Report from Shirley

The weather we’ve experienced in Israel this week has been a surprise, to us as well as to the people who live here. It has been very cold (we expected daytime 60’s) and rainy, with record wind speeds and even some snow, which they say is a once every 10 years kind of event. In an effort to keep warm, we started our day today wearing so many of our clothes (Chuck and I didn’t bring coats) that we could hardly bend over. Anyway, we piled into the cars and started out to tour the area around the Sea of Galilee-about a 3-hour drive from our base at the Baptist Village.

Our guides for the day were a couple named Peter and Yarden, from the Jews for Jesus staff. Peter is an Arab, and Yarden is from the Ukraine-both are born-again Christians. First we passed through Megida (the valley where it is predicted Armageddon will take place) on our way to the Jordan River, which is comparable in size today to many of our creeks. Of course, the exact location is not known, but the site on the river that we visited is thought to be very near where Jesus was baptized.

Next we visited Capernaum, where we saw the ruins of Peter’s wife’s mother’s home (not our Peter), and the amazing remains of a synagogue. As with many other sites, we were able to walk around some of the area, and some of it was blocked off. We saw an ancient olive press, and learned how oil was pressed from the olives and collected. Then we drove on to the nearby Mount of Beatitudes, which is maintained today by the Catholics. We were excited thinking we would be able to see this area from the vantage point that Jesus had, but it was not to be. We were only able to look downward from the top at the visitors’ area, rather than upward from where Jesus might have stood. But the view of the Sea of Galilee from there was spectacular-we could see the entire sea! It is much smaller than we thought it might be, about the size of a small- to medium-sized lake. We learned that it is about a 4-day walk from the Sea of Galilee to Jerusalem.

By this time it was late afternoon, and we had been invited to visit the home of our Arab guide, Peter. This was a special treat, as we were graciously welcomed by his family, enjoyed dinner with them, and had a delightful visit, in which we learned of their struggle as Arab Christians in a land where it is difficult, at best, for Christians to survive.

It was a fascinating day spent experiencing the area where Jesus spent a great deal of time, imagining where He might have walked, and getting a perspective of where the places we’ve read about are in relation to each other, thus an enlightened understanding of how difficult life had to be at that time.

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January 31, 2008
January 29, 2008