5:09 pm


Steps – 16,220
Miles – 6.66


We are back a bit early from the day’s death march, so I can write some of the journal before dinner.  That means I can add to my mileage and step total. Sweet.  It was a good day today, and we covered so much ground this morning (in terms of sites) that we got a reprieve in the afternoon.  But it was a great day.  At least I think so.


We started at 8 am.  Shock.  I don’t think anyone ventured out before breakfast, but I’m not sure since when I got to breakfast only Jerry Bellows was there.  Andre showed up soon and then a few others trickled in.  I think the bulk ate early.  Not me.  Give me the chance and I will rest or prepare something or other in my room.  Breakfast was quiet this morning, there was not a large group in there so it was very nice.


I did talk to the owner this week, they finally have a permit (18 years in the planning) to add a bar to the top floor (with a lovely city view) and a new dining room downstairs which will allow for like 50 more rooms.  It’s a big project.  They hope to have the dining room completed by the end of the year.  I wouldn’t hold my breath.  But progress is being made.
Anyway, we all got going right on time (I think) and headed to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher.  It was crowded, but not like it was going to be after the buses had some time to bring folks from their hotels.  There are advantages to “living” in the Old City.  We had a nice (but shortened) tour of the church.  What was really special was that there was a choir singing at the tomb and some sort of service.  There was organ music and a choir.  Lovely.  We toured the church. Andre really helped to make it meaningful for us non-traditionalists. He did a nice job, actually.


Out of the church and off to the Western Wall.  Andre explained the wall – and then we went for a visit.  Regrouped.  Headed for the line to get up onto the Temple Mount.  The line was long.  Really long.  So Andre and I had a little staff meeting and decided, let’s go through the Archeological Gardens (more quickly than normal) and then get in line for the Temple Mount.  It closes at 11:00 every day, so after 10:00 the line should be much shorter. 


So off we went to tour the market at the base of the Temple Mount wall.  Then up to the steps where Jesus taught.  That remains a powerful place.  Hot.  But powerful.  Then back to the line for the Temple Mount.  And, yes, it was shorter – but it moved quite quickly, actually.  And, for our entertaining pleasure – we got to watch a bar mitzvah go by us.  They music was great and the processional very interesting for us.  By the way, we also got to enjoy bar mitzvahs at the Western Wall.  Always interesting.


Where was I?


Oh yes, on the way up to the Temple Mount.  The line moved quickly and soon we were on the Temple Mount.  It is so large a space that it really doesn’t matter how many tourists are up there.  Andre eventually found some shade and shared some insight.  We didn’t really get to get into what Islam believes (he does that well) because of the limited time up there (and you have to be careful what you say….people will come by and listen).  We had some free time to roam.  I sat in the shade.  By 10:50, people were coming by to shoo us off the Temple Mount.  We obliged.


Next stop on our walk was the Bethesda Pools (Church of St. Anne – where Mary was born).  The acoustics in the church are amazing.  Guess what….it was full!  Never seen it like that.  But a large group was beautifully singing in a language I didn’t know.  Then another group sang “Amazing Grace” in a language I did not know.  All beautiful, however.  But then a young gal started to sing “Amazing Grace” in English.  We joined in for a couple of verses.  Then their leaded hushed us nicely and she sang a verse alone and we joined in the first verse again. It was just lovely.  We then went to the front and Kevin led us (and the church) in the doxology.  For a small group, we were mighty.


Outside to see the Bethesda Pools and read from John 5.  And then we were off again.  Not exactly sure of the time, but it must have been around 11:40 when we began the Via Dolorosa walk.  Andre, again, put it into some meaningful context for us non-traditional evangelicals.  It was nice.  But I kept going because lunch was next.  The rooftop lunch of shawarma.  Best of the trip.  It is such a lovely spot.


At lunch we figured out that we had made such good time that all we had left was the Garden Tomb.  Our appointment was for 4:00 pm.  But Andre called and they agreed to move it up to 2:15.  I had to run back to the hotel and get my Bible.  It is forbidden by the Muslims on the Temple Mount, so I could bring it today.  And with the Lord’s Supper coming, I needed it (and my devotional).  We had half and hour free to roam/shop, and I went for a jog.  Not a bad one though.


The last one to arrive at the meeting spot was none other than Andre.  He was not late, just last.  There is always a first for something on this trip.  Our “15 minute” walk took 25 minutes.  No surprise there.  It’s hard for a large group (and we aren’t that large) to walk through the Old City.  It’s just crowded.  All the time.  But we made it through the Christian Quarter and the Muslim Quarter and the Damascus Gate.  Lots of uphill, by the way.


We enjoyed our tour guide in the (once again) crowded Garden Tomb.  What’s the deal?  It was still peaceful (almost) and special (always).  Our guide was from Paraguay, via the States.  He was great.  Shared the Gospel.  They don’t explain the tomb at the tomb any more, but it is still interesting.


We all got a chance to go into the tomb. Special.


Then we gathered in our assigned area to celebrate the Lord’s Supper.  It was a lovely way to end our days in Jerusalem.
Back to the hotel.  Well, all these shops along the way, guess what we did?  Yes, we did…….

9:12 pm
Steps – 21,265
Miles – 8.66


Perhaps I should have come back to the room after dinner, my feet would not be in such a state of rebellion.  But alas, I want to experience as much of Jerusalem as I can.  And, others (the Budds) wanted to go out.  And at dinner, the Bellows wanted directions to the Western Wall.  Janice has missed the last two days and seeing the wall was something she could make up.  So, I was off to the wall with Kevin and Luann and the Bellows.


The pace for this adventure was much slower than anything we had done in the last ten days. It was nice.  As we got closer Jewish people were definitely in a hurry and I wasn’t sure what was up.  We got close to the final turn to the Kotel (Western Wall) and there was a large group making the turn.  The guards stopped us, but then decided we could go ahead.  But there was a line at the check point.  At first they sent people beyond the check point to just watch from the “balcony.”  That would have meant more steps and crowds for Janice.  Then it seemed to open up again and they let us through.


But something most assuredly was going on at the Western Wall.  A large ceremony (with screens) and a bunch of soldiers.  It was really crowded and there was not much room to stand.  It was way too busy to go down into the plaza and there was no way anyone was going to be allowed to the wall itself.


We stayed a few minutes and then we turned around and made the trek all the way back to the hotel.  After getting to the Jaffa Gate area, we bid goodnight to the Bellows and continued on the Mamilla Mall.  The juxtaposition of the Old City with a contemporary mall was evident.  This mall has most all of the same stores we have at malls at home (like I ever go).  But we strolled through and then out the other side.  We decided to walk thru the lobby of the Waldorf Astoria about a block away.  That was interesting.  There is certainly another side of life here in Israel.


Then we walked back.  My feet ache.  My room needs some cleaning.  But I am ready to hit the sack.  We head on the bus tomorrow (praise God!) up to Samaria.  It’s a good thing because we couldn’t survive another walking day – and there is this international bike ride through the streets of Jerusalem tomorrow.  It ought to be a bigger mess than ever around here.  I just hope we can get out of the city.  And that the bus can find us without a long hike.  That could be tricky.  But that is tomorrow’s worry.  First, I have to get to bed.


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