It's 6:30 am in Isreal. I have been awake now for 2 hrs. Sleep has been hard to come by for the last 3 days, I'm not really sure why, it's not normally a problem for me. On the positive side, there is so much going on that I don't really have time to be sleepy during the day. We have had an incredible time so far. The first day we got here we went and took a brief tour of the West Wall of the old city of Jersualem and the wailing wall, the only remaining part of the temple. It was the begining of the Sabboth, so there were quite a few Jews there praying. It was humbling to see their devotion to God and the depth and intensity of their prayers. It was very sad at the same time, you could see the sadness and lonliness on their faces, their longing to be close to God.
Yesterday we took a bus ride outside of the city and saw some amazing things. This blog entry will probably be edited and changed later as I can add photos and add some more historical facts about what we saw. On our ride, one of the first places we passed by was the site of Magedo, other wise known as Armageddon, or where it is speculated that the battle will occur. It is in a huge valley north of Jerusalem, outside of Nazareth. Ref Revelations 16. Not much to see at this point, but pretty neat to think this is where the end may happen. Then we went to the city of Nazareth, where Jesus grew up. It is such a large city now that it is hard to picture Jesus there, but still pretty neat to see. We saw the Church of the Anunciation, which was built around the cave that supposedly was where the angel told Mary that she would be the mother of Jesus. They also uncovered some ancient remains of what was a stone house carved out of rock, typical of the houses in Jesus time. We got loaded back up in the bus and headed to the the Sea of Galilee. We saw an incredible view from the top of Mt. Arbel (no biblical significance), but we were able to see the town that Mary Magdeline was from, where Jesus walked on water, where he fed the 5000. We went down the mountain to a restraunt by the Sea of Galilee and ate St. Peters fish. See pic, it says it all.......Then we moved down the road to Capernum, where Jesus spent the majority of his three years of public ministry. We were able to see the house that is assumed to be Peters house. In that small town there was a synagog. The interesting this about this synagog is that it had been transfered to that location at a date later than Jesus, but it is believed another one was there at the time of Jesus. The last stop of the day we went to the Jordan river. The area we saw was not where Jesus was baptized, but again, pretty amazing to see. Day one....more to come later.