Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The Herodium

Yesterday we took a bus to Bethlehem, visited the Bethlehem Bible College and hired a Christian Palestinian to take us six kilometers to the south east of Bethlehem to visit the Herodium - the mountain Palace-Fortress of Herod the Great. Say hello to our guide/taxi driver Issa. Please note the "taxi" sign on top of his car.

The Herodium is on top of a mountain that Herod the Great had leveled and tunneled out to house one of his summer palaces. From a distance, the mountain looks like a volcano. The columns in the foregroud are the ruins of a large swimming pool at the base of the mountain.

We were able to drive about halfway up the mountain and then walked the rest of the way up. Coming down, we came down through the tunnels leading through the water cisterns and came out of the mountain just above where they just discovered Herod's Tomb.

The "dig" at Herod's Tomb

The view from the top

Looking down into the Palace Complex

Swimming Pool at the base of the mountain.
Note that there is an "island" in the middle of the pool.
This thing was huge!
Base of the central tower of the palace

We stopped off at "Shepherd's Field" on the way back into Bethlehem. This is what the "manger" would have looked like in which Jesus was born. A small cave in the field. Mary and Joseph would have taken refuge in a place that looked like this the night Jesus was born.

We ended our day with a lunch with our guide - a "plated" falafel. All the ingredients of a falafel but served on plates. We ate by breaking off pieces of pita bread and dipping it in a mixture of humus, olive oil and stuff... ok, we didn't ask - we just ate! The balls are fried ground up chic peas. I think you can recognize the tomatoes, onions and pickels... It was yummy!!!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Winter in the Garden

Lookie the Garden Cat
waiting for Carly to come visit
or waiting for a bird to get too close?
Winter came to the Garden yesterday. Late Friday night it began to rain, temperatures dropped, rained all day Saturday often pouring. Did I tell you it was COLD? It sleeted off and on all day and the pilgrims kept coming! A group from Nigeria was in the garden when it began to sleet and shouted "ice is falling from the sky!" They came wearing what looked like every piece of clothing they brought with them from Nigeria. dejavu for us - we were in the garden years ago when it rained, sleeted and snowed while we were here.

Instead of going out to eat last night, the volunteers pooled our dinner and had a "pot luck" dinner at one of our apartments. We had a lot of fun after a very intense day.

More rain and cold weather is forecast for today (the rain is much needed in Israel) but it is supposed to begin to warm up tomorrow.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

For Our Flower Loving Friends

Flowers blooming in the Garden!

It's Winter in Isreal but it is hard to tell that in the Garden. Come walk through the Garden with us and just enjoy the beauty of this place. There are flowers blooming everywhere!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

February 10, 2009 in Israel

Last week on our day off we took a bus to Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Museum. It is a somber and intense experience as we remembered six million Jews who were killed during this horrific moment in history.
Sundays we have been enjoying worship at East Jerusalem Baptist Church. It has a Palestinian pastor and many transients like us. We even got to go to a pot luck dinner on the grounds Sunday! It was fun and nice to meet new people.

Dinner on the grounds at East Jerusalem Baptist Church

Today, on our day off, we teamed up with another couple and drove to Neot Kedumim - a Biblical Landscape Reserve. There are trails to take leading you to stations that show life and plants from the Bible times. We saw a wine press, a threshing floor, an olive press and many plants and flowers from the Bible.

It is so amazing to be in Israel because where ever we go the Bible comes alive and walks off the pages. The almond trees are blooming and so beautiful. The beautiful red anenomnies (lillies of the field) are blooming. It was such an enjoyable day with friends in God's Israel seeing His handiwork!

Almond Tree in bloom

Lillies of the field

Sycamore Tree (do you see Zacheus?)

Young Judy by an Old Olive Tree

Olive Press
Threshing Floor