Hello friends . . . grace and peace,
We have left the Kingdom of Jordan and this post comes to you from the Golden Walls Hotel in downtown Jerusalem, right across the street from the wall to the Old City. Our journey through the brilliant mind of Fr. Kamal Farah begins in the morning as we visit the Mount of Olives, the garden of Gethsemane and Mt. Zion, site of the Last Supper.
But our Sunday began in Petra where we had an early breakfast and then were led north on a beautiful tour by Sami, our Jordanian guide. He amuses as he educates. “To get a driver’s license in Jordan, they give you a car and tell you to drive around,” he told us. “If you don’t have an accident or kill someone, you get the license. If you have an accident or kill someone, they say ‘Try again.’”
The first stop was the Spring of Moses (pics above), where Moses took a stick to the rock and made water come from it. Officials have built a building around the spring but the water still flows and people come to get drinking water from it.
We then continued north for an hour through the desert – Jordan is 80% desert – and stopped at the remains of Montreal Castle in Shoubak, the oldest castle in Jordan, built in 1116, by the Crusaders.
Then on to Jerash in northern Jordan (see photos above). Jerash is one of the 10 cities that made up The Decapolis, a region where Jesus walked and talked and spent time ministering to people. There we toured the spectacular excavations of a German archeologist who rediscovered and revived the city in 1806. A series of Roman arches and columns, an amphitheater, a hippodrome where chariot races were held, and ancient temples are wondrously preserved.
After lunch in Jerash, we drove southwest to cross into Israel. It wasn’t easy. First, we were told at the Jordan end of the Ben Gurion/King Hussein bridge over the Jordan River that the Israel side of the Allenby Bridge was closed because of a suspicious object. But eventually were allowed to proceed and went through three passport checks, scanning of our luggage and some questions from Israeli security personnel. Having said good-bye to Sami, bus driver Captain Soud and our security officer, Rafmat, we were met in Israel with a new driver, Ahmed, who will be with us for the remainder of our time in Israel.
He drove the 30 miles to Jerusalem but there wasn’t much to see yet because the sun had set.
Fr. Kamal was waiting for us at the hotel and was warmly greeted by Fr. Ralph and Cindy Osborne, Aran Walter, and Tim and Anne Peterson, all who had studied under him three years ago. Dinner was waiting, as were beds and relaxation. We have arrived in this next part of The Hold Lands; Palestine and Israel. We are in Jerusalem now, so we ask you, even more, to please,
“Pray for the peace of Jerusalem…” – Psalm 122:6