Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Summer Vacation 2013 - Part 4: Israel Day 1 *Before Lunch

It is surprisingly really hard to write about our adventures in Israel. Words can not even begin to express how utterly amazing it was. Was it a "spiritual" experience? Yes and no. I think that going to Israel doesn't change your beliefs. After being there, you can in no way deny that Christ walked these streets and taught as the bible says he did.

I believe that these were the places that Christ walked and taught, grew and died. I've always believed that. But I think the power is in the belief of those things - not necessarily in the places themselves. I don't know how to describe it. It has been a HUGE help to see and physically understand these places. My understanding of the stories has been greatly increased. There were lots of moments when I thought "Oooohhhh. So THATS what that meant!" It's like pieces were falling in place.

My knowledge was enhanced - without a doubt - but was my testimony changed? I don't really think changed is the right word. Enhanced is the best way to describe it. With knowledge comes a better understanding. When your understanding increases, your testimony is enhanced.

Anyway - Moving on to our amazing adventure! I think the very best way to share it is through photos. Trust me. It was HARD to choose a few. We had 3 good cameras going at all times and a few point-and-shoots. We have thousands of pictures! I will split it up into before and after lunch as to not bog you down with too many photos.

*On a side note: Day 1 in Israel was MY BIRTHDAY! The big 3-7. Seriously the best birthday yet! Last year I went on a cruise with my girls - this year a cruise to Israel - what will next year bring? Hubby better start saving up! :)

Our first stop was the Mount Of Beatitudes, where Christ delivered The Sermon on the Mount. As with most, if not all, of the sites; originally the Byzatines built churches over these areas. Then other churches, usually Catholic, built larger more elaborate churches on top of the Byzatine buildings, further preserving the areas.

In the center of the church, there is an alter marking the rock where Christ sat. This was the case in almost every area we went. There would be a stone or marker of some kind, designating the exact area. Do I believe that this was the EXACT spot? Not really. But I do think that it was someplace in this general vicinity and the area would have been very similar.

I'm sure word was passed down from generation to generation - so this is probably really close. The exact spot doesn't matter to me. It's what happened in that area that is important and it's fun to see what that area looks like. To imagine what it would have been like to sit and listen to the Savior with the sea in the background. I loved being there!

The Church of the Beatitudes.

Looking out over the Sea of Galilee and the church grounds.

Inside the church there was stained glass reciting the Beatitudes in Hebrew.

We then headed over to the area where Christ fed the 5 thousand. 

Most of the churches and temples are laid out in the Byzantine tradition with pillars running down the length creating a center area with two halls on either side. We saw this over and over again on our travels. 

This stone under the alter marks the area where it is believed that Christ laid the bread and fish prior to feeding the five thousand. Again with the "exact" spot.

We've talked with the boys about millstones, especially when it comes to the parables in the bible. Now they could actually see and touch one! I think they ended up knocking this one over. Brutes. 

This is Itai Tenenbaum -the greatest tour guide of all time! He taught us so much over our two days together. He's even toured the Dali Lama when he came to Israel. He's THAT good!

Our chariot for the 2-days in Israel. 

Next, we headed to St. Peter's House.

The church that was built there was suspended OVER the house of Peter the Apostle. It was pretty cool. In this photo, you can see the large church.

This is a photo of Peter's house, with the church suspended over the top of it. 

The temple where Christ taught as a child was also on this site. The sign reads: The late fourth century A.D. "White Synagogue" built upon the remains of the "Synagogue of Jesus". It was amazing.

You can see some of the ruins of the surrounding town that have been excavated around the temple.

Inside the temple, they have dug out some of the floor to show the original temple walls. It was cool to look in and see. 

After exploring Peter's house, we walked down to the Sea of Galilee.

The kids loved being near the water and skipping rocks. 
It was pretty cool to skip rocks in the Sea of Galilee! 

Next stop: The River Jordan

Andrew tasted the water - he said it tasted dirty - REALLY? WHY WOULD YOU TASTE IT?

They have created walkways down into the water for baptisms. 

We've been to several amazing places and it's only lunch time! 

We stopped at a typical Jewish place and had a great spread. We all tried new things and loved most of it! The kids were super adventurous eaters - even Alex! 

 Amazing fresh pitas and all kinds of vegetarian treats to eat with it. The big boys we not sure that this meat-less meal would fill them up, but we all left completely stuffed!

Coke in Hebrew!

The end of the meal finished off with a typical "Mint Tea". It was fresh mint in hot water and was really, really good!

After being refueled we were ready to take on the 2nd half of our first day in Israel!

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