Right now, we’re battling traffic in a coach in Jerusalem, trying to get back to our hotel. The roads are super busy because of the passover, so the police have decided to just block off the road we want to get to – it’s a main one. It’s causing complete pandemonium.
We went to the Herodian and Shepherd’s fields today. Daniel and I went down this amazing cistern – you followed the path through these huge, dimly lit caves.
We also visited this lovely Christian run children’s home, in Bethlehem, House of Hope. The percentage of Christians in Bethlehem has dropped significantly in the past twenty years or so – from about 85% to 1.5%! It’s the only place like it in Bethlehem, so it’s full of Muslims. These kids live here with the full knowledge of their parents that they’re going to a Christian run place where they’ll be taught about God and Christianity. Such an amazing and effective ministry.
After lunch at the children’s home, a few of the fellahs from the tour thought they’d try out the kid’s playground, using a fairly ugly old misshapen soccerball. I joined them and it evolved into a three on three soccer game, Aus vs. England, of which the Aussie team, naturally reigning victorious, the Aussie side being Rayka, a german girl, Tony, a NZ bloke and myself.
We went to the Church which is apparently on the spot where Jesus was born. The place was very full and Rayka and I were unimpressed at having to wear jackets covering our elbows despite the heat! It was of course ornately decorated, but I’m not 100% convinced Jesus would have been a fan. There were two bits of the church that were particularly chaotic, the place where Jesus was actually born and even more so, where he was laid. People were pushing each other. Didn’t really leave a good taste, you know.
We had a little wander through Bethlehem after this, still in Jackets! This little girl who couldn’t have been any more than four came up to me with her hand out, saying “shekel, shekel?” She followed me to the group I was wandering with and when they didn’t satisfy, procedeed to pop her hand in one of Rayka’s pockets. Heartbreaking! 😦
After this we visited the Israel museum (woo hoo!!) It had this scale model of Jerusalem, rather nice. Rayka and I kept being told off. There was this Ranga guard who took her job very seriously, who bellowed at us, es war kras lustig! Also in this museum were the dead sea scrolls, which was really quite exciting. Not all the books were on display, but I saw the book of Habbakuk, among others.
Our hotel in Jerusalem is quite terrific. The view is a cemetry and a junk pile, and, if you peer right beneath, there’s a clothing stall. Rayka and I had great fun with this view, as has become a custom, she flung open the curtains to reveal the view, and there you go, a grave yard! Ha ha!
Tonight we went out to the wailing wall. It was rather exciting! Jerusalem! Can’t believe I’m in Jerusalem! It’s got such a cool atmosphere, as Rayka said, “you can feel the spirit.” The wailing wall was packed! You could kind of feel an element of excitement in the air. But I also kind of felt sad for the Jews, doing all that stuff, all the religion stuff, without the perk of the relationship, waiting and waiting for Someone whom I believe has already come.