Wednesday February 18 - Jerusalem

Wednesday February 18 - Jerusalem
Everyone who is returning home tonight loaded their luggage on the bus before we left for the day's tours. Fortunately they will be able to stay in their rooms until they go to the airport tonight. It rained off and on all day and Wisam told us that there's a  major snowstorm expected tomorrow afternoon, throughout the region. We may see snow in Jordan tomorrow. Four of us are going there, while several others are going to Cairo or on a Nile cruise. They will likely not see snow. [ including all EO groups 29 are going ]

Nebi Samuel is the traditional site of Samuel's tomb. We could see out across the land as the Crusaders did when they caught their first sight of Jerusalem and named it Mt. Joy. We couldn't enter the tomb, nor the mosque that's on the site, but saw the ruins of the early village. There were groups of Muslims and Jews as well as ourselves visiting there, all greeting one another in a friendly way.  

At Emmaus, after a look around the very well-preserved Crusader church, we gathered on the lower level near the spring for our Ash Wednesday worship. Doris explained the Emmaus Walk and shared her experience of it, as did Mike. Fran and Roxanne read scripture. Pastor David and Rick served Communion and performed the Imposition of Ashes. We sang the Lord's Prayer. 

Our visit to the church of John the Baptist was short because it was closing at noon and we arrived just before. On a lower level at the front was entry to what tradition says is the cave where John was born. Above us on the mountain was the Church of the Visitation where Mary came to visit her cousin Elizabeth when they were both pregnant.

We drove up a long, steep winding road that took us into the clouds and made us truly appreciative of Mamoud's skill. It gave us a great look at some of the many springtime flowers that are blooming now, all over Israel. 

Then back down into Eshta'ol Valley, and on to the Elah Valley where David fought Goliath, giving the Israelites victory over the Philistines. Several people climbed down the banks to the stream bed to collect smooth stones as David did.
Lunch at Ruth's Restaurant in Shepherds' Fields was excellent. Falafel, shawarma, fries, drinks, in a congenial atmosphere. 

As we re-boarded the bus we had to bid Wisam farewell. Mamoud returned us safely to the Olive Tree Hotel, where we all had a last dinner together. We thanked Pastor David and Nanci Branson for their inspirational leadership, and David S. expressed his appreciation as well. Then the departing group boarded the bus. Larry and I waved good-bye to them and wished them all safe journey. We will miss this group particularly enhanced by our new friends from Maryland and Boca Raton.  This pilgrimage through the Holy Land has been a blessing and inspiration to us, and we are forever grateful for the experience.

The blog will continue with the Jordan extension for another three days. 

Link to All Photos for February 18

 Link to February 19 Posting

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