A day of reflection

I’m sitting here in my twin bed as my roomie Nancy Jane peacefully sleeps. Bless her heart. She only got three hours rest last night because we are sharing a computer to blog our travel adventures during Israeli Invasion 2008. Tonight it was my turn to go last. It’s 12:54 p.m.

As I think back on this day during its last six minutes of existence, I’m working hard to recall details. It seems I told myself several times today, “Remember this moment Lincee. Right now. Take it all in.” And there were several. Join me as I reflect.

* * *

It’s complete and total irony that this morning started off with reflection. One would think that with a view of the Galilee Sea, like the one we have from our room, I would be meditating on the day and preparing my soul for what inspirations God had in store for me.

Hardly.

I was staring at my reflection in the mirror as I applied my makeup on the balcony. My sweet yet blunt Mother always told me, “Some days it’s good to go out in the sun and look at yourself in the mirror. And make sure you have some tweezers, because there are going to be things you need to pluck.”

All I can say is thank you Mother for your weird advice and thank goodness my tweezers were not confiscated in airport security because I was shocked at what had miraculously sprouted obviously overnight, because LORD HELP ME if that was there in between my eyebrows all day long yesterday.

I digress.

JESUS BOAT
After a breakfast of yogurt and honey, we all went down to the shore and boarded a boat that would take us across to the other side of the Sea. It was a sailboat like the disciples would have used. Except ours had a motor. And an American flag flying. And a PA system playing the “Star Spangled Banner.” Being the patriotic group we are, we all stand in our Jesus Boat, cross our hearts and sing proudly.

Our dear tour guide Ruti (love her) begins talking about how we are on the very body of water that Christ calmed during a storm. The guy driving, in dramatic fashion, cut the engine and we drifted in the middle as Pastor Dave retold the story of how Jesus walked on water out to his disciples and Peter attempted to walk out towards him. Then Peter sank.

So there I am. In the Jesus Boat. In the place where Jesus calmed the storm and walked on water. It’s not fake. It’s not on TV. It’s under me at that moment.

Surreal.

Reflection: What faith Peter had! Sure he lost sight, and fell. But he got out of the boat. Can I say the same thing?

JESUS BOAT MUSEUM
Long story short…they found an old boat, excavated it and now it’s in a museum. The best part of this museum is the gift shop. You would have thought we had never seen souvenirs before! There were books, replicas of the Jesus Boat, camels, menorahs, JerUSAlem (yes the USA was bold) t-shirts, olive wood boxes, olive wood ornaments and lastly, olive wood “Shalom Y’all” magnets.

Our group is from Texas. There was nary a “Shalom Y’all” magnet left in the joint. Rudi thinks this is funny and christens our group, “TEXAS.” Now any time she needs us to gather in a crowded place, she just yells “TEXAS” to the top of her Jewish lungs and we come running. Because we are scared she is going to take us to the Nazareth Village again if we don’t.

MT. of BEATITUDES
This is where Jesus had the sermon on the mount (Matthew 5-7). We gathered for a small talk and prayer. We learned that this is the only mountain that has a valley that is capable of seating a “multitude” of people. If I had been counting, I’m sure there would have been well over 20 or 30 nationalities in the 30 minute span we visited. We discussed how this must be what heaven is like: all colors, religious beliefs and ethnicities gathered together in one place to glorify God. Amazing.

Our GBC group leader Dwight spoke in front of the Catholic Chapel on the grounds. I walked away with a new encouragement to not fall in the trap of being spiritually predictable.

Reflection: I’m standing where thousands heard Jesus speak on the top of a mountain. How cool is that? Remember this moment when you are attempting to not be spiritually predictable Lincee.

Buy Roses

TABGHA
And I thought the Mt. of Beatitudes was crazy crowded. Not compared to Tabgha. This is where Jesus fed the 5,000 with only two fish and five loaves of bread.

Reflection: Clearly, we tourists were trying to recreate the feeding of the 5,000, because there were about 5,000 people here to see one rock that Jesus stood on. Don’t think I didn’t push my way through to see that rock. The coy pond was neat and I’m pretty sure the tourists are multiplying as they leave the chapel. Oh look! A gift shop with tons of tchotckies made out of olive wood. Now where did I put that shekel?

Capernaum
At Capernaum, we made our way to Peter’s mother-in-law’s house. There is a long explanation why Peter lived with the mother-in-law. It had something to do with his wife having no brothers and being the eldest daughter, her husband has to move in. Regardless, Rudi was telling the story of how this was the house that the two men lowered their sick friend in from the roof using a mat, in hopes that Jesus would heal him. Too bad there is a space ship chapel built on top of the house now. Kind of ruins it for me, but it was still cool.

A stone’s throw away was the synagogue for the village. I’m posing by the pillars that are still standing. A weird and exciting feeling.

synagogue.jpg

Reflection: Capernaum was pretty cool. I find it odd that you had to pay a shekel to go to the bathroom. Which was located next to a gift shop with some rockin’ Jewish memorabilia. SHALOM INDEED!

THE TANUREEN
If you are ever on Capernaum highway between Tiberius and the City on the Hill, drop on by The Tanureen. You’ll know you are there not by the ginormous sign pointing to the entrance, but by the gas pumps.

No, no…it’s not the cleanest bathroom this side of the Jordan. It’s even BETTER! That’s right ladies and gentlemen! Lunch! Ruti style! So you know it’s going to be expensive and pretty much disgusting!

David our bus driver, who knows me as “Lindy” and speaks Spanish (what?) to me, steers our bus by pumps four and five. We all sit there thinking David is getting gas, but Rudi mans her microphone and explains to us that we are about to eat Peter’s fish. It’s all inclusive (fish, salad, drink, dessert) and we can choose to have the head of the fish left on our sliced off.

It’s nice to have choices.

She ushers us through the doors of the mighty Tanureen. According to the street sign, the food is oriental. Oriental fish heads. Yummy.

It’s like a Dairy Queen that has been renovated into a BBQ joint that was later transformed into the local “nice” place to eat. With checkered tablecloths on picnic benches and plastic chairs. And a bar. I’d be willing to bet there was a shekel operated slot machine behind some mysterious swinging doors. But hey…you didn’t have to pay to go to the bathroom. SHALOM!

We sit. Locate the hummus…because it’s ALWAYS there…and slather on the pita bread. Nancy Jane insists I eat an olive. It was disgusting. It’s my opinion. But it’s true. I take my napkin off of the table and notice it is printed with the Tanureen logo. Except below the logo, it reads, “Fine Lebanese Cuisine.”

Great. Lebanese-enhanced oriental fish heads. SHA-LOM!

Our waiter, who was NOT vying for employee of the month, took our order. NJ and I decided to go all out and experience the Tanureen as she was meant to be experienced.

Lincee: “We would like to share a Peter fish. With the head please.”

peter-fish.jpg

Oye vey. I ate Peter fish. And part of the tail. And am pretty sure NJ located the pituitary gland of this fried swimmer’s brain.

It came with French fries.

Our dessert consisted of a plate of dates. They were disgusting. It’s my opinion, but it’s true.

Waiter of the Month shows up again and charges us $36. He interjects several times that the tip is not included. We question him about the price of Peter’s fish. Was the fisherman of this catch a descendant of Peter himself? Was there a shekel in the mouth of the fish that we missed?

WOM: “It’s $36.”
Lincee: “Does that include a tank of gas for our bus?”
WOM (not amused): “That’s before tip.”

Reflection: I figure Ruti’s last name must be Tanureen. And since I love Ruti, I toss out two 20s to the rude waiter, shout “La CHAYIM” and decide that it was the best $36 I’ve ever spent on a Lebanese-enhanced oriental Peter fish head gas station restaurant.

JORDAN RIVER
This was the emotional leg of our journey today. We had the opportunity to be baptized in the Jordan River and I took it. I was baptized as a child and fully believe I knew in my heart that Jesus Christ was my Lord and Savior. But the past three years have been a tumultuous up and down roller coaster for me, and as a result, I have grown in my faith so much. I felt the need to be dunked and rise again as new. Our leader Dwight baptized eight of us…right where John baptized Jesus. He was sweet enough to have prepared verses for each of us that he recited before we were submerged. It was a precious moment that words will never do justice and I will not even begin to describe in this moment. But it will be with me forever.

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Me, Dwight and Nancy Jane

Reflection: “The Lord is my Light and Salvation. Whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life. Of whom shall I be afraid?” Psalm 24:1

DINNER
beer.jpg

What can I say? It was a long day. Nancy Jane bought this for me. A true friend indeed. We drank it with hummus. She had olives too. I did not. Because they are disgusting. It’s my opinion, but it’s true.

I’m extremely tired, but dedicated to the avid readers of this website. You guys rock and I am utterly amazed that you who are reading these words right now have taken the time to share this journey with me.

For that, I thank you. LA CHAYIM! (must pronounce with flem sound in your throat…)

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