Third Day in Israel, 2014

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So, we've arrived in Israel and had an afternoon of tours, then a great day visiting Masada, Ein Gedi, Qumran, and a evening drive up to Tiberias. We had a great night's sleep at the Golan Hotel and woke up quite early for a full day of touring The Galilee area. We started at the Mount of Beatitudes, the historically accepted site of Jesus's Sermon on the Mount. In stark contrast to the wilderness around Masada, the Mount of Beatitudes is a verdant series of gardens with colorful flowers, benches among the vegetation, and beautiful views from the hill down to the Sea of Galilee. We toured the Roman Catholic church on the site. The church has mosaic tiles across the floor and images on the dome that show the Beatitudes. After quietly visiting the church, our group looked around the grounds for a nice place to have a short worship service. Settling on a shelter overlooking the Sea of Galilee, we settled in to begin our service. Almost immediately, another group arrived and announced … [Continue reading...]

Second Day in Israel, 2014

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I covered our events of the first day here, so if you haven't read that yet, you might want to catch up a bit. The second day in country was an early start. We met our bus and driver after an early breakfast and headed east towards the Dead Sea and Masada. Once you travel over the hills outside Jerusalem, the entire landscape changes dramatically. Although all of Israel and Palestine is desert, the western part of the country does get a bit of rain coming off the Mediterranean. But the hills east of Jerusalem prevent most weather from traveling to that part of the country, so you're really seeing an extremely dry part of the world. As we left the Jerusalem area, we passed through a checkpoint and entered the West Bank, territory occupied by Israel since 1967. Getting into the West Bank is not terribly complicated, but returning to Israel proper is a bit harder. As we traveled deeper into the West Bank, the terrain sloped down gently, dropping to 1,401 feet below sea level when we … [Continue reading...]