Wednesday, May 3, 2017

7 days in Israel, my journey to the Holy Land, part 5

Scarf I bought in Nazareth with reference to the Song of the Songs

How Yeshua changed my plans and how I ended up in Nazareth

Sunday the 23 rd, Yom haShoah ( day of remembrance of the Shoah in Israel)


We can plan as much as we want: when HaShem decides otherwise, it is the Almighty's plan that is coming to pass.
I had initially targeted the baptismal "Jordan river village" place for a visit. I had researched on the internet and the traveling plan indicated that I should depart from Savidor Mercaz train station to Haifa. From Haifa Shmona platform I would have correspondance to Afula, in Galilee. 
From Afula bus station, bus 412 would take me there and from the site, a taxi would help me reach the last miles.

Savidor Mercaz, Tel Aviv, waiting for the train to Haifa

Again, I woke up very early, at 6 am. It is around 8 when I am reaching Savidor Mercaz. The train station is busy on Sunday morning, as many people are getting back to work. 
The train to Haifa is very crowded, mainly with Israeli soldiers. I am very lucky, because someone is offering me his seat. 
Some nice lady is sitting next to me. She is smiling at me.
"Tov lachevet", "nice to sit", she says to me.
She doesn't speak English and I am explaining that I speak little Hebrew. Funnily, we manage to have a real conversation, though, even if quite limited. She explains me that she is heading home, to the terminus of the train, that she is a grandmother of two little children and that she lives with her husband there.
She is showing me lots of photo. I am learning that train is called " harakevet" in Hebrew thanks to her. I am able to express my love for the country in Hebrew and she seems to appreciate it.

One great memory is the beautiful sight of the mountains and on the window opposite, there is the sea. 
Today is a little bit cold and windy ( 19C in Israel is cold!). Fortunately I do carry a small jacket in my handbag. Because of the air conditioning, most trains and buses are cold as well, even when the external temperatures are hot, so one should always bring a little something to keep their skin covered during the ride.
I am descending at Haifa Shmona and saying goodbye to the nice lady who is waving at me.

I am now heading towards Afula, North Galilee.

Once in Afula main bus station, I am seeking for bus line 412. A lot of people are telling me that I should go to the terminus called Beth Shean, and take a taxi from there.

Once in Beth Shean, I am hailing a taxi. There is another person who wants to go to Jordan river border. In my mind we are going to the same place, so I am proposing that we share costs. Little did I know about geography. Jordan river border was close, but the place I was seeking for wasn't in this area. I am surprised as I am learning this from the taxi driver's mouth.
The other passenger is leaving and the driver is proposing a ride to Jordan river village for 300 shekels, but I explain that this overrides my budget.
I am negociating a travel to Nazareth for 250 shekels instead.
The taxi driver was a little bit irritated by the other passenger's behavior that nearly turned into an argument. Having dropped him at his destination, he asked me about my beliefs.
I stated that I was a follower of Yeshua the Messiah and that my beliefs were close to Messianic Jews. I told him that I was from France, on my first trip to Israel. I started speaking Hebrew and he was astonished that I could even speak the language. I mentioned my sympathy for Jewish people and my love for the land. The ice being now broken, the taxi driver now symapthized with me. We both ended up singing " Maschiach" ( with the gesture, of course!) on the route leading to Nazareth...he left me at the gas station, at the very entry of Nazareth, explaining that there were direct buses to Tel Aviv from Nazareth. Wishing me a good visit, I shook hands with him and departed.

Stepping into Nazareth,  Yeshua's hometown

I looked up to the ancient city that was located in the very heights of the mountains. One could distinguish some mosques on top of the town and a few churches from afar.

Views from the entry to Nazareth

It is nearly 12:45 and I am very hungry. I have wasted quite a lot of time with my change of destination. I decide to search for a restaurant.
Here I found a nice place. I am ordering some oriental salad. The waitress is kind and welcoming. The place is filled with pictures of ancient Nazareth.

Ancient Nazareth in pictures

The discovery of old Nazareth is truly a delight to my eyes. I am very fond of beautiful architecture, this is one main reason why I chose to reside in Paris.
I love these big, white stones that are so typical of Nazareth...and the very ancient and oriental character of the houses. The vegetation is amazing too!

I came across the orthodox church of Announciation that offers some interesting references to the biblical episode of the Announciation.

"The well of Miryam" ( Mary)
I didn't enter there, just stood before

Nazareth is quite a paradox: while it contains so many reminders of Yeshua and His mom, it seems to have been robbed its Jewish ID completely ( the Jewish quarter in Nazareth is called Nazareth Illit and is separated from the old town. I have been told at the souvenir shop that there was a synagogue within ancient Nazareth, but I failed to find it, unfortunately...)

Most people speak Arabic and you can hear a lot of Arabic songs in the streets. At some point, I began to ask Yeshua: "Where are you? I have the feeling that you have left Nazareth..."

But Yeshua replied to me: "I am always here!"

I took a little pause before exploring the town again.

Then my eyes glanced at this bus. "Good Shepherd Travel" was written on the front.

The references are here. There is a "Lord design shop" as well. I also found some baptist school there.

The less pleasant point is, that I had the impression that Muslim beliefs were imposed by some specific writings regarding Yeshua-and I didn't like it ( of course, you guessed it right!).
Also the sounds of mosques were quite loud. So it left me with the impression that they wanted to cover and minimize Yeshua's very presence in Nazareth.
I crossed a few pilgrims' way. They belonged to a group and there was some nun in the middle of them.

On a sidenote: the 200 shekels found on the floor

I was a little bit upset because of the expensive ride and I thought of a true miracle when I found a 200 shekels banknote on the floor, in the middle of Nazareth, as I posted it on the "Followers of Yeshua" facebook group. However, the next day, when i tried to pay for a few souvenirs at the Garden Tomb, the lady informed me that the banknote was counterfeit, and used as a game.
So, yes, this was unfortunate, maybe, but our Lord blessed my trip and my budget fitted till my return.

Departing from Nazareth-a few advices if you are traveling to Nazareth on your own

Flowers from Nazareth


First of all: please take note of the bus line operating the junction between Nazareth and Tel Aviv: it is bus line 833. 

I wasted a lot of time on my departure because I was unable to get the right info about the right bus line and the right bus stop.

I could never insist enough: learn how to read in Hebrew! Most destinations here are written only in Hebrew and Arabic language-not in English and there is no transcription of the Hebrew. So please make sure that you are able to read properly ( without the vowels). Somebody told me: the bus is not going to Tel Aviv. I replied : "katuv sham", "it is written here", because I was able to read the shield in Hebrew.
I was at the right bus stop, but I noticed that there were not many buses departing to Tel Aviv. I kept asking. While waiting, I was bothered by some provocative Palestinian youngsters. I was not the only one. These young people try to tease anybody who seems to look Jewish or who has a link with the Jews. They do speak Hebrew. They noticed I had bought a scarf with inscriptions in Hebrew of the Song of the Songs and they started speaking in Hebrew about it. I ignored them and came closer to other adult passengers.
In the end I stopped some lady of Russian origin to ask her if I could find another stop to catch a bus to Tel Aviv earlier. The lady did not speak any word of English, so I expressed my request in Hebrew the best I could. She was carrying two heavy bags and she accompanied me to the right bus stop. I proposed to help her carry the bags, but she refused.
She kindly helped me with all info, and called her son who spoke English fluently, so I could speak with him. 
When we were about to end the conversation, he said to me:
"You are of German origin, aren't you? I recognized your German accent."
"I said, yes, you are right"...
"Auf Wiedersehen", he said.

I was very much relieved when I saw the bus to Tel Aviv approach.

I would arrive quite late, at the closure time of the shops this evening, at 6 pm.
I haven't been able to visit the heights of Nazareth ( maybe another time, HaShem willing).
All in all, I am grateful that Yeshua invited me to His hometown for a short exploration! 

Here are a few pictures from my return trip. Enjoy:)

Leaving Nazareth

Orthodox rabbi studying

mystical sky in Israel

Rabbi Nachman is everywhere!

Copyright© by Isabelle Esling

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