Missing Bacon

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On that first morning in Tiberius, and after our worship service in a boat on the Sea of Galilee we walked off the small sea vessel and climbed a gentle incline to a museum. untitled (86 of 228)

untitled (82 of 228)Along the way I learned that the area we were treading was near the place where the Gadarenes lived, and where that pitiful man, (probably more than one) the demoniac, dwelled among the tombs, and where Jesus healed him, and the devils that had possessed him sprang into a herd of swine, which then ran into the sea and were drowned. The keepers of the pigs were scared out of their wits as they spread the tale about the countryside. What a beautiful story, for Mark 5, verse 15 reads thus: “And they come to Jesus, and see him that was possessed with the devil, and had the legion, sitting, and clothed, and in his right mind . . .” What a sad story, though, for verse 17 tells that the people responded by urging Jesus to leave their countryside. Strange. I guess the pig meat was more important to them than the healing of their friend.

untitled (90 of 228)In the museum sat an ancient boat that had been excavated and restored as much as possible. The boat was of the style and age that was used when Jesus sailed with His disciples on the Sea of Galilee. I stared, and tried to imagine the eternal God during those years when He became a man. When He was hungry and tired and when He fished with Peter and John. Amazing.

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untitled (87 of 228)Striking to me during this delightful trip was the ordinariness of this, The Holy Land. Farmers still plow. Mothers still cook meals for their families. Daddies go to work, and children go to school.

untitled (92 of 228)The countryside is quite lacking in quaint beauty or majestic scenery or abundant flora and fauna. Israel is a simple place, but to this day, the eyes of the world focus there. All because of Jesus Christ, the righteous.

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Click on this line to see more pictures that I posted today in Flickr.

 

Random Thoughts on Israel/Italy Trip

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1. ImageAlthough Jerry and I missed all our family, we desperately wanted to see Winston. Rebecca and Nathaniel picked us up at LAX, and waiting in the car was our black and white puppy. We’re all happy again!

2. I quite enjoy utilizing moving sidewalks in airports. Gives me an exhilarating feel of rare accomplishment!

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3. In our hotel in Istanbul a clock was on the floor under the counter in the bathroom. Never seen that before. Someone thought it might also be a scale. Definitely didn’t check that out: too much cheese, butter, and fine breads the past couple of weeks.

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4. I posted more than 100 travel pictures on Flickr today. You might want to check them out. I’ll be posting more daily.

Finale

I’m sitting in the lobby of the Innova Hotel in Istanbul, Turkey awaiting our van which will arrive in less than an hour to take us to the airport for our 12 1/2 hour flight to Los Angeles. What a blast this has been. Don’t have pictures loaded to show you, but last evening we visited the grand bazaar here that consists of 5000 vendors that constitute the largest market place in the world. Our final dinner was  . . .guess what?. . .Burger King! First American meal we’ve eaten since we left. Not bad. We were worn out, Jerry was resting in the hotel awaiting a sandwich, so we grabbed a burger. Cool experience to see veiled women walking about shopping and eating hamburgers.

At the far side of the Grand Bazaar we hailed a taxi, Steve showed the driver our hotel card, and we roared down the narrow streets and the furious bustle of this the third largest city in the world. Taxi driver, I said. Yet he stopped five times to ask directions; one from someone on the street who ignored him, four from other taxi drivers. He and Steve in the front seat were roaring with laughter, talking to each other . . . in some strange language consisting of Turkish, English, sign language, with perhaps a bit of Spanish thrown in. “Is right?” he asked Steve several times. He, the taxi driver. Finally we saw the outline and brilliant light of our hotel, saying “Yes, yes, this is it.” Taxi driver was laughing uproariously. Steve tipped him well. The experience was worth it.

One of the things we’ve had to guard against (as is true in any part of the world) is pickpockets. On our last night in Rome as Steve was trying to locate a restaurant that had been recommended, two men lunged from a dark doorway and snatched his phone. They ripped the sleeve of his shirt, but he was able to trip one of them so that the man fell against a car, and Steve was able to retrieve his phone. His knuckles were skinned. The picture below is of a nice-looking lady, either in Israel or Jordan, who was pushing a child in a stroller, had another toddler, and tried to take the purse of one of our group.

Our room faces the Mediterranean Sea. Early this morning I watched through the fog as large ships slowly passed. It is Monday night in California; early morning here on Tuesday, April 1. Seems inappropriate to arrive home on April Fool’s Day, for this trip has been anything but that. Cheers! Onward! Bon Voyage!

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Rome

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The eternal city . . . except that it really is not, but for now Rome is nothing short of fascinating. Our hotel, the Lunetta, is my favorite one of the entire trip. Small, (only 30 rooms) a four-star, it is elegant. The joyous thing about this gracious place is that when I open the front door and step my feet onto the ancient cobblestone street, my eyes and ears are jammed with authentic Italian life. We’re in the middle of it all, and they’re wonderful people: loud, passionate, friendly, and beautiful. So loud and happy that Saturday and Sunday night (and into the wee hours of the next day) they partied beneath our 3rd story window. Once in the black night I flung wide our big window–which has no screen–and looked below. The streets were full of revelers. They were joyous; Jerry not so much!

Michelangelo’s THE DAVID! Enormous–much larger than I imagined. Unspeakably beautiful. For some reason, these pieces of art make me weep. Such incredible talent. The Sistine. No words.

Rushing now. To Istanbul today. Will spend many days writing and posting picture when I’m home. Arriving in Los Angeles tomorrow evening.

One of the chapels in the Vatican complex we visited yesterday. It so happened that the pope made a live address, which we watched a portion of on a screen, the timing and crowd of 50,000 making it impossible for us to see him personally, although we were standing right there. Biggest crowd I have ever seen.

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Transition to Italy

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It is just after 3:00 on Wednesday morning, and we’ve spent a few hours in an airport hotel in Amman, Jordan. At 3:30 our luggage must be in the lobby and our bus will take us to the airport where around 6:00 we begin a series of travel today–air flight to Istanbul, then another to Rome, where we will transfer to a train and end in Florence tonight.

Our days in Israel have been such that I have not been able to write about everything, but I will get to them all. Part of the challenge has been the fast pace of the trip, and often I am not able to get on the internet.

A happy group of girls ran our way as we walked toward the Jordan River. They were smiling, so I stopped to talk and take pictures.

“What is your name?” I asked this sweet young girl.

“Elizabeth,” she said. “What’s your name?” She lives in Bethlehem.

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Food in Israel

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For lunch every day we’ve had nearly the same thing: salads, most of which I cannot identify, hummus, a delicious eggplant dip, served with chips which is probably fried pita bread. Stacks of pita bread are at every lunch. Meat served is chicken, lamb, and sometimes beef. Breakfasts are wonderful (but to tell the truth, this morning, I could go for a nice little plate full of crispy bacon!) eggs, boiled or scrambled, bowls of olives –every meal–cheeses, and little hills of freshly baked rolls and very fresh butter. All the hotel meals we’ve eaten have been buffet style. The olives! Exceptionally delicious. Dinner is the same type salads with the same variety of meat. We’re in Jordan now (I’ll fill you in later on everything I missed talking about in Israel) and last night we had beef stroganoff and a great variety of desserts. Cheese every breakfast. Coffee is robust. Exceptionally delicious tangerines.

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Israel/Italy Day 6 and Beyond

Some things are unclear. Certainly in history this is so, and completely understandable is such an assertion. However, more than once on this trip, I have been assured: Jesus walked here. I still can hardly take it in, and to remind myself I have snapped pictures of my own feet, and have had others take shots as I stood in a place where almost certainly Jesus once stood. Amazing. It is an amazing story. The country is so plain, arid, dusty, rocky. Little, if anything, is spectacular as far as physical beauty is concerned. But . . .the story, the back story. . .The valleys echo with the long-ago talk of That Man, the hillsides are alive with memories, and it was in this place that lame people leaped, and where blind beggars gasped at their new vision. The seas, the rivers, the lakes, the villages, their close proximity to each other, the dress that continues to this day. Astounding. Nothing short.

I waded in the Jordan–muddy Jordan–and just before Pastor Walls baptized a couple from our group, we stood on the shore and sang Blessed Be The Name, and people cheered, and across the way, they paused to listen, and took pictures . . .

In a place that is almost surely very near the original spot of the outpouring, we gathered in an upper room, and sang, and surely angels were near.ImageinImage

One thing that has made this trip so special is that several of my family are here. We have laughed, prayed, worshipped and played together.

image Three of my grandchildren are here with Jerry and I as are my son Stephen, his wife, Dearrah, and my brother David and his wife Shelley. We’re having a time!

Israel/Italy Day 5

Today I rode a camel. Happened this way: I wanted to ride the critter, but my skirt was not full, and I was expressing to Steve my concerns when the “camel manager” said I could ride side-saddle. As I stood beside the animal, and was maneuvering so that I could mount him, the “manager” said, “No, no. Just put your arms around  me. ” I did, and before I knew what was happening he had swung me up and I was atop a camel!  I was roaring with laughter, and tugging at my unco-operative skirt . . . let me remind you, my entire travel group was gathered about, laughing, snapping pictures . . Not good, but grandson Joel to the rescue.

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“Here, Granny.” He shrugged from his jacket, and placed it across my knees.

It is high atop a camel, let me remind you, and I was squeezing something–some kind of a handle– for dear life. I felt as though I would topple forward, and go sprawling out before all my friends. . . but I didn’t!

Jerry had not seen my gracious mounting, but looked around and there I was, my figure outlined against the Jerusalem sky. “I could not believe it! I can’t believe you had the nerve to do that.”

Camel riding is exciting, but it does not compare to other things we did that day. A view of Golgotha and a long walk through the garden where Jesus prayed, communion. . .But I just cannot quickly write about such things . . . too moving, too spiritual, too emotional. Must save those thoughts for later.

 

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