Blogs from Bethlehem, West Bank, Israel, Middle East


Middle East » Israel » West Bank » Bethlehem January 17th 2020

Wake up call at 6:30 this morning and bus pullout was at 8:oo am. We were spending the day around the city of Jerusalem so there were no long drive times. Every day our breakfast is buffet style with all sorts of fruits and vegetables, breads, sweet breads, cereal (both hot and cold), eggs and egg dishes, cheeses, and of course coffee, tea and juices. Each group has a section served by the color of their group…ours is brown this year. So we often see the other members of our group. Our bus has 32 people with most of them from the Tyler/Ritchie County area. There are other people from Virginia Beach, North Carolina, and Tennessee. They range in age from 12 to 90 with most being in the 60-70-year-old range. We have a local bus ... read more

Middle East » Israel » West Bank » Bethlehem April 23rd 2018

Started off today at 7.45am for our day trip to Bethlehem which is situated in the West Bank. This is the area that DFAT on their Smart Traveler website has listed as "Reconsider your need to travel". I understand the reasons for this but we are so glad we went because we actually felt good that we were contributing in some small way to the Palestinians who live here under some difficult circumstances. Before that however we had a couple of stops. First was a viewpoint overlooking the Mount of Olives where we had a marvelous view of Jerusalem and then a short drive to the Garden of Gethesame, where the Bible says Jesus and his disciples spent the night before the crucifixion. Next to the garden is the Church of All Nations, which is also ... read more
Garden of Gethesame
Church of Mary Magdalene
Church of Mary Magdalene

Middle East » Israel » West Bank » Bethlehem October 28th 2017

Today did not go as planned. We were going to the West Bank. The old man wussed out of independent travel so we booked a tour which departed at 7.30 am. I set my iPhone alarm for 6.30 am, giving us ample time to get up and make it to the meeting point, although it meant leaving the hotel before breakfast. Physically, East Jerusalem has been part of Israel since The Six-Day War of 1967, although this was declared illegal by the UN. A fact: Israel and Palestine both put their clocks back an hour in October, Palestinians on Satuday and Israelis on Sunday. So for one day, there is a time difference of an hour. It was that day. When we walked through the hotel lobby, breakfast was in full swing. It was 8 am. ... read more
Lowest place in the world (2)
Dead Sea

Middle East » Israel » West Bank » Bethlehem June 20th 2017

Dear Blog Readers, Opened the curtains to shocking weather this morning - at least two clouds in the sky!? Breakfast has now become a game of seeing who has the weirdest breakfast - our favourites so far are '5 Peaches' and 'Piling Up the Kugal Man'. We debated whether to pay the $140 for a trip to the Dead Sea but decided to rent a car for $50 instead. The car rental took a bit of finding but once there we were asked for our passports...damn. In the now sweltering heat (where have my two clouds gone!?), I trudged back to the hotel and returned with them. My request for a Nissan Note fell on deaf ears and we settled with a Kia. The bloke showing me how to start the car was a little concerned ... read more

Middle East » Israel » West Bank » Bethlehem February 19th 2017

After much research and anticipation, the day of my Bethlehem excursion had arrived. I like the shepherds and wisemen before me would be making my way to the place where Jesus was born. I had gotten good advice from my fellow pilgrims about what to expect and what bus to take. The bus, since it would be going into the Palestinian territory, would leave from the Arab bus station just outside of the Damascus Gate. After surveying the scene, I hopped on what I hoped was the correct bus, told the driver I was going to Bethlehem and deposited a few shekles in his hand. I was slightly apprehensive about the security procedure since I was technically leaving Israel. As the bus made its way to the West Bank I was on the lookout for signs ... read more
Judean Desert
Chapel of the Shepherd's Field

Middle East » Israel » West Bank » Bethlehem March 17th 2016

Today, we booked ourselves another guided tour. We knew we wanted to go to Jerusalem, but BAM also wanted to see Bethlehem and the Church of the Nativity. I felt uneasy going into Palestinian territory alone, so I insisted we join an official tour. Our guides name was Isaac and he was a lovely guy, we stopped first at the Mount of Olives and looked over Jerusalem to the West and the hills towards Jordan to the East. Like almost every location in Jerusalem, the Mount of Olives has great biblical significance. We entered the Old City of Jerusalem via Zion gate in the Armenian quarter. As we entered, someone tried to drive their car out of the gate; the gate is narrow and the corner tight, so they scraped their bumper on the stone. Looking ... read more
old city Jerusalem
Holy Sepulchre church
crucification spot

Middle East » Israel » West Bank » Bethlehem 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 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 ... read more

Middle East » Israel » West Bank » Bethlehem February 17th 2016

Following breakfast we boarded the bus and headed to Ein Karem which is the birthplace of John the Baptist. There is a church built over the site but you could go inside where the cave is preserved. There were pictures depicting the John the Baptist's life: one of his birth, one of Mary's visit to Elizabeth, one of his beheading, one of his baptism of Christ and one of him teaching. The church is now owned by the Franciscans and there was a service going on while we were there. I loved the tiled walls and the stained glass windows. From there we went to Emmaus which is one of the trips I was so looking forward to because of my connection and involvement in the Mid Ohio Valley Emmaus Community. I had the good fortune ... read more

Middle East » Israel » West Bank » Bethlehem February 16th 2016

Today we landed in Tel Aviv and learned that part of our group (from other states) didn't make it out of Newark....our was the last plane out as the airport was closed due to snow!! After a 10 hour flight we found our guide and driver and took a tour of Tel Aviv Jaffe. This is the city Jonah escaped to when running from Gods orders!! We walked the old city, ate sandwiches, then headed to our hotel at Bethlehem. After dinner we for a personal tour from Bill Dawson's friend, Gasan. It was interesting walking the West Bank - Bethelehem and visiting with Gasan Headed to bed for much needed rest. Much more tomorrow!!... read more

Middle East » Israel » West Bank » Bethlehem September 10th 2015

Nice day in Bethlehem, particularly at Bethlehem University and at our Mass in Shepherd's field. We were a bit rushed through the Church of the Nativity, which is currently covered in scaffolding for renovations. We had more time in the nearby Franciscan Church of St. Catherine. We also had the wonderful opportunity to tour Bethlehem University and interact with several Palestinian students during our visit; a few students joined us for great food and conversation during the lunch hour. May God continue to bless the ministry of the De LaSalle Christian Brothers and the lives of their students, faculty and staff at this excellent institution.... read more
Angel Appears to St. Joseph
Franciscans present at the Birth of Our Lord.
Joseph and the Child Jesus (St. Catherine's)

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