HOLYLAND EXPERIENCE AS SHARED BY ONE OF OUR OWN
Traveled with a church Group from Nairobi in what was billed to be a very exciting and fulfilling journey, and it Truly lived up to my expectations. I must add that this journey is a marathon, and involves lots of walking for a full 10 Days! But you can feel the energy and the enthusiasm even with the Senior citizens travelers (who are majority in most church groups by the way) to complete this Epic journey. Our adventure started in Cairo, Egypt. Did you know that Pyramids were actually Tombs for the Kings and they were always built on the Western bank of River Nile? The Giza Plateau, a formation of three pyramids, where a father, son, and grandson constructed their afterlife tombs and mapped their journeys to the afterlife. It’s still a bit of a mystery as to how the pyramids were constructed and how long they took to complete. But there’s no question that the pyramids still represent the pinnacle of ancient Egyptian architectural accomplishments. We also visited Cairo’s antique churches. Al Moallaqa (the Suspended church) was built on the remains of the Roman fortress of Babylon, built at the turn of the IV century. A wood carving represents Jesus Christ entering Jerusalem. The Abu Sega Church, which dates from the IV century a.c, was used by the holy family as a shelter on their escaping from King Herod. Virgin’s church, one of the modern churches and has an especial importance after news spread of the appearance of the Virgin Mary on one of its tombs. The drive from Cairo to St. Catherine, the base of Mt. Sinai was very very long, through the desert. We crossed the Suez Canal that links the RED sea with the Mediterranean through The Ahmed Hamdi Tunnel, a 1640 metre long tunnel under the Suez Canal. But then we had a major challenge because the regular route was closed due to flash floods in the Sinai area, so we had to use a much longer route, through Sharm el Sheikh (a beautiful sea resort area on the red sea) and we finally arrived in St. Catherine after 14hours!Hotels here are very basic, we stayed at Wadi el Raha, among the best that can be found in that wilderness area. Anyway it served the purpose, as most of us didn’t have the use for a bed coz we spent the night climbing Mt. Sinai! The climb is quite a tough challenge for people of all ages, especially ascending the last 750 steps you will be literally crawling! On average it will take you 5 to 7 hours to ascend and descend. By the time you reach the base of the mountain in the early morning, you can clearly understand why Moses could break the Ten Commandments when he got the Israelites engaging in idolatry. Another 3 hours drive will get you to Taba, the border town of Egypt & Israel. Taba is another fantastic resort area with very good hotels. Crossing into Israel was smooth and no challenges experienced through both immigration. We drove to Visit Qumran, the caves where the Dead Sea Scrolls were found, Visited the Dead Sea – the lowest point on earth and for sure even non swimmers could float in its waters!, Drove to Jericho, the oldest city in the world, and viewed Mt. Temptation where Jesus was tempted by the devil. Then drove further North to Galilee. In Galilee area, we explored the charm and beauty of the blessed area of the Sea of Galilee and enjoyed a Boat Ride. We visited Kibbutz Shaar Hagolan to learn about Israel advanced farming methods. Visited the village of Cana, where Jesus performed His first Miracle, changing water into wine at the wedding feast. While in Galilee, try St. Peters RESTAURANT, a restaurant that serves fish dishes, it’s simply the best, gives you the feeling that you are actually feasting on the same fish that Jesus and his disciples had. We visited Capernaum – the Town of Jesus, the center of Jesus’ ministry with its many churches like the Church of the Multiplication of the Loaves and Fish, The expressive Church of the Beatitudes, where Jesus gave the Sermon on the Mount, The Church of Primacy of Peter, and to crown it all we visited Yardenit baptismal site on River Jordan before driving to Jerusalem. Jerusalem is a very complicated city, it’s a city that straddles the border between Israel and the West Bank. It’s home to some of the holiest sites in both Judaism and Islam, and so both Israel and Palestine want to make it their capital. How to split the city fairly remains one of the fundamental issues dividing Israelis and Palestinians. It’s a really complicated system, its common to hear that ‘you are now in Palestine territory but driving on an Israeli road’! Anyway back to the sites, we ascended the Mt. of Olives for a panoramic view of Jerusalem. Visited the Church of the Ascension, which commemorates the ascent of Jesus to Heaven. The Pater Noster Church. Walked down the Sunday Palm Road, visited Garden of Gethsemane where Jesus prayed while Judas betrayed him to the Romans. Then visited Ein Karem, where John the Baptist was born, and also visited the Church of the Visitation. We visited Bethlehem, which is part of the Jerusalem metropolitan – to visit The Church of the Nativity, The birthplace of Jesus. We also entered the walls of the Old City of Jerusalem, divided into four quarters: the Muslim Quarter, the Christian Quarter, the Armenian Quarter and the Jewish Quarter. Most popular site hers is The Western Wall (Wailing Wall) – the site most sacred to the Jewish nation. Walked along the Via Dolorosa (Way of Grief), traditionally accepted as the last route trodden by Jesus. Follow the Stations of the Cross to Golgotha and crowned our day with a visit the Garden Tomb. This is truly a life changing experience and a MUST for all Christians, at least once in a lifetime experience!
SHALOM BROTHERS AND SISTERS!