Hannah and Je together

Monday, 25 August 2014

Second Holy Land Trip – Fifty Fourth Day – Herodyum National Park

I was supposed to have a class Arabic class, but the teacher got another parking ticket and went to the court to get some discount, and the class was cancelled.  So I decided to go to Herodyum (or Herodion) National Park.  When I asked my host family, they told me to get a taxi, but I wanted to walk there if that is a walkable distance.

Google Maps Sucks

Google Maps Sucks

When I looked for the route on Google Maps, it showed me 6 hours and 16 minutes.  But it goes around so much, so I abandoned the Google Maps and trusted on my guts.  Actually Google Maps on Palestine is almost useless, not even giving clear satellite images and the roads are wrong many times.

Herodyum from afar

Herodyum from afar

I did not have a compass nor a map.  But I had a watch, and the sun.  I already knew that the Herodyum is almost direct south but little bit eastward.  And if I know the time, then I can tell the four directions (east, west, north, and south).  And when I walked almost half way, I began to see the Herodyum.

Sheep and Goats

Sheep and Goats

It is now pretty much normal to see the sheep and goats.  Can you tell the sheep from the goats?  It is easy to tell because they look different, but hard to explain.  One easiest thing is the tail.  Goats’ tails are lifted up while the sheep’s tails are fell down.

Olive trees are everywhere

Olive trees are everywhere

I walked totalling hour and half on one way.  And I saw so many olive trees.  I even felt like that it must be a law to plant olive trees wherever possible.  There are also many wild cats and dogs.  And on the way, a huge wild dog barked at me from afar.  Usually wild dogs here avoid people, but it barked at me, so I picked up several stones in case, and walked slowly.  Thankfully it just went its way and nothing happened.

Herodyum from closer spot than before

Herodyum from closer spot than before

And I went closer and closer to the Herodyum.  As I wrote above, it took an hour and half, not six hours and sixteen minutes.  My guts are much better than Google Maps.  Well, frankly speaking, I cannot say it is my guts because I was trained for this when I was in the army.  I can tell the direction at night as well with the moon.  It is little more complicated but not that difficult.  With the sun, you need to know the time, and the location of the sun.  With the moon, you need to know the time and the location of the sun too.  How do I know the location of the sun at night?  With the location and the phase of the moon, you can tell the location of the sun.  Actually the time is not necessary because if you know the location of the sun, you also know the time.

Top Palace Model

Top Palace Model

This the model of the top palace.  There are two palaces in Herodyum – top and lower.  But the lower palace was not ready for the visitors, so I could not enter, but I saw it from above.

Top Palace Ruin

Top Palace Ruin

This is the top palace remains.  That round ruin is original watch tower (even before Jehovah’s witness).  Herodyum was an integrated entertainment place, having almost everything here.

Herodyum Tunnel

Herodyum Tunnel

There was a tunnel and water system.  It goes down quite a lot, and has huge cistern.

Royal Theatre

Royal Theatre

The other side of the mountain, there was a royal theatre.  It was not a huge size like in Caesarea.  But it was not for the people but for Herod’s personal and private use.  So it does not have to be big in size.

Herod's Tomb Model

Herod’s Tomb Model

And there is also his tomb.  Herod was buried here, of course his tomb was already destroyed and forgotten, but it was found around 2007 (if I remember right).  This is the model of his tomb.

Israeli Army base seen from above

Israeli Army base seen from above

This is clearly Palestine territory, but the Herodyum is Israeli National Park, and Israel government manages.  There are also Israel settlements, and to protect them, they installed army base.

Herodyum Model

Herodyum Model

This is the whole model of Herodyum.  Herodyum is one of the highest point in this area, so you can see and control the whole region.

USAID

USAID

When I was walking back (I walked another hour and half), I saw a few USAID signs.  It is good to see those signs because it means America is doing some good things.

Kids on barefoot

Kids on barefoot

The Palestinians kids were playing barefoot.  I was worried if they were OK.  This is not a tourist area, and no foreigner comes here, and they looked like that they saw non-Palestinian for the first time.

Steeper than it looks

Steeper than it looks

I took this picture from on a hill to the other hill.  It may not look that steep in the picture, but it is crazy steep, and I had to walk up and down, up and down, and again for three hours today.  People always live on the mountain (hill) tops.  It is of course for the protection from the enemies (from the ancient times).  But the mountain tops are less hot than the valleys.  And there are always winds on mountain tops, so if you sweat, it cools you down quite a lot because it is dry here and the wind is constant.

When I walked almost half way, a car stopped and offered me ride.  I said no because I wanted to walk and see the village and people.  He asked me where I go, so I told him that my house is near the YMCA in Beit Sahour.  He said to me that he would give me a ride with so cheap price because he is not a taxi driver and taxis are expensive.  I did not even ask the price but just said “Thank you but I am OK to walk.”  He then told me, “Just 100 shekels.”  I know the taxi price.  From the spot I was to my home is about 15 shekels.  What the freak is he?  I am really on the Palestinians’ side on the matter of Israel-Palestine conflict and civilian victims, but honestly, Palestinians try their best to rip off the strangers.  The other day I bought a bottle of water for a shekel and half.  I spoke Arabic, but another guy speaking English bought the same for three shekels.  I can say that was cute, but trying to get 100 shekels from me with 15 shekels’ driving is not cute at all.  So I told the driver for the last time, “Shukran Ktir, bass Ana BID-DI aruf.”  This means, “Thank you very much, but I WANT TO walk.”  Then he left.

Thorns in our hearts

Thorns in our hearts

If you go to any field where no one ploughs and works on, the field is full of thorns.  And I just thought that if we do not plough their hearts with God’s teaching and love, our hearts will be full of thorns – hatred and anger towards others.  Even though this is the Holy Land, the root of three religions, the believers do not plough their hearts with God’s true teaching and their hearts are full of thorns, and that is expressed by the violent conflicts between the Jews and Muslims.

Sunday, 24 August 2014

Second Holy Land Trip – Fifty Third Day – Baraka Presbyterian Church in Bethlehem

The first day I came here, I found the sign of Presbyterian Church in front of the house where I am staying.  But my hosting family told me that they have not seen them worship on Sundays.

Church Entrance

Church Entrance

My hosting family told me that they heard of bigger Presbyterian church in Bethlehem, not do not know the exact location.  As a favour to me, the father of the family called his neighbour this morning who is in the Beit Sahour Presbyterian Church (the official name is Shepherds’ Field Presbyterian Church), and asked the location.  It was on the Hebron street, and he gave me ride there.

Church Building

Church Building

The church was on the down-side of the road (everywhere here is hill).  So the ground floor from my side (west) is underground level 1 from the other side (east).

Common Room in the church with pingpong table

Common Room in the church with ping-pong table

When you go in, you get to the back of the sanctuary.  And on the right, there is a door to the common room for after service refreshments.  There is a ping-pong table for the youth activities.

Simultaneous Translator Receiver

Simultaneous Translator Receiver

From the common room, you can enter the tech room where they control the overhead projector and computer, sound mixer and everything.  Even they have simultaneous translator equipment.  Today, a guy was translating in the tech room only for me.

Christmas Year Round

Christmas Year Round

In Bethlehem, it is Christmas year round.

Childrens' Story Time

Children’s Story Time

The service was much like ours in Canada or America (I mean PCC or PCUSA).  And there were about or little more than fifty people including children.  There was a Children’s story time, and then they went for Sunday School.  Though the service was much like ours, the demographic was quite different.  They are mostly young parents, probably around 20s and 30s.  I think that is good sign because even here, the church goers are mostly seniors for Greek Orthodox.  And the service was about hour and half (thank God it is not three hours like Greek Orthodox).

Back to School Gift

Back to School Gift

All the children were given a gift package at the Sunday school because the school begins tomorrow.

Playground at Church

Playground at Church

I know the churches in North America usually have yards and some rich Churches (like my church which is Knox Presbyterian Church in Naperville) have even its own playground.  That is not true for churches in Korea.  I also haven’t seen any playground at Greek Orthodox Churches.  But this Presbyterian church has its own small playground.  I love it!

Olive Everywhere

Olive Everywhere

And it is kind of law in Palestine and Israel that where there is yard, there are olive trees.

I found that the Presbyterian church in Beit Sahour comes here to join the Sunday service because they do not have a lot of people, and it is the daughter church of Baraka Bethlehem Presbyterian Church.  They also have a day-care and education centre in Beit Sahour.  So instead of walking back hour and twenty minutes, I got a ride back home.  And thank God that the Beit Sahour Presbyterian church is literally right next door!

In the refreshments, people asked me a few questions such as if I am alone.  I guess they meant if I am single because they also told me that they have good Christian girls.  So I told them “Ana mit-jawiz,” which means I am married.  Another lady asked me how long I’ve been here.  I asked her back, “in Palestine?”  Then she said, “Thank you for saying Palestine.”  To give you an advice who wants to travel West Bank later, it is not safe to call there “Israel,” and they do not really like to be called “West Bank” either.  They are happy when they hear “Palestine.”

Who knows this?

Who remembers this?

They sell some souvenirs in the church along with some Christian music.  Some of them are in cassette tape.  I cannot really remember when was the last time that I listened to the cassette tape.  And I don’t have a cassette tape player, so I could not buy this one even though it was cheaper.  But does not the sales mean people actually listens to it?

Arabic Gospel CD

Arabic Gospel CD

Instead of the cassette tape, I bought a gospel music CD in Arabic.  I can borrow this CD if you are my neighbour and you want it.  The church was selling it for 30 shekels.  And I found later that it is cheaper if you buy it at Amazon.  But that is OK, it is just 5 shekels (which is about $2), and I may think I helped the church.

It is not related to today’s topic, but: the father of this hosting family installed an alarm app from the Israeli government that warns the location and sounds the siren when the missile launch was detected from Gaza so that people can run to the shelter. And it sounds the siren twice every minute, literally.  But the location is mostly southern Israel, so we don’t have to run.  Well, actually we don’t have a shelter to run in Beit Sahour or any Palestinian area in West Bank.

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Israel Trip Thirteenth Day: Hazor, Dan, Banyas, Tabgha

Today was field study day without any speaker.

Wall of Hazor

Wall of Hazor

We went to Hazor first. It is one of the strong fortress which Solomon built to strengthen his kingdom. Just as other ancient sites, it is also built upon older town, and it has twenty different layers. Among the layers, scholars found total black layer which means it was burnt totally. Not just a small fire, but total destruction. And the date matches with Joshua’s invasion.

Burnt and Broken Stones

Burnt and Broken Stones

These are some of the remained burnt stones. They are very strong stone, but in the great fire, they broke like this.

Biggest Source of Jordan

Biggest Source of Jordan

Then we went to ancient location of the tribe of Dan. And we found the beginning of Jordan river. The sound was so good. This is from Ezekiel 43.2: “and his voice was like a noise of many waters.”

Dan Trail

Dan Trail

Then we had nice hiking through and along the trees and forest.

Altar at Dan

Altar at Dan

We found the altar and worshipping place built by Ahab, so that people in northern kingdom would not go to Jerusalem to worship God. The iron bars marks the actual size of original altar. It is so huge. And behind the altar, we can see the elevated site where Korean people from Hanaro Church sat. It is like Ziggurat and it is typical to be with the altar.

Israeli Gate

Israeli Gate

Then we found a Israelite city gate, probably built by a Northern king.

Canaanite Gate

Canaanite Gate

If we go around the Israelite gate, archaeologists found and dug Canaanite gate. It is at least 1,000 years older than the previous Israelite gate. And possibly Abraham went through that gate.

Mount Hermon

Mount Hermon

This is mount Hermon. It is Psalm 133.3: “As the dew of Hermon, and as the dew that descended upon the mountains of Zion: for there the Lord commanded the blessing, even life for evermore.” And many people believes that this mountain is where Jesus transfigured himself.

Zeus Temple

Zeus Temple

Then we went to Banyas. Its name in Jesus time was Caesarea Philippi, and is under the Mount Hermon (so-called Mount Transfiguration) in Golan Height. This is the temple of Zeus. There are many temples for Pan, sacred goat, and August of course. It is built by Herod. Wherever we go, we hear the name of Herod at least once a day.

Cave in Banyas

Cave in Banyas

This is a cave there. And probably somewhere around here Jesus asked his disciples who does the people say he is. It is from Matthew 16.13: “When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am?”

Roman Bridge

Roman Bridge

People began to go back to the bus, and I ran farther with D’Angelo and Eileen as far as we can run. We saw more of the Herod’s structure, and saw this roman bridge.

K-Bab, Original Taste of Galilee

K-Bab, Original Taste of Galilee

We stopped at a highway rest area and went in K Bab, “Original Taste of Galilee,” to find out it is one of the best restaurants we been to so far.

Heptapegon Church

Church of Multiplication

Then we went to the church of the multiplication where Jesus blessed two fish and five loaves to feed five thousand men (without counting women and kids). The church was built upon a rock which you can see under the table. And it is believed that Jesus put the loaves and fish on the rock to bless.

Floor Pattern

Floor Pattern

This is ancient church built upon another church. And we found some so beautiful floor mosaics even from 4th century. The courtyard was one of the best place to enjoy the peace and meditate. They have an olive tree in the centre, and running water with beautiful sound and lots of Koi fish. Koi is Japanese word for the fish, and at the same time, it means love, too.

Papyrus

Papyrus

We found the famous Papyrus in the courtyard too, where the word ‘paper’ came from.

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And my favourite – flowers.

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Israel Trip Sixth Day: Mount Olive, City of David, Gethsemane, Shepherds Field and Home Demolition

Today we went to Mount Olive first time.

View from Mount Olive

View from Mount Olive

In the picture above, you can recognise the dome, and probably the temple wall. In front of the temple wall, you can see the Kidron Valley, and on the left side, you can see that famous Hinnom Valley.

Another View from Mount Olive

Another View from Mount Olive

This is a nice view with the Golden Dome from the Mount Olive. Jesus probably saw the similar things, except the Golden Dome and the houses in the north and west. He saw and wept. I was awed at this sight. Living in Seoul and Chicago, I am very much accustomed to the skyscrapers and giant buildings, and still awed at this. I cannot imagine how much the ancient people would have been awed at this. It is said that the Herod’s temple is the largest temple in the history (as a single platform temple). This view from Mount Olive is amazing. On the Palm Sunday, Jesus went into the city riding on a donkey. Mount Olive is on the east of Jerusalem. Shouting crowd, Palm branches, East, Sun on the back… everything indicates Messiah.

Gethsemane from Mount Olive

Gethsemane from Mount Olive

This is the Gethsemane from afar. It is very close to the city.

Necropolis, the city of the dead

Necropolis, the city of the dead

This is necropolis. In Israel’s burial custom, they put the dead body in the tomb and wait until it is totally decayed leaving bones only. Then they collect the bones and put them in a stone box with the name. In the necropolis, you can see all the bone boxes. And they put some perfume on the dead body so that it does not smell too much when the family comes to collect the bone. That is why Jesus said the lady was preparing for his funeral when she put the perfume on him.

Solomon's Wall

Solomon’s Wall

Then we went to the south side of the temple wall, just under the Al Aqsa Mosque. And this is the Solomon’s temple wall remains.

City of David

City of David

City of David was our next destination.

Royal Toilet Bowl

Royal Toilet Bowl

This is the toilet bowl from the Palace of David. It must be personal rest room for very important person, probably a king. You cannot say that David did not use it. It also has running water.

City of David, Image

City of David, Image

This is nice picture showing the City of David and the Temple in the OT times. The bottom half is the picture of modern-day at the same place. The white big thing in the middle is David’s Palace, and I can understand how and why David saw the bathing scene.

Water System

Water System

And we went to the water system, kind of secret one. They went to this passage to carry the water.

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Then we saw the Canaanite Wall next to it. David and his commanders saw this wall. And the Canaanites stood a blind man and a lame man to mock David. That means not only ancient Canaanites had crude sense of humour, but also they were so confident about their wall.

Hezekiah Wall Image

Hezekiah Wall Image

At the drawing above, the left side is Canaanite Wall. And the right is Hezekiah’s protection of the spring. And the Hezekiah’s tunnel (for water) is underground from the spring into the city.

Canaanite Tunnel

Canaanite Tunnel

David must went through this tunnel.

Hezekiah's Tunnel

Hezekiah’s Tunnel

Not all, but some of McCormick group went through the Hezekiah’s tunnel. It is actually water way. Hezekiah knew that the Assyrians coming, and the people inside the wall needed water, so he dug the water way so that they can get fresh water without going out of the city.

Water in the Tunnel

Water in the Tunnel

You can see the water is still flowing, and I actually tasted – surprisingly it was good.

Siloam

Siloam

At the end of the tunnel, we met the Siloam where Jesus healed the blind man.

Gethsemane Basilica

Gethsemane Basilica

Then we went to Gethsemane. It is the Basilica (or Church) of Agony.

Olive Trees

Olive Trees

Next to the Basilica, there is still a garden, and the biologists say those olive trees are more than 2,000 years old which means, Jesus must have seen them.

Jesus was arrested while he was praying here. Standing here, I realised that this Gethsemane is the middle point between the city and Judean wilderness. If he wanted, it is 100% possible for him to flee to where David fled. But he did NOT which means he meant his death and sacrifice.

Inside the Basilica

Inside the Basilica

Inside the Church is so beautiful. The ceilings, windows, front patterns, drawings… and everything.

View from Gethsemane

View from Gethsemane

This is the view of the temple mount and the golden dome from the Gethsemane. It was not zoomed. It just shows how close it is to the temple. Until now, I had no idea when I was reading the Bible without any knowledge of geography even though I read the maps. When Jesus was taken from the Gethsemane to the temple, and to the Pontius Pilate, and to Herod, it sounded to me like from Kansas city, to Chicago, and to Washington D.C. How can they travel in ONE day? But now I experienced and knew the distance and everything, it makes sense.

Mango Juice

Mango Juice

We went to Bethlehem and had lunch at Palestinian restaurant. See the bottle that it is filled up to the top. In America, the bottles always has some room in case of freezing. And here, this means that there is no chance to freeze.

Chicken Pita

Chicken Pita

This is chicken pita, and it was super delicious but pricier than that I expected – 40 NIS. I may skip the lunch tomorrow.

Shepherds' Field

Shepherds’ Field

Then we went to Shepherds’ Field where the angels came and told the shepherds about the birth of the Saviour. There are three places recognised as shepherds’ field, but this is Catholic one. This is the rock where the shepherds rested and probably saw the angels.

Shepherds Field Church Inside

Shepherds Field Church Inside

Inside the Church is quite beautiful and small. The acoustic is very good, but I think it was better at the St. Anne’s Church.

Shepherds Field Church Outside

Shepherds Field Church Outside

In the shepherds’ Field Church, anything down is shepherd and anything up is angel.

Terrace Agriculture

Terrace Agriculture

While we were moving on the bus, our local guide George explained us about the oldest way of agriculture. It was making a terrace as seen on the picture above. Here, the land is chalk. They dig the chalk in a row shape, and put good soil on it, and plant. And the chalk does not absorb the water, so the water flows down to the next terrace. Then you can just water only the top row. On the sites like this, it is easy to find some good soil, some chalk and bad soil, the rocks, some thorns. And this is perfectly fit with the parable of Jesus.

Palestinian Area

Palestinian Area

Then we met Chaska(?) from the Israeli Committee Against Home Demolitions. She is very passionate and energetic Jewish woman who works and fights for the human rights of Palestinians. The photo above shows the ghetto Palestinian area without any trees. I actually drove through there, and it was so crappy, dirty, and all infrastructure was so bad, and not maintained by the government at all.

Jewish Area

Jewish Area

This is Jewish area. There are lots of trees, and high buildings. And above all, she said, Jewish area anywhere is identified by the landmark of cranes which means continuous development.

Jewish and Palestinian Resident

Jewish and Palestinian Resident

Israel government builds Jewish settlement in the heart of the Palestinian area. Here the front row is Jewish apartment which is nice and does not have any black water tank. They get enough water. Far back of the photo, you can see  the small black dots which are the water tanks. Because the government does not work on the infrastructure, they have to connect the water by themselves while they pay the same amount of water bills. And mostly they connect too many on one pipe and the water pressure drops down. That is why they must install water tanks.

Separation Wall

Separation Wall

Many, actually most of the Palestine communities are separated by the giant walls and disconnected from the neighbouring community. And they don’t have the freedom to move. This is the separation wall in Jerusalem.

House Demolition Site

House Demolition Site

This is the scene of home demolition. Israel government does not allow the Palestinians new house building permit. But they have to build. And later Israeli government give them warning of demolition. And then later suddenly they come around 1-3am and destroy the house. It is total operation with the demolition team, military, and police.

In my opinion, Israel government simply want them just disappear.

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