Thursday, March 24, 2011

Israel Trip - Day Eight

Dear family and friends~

Another early start today, from the Gloria Hotel.

After breakfast, we walked through the narrow streets of Jerusalem to the Western Wall...a very holy place for Jews. Prayers are offered silently, out loud, or written on slips of paper and placed in the cracks of the Wall. The left side of the Wall is for men only...women pray on the right, and there is a divider between the two sides.

The Wall was where Chuck had a mission to complete. His good friend, Tom, is Jewish. Chuck asked if he could bring Tom's yarmulke (skullcap) with him on this trip. Tom said he would be honored. Chuck said it was he who would be honored. So we brought his yarmulke and his prayer. Chuck bought a beautiful prayer shawl for Tom. Today he put on the yarmulke and shawl, and placed Tom's prayer....and his own the wall. The picture is of Chuck at the Wall.

I placed my prayer in the Wall, too. It was an emotional experience for both of us.

We went next to the Dome of the Rock, which was the site of the original Temple of Jerusalem. It is now a Muslim holy place, and the building is not open to tourists...only the area surrounding it.

We went to the Church of St. Anne...mother of Mary...and grandmother of Jesus. The church was full of people, and they were all singing together. When one song ended, someone else started another. Someone in our group started singing “Amazing Grace”, and everyone joined in. It was beautiful.

Right next to the church is the Pool of Bethesda, where Jesus met the man who was unable to walk. The man said “I have no one to help me into the healing waters of the pool.” Jesus told him, “Take up your mat, and walk.” He was healed.

We continued on to the Via Dolorosa (the way of suffering). There are 14 stations along the way...each showing part of Christ's suffering and death. The last stations are in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre (also called the Church of the Resurrection). The site is venerated as Golgotha (the Hill of Calvary), where Jesus was crucified, and is said to also contain the place where Jesus was buried (the sepulchre). The church has been an important Christian pilgrimage destination since at least the 4th century, as the purported site of the resurrection of Jesus. The second picture was taken inside the sepulchre.

We headed to Papa Andreas' restaurant for lunch, and said goodbye to our guide, Tony. He has taught us SO much, and we're all sad to say goodbye. The good news is that he may be in Minnesota in 2012, so we'll get to see him again. Now we have two people we care about personally in Israel...Tony and Ihab. We pray that they, and their families, will always be safe.

Chuck and Dawn

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