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Published: February 18th 2016
Today we headed out first to Herodian....this is the fortress of King Herod and his final resting place. He wanted to be high above everyone else so he had his workers move a mountain to make his mountain higher. You can see this in a picture. So when Jesus said "if you have the faith of a mustard seed you can say to the mountain move....." he was probably referring to this as it was something the people had experienced. It was also a very difficult climb. It was very high and the steps were very uneven. We have a dear lady that is with our group that made the climb....at 80 years old. She reminded me of my mother! The view from there was incredible. You could see the mountains of Jordan and the beginning of the Dead Sea. Then in the opposite direction you could see Hebron! Herod was high atop the mountain so he could view the common people below. Herod was so hated that his final resting pace was destroyed. It wasn't found again until 2007.
Once we left Herodian we traveled to Shepherd's Field....the place where the angels appeared to the shepherds to
proclaim the birth of Christ. There was a cave there depicting Christ's birth. There is also a church build above the cave and an active excavation going on in the field. There were some beautiful paintings there also. In each of these holy places we read the corresponding scripture. At Shepherds field we read that account in Luke but we were also told of the story of Ruth and Boaz from the old testament. I loved that one of the gift shops was called Boaz Gifts and the nearby restaurant was Ruth's. While we were in the cave we all sang Angels we have heard on high....I was inspired to sing that song because as we entered the words "In Excelsius Deo" were in a mosaic on the steps.
From Shepherds Field we went to the Nissan Brothers Olive Wood factory and shop. We were able to see how olive wood souvenirs being made...many carved by hand. We also had the opportunity to go to the gift shop and purchase items. Wow were they expensive!!! Some large nativities sold for over $3000.00....Needless to say I didn't buy one of those!
Following lunch we went
to the Church of the Nativity...the place where Christ was born. This church is shared by three different religions. While we were there the Armenians were having their service. Sadly this church was going through an extensive restoration so we were unable to see very much. However we were able to go to the grotto and place our hands on the star which is considered the birthplace of Christ. Right next to it is the manger in which Christ was laid.
Following this church visit we went back to our hotel to rest and prepare for our dinner in the home of a Palestinian Christian. What an experience!! Anita and I along with another couple (an aunt and niece traveling together) went to the Anwar home....a father, mother and two children (one boy and one girl). It was by far the best meal we have had since we came here. Mrs. Anwar is an excellent cook! What was most interesting is that not only did they open their home to us for dinner but they opened it to 4 different students traveling from the US. The students were from Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Florida. A 5th student was from
Spain. So 13 people sat down to dinner in this home. We talked travel, photography, sports, politics (both US and Israel/Palestine), religion, education, and recipes! I don't know when I have had such an experience.
It is now late and we have an early day. We pack up and move from Bethlehem and go to Tiberius on the Sea of Galilee. We will stay there 2 nights before we move to Jerusalem. Off to bed for me.
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