Monday, July 05, 2010

Bethlehem: Happy Day-After American Diplomatic Immunity Day!

[As written 7/5/2010 11:55am (+2 GMT) ]
[And as posted on Alex's other blog]

[Note: Anyone interested in seeing better quality photos or to comment on them, visit Alex's Picasa album]


An incredible weekend.

I mean, seriously. If you could measure a time by the quantity of pictures one takes, well… I think I took about 200 pics. I feel tempted to overuse the word "breathtaking" to the point that I'd basically be admitting to suffocation.

Our group from Holy Land Trust had for us a weekend-long adventure through the northern bits of Israel and Palestine, giving us our first opportunity this whole trip to really be “tourists.”

Here’s what our weekend’s itinerary looked like:

Bethlehem --> Jordan River --> Sea of Galilee (Including a boat-ride! Complete with Titanic soundtrack) --> Capernaum à Mount of the Beattitudes --> The Golan Heights --> Haifa --> Mt. Carmel --> Caesarea (Beach on the Mediterranean) --> McDonalds --> Bethlehem

Now that I’ve just written that out, aswell as cross-check with my map, the prospect of describing all these places seems like an overwhelming task! How about bullet-points and pictures? Ya’ll good with that?

Jordan River
  • Pathetically small, ever since the Israelies have been pumping out more and more water from the Galilee and creating dams and such, there really isn’t all that much to this water-way anymore. BUT, there’s this “Baptismal Location” you can visit (as we did… felt like they were – dare I say it – marketing baptism. It was honestly disgusting… get your photo while being baptized! Get your bottle of “Holy River Water!” Get your samples of holy dirt, holy oil, holy smokes! Felt like overturning some tables…) There was a place you could stick your feet in the water, and these fish would eat off your dead skin. Totally exfoliating.

Sea of Galilee

From Deputation
  • Small wonder they called it a Sea! Seriously, the most vast body of fresh water I’ve ever seen. You couldn’t even see the farthest end of it! We took a boat to the otherside, ate some horrifically overpriced fish (“Jesus Fish”… the “same fish” that Jesus ate. So I gained like, 200 Spirit Points).

  • Now, a Tourist Trap. It was pretty alright, had some sweet reconstructed ruins. A massive Aloe-Vera plant thing that seriously looked alien. Someone made a comment about it being a giant venus fly-trap. Ironic, visit the West Bank, get killed by a plant.

Mount of the Beattitudes.
  • Traditionally believed to be the location where Jesus preached His sermon on the mount [Mathew 5-7]. I actually was just reading through that passage, so to be able to put a place to the words: ridiculous. The view of the Sea from there is breathtaking. The church there is also pretty alright, lotsa nuns. More gift shops.

The Golan Heights

[multiple pictures, coming soon]
  • !!!!!!!!!!!
  • Stunning.
  • We spent the night here in a hostel, in this small town up by the border with Syria… I’ve never seen anything like it. The Mountains literally all around, a view down into Israel like nothing else… ending up playing soccer with some kids and Trey and Eric (another HLT participant)… sunset like nothing ever…
  • Me and Trey both firmly belive we’d come back to this place… it was also the only place I’d say we got to more than simply “taste” for half an hour, like most the other places listed here.
  • Most industrialized city in Israel.
  • Nuclear Power Plants --> totally sweet [photo coming soon]
  • Ba’hi Gardens O_O
  • Mount Carmel

Mount Carmel

From Deputation

From Deputation


From Deputation
  • Beach on the Meditteren
  • Were only there for 30 minutes… =(
  • Ancient Roman aquaduct right there on the water! Poor choice building on the Sand, silly Romans. Should have visited the Mount of the Beatitudes first…
  • Got my jeans pretty soaked, Trey and several others decided to strip down and jump in (Skivvies only…or, as Jenny our Brittish friend would say: Pants only)
  • Never getting time at the beach = a piece of my heart never getting satisfied. Right next to the part of my heart that never get peanut butter or bacon or mashed potatoes or tacos or milk or OJ or cerial…..

  • Our single act of patriotism. Supporting Cooperate American Supremacy. I opted for for the chicken sandwich from the 10-Sheckle Menu. Total Rip-off. Trey got a Big Mac ™ . Paid for it later.

Oh geez…. *takes big breath*

That’s a lot of stuff, there.

Infused amongst it all, and almost more importantly… I had ample time to reflect while on the bus when I wasn’t socializing.

Praying a ton, reading… and really feeling God working in me about patience and judging others… to unpack this statement completely would take more than what I’ve already said… suffice it to say, there’s some interesting characters on this trip. And my heart, being full, in some respects cannot wait to get home, or to someplace where I don’t have to be on edge. And being patient to let this time do it’s work is key… but I’m starting to miss home. The green forests. The deep blue bodies of water where-ever I turn in Seattle. The Music, oh… the music. The Friends. The Lady… it’s rough. And honestly, there are times where if I could, I’d teleport right over there from here. And then I have to tell myself:

no. This is where I need to be. If I keep looking forward, I’ll miss the significance of the right-now.

And keep telling myself.

And get to my host-home, and feel so completely the opposite of “at home”… almost the exact antithesis. To be tired regardless of how much I sleep.

It is trying to my soul, but I know it must be true: that I’ll be better for this. I’ll be stronger. I’ll have a better understanding of myself, and how stinky I can get. Of who I want to be, and who He wants me to be. Of me. For me. Through me.

Honestly, politics aside, people just need to be loved. That’s all I see here, when it comes down to it…. Everywhere. And we’re all just so stubborn and reluctant to do so…

Christ, preserve me. Uplift my spirit, encourage me and Trey. May Your peace soak us in this thoroughly dusty land…

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