My day started much earlier than expected at Midnight. I was sleeping in my room at a Hostile along the Sea of Galilee when I heard the door to my room open and I woke up to see what it was. A large group of people from the youth course were standing in the doorway. I said, “What are you doing in my room?” and then they serenaded me in bed hitting me with pillows singing Happy Birthday. What a way to start my 18th birthday…with a group of friends in Israel!
When we woke up and ate a great breakfast (they have Coco Puffs here!!!) we traveled a short way to Capernaum. This is where Jesus moved to after his youth in Nazareth which was becoming much too dangerous for the sun of got to be living. Capernaum was a much larger city than Nazareth although has become ruins later in time while Nazareth has flourished into a major city. The morning was spent in the ruins where I received my first birthday present from my parents (a kiss from JR and Irene, my parents away from home).
Our next stop was to the Temple of Pan, another common god during the time of Jesus. This fortress was built by the sons for Herod following his death. The architecture of this fallen village was amazing. A Highlight at this site was the sand scriptures. A large rod attached to a cone sitting in a sand pit has reversed lettering on it so when it was rotated in the sand, the result would be a scripture. I’ll put a picture up which will make much more sense. After seeing this area and Banyas Waterfall (which had a French Fry Vending machine) we returned to the Hostile on the Sea of Galilee.
On the ride back, we saw signs along the road which read, “Caution, Mines" I wondered why and was told we were in Israeli occupied Syria. Through this trip I have visited multiple countries, the US of course, Germany, Israel, Occupied Palestine and Syria. The territories throughout the country are very different than when we look at them on a political map. Everything isn’t as clear as a line which divides state from state. It is argued land and since the United States supports Israel, we see the country as the Israeli Government wants us to see it and what seems right in the eyes of the powerful Jewish rulers.
Returning to Pilgarhaus, we changed into swimming gear to go to the water for a baptism service. It was a traditional baptism device where Emily was dunked into the water on the Sea of Galilee. Following this service students from the coarse swam for a while in the refreshing water. It was not cold, although it seemed like a public pool that was slightly warmed. For us Seattleites, it was VERY warm water.
It’s my birthday and many people wished me a Very Happy Birthday. I feel like I have so many more privileges and responsibilities although I don’t feel any wiser with the responsibilities. At dinner, people bought me my soda and following the group reflection time, they threw me a birthday party with cherry chocolate cake. When the amazing cake came out, it didn’t have candles, but rather fireworks spewing sparks out from the top. What a way to end the day sitting next to a lake in Israel with a group of friends eating my birthday cake with fireworks on top!