I’ve sent William and Kip off to the park – the one up 11 flights of stairs on the street above us – so now I can try to catch up on this silly blog. Two weeks of not writing means there’s a lot to write about and not a lot of desire to do it. So, we’ll hit the hightlights.
Kip’s Mom came to visit! It was a ton of fun to have another family member around to show things to and especially to show William off to. She arrived on Friday, the 3rd of June. We picked her up at the airport outside of Tel Aviv after only getting slightly lost and being slightly (30 minutes-ish) late. William did his traditional ignoring act for the first part of the drive. He puts his head down and just doesn’t respond to the person sitting next to him. But it only took about 30 minutes before Grandma broke him down and he was laughing and smiling at her. I’m sure it helped that she actually spoke English to him instead of Russian like our regular back-seat occupants.
On Saturday we took Grandma with us to church. We packed sandwiches for lunch and after the meetings took Kip’s poor jet-lagged mom off to see some of the sites around the sea of Galilee. We saw the St Peter’s Primacy (where Christ told Peter to feed his sheep—supposedly) and then went to Capernum. Capernum was cursed by the Savior and is now just a bunch of ruins. All that remains now is the dark stone foundations of buildings that once were houses and synagogues. Part of one synagogue is still in pretty decent shape, with some of the walls standing a good ten feet and some nice columns. It looks very Roman. After wandering around there in the hot sun, I was ready to crash. But we couldn’t let Grandma miss the Mt. of Beatitudes. We took her there and let her enjoy the beautiful view of the sea and then headed home.
On Sunday I took her and William to the Zoo. It was a lot less crowded than my last time there because this time it wasn’t free admission. I liked it a lot better. Plus, it helped to have Grandma there to push the stroller (and carry the backpack full of diapers and water bottles). I’m afraid I really abused her during this trip.
On Monday we (the women and William again since Kip had to work) went to Ceaseria. This was a lot like Capernum in places, but in other places there was a lot more left of the old buildings. That’s because the Crusaders came in and built over the older ruins and then future inhabitants built on top of Crusader stuff. (I don’t have the best grasp of the history of this land yet. It just turned over from one nation to another way too frequently!) So, we walked around a little and ended up out on the old harbor. William threw rocks down from a walkway onto the beach for a long time while Grandma and I sat and enjoyed the breeze. William had a terrible two melt-down at the end of lunch when we tried to get him to leave the waterside and head back to the car. We ended up having to drag him. Thank goodness Grandma was there because I couldn’t have done it alone!
Tuesday we took the morning easy and headed out in the afternoon to see Akko, or Acre as the Crusaders called it. This was the last Crusader stronghold and currently a functioning Arab community. We wandered through the streets of the old city and it was amazing to see people living in buildings that were literally a thousand years old. Unfortunately, it was rather dirty and run-down and the best things to see as a tourist were closed by the time we got there. There is a beautiful Crusader Citadel still in good condition and only open for touring, but we’ll have to visit it another time if we want to go inside.
On Wednesday, Sister Powell, here with her husband on a mission, offered to take us around Galilee to see the best sites. She’s been here a year and really devoted time to studying where biblical events occurred, so we couldn’t pass up the opportunity. I drove us out to the church in Tiberius and she met us there. She took us to see the famed Ancient Boat, a wooden boat frame found in the mud of the Sea of Galilee and discovered to be about 2000 years old. It was very interesting. Then, we saw Tabgha, which is where the feeding of the 5000 most likely occurred. She pointed out how small the area inhabited by Jews was by the Sea of Galilee. That’s why it was possible for the Savior to walk from place to place. (Although it still took a lot of walking in hot sun on dusty roads to get around.) We saw where the legion of devils was cast out of the man and drove a herd of swine into the sea (not in Jewish Galilee because they would not have had swine). And we saw a couple of sites where Jewish zealots were slaughtered by Roman invaders or committed suicide to avoid slaughter by Roman invaders. We’ve decided that every inch of this land has a story or legend associated with it and that half of them involve one group of people being slaughtered by another and the other half involve religious events in Jewish, Christian or Muslim history. And there are several different places that lay claim to the same religious events. This makes for a lot of places to visit as a tourist.