Day seven in Israel started a little earlier than the rest, 15 minutes in fact. We began the morning in a venture onto the sea of Galilee on a boat. From the docks of Tiberius we set sail in an ancient fashion, out into the center of Sea of Galilee (Click here to see photos from today). This is where we had our morning devotion led by Josh Coffey. He told us the tale of Peter’s walking on water. As we sailed, the clouds loomed and decided to rain on us a bit. In the midst of the rain and wind, on the boat we had dancing lessons. We were taught a traditional Hebrew dance, the Hava Nagila, and then formed our own dance circle of laughter and fun. Before we knew it we were back on the shore ready to explore more sites around the Sea of Galilee.
We arrived at Bet She’an (means House of Strength) and heard from Mr. Bell before exploring. He talked about how the ancient Roman city was enticing to the young Jews who lived around in the country. They had so many advancements to offer and so much knowledge, as well as Hellenistic views on life. He talked about how it’s a blatant parallel to our own lives as culture comes to influence us in our daily lives and entices us. After the lesson we took a walk down to the ancient city to have a look around. Even after a massive earthquake some time around 750 AD, you can still see a lot of the city somewhat standing. The beautiful mosaic tiles, and massive limestone pillars. We ended out exploration in Bet She’an eating Falafel at a nice little picnic spot.
We loaded into the buses once more, taking our adventure back north the region of the Galilee. We traveled along the southern Jordan River, which acts as a border dividing Israel from Jordan. As we arrived at the southern tip of the Sea of Galilee, we made our way around the eastern side only to arrive at the base of a mountain on which sat the ancient town of Susita. In years past, Joshua student hiked the face of this treacherous mountain, but our guides decided to drive to the site. Once close we all walked up this short trail that was guided on both sides by barbed wire. (This was because the once occupied Syria land had scattered mines for defensive purposes.) As we passed the abandoned bunkers, we arrived at ruins of the town that are now in the process of excavation. It was there that Phil taught Mark 5, in which Jesus cast out the demons in the possessed man into the near by swine. It was remarkable to learn that this city served and worship a boar god. This thought lead us once more to the truth that God is the one true God and will not stand to see idolatry. From there we strolled along the site seeing the foundations of a Byzantine Church was erected late 3rd century. Time winded down and soon it was time to gather and leave the site.
As we gathered before our departure, Rich told us about our next stop, the Jordan river where some would have the opportunity to be baptized as a sign of their faith. Consequently, I (Nathan), being one of the few, felt that this moment granted much excitement and joy knowing that this proclamation would be in the midst of a family that I hold dear.
We arrived at the Jordan, many people’s hearts pounding with fear and excitement. We went down and Rich got in the water and invited the people who had requested to be baptized. It was amazing to get to watch so many people get dunked in His holy name. After the baptism, many others swam, and then we piled into the bus to go play some soccer at the kibbutz, which is actually taking place right now. (update is that Bus number two took the game, but we all had fun)
Good night, Good luck, and God bless,
Nate and Kevin