Thursday, May 13, 2010

Last day...

Mom & David love all the cats that are around town...We had such fun going through Hezekiah's tunnel in "mostly" dark.

The Holocaust museum was a somber visit.
Those that helped Jews escape have a tree planted in their name.
This is Corrie Ten Boom's
Buchenwald is a concentration camp that we visited on our trip to Germany in '08
This is the children's memorial. There are only 4 candles lit. There are a bunch of mirrors reflecting the light from those candels, representing the 1.5 million children killed.
The Garden Tomb was our last stop of the day. Such a beautiful site and great visual for what it may have been like!
We sang songs and took communion together, such a sweet time.
We catch the shuttle to the airport in 15min, home sweet home, here we come!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Last days in Israel

The Valley of Elah where David defeated Goliath
Throwing stones at our own "Goliath"
What the city may have looked like before. See Matt trying to buy a sheep?

Yummy pizza for lunch!

The Burnt House, burnt by the romans years ago!

Jenna had to have a picture with a soldier, they are everywhere!

We loved walking around the little shops, and shopping of couse

We stayed behind and made our way back through Ben Yehuda from the Old City.
We totally enjoyed the free time. We got to walk up on the city wall.

The view was gorgeous!
Then, on the way home, we got ice cream bars AND Big Macs! SUPER YUM!
It was Jerusalem day here so we were glad to be heading back before dark,
there were a ton of people out!
Today is our last day in Jerusalem. We've had a great time and are ready to be heading home to sleep in our own bed with our own wake up call, or lack there of! One more night in Tel Aviv for us, then another in Newark, then home on Saturday!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

All around Israel!

Petra, in the Hashamite Kingdom of Jordan, was amazing, even for the second time.
It was a wee bit hot but it was fabulous and beautiful.


Everyone enjoyed climbing up in the cliffs.

The Treasury, we tried to find Indiana Jones but he was nowhere to be found.

The next day was Masada, because it was so hot the guard wouldn't let me run up.
John, Matt and I ran down it though. It took only 15 minutes and LOTS of sore muscle!


Here we are all hot and sweaty! I was so hot I couldn't even taste the ice cream bar I was eating. As a side note, the Magnum icecream bars are AMAZING!!!!!!!!!!
John's favorite lunch here, burger pita with an Israeli Pepsi.
Here, they call fries chips and they put them inside the pita, weird...

Qumran, where the Dead Sea Scrolls were found.

The Garden of Gethsemane, here they have some of the oldest olive trees in Israel.

The acousitics in some of these old churches is too beautiful for words.

Lunch at Genesis Land, served by Abraham. It's similar to how we would have been served a meal 3,000 years ago, one of the best meals of the trip, yum!


Everyone got in on the camel rides, the baby camels are ADORABLE!






Bag of chocolate milk for breakfast anyone?
FYI, it's great on your corn flakes!


The Western Wall

On the Temple Mount.



Placing a prayer in the wall...
The gang in front of the Western Wall.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Israel!

The first morning it was up at 6am with complimentary wake-up call! They are so nice to us! Then, group devotions and breakfast! First stop, Ceasarea. As is our custom, we had to do a group shot at Herod's aquaduct. Not a bad picture, huh?
The first falafal of the trip. Most were enjoyed, only 2 of 10 were tossed out. Can you guess which two kids didn't care for it?
This is the "Jesus Boat". I forget what year it was found but it's pretty awesome!
They esimate that it's around 2,000 years old.
Next up, Beit She'an. This is one of our favorite spots of the whole trip, truly amazing ruins!
This is a view fom the top!
We woke up today at 5:30am, before our complimentary 6am wake up call.
John and I decided to check out the sunrise.
The older three girls have their own room and Jenna is with Mom & David.
It was fun though to have a moment to ourselves.
They call this Abraham's Gate at Tel Dan
It's dated back to the time of Abraham.
These three brave souls, as well as Jenna, got St. Peter's fish, ew!
We got pizza, it wasn't Ray's but it was better than fish!
We ended the day at the Jordan with baptism's. The three in the baptism "sheet" got baptised again, it was wonderful! Of course they had to bear hug Leah afterward to get her all wet!
As usual, we don't know if we'll be able to find more free wifi at our next stop, Eilat. This one is on a boardwalk on the Sea of Galilee. We just got to see fireworks! It's such a blast!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Check off the major

New York was amazing! We had a wonderful, fabulous, fantastic time and already can’t wait until we can return someday! There are so many things to stop and gaze at, while snapping a few pictures of course! It’s so hard to encapsulate in a small blog all that we did and saw. Let alone the experiences that we shared. For as long as I can remember, I have wanted to wander the streets of NYC. And finally, I got to do just that, peruse the many, many, streets of NYC. Those that know me, a friend has finally titled my problem, OPD. Obsessive planning disorder. There, I’ve said it, I am admitting to you all that I do indeed suffer from OPD. When I plan a trip, I want to see it ALL. Any by all I mean, well, ALL! Usually, it’s John and the kids that suffer the consequences of my long, crazy trip “lists”. This time, Mom, David, Matt & Melanie were able to join in on the suffering. I hope I haven’t traumatized them for life, I’ll know for sure I have if they refuse to travel with us again.

John is usually great at coming along side me in my crazy OPD. He tries to accommodate my behavior while also being able to say, “Jaime, NO!” But only when he absolutely must. I think I’ve gotten better over the years but to know the true answer to that question, I recommend you ask John, preferably when I’m not around.

I know I’ve already blogged about the places we visited but didn’t really take the time to blog about the experience. I don’t know that I can even put it in words. It’s certainly at least what I hoped for, maybe even more. It’s a city unlike any I’ve experienced before, and we’ve been a few places. The people are everywhere. I would maybe relate it to the packed park of Disneyland or something. People everywhere but, you can still move around and get to where you want to go, it just might take a bit. We didn’t really experience the rudeness you sometimes hear of. And I have to throw in that the Omni Berkshire Place is fantastic. The people there were very friendly and willing to try their hardest to make our stay fabulous. They succeeded. The location was really pretty convenient as well.

They say NYC is the city that never sleeps. Unless it magically slept only when we did, it really is the city that never sleeps. No matter the time of day, everyone was out eatin’ some Ray’s pizza or checking out Time’s Square. We did notice a slight change in the crowd from Sat. & Sun. to Monday morning. A lot more business attire Mon. morning but the people were the same.

Central Park is almost a magical experience, like your first time at Disneyland as a small child. Strolling through the lush, green trees, you get that same feeling of being somewhere special. Love really is in the air and God’s beauty is all around. There were white petals slowly fluttering to the ground all around us, it was serene really. I’m not sure exactly how long we wandered through Central Park but I am certain that I could have spent more time there. I can honestly say that I LOVE it! For the last few years it seemed every movie would take place in NY and of course all of them would end up in Central Park somehow, now I understand why. There’s something special about it. John and I are already talking about how amazing it’d be to return in the fall.

With each trip that we take, I learn a little more about myself. I learn a little bit more about the truth of how things are. For instance, for the first time ever, I left un-entered receipts on my desk. GASP! AND, guess what, nothing happened. I also forgot my nice sweater to wear over my t-shirt to the play on Broadway Sat. night. AND, guess what, nobody said a single thing to me about it. We were late leaving our hotel to walk the .8 miles to the shuttle for the airport AND, are you catching the theme here? I could list quite a few things here, I guess I’m losing my OPD talent or something. Or, maybe God is just molding me more and more to be like Him? I’m pretty sure the person lacking salvation is gonna always be of more significance than whatever tiny little thing I’m sniffling over. Not that He doesn’t care, He knows the number of hairs on my head so I’m pretty sure He knows the worries in my heart as well. It’s just that He’s teaching me more and more to not worry and lean more and more on Him to direct my EVERY step. Here’s the most amazing discovery of all, you don’t have to check off every single little item on your list to have a great vacation. While it’s easy to say that when we did hit all my major stops, there were some stops that were closed or that we missed entirely and I’m ok with that. I didn’t even cry this time like I did in Paris. I guess I’m lightening up on scratching things off my list. But, maybe just hold off on telling John that for me!

It reminds me of the “Bucket List”. Did you all see that movie? Here I am with my so important list, did I mention that it’s all good when you leave said list in the hotel room and don’t realize it ‘till you’re out touring the town already, already miles from said hotel room? Who knew? Anyhow, back to the important list. We sort of have our “lists” for our lives, don’t we? I’d like to see this, do that, experience this. If you had to prioritize your life’s check list, could you? I realized, just now, that the only truly important thing to check off is Jesus. If you visit NYC or Hong Kong but don’t know Jesus, you’ve just checked off a minor. If you feed the hungry and clothe the homeless but don’t have Jesus, again, you’ve just checked off a minor. If you raise good children and save enough for retirement, but don’t “check off” Jesus, you missed the biggest, single most important thing on your life’s list. I beg of you, don’t go through life wasting your time on all the little, minor things to see, do, and experience. Spend your time on the one thing that matters, knowing Jesus, checking Him “off” your list, He’s the major. You’ll still get to check off little things along the way, but, they’ll mean so much more with Him!

And now, here are some more pics from our trip, it’s amazing how much you can blog on a long flight to Tel Aviv!

St. Patricks church is so beautiful. It reminded us all of Notre Dame and the cathedral in Cologn, Germany.


We had a great time figuring out the Metro, I don’t know if the metro workers found it as amusing as we did though.



Trinity church was beautiful as well and was even more fun being from National Treasure.


The World Trade Center site is under construction so it’s really hard to imagine just what it looked like on Sept. 11, 2001. But, we know what terrible tragedy happened there and, we will never forget.

In China Town David splurged on some coconut milk, it was pretty yummy. It sure is great to have someone on the trip who not only likes to enjoy food on vacation but likes to share said food! Thanks again David.



I know I posted a couple of these but here ya go again, with a little bit more detail!

Little Italy had such a great feel to it. I wished I could stop and sample pasta at every little place. Instead, we had gelato. Just what we needed in the middle of this hot, humid 80 degree day.


Due to it’s appearance in a few movies, I had to stop and see Washington Square, remember the accomodating John part? While I snapped some pics, John and the kiddos watched some street performers. Can you see the one guy in mid air over the group of 5 people, crazy!

The American Museum of History was one of the spots that happened to be closed. Did I mention how many sites had scaffolding in front? No? That’s because I’m loosening up people, only God could do that!

The museum is right across the street from Central Park, hear the trumpets playing when we get to the part where we finally get to experience Central Park, well that’s fine if you don’t, I hear them.


We sat on some benches to ensure that Mom, David and the girls could make it back to the hotel without us. They were going to dinner while Matt, Melanie, John & I strolled through the park.





The people rowing boats on the water really made it feel like the movies. When it showed all that going on in Enchanted I thought it was just the romantic, fairy tale part of Disney coming through in their movie, nope, it really happens there! AND, they even have gondola rides, who knew?




Thanks to Madagascar, I really wanted to snap a pic of the Central Park Zoo but there isn’t one, at least not that you can see when it’s closed. But hey, haven’t you heard? I’m a duck and, that piece of information, rolled right off my back. This, my friends, is what it looks like at night…


While eating some buffalo burgers and buffalo nachos near Time’s Square, yep, we got to go back and walk all the way down, this time without scares of bombs going off, I shared how my only disappointment thus far was not getting to see the Brooklyn Bridge a little closer up than the Statue of Liberty ferry. So, after dinner we took the metro down to the Brooklyn Bridge. The night was warm and perfect! We meandered across and then ran back to the station. John took some cool night time shots.


Seeing as Jarod is in the “male fascination with Lego” stage of life,

we had to snap a pic of this for him, cool, huh bud?


Our last morning in NYC we didn’t really have a whole lot planned. We were too maxed out from the day before! We started first thing with the Empire State Building. Visibility wasn’t too hot, or so they said, so I wasn’t sure we’d see anything but fog from the top. Once we arrived at the top I was relieved to see that we were able to see all the important stuff.

It was super windy up there, what with the rainy weather change just in time for our departure, but we didn’t care. At least the wind and rain was warm! I didn’t even have my jacket on! (GASP! Note even more personal growth!)


Our last photo op of the day was inside the NY Library, did I mention this is in a movie as well? Did I also mention that this was closed on our first day in town? So it was especially cool to be able to run in and check it out on our way for one last bite of Ray’s pizza in Time’s Square.


Now, we are ready for our next adventure, ISRAEL!