On the drive to Beit She'an I told Travis a few details of the magnificent archeological site...the largest in all of Israel. He was curious I could tell. I don't think he's ever been to a real archeological active digging site before. When we got off the bus I caught him glancing around, looking for something cool like I had described; but the ruins of Beit She'an are somewhat obstructed from immediate view. We walked down the side walk and turned left into the courtyard where the people can eat, rest and look out on an amazing view. That's when he got his first glimpse. Next thing I knew he was full of energy and I heard, "Let's go Mom!" That's all I needed to hear and we were off! With a burst of renewed energy we were off exploring what remains of the lives of people who lived here as far back as the 4th millennium B.C. Travis was impressed by what he saw; and really who wouldn't be? As I pointed out the "tel" in the distance and smiled, he knew that reaching the top of that hill was the ultimate goal and the adventure. The highest place, steepest steps, a true work-out to get to the top and he was all in! (FYI – Climbing to the top of this tel is not a normal part of the tour, it's an option.)
What is a Tel? Many of the oldest cities in the world are called Tel's. The word means "mound" or "mount". Ancient cities experience natural and cultural disasters, such as fires, earthquakes and assaults from enemies. If a city's structures were demolished in prehistory, there was no way to remove all the demolition rubble; so people build right on top of the ruins. This can happen over and over and over again where you will have a tall hill, a tel, with many different civilizations within its layers.
First we goofed off in the amphitheatre in front of an "invisible crowd of 1st century Romans", and then headed up to the top of the tel. We raced at first, but soon, both of us reluctantly slowed our pace as we found ourselves quickly out of breath. Which can happen here easily in the higher elevations (at least that is what we told ourselves, neither of us willing to admit that we might be out of shape). Reaching the top and looking out on the impressive city was worth the pain in my lungs – I heard Travis over and over say, "Oh, look over there" and "Ooooo let's go check that place out". It wasn't long before we descended (much easier to go down) and explored the city in more detail.
After just a short drive from Beit She'an we found ourselves in Tiberias and the Galilee area. Jesus spent so much time here and I can see why! It's a beautiful area and no body of water on the face of this earth has seen more spiritual excitement and made more history than the See of Galilee. Capernaum was the town selected by Jesus for His first sermon and His headquarters. This area is where large crowds flocked to see Him. He preached the Gospel, healed all kinds of diseases and cast out demons. He performed more miracles here than at any other place. Multiplied the loaves and fishes to feed the multitude... and delivered the greatest sermon in history on these hills. To be standing here...looking out at all of this and realizing just how blessed we are to be here is overwhelming.
The boat ride on the Sea of Galilee was very special. Pete Sumrall started us off with some words of wisdom, then Pastor David Sumrall from Manila inspired us all as he renewed the vowes of Mr. and Mrs. Osamoa who have been married for 50 years!
This is the area where our group experienced water baptism in the Jordan River. Most have already been baptized but couldn't pass up the opportunity of following Jesus' example in the Jordan River...a rededication if you will. I will leave the pictures to say it all....