Today started off with the important stuff. Shopping. 🙂 We drove up to Bethlehem and went to a Palestinian Christian shop. Bethlehem is in Palestine. I was able to spend quite a bit of money there:) Here is a view of Jerusalem from Bethlehem. Beautiful.
After that we were able to visit a Baptist Church in Bethlehem. The Pastor gave us his testimony and told us a bit about working with Palestinians and some of the hardships he faces being a minority there. It was cool to see someone who had a work permit for the States after school, but went back to be with his own people and work with them.
We all know what Bethlehem is famous for right?:) The church that was built around the birthplace of Jesus is the oldest church in the world! That’s an amazing experience just to know you’re standing in that old of a building. You can go down into a tunnel and there is a manger there and this star on the floor that is supposed to mark the spot where Jesus was born.
The history in this church is amazing. It was the only one not destroyed by the Persians in Israel because the facade had a mosaic of the three wise men from Persia, so they saved it as a holy site. Pretty cool stuff. Here is a mosaic that they saved and hung as art.
The original church is split between three denominations with the largest part being Greek Orthodox since that is the main Christian denomination in Bethlehem. The Catholic part is pictured below. Apparently that is where they televise a mass from every year at Christmas, which I didn’t know:)
Silent Night, O Little Town of Bethlehem, and Joy to the World were the songs that we sang in a Shepherd’s cave in an area called The Shepherd’s Fields. It sounded beautiful in there! Our tour guide reminded us that shepherds were, and still are in Israel, some of the most common, simple people, yet God chose them to be the first ones to hear of the birth of the Saviour. Tells us a lot! They had a beautiful nativity scene carved out of Olive wood set up in the cave.
On that property was a small Catholic church built by Canadians, so of course we sang O Canada in there:) The acoustics were amazing! They had beautiful paintings on the wall so I thought I’d show you the one of the angels coming to the Shepherds.
Our last stop of the day was the Mount of Olives. It was the place that Jesus was centred in Jerusalem. From there we could overlook the city and got a history and geography lesson before we go see many of the sites in the city tomorrow. It was great to have the overview!
We are missing the temperatures we had when we were far below sea level at the Sea of Galilee and even the Dead Sea! It was cold and windy but then we FaceTimed our kids tonight and were reminded of how much warmer we still are here than home right now:) So I won’t complain:)
We ended off the day with, you guessed it, more shopping:) The tour gives you some time to go through the market in old Jerusalem. That’s an experience in and of itself! We hung out with the Pennells the whole time so we had someone who knew what they were doing and where they were going:) Tomorrow we will get back to the serious places of the end of Jesus’ life.