Sunday, August 31, 2008

Scottish Distractions

Our major purpose here on Seil (pronounced "seal") is to write sermons and two books we have dreamed of. But sometimes it's not easy! Because of wonderful opportunities and necessary exercise. Let's talk about the distractions this Sunday evening.

Yesterday, Sabbath, after some home-therapy for Vonnie's "owies" (left over from her fall in Leeds), we used
some maps to choose an afternoon walk to the ruins of a castle. First we walked up onto the moors behind Ardara Cottage trying to cut cross country to the road. Then we took the road to Ardencaple. Once there, the keeper told us how to reach the castle, but after litteraly getting bogged down (in the soggy, soggy bog), we turned back. However, the owner of Ardencaple, a very large estate, came by on his "quad" and offered to drive us both since he was looking for some stock over there. In the end, Vonnie didn't want to go so I hopped up beside his dog and off we went. On one corner the dog slipped off, so I decided to hold on to the dog the next time. But then I slipped off myself! Praise to my Savior (physical this time), no harm done, and on we went to the remaining ruins. He took a photo of me up there with the nearest, more northerly castle hidden in the mists far away. Apparently in the middle-ages, this castle was one of a series throughout the western isles that could signal each other with fires that the Vikings were raiding, giving folk time to seek shelter. Ardencaple, it turns out, was owned before the current owner, by the mother of the Princess of Wales, Diana herself. Our host in Ardara Cottage told us later that when Frances Shand Kydd, 68, was dying, she still lived on Seil, and occasionally her grandsons would be flown in on royal helicopters. Apparently Diana had her own room at Ardencaple, but we haven't learned if she did part of her growing up here. I found the estate so charming that I hope she did. This photo is of Ardencaple, and Diana's bedroom window is the top one on the right.

This Sunday morning we accepted Robert Rae's invitation to join him for Church of Scotland (Presbyterian) services at Kilbrandon Church. The lay-preacher, a "Reader" for the Church of Scotland, introduced Vonnie and me, mentioning that I was the first Seventh-day Adventist preacher to visit their congregation. We both enjoyed his thoughtful sermon on creating a warm and welcoming congregation. Although a small group were there, it felt like the message was getting through.

By the way, Kilbrandon Church is named after Brandon, one of the early, early Christian missionaries who evangelized Scotland after the Romans pulled out of Britain. Evidence shows that his first church, the first village he lived in sometime in the late 400s or early 500s, was just down-hill from the current church on the edge of a loch/lake near the shore of Seil Sound. Brandon is the one who may well have sailed his boat all the way to North America, even before the Vikings found their way there.

In fact, one lady who arrived midway through the sermon, caught up with us in the parking lot and invited us, along with Robert, to join her for "tea" this afternoon. After helping Robert go out to his sailing yacht, "Weaver" and remove two, big, marine batteries - bringing them back for recharging, we changed clothes and went to Fiona's house, an old hotel. Vonnie, in the meantime, had picked a bowl full of blackberries, and made them into a pie (without a recipe, or a roller, and using a centigrade calibrated oven!).

When we all (there were five of us there) sampled it, we were all amazed at how delicious it was. In fact we finished off the pie in one sitting! And the conversation was wonderful. Fiona is the daughter of a British Navy Admiral, and lives (has homes) throughout Europe. When she learned we had been at Tel es-Safi / Gath for four weeks, she invited us to come back to Greece where she has one of her homes and offered to take us to many more sites and collections.

And again, the views were magnificent. Once again I want to give credit to God for making such a place. And I also want to give credit to "Autostitch" for letting me use their demo software to create the panoramic views. I urge you to click on the photos and see them as large as your computer allows. Enjoy.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Scottish Views

While the weather has been consistently cloudy, often rainy, and rarely sunny, (the storekeeper told me they had a "drought" of six weeks back in May), still this is a beautiful place to be. While Vonnie and I are successfully using our computers to write (and communicate by email and blog), we do get out and see the beauty as we can.

#1 - a autostitch of two photos of kayakers on the sound that separates the Isle of Seil ("seal") from the mainland.

#2 - looking down from the hill above our cottage past an old fence corner to a wonderful house on the mainland.

#3 - the 200+ year old stone bridge, named the Atlantic Bridge that connects Seil to the mainland. Until a modern bridge was built to the Isle of Skye to the north, also crossing an arm on the Atlantic, this stone bridge was the only bridge over the Atlantic Ocean - or so they understood.

#4 - picking ripe blackberries on our walk back from the store and Post Office in Balvicar, two miles from our cottage.

#5 - Vonnie, searching for blackberries (and not finding them) near the top of the hill behind our cottage. Later we found plenty down the hillside closer to our cottage, and had a bowl-full for supper.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Campus Adventiste to Dover

This rainy Monday morning in Scotland, I want to share two days worth of traveling last week. A week ago yesterday, we woke up in a guest room at Campus Adventiste de Collonges-sous-Salève, just across the border from Geneva, Switzerland. We packed up our rental car to return to Cointrin Airport in Geneva, but made one last stop to see if we could say hello to my old roommate from 1965-1966. René Collin and I lived at Les Sources (the springs) that school year after I returned from selling books in Sweden.
We were so blessed. Even though we had missed René at church the day before, and although they weren't home on Sabbath afternoon, here were René and Régine this Sunday morning. We had just enough time before needing to catch our train in Geneva to stop and share some brief stories and memories - and set the camera up on the porch railing for an auto-shoot. We have exchanged Christmas cards with the Collins for years, but this was Vonnie's first time ever to meet them!
At René's suggestion, I refilled the car just across the border - but I was scolded by the owner of a new Mercedes station-wagon when I took a photo of it. Vonnie always says her 1994 Mercury Sable station-wagon is the most beautiful car on the road - still - that I wanted to document that the Mercedes designers have produced a model that is so similar!
By God's blessing we got on the freeway that took us straight to the airport, turned in the car, and hopped on the TGV (trés grand vitesse, or very great speed) that would take us to Paris.
(This is probably a good place to say that the word "hopped" is a euphemism for dragging two big suitcases and one heavy computer-bag and camera bag on their three sets of wheels, plus Vonnie's full back-pack and another hand-bag, and finally a hat. Then having to lift them all onto the railway car before searching for the right racks or storage areas - and sometimes discovering later on that they are in the wrong storage areas and having to move them all over again. On one train, in fact, we discovered we were on a car that wasn't going to our destination, so had to move two cars down. I ended up hauling the big bags, one at a time, out onto the platform and onto the new car during one brief stop! And in the stations we've discovered that sometimes there are elevators, and sometimes not. And there are sometimes escalators, and sometimes not! Try to imagine Vonnie with her backpack, big suitcase and handbag going up an escalator! Or me huffing and puffing up and down the stairs to the bridges over the tracks, one suitcase at a time. It was often downright scary - and proved damaging a few days later when Vonnie tripped on some uneven pavers as we were just pulling our loads up to the Leeds train station. Her knee, her shoulder, her neck and lower back are all still paining her as we move into our studying and writing phase. Yet, thankfully, she can still walk comfortably! Or so she claims.)
At one point the announcement came that our train had reached its maximum speed: 300 kmh/186 mph.
It was on this leg of our journey that we found ourselves sitting across a table from a grandmother and her 7-year old grandson. I had fun translating for her and Vonnie as they discussed family first, and then our two separate trips to the Holy Land. She had been with a tour group - a pilgrimage - and she and Vonnie shared how they had both been less than satisfied to visit the historic Church of the Holy Sepulcher. When Vonnie described how much she had enjoyed the Garden Tomb, just north of the current walls of the Old City, the lady was shocked that her tour had not included it. In fact she was downright upset that they hadn't even mentioned it! And when Vonnie produced a brochure from the site - in English - the lady dearly wanted to have a copy. When I tried to explain that the traditional site for Jesus' death and burial was probably right, but that the Garden Tomb seemed much better at preserving the feel of what it had probably been like, she laughed with joy when I told her that Vonnie disagreed with me and feels that the Garden Tomb is a much better candidate. She was so excited to learn that there was some other place beside the 1700 year old "tourist trap" that is holy to Catholic, Orthodox, Coptic, and Ethiopian believers.
By the way, when I told her I was a Seventh-day Adventist pastor, she described how in her ancestral home of Cameroon, Africa, one was either Catholic, Charismatic or Seventh-day Adventist. Those three faith groups make up the majority of Christians there. She said she felt blessed to be traveling with a pastor.
In Paris we hired a taxi to take us from one station (Gare de Lyon) to our next station (Gare du Nord). It was fun just getting to drive through the streets of Paris again, and a whole lot easier than getting down to and up from, and on and off the underground Metro.
Our next stop, we thought, was Calais on the English Channel or La Manche as the French call it. Yes, our tickets did take us all the way there, but we had to stop at Lille, France, and leave the express station and "hop" back on a local train to Calais. After a taxi detour to the docks (for another man hoping to catch a ride across the Channel yet that evening), we settled into our room at "The Cottage Hotel".
The next morning a taxi delivered us to the ferry dock, and before long we were through customs and passport control and churning our way towards the cliffs of Dover. We started in a light rain and ended with broken sunshine. This was one of Vonnie's favorite parts of the trip. She remembered her father's retelling of the Dunkirk evacuation at the start of WW II, and of the first woman to swim across the Channel. She loves the ocean anyways, and wanted to be outside in the sea air the whole time. Here are a few shots:
We spent the rest of the day on two trains: one from Dover to London, (where we had to take "the Tube" to another station, and from London to Leeds in northern England. There we once again were in a wonderful Hilton Hotel by way of Merrel and Marie's gift. All in all it was a good day; in fact, one never to be forgotten with the delights of the Channel crossing.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Arrival at Clachan Seil

Dear Family and Friends,

On this Friday evening, Vonnie and I have arrived at our final, sabbatical, destination: Ardarra Cottage, in the little village of Clachan, on the "wee Isle of Seil". Here we will work, and rest, until it is time to fly home to Milton-Freewater.

This morning we awoke in a guest house in Edinburgh, Scotland, (on a street that seemed to be nothing but old row homes turned into guest houses). We ate a wonderful breakfast before pulling our luggage to Haymarket Train Station, two blocks away, where we boarded a train for Glasgow. Once there, we transferred to the train for Oban, up the green, green, western coast.

In Oban, we stored our luggage and went shopping for our cooking needs, and then took a taxi out to the isle. Once our driver helped us discover the address, we were welcomed by a dear Christian couple who could hardly break away from telling all their adventures in Christian life and ministry both here, and in Oban.

The "cottage" is really a house, duplexed to their house, with a living room (two photos are out of the living room window this Friday evening), kitchen (that's Vonnie putting away groceries), bathroom, laundry room, and two bedrooms (master and guest with bunk beds). I think you can see Vonnie's delight at being here! Believe me, my face mirrors hers!

I just wanted to wish everyone a wonderful Sabbath rest and share the joy of being here.


PS Now that we're settled for several weeks, and we have good access to the internet, we will continue to post several more areas of interest that we haven't had time to share.

PPS As I work on sermons, I invite anyone reading this from Milton or Blue Mountain Valley Churches to suggest a topic, a Bible story, or a Bible passage you would like to hear me preach on. I won't promise to do it, but I just might :-).

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Rome to Collonges-sous-Saléve

Writing this Saturday night from the girl's dormitory office on the Campus Adventiste of Collonges-sous-Saléve, France. 44 years after I left France, Vonnie and I have explored my old school together - even attending church services this morning with me translating a fascinating sermon by a lady, the secretary of the school of theology here. It has been a wonderful day!

But, of course there are stories to tell of the journey. Only our children and Harold Rich, Milton First Elder, have heard directly from us about the pick-pockets who cut off Vonnie's pouch with all her ID in it - while we were on the way to the Athens Airport. Obviously we have continued to travel (since we are here, now), but in between, there was a one-night delay in the airport with basically no decent sleep. When we arrived at our rental room in Rome, just after noon the next day, we could only go out in the evening - after a long nap!

The morning of the next day, Tuesday, Vonnie obtained a new, temporary, passport at the Embassy/Consulate. But that afternoon and evening, we did our exploration, visiting the famous Trevi Fountains, the Pantheon, the Mamertine prison where Paul was emprisoned, and the Colosseum. That evening we visited a wonderful plazza, Novanno Plaza?, and enjoyed the music and the street artists. Amazingly, we met a woman from southern California who went to church with a family very dear to us! We, all three, were standing in awe that God could bring us together amidst the thousands and thousands prowling the streets as tourists.

On our final day, we visited the Vatican and saw the main basilica, the Church of Saint Peter. I was reminded that church building projects are often filled with emotional trauma. The building of St. Peter's was no exception. In fact, it split the western, Christian church! How? When the Pope of Luther's day started selling pre-paid forgiveness warrents (indulgences) to pay for the construction, Luther led out in what became known as the Reformation.

Two sad things happened when we left St. Peters. The Vatican Museum and the Sistine Chapel with Michaelangelo's ceiling frescos was closed. One day later, we discovered that our camera memory card had "crashed" and we lost (so far) all our photos from that day and part of the next.

This included when we flew over the coast of Italy and over the French-Italian Alps, with Mont Blanc right underneath us. Perhaps someone can help us retrieve the data, but for the moment we are grieving that loss, in addition to the lost days due to the stolen passport.

We flew to Geneva on Baboo Airlines. "FlyBaboo" is their slogan! It is a 4-year old airline out of Geneva flying smaller, commuter airplanes, but believe me, it was a fantastic flight with wonderful service. We were able to use a promotional price, but we suspect the regular fares will still make them very competitive.

In Geneva, we rented a car and drove back into northern Italy - through the famous Mont Blanc Tunnel. Pricey, but absolutely wonderful. We arrived in Turin, looking for directions, when a storm broke. I raced through the first drops into a bus terminal to ask for help when it suddenly scared us all. Even the local fellow was shaking his arm saying, "Mama mia!" Strange, strange hail - more like ice chunks than marbles. And wind! Whew! When they helped locate our street, I had to wade up to my ankles just out the front entrance to our rental car and Vonnie who was sitting in awe hoping she wouldn't be washed or blown away.

The hotel, with a front door on the 4th floor (3rd floor in Italy), was lovely. We struggled to get away what with doing some planning online for the final leg of our journey to the UK.

When we did, we drove the hour or so to the Waldensian valleys: Val Pellici and Agrogna. With the skies still threatening, and sometimes delivering, we arrived to an area on full summer break. Nothing was open, but we did visit some amazing sites of Waldensian history. We've included a couple of photos, including one of me in front of the statue of their warrior pastor who helped reconquer the valley in the 1600s so the survivors of the crusade and massacres could return from exile.

At our last stop of the day, high on the side of a valley, we met a Waldensian family from Missouri, coming back to visit their family roots. Together we found a small museum there, open, honoring the Waldensian women who through the ages have been spiritual leaders. We both want to learn more.

When they started the 1/2 hour walk to the infamous cave where the anti-Waldensian crusaders built fires at the entrances and suffocated everybody inside, we had to turn back towards France. With the freeway system through Mont Blanc, we arrived at the girls dorm on the Adventist Campus just at 8 as the sun was setting Friday night.

This Sabbath morning, we went to a part of the Bible study and then for the church service. Wonderful, as I reported above. In the afternoon, we had the privilege of driving up the side of the Salève mountain, onto the broad "ridge". It remains as beautiful as when I explored it in 1964-1966. But to do it again with Vonnie by my side! This "impossible dream" came true today.

Tomorrow we take a train from Geneva to Paris, and then from Paris to Calais. After a night there, we will cross the English Channel, or La Manche, on a ferry, and use our BritRail passes to reach Leeds. After a day exploring York (that's OLD York, not New York), we will travel on to Edinburgh for two nights, and finally our retreat in a cottege on the little islet of Seil off the western coast of Scotland.

We have entered the final half of our sabbatical and we will eventually be flying back to the Walla Walla Airport and Milton-Freewater. I hear we will find two wonderful changes at Milton Church: a new platform, inaugerated by Jaime Jorge this same Sabbath, and a remodeled, Fellowship Hall kitchen. What wonderful leaders to have kept our church family focused and growing while we have been away.

Bed-time calls! And I need to add the photos. God bless you all.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Animal stories from Mt. Carmel and Athens

Animal Stories from Mt. Carmel and Athens:

(Especially for Teo, Stevie and Pablo)

The Raven of Mt. Carmel:

On our last day in Israel, Grandpa and I drove from Nariyya, a dear little city on the shore of the Mediterranean Sea in the North of Israel, south through the big city of Haifa. Haifa is built by the sea, too, but just inland from the sea is Mount Carmel, the mountain where Elijah invited the prophets of the false God, Baal, to show the Israelites how strong Baal was. Of course, Baal didn't answer those prophets when they called him, and so Elijah said it was his turn. As you remember, he prayed a quiet prayer, and God answered with a bolt of fire so strong it burned up all the stones of the altar and licked up the water around the altar. Amazingly, after that Elijah got frightened and discouraged and went and hid by a brook where the only food he had was some bread that a raven brought him every day.
(The National Park on Mt. Carmel)

Well, Grandpa and I drove up to the top of Mount Carmel and found a little park with picnic tables. We had some food with us, and so we ate our lunch there and thought about Elijah. When we were finished, we had several pieces of pita bread left, and we knew we would not be able to take it with us on the plane, so I suggested we give it to the birds. We scattered some crumbs around and then Grandpa took a whole round pita loaf and sailed it like a Frisbee over the cliff and into the woods. I said, "I think that's good to repay the ravens for bringing bread to Elijah." Just then from the exact place in the woods where the bread had gone, we heard a raven cry, "Caw-caw! Caw-caw!" That was the only raven call we heard, and it seemed like he was saying, "Thank you! Thank you! Thank you for the bread!"

The Dogs of Syntagma Square:

Grandpa and I arrived in Athens on Friday and went to our wonderful hotel where we have a sliding glass door with a balcony that looks out over the city to the sea and to the Acropolis. (The Acropolis is a rocky hill with some very beautiful, ancient and famous buildings on top of it.) We sat on our balcony watching the sun go down, just mesmerized by the beauty. The moon came up and flood lights turned on, making the Acropolis look like an enchanted castle.

Finally, we got hungry, and we decided to go outside and down some stairs to the subway, a very fast underground train. Within a few minutes, we were at the next station, and we got off at Syntagma Square. This is a large paved area with benches and trees near the parliament building. There are lovely statues on platforms with marble stairs leading to them. Nearby there are restaurants where you can sit outside and eat or get something to drink.

As I climbed the stairs from the subway to this lovely Square, I saw a big dog lying at the bottom of the next flight of stairs. He was lying on his side, so limp that I thought he was dead. "How sad," I thought. And then I saw another dog, a black one, lying on his side at the top of the stairs. "What's going on??!!" I wondered. Do people bring their dead pets here? I looked carefully at the two dogs and saw that they were breathing softly. They were just asleep – right in the middle of all the people coming and going. As I got to the top of the stairs, I saw a beautiful statue with steps leading to it and…Yes! You guessed it! There was another big dog, lying on his side, sound asleep on one of the steps. As I looked around, I saw more dogs, all lying on their sides, taking wonderful naps in Syntagma Square.

Grandpa and I walked across to the far side of the Square to cross a busy street so we could find a restaurant. Suddenly, here came a middle sized Terrier-type dog with a red collar and big smile under his mustache. He sneaked up behind the lady in front of us and sniffed all around her tote bag. All at once he leaped around her and into the street. I gave a little shriek because cars were racing by, and I was sure he was going to be struck. He roared fiercely and jumped at the front fender of a yellow taxi. The taxi didn't even pause as it zoomed past with the dog running beside it. As soon as the taxi had been chased away, the dog stepped back onto the curb and waited patiently for the light to change, smiling with satisfaction that he had done his duty well. But, oh no! Here came another yellow taxi, and he sprang into action, roaring fiercely, jumping at the front fender, chasing it off into the darkness. Back he climbed onto the curb, happily smiling as other cars hurried past. Ay-yi-yi! Another yellow taxi! Into the street he bravely leaped again, risking his life to protect us all, chasing the enemy into the night. He waited for the light to change, and then trotted across the street and off on some adventure.

Grandpa and I strolled on. The evening was enchanting. The temperature was just right, and the air felt like silk on our skin. Someone was playing beautiful music on an accordion. We found a little sidewalk café and ate Greek salad and delicious bread. After supper, we walked on and found an ancient church, an artist painting on pottery, and a man playing his guitar and singing American folk songs. Finally, we started back. When we came to Syntagma Square, it was after 11 o'clock, but there were dozens of boys skating in one part of the Square and…what was I seeing!?! All the sleeping dogs had waked up from their naps and they were trotting happily around among the boys, as though they were pretending to be skating, too. All at once, out of nowhere, came the little taxi-chasing terrier. He wove through the skating boys, barking, and then shot off through the park with all the other dogs following him. We watched as the line of dogs streaked past us and out of the Square, all barking like crazy. Daddy thought the dogs were chasing the Terrier away, but I thought he might be the leader, guiding them to some new mischief he had discovered. When the dogs had disappeared, we heard some barks from the park. There was the black dog, too old and tired to join the chase, but wanting to be part of it anyway. We walked toward him, and noticed that he had found someone's bottle of water. He was walking along with the top of it in his mouth, the rest sticking out to the side, so that whenever he wanted a drink, he just tipped his head and the water would flow into his mouth. He had a red collar, too. Who owned these dogs? Who was taking care of them? It's a mystery. The mystery of the dogs of Syntagma Square.

Athens Special

How to describe our few hours in Athens! Magical? Enchanted? When we checked into the Athens Hilton (Thank you Merrel and Marie) the receptionist upgraded us to the executive floor, and then changed the room so we would have a view of the Acropolis with the Parthenon on top. From the 10th floor, it is truly an absorbing view of the city. (This is the evening photo of the city.)

One minor problem: when we arrived at the airport, I was paged and informed that my suitcase had been detained in Israel "for security reasons." So far we haven't learned what the fear was - perhaps my 220-110 V transformer? - but sadly, we appear to be leaving Athens and Greece without it. Hopefully it will catch up with us in Rome.

Last night, though, nothing hindered a wonderful evening. We took the subway to the center of town, found an absolutely delightful, roof-top restaurant with a view of the sunset and the Acropolis. The temperature was perfect - velvety, even - and the food delicious. When it was time to leave, the Greek musicians were just getting started.

We walked over the beautiful walkways past the Parthenon and down to a summer theater for traditional Greek dancing. There we enjoyed all the different styles from sedate to flamboyant that each island, each mini-culture has developed over hundreds of years. It was such a delight to be together - and in this instance it seemed more like families of the dancers who surrounded us and cheered on their favorites, instead of several bus-loads of tourists.

When we walked back the way we had come, the pathways were just spectacular, and one rocky viewpoint offered the close-up, night-shot of the Parthenon.

Now as we pack up, we will do one last visit to the top of the Acropolis and I will visit the Parthenon for the second time in my life - showing Vonnie what I so briefly saw in 1964. What an amazing privilege our conference, our two churches and our families have given us.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

From Tell es-Safi to Tiberius

Tomorrow, Wednesday, we continue our exploration of northern Israel. However, before we pack up and move on from the Eden Hotel in Tiberias beside Lake Kinneret (Sea of Galilee), Vonnie and I want to share a few photos. (one photo is from our window overlooking Tiberias and the lake.)

There’s another photo of our dig site (Area E) under the awning. Just wanted not to forget our four weeks there. And there are two photos of me having the privilege of slinging a stone over the Elah Valley where David met Goliath.

In review, we enjoyed our Sabbath morning at Advent House, Jerusalem, where I was invited to preach. We visited the Shrine of the Book, dedicated to the Dead Sea Scrolls, that afternoon. And the next morning, we packed our little car with luggage for three and two additional people!

Lotte and Joshua toured with us to modern and ancient Jericho, Qumran, where the Dead Sea Scrolls were used and then hidden, and then up the Jordan River Valley to Lake Kinneret (Sea of Galilee) and the main town there, Tiberias. Both Lotte and Joshua had dug with us at Tell es-Safi, and both went on that same evening: Lotte to Haifa and more education; Joshua back to Jerusalem, and soon on to the USA. Dear, treasured people. We miss them already. (photos will follow later.)

One adventure on the road was when we came to the Israeli checkpoint as we left the West Bank, occupied in 1967, and entered northern Israel, carved out during the war of independence in 1948. Something about this quartet made the guards uneasy, so they had us park the car for inspection, get out ourselves and all our carefully packed luggage. Then everything went through x-ray or metal-detection machines, including us. All this while they looked in every nook and cranny in and under the car. It was a thorough inspection indeed, although I’ve read of far worse. (no photos here!)

On Monday we explored both Cana and Nazareth, neighboring cities. When we finally located the YMCA, we made appointments to return this morning for the Nazareth Village tour. (One of our photos is of modern Nazareth, and four are from the Village recreation.)

This afternoon, we drove completely around Lake Kinneret / Sea of Galilee. Now I’m wondering how closely this sea and Lake Tahoe in California compare in surface area. I’m thinking this is larger.

We stumbled on a wonderful archaeological dig and recreation area near the mouth of the River Jordan as it comes into Lake Kinneret. The site is identified as Bethsaida, where Jesus healed a blind man. And it was also the home of several disciples. John 1:44 “Now Philip was from Bethsaida, of the city of Andrew and Peter.” We truly enjoyed our time, alone on the dig-site with time to meditate and pray. (Several photos are from here.)

Then we went down to the Jordan River and discovered a quiet place to sit and doze off in the shade. It is obviously a favorite spot for hundreds of families. Some holidays or weekends, it must seem like a city of 5,000, hungry for bread and fish! Our time there was extremely slow and therefore delightful. (some photos here, too.)

Our final stop before supper was to a Greek Orthodox church from the 1920s, dedicated to the memory of the paralyzed man let down through the roof to be healed by Jesus. It turned out to be a wonderfully maintained and green few acres on the shore of Galilee, just yards away from ancient Capernaum. The Greek priest spoke good English and welcomed us into his church. He told us of his doubts that the “Bethsaida” we visited was the one Jesus knew. He believes another site, now in private ownership, is much closer to the lake shore and much more likely to have been the real place. So the arguments go! It was a very special stop. (this is the last photo.)