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January 6, 2018

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Today was bittersweet. It was a great day but also hard because we had to say goodbye to our guides and our driver here in Israel when we arrived in Tel Aviv. Tomorrow we head to Jordan. They were truly outstanding.

We began our day by checking out of the hotel in Tiberias and headed to Nazareth where we met with a local pastor, Yohama Katanacho from Nazareth Evangelical College. He told us a bit of his story. He grew up on the Via Dolorosa in Jerusalem and from what he heard as a young child he believed that God was only the God of Israel. As a teenager he saw God as myth and became an atheist. He saw that religion was used to abuse Palestinians. But one night he had an experience that he can only attribute to God and began his journey into faith. He went to a Christian Church and heard for the first time that God loves the Palestinians. He told us that love is a decision and that we have to exercise it more in war but that love is not an excuse to abandon justice.

We next went to the Basilica of the Anunciation. Outside the church as well as inside are depictions of Mary and the baby Jesus which were sent from all over the world. Inside are two levels, a lower one and the upper level which is larger and appears to be more of a worship space. The doors have art work depicting lot’s of Biblical stories, both Hebrew scripture and the New Testament as well.

We wandered the streets of Nazareth which in Jesus day would have been a tiny little town. We went into what was once a synagogue and conjecture is that it might have been the Synagogue that Jesus knew and grew up in and preached in. We also entered a mosque there and saw the play where Muslims come five times a day to pray.

We stopped in Tzippori a site of particular importance to the Jewish people. Here is where the Talmud was codified. Also we could see ruins of an ancient synagogue and other buildings. It was fascinating. It was also the location of tile work. By what they found there they believe that it may have been a school and the tile work we saw was amazing.

On our way to Jaffa we passed by Kafur Qasem where in 1956 there was a massacre of Palestinian residents returning home from work. It seems that the Israeli’s had changed the curfew while they were at work and they were not aware of it when they came home-Morgie asked when will Israel be able to say that things like this, these bad things, happen and take responsibility. Indeed we saw the separation wall or the border wall again on our way on highway 6 into Jaffa and Tel Aviv. We saw St Peter’s church in Jaffa and the spires of 3 mosques, we heard the history of the city and finally made it to our hotel where we did say our final goodbye to Morgie, Yousef, and Yahzin.