31 October 2011

In Oak Cliff, Trick o'Treating starts at 11AM with middle-aged Hispanic women dressed as Jehovah's Witnesses.

No tricks! Only treats!

If you use YouVersion Bible on your iOS device, both NIV and NLT are available for free download until 11:59PM tonight:


If you don't have a Bible on your iOS device, try the free YouVersion Bible app. The Saved prefer it two to one over all other Bible applications ;-)

Location:Casa de Miguel

25 October 2011

My curiosity and amusement at our awkward cultural difference was confiscated (with my dignity) by the gate agent. I'm done. Get me home.

Taken at Ben Gurion International Airport (TLV)

One Minute in Tel Aviv

I've been exploring the Carmel and Nahalat Binyamin Street Markets today. This is a brief video from the Star of David intersection of Ben Yahuda and Rehov Allenby on a Tuesday afternoon. How many unusual things can you spot in this one minute video?

YouTube Video

Location:נחלת בנימין,Tel Aviv,Israel

24 October 2011

What day is it?

Has it just been a week?! What day is it? I am overwhelmed. Dude. Since Monday, I've been traveling in Jordan, Palestine, and Israel. Unlike the previous 20 days (and my preferred mode of travel), I have met up with my parents and a group of retirees, all from their church just north of Ft. Worth. Had you asked me before meeting the group, I would've confessed my concern about traveling with a group at least 20 years older than me. Likewise, traveling by tour bus (see: large groups of slow-moving, camera-wielding, line-creating, purple umbrella-following, yellow-cap wearing clichés) is universally considered an anathema to the independent traveler (see: backpack-carrying, Chaco-wearing, dorm/floor-sleeping, Lonely-Planet toting, wifi-demanding, meal-skipping, not-so-good smelling, bizarre experience-seeking, couch-surfing, passport stamp-claiming, seeker of culturally rich experiences). Imagine my surprise to find myself truly enjoying the time spent not only with my parents, but also with this group of sweet people. It was like traveling with a bus-load of grandparents. Over this last week, I actually compiled a list of all the benefits I discovered of traveling with a tour group of Peepaws and Mimis:

• Although we were traveling by bus, we still managed to take bathroom breaks at least once an hour;
• The group always moves slowly and methodically. No matter how long I tarry, I'm always able to catch up to the group;
• Comfortable beds are a necessity, rather than luxury;
• Both breakfast and dinner are provided at the hotel, plentifully supplied with easy-to-chew and high-fiber options;
• Messages are repeated 14 times for various reasons: denial about needing hearing aids OR battery failure in said hearing aids OR folks were in the bathroom;
• If I forget anything - tissue, a warm scarf, how to use the elevator - I'm surrounded by those who, unsolicited, are more than ready to help me remember;
• Ironically, if any of them forget anything - the day of the week, where they are, their name - I am there to help them remember;
• I get to ride the elevator without shame everywhere we go...and they let me push the buttons!
• Buses - yes, those hated buses - pick us up at the very door of the hotel and whisk us to the very entrance of the scheduled sites, and are then waiting for us at the exit.
• And finally, I get to be the youngest person in any gathering, feeling downright vibrant and zippy by comparison!

I am also overwhelmed by the staggering number of places I have visited in just the last seven days. When I remember the places I visited in Greece and Turkey, it feels like that happened years ago rather than just a few weeks. The history and spiritual significance of what I have seen this last week has left me reeling. I think it will take me months - if not years - to really unpack all this in my mind and heart. Although this will not do the trip justice, here's a quick rundown of the last seven days:

Tuesday (Amman, Jordan)
• Petra: including the Treasury, the Monastery;

Traveling with a friend, at the Treasury, Petra, Jordan.

Wednesday (Jerusalem, Israel)
• Amman Tour;
• Mt. Nebo (Moses view into Cannan);
• Qumran (discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls);
• Masada;
• Damascus Gate and the Old City by night;

YouTube Video

A 360° panorama of the Promised Land as seen by Moses on Mt. Nebo.

Thursday (Jerusalem, Israel)
• Palestine;
• Bethlehem;
• Church of the Nativity;
• Mount of Olives;
• Garden of Gethsemene;
• Church of the Agony;
• Caiphasus' House (Psalms 88);
• Ben Yahuda Street;

Ancient olive tree within the Garden of Gethsemane, Jerusalem.

Friday (Jerusalem, Israel)
• Southern Wall;
• Western Wall;
• Dome of the Rock;
• Israel Museum, Model of Jerusalem;
• Dead Sea Scrolls;
• Garden Tomb;
• Jaffa Gate;

Praying at the Western Wall of the Dome of the Rock, Jerusalem.

Saturday (Jerusalem, Israel)
• St. Anne's Church;
• Pool of Bethesda;
• Via Dolorosa: EcceHomo, Church of the Holy Sepulcher, Ethiopian Church;
• Upper Room;
• Jericho: Zaccheus's Tree, Temptation Mountain, Jericho Old City;
• Dead Sea;

Sunday (Jerusalem, Israel)
• Caesarea-Maretima (Acts 10);
• Mt. Megiddo, Jezreel Valley, Mt. Carmel in the distance;
• Precipice; Mt. Tabor;
• Cana;
• Tiberias;

Monday (Tiberias, Israel)
• Magdela (of Mary fame);
• Mount of Beatitudes;
• Sea of Galilee (Mark 4);
• Ancient Boat;
• Feeding of the 5,000; Church of the Loaves and Fishes (Mark 6; John 21);
• Capernaum, Peter's House (Matthew 8);
• Jordan River (baptisms of group members);
• Bet She'an (where David eulogizes Saul and Jonathan).

Wow. That is an itinerary I would have never expected of myself, ne'er to mention a group of sexta/septa/octogenarians. I have new-found respect for what travel agents, tour guides, and bus drivers do.

The trip has certainly had some funnier moments...if not to everyone, then at least to me. Here are some of the more entertaining comments I have overheard:

• "Do they call them 'mosaics' because they were made at the time of Moses?"
• "Boy, howdy. I bet those ladies sure are hot in their moomoos"...referring to Muslim women wearing burkas.
• "If I lived here, I'd be Greek Orthodox...because their churches use air conditioning."
• "Did they use some of the stones from the Egyptian pyramids to build the temple in Jerusalem?"
• "My feet are really hurting...but only when I walk."
• In the song Hosanna to the King, one woman sang "Hosanna, do your thing."
• 'I've never seen so many ancient things in one place.' [I confess. I said this one day after waiting interminably while an orthopaedic surgeon's dream-team boarded the bus.]

I've just sent my tour group back across the Jordanian border. They fly home from Amman tomorrow morning. I was supposed to join them for this last night, but it didn't make sense for me to go from Israel to Jordan only to come back across the border tomorrow to get to Tel Aviv tomorrow. SO, I'm finishing this blog entry from the back of a public bus, using their free wifi and commuting from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv. Again, no hotel reservation awaiting me. But this makes for the most exciting kind of travel! I'll spend the night in Tel Aviv and next day exploring the city, ending up in the airport toward midnight. My flight home departs on Wednesday morning at 4:30AM and I'm anticipating a long process of getting through immigration.

Hoping to write some summary thoughts tomorrow. But we'll see. Much love, all. Thank you for reading along.


Location:יציאה לכביש 1,,Israel

Taking a stroll across the Sea of Galilee.