From HUGer Joe:
Today was a day full of unexpected adventure and simply an amazing experience. We began our day with a short bus ride to the shore of the Sea of Galilee where we hopped on board a boat that would take us to our first historical site. Little did I know, the boat was a learning experience as well. First, our guide Yosi talked about the things that had happened on these very waters, such as Jesus walking on them. Next, Yosi played “Ave Maria” on his flute for us. About half way to our destination, the boat stopped for an ancient fishing lesson.
Our first official stop of the day was at the Jesus boat museum. Although we cannot know for sure who the boat belonged too, one thing was for sure, this was a boat from the time of Jesus. In the museum, we learned that this boat had been buried in the mud on the shore of the Sea of Galilee and was only discovered because a drought (in the 1980s) caused the water to recede enough for some passersby with metal detectors to stumble upon it. The mud had preserved the wood but they found out that they had to keep it wet or the wood would turn to dust. After we saw the boat, Yosi gave us a little VIP tour of the pottery restoration room where the museum was working on clay pots from Bethsaida that dated back to the time of Jesus. It was breath taking to be able to stand so close to these pieces. We were close enough that Yosi felt it necessary to remind us that “if you break it you buy it.”
From the museum, we climbed the Mount of Beatitudes…by bus of course. Once at the top, we started walking down a path towards the sea. Part of the way down, Yosi pointed out an unexcavated roman road that was most likely used by Jesus in his travels by foot around the Galilee region. I found it humorous that what looked like normal rocks to me were really a crucial part of the life of my Savior’s ministry. Just before the last drop, we stopped and read through Matthew 5 in the spot that Jesus probably gave his original sermon. After some time to read and reflect on our own, Yosi showed us a one of the few natural springs that feed the Sea of Galilee. When I saw this site, I couldn’t resist throwing on my trunks and getting a back message from the beautiful waterfall.
When we were all content and cooled off, we made our way to Capernaum. The first thing we saw on this site was the house of Peter. In the shade of the commemorative Catholic Church hovering over the house, Yosi really drove home the point of how important this place was in the life of Jesus. He spent so much time in this town and in this house that Capernaum became known as Jesus’ town. After touring the rest of the site, we took some time to talk about how in Hebrew the word for prayer garment and pure girl are the same. It was interesting to see the Hebrew influence in the Greek text of the gospels.
To think, we did this all before lunch! Even lunch was an experience. Some of us had the chance to eat a whole St. Peter’s Fish (Tilapia). When we had finished our food and competition to see who had the best remaining skeleton, we had another opportunity to swim in the sea.
On our way to see the famous Jordan River, we took a detour to Mount Bernice. From the top, Yosi pointed out where we had been today and the remains of Bernice’s Palace. He told us the story of her very “interesting” life. And finally we were at the river. It was not what I expected it to be. When we arrived the place was packed with all kinds of people. From people laying in tents and enjoying the live band, to people swimming and canoeing. An improvisation lead us to not only seeing the Jordan but also to canoeing in the Jordan. Although Clayton and I had a minor mishap (note to self: do not jump out, the boat will flip), we loved every second. What a way to end the day!
Once again I want to tell my family I love and miss them. I hope you are enjoying my adventures as much as I am.