Wednesday, June 13th, 2001
Relaxing in Bethlehem

I was planning to take an organized tour on this day, but was unable to hook-up with the tour company. Father Amjad had agreed to let one of the friars (Gabi) drive me into the Old City area in one of the friar's cars. It was a very generous offer that I did not pass up. The tour company was on Jaffa St. and I had to be there at 7:00 AM. We got up very early and left for the tour company. After going through the checkpoint where there were explosions the previous evening, we made our way to Jaffa St. Unfortunately, we couldn't find the tour company and I missed the tour. However, it was not a total loss. I got the opportunity to get to know Gabi and I am very happy I did. He was extremely nice and funny, and I consider him a good friend.

After returning to Bethlehem, I took a long nap until noon. After lunch, I spent several hours helping Father Severino with his computer and sending e-mails to friends.

Excerpts from one of these e-mails:
I never know when I will get the opportunity to check email, so when I do, I want to send as many messages as I can (I know I just sent one). Everything has been quiet today for the most part. I have only heard one bomb today and about 20 or so last evening, but it usually is more intense in the evenings from what the guys say. I feel very safe where I am.

Tomorrow will be an intense day of traveling for me, as I will visit many of the Holy sites. I will be going to Nazareth, the Sea of Galilee, Tiberias, and Capernaum, and hopefully Cana as well. One of the Friars here (Father Severino) has taken me under his wing and has offered to take me touring all day tomorrow. I am EXTREMELY excited. Father Severino has a PhD and has more knowledge in his little finger than I do in my body. He is originally from Poland and a good friend of Gil.

Father Severino offered to take me to some of the better spots personally and that will end up helping me out a lot. So, I have nothing planned for today, which I hope to spend resting and intensely studying for my trip on Thursday. I will read through every area that I would be visiting, both in my guidebook as well as in my Bible. I want to be spiritually prepared for God to teach me things at every location I will find myself in.

After finishing with the computer, I went back to my room and studied the scriptures for several hours and then took another brief nap before dinner. I was exhausted! After dinner, I went up on the rooftop of the Bethlehem monastery and spent some time looking out over the beautiful countryside. I spent a significant part of the evening on the rooftop overlooking Bethlehem. Bethlehem by night is amazing. There is such a wonderful peace out by the Shepherd's Fields. Gil joined me for a while and we had a wonderfully long talk.

You may download my Israel 2001 screensavers at Webshots


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