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Bethlehem Map

Jerusalem Map


Here is a copy of the letter we sent

to Bishop Younan, in Jerusalem:

Click on the letter for a larger view




Click on the letter for a larger view

Day 1 (Friday, June 29):  

We have received the first message from our intrepid explorers...

"Greetings from Bethlehem, from all of us!"

Everyone arrived in Bethlehem safe and sound. 

Day 2 (Saturday, June 30):  

Hi, Family and Friends,  We had a good busy wearying day.  All's well with us.
The terrain is something that I had never considered.  The trip from Jerusalem to Bethlehem included travelling over 2 mountain ranges similar to Sidling Hill on the Turnpike. Makes Jesus' walk of 8 miles into a real journey.

Tomorrow is church at the Christmas Lutheran Church here where we are staying.  The service is in Arabic, so it should be interesting.  

Shalom,  John

Day 3 (Sunday, July 1):  

Hi!  Just  an update  We went to the Church of the Nativity and saw the wall they are building to keep the Palestinians corralled.   What a joke.  Also numerous sites around Bethlehem  Seeing a lot of the old world realities and it is a really interesting experience on a perspective on life, in general. Boy, are we coddled. My I-phone puked, so I cannot use it to communicate, as it will not recognize any WiFi hot spots.  Just reads 'No Service'.  According to the I-phone websites, it is a problem others are having so, hopefully, I can get it resolved when we get to a larger city.  I will chat with you later. Love ya,  John

The pastors and other Holy Land Trip members called Trinity Mt. Oliver (during the Worship Service) on Sunday, July 1.  So, turn up the volume on your speakers, try to ignore the 'echo' and listen to...

   Greetings from Bethlehem! (It is an MP3 audio file)

Day 4 (Monday, July 2):  

Hi all. Today got an overview of the ministry going on here at Christmas Lutheran Church as they deal with an ever-changing community.  The current population in the West Bank is 17% Christian and 81% Palestinian Muslim.  The field is tough, but the ministry options are overwhelming, as they actively support those great needs of a displaced people.

Saw many of the sights around Bethlehem. Herod's fortress, from which you can see the Dead Sea and the Jordan River to the east; Jerusalem, the Mount of Olives and Bethlehem to the north; the mountains and the Mediterranean Sea to the West; and Sinai Desert to the south.  Interesting what you can see from 3000 feet up  
Love you all. John. 

Day 5 (Tuesday, July 3):  

Wow. What a day. Today was our service project day. We toured several of the Christmas Lutheran Churches ELCA (where we are staying in Bethlehem), a Health and Wellness Center, a school and a college (the only one in Bethlehem.).  At the college following lunch. We spent several hours cleaning the grounds around the college picking up 25+ garbage bags of trash. Cleaned some flower beds and even roughly trimmed some bushes. 
After that, toured the open air market in Bethlehem, which is like an ancient bazaar Pittsburgh strip district. Ask Sharon Freed and Ronda Brourman about St John.  Following dinner and devotions, we prepared for our morning move and blitz tour of Jerusalem from where will come tomorrow's message.
Peace from Palestine. John. 
PS:  What an ironic situation, getting to celebrate America's freedom from a land that is anything but... Praying for you and the people you are meeting...

Day 6 (Wednesday, July 4):  

What an amazing day of touring some of the major sites in Jerusalem. In the picture, we are facing the Garden of Gethsemane with the Dome of Rock in the background.  We had just  walked half way down the hill from the Mount of Olives, which is longer and steeper than Cardiac Hill in Oakland (from Forbes Ave. up to the VA hospital, past the Peterson Center).  This was Jesus' ride on Palm Sunday.  We then went up to tour around the Dome of The Rock and got a glimpse of the Western (Wailing) Wall that we are going to tomorrow.   We then toured through a big chunk of Old Jerusalem and moved into our new hotel in Old Jerusalem, near the New Gate. Tomorrow, we travel up the Via Dolorosa and other sights. Our tour guide, Johnny, gets us old folks hopping. We leave for breakfast at 7:00am.             

Peace Till next time.   John                                                                                                                                               Click on the photo to see a larger photo.

New Gate - Christian Quarter

Click on the photo to see maps of Jerusalem.

Day 8 (Friday, July 6):  

Today, we travelled to the Galilee, visiting the ruins at Jericho that, over the centuries, has had 23 cities built on top of one another.  

                     Click on the mosaic photo to see a larger photo.


Then, we proceeded to the Dead Sea, where we floated, some got stuck and some mud-packed  their bodies.  One was so moved by the Spirit that they kept falling down.  One had a beverage at the lowest bar on earth.   We then showered and went to Qumran and learned about the Dead Sea Scrolls. 


Our day ended with a worship service and communion on the Sea of Galilee.  Paul had chartered a boat for us to use when we got to Tiberias, on the Sea of Galilee.  Here is the picture of us at communion.  Enjoy.


                                Click on the photo to see a larger photo.

Peace. John.


Day 11 (Monday, July 9):

On the ground in Pgh.




Here is a copy of the letter we received from Bishop Younan:

Click on the letter for a larger view


Here are some external links, with lots of photos and historical information about Jerusalem:

(The links will open in a new window)




Here are some external links, with lots of photos and historical information about Bethlehem:

(The links will open in a new window)






Pittsburgh Lutheran United Ministries (PLUM), 405 Kennedy Avenue, Duquesne, PA 15110        412-466-7773