The Adventure Begins!
We made it into Tel Aviv on Friday, June 9, and were greeted by John, Pepper, John and Denice (Brandon's Bro, Sis-in-Law, Dad and Mom) at the airport. It was late, but Tel Aviv was hopping! We stayed at a hostel about 2 blocks from the beach, and the nightclubs were bumping their beats well into the morning...actually all night until the sun came up. They say, "Work in Haifa, Worship in Jerusalem, and Play in Tel Aviv." I guess the people there got the memo.
We headed to Galilee via Nazareth, and spent some time at an reenactment of a 1st Century Nazareth village where Jesus probably lived and learned carpentry. As we drove through the hills of the countryside, we all got excited to see the Sea of Galilee where the disciples were called and Jesus did much of his ministry. We stayed with an American couple who have a Study Center/house there, and were very thankful for the wonderful accomodations and yummy food while overlooking the breathtaking water. Throughout our 3 day stay in Galilee we hit almost all of the toursity sites. Our personal highlights: Tabgah: the area where Jesus met the disciples after the resurrection and instructed them to throw their net over the other side of the boat, a 3000 year old gate thought to be the one Abraham walked through when he was being obedient to God and came from Ur, Peter mother-in-law's home, which is said to be one of the first house churches, & the Mount of Beatitudes where Jesus gave the Sermon on the Mount. Here, we stood in different spots on the mountain that was naturally shaped like a roman ampitheatre, and Papa John stood down at the bottom as Jesus was believed to have been. From there, he spoke in a normal voice, and we were all able to hear him as he read from Matthew 5-7. It was a great experience, and really made the Word come alive to us!
Also, to remind ourselves that it is a small world...
While we were in the northern Galilee area of Tel Dan (the place where the tribe of Dan finally settled), we were exploring the ruins of the city walls and gates when someone called out, "Nicole!". I turned around and gasped to see at friend and co-worker of my mom's coming towards me. Heather Matthews was a news broadcaster in Columbia for many years before she made the move to Nexsen Pruet, where my mom also worked. There they became friends, and Heather's love for the Lord and sweet personality was evident to Mom. I also enjoyed getting to know Heather during my visits to the office, and was really surprised to see her there...out of business attire and into tourist mode! She and her husband, Jim, had come with a group from Columbia and just happened upon us in a remote area of Israel! What a glimmer of encouragement that Our Father knows us where we are, and is even concerned enough to allow small spurts of joy throughout our day.