Hiking…op zondag?

This was a Sunday morning unlike any I have ever experienced. It began with this picture right outside our hotel window.

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Sunrise over the Sea of Galilee.

But this wouldn’t be the best picture of the lake I got today…this was:

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Communion atop Mount Arbel.

Have you ever “gone to church” on top of a mountain and celebrated communion overlooking the Sea of Galilee? That’s what we did today. Yours truly participated briefly in the preparations for our little makeshift service. My job? I was called upon to open the bottle of wine that we used for communion. Hey, it’s a liturgical necessity!

But we had to get up there somehow first, which meant a 1.5 mile hike. That’s not long by any means, but that did mean from the trailhead we had nowhere to go but up, Up, UP!

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The destination.

Obviously this looks rather daunting, and in some spots it really was…there were moments of scrambling, crawling and pulling ourselves up the side of the mountain. But the scenery was well worth it. I’m also so proud of the other hikers who made it up!

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That’s Tommy having a stare down with a random mountain cow.

 

Climb
The climb.
Caves
The caves, which are the setting for an incredible story of Roman soldiers overtaking Zealot Jews who were hiding out in them. Read a little more here.

Probably the coolest thing about being on Mount Arbel is reading Psalm 89:12 while up there. It says, “The north and south – you created them; Tabor and Hermon joyfully praise your name.” If you’re facing the Sea of Galilee when you read that, you’ll see Mount Tabor in the distance if you turn to the right and Mount Hermon when you turn to the left.

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This afternoon we got to have pizza for lunch! Maurice’s son owns his own pizza place in Nazareth so we went there after our hike. I wish I could describe the pizza better but I’m afraid I was so hungry I barely tasted it as I wolfed it down! It must’ve been good then right?

After lunch we went to a place called Beth Shean to view ancient ruins and bathhouses and climb more stairs to another vista. Can you tell we’re getting tired? It’s kinda like how parents with multiple children do everything for the first couple kids but nothing for the last kid – the baby book, the photo sessions, etc. That’s not to say our time spent in Beth Shean wasn’t worth it, it was! We have the most incredible tour guide in Marlin Vis. Anyone seeking to come to The Land should go with his groups, he’s truly remarkable! And has great wit with subtleties that inadvertently have us cracking up…we love it. Example:

Student on the bus: [asking a question about the historical accuracy of an event happening in a specific place]

Marlin, over the microphone: See, that’s an example of questions that just don’t matter.

Entire bus: [uproarious laughter]

 

Beth Shean.

From there we drove a little over 2 hours, through Jerusalem, which is beautiful at night by the way, and rode into Bethlehem. What a fascinating and troubling political landscape there is here as well. Tommy and I are staying at a wonderful couple’s house who have two college-aged kids (and like any college student would be, they were nowhere to be found tonight!). They fed us a hearty meal of rice, potatoes, and salad and after dinner we joined them in their Sunday evening tradition – watching American professional wrestling on TV. The WWE is alive and well in Palestine!

We’ll spend one more night with them again tomorrow before heading to Jerusalem for the remainder of the week. We’ve already heard about injustices they face in Israel because they are Palestinian and I’m hoping to learn more from them tomorrow. Otherwise we’ll be picking up plenty of information from our guide, professors, and guest speakers, I know.

Hoping to write and share more tomorrow!

 

 

 

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