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Holy Land Day 4

Cold and rainy.  Did I mention cold?  The locals are happy with the rain.  We not so much.  We toured around the Shepherds Fields.  Easy to imagine the shepherds and their sheep.  Tough work though because the fields are severely sloped and covered with a lot of rock - little grass.  One has to block out the housing congestion and the ubiquitous trash but the site of the angels calling to the  shepherds is clearly there.  The poor weather led us to the favored shopping area where we were offered the usual discounts, this time on expensive jeweled Jerusalem crosses and carved olive wood.  Mei Mei received a Christmas, birthday, Valentine’s day gift for the next ten or so occasions.  A diamond and gold cross.  Don’t ask.

We were served by the shop owner and he almost immediately asked what we thought about Trump.  When we admitted we voted for him, he seemed pleased.  He was quite obviously not a fan of bho or bb hil,  repeating with emphasis how unhappy and unsettled the people had been with the attitude towards Israel.  It wasn’t clear he was Israeli, more likely Palestinian, but he seemed to genuinely dislike bho.  He asked if we felt Trump would be understanding of Israel and we replied we thought he would and assured him that most Americans did not support the administration in that respect, he immediately gave us an additional discount.

Then it was lunch, the usual salad buffet and some soup.  Not bad really.  After that, Herodium,  a palace and Burial site of Herod the Great.  His tomb was only discovered in 2007. The site is under excavation but it appears to be a somewhat haphazard recovery.  After seeing the ruins in Ephesus and Greece brought to life, I find the Israeli sites to be disappointing so far.

The final stop was the Church of the Nativity to see the Birth site.  We were very lucky with the timing.  It was a long cold walk up to the church but the crowds were small when we got there.  We waited in line less than ten minutes.  Somehow I got to be the official photographer so I knelt alongside each of our party and photographed each as they got down to touch or kiss the spot marked by the Bethlehem Star.   Some shots came out better than others.  Our guide is very good, both with timing and with historical knowledge.  Sometimes he goes on a little too much but he knows his stuff.

We had dinner with a Palestinian Christian family.  Great meal - sort of a hamburger stew over a yellow rice like grain. No exactly a Big Mac but tasty indeed. Although we tried to keep politics out of the conversation, our host told us in no uncertain terms how he feels about the one-state-two-state issue.  He feels they will only achieve security as Christians in a one state Israeli governance.  Only God, he said, can create a Palestinian State.  We mostly talked about their life as Christians and their wedding and their kids.  The kids were impressed when they learned I had a PS-4.  Nice folks just trying desperately to make a living day to day in no-win conditions with few prospect of the miracle they need.  

Ended the evening with a devotional.  Each of the groups is to manage one.  So far they have been really excellent.  I am petrified about ours on Saturday.  The bar has been set high and my knowledge of the Bible would be considered by most to be disappointing.  Maybe Mei Mei will bail me out...

Tomorrow we are up and out of here very early as we head to the Galilee.  Hopefully it will be a little warmer.  The cold temps do affect the nature of my Christianity.

aa© Robert Graham 2012