Saturday, February 7, 2009

Day Three In Jerusalem - Going Home

January 16 (Friday)
It was our last day in Jerusalem and our last day of the trip. Because it was the Muslim holy day (Friday) with many more Muslims making a visit to the mosque, security was tightened up and they weren't letting tour groups into the old city. However we wanted to visit the City of David National Park right on the edge and our driver did some fancy manuevering with the bus on back roads to get us there. Then the guards at the park entrance didn't want to let us in, but our guide Avi got off the bus and talked to them and then they decided it was ok.

The City of David was originally a walled Jebusite city that King David conquered, reinforced and made the capital of his kingdom. One thing we got to see here was a 3D movie showing a recreation of the city as it would have looked in Jesus' day which was very cool. Within the park are excavations of his palace and long tunnel down to a water source for the city. Of course, we took the long hike down and through the tunnel but took the dry side instead of the wet side. The chart in the picture below shows how deep the water gets in the wet side.

Our friend Patti touching the ice cold water. We needed the flashlights because the lights had gone out in this part of the tunnel system.

Views from the city of David over the valley to the houses on the next hill. This would have been David's viewpoint of Bathsheba.

After leaving the city of David, we headed over to Caiaphas' House. Caiaphas was the high priest whom Jesus appeared before after his arrest. The courtyard of Caiaphas' House is also the place where Peter denied knowing Jesus (hence the rooster on top of the cross). Caiaphas' House had a pit in the bottom that was used to hold prisoners and Jesus would have spent time here. Daryl got the privilege of doing the Scripture readings inside the church and down in the pit below.

Dr. Tuttle resting and thinking.

The steps leading up to Caiaphas' House. Jesus would have been led up these steps.

Our next stop was a Muslim restaurant and gift shop for lunch and some last minute shopping before heading on to John the Baptist's birthplace, on the northwest edge of the old city.

Down underneath the altar area is this niche. Supposedly the site of John's birth is marked underneath the small altar.

And our final tour stop in Jerusalem was the Garden Tomb. The Garden Tomb area is owned by a British organization that is supported solely through donations.

Here is believed to be the place of Jesus' crucifixion - Golgatha, the place of the skull. You can see the skull feature in the rock face. This site is just outside the Damascus gate of the old city.

Our guide from the Tomb association explaining the layout of the tomb and the reasons that they feel this Garden tomb is the true site of Jesus' burial.

After going through the tomb, we went up to a little chapel area where we shared in devotions and took communion together. Daryl and I were privileged to get to share the devotional time and preach at the Garden Tomb! That was an incredible privilege and an experience we will never forget!

So we headed back to the hotel. We got to rest in the lobby for a while before dinner. This is Leslie who broke her foot coming down Mt Sinai. She had surgery and spent our week in Israel either in the hospital or her hotel room. But she had a great attitude about everything saying she'd just have to come back again to see all the things she missed this time!

This olive tree was in the middle of the main dining room at the hotel and the reason for its name, the Olive Tree Hotel.

After dinner, we loaded back up on the bus and took a drive to the airport. We were leaving from Tel Aviv which was a little over an hour away. We went through some pretty intense security and passport control before getting out to the gate where we sat for another couple hours before our flight was scheduled to take off. We left Tel Aviv at 11pm and flew north over Turkey, the Black Sea, Norway, Sweden, Iceland, Greenland, then Canada and down through the US to Atlanta. We had free movies and TV through the entertainment screen in the back of each headrest and they also fed us dinner and breakfast again. We did manage to get more sleep on this flight - just because we were so tired from all the touring! We landed in Atlanta at 5:30am and we had to get off and go through customs, then pickup our luggage and recheck it through to Orlando. When we landed in Orlando, Debbie's mom and dad were there to pick us up and take us back to Seffner where the boys were waiting at Daryl's parents house. Parker and Granddaddy had hung up this sign on the bushes in the yard.

Parker was thrilled to see us and starting jabbering away about all the things he'd done. Wesley however took a longer time to warm up and start smiling at us and wanting us to hold him. Uncle Daniel brought his family up and all of us had lunch together and spent some time going through our pictures and souvenirs with them before heading home with the boys.

Our trip was an incredible experience and we're so glad that we went! We have a lifetime of memories and already the trip has made a difference in our Bible reading time as we can close our eyes and picture the places!