Saturday, August 21, 2010

Today we went to Bethlehem.  Our taxi driver, Walid - the one I always use, took us to all the religious sites in Bethlehem.  But this time I asked him to show us a few places within a  politcal aspect.  He took us to the Wall and showed some us of the graffiti.  There are some very clever pieces. We saw the wall from a different angle.   We went to two refugee camps in the city.  One has been in existence since 1948.  There are no longer tents but they have been replaced by very small homes all randomly placed in the area.  The roads are very narrow and bumpy.  A few terrorists have come out of these camps.  The UN has separate schools there for the boys and the girls.  We saw some buildings that were destroyed by the intifada of 2003/04.  There are other signs saying America Aid has helped build an elementary school and a local government building. We had a wonderful lunch of about 14 different salads and then kebobs and lamb chops. We said goodbye to Walid.  Of course, we had to go back through the checkpoint.  You walk up long paths that look cattle ramps. And then go through a very large and strong turnstile to go through Palestinian Control.  Then you cross no man's land to the Israeli checkpoint.  Americans can basically just walk through but the Palestinians have to go through metal security gates, all bags have to be scanned.  Then you go to the passport screening where we show our passports and walk through.  But the Palestinians have to show their work permit, have their hands / fingerprints scanned.  I think they even do a retina screen.  The whole process takes about 30 minutes to get through the whole checkpoint.  Sometimes 45 minutes.  It is very degrading to the Palestinians.  We heard that there are Talks scheduled in Sept.  The Palestinians are hopeful that they will bring some relief but not planning on it,  The first picture is of the New Wall between Israel & Bethlehem.  The second is of a bombed building from the Intifada.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Today we went on a massive sight seeing spree.  We had our difficulties though.  It is Friday of Ramadan, The afternoon starts the Sabbath preparations. and over all traffic.  We had a late start and with it more difficulty than usual to get to Damascus Gate, the Churches were closing for at noon for their break. So we decided to go to Bethany, the home of Lazarus' Tomb.  Of course, this is a Palestinian Area//We were there for the Friday Public Sermon and also went through the bus at the checkpoint with machine guns and looked at our passports.  When we got back to Jerusalem our bus was diverted to where we wanted to go, so we got off a few blocks from The Ascension Site at the Russian Convent.  Had a Shawma plate lunch on a rooftop over looking the Dome of the Rock.  Then we set off visiting the Mosque of the Ascension, the Pater Noster Church, seeing the overlook of the Old City.  Look above at the heading of the Blog.  Then down the hill or the Palm Sunday Walk to Dominus Flevit, St. Mary Magdalene, Mt. of Olives Garden, Church of the Agony, the Gethsemane (place of the Olive Press) and Mary's tomb.  Then we got on a bus to go the Mt. Zion Area.   You know you have been here too long when Israeli's ask you for questions on the bus about different routes. Went to Oscar Schindler's Grave but the cemetery was locked because of preparations for Sabbath.  So we ended our day with the Church where St. Peter denied Jesus three times.  Our other few stops would have to wait until a later day.  We hailed a cab.  The driver happened to be formerly from the
New York area, specifically Patchogue, Long Island.  We were very tired and hot so we called it a day.  The first picture is of the outside of St. Mary Magdalene Church.  The second is of the outside of Mary Tomb.  And the last is of the outside of St. Peter's Church with Christ forgiving him.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Today I started off for somewhere and ended up at a totally different place. This is a nice thing when you are not on a schedule or have to be at a certain place at a certain time. I ended up at the Bible Lands Museum. It was nice place. You have to remember that most of the Museum Quality items are all at other Museums throughout the World especially in the British Museums. Other countries had control of Israel almost forever. But they still have quit a few little pieces of antiquity and a few bigger pieces of Egyptian artifacts. They also have a whole section devoted to the One God, It is the God of Jews, the Christians and the Muslims. The best part was a video that showed some of the best items of the museum in the context of a time-line from The Creation Story to the Destruction of the First Temple. It was nice to have seen the pictures and then see how they relate to history

My nephew returned about 4:00 from Jordan and Petra. He looks pretty tired. So we will go out and get something to eat and it looks like it will be an early evening. The pictures were taken in the museum. The first is of a model of the residence of the Moon God when he came to earth. This was the god that Abraham worshiped before God spoke to him.  The other picture is of an exhibit in the museum.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Today I went to the Wohl Archaeological Museum. It gives you an idea of what may remain hidden under the Old City. It is located underground and preserves the remains of six houses from the Herodian period that were excavated in 1967. In Temple times, this part of the city was home to wealthy priestly families. Homes were built on the hill overlooking the Temple Mount, with the roof of each home at the basement level of the house above it, so that every house enjoyed a spectacular view of the Temple.

After that I went back to the Western Wall. It is day and night different from our concept of praying. We like silence for private prayer or unison in public prayer. There is basically chaos at The Wall. People reading out loud. People praying silently. People bowing in small motions all around you. Visitors like me walking around. People moving chairs and tables over the stone pavement. People discussing (or yelling about) the Torah or the commentaries or whatever. The men and women are separated for prayer at The Wall. I don’t know about the women’s side but the Men’s side has a tunnel that is air conditioned. That’s where a lot hang out or even take a little nap. Another strange item is that there is a covered ramp right over the Jewish area leading non-Muslims to the Temple Mount or the Dome of the Rock. But the Jewish people will not go the top because they are not sure where the Holy of Holies of the last temple was located and so they are afraid they might step on it and become impure. I have two pictures of the ramp shown today. Also a picture of the Dome of the Rock.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

   Today my nephew left around 9:00 for a few days with some friends to travel on their own. It should be an adventure for them. So I took this time to wrap up my Scripture Project. All I have to do now is to assemble the Package when I get back and I will be finished. And in a few months, you will be able to “Praying the Path of Jesus”.  I already have volunteers to help with that. So I feel real good about ending it today. 

   I went over to the Holy Sepulcher (really it should be called the Resurrection Church - because Jesus is no one in the tomb) for evening Prayer at 5:00 with the Franciscans. They are really a nice group of Friars from all over the world. I have made a real good Franciscan friend from Ghana. After that I went into the empty tomb for I don’t know how many times since I have been here. It always is an inspiring moment to be where Christ suffered, died and especially rose.

   I got a little bit to eat and waited around for the end of Ramadan at 7:30 PM. A cannon goes off to end the day and everyone starts drinking liquids (they are not allowed to drink alcohol unlike some friends of mine) and start eating. The food stands really get ready around 7:15 with food, drink and Hookahs. There are lights everywhere to celebrate the end of the day. I wish I was here for the end of Ramadan. It really should be an all nighter. I hear it is really a celebration. Maybe if Bishop Gettelfinger reads this, he’ll give me permission to stay longer. Just kidding! My staff will kill me if I stay any longer, especially Debbie. I’m going to post more pictures than usual today to show some of the old streets decorated and food being prepared for the end of the day. I don’t have any photos of their bakery goods, that will be a another segment.

   The first picture is of a man and probably his son starting the kabobs for the evening. The second is of another wood fire being started for the evening. The third is of the lights decorating all the market places. The fourth picture is another booth getting ready.  Personally, I think Resurrection's Steak Fryers should come over here and set up a booth. We could show them how it's really done! And the last one is of the market place and some of the young men glad that the day is over. Hope you enjoyed the pictures.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Today we went to Tel Aviv. The bus trip started off very strange. I had been to Tel Aviv before but this time we went to a different Bus Station . We went to the real Bus Station. Iit is huge, even bigger then Jerusalem’s. You had to exit on the 4th floor which was strange. First of all we went to the Old City of Joffa or in the bible it is Joppa. This is the site where Jonah tries to escape God's command to go the Nineveh and also where Peter saw the everything that God created is good to eat, even pork and shell fish or jewish unclean items. We walked around in the Old Market for awhile. After a few stops, we went to Downtown Tel Aviv. You have to remember that the city is built right on the Mediterranean Sea. So it really is a resort town. It was also very hot and humid because of the Sea. There is a beautiful beach there named Alma Beach. We had an wonderful Aunt name Alma who died the other year. So we went there and toasted her and our other departed aunts and uncles. After that we went tot he Arisraeli Building. We had a spectacular view of the city from the 49th floor and even further out. Then we headed back to the bus station that I was familiar with because it was much closer. On the way our bus started having mechaical problems and eventually broke down. This must happen often because in a matter of a minute or two, two busses were there to take us to Jerusalem. We saw at least a dozen trucks or vehicles having trouble along the way. But we made it home safe and sound. The pictures are of Old Jaffa with New Tel Aviv in the Background and the second picture is in the market at Joppa.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Even though today is Sunday, it doesn’t feel like it’s Sunday. Today is the first day of the work week for Israel, but the Christian shops, restaurants, etc. are closed today. It gets a little bit crazy. Last night Alex & I went exploring the Ben Yehuda District. Just walked around as the area began to come alive after Sabbath. Today we are going to the US Consulate. Today in the Jerusalem Post, there is an article about the Israeli’s wanting to take over an abandoned Muslim Cemetery to build a “Museum of Tolerance”. Quite ironic isn’t it? They say that they have discovered 30 fake graves. This controversy has been going on since 2004. Then visit the Protest over the kidnapped soldier by the Hamas & talk to his parents, go by Benjamin Netanyahu’s home and see if he’s taking visitors. Yeah right. Then we are on our way to The Knesset, the Senate building for Israel. Today is the last day for many weeks that they are giving tours. After that we are going to their Supreme Court building. Then we went to the Old City for the way of the Cross. So it looks like a busy day in store for us but an enjoyable one.  The pictures are of the Supreme Court Building and The Knesset.