The last three days of our Israel vacation have been very interesting. On Wednesday we went to Caesarea - the site where Peter shared the gospel message with Cornelius. The first gentile to come to a saving faith in Christ. A powerful spot for us gentiles to visit. It is also where Paul was held for two years before having his wish granted to be sent to Rome. A port city that Herod developed and where Pontius Pilate lived as well. Brandon, Cassidy and I grabbed a specialty coffees on the cafe by the seashore!
Next was a stop at Mount Carmel where Elijah called fire down from heaven and showed Israel who the true God was. The baal prophets were defeated (1 Kings 18:16-45) and Elijah implored the people to follow the Lord. In the 12th Century, the Carmelite Order was started at the mount. The spiritual focus of the Carmelites is contemplation through prayer, community and service. The site we visited was the monastery at Mount Carmel. There is a great view of the Jezreel Valley from the monastery.
Next stop was Megiddo, which is where Armageddon gets its name from. A city that was developed by Solomon - one of the three cities in Israel that stored the kings horses. We took some fun family pictures there, as Brandon said on instagram, we came, we saw, we conquered...
We went back to our place at Migdal for the last night in the Galilee. We greatly appreciated this place and love the view that we woke up to each morning. It was restful, relaxing and so close to the spots Jesus walked. The ministry of Jesus primarily happened from Magdala to Capernaum along the sea - a stretch of just a few miles. Next stop is Jerusalem!
On Thursday and Friday we spent our days in Jerusalem. We went to the Israel Museum, saw some art (even a Picasso - who was impacted greatly by Van Gogh), walked through a garden, saw a large model of Jerusalem during the time of Jesus and viewed some of the Dead Sea Scrolls. It was powerful to see parchment that was written on almost 2000 years ago. These scrolls are a huge discovery for both Jews and Christians. The museum has an entire building dedicated for showing the scrolls - “The Shrine of the Book”.
We then went looking for Hezekiah’s tunnel at the City of David National Park. It took forever to find parking close by the site. We ended up parking one km from the site and walking through the Old City of Jerusalem to get to the adventure. Brandon, Cassidy and I waded through knee height water and sometimes had to duck to go through the .5km tunnel that was pitch black. At around the half way mark, we caught up to a large group of teenagers that we going through the tunnel. I learnt a valuable lesson on patience, slowing to a snail pace through a tunnel that was almost tight to each shoulder, full of water and needing to duck! Candace was not wanting to come because of feeling claustrophobic - in this tunnel, I could definitely understand some claustrophobic anxieties. I also thought, what would happen if one of us broke a leg in this tunnel. Not fun things to think about. Let’s just say when we saw the light at the end of the tunnel, I was very happy.
Next we had another adventure, we met a Palestinian Muslim named Abraham that offered to be our tour guide in the Old City. I thought, hey, why not. Apparently the rest of my family were not as excited. He showed us the via Delarosa, a spot to see the Dome of the Rock, the foundation of the first Temple (probably not authentic), and many more sites. Then we asked him to find us a place to eat. We went to this hole in the wall restaurant that had amazing bbq lamb and chicken. However, right when we sat down, I asked him to take me to a bank machine. I went and got cash, took a little longer then I thought and had my family thinking that they would never see me again. When I came back, I realized how they did not feel Abraham had our best interest in mind. What an experience, very scary for some and informative in many different levels for myself.
Our last full day in Israel was spent going back to the Old City. We saw the Holy Sepulchre - possible site of Jesus death and resurrection, the garden tomb - another possible site, the wailing wall, and many stores along the way. Brandon purchased a leather backpack and Cassidy a leather purse. We also got fruit smoothies, a bear paw, and baklava. After being in Israel for the last 18 days, we were ready to go back to our AirBNB and get ready for the flight that was leaving early in the morning.
This was definitely a trip of a lifetime! It was so valuable to take the trip with Candace, Brandon and Cassidy. We played many games of monopoly deal and Dutch blitz during the evenings and had lots of adventure during the days. A highlight was spending one week in the Sea of Galilee area, waking up to a view of the lake and going to spots like Magdala, Capernaum, Tabgha, Mount of Beatitudes, Gergesa and Nazareth where Jesus ministered. It brought a great deal of clarity to the scripture as we read it.