Monday, March 8, 2010

The Weeks Arrived!

Can you believe that God arranged the Weeks to be here during our 4 months in Jerusalem?!

IMG_0181 Outside the Inbal Hotel in front of the banner welcoming the Weeks’ tour group.
IMG_0188 IMG_0187
Lillian and Celine with their new scarves. This is how the married Jewish ladies where their hair. I got one too, I’m just not as cute as Celine and Lillian…  

I’m sure many of you in Austin are wondering if the Weeks arrived in Jerusalem and if we ever hooked up with them. For those of you who don’t have the privilege of knowing the Weeks, they are friends of ours from our home school family who won an all-expense paid trip to Israel. Well, they did arrive and were immediately swept off touring this wonderful land. The first couple of days were brutal and no, they weren’t able to sleep on the plane. They spent their first 4 days in Tiberius.

On Friday, we knew they were going to be at the Western Wall before having their Shabbat dinner. We hadn’t heard from the Weeks due to the very busy schedule they were keeping but knew that Shabbat dinners were usually around 6pm so we figured it would be before then.

Around 2:30PM, the girls and I left for Eric’s school. After meeting up with him, we headed for the Western Wall. As we came down out of the Jewish Quarter we saw that the plaza was filled with police and security vehicles. It was overwhelming. Below us, just on the other side of the metal detectors there was a man flanked with secret service. After passing through the gates, I asked who it was (hoping it was Perez or Netanyahu). Though not who I had hoped, it was the head of police in Jerusalem. 

IMG_0200 The head of police is flanked with security. The plaza was swarming with police, soldiers and riot police.
IMG_0193 The Dome of the rock in the background. See the wooden, elevated walkway? This is the gentile entrance to the Dome of the Rock which is where the riots were last Sunday.

The entire plaza was quite exciting. As we waited, riot police would go by, both ways, as would police and soldiers. I finally asked one of them why there were so many police present. They said it was because of the riots at the Dome of the Rock all week.

IMG_0231 One of the riot police. He said all his equipment is heavy. Eric was really impressed with these guys. This gentleman told us that he would like to be in college “but someone has to do this.”
IMG_0226 This was one of the groups that hung around. They had already seen action that morning. We have felt very safe in Israel. They don’t mess around.

Sunday, a week ago, people visiting the Dome of the Rock had rocks thrown at them. The officer I was talking to said that the riots have been going on all week and that it is still dangerous. Hence, the police. However, in a few hours, all the vehicles were cleared out and the number of police had reduced some. Eric and I had decided to stay out of the way so when the Weeks arrived they could really experience the Western Wall the way we did. It is really impressive and inspiring. Sometime after 6PM, Eric and Celine, who were posted at a “lookout” spotted the Weeks. Eric sent me a text to let me know he had seen them. Sure enough Tally, Lillian and I found them. We stayed back while Richard took Ryan and Collin to the men’s side of the wall, while Trish went to the women’s side. We then went to say hi! It was so exciting and so bizarre. Here we were talking to the Weeks at the Western Wall in Jerusalem’s Old City.

IMG_0219 Western Wall on the Women’s side. The women pray as passionately as the men.
IMG_0222 Celine at the Western Wall. 
IMG_0227 Pastor John Hagee preaching at the Western Wall. He was being filmed. He arrived about an hour before the tour groups.

When it was time for their tour group to head back to the bus and then on to their hotel, we began our walk to Eric’s school then on to home. The Weeks are staying at The Inbal, which is 4 blocks from our home. 

As we reached the top of Yemen Moshe, we get a call that the Weeks had arrived at the hotel. We would be walking by their hotel in just minutes so we stopped to visit. They had about an hour before dinner so we invited them to our home. The kids and Eric walked. Trish was in heels and Richard had just showered so I road in a taxi with them. Since the walk to our home is up a very steep hill, we didn’t want them to get all sweaty before their Shabbat dinner. Anyway, they got to come over for a few minutes before we headed back down to the hotel. We all walked back since it was all down hill. It is really so weird that we are so close to them.

IMG_0251  Top of Mt. Scopus looking north—opposite Jerusalem. Notice how “deserty” it gets as you leave the area of Jerusalem.
IMG_0247 Top of Mt. Scopus looking out over Jerusalem. Very green and of course, crowded with the city.
IMG_0257 On the top of Mt. Olives. A Bedouin and his donkey. He is giving rides.
IMG_0254 On the top of Mt. Olives. Bedouins also bring their camels for rides. We haven’t ridden one yet, although Trish was hoping to ride one today at the Dead Sea.

The next day, Eric had to leave at 6:30AM with his class for a 3-day field study to the Negev. The Weeks were going to be at Mt. Olives in the morning then back to the Old City. The girls and I were torn where we should meet up with the Weeks. We ended up walking over to Mt. Olives, catching a taxi to take us to the top of Mt. Scopus then dropping us off at the top of Mt. Olives. It would take another blog to describe how awesome that was. We made our way back over to the Dung gate, planning to grab a bite to eat just outside the Western Wall in the Muslim Quarter (restaurants in the Jewish Quarter were still closed for Shabbat).  We decided to eat at a place right inside Jaffa Gate. As we were making our way over to Jaffa through amazing crowds, we came to where we needed to turn left. As we were waiting for a pesky tour group to pass, Celine noticed the teal flag of the Weeks’ group, then Tally noticed they were wearing the same tags then she saw RICHARD! We stepped in and “bumped” into Richard, then I ran ahead to “bump” into Trish. It was awesome. They were walking the Via Dolorosa in reverse order ending at St. Ann’s Church. Because they still had about 6 stations to go, we decided to go eat and meet them back at St. Ann’s. As we were walking to St. Ann’s, we met up with them as they were coming out of another church.

IMG_0281 Here we are with Richard, Trish, Ryan and Collin by the Pools of Bethesda. They are beautiful! The pools are too.
IMG_0278 Richard, Trish and Collin enjoying a lesson from the Bible in front of the Pools of Bethesda.
IMG_0277 Lillian with Ryan during the Bible lesson. Lillian LOVES having the boys here—a real highlight for her.

St. Ann’s was really cool. The whole John Hagee group was there and they filled the church. We sang for about 15 minutes then they had an anointing service. Afterwards it was time to go home so we headed out the Lion Gate to the bus. Trish had asked if we could ride the bus back to their hotel—that was nice. We got to hang around with them until dinner.

The fact that we are here, the Weeks won a trip here, the trip was while we are here AND they are staying just 4 blocks from us is all incredibly amazing, don’t you think? God certainly graces us in peculiar ways.

IMG_0284 Richard and Trish in their room at the Inbal. Trish is such a good wife!
IMG_0283 They were so excited about seeing each other. It was an awesome reunion. This is Collin and Ryan’s room.

Today, the Weeks are at the Qumran Caves, Dead Sea, Mesada and then a Light and Sound show with Jason Crab. They are due to return around midnight—long day. What is cool is Eric is in the same area. They won’t see each other but they are seeing the same things. Eric will be swimming in the Dead Sea tomorrow and climbing Masada  before returning to Jerusalem—I digress. We should see the Weeks tomorrow—maybe at the Garden Tomb. We will also be attending The Night to Honor Israel with them tomorrow night at the Convention Center.

If you miss the Weeks and would like for me to pass on a message for you, just send a comment and I will make sure they get it! They are having a great time and learning more than they will be able to share—for sure!



Ruth said...

We're so happy to have the whole group staying with us, its lovely to read about what our guests are up to during their time here, whilst we're sitting in our offices at the hotel.
Thanks for the details and let us know if we can do anything to help,
enjoy the rest of the trip - Ruth -marketing dept (downstairs offices)