Today was our day off to tour and see some more of the country. Our driver and tour guide, Zev, started by giving us a brief, but really thorough overview of the formation of the state of Israel and the origins of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I knew the basics, but he really colored it in for us. Once we got on the road, we headed north towards the Sea of Galilee, where the Biblical story of Jesus walking on water takes place. Zev helped me climb down the rocky bank to sit at the water’s edge so I could take it all in for a moment. What an amazing moment to be in a place you’ve heard about since you were a little kid in Sunday School! The forecast called for heavy rain, and I was hoping all day yesterday it wouldn’t be too miserable to visit all the historical sites. It wound up being just the most perfect day. #WontHeDoIt
Next, we visited the The Church of the Multiplication of the Loaves and Fish, which was built on the site where Jesus is believed to have fed 5,000 followers with 5 loaves of bread and two fish. I have easily eaten 5 loaves of bread by myself since I got here. Pita, laffa… There’s delicious, irresistible bread at every turn. Clearly, Atkins has not yet made it to the Holy Land. Sadly, a pair of Jewish extremists set fire to the church this summer and painted graffiti on the walls so a portion of the church is boarded up. Such a disgrace, but they are rebuilding and it will be restored very soon.
We also visited the Jordan River, where Jesus was baptized. I’ve seen that baptismal scene rendered thousands of times, and once I found out I could, I bought a baptismal gown from the gift shop and went down into the river. It was kinda freezing (“oh ch-ch-chilly Jordan,” indeed, Take 6) and there were tons of catfish swimming around my ankles. They could’ve been the great-great-great… grandchildren of the catfish who swam around Jesus’ ankles. Shut up. Yes, the could have.
I was raised in the Baptist church, and though I’m not very religious as an adult, I believe in God and the teachings of the Bible. And I felt so connected to the sites we visited today. I am so grateful to be on this trip and I can’t wait to visit Jerusalem.