I have put off until last the compiling of the summary of this day.  There are several reasons, but the one that stands out most is that the day really started terribly.  But in the end it was a good day – and we are all again exhausted and tired and full of truth we won’t probably ever really be able to digest.

So I guess let’s start at the beginning of this Friday.  Now, the morning was fine.  I was up and finished up my daily tasks and headed to the roof to see the results of this storm were on the sky and the temperature.  Well, it was beautiful and cool (that’s new on this trip!) and the sky a bright blue.  I some pictures just because – and added one to Instagram just because I could. 

Breakfast was normal.  And delicious.  The choices are not nearly as large as everywhere else – and there is no citrus, but we aren’t losing any weight.  We were to meet down in the lobby at 8:30 am.  Not a problem – we are mostly in the mode by now.  We only have one more day of touring with Andre anyway.  Yikes…that’s a scary thought.

So as we are waiting in the lobby of the hotel, an Indian woman across the way just starts screaming.  The look on her face was horrible, something was definitely wrong.  She was wailing – and her husband was just laying there.  To make a long story short – Karen Garland went over and began to see what was happening.  Someone told the desk to call an ambulance.  It seemed to take forever to get the hotel, but it did finally make it.

In the meantime, Karen spent the next 20 minutes doing CPR on this poor man.  We found out later that he wasn’t staying at the hotel, but groups do like to come and have lunch at our hotel.  His group was having lunch here today, but he wasn’t feeling well, so he came to rest until lunch.  Well, he never made it.  The paramedics came and began to work on him – and finally brought in an emergency defibrillator.  Not sure they could ever use it.  Karen thought he’d been dead a while.  So either a massive heart attack or stroke.  Who can tell?  But that was not a great way to start the day.

But we made it through the experience and prayed for the man and his wife.  Wow.  Can’t imagine what the rest of this day held for her.

We soon headed out to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher – about a 10 minute (at most) walk from our hotel.  What a difference to come first thing in the morning – the courtyard was empty and we could go in and about without being held up with any crowds.  Of course they clean things on Fridays, so the Tomb was again closed.  Two shots this week at going in – one I turned down, the other was snatched from my grasp.  Oh well.  There is nothing authentic about it.

After 40 minutes or so (plenty of time) we were off to the Wohl Archeological Museum.  I had forgotten that I had included that on the tour this time.  Of course, I guess I could look at the itinerary at some point.  Oh well.  Andre did a great job.  Concise.  Relevant.  And we moved through at a great pace.  It was a nice visit, considering where we had just been….and where we were going.

What is most interesting about the ruins excavated in the Jewish Quarter is that the houses are large and multi-stored and very likely home to the religious leadership.  It very well could be that Caiphas had a house here, not on Mt. Zion as tradition would like us to think.  There was a large courtyard and reception hall that could have easily hosted the events surrounding the setup to the passion of the Savior.

Now it was off to Mt. Zion (and a sequence of sites I’m not hugely thrilled to visit).  We walked up through the Zion Gate to Mt. Zion.  It was a beautiful morning – with a blue sky and brilliant white puffy clouds.  It made our pictures pop.

By the way, how about a fun fact.  The rain of the past day was more rain in Jerusalem than in the months of January and February combined.  And that’s the rainy season – there really is not supposed to be rain in May.  Wow, are we in the bonus round or what?

Anyway, back to the day.  We walked to the Upper Room (built by the crusaders).  It was closed for some routine maintenance, so we couldn’t go in.  Then it was to see David’s Tomb.  That too, is Crusader – but it was open, so we peeked inside.  The men and women are separated in his tomb area.  I just put my camera over the rail and snapped a photo of our ladies.  It didn’t turn out too bad.

Then it was down the hill a bit and across the street to St. Peter in Gallicantu.  That’s the church built on perhaps the house of Caiphas, where there was one trial and where he was imprisoned.  The church and grounds are beautiful.  We enjoyed their breathtaking panoramic view and then the church.  We looked down a shaft to where Jesus may have been held captive, and then we went down there.  Jeff read Psalm 88 – a moving account of what the Savior endured there in the darkness of the pit.

We climbed out of the pit and back to the bus.  It was now time for lunch (did I miss something?).  I don’t think so.  We went out next to the US Consulate to a diamond factory for lunch.  I refused the diamond tour, but lunch was good and reasonably priced.

Soon we were back on the bus and cam by the hotel for a short stop and then on to the Mt. of Olives.  The traffic was heavy getting up to the promenade point overlooking the Old City.  It is as breathtaking as ever.  We walked down the Palm Sunday road.  Always a treat.  We stopped at Dominus Flavit (tear drop).  Last time I was hear it was the day of the Jerusalem Marathon and all the tourists were crammed into areas away from the marathon, so I enjoyed the almost empty scenes.  Maybe this is more normal, I don’t know.  But at least by afternoon most tourist buses have been and are now gone. 

We walked first to an old olive grove, up the hill (yes…UP) from Gethsemane.  It was rustic and natural – and amazing.  I shared a devotion from Luke and the spiritual conflict brewing that night.  We contemplated the coming agony and soaked in the environment.

Soon we were headed back down the hill to the Garden of Gethsemane.  The visit there was brief but beautiful.  They are working in the garden doing some landscaping and inside the church there was a Korean service. So it was a bit different.

Back toward the bus…which was headed back to the hotel.  It was a little early, but we were beat and ready for some relaxation.  We gave it half an hour (I worked on website, but the pictures wouldn’t upload after being all labeled, so I had to cancel the upload and redo everything…which is why I am still typing).  Got the pictures up eventually, but not with the labels.  Oh well.  Later.

At 5 pm we headed to the Western Wall to watch Shabbat begin.  Andre said it would be interesting at that early hour (Shabbat/sunset was at 7:25 or so).  But nothing was happening.  So we came back to the hotel so as not to miss dinner.  I was supposed to meet someone from NET I think (but they never showed).  Back to the Western Wall plaza to catch dinner.  Oh, I forgot, I took a few on a shopping spree since nothing was happening at the wall.  That was fun.

Anyway, when I got back to the plaza, Shabbat was in full swing.  The crowd was massive and loud and festive.  There were so many black outfits and hats, it was incredible.  Jeff had gone down inside the wall area, but I didn’t really want to go alone.  But I did drag a few down close and we just stood in awe for a while.  It is an amazing sight.
Well, back to hotel again from the Wall.  Shops were closing up all along the way and the crowd not too significant.  We can make it to the wall in less than 10 minutes from our hotel.  It is downhill all the way (which helps) but uphill all the way back.

So the day ends and I am sleepy.  I think I will turn out the lights and sleep.  Tomorrow we had up into Samaria. Haven’t been there in a very long time – so I am really looking forward to it.  Besides, Andre promises a great lunch in Nablus – and fresh halva.  That’s a breakfast dish of sesame oil.  It’s wonderful.  We’ve had it fresh, but only pre-packaged here.

So that’s one eventful day.  No rain.  Healthy all around.  The goodness of God following us all along the way.

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