Oct 25, 2012

This morning we docked in Haifa, Israel. We got off the ship at 6:30 am. We had a long trip ahead of us. Ashar was our guide and Simon was the driver. They are both from Jerusalem. Haifa is the world headquarters for the Baha’i’ religion. The first stop was the Baha’i gardens. The gardens are a world famous site on the slopes of Mount Carmel. However, we did not have a lot of time, so we just had a quick stop for a picture.

Today everything went very quick as we had a lot of ground to cover with very little time. Haifa where the LDS Church started in Israel. In 1800, two missionaries from Istanbul, Turkey were sent to Haifa. They converted a German blacksmith that one of the missionary had dreamed of. The blacksmith had also dreamed of the missionary. When they met, the blacksmith was quickly converted. The church grew for many years, but eventually the members moved from Israel to Utah or back to Germany, however, the two missionaries had died and were buried in Haifa. In the 1960s, after the creation of Israel, the LDS church was able to become an official religion because the missionary graves were proof that the church was in the area before Israel was created. Haifa is built on Mt Carmel. Mt. Carmel is where the prophet Elijah fought the 400 false prophets of Baal.

After Hafia, we drove to the Galilee valley. This is the most fertile valley in Israel. When the Jews returned to Israel there were no fertile land. Over 100 years they planted over 240 million trees. They had pushed the desert back 60 miles. They grow bananas, mangos dates, figs and other fruits. There were miles and miles of banana fields. They cover each banana bunch with a bag and then the fields are covered with a mesh netting, both the top and sides to keep the birds away.

The next stop was Nazareth, the home town of Jesus. It is a pretty big city now, but was only 150 to 200 people when Jesus was there.

We drove to the top of the Mount of Precipice which overlooks Nazareth. The people of Nazareth tried to throw Jesus off that mount. It is also the site of a historic stone quarry where our tour guide, Kay Godfrey, think Jesus worked with his father as a stone mason.

We drove though Canaan where Jesus performed his first miracle of turning water to wine. We drove by Mount Arbel by the Sea of Galilee. You could see the Goland Heights across the Sea. The Sea of Galilee is a lot like Bear Lake. It is shaped similar and about the same size, but a lot warmer.

Further along the shores of Galilee we stopped in Tabgha and went to the Church of the Multiplication. This church was built to celebrate the feeding of 5,000 with 5 loaves and 5 fishes. They believe there may have been over 12,000 people there, counting the woman and children. The church had a mosaic showing fish and loaves. There is also a mosaic of the measure that they used to measure the water height of the Sea of Galilee. They based their yearly taxes on the water level of Galilee. the deeper the water, the higher the taxes.

Our next stop was the town of Capernaum. There are a lot of ruins to visit. This includes the ruins of a 4th century synagogue. This synagogue is built on the foundation of a 1st century synagogue where Jesus was attended. It is one of a few places that experts agree is a place where Jesus walked. Parts of the floor were from the original 1st century synagogue. They were the same stones that Jesus was on. Also in Capernaum, is the house of Peter’s mother-in-law. it was another building from the first century.

We ate lunch at the Sea of Galilee Resort. I had what they called a Jesus fish, which is a fish from Galilee. We also had a pita and fries. Eva had pizza. After lunch I went down to the Sea and touched the water.

We then drove south on the west side of Galilee. The south side of the lake is where the Jordan River flows from the lake. We also stopped at a baptism site that a church has preserved. It is not the site of Jesus’ baptism as that was closer to the Dead Sea. The location where Christ was baptized is in a military reserve and it is closed to the public. We stopped at a place where many people come to be baptized or re-baptized. We walked around and Eva put her feet in the Jordan River.

The West Bank is the west side of the Jordan River. It is the border between Israel and Jordan. This are was taken from Jordan by the Israelis. The citizens are not Israelis, but Palestine. There were many battles and issues between Israel and Jordan between 1967 and 1970. This ended at Black September in 1970, which was a coup in Jordon.

As we drove to Jerusalem, we passed the Dead Sea, but it was getting dark, so we barely saw it. We drove on to the hotel. Jerusalem is a confusing city that would be very difficult to drive. We went to the hotel and dropped off the bags. Half of us went on to Jimmy’s Olive Wood shop. Jimmy has come to Lehi as a visitor to Carl Mellor. He has been to our ward several times. We bought an olive wood nativity scene for $180 and a figurine of Mary, Joseph and Jesus for my mom. It was $45. We got lost several times and it was very late by the time we got back to the hotel. We ate dinner and went to bed.

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