Saturday, July 21, 2012

Where David and the Son of David were born

Last night I got to Bethlehem, the "original" City of David and where our Lord Jesus Christ was born. I'll be careful what I write from here since there is always tension and I want to take care of friends that I make and not make it harder on them.
The trip from Amman to Bethlehem included a taxi to the border (10JD each [$14], an hour going through Jordanian passport control (and paying an 8JD [about $12]) exit fee. Then we purchased a ticket for the bus to take us across the Jordan River (3.5JD [$5]) and another ticket (1.3JD [$2]) for our luggage. The trip across the Jordan was about 3 miles but for various checks and unknown reasons the trip took about 3/4 hour. Then there was a long line as three or four buses unloaded at the Israeli passport control area (before when I have been with a tour bus we have proceeded to a different terminal). Bags and passports were checked, questions asked and answered, waiting was required but an hour and a half later we were through. Then we purchased a ticket in a shared bus (we ended up taking all 10 seats in one bus) for $10 each. This bus was supposed to drop us off at Damascus gate in Jerusalem but because it was Friday AND the first day of Ramadan the Israelis closed all the streets leading to Damascus gate. He dropped us off 1/2 mile away and we walked with our luggage to the bus station beside Damascus gate. However, no buses were running until after the Muslim prayers ended up at al-Aqsa mosque on the "Temple Mount" which Muslims call "Haram al-Sharif" ("The Noble Sanctuary"). Although Muslims are not allowed to eat or drink for about 15 hours each day during Ramadan, they still sell food and so were were able to purchase some bread and humus for a light lunch.
Entering into Bethlehem
We were able to get a bus (a Palestinian bus which cost us 5shekels [$1.25] each) that took us to the border "wall" between Israel and Palestine (occupied territory) and after going through light security we entered into Bethlehem. Some friends arranged some taxis for us and were got to where we are staying. Eight hours after we started we arrived! On a clear day, from the top of Mt. of Olives in Jerusalem, you can see tall towers in Amman!
Outside our kitchen balcony
Our accommodations are very pleasant and clean and our building is built on a hillside just outside where the "little town of Bethlehem" used to be. Today it is a busy, modern city filled with Muslims and Christians (non-Jew, non-Muslim) and only the Church of the Nativity reminds us of the place were Christ was born. The hillside that I look out on to could well have been were David once took his sheep to graze. I plan to take a walk to the top of a nearby hill from where I am told I can see Jerusalem probably 6 miles away (to the Old City).Wish you could be here enjoying this with me!
Remember, if you are wanting to join me in Israel this December, the bus is filling up. Take a look at the brochure and sign up today!  Take a look:

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