Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Tuesday, April 1, 2014:

Another beautiful day.  Thank You, Lord.

We rested very well last night because we were extremely tired after all the walking yesterday.  Walking anywhere you go in Jerusalem is a challenge.  Up or down stairs, steep ramps, rough uneven pavement, handrails are infrequent, and our guide, Ronnie, doesn’t waste any time getting from place to place.  Jerusalem is loud and very crowded with the locals plus thousands of tourists.  You can feel the tension between the Arabs and the Jews.  There are certain Palestinian areas that Ronnie won’t go in to with us, because he fears for his safety.  The clutter and trash are everywhere.  There are hawkers trying to make a buck (or a shekel) every few feet.

Our first stop this morning was at the Mount of Olives and the Garden of Gethsemane. There has been lots of construction on these sites since Sharon was there in 1966, so nothing looked familiar except the few remaining olive trees.   Some of the olive trees are believed to be nearly 2,000 years old.

We walked back UP to the old city to the Praetorian where Jesus was tried before Pilate and condemned to death.  Here there were floor tiles that date back to Jesus’ time.  We can assume that we were standing where He stood during that awful time.  We then walked the Via Dolorosa which is a tourist attraction with 14 Stations of the Cross. Ronnie reminded us that this was created by the Catholic Church in Europe (France and Spain) to satisfy the local Catholics who could not afford to travel out of their countries and was later adopted by Israel for the tourists who did make the trip.  But that it is not scriptural.  Only three of the events of the Stations of the Cross are mentioned in the Bible.

After lunch, the last stop of the day was to the pool of Siloam where Jesus healed blind Bartimaeus (Mark 10:46-52).  The pool was only uncovered about six years ago.  Only a portion of one side and a corner are visible today (where the people are standing).  The balance is buried under the green plants on the left of the picture on property owned by a Muslim who will not sell the property or permit excavation on the grounds.

Monday, March 31, 2014:

Dr. David Jeremiah @ Southern Steps
Again, it is a gorgeous sunny day. Thank You, Lord. Our morning started on the Southern Steps to the Temple Mount. We sat on the very steps on which Jesus walked. This is one of the few areas in Jerusalem where Jesus’ presence can be verified. It is a humbling experience to be in His presence in such a tangible way. Dr. Jeremiah gave another of his inspiring talks to the group.

Southern Steps to the Temple Mount

Garden Tomb, Upper Room: These sites have been developed for tourism and there is no evidence that these are authentic sites.

The Garden Tomb

Sharon @ entrance to Garden Tomb

Western Wall or Wailing Wall

Western Wall also known as the Wailing Wall: This is the only portion of the Temple Mount that the Jewish people have continuous access to. Men and women are separated and pray at opposite ends of the wall.

We had lunch in the Jewish Quarter, and ate a local sandwich which consisted of turkey, lamb, hummus and greens on flat bread. Very good. Of course, the side of french fries and a Coke added a little touch of home.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Sunday, March 30, 2014: (Photos to follow)

 Well, today we reluctantly leave Tiberias heading to Jerusalem.  Our four days in Galilee where Jesus lived and had his ministry have been busy and blessed.  It is surreal to be in this place. 

As we head south toward Jerusalem we will parallel the Jordan River which is the border with Jordan.  The border is lined with a double electric fence which alerts the Israeli soldiers, stationed at outposts all along the border, to any disturbance to the fence.  The minefields between the fences add credence to the saying “fences make good neighbors”.  Even though Israel has a peace treaty with Jordan, this country takes no chances.  It is necessary for their survival. 

Along this southern route, we passed through several Palestinian towns in the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) area, also commonly known as the West Bank.  There is such a contrast between the landscape and terrain of the two.  The Israelis have been successful in turning their desert land into a fertile garden of fruits and vegetables, mango trees, date trees, and melons.  Our guide reminded us that we came at the perfect time of year to see Israel at its greenest.  Of note also, we have had beautiful weather as you can see from the photos.  Thank You, Lord!

Bet Shean:  Our first stop was at the ruins of Bet Shean where the Philistines displayed the murdered bodies of King Saul and his son Jonathan on the city walls.  You may recall that the Israelis came in at night and recovered the bodies for proper burial. (First Samuel 31:1-13). 

We had lunch at a beautiful hotel in Jericho.  Guess which hotel?  The Intercontinental!  It was unusual to see such a grand hotel out here in the rocky desert. 

We then toured the ruins of Jericho, and again heard the story of how God allowed Joshua to capture the city.  (Joshua 6). 

Jerusalem:  On to Jerusalem, entering the city on a modern tour bus and singing praises at the top of our voices.  All our bus mates must be Southern Baptists ‘cause they sure can sing!  Jerusalem is quite different than in Jesus’ day we were told.  Of course, much larger and modern.  We visited the model of the old city and the museum which holds the Dead Sea Scroll facsimile of Isaiah.   The original of the entire book of Isaiah copy is preserved in the antiquities vault.

 On to our hotel for the evening:  The Dan Jerusalem Hotel is located high on a hill overlooking Jerusalem.  You enter the lobby on the sixth floor and our room is on the first floor. Very nice.  Looking forward to some much needed rest in preparation for 

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Friday, March 28, 2014: Technical Problems--Photos will follow later.

Caesarea Philippi:  Was originally called Panion or Panias after the Greek god Pan.  Herod the Great’s son Philip, established it as the capital of his tetrarchy.  It was known as Caesarea Philippi to distinguish it from other cities with the same name.  Caesarea Philippi marks the northernmost limit of Christ’s ministry.  It was here that Peter made his confession of Christ’s Deity in the response to Jesus’ question, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?”  (Matt. 16:13).  Caesarea Phillipi was a long distance for Jesus and his disciples to walk from the Sea of Galilee through rugged country.

Tel Dan:  Located at the foot of Mt. Hermon and the Golan Heights, in the northernmost corner of the Huleh Valley, the Tel Dan Nature Reserve encompasses both a fabulous landscape and the ruins (partially restored) of an ancient Israelite city.  The largest of four sources of the Jordan River, the Dan Spring emerges at the base of Mt. Hermon next to Tel Dan.  It flows for 4 miles before joining the second largest source of the Jordan River, the Banias Spring.  Together the four sources (also the Lyon and Hasbani) of the Jordan River drain a total of more than 10,425 square miles).

Kibbutz Luncheon:  We visited a beautiful kibbutz that had a salad, soup, entrée and dessert buffet set up for us.  The food is healthy and very good.  My favorite is the homemade pita bread and hummus.  Yummy.

Golan Heights:  This area is best known for its capture by Israel from Syria in the 1967 war.  It is an Israeli strategic area of military occupation now, protecting Israel from potential invasion from its northern neighbors, Syria and Lebanon.  It is also an area of agriculture importance, with vast fields of grain and other vital crops.  Going up to Golan from the east entrance was a pleasant drive, but coming down the western slope was  frightening: switchbacks on a narrow road, 800 or so feet drops straight down, and a large tour bus much too large for the road.  Our cute Israeli driver did an outstanding job, and he got a round of relieved applause when we finally got down on level ground.   And, we haven’t mentioned our Israeli guide.  He is a 60ish New York converted Jew who is an excellent historian, has the gift of gab, a love for the Lord and is a quick wit.  We really enjoy him.

Baptism in the Jordan:  The Jordan River was always an important source of water for agriculture, but many other biblical stories are told of its banks, the most important being the baptism of Jesus by John the Baptist. (John 3:13-17.)   Many members of our 750 member tour group were baptized today, either as an initial baptism or as a rededication.  

Thursday, March 27, 2014:

After a wonderful buffet breakfast we set out by tour bus to visit our schedule.

Caesarea by the Sea:  Caesarea was originally a poor harbor on the Mediterranean coast.  It was founded by Herod the Great in 22 BC and was the seat of the Roman government for over five hundred years.  The city was named in honor of Caesar Augustus and was the home of the Roman procurators including Pontius Pilate.  Pilate’s name was discovered in the 1960’s, on an inscription that identified him as the “prefect of Judah”.  The existing walls and gate of the harbor were built in the time of the Crusades (12th century AD).

Caesarea Theater:  We arrived at the Theater, climbed the stairs and took a seat in a bowl shaped theater with a view of the Mediterranean sea in the background.  Negotiating the irregular stone steps without a hand rail was a challenge. This was the first place that Dr. David Jeremiah  would speak to the entire tour.  After some music by the Hoppers and others, the theme of the message became evident:  “Grace”.
Near the theater was an aqueduct built by Herod the Great and later modified by the Romans in the second century AD.  The aqueduct was built in order to bring fresh water to Herod’s palace swimming pool.  An amazing construction feat when you consider that the aqueduct slopes just 10 inches in its 10 mile length.  Only portions of the aqueduct remain today.

Mount Carmel:  Mount Carmel is a wooded mountain range, thirteen miles long, projecting into the Mediterranean Sea at Haifa.  From the time of antiquity, alters to strange gods were erected on its heights, especially for the worship of Baal.  In 1 Kings 18: 19-39 it is recorded that this is where Elijah had his contest with the prophets of Baal.

Megiddo:  Megiddo is on the southern end of the Jezreel Valley and commands one of the most strategic points in Israel.  Destroyed and rebuilt many times, twenty-two separate layers of occupation have been found here, each one built on the ruins of the previous city.  Evidence has been found here dating to the time of Solomon. Originally the water source was outside the city walls.  An impressive system of water works was built to provide access to the water from inside the city. The tour descended 197 feet on a stairway down to the bottom of the well. This is perhaps the Holy Land’s best-known Biblical city.  Megiddo is better known in its Latin form “Armageddon”.  In Revelation 16:16 it is revealed that it is here, that the battle between the forces of good and evil will be fought before the Judgment Day.

Tomb:  An ancient tomb near the side of a road (it was discovered when the modern road was constructed) illustrates what the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea’s tomb might have looked like from the outside.  In Luke 23: 51-53 we learn that Joseph made his tomb available for Jesus.

Gideon Springs:  It was at Mount Gilboa where Gideon followed the Lord’s commands to select the 300 (the soldiers who lapped putting their hand to their mouth) to defeat the forces of the Midianites.  Judges 7:6-7.  Frank tried to get down to the spring to drink but the step was deeper than he could manage.  Our bus tour captain obliged with the photo op.

Caprice Diamond Factory:  At the end of the day we visited the Caprice Diamond Factory.  This factory cuts and polishes diamonds from around the world and 61% of its business is exporting diamonds to the United StatesSharon was able to replace the 40th anniversary ring from Frank that she lost several years ago.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Wednesday, March 26, 2014: We arrived at Ben Gurion International Airport

We arrived at Ben Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv, Israel at about 3:00 p.m.  Once we passed through customs and picked up our luggage, we boarded one of the buses waiting for us to take us to our hotels in Tiberius.  Members of the tour stayed in one of five hotels in Tiberius.  A few folks stayed at one hotel in Nazareth.  Sharon and I are on the ground floor of the Gai Beach Hotel with an outside patio right on the Sea of Galilee
 In the tree next to our patio, there was even an Israeli “mockingbird” singing his heart out.  What a blessing.  We will stay here for four nights and take several day trips each day and returning to the same hotel each night.

Our first meal was an evening buffet at the hotel with all of the tour members, approximately 750, eating together.  The grounds of the hotel were just beautiful.  We ate out-of-doors on the patio around the pool next to the Sea of Galilee
Multiple food stations were set up around the grassy grounds under the palm trees.  The menu consisted of steak, chicken, sausage, BBQ, baked potatoes a variety of salads and desserts that were out of this world.
Following the meal, David Jeremiah addressed the group and introduced members of his staff that will assist during the tour. 
Several Christian entertainers followed with the largest group being the Hoppers.

Now on to bed and catch up on some much needed sleep.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014: Our flight departed Philadelphia, PA at 9:10 p.m. EST

The flight was very comfortable with a choice of dinner meals of BBQ Chicken or Pasta.  Just before we landed, we received a hot breakfast consisting of a choice of an egg omelet or French toast with fresh fruit, yogurt, and a variety of beverages.  Early in the flight most folks on the flight watched one of the in-flight movies, (everyone had their own personal screen in the seat back in front of them) and could choose whatever they wanted to be entertained with, listen to music or played video games and then tried to get some sleep later on.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Tuesday, March 25, 2014: Our flight is later today.

It is now Tuesday morning.  We had a good night's sleep last night and a great breakfast this morning at the Hampton Inn next to the Philadelphia Airport.  Everything is packed and we are waiting for the airport shuttle to take us the the US Air terminal.  The next post will not be until we arrive at our hotel in Tiberias.  Come back soon.
At the airport, we saw the Liberty Bell.  One issue was that this one was made out of Legos.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Israel Tour Schedule

Following is our schedule for the duration of our trip.
Monday, March 24, 2014:  Depart Galax for Philadelphia, PA.
Tuesday, March 25, 2014:  Depart U.S.A. for our flight to Israel.
Wednesday, March 26, 2014:  Arrive Tel Aviv 2:10 p.m.  Transfer via motor coach to our hotel in Tiberias.
Thursday, March 27, 2014:  Tour Caesarea by the sea, Caesarea Theater, Mount Carmel, Megiddo and Gideon Springs.
Friday, March 28, 2014:  Tour Caesarea Philippi, Tel Dan, Golan Peach Overlook and Baptism at Yardinet.
Saturday, March 29, 2014:  Tour Nazareth Biblical Village, Mount of Beatitudes, Capernaum, Nof Ginosar and Boat ride on Sea of Galilee.
Sunday, March 30, 2014:  Tour Bet Shean, Jericho Tel, Model City, Haas Promenade.  Travel to Jerusalem and transfer to a new hotel for the next five nights.
Monday, March 31 and Tuesday, April 1:  Tour Southern Steps, Western Wall, View Temple Mount, Davidson Center, Mount of Olives, Palm Sunday Road, Garden of Gethsemane, Via Dolorosa, Fortress Antonia, Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Saint Anne's Church, Pool of Bethesda, Mount Zion, Saint Peter in Gallicantu, Upper Room, Jewish Quarter.
Wednesday, April 2, 2014:  Tour Jesus Baptismal Site, Masada, En Gedi Overlook, Qumran and Dead Sea.
Thursday, April 3, 2014:  Tour Garden Tomb and shopping.  Transfer to the airport for a night flight back to the U.S.A.
Friday, April 4, 2014:   Arrive U.S.A.  Stay ovenight in Philadelphia.
Saturday, April 5, 2014:  Depart Philadelphia for Galax, VA.

Travel to Israel. We depart Monday, March 24, 2014

Today is Sunday, March 23, 2014 and we have started packing for our trip.
We travel to Philadelphia tomorrow and go to the airport for our flight on Tuesday.
I hope to be able to post to this blog during our trip.
There were a few issues I WILL have to deal with:
1. If I am not too tired when we get back to the hotel after touring all day; and,
2. If I can get my photos downloaded from my digital camera and edit the photos; and,
3. If I can remember everything I heard during the day; and,
4. If I can get an Internet connection at the hotel.
Then the blog might happen.  If not, then some of our trip might not get posted until we return home.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Saturday, October 24, 2009 (Late Post)

Early Saturday morning we arrive at the port of Piraeus and disembark the Ocean Majesty for a transfer to the airport and the return flight home.

It was a wonderful trip. In addition to the tours to the islands, we were treated to wonderful Christian fellowship; too much good food, gospel music, and one evening a Greek dance troupe came aboard ship to entertain us.

The memory that will be the most lasting in our minds about this trip is the sacrifices that the dear saints Paul and John endured to spread the gospel of Jesus, not only to the Jews but also to Gentiles like us. They didn’t have the luxury of an ocean liner and air conditioned tour buses to get from place to place. They didn’t have a beautiful hotel to sleep in. They endured many hardships to get the message of Jesus out to a lost world. Paul records his trials and difficulties in II Corinthians, Chapter 11.
We today are so blessed to have the teachings of Paul and John throughout the New Testament. We should never take for granted the many sacrifices that the saints before us have made to keep the Gospel alive. It is our prayer that future generations can say that we were faithful in keeping the Gospel alive for them!

Friday, October 23, 2009 (Late Post)

Early in the morning we arrive at Santorini, jewel of the Aegean. This most scenic of all islands was created by a volcanic eruption over a thousand years ago. Perched atop 1,000 foot cliffs, this city is believed by some scholars to be the lost city of Atlantis.

We went ashore via small tender boats. Here we rode to the mountaintop city of Thira on a cable car.

The cable car on Santorini appeared in the 1961 movie “The Guns of Navarone.” The cave with the large guns, however, was shot on the Island of Rhodes. A little poetic license.

There were two ways to reach the top of Santorini, via cable car or by donkey. We chose the cable car. In this photo you can see the zig-zag route of the donkeys which took longer to reach the top than the cable car (and, by the way, a lot more smelly). We spent the day shopping and exploring the beauty of the island. There were a large number of shops, especially jewelry and souvenir shops.

Sharon and I ate lunch at a seaside café with a traditional Greek seafood lunch. The meal for two included: Prawns, anchovies, mussels, calamari (squid), octopus, deep fried sardines, and another larger fish that was also deep fried. The plate included a salad of eggplant, olives, lettuce and tomatoes. Including drinks of water, coke and mineral water the total bill was €41, approximately $60 US.

Thursday, October 22, 2009 (Late Post)

Early Thursday morning we arrive at the island of Rhodes. Paul during his 2nd missionary journey passed the island of Rhodes on his return to Jerusalem (Acts 21:1). He apparently did not have a ministry on this island,.

The original inhabitants of Rhodes were probably Greeks who settled there in about 1000 BC. According to legend, the island was first governed by a grandson of Crete’s King Minos. Little else is said about the island until Homer records in the Iliad that soldiers from Rhodes took part in the Trojan War.

A picturesque drive along the eastern coastline brings us to the city of Lindos. This enchanting site, the most important of the three great cities of ancient times, is guarded by medieval walls constructed by the Knights of St. John in the 13th century. From the Acropolis (incidentally, every Greek city has an acropolis which means "the high point") there are breathtaking views of the great expanse of the Aegean Sea, and St. Paul’s Bay where the Apostle Paul cast anchor during his historic voyage to Ephesus. We climb the Great Staircase to the Temple of Athena, among the most important temples of the Ancient Greek World. The climb was treacherous; very steep, slippery rocks, and no handrails.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009 (Late Post)

This morning we dock at the isle of Patmos. We transfer to a small tender boat to go ashore since there is no dock for our ship. Patmos is a crescent shaped volcanic island located about 35 miles from modern-day Turkey. The island is only 24 square miles in size. There are about 3,500 full-time residents. Even with its sparse vegetation, the island is a charming, picturesque and tranquil island of white-washed houses and churches. It is a lovely resort island with much activity.

In about the 2nd Century BC, Patmos was subjected by the Romans. The island fell into a state of decline and began to be used as a place of banishment. It was in this context, in 95 AD, that the Apostle John was sent to Patmos under the rule of Emperor Domitian.

During his 18 month stay on the island, he wrote the book of The Revelation and converted many inhabitants of the island to Christianity.

In September, 96 AC, Domitian was assassinated and the new Emperor of Rome, Vocceius Nerva, recalled all those who had been exiled to the island. John was returned to Ephesus.

Once on land, a short bus ride takes us to the Monastery of St. John. In 1088 AC, Patmos was given to St. Christodolelos for use as a monastery. The Monastery is over 900 years old and contains many well preserved frescoes, mosaic icons, medieval textiles and vestments. Included in the library of ancient books and manuscripts are 33 pages of an early 6th Century copy of the Gospel of Mark. Other pages of this document are housed in the Vatican City in Rome, the British Museum in London and in St. Petersburg, Russia.

Nearby we visit the Grotto of the Apocalypse, presumed to be the place where John wrote the book of Revelation (Revelation 1:9-11 I, John, your brother and companion in the suffering and kingdom and patient endurance that are ours in Jesus, was on the island of Patmos because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus. On the Lord’s Day I was in the Spirit, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet, which said: “Write on a scroll what you see and send it to the seven churches: to Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicea”). According to tradition, it was from within the cave that is now housed inside the monastery, where this took place. Inside we can see the niches in the wall that mark the pillow of John and the ledge used as a desk. Also we see the three-fold crack many believe to be made by the Voice of God to emphasize the honor of the Trinity. Photography was not permitted inside the cave.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009 (Late Post)

We cruise to the Turkish port of Ephesus (Kusadasi), the greatest city in Asia Minor during the Roman Empire. We see recorded in Acts about Paul's visit in Ephesus-- (Acts 18:19 They arrived at Ephesus, where Paul left Priscilla and Aquila. He himself went into the synagogue and reasoned with the Jews.)

We enter the city thru the Magnesia Gate, and find innumerable monuments: the Forum, the Odeon, the Library of Celsius and the Thermal Baths of Scolastika.

Inside the city we stopped for a group picture and a brief message from Dr. Stanley in the Grand Theatre. This magnificent ancient theater which will seat 25,000 people has such perfect acoustics in its natural bowl shape that Dr. Stanley did not have to use a microphone.

On the way back to the motor coach we strolled along the Arcadian Way, where Mark Anthony and Cleopatra once rode in procession. Just outside Ephesus, we see the Basilica of St. John, erected over his grave by the Emperor Justinian. Downhill lies the famous Temple of Diana now in ruins one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.
Paul was in Ephesus in 53 AD. He stayed there for two years, teaching in the school of Tyrannous. While there, God allowed Paul to do many miracles including the casting out of evil spirits.
John the apostle, also went to Ephesus to live and teach after the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus. John is buried at the Church of St. John shown at the right. It is throught (but not proven) that Mary, the mother of Jesus, spent her last days with John in Ephesus and is buried there.

After touring, there was time to shop in the local craft shops known for their carpets, jewelry and leather goods. We visited a Turkish carpet dealer in Ephesus. Turkish carpets are hand made from wool and are the finest carpets in the world and are very expensive. Each thread is tied separately, one thread hand knotted at a time. The detail in the design is remarkable as you can see from the depiction of the Last Supper. It may take a worker 2 to 4 years to complete one carpet.

Monday, October 19, 2009 (Late Post)

The ship arrives at Kavala and after debarking, we take a short drive to Philippi. Philippi is a city in ruins located about nine miles from the Mediterranean coast. Excavations continue and more of the ancient ruins are unearthed each year.

The major site of excavation, where the ruins of the Roman Forum from the 2nd Century AD are located, is divided by a modern highway. It has been found that many large staircases and other structures still remain buried beneath the road.
Philippi is also on the Via Egnatia, the trade route from Rome to the east. There are large sections of the Roman road still evident in Philippi.

In 42 BC, Philippi was the site of the famous battle of Roman leaders. Brutus and Cassius fought against Mark Anthony and Octavius. Mark Anthony and Octavius claimed the victory resulting in the suicidal deaths of both Brutus and Cassius.

In 50 AD, Paul and Silas arrived to preach Christianity (Acts 16:12 From there we traveled to Philippi, a Roman colony, and the leading city of that district of Macedonia. And we stayed there several days.), and the first European convert, Lydia, was baptized (Acts 16:13-15 On the Sabbath, we went outside the city gate to the river, where we expected to find a place of prayer. … One of those listening was a woman named Lydia, a dealer of purple cloth…When she and the members of her household were baptized, she invited them to her home.) There we visited the chapel that commemorates the baptism of Lydia.

No tour to Philippi could be complete without a visit to the site of Paul’s imprisonment. From here Paul was inspired to write Philippians 1:7-14. After Paul and Silas were imprisoned for proselytizing, there was an earthquake and God opened the doors of the prison and set Paul and Silas free. This story is recorded in Act 16:25-26: “About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them. Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all the prison doors flew open, and everybody’s chains came loose”. The Scripture goes on to record how the jailer and his whole family came to believe in Paul’s God. St. Paul’s prison was a Roman cistern that was converted into a prison. As you can see, it was a crude and uncomfortable place. A church was later built over the site, but since destroyed.

Being located strategically on the Via Egnatia (the Roman Road), Philippi was often the site of battles for control of the trade routes. During the 4th Century, the Goths attached the city, then the Slavs in the 7th and 8th Centuries, followed by the Bulgars in the 9th Century. In the 11th, 13th and 14th Centuries, the Crusaders came, followed again by the Slavs. Finally, the Turks occupied the city at the end of the 14th Century. But wars, malaria and hunger left the city desolate. Only a few ruins remain of its glorious past.

Sunday, October 18, 2009 (Late Post)

Sunday, October 18, 2009: Sunday morning we dock at Thessaloniki, the modern day name for Thessalonica. After breakfast, Dr. Stanley conducted a morning worship service with the music lead by Mike Speck and John Starnes. At noon we boarded a bus for a drive through Thessaloniki which is the capital of Macedonia and the second largest city in Greece. It is built around a major seaport and the city is a major industrial center of Greece. Paul and Silas came to Thessalonica on his second missionary journey.

We visited the Citadel where Paul addressed the Thessalonians.

(Acts 17:16-34 When they had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where there was a Jewish synagogue. As his custom was, Paul went to the synagogue, and on three Sabbath days he reasoned with them from the Scriptures, explaining and proving that the Christ had to suffer and rise from the dead. “This Jesus I am proclaiming to you is the Christ.”). Many of the Thessalonians came to believe in Jesus through Paul’s ministry. The Jews were jealous, and ran Paul and Silas out of town.
Paul retreated to Berea, a nearby town, which we visited next. Berea is known as the place where Paul preached to the Jewish nobility. (Acts 17:10-15). Along the drive, we enjoy magnificent views of the city, along with the numerous monuments from centuries ago. It is evident everywhere we go, that new construction waits on the old when ruins are unearthed. This is an example in Berea.
We visited St. Paul’s Tribune (built in 1950 it contains many colorful mosaics of Paul) and the Byzantine Church of Christ from the 14th century. The Church of Christ contains a number of frescos which on first glance looked dark as if they were covered with soot, but when the photographs of the frescos are viewed a wealth of color can be seen.

We also visited the Eptapirgion Walls (ruins) that stretch along the northern edge of the old city. From the top of the hill it is possible to imagine where the wall originally went to the south because the Lefkos Pirgos (White Tower) still stands and is all that remains of the southern part of the wall down by the seaport’s coast.

It was in Berea that we saw a dog that looked exactly like Jill, Billy and Grayson’s dog, Jilly. There were tame dogs or cats in all the cities that we visited in Greece. The city feeds and cares for the animals, and they are all well fed and well behaved.