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Monday, June 24, 2013

Jerusalem scandals to Bethlehem's miracles!

Well, I don't know how to inform everyone back home, but a certain member of our party whose initials are LH was detained by the decency police at the Dome of the Rock for being way to revealing in her choice of clothing.  I know, I am scandalized as well!   She can tell you all about it, but thankfully some quick thinking on her own prevented what would have been known as "LutherIslamagate."  There is no more to be said.  We spent time on the Temple Mount, went to the Western Wall (wailing wall so called), toured the ruins of Jesus day, traveled to Bethlehem and had a side stop at the pools of Siloam were Jesus healed the man born blind---John 9.

Let me tell you why I love the Holy Land.  At the pool of Siloam, again where Jesus healed the man born blind, there was an older Palestinian man who was watcher of the gate---basically made sure folks didn't enter past a certain point.   He began to strike up a conversation and told us that indeed, he had lived here for 60 years and this was the pool of Siloam.  He said, some way behind is also but they are wrong.  Myself and another traveler just nodded.  Then he said, "Come here, I'll show you."  So we left the group for a few minutes (hoping they would not leave without us) he opened up a locked door and showed us what was obviously his home and the ruins of a byzantine steps from a fountain that was used to water the animals.   He even gave us the name, but I have forgotten.  Then I admired his grapevines and grapes.  To which he said, "What a minute." He then returned with figs that he had picked from his tree there behind the pool of Siloam.  We thanked him and left just as the group was leaving.  I love that kind of hospitality you find in the folks who live here.  So pure, so inviting, so happy to share a little knowledge with two Americans whom he'll never see again.  I didn't even get his name...but Salem to you my friend...Salem...Peace!  Here are todays pix:

Here is a look at the Western Wall.  The only part
of the 2nd temple that remains and a very holy
site to the Jews.  A great feel when you are there. 
Prayer, but also families celebrating Bar
Mitzvahs etc...

The Iconic picture you have to take.  The
Dome of the Rock, 3rd holiest site for Islam
It is here that "LutherIslamagate" almost

I don't want to 'throw stones" but you
can see how revealing LH is
shirt, khaki capris, hat... looking for trouble

Here's a picture of the three of us at the
corner of the Western Wall.  We are actually
standing on the street that Jesus would have
walked on.  A great excavation and very moving
to be standing there.

Linda and Marlene are sitting on the steps
that Jesus would have used to sit and
teach from on the south side of the Temple.
You can see these are original steps carved
from the rock.  Very cool.

Marlene and Linda over looking the OLD
city of David...where Jerusalem was first
settled by David around 1000 BC

The church of the shepherds fields.  Made to
resemble a shepherds tent, this is where
the angels would have come to the
shepherds...well nobody really knows
where...but somewhere close by

Marlene in deep prayer inside the "Shepherds
Grotto" under the church.  She is so pious!

Eating lunch outside Bethlehem at a great
little restaurant called the Grotto.

Marlene about to enter the church of the Nativity
in Bethlehem which was built over the site
where Jesus was born.  We have good
evidence from the 1st, 2nd and 3rd
century that this is near the spot that was
always considered to be his birth place.

Linda going in,  The door is purposely made
small to keep soldier/knights from bringing
there horses into the church. It is one of the oldest
churches in the Holy Land  6th century

Preparing to go to where the 'star of Bethlehem'
marks the spot of Jesus birth.  see the old
processional crosses above.

Here's Marlene touching the star that pilgrims
have come to visit for over a 1700 years

Listening to our guide inside the church
of the Nativity

These mosaic floors are from the original
church built by Helen in 300's AD...OLD
Floor...the craftsmanship it took just for
the floor...amazing.

Marlene and Linda in the Church of the Nativity

Outside the church in Bethlehem

Politics and religion are mixed
in the Holy Land

Unknown tourist being detained at
the Palestinian Police station in

Political graffiti on 'the wall' that cuts off Bethlehem
from Israel

The Pool of Siloam where Jesus healed the
blind man John 9...such a great place and

Here's the backyard that I told you about
above and the byzantine steps in the back

You can see the door he opened for us
and the grapes that are hanging...before
he gave us figs...great place

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