When someone says "Good Morning; how are you?" in Israel, it is bad manners to say "Really good!" or even, "Terrible." The proper response is "Thanks be to God!" Because they are indicating that in ALL circumstances, we should be giving God praise first. He is always faithful; He is always good. I find that a very powerful example of faith in action, and my day has been a series of faithful and extraordinary moments of thanksgiving.
First stop--Caesarea Maritima--Herod's magnificent harbor city, now in ruins, but excavated so that we could see the original amphitheater and hippodrome, where chariot races were held. It was also the place from which Paul would have left on his missionary journeys.
Then to Mt. Carmel, where the prophet Elijah challenged the prophets of Baal. After that we went to Megiddo (also known as Armageddon--yep, THAT Armageddon!), and then to the busy city of Nazareth, which has nearly 200,000 inhabitants now, far more that the 200 or 300 when Jesus lived there. But we went to the Church of the Annunciation, which is believed to be built over the house where Mary and her family lived (which we saw parts of), and is close to the place where the Angel Gabriel made his announcement (annunciation) to Mary. We also saw the site where Joseph was believed to have been buried, in a tomb much like the one Jesus was buried in, with a stone that rolls across the opening. Apparently this kind of tomb (with the stone that is rolled across the opening) was unusual, and only a few still exist in the entire country.
The food here is so good, at least to me! Lots of fresh vegetables at every meal, including breakfast, homemade hummus and vegetable salads, falafel with tahini--my Mediterranean blood is resonating to these lively favors and fresh foods.
But it is exhausting as well, and I need to get good rest before we start all over again tomorrow. We are on the bus by 8 am each day.
Tomorrow we see Chorazim, the Mount of the Beatitudes, Capernaum, Tabgha and we are taking some kind of boat ride on the Sea of Galilee. Hmmmmmm.....I'm not much of a sailor...although I love the water.
In fact, just before I wrote this, I walked down by myself to put my hands into the Sea of Galilee. We got here too late to see it in the light, but I wanted to see it anyhow. As I stood at the edge of the sea, salt water dripping off my fingers and looking at the lights of the surrounding cities shimmering in the darkness, I thought, "Jesus himself stood by these shores, fished in these waters, dipped his own hands in the sea to wash them, " and then I thought "Thanks be to God!"
Blessings to all. I carry you with me in my heart.