Friday, November 27, 2009

O Galilee, Sweet Galilee*

On Friday November 20th Marie and the kids drove up to Galilee for the last half of the long field trip. That night we enjoyed a dinner of St. Peter's fish (aka talapia). Joel and Will were unfazed by the whole fish and enjoyed eating it.

Sarah opted for plain pasta, but did enjoy eating pieces of fish that she didn't have to pull off of the carcass.
On Saturday we attended sacrament meeting at the Tiberius Branch in its new church owned chapel with a great view overlooking the Sea of Galilee. It was great for me to greet members from when I was a member of the branch back in 1989.

After church we stopped at Yardenit--a Jordan River Baptismal site (not the traditional site which is near Jericho) right where the Jordan flows out of the Sea of Galilee. It is used primarily by evangelical Christians who as part of their pilgrimage experience are (re)baptized in the Jordan. Tiled accounts of the baptism from many different languages decorate the walls of the large complex. We liked the pidgin Hawaiian account the most--which was right next to the Indonesian account.

Sunday morning the kids played on the beach while I taught three hours of New Testament classes. That afternoon we joined with many of the students for an optional activity of floating down the Jordan River. We began at the ancient site of the city of Bethsaida (that was cursed along with Chorazin and Capernaum) and floated in five-man rafts down the peaceful shallow Jordan. There was one little "rapid" (the float was much like childhood floats down the Logan canyon canal out to North Logan) but the greatest danger were the overhanging thorn bushes. There were 10 rafts and we all had fun splashing each other. At the end of the float (about 40 minutes long) Joel and Sarah were able to wade across the whole width of the Jordan River near where it flows in to the Sea of Galilee. Will had strep and this was the first day of his antibiotic so he and Marie didn't come. We'll do it again next semester.

Monday was a full day field trip to some great sites. Our first stop was the Arab village of Nain to a church commemorating Christ's raising of the widow's son. There is not a local Arab Christian congregation in the village so the church is mainly a place for Christian pilgrims. A Muslim Arab caretaker let us in. We read the biblical account and then we talked about Christ's love and concern for widows in both the Old and New Testament. I suggested that the principle of taking care of widows and fatherless should nowadays certainly include single mothers with young children.
Next stop was Mt. Tabor--the traditional site of the transfiguration (Mt Hermon to the north is the other possible site).


We stopped to see some interesting synagogue mosaics at Beit Alpha. Then we all enjoyed 1 1/2 hours of swimming at the spring fed pools of Gan Hashalosha.

Our final stop was Bet Shean. The heads of Saul and Jonathan were displayed on the walls of the Canaanite city which was located on the top of the tel. Down below are the excavated ruins of the Byzantine city.
Tuesday morning we woke to very strong winds from the east--the tempest was raging.
After morning classes, our family drove to Nazareth. By now the winds had turned to rain. During my 1989 stay in Nazareth Christian-Muslim harmony started to decline with the rise of an Islamic party in the local municipal elections. The bill board prominently displayed for all pilgrims to the Church of the Annunciation to see is a good example of that on-going religious divide.
We all liked seeing the dozens of images from around the world of Mary and Jesus that are displayed in and out of the church.


Most of the images are of Mary or of Mary and Jesus. I like this one from the Philippines because it shows the annunciation.

Wednesday's field trip took us to the crusader city of Akko/Acre.
Sarah, Joel and Will in the belly of a big fish.
A Templar tunnel.
Arab kids on a field trip playing basketball in the crusader moat.
Back at En Gev the kids enjoyed some beach soccer
And some wading in the beautiful Sea of Galilee at sunset.
*The title of this post comes from a hymn from the old hymn book. I have memories of singing this song in 1979 on my first trip to the Galilee as we walked from the Mt. of the Beatitudes down to the Sea of Galilee. I introduced it to the BYU students--none of whom had ever sung it before.
Each cooing dove and sighing bough,
That makes the eve so blessed to me,
Has something far diviner now,
It bears me back to Galilee.
Refrain
O Galilee, sweet Galilee,
Where Jesus loved so much to be,
O Galilee, blue Galilee,
Come sing thy song again to me.
Each flowery glen and mossy dell,
Where happy birds in song agree,
Through sunny morn the praises tell
Of sights and sounds in Galilee.
Refrain
And when I read the thrilling lore
Of Him Who walked upon the sea,
I long, oh, how I long once more
To follow Him in Galilee.
Refrain

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Galilee Thanksgiving

We began our Thanksgiving celebration on Wednesday evening with a turkey dinner provided by Kibbutz En Gev Holiday Village. This resort has hosted BYU students for several decades. We stay for nearly two weeks on the eastern shore of the Sea of Galilee.
The dining room was decorated with an American patriotic theme. The turkeys were delivered to the waiting students and faculty with flaming sparklers on top.

Later that evening in a three hour testimony meeting around a bonfire on the beach, one of the students began his testimony by expressing gratitude to the En Gev Holiday Resort for the wonderful stay and for somehow knowing and taking into consideration that his family's tradition was to present the turkey with sparklers on top (this was the top laugh of the evening).
The turkey tasted great (I was the only dark meat fan at our table). It and the corn were the most authentic portion of the dinner. We also had rolls, baked potatoes with dill butter (pretty good), candied yams with raisins, waldorf salad, and apple strudel a la mode--all tasty but with an Israeli twist.
On Thanksgiving day we headed out on our last field trip in the Galilee. First stop was Sefforis (Arab Saffuiryah and Israeli Tsippori). Here we saw Roman ruins and mosaics including the beautiful Mona Lisa of the Galilee. While driving to Sefforis I told the students that it was a mere 7 kilometers NW of Nazareth. Joel then asked an excellent question. He wondered if Jesus had ever visited Sefforis (he probably was listening better and leaning more than some of the sleeping or i-pod listening students). Many biblical scholars have suggested that Joseph and Jesus most likely would have spent time working as craftsmen (a better translation than carpenter and most likely meaning stone mason) at Sefforis--the growing capital of Herod Antipas in the Galilee. Up until 1948 Sefforis was a large Arab village. I told the students how the residents of the village fled to the safety of Nazareth during the war and then were not allowed to return once the war end--even though they were now citizens of Israel. They stayed in Nazareth as "internal refugees" and eventually settled in a quarter of Nazareth that looks out to Saffuriya (read more about this in my book Beyond the Basilica). To make sure that the Arabs did not return to the village the government of Israel bulldozed down the rock homes and then planted trees (this was done to over 200 villages vacated by Arabs during the war). Most tourists to Sefforis never know this part of Sefforis' history. To ensure that my students got the whole story I pointed out the piles of stones from the demolished homes hidden under the trees as well as the olive, pomegranate, almond and other trees planted by Arabs that still are found on the hillside where the village once stood. The only remaining structure from the Arab village is a crusader/Ottoman citadel on the hilltop. The jump picture above (a favorite pose perfected by BYU Jerusalem students) is taken on the roof top of that citadel.
We next made a quick stop at a new site I learned about--a Roman era rolling stone tomb just off the main road on our way to Mt Carmel.
Next we drove to the traditional site of Elijah's confrontation with the priests of Baal on Mt. Carmel. The students had already studied this wonderful story in Old Testament class. I recounted the story (mainly so Joel and Sarah could hear it--Will fell asleep on Marie's lap at the back of the small Carmelite chapel) and reminded the students that when the fire from heaven destroyed the bullock, wood, stones and water on the altar, it destroyed the symbols of the four main Canaanite gods (who were now being worshiped in the northern kingdom of Israel thanks to the adverse influence of Ahab's wife Jezebel) which then showed to all Israel that Jehovah was God. I then noted that when Elijah asked the people "why halt ye between two opinions?," he was exhorting them to return to what the prophets and scriptures had taught their fathers. He was "turning the hearts of the sons to the fathers"--which is why he then was tasked with restoring the keys of temple work to Peter James and John on the Mt of Transfiguration and to Joseph Smith in the Kirtland temple. We then focused on the end of the story where after the priests of Baal had been put to death (as in the photo above) that no clouds turned into a tiny cloud the size of a hand (symbolic of the hand of God blessing our lives?) which then turned into a dark cloud that brought rain and ended the three year long drought. The Lord blessed Israel for returning to the worship of Jehovah. From Elijah on Thanksgiving Day we learned to be thankful for fathers (and mothers) who have gone before and prepared the way by seeking religious freedom in America (choosing a good opinion) and to be thankful for our many other blessings as symbolized by the rain on Carmel. Then we sang "Prayer of Thanksgiving" and "Come, ye Thankful People" both of which have great lyrics that actually tied in to our Elijah discussion.
We then drove to Haifa via the crest of Mt. Carmel with a stop as a viewpoint down on the port and the Baha'i temple (unfortunately enclosed in scaffolding) and garden. Our final stop was at the German Cemetery in Haifa. This cemetery (beyond the neat rows of the British WWI cemetery) is where two LDS missionaries (Adolf Haag and John Clark) are buried. They served in Haifa in the 1890s among the Germans of the Templar colony and there died of typhoid and smallpox. Present in our BYU group were two great great grand nieces of John Clark. One was in my bus group and the other with the second group. As we sat on the lawn in the corner of the British cemetery, Angie Clark told our group how she had come to appreciate this ancestor for his faithful service. Also buried in the cemetery are two LDS couples--both German converts. Georg Grau was converted (in 1884) by Jacob Spori the first missionary to Haifa. Spori had a dream that he was to go to Haifa and there find a blacksmith with a black beard who was prepared to receive the gospel. Grau had a dream that a man would come the next day with the truth. It happened as was dreamed and Grau was baptized and then a month latter he baptized his wife Magdalena in Acco Bay. Magdalena's grave has the image of a flying angel and the scripture from Revelations about "another angel flying in the midst of heaven..." The grave stones of the two missionaries are marble pillars broken off near the base to indicate lives cut short. It was a touching emotional visit as we talked about serving God wherever called. We sang "I'll go where you want me to go." We then drove home to Jerusalem.

Galilee Thanksgiving

We began our Thanksgiving celebration on Wednesday evening with a turkey dinner provided by Kibbutz En Gev Holiday Village. This resort has hosted BYU students for several decades. We stay for nearly two weeks on the eastern shore of the Sea of Galilee.
The dining room was decorated with an American patriotic theme. The turkeys were delivered to the waiting students and faculty with flaming sparklers on top.
Later that evening in a three hour testimony meeting around a bonfire on the beach, one of the students began his testimony by expressing gratitude to the En Gev Holiday Resort for the wonderful stay and for somehow knowing and taking into consideration that his family's tradition was to present the turkey with sparklers on top (this was the top laugh of the evening).
The turkey tasted great (I was the only dark meat fan at our table). It and the corn were the most authentic portion of the dinner. We also had rolls, baked potatoes with dill butter (pretty good), candied yams with raisins, waldorf salad, and apple strudel a la mode--all tasty but with an Israeli twist.
On Thanksgiving day we headed out on our last field trip in the Galilee. First stop was Sefforis (Arab Saffuiryah and Israeli Tsippori). Here we saw Roman ruins and mosaics including the beautiful Mona Lisa of the Galilee. While driving to Sefforis I told the students that it was a mere 7 kilometers NW of Nazareth. Joel then asked an excellent question. He wondered if Jesus had ever visited Sefforis (he probably was listening better and leaning more than some of the sleeping or i-pod listening students). Many biblical scholars have suggested that Joseph and Jesus most likely would have spent time working as craftsmen (a better translation than carpenter and most likely meaning stone mason) at Sefforis--the growing capital of Herod Antipas in the Galilee. Up until 1948 Sefforis was a large Arab village. I told the students how the residents of the village fled to the safety of Nazareth during the war and then were not allowed to return once the war end--even though they were now citizens of Israel. They stayed in Nazareth as "internal refugees" and eventually settled in a quarter of Nazareth that looks out to Saffuriya (read more about this in my book Beyond the Basilica). To make sure that the Arabs did not return to the village the government of Israel bulldozed down the rock homes and then planted trees (this was done to over 200 villages vacated by Arabs during the war). Most tourists to Sefforis never know this part of Sefforis' history. To ensure that my students got the whole story I pointed out the piles of stones from the demolished homes hidden under the trees as well as the olive, pomegranate, almond and other trees planted by Arabs that still are found on the hillside where the village once stood. The only remaining structure from the Arab village is a crusader/Ottoman citadel on the hilltop. The jump picture above (a favorite pose perfected by BYU Jerusalem students) is taken on the roof top of that citadel.
We next made a quick stop at a new site I learned about--a Roman era rolling stone tomb just off the main road on our way to Mt Carmel.
Next we drove to the traditional site of Elijah's confrontation with the priests of Baal on Mt. Carmel. The students had already studied this wonderful story in Old Testament class. I recounted the story (mainly so Joel and Sarah could hear it--Will fell asleep on Marie's lap at the back of the small Carmelite chapel) and reminded the students that when the fire from heaven destroyed the bullock, wood, stones and water on the altar, it destroyed the symbols of the four main Canaanite gods (who were now being worshiped in the northern kingdom of Israel thanks to the adverse influence of Ahab's wife Jezebel) which then showed to all Israel that Jehovah was God. I then noted that when Elijah asked the people "why halt ye between two opinions?," he was exhorting them to return to what the prophets and scriptures had taught their fathers. He was "turning the hearts of the sons to the fathers"--which is why he then was tasked with restoring the keys of temple work to Peter James and John on the Mt of Transfiguration and to Joseph Smith in the Kirtland temple. We then focused on the end of the story where after the priests of Baal had been put to death (as in the photo above) that no clouds turned into a tiny cloud the size of a hand (symbolic of the hand of God blessing our lives?) which then turned into a dark cloud that brought rain and ended the three year long drought. The Lord blessed Israel for returning to the worship of Jehovah. From Elijah on Thanksgiving Day we learned to be thankful for fathers (and mothers) who have gone before and prepared the way by seeking religous freedom in America (choosing a good opinion) and to be thankful for our many other blessings as symbolized by the rain on Carmel. Then we sang "Prayer of Thanksgiving" and "Come, ye Thankful People" both of which have great lyrics that actually tied in to our Elijah discussion.
We then drove to Haifa via the crest of Mt. Carmel with a stop as a viewpoint down on the port and the Bahai temple (unfortunately enclosed in scaffolding) and garden. Our final stop was at the German Cemetery in Haifa. This cemetery (beyond the neat rows of the British WWI cemetery) is where two LDS missionaries (Adolf Haag and John Clark) are buried. They served in Haifa in the 1890s among the Germans of the Templar colony and there died of typhoid and smallpox. Present in our BYU group were two great great grand nieces of John Clark. One was in my bus group and the other with the second group. As we sat on the lawn in the corner of the British cemetery, Angie Clark told our group how she had come to appreciate this ancestor for his faithful service. Also buried in the cemetery are two LDS couples--both German converts. Georg Grau was converted (in 1884) by Jacob Spori the first missionary to Haifa. Spori had a dream that he was to go to Haifa and there find a blacksmith with a black beard who was prepared to receive the gospel. Grau had a dream that a man would come the next day with the truth. It happened as was dreamed and Grau was baptized and then a month latter he baptized his wife Magdalena in Acco Bay. Magdalena's grave has the image of a flying angel and the scripture from Revelations about "another angel flying in the midst of heaven..." The grave stones of the two missionaries are marble pillars broken off near the base to indicate lives cut short. It was a touching emotional visit as we talked about serving God wherever called. We sang "I'll go where you want me to go."

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Ascension

Today we walked southward along the crest of the Mount of Olives. Our first stop was at the Dome of the Ascension. It is now a Muslim mosque, but once upon a time it was a large Byzantine church with an open dome over a rock imprint of the foot of Jesus as He left the earth to ascend into heaven. A crusader church came next and then a Muslim mosque.
The small dome of the ascension is surrounded by an octagonal wall that is built along the foundation and ruins of the crusader church. On the feast of the ascension (forty days after passover) Eastern Christian churches are allowed by the Muslims to come and pitch large awnings and camp over night in this walled enclosure. In the morning worship services are held at several stone altars that remain behind the dome. It is a nice example of shared sacred space and religious tolerance. The Russian Orthodox Steeple of the Ascension is in the distance.
The mihrab (niche) in the south wall points the prayer direction to Mecca. A larger mosque is located next to the entry door so this "mosque" mainly services as a place of pilgrimage for Christians.

The stone rectangle encloses a stone with a foot print--or so people believe.
The ball of Joel's foot is set right into the print.
Pretending to ascend. They could also be shouting Happy Birthday to Grandma Tueller in Lehi.
Walking northward we stopped to buy a dozen eggs at a small shop. All the eggs come in a flat of 30 and so instead of cartons the eggs were gently placed in a paper bag and then carefully carried home by Marie. We then stopped at a small eye glass store. Bilal straightened and tightened glasses for Marie, Sarah and Joel. When I offered to pay him all he said was " go home!" Nice guy. Next stop was Fuad's barber shop. When we passed by earlier, Walter Whipple (a host and organist at the center) was getting his hair cut. When Fuad first cut my hair six weeks ago, he cut it very short and then put some sort of oily tonic on my hair (the kids loved (not) my new look--which lasted only long enough for me to wash it). This time I turned down the tonic. Fuad cuts hair the old fashioned way including a razor trim around the neck.
From the front of Fuad's we look north to "crash corner" where the main east/west road up the Mount of Olives from the Kidron Valley and then down the backside intersects with the main north/south road. The intersection has no lights, stop signs or yield signs so it is always a free-for-all, hence the name crash corner (I believe the name was bequeathed by a previous service couple). The Mount of Olive Pharmacy on the right is where we got the antibiotic for Sarah's strep throat last week. One of the service couple men (Brother Bob Allen) is a retired family practitioner. He and his wife go on every out of country field trip to help with those who get sick. He also treats anyone at the center. He cannot write prescriptions in Israel, but he has worked out an arrangement with this pharmacy for BYU folks to get prescription medicine when needed and when authorized by Brother Allen.
The green grocer at crash corner. It is one of three nice produce shops that we like to frequent. (Note Augusta Victoria behind)
Note the huge cauliflower above Marie's head and the huge cabbage to the right of Will. Tomatoes and cucumbers are year round staples.
I enjoyed great mangoes when we first arrived. Now I am enjoying persimmons and these custard apples (which I enjoyed in Indonesia). Citrus season is just beginning so the kids have sliced oranges every morning for breakfast.
Crossing a large dirt soccer field on the NW corner of crash corner I noticed these wildflowers popping up--they are the by-product of a good rain storm a few weeks ago (the first rain mentioned in Deuteronomy 11:14). With that rain the brown hills are slowly turning green as grass starts to grow after the long dry season. Will's walk to and from preschool passes a great view down through the Judean Wilderness to Jericho. He has designated this area (a nice example of a rain shadow) as the "sandy place" because from his vantage point it does look sandy. He has since noticed that the dusty tan hills of the Judean wilderness are slowly turning green. What an observant boy! Our after lunch walk felt a lot like an early fall day in Utah. We like the cooler weather and the bright clear days.
A nice sunset over Jerusalem (taken from our balcony).
Will's preschool at Augusta Victoria. There are seven foreign kids and twelve Arab kids. This was singing time where they are learning Christmas carols in Arabic, English and German. Tomorrow I leave for the Galilee for 11 days of intensive New Testament classes and field trips. This is always a favorite for the students. Marie and the kids will come up on Friday after school to join me for the final week.