Friday, December 30, 2011

The Sermon on the Mount

One last stop in Galilee. After our boat ride, we hurried on to the beautiful gardens where Jesus' Sermon on the Mount is commemorated.

Much of Galilee is lush and tropical like this. Our guide told us the Israeli's planted six million trees at the birth of their country to commemorate the six million of their brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers who were slain in the Holocaust. Since then, they have planted an additional 100 million trees. It is beautiful!

Here I am on the path through the garden.

I was honored to read the Beatitudes from Matthew 5 to the rest of our group.

Here's the Sea of Galilee from the Mount of Beatitudes. We were constantly drawn to it.

Since this is our last stop in Galilee, I'm going to share a poem I wrote years ago. I found the first draft and cringed a little, but then I found a revision that I'm pleased to share with you today. 

Walking on Water

If I could paint
the boatload of apostles
on the Sea of Galilee,
the wind,
the boisterous waves,

I wouldn’t paint Peter walking alone.
I wouldn’t paint him sinking in fear.
I wouldn’t paint, “O ye of little Faith.”

I’d paint the Savior catching him.
I’d paint them walking back to the boat—

I’d paint the dry sandals and robes,
of the eleven tucked safely away in the ship.
I’d paint their faces longing 
to be out there with the Lord--
like Peter. 

Have a very happy New Year! There's about 24 more hours left to nominate CAYMAN SUMMER for the Whitney Award. And don't forget to enter my Christmas Week Giveaway. You have until January 3rd for that.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

We Danced Where Jesus Walked

The highlight of our first day in Israel was a boat trip on the Sea of Galilee. This beautiful, freshwater lake is where Jesus calmed the storm and on another occasion walked on water.

I love Peter because he tried to join the Savior. Peter had enough faith to get out of the boat. The rest of the apostles kept the firm wooden keel underneath their feet. Peter failed, but the Savior caught him. Good lesson for all of us, don't you think?

Swimmers in the Sea of Galilee.

Here's our boat coming in to pick us up. Archeologists found a wooden boat buried in the mud of the lake that they believe dates to the time of Jesus near here. There is a museum that displays the excavated boat. Our boat was modern, but built of wood and reminiscent of boats that plied these waters in Jesus' time. 

Here's me and my husband waiting to board our boat.
A good view of the old-fashioned boats. 

Don Perry, again, reminding us of events that took place on this sea. You can see the interior of the boat.

View from the boat in the middle of the Sea of Galilee. It was breathtaking.

Here I am with the Galilean hills in the background.
When we got out on the water, after Don spoke, we sang, "Master the tempest is raging," and then sat and enjoyed the peaceful place. Our hosts, who were Hebrew or Israeli, played some lovely music.

Another boat on the water.

We had several minutes to ponder enjoying scared music, but then our hosts got us all on our feet. We stood in a big circle and danced to, "Hava Nagila." (I know I'm spelling that I'll wrong. I'll have to look it up!) The dancing was so much fun. So now, I can say, we danced where Jesus walked!

Wooden floor of the boat--perfect for dancing!

The sun was setting as we returned.

Quite some time ago, I wrote a poem about Peter walking on the water. I'll try to find it and post it tomorrow.

Don't forget to enter the Christmas Week Giveaway! The New Year is just three days away. Wow, 2012! Are you ready for it?

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Capernaum--Where they Believed

Three more days to nominate CAYMAN SUMMER for the Whitney Award. Anyone, anywhere can nominate until December 31st. And don't forget to enter my Christmas Week swag giveaway. I promised I'd send out Michael and Leesie M&Ms when it was cold, so I didn't have to worry about them melting. Here's your chance to get a bag of your own.

Today I'm giving you a tour of Capernaum. Jesus lived here for eighteen to twenty months. Instead of trying to kill him, the people of Capernaum believed!

Capernaum had a population of 10,000.

Capernaum was a fishing town and sits on the shores of the Sea of Galilee. We fell in love with the Sea of Galilee and the beautiful hills surrounding it. 

Here I am by the Sea of Galilee near Capernaum.

This is the view from Capernaum.
Capernaum was a large, prosperous town. Fishing from the fresh waters of Galilee was a key industry.
It was Peter's home town. There is a giant church built where they think Peter's house was, but there are also lots of ruins of buildings made with black, volcanic rock. They say these structures date to the time Jesus walked the streets here. 


Jesus found his first disciples here. He called five of them to be apostles--Peter, James, John, Andrew and Matthew. Standing in the ruins of this once thriving town, you can almost hear the Savior say, "Follow me, and I'll make you fishers of men." You know, he said that to them after he'd miraculously filled their empty nets with more fish than they'd ever seen. And they forsook it all and followed him. Their lives would never be the same--but that's true for everyone who meets the Savior. He transforms a handful of fishermen to mighty apostles, water to wine, and makes of us something far greater than anything we could have ever imagined.


Jairus also lived in Capernaum, and when Jesus was rushing to his house to raise Jairus' daughter from the dead, the woman with an issue of blood touched him. Don, our guide, told us that if you were bleeding you couldn't go to the temple. Jesus healed her spiritually as well as physically. And the word that is translated as "daughter" meant "one of the converted ones." 


These are millstones. Jesus could have sat in this very square, held a child on his knee, and told the people it would be better to have one of these stones hung around your neck and be cast in the nearby sea than to offend one of His little ones. We are all His little ones.

I would have liked to spend on day in Capernaum wandering, pondering. It is beautiful, and even though the parking lots was crammed with HUNDREDS of buses full of pilgrims like us, it was a place of peace, but we had a boat to catch! I'll share that tomorrow. 

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

A Tour of Nazareth!

Before I tell you about Nazareth, I have a big favor to ask. CAYMAN SUMMER is eligible for the 2011 Whitney Awards. I just need a few of you who loved it to nominate it. Anyone who doesn't have a financial stake in it can nominate it by filling in this simple online form. The deadline is December 31, 2011. Thank you!

Our ship docked in Haifa--the third largest city in Israel. One quarter of a million people make Haifa their home, most of them Hebrew. Some Arab. Our guide used these terms. He was a Christian Arab from Cana. He smiled and said he was the Lord's neighbor.  As you can see, Haifa is a busy, modern city. Our guide told us 7 million people live in Israel. One million are Arab Moslems, and a 100,000 are Arab Christians. If I understood our guide correctly, an additional 3 million people live under the Palestinian Authority. Three million people visit Israel every year--70% are pilgrims.

Haifa, with the port and Mediterranean Sea in the background. Can you spot our ship?
Haifa is in the north--in Jesus day this was called Samaria. In Old Testament times these were the Northern Tribes--the ten who were lost. 

On our way to Nazareth, we stopped at Mt. Carmel where this statue of Elijah depicts his triumph over 450 priests of Baal. Mt. Carmel overlooks the Valley of Megiddo. 

Elijah chopping of an evil priest's head. He didn't mess around!
 At the time of Christ, Nazareth was a small, insignificant village. Mary and Joseph lived here with only 400 people. Nazareth had only one viable spring to provide water. Other nearby villages had about 20 springs. Today, Nazareth is a crowded Arab city of 70,000 people. Thirty percent are Arab Christians. The rest of the population are Moslems. Our guide said there is a good relationship between the Arab Christians and Moslems in Israel.

Nazareth streetscape
We walked through the bizarre to get to the Synagogue Church where the Savior first preached.
This is the Synagogue Church.

Here's what it looks like inside. Old stones. No windows. A table in front where the scrolls could be read by the rabbi. Pictured is one of our guides, Don Perry, a professor of Biblical Hebrew from BYU. He studied Hebrew in Jerusalem at the Hebrew University and is one of the scholars who is working to translate the Dead Sea Scrolls.  The church isn't two thousands years old, but it is built on a site where history records an old synagogue stood.

 Jesus grew up in Nazareth. He began His ministry in a synagogue that looked very much like this. When he stood up in this synagogue and read from the sacred Torah scrolls, his neighbors got so angry they wanted to kill him.

Jesus miraculously escaped the angry people in Nazareth and went to Cana. Cana was a large aristocratic city with a population of 3,000. Jesus performed His first miracle, turning the water to wine for his mother at a wedding, in Cana. Jesus also lived in Capernaum. We didn't visit Cana, but we did see Capernaum. I'll share that visit with you tomorrow!

Don't forget to enter my Christmas Week swag giveaway.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Christmas Week Giveaway!

Merry Christmas! I'm back online. I missed everyone. I went on a Southern Mediterranean cruise (Turkey, Cyprus, Israel, Egypt) in November and was traveling again this month. I didn't get a contest organized earlier in the month, so I'm holding a M + L swag giveaway this week to finish the year out with a bang!

I have 20 more bags of Michael and Leesie M&Ms that I'm happy to mail around the world. Let's keep it simple, post your email address and Christmas greetings to the CAYMAN SUMMER family below. Entries without emails will be disqualified. One entry per person.

The giveaway runs until midnight, January 3rd!

I hope you all had a Merry Christmas and are looking forward to  a wonderful new year. I hope to have good news to post soon. My agent is vigorously marketing both SLIPPED and MY ONLY LOVE--plus looking for new markets to introduce Michael and Leesie and Beth, Scott and Derek, too.

I had a fantastic time on my travels. I'll try to post highlights this week--especially of the places I visited in Israel--since it's Christmas time!

All my love,