Hannah and Je together

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.

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Second Holy Land Trip – Fortieth Day – Walking in Beit Sahour

The class is supposed to be from Monday to Thursday.  But this week only the class will be from Tuesday to Friday because our teacher has to go to the court for the parking and traffic ticket.  She has to pay several hundred shekels, but she expects to lower it until two or three hundred shekels.

Glass Bead

Glass Bead

I found this glass bead on the street.  The Palestinian kids must play with those.  I also played with those when I was young.  It had so much fun, and I was glad to find the same thing in different country.

Damaged Hosue

Damaged House

Then I went to the house where they got rocket the other day.  The debris were all cleared on the street, and the owner was repairing the house.  I wanted to ask him who pays for the repair, but I could not because he does not speak English, and my Arabic is just beginning – all I can say is greetings and introduction of myself.  After I took this picture and about to leave the site, I heard the children’s laughing from upstairs.  When I looked up again, I saw a young girl, around seven or eight years old, was waving at me with big beautiful smile.  And that smile broke my heart and made me deeply sad.  People tried to kill that beautiful little girl, whichever the rocket is from either Hamas or Israel.  What kind of crazy thing we the people are doing?

PalPay, not PayPal

PalPay, not PayPal

Then I found this.  Many people already know about the “Stars & Bucks,” but maybe not this.  There is Paypal in America, and Palestinians have PalPay.

Beit Sahour Hospital

Beit Sahour Hospital

And it really looks like a Walk-in clinic, but this is Beit Sahour hospital.  And this is even built by Japanese Embassy, not by the Palestinians.  I hope there would be better and bigger general hospital in Bethlehem or in Ramallah, because they need it.

LOL Retaurant

LOL Restaurant

And there is a restaurant named LOL.  I think we read it El-Oh-El in America, but they read it loll here in Beit Sahour.  And later my hosting family told me that this restaurant is owned and run by their relative.  But they said they do not go there because it is too expensive.  It would cost around 40 shekels per person, which is less than $15 which I think not too bad.

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Second Holy Land Trip – Thirty Third Day – Rocket from Hamas

This is my first morning in the house in Beit Sahour, neighbouring city of Bethlehem.  I was having breakfast with the hosting family when the house shook and heard the huge explosion sound.

Building Attacked by a rocket

Building Attacked by a rocket

Everybody was very surprised and stunned, and we went out of the house.  All the neighbours also came out.  We saw black smoke was rising up from the downtown of Beit Sahour.  Because of the lady in this house went to downtown earlier, the host family and I went to the spot right away.  She was not there.  She was safe in other place.  And thank God that no one was killed.

Broken Building Pieces

Broken Building Pieces

There were lots of people and they were a bit angry, and about to be outrageous.  People were asking each other where the rockets are from – Israel or Hamas.  The Palestinian authority took the remain of the rockets, and later I was told from the Palestinian police officer that the rocket is Arabic, and most probably from Hamas.  Then everybody became calm, and they were not angry any longer.  People kept quiet about it, and no one was talking about it.  I saw a Palestinian guy who writes online about the Palestinian life and Israeli oppression on them.  He took a lot of photos, and after he heard that it is from Hamas, he deleted the photos on the street.

It is cease-fire from today which Israel announced one-way.  And I guess Hamas does not want toe cease-fire even though more than 1,800 people of their own were killed.

Palestinian authority officially said it is Arabic rocket, and all the news say the same thing.  And I found that some people began to say that the rocket is Israeli in the evening.  Personally it does not make sense to me because Israel wants to finish the war with Gaza, and why would they want another brand new war with West Bank?  And there is no terrorist organisation in West Bank such as Hamas, consequently Israel has no excuse making war in West Bank.

Last night, I talked with some Palestinians.  They said many Palestinians were killed by Israeli attack, but only a few were killed in Israel.  And also they said it is OK for Gazans to fire rocket because it is not powerful and home-made.  I think that does not make sense as well.  It is not OK for both sides to attack each other no matter how weak the weapons are.  I do not know the owner of the building where it got rocket, but if possible I want to talk to him to ask if it is really OK to get rocket because the rocket is weak and did not kill any.

Saturday, 12 July 2014

Second Holy Land Trip – Ninth Day – Bethlehem and Jericho

I was supposed to go the Negev desert Safari tour.  But when I was picked up from the hotel, I realised that the desert tour was cancelled and they tried to put me in the Dead Sea and Masada tour which I did two days ago.  So I refused and they finally put me to the Bethlehem and Jericho tour.

Church of the Shepherds' field

Church of the Shepherds’ field

We went to Beit Sahour, where I was last night to see Mara with George.  I thought the Shepherds’ field was in Bethlehem last January tour, but I now know that it is in Beit Sahour, the neighbouring town.

Star of Nativity

Star of Nativity

There was not much things to see because I’ve been already there before.  I just took this picture of shining star in one of the caves.  The guide said that it is believe that the three magi stayed in this cave and did not go to king Herod.  And this shepherds’ field is actual the field of Boaz, the grandfather of king David.

Milk Grotto Church

Milk Grotto Church

In Bethlehem, we went to the Milk Grotto Church before we went to the Church of Nativity.  It was nice because the Milk Grotto Church was not covered by last trip.  They believe that the holy family hid in this cave.  And when the Mother Mary was feeding baby Jesus, she slipped a few drops of her milk, and it changed the colour of the rock permanently into white.  So the rock down the cave church is all white.

Church of Nativity

Church of Nativity

Last time, we went to the Church of Nativity, but we were not able to actually go down to the star spot where they believe Jesus was born.  Today, we were also supposed to wait at least two or three hours, but the tour guide divided our group to make it smaller than eight people in a group.  Then the controlling police officers let the small group go in through different entrance.  So we went in without waiting eve five minutes.

Christmas tree in July

Christmas tree in July

We also went to the Catholic Church, and out side of the Catholic church, they made the small tree or bonsai like a Christmas tree.

One thing I found out today is that Jewish tour guides are not allowed to lead the tourists in Palestinian area.  So our Jewish tour guide stayed in the mini bus, and we met local Palestinian tour guide for the entire Bethlehem tour.  Well, I think it is better to have Palestinian tour guide as the McCormick group did last January.  Having George Filmon was very good, I think, in many ways.  He can guide people in both Israel and Palestinian area.  We were able to hear the view-point from the Palestinian side, and he is not actually bias.

Bedouin

Bedouin has satellite dish

On the way to Jericho, we saw many Bedouin homes, much more than January.  If you see the picture above closely, you can see the house animals in the upper part of the photo, and most of them are staying in the shadow because the sunlight is more than even the animals can bear.

11000 year-old tower

11000 year-old tower

It is good to see again the 11,000 years old (the oldest) structure in the world ever found so far.  Those are the very first bricks that humans made.  Because of the invention of bricks, the town and city were made possible.  It is literally the revolutionary invention.

Jericho updated in April 2014

Jericho updated in April 2014

The Jewish guide said something shocking to me.  He said that by the recent excavation in Jericho, the Bible was proven to be truth.  Then I found the new explanation board which is newly updated – 2014 April, which is after McCormick group’s visit.  I need to research more about this.

Elisha's water

Elisha’s water

Then I drank some water at the Elisha’s water fountain.  I would not say more about this because I wrote about it already in the first trip to Jericho.

Mount of Temptation

Mount of Temptation

Then we went to closer to see the Mount of Temptation where Jesus fasted forty days and forty nights, then was temped by Satan.

Zacchaeus' Tree

Zacchaeus’ Tree

We also stopped at Zacchaeus’ tree.  As everybody knows, small Zacchaeus climbed up this tree to see Jesus, and Jesus called him down and stayed his house that night.

Taking Dove

Taking Dove

So I had not that bad day today even though the plan was completely ruined because my original tour was cancelled.  It is not bad to visit the same place again.

But when I came back to Jaffa gate, I saw something unusual.  I found a few people caught the doves, and they just took it.  And the weird thing was that the dove did not fly or flee, it looked quite easy to catch.  I do not know why they take it.  Do they eat it?

After supper, I heard the sirens a few times which means Jerusalem is under rocket attack.

Thursday, 10 July 2014

Second Holy Land Trip – Seventh Day – Masada and Dead Sea

Map of Westbank and Vicinity

Map of West bank and Vicinity

This is the part of the map hanging on the hotel wall.  The name of the map differs according to where you buy it, from Israeli or Palestinian shop.  It could be Map of Israel, or the map of the West bank and vicinity.

Gerald Halbert Park

Gerald Halbert Park

I also used the tour service from the same company.  Unlike yesterday, we gathered at Jerusalem, not Tel Aviv because the destination is through Jerusalem.  We gathered at Gerald Halbert Park where we can see the east side from Jerusalem.  The farthest line of mountains is the Mountains of Edom where the descendants of Esau lived in the Bible.

Ahava Factory

Ahava Factory

Today’s major destinations are Masada and Dead sea beach.  But before we get to the first destination, we stopped at Ahava factory and visitor centre where they produce skin care products from the muds and minerals of dead sea.  Unlike yesterday, it was quite huge group and we used big tour bus.  I had Amir, the Jewish guy as tour guide and a Muslim Palestinian as driver.  As far as I know, Amir is Arabic name meaning “Prince,” and I wonder if it is strange for a Jewish guy to have Arabic name.

Masada from afar

Masada from afar

Masada is one of the most famous place in Israel because of its tragic history.  After the Jerusalem was captured by the Rome, some people came into the Masada and resisted.  Masada, built by Herod, is cliff all around.  But they were hopeless, and killed themselves, and roman soldiers entered easily.  Masada is truly unbreakable place.  All other mountains in the area is cliff, but the tops are all connected but only Masada is separated and cliff all around.

Model of Masada

Model of Masada

This is the model of Masada, and you can see it is cliff all around.  The most amazing thing is that Herod built amazing town and even his palace on the Masada.  It is crazy difficult just climb there but they moved all the huge stones and jars three times bigger than me.

Masada Cablecar

Masada Cable car

There is a very nice cable cars in Masada from the visitor centre to the top of Masada.  Actually I asked Amir, my tour guide, if I can walk up the Masada.  He said they do not allow people to walk up after 9 in the morning because it is too hot.  He, then, checked the temperature and said “This is over 43 degree, and if you walk up that steep hill for more than forty minutes, you may die.” For Americans, 43 celsius is about 110 fahrenheit.

Snake path from above

Snake path from above

This is the walk path, named Snake path.  Even Josephus mentioned this path.  Believe me, this is the most levelled and widest part of the path.  When I got off the bus, the enormous heat from the ground chalked my breath and the sun rays were so strong that I even felt it was pricking my skin.  I am glad that I did not walk.

Original Wall painting in Masada

Original Wall painting in Masada

When we walk up there, all buildings have black lines.  Above the line is renovated by scholars, but below the black line is original and untouched at all.  The painting on the wall is genuine from the Herod’s era.  How amazing that the painting is so lively preserved!

Herod's Palace on the edge of Masada

Herod’s Palace on the edge of Masada

At the edge of the Masada, Herod built three level’s palace for himself.  This is the second level viewed from the top-level.  Herod, Herod, Herod.  McCormick group may remember that we heard his name every single day no matter where we go.  If not him, Jews and Israel would have had almost nothing because he built almost everything.

Ritual Bath of Masada

Ritual Bath of Masada

Amir the tour guide said that Herod was (or at least tried very hard) more Jewish than Jews, and more roman than Romans.  This is one of the more Jewish thing for him.  He built ritual bath and baptismal bath upon the high Masada.  And all the arts in Masada is just pattern.  There is not even single image of anything such as animal or human.

Hot Bath on Masada

Hot Bath on Masada

This is another proof that he was more roman than Romans.  He equipped Masada with cold and hot bath.  And this is the hot bath.  The bottom part is where they make fire and burn stuff which would heat up the floor, and the floor eventually heat up the water.  The smoke escapes through the channel, and out of the root side, so the people in the bath place would not small anything.

Small Cistern on Masada

Small Cistern on Masada

This is desert area, where there is almost no rain.  I mean, almost.  The guide said it rains two or three times a year, sometimes once in three years.  To survive in the place like Masada, they have to gather and store the rain water, even a drop.  This is a cistern upon Masada, and it is small one.

Model for Rain water collecting system of Masada

Model for Rain water collecting system of Masada

Herod built another system, way bigger system to collect the rain water from all neighbouring areas, using the gravity, he stored the water under Masada.  Because of the great water system, the Jews protesting had enough water while Roman soldiers had trouble because of no water – they got the water from Ein Gedi which is very far from here.  Well, I have to say that it is very un-roman.

Synagogue on Masada

Synagogue on Masada

To be more Jewish, Herod also built a synagogue upon Masada.  This is the synagogue, and it also has scribe’s room.  I saw another scribe was working here, as in Qazrin, writing and selling blessings to the tourists.

Dovecot on Masada

Dovecot on Masada

What did they eat?  They found lots of dates pits (they even planted the pits and it became the actual date tree – revived in 2,000 years)  They also had a dovecot where they kept and grew doves, which is Kosher meat with right amount of portion.  Cow or bull is very hard to raise in Masada, and even bringing them up would have been impossible.  The cow provides too much meat, but the dove has right amount of meat to be a meal for couple of people.  This is the dovecot on Masada.  How can’t I say Herod the great!

View from Masada Restaurant

View from Masada Restaurant

This is the view from the Masada restaurant through the window.  Oh how beautiful the dead sea is!

Reading on the Dead Sea

Reading on the Dead Sea

Then we went to the Dead Sea Mineral Beach.  It is my second time to be in the dead sea.  It is always fun to be there and play reading which I cannot actually read (it was Arabic paper).

Dead Sea skincare

Dead Sea skin care

This time, I covered myself with the dead sea mud.  Even now, late at night, my skin is very soft and smooth, and I love my skin so much!!

Hot Mineral Spa of Dead Sea

Hot Mineral Spa of Dead Sea

They also have “free” hot spa with the dead sea water.  As you may know, dead sea water is ten times saltier than the sea water.  If you taste it, you will not taste saltiness, but the extreme bitterness.  You can taste a little bit, but you should not drink it.  The guide said if you drink a cup, you will die.

Rocket trail on the sky

Rocket trail on the sky

Then we came back to Jerusalem and I got off at David Citadel Hotel.  It was beautiful day.  Look at the picture above.  How beautiful it is!  I cross the road and I looked up the sky at Mamilla Street and King Solomon Street, which is the entrance to the Mamilla mall, and which is five minutes walk from my hotel.  There was a rocket flying and coming down, but it was shot down in the sky.  My crappy camera was not fast enough to take the photo of it, but it just got the trace of it.  Does it look like a cloud or aircraft trace?  It is actually the rocket trace from Hamas that reached Jerusalem!  I circled the rocket trace with black pencil so that it can be easily spotted.

The CNN news says that the number of casualties of Palestinians and Israelis are 81:0.  This is just one of the many big news here.  The news talks more about US immigration, US-Germany spy, and massive shooting in Texas.

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