Sunday, November 30, 2008

Sunday in Jerusalem!

You're probably tired of reading; "Our day begins and ends in the Garden." However, we are not tired. We love this place!

We had coffee this morning at the Cafe at Christ Church with Steve and Sue (friends from the Garden) - got there too late for church, will worship elsewhere tonight. Had lunch at a great Arab cafe in the old city. We were trying to go up on Temple Mount and finally made it but were not allowed to go into the Dome of the Rock or the Mosque that is on the Mount. Several people told us; "you are not Muslim" ... to which I wanted to say, DUH! I guess no one but Muslim's are allowed in now. Muslim's believe that God will hang scales on the arches you see in front of the Golden Dome of the Rock in the picture below to weigh the souls of humankind on the day of last judgment.

But we did enjoy being on the Mount and got a great picture of the back side of the Eastern Gate (below) that is walled shut. It is through this gate that, according to Jewish Tradition - the Messiah will enter Jerusalem and that is why they believe the Muslim's walled it shut in the seventh century.

Back down through the Arab Quarter, visited our friend Issa and I did some Christmas shopping while Judy picked up things that were ordered by other people.

We are resting and looking forward to church tonight..

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Thanksgiving Day in Jerusalem

We were off on Thanksgiving and could have prepared the feast that our daughter prepared in Houston... but chose to trek across Jerusalem instead. Our dinner consisted of soup, for lunch, at the Cafe at Christ Church and a falafel for supper.

In the morning we set off to walk the wall again. This time we went up at Jaffa Gate at David's Citadel and headed south toward Mount Zion, around the South West corner, over Zion Gate and descended off the wall just before the Dung Gate. We doubled back to the Zion Gate and exited the old city to Mount Zion and the church of the Gallicantu where Peter heard the rooster crow after denying Christ. The church is built over the site of where Jesus was held as prisoner (traditionally), near the home of Caiaphas the High Priest, the night He was betrayed.

We went back into the city at the Zion Gate and walked through the city to the Jaffa Gate for lunch and back to the Garden. In the afternoon, we went back to the Western Wall and decended into the tunnel that leads along the foundation stones of Herod's Temple Mount platform.

Later in the evening we went back out and attended a light and sound show at David's Citadel. The history of Jerusalem was projected on the walls of the Citadel and was quite impressive.
As always our day begins and ends in the Garden.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Roaming Around Israel!

Two days off and places to go and things to see and do... and do them we did!

Early Saturday Morning we left the garden in the Garden Car and drove down by Jericho and headed South to the Dead Sea.

The weather was warm and traffic was practically non existent. We stopped off at the Dead Sea for a leisurely stroll and potty break (yes, you needed that information!) and drove on to Masada the site of one of Herod's palaces and the last stronghold of the Jewish Rebellion against Rome. We visited Masada last in 1988 with our children and friends from our former church in Massachusetts. The good thing is that the cable car hits the wall just below the top of Masada now and you walk up a gentle ramp instead of climbing stairs.

On our last trip one of the people traveling with us was terrified of that climb up. There is a great museum now at the guest house well worth visiting. On our way back to Jerusalem we stopped off at En Gedi where David hid from Saul. We decided not to walk to the falls but would save that jaunt for another day. They told us it would take an hour to walk to the falls. Which meant an hour walk back! We would be pushing it to get back to Jerusalem before dark. Yep, we turn into pumpkins after dark. Actually, we thought it would be wise for us to be off the roads before dark so we did.

Today (Sunday) we were out of the Garden early again with another couple here, Steve & Sue Bridge from the UK. We took the car and drove north to Galilee, visited the Mount of Beatitudes where Jesus preached the Sermon on the Mount,
drove by Capernaum leisurely and stopped for lunch at En Gev where we had lunch with our family in 1988 and started our boat ride across the Sea of Galilee. The food was vastly improved and the weather was much nicer too. It was bitter cold in '88 and perfect weather today. We ate lunch at a table by the Sea of Galilee and skipped the boat ride.

We stopped off at Bet Shean on our way back to Jerusalem. Another place we visited in '88 and again in 1992.
Bet Shean was one of the largest cities of the ten cities of the Decapalos in the first century. It was an incredible Roman city and the ruins there today are vast. We had a wonderful time walking around. We were home after dark but in time to watch our home church's morning worship service on our website. They were having Communion this morning in Tampa and we joined them with our own bread and juice. We were blessed.

Tomorrow we are back to work in the Garden and I have to tell you - as good as the last two days were, we missed being here. Every day we acknowledge that God is so good to allow us to come here - a MAJOR dream come true.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The Temple Institute

I (Judy) went to the Temple Institute today. I thought you would be interested to see some of what I saw. They have made utensils, implements, instruments and priests clothing for the Temple when it is rebuilt (no I don't have any inside information on when that might be). We visited this place 16 years ago so it is interesting to see what has been done. As an FYI, they are also training priests for temple worship.

In the Holy place, there will be the incense altar, menorrah, and table of shewbread which are all completed. They are all gold or gold overlay and very beautiful. I was surprised to see what the table of shewbread looks like. The bread is stacked in 2 stacks of 6 bread loaves in each stack representing the 12 tribes. The bread sits on racks (so they don't touch eachother) behind the ornamented leaf like decorations.


Table of Shew Bread

The high priest has on his attire. I expected the blue to be deeper and darker. This blue die comes from a special kind of snail. The crowns are crowns that would be worn by him as he ministers. The altar of incense is in the picture with him.

Priest's Garments

There is also a model of the temple there. all in all it was pretty interesting.

So far we haven't gone up on temple mount but we will. I try to go to the western wall a couple of times a week to pray for you. I know God hears me anywhere but it is a special blessing for me to call out those we love and their needs there.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

This has been a busy week in the Garden. Several thousand people came to visit. Fortunately, they did not spend the night and we didn't have to feed them! Unless you count the fact that we fed them spiritually...

We had a group from Kingford, Texas this week. I invited them to Thanksgiving Dinner at our daughter's house in Missouri City, Texas... I hope you don't mind Tracy.

We went up on the Mount of Olives this morning - took a local bus that took us within a half of a mile to where we wanted to go. We walked down across the Mount of Olives (supposedly on the route that Jesus would have taken on Palm Sunday). We stopped off in the Garden of Gethsemene. Some of the Olive trees there are over 2,000 years old. Took pictures of the Eastern Gate. We were going to walk back up to the Garden - but the road coming out of the Kidron Valley is a lot steeper than it looks from the top. We opted to take the bus but while we were waiting we talked to one of the street peddlers and he offered to drive us up to the Damascus Gate so we rode with him.

We bought falafels and some veggies from the market near the Garden and went back to our apartment for lunch. After lunch we walked back to the Damascus Gate and down into the Arab Quarter, visited our friend's shop and had coffee in the Austrian Hospice ( a small hotel). We went up on their roof for an incredible view of the old city.

We went to King of Kings for church again tonight (same place we went last week), Joel Rosenberg was speaking. The Chairman of the Board of the Garden Tomb Association and his wife took us in the Garden Car (we will use this car next weekend to go to Galilee). The Service was great. Afterwards the pastor interviewed Joel asking him some very pointed questions re the end times. We walked home with the lady that runs the gift shop and Reception Desk at the Garden. She came as a volunteer sixteen years ago and has not gone home. Don't panic Jennifer or Carly, that is not what we are up to!!!

And tomorrow begins week three in the Garden. Where is the time flying to?

Monday, November 10, 2008

Monday November 10, 2008

Entering Jaffa Gate

Today was our day off and we set off early to walk the wall. The guide book said this adventure was not for the elderly or infirm - that instantly became a challenge to us. We are neither ELDERLY nor INFIRM and we set out to prove that. To which I should say; stupid, stupid, stupid. Early into the walk I told Judy that we should do it again and count the number of stairs we went up and down. Before we finished I was saying I did not care! The wall walk was awesome and I am glad we did it ... but as the kids say we have been there, done that and don't have to do it again. However since we started at the Jaffa gate, went North came around the corner and crossed over the New Gate, Damascus Gate and Herod's Gate exiting at the Lion's Gate near Temple Mount we want to go back one day and go South to the Dung gate near the Wailing Wall.

All in all the walk on the wall was a great experience. We are exhausted. This is definitely a Tylenol PM night! We have walked so much and hurt in so many places sleeping may be difficult... we are certainly getting old!

We came back to the Garden and have been resting. Back to work tomorrow and we are excited about that. We ran into a couple of ladies, up on the wall, who were in the Garden last week and were in one of the groups I took around.
The golden Dome of the Rock stands on Temple Mount near where the Temple once stood.
The Mount of Olives - Gethsemene
We leave you with this from Psalm 134:3; "The LORD who made heaven and earth bless you from Zion."

Sunday November 9, 2008 In Jerusalem

The Garden is closed on Sunday (our day of rest), most Christian churches meet in the evening and the one we wanted to visit (King of Kings) meets at 5:00 PM. So we walked to the Western Wall of Temple Mount where we prayed for family and friends (if you are reading this, you are probably one of the people we prayed for).

From there we walked to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. The traditional site of the crucifixion, burial and resurrection of Jesus for Catholics.

After visiting the church we had lunch at a side walk cafe. Our favorite - Falafel!!! YUM YUM...

this has become our favorite lunch - fried chic peas and salad in a pita with sauce.

Then we walked on to the Cardo, a Roman excavation in the Jewish Quarter

It was pretty exciting to visit this area that was under excavation on one of our last visits and see how much has been excavated since we were here last. From the Cardo we walked back to the Garden, rested and then walked to church (25 minutes up hill ... no one told us it was UP HILL!)

We worshipped at King of Kings. When they spoke of Jesus they called Him by His Hebrew name Jeshua and instead of Christ they called Him Messiah. Very often the two names were together - Jeshua Messiah. We sang many songs that we sing at home and some in Hebrew as well. We were blessed.

Our children keep telling us that they are waiting for the day when someone we know walks into the Garden. Well, we walked into church last night and we heard a chorus of "Al, Al, Al" from up on the shelf (where else whould our class sit?) Judy was shocked but it was a group that had visited the Garden Tomb the day before from Canada. We sat with our new friends. What a great way to spend a great day - from walking the streets of Jerusalem to worshipping the King of Kings at the King of Kings with new friends!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

In The Garden at Night

As we closed last night the lights came on and my breath was taken away when I turned around and looked at the Tomb. A wonderful visual of the beauty we see on a daily basis!
We had over 1800 visitors to the garden yesterday and are well on our way to repeat that today. By the time we close the garden in the evening, we are READY for bed!
I work all day but Judy is free (at least for this week) in the morning. She has been able to walk to the Old City and explore and at the same time prepare lunch and our evening meal. We have been meeting people inside the garden and outside. One of the local volunteers is a wonderful young man that invited us to worship in their church Sunday. We plan to do so.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

November 5th in Israel

The Garden Through Judy's Eyes

We are still pinching ourselves that we are really here. This morning after seeing we have a new president, I went up to Golgotha to pray for America and our new president. We have the privilege of being alone in the garden before people arrive. What an oasis this place is. Yesterday we watched groups from all over the world worship here. What a blessing it was to see that.....each praising God in their own way.

We have a lovely apartment which is more than adequate for our needs (guess we are still on Africa mission mode). BY THE WAY, THE NAME OF OUR APARTMENT IS THE WHITEHOUSE!

The people working here are terrific. There seems to be great unity..everyone here for the same purpose...loving God and wanting to serve Him with their whole hearts. Yesterday Al learned the ropes and today he starts guiding. When he isn't guiding, he will walk around taking to and assisting people. You know he hates that!!!!!!! This seems to me to be a perfect fit for him and he is very happy. I start this afternoon setting up communion. Each group chooses the way they want communion set up.

We are 2 blocks from the Damascus gate so I have begun going in and walking around. I have made 1 “friend”. Today I will go shop for meat. Yes there is hanging meat. They took me to a meat shop they all shop at which is very clean. So today begins Judy's big for food in another culture. Glad I love adventure.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Getting Ready to Leave for Israel

Good Afternoon!

We sit today on the threshold of an incredible adventure. We leave the United States shortly to begin an extended stay in Jerusalem! We will live at and serve God at the Garden Tomb. This site may or may not be the actual site of the crucifixion, burial and resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Is it the place? I don't know. But, it fits in many ways the biblical description of the place.

This adventure is for us the ultimate mission trip. If you have known us long enough, you know that serving God has been our ultimate desire all of our married life. We have accomplished that in many arenas. For over six years now that arena has been Idlewild Baptist Church in Tampa, Florida. We have been able to serve God by teaching and numerous roles of leadership at our church. And we have been able to do something that we thought we would never be able to do, go on the foreign mission field. Who wuld have thought that God would have chosen to use us old over the hill has beens for His glory in the back side of Africa, India, Brazil, Bolivia, Nicarauga, and now Israel? But He did and is and we are thrilled that we can still serve Him.

Yeah but, Israel is hardly a "short term" mission! No it isn't. We do come home to the U.S. for Christmas. But we go back in January and may not come home until March. Add to that the fact that we have had so little time to prepare for this trip. We thought that IF we got to go to the Garden, it would not happen before 2010. We have had just over two weeks to get ready for today. We have been busy sorthing, packing, repacking, coordinating tasks that have to go on in our absence, meeting with people who have to pick up our at home tasks, preparing to close the house, arranging for the grass to be cut, making sure neighbors know what we are doing, seeing the doctor, getting adequate prescriptions filled, trips to the dentist for both of us, and hardest of all saying goodbye.

Why on earth are you doing this? Because God has called us. We have wanted to do this for a very long time but our "wants" are not what motivates us. We believe with all our hearts that God has called us. He has certainly prepared us. He has equipped us and He has made us able. He has called and we have said yes.

And here we are ... Sunday November 2nd, 2008 and we are on the threshold of departure.

You can pray for us...

1. Pray for our children & grandchildren left behind in the U.S. and for us as we all adjust to a lengthy separation.

2. Pray for us as we adjust to a new area of ministry and as we develop relationships with fellow workers at the Garden and in Jerusalem.

3. Pray that God will use us as an instrument of His grace in the lives of everyone we meet and that we will be a blessing to them.

We are on our way... until next time; when we will say "Shalom from Jerusalem!"