Into the Old City (March 4, 2024)

We got up today and got some great news!  We had been invited to lead worship at the Aliyah Return Center in Galilee this upcoming Sunday, March 10th. So we went over for the grand tour! The Aliyah Return Center, also known as the Faithful Galileans, is a ministry that has helped thousands of Jewish immigrants and Israelis in need, settle and grow roots in the land of Israel. This is a unique way for Christians to serve and show love to Jewish people and many have come to Christ as a result! They have a small guest house near Tiberias that we were invited to check out this day. We started to head out and got there a little early, so no one was there to greet us. I noticed on my map that the Jordan River was right behind the village that we were in. So, in Colorado fashion, we did a little off-roading to find the river. Our tiny little Kia Picanto got us through the mud to the banks of the Jordan. There are a couple of spots that are the traditional site of where people think Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist. One is close to Jericho and the other is right where the river picks up after the Sea of Galilee. Because of the war, both of those places are closed right now to the public. But this spot is just a little downstream from the one in Galilee. Because it is rainy season, we didn’t go down to the river because of all the mud. But there was a little foot bridge that we could cross and look right over the river. It’s not a real impressive river, but something very impressive happened near here!

We decided to get something to eat when our hosts contacted us, and we headed back to the village. We got a chance to meet Paul and Peggy who volunteer to help take care of the house where people stay and do ministry. Originally from Canada, they have been in Israel for about a year and a half. Their kids moved here, and they came to visit and stayed much longer after finding volunteer opportunities to serve here in Israel! We stayed and talked for a while then headed back to get ready for our drive to Jerusalem the next day.

We got up, still not feeling that great, packed and headed out to Jerusalem. Back on to the real-life Mario Cart game they call a freeway here, I had concluded that my least favorite part of Israel is the driving. But we survived, returned our car, and checked into our hotel in the Old City. Since we were so close, the first thing we did was to go to the Western Wall. It was fascinating to see all these people worshiping and praying for the rebuilding of the temple. Once again, because of the war, there are very few tourists here, so we didn’t have to wait to get in. Right next to the Wall are the remains of when the Romans sacked the city in 70AD. The temple mount was constructed with huge stones that were stacked on top of one another each stone averaging about 2 tons. The Romans soldiers toppled the stones down from the mount and gave up after about a 1/4 of the way down because of how heavy they were. Those stones they tossed are still there to see. 

We got something to eat and then went back to the hotel to continue resting and fighting our colds. At about 7pm all the mosques in the area fire up their loudspeakers and begin their prayer chants. Because there are so many happening at the same time, sung in different keys, the sound is very dissonant to the ear and not very peaceful at all. Then, as if in defiance to the prayer chants, a lone church begins to ring its bell in an attempt to drown out the loudspeakers. At this point you have the prayers of the Jews at the Wailing Wall, the chants of the mosques, and the bell towers of Christian churches chorusing through the city. What a strange and peculiar place this is.

The Aliyah Return Center Entrance


The Faithful Galileans


Galilean house cat


Walking over the Jordan River


The Jordan River


Western Wall with Dome of the Rock behind


Western Wall


Stones tossed over the mount by Roman Soldiers


Group of German pilgrims praying over the ramparts



View of Mount of Olives through the ramparts


Original Roman road in the Old City


Walking through Jerusalem


We made it!

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