our introduction we started off as 33 travelers, but we lost one before we left Warsaw. Sadly, Peggy Anderson's husband was taken to the hospital on Monday evening before our departure and she was unable to join us, so now we are 32 travelers. Peggy, we miss you and hope you can joins us thru this site. We are taking good care of Nancy and having much fun with her, so please know that she misses you but is truly enjoying herself.
We have also had some internet difficulties so we are a day or so behind, but please stay with us...we'll post as often as we can!
We have a lovely group of people, very warm and caring, and the Virginians and North Carolinians are enjoying each other tremendously. We have four ministers on this trip; as already mentioned Pastors Don Bowen and Rick Speas, and we also have Rev. Dennis Martin from White Stone (VA) Baptist Church and Pastor Kevin Brown from Mt. Pleasant Baptist Church in North Wilkesboro, NC. If ever there were four pastors that are a joy to be, we've got 'em!! Now, we are a bit partial to Don, because he's ours, and he's just like an old comfortable shoe, but Dennis, Ricky and Kevin are just great guys and are an inspiration to all of us. We are indeed fortunate to be in their company, and we thank their Churches for sharing them with us for this trip.
Tomorrow, we take a boat on the Galilee, then visit the Mt of Multiplication, where Jesus fed the five thousand, spend some time in a kibbutz, and then Capernaum, and will then go to the Jordan River for baptisms!