My car accident in Jerusalem

I was with some people coming back from the Mini Israel model village, I was in the front passenger seat of a car (this Renault Clio) and dropped off some friends sat in the back, when there was a bang from another vehicle that struck our driver’s side front wing (fender to you Americans)

In turn this pushed us against this bus putting a small scrape on it.

This silver Peugeot that hit us must of been going some speed as it rolled on its side facing towards us and slid along for some distance.

Fearing the worst we got to the car and remarkably the woman inside got out of the seat on her own, but it took a couple of people to help hold the door open for her to get out.  Its awkward opening a door when a car is on its side!

A few of us and some bystanders pushed this car back the right way up.   The fire service put sand on the road to clean it up.

Our car had front bumper missing, front wings broken (they were plastic) and both tyres flat and rims bent.   The Peugeot had extensive damage from being scraped along the road, and where as the Renault doesn’t look like it has serious chassis damage I expect the steering and suspension is all messed up.   There was oil and petrol leaked out onto the road.  Both cars were declared write offs.

After a police statement was done, and the Magon David ambulance didn’t need to treat anyone, a bit later a breakdown truck driver arrived.

The man asked me to help get the cars loaded, so got into both cars and tried to steer (not so easy with flat tyres and bent up wheels) each straight whilst he used a winch attached the front to be pulled up onto the truck.

But thank the Lord no one was hurt, AT ALL!!

I want to find somewhere locally to get some coffee after this experience, but as it was a Jewish holiday there was nowhere open, so I went to a friend’s house which was a couple of hundred yards away.

Road safety here is quite poor and the styles of driving here worries me, but I was glad God kept us and the woman in the other car safe after this unpleasant experience.

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Mini Israel – holyland in minature

I went with some folks from work to Mini Israel a place with lots of models of famous sites in this country.

Downtown Tel Aviv.  Here there is a street with moving Scaletrix style cars and trucks that go up and down.  A lot of the trucks having recognisable brands such as the blue, green and red one being Tvuna, Israel’s largest dairy.

You do actually feel a bit like the oversized main character of a B movie walking along very detailed places here!

This tourist place is a kind of Israel’s “greatest hits album” as its a way seeing a hundred odd places in one location, and a good way of seeing a glimpse of places you have yet to visit, everywhere from Mount Hermon to Eilat. 🙂

Capernhuam next to the Galilee, one of the places Jesus preached.   I also went to the real one in May.   Will write on this soon.

Here is the Garden of Gethsemane in Jerusalem.

More sights of Jerusalem’s old city.

Tel Aviv water front.  Looks great but is there a model of the Zohan? 🙂


Here is Jaffa too. 🙂

The attention to detail on the models is excellent.  There are small background noises put in, such as traffic, crowds etc.   Only trouble is maintaining this stuff must be a full type job as the hot temperatures and dust has caused some of the models to crack in places, so regular repair is often needed.   There are a lot of places miniaturized, not just religious sites but even Coca Cola factory and people working a Kibbutz.

http://www.minisrael.co.il/

This was a nice day out, although some scary experiences on the way home…..

Nazareth – 13. Easter service at the Basilica

I didn’t find  anyone from the youth hostel who wanted to head into town that evening, so after an afternoon of looking around shops and reading a book in the lobby, I headed out and saw lots of people flocking towards the Basilica church.

This was the service for Easter Friday.


The outside of church seems very busy…

Inside, the place was packed!  all of the seats were taken, and people were in all of the aisles and blocking the door.
The surprising thing is the vast majority of people appeared to be young Arab Christians under 30 for the service, no foreigners as far as I could see.  I have no idea what was spoken in the service as it was all in Arabic.

A statue of Jesus was brought out of the service at the end.

Outside there were lots of people who couldn’t get in the service, they seem very friendly and most spoke English, a lot of the Arab Christians had non-Arabic sounding names, ie: Simon.Musicians where getting together for a parade outside..  Hang on surely, these aren’t bagpipes??

Whats this?  Its the flag of Christian Arab scouts of Nazareth.

The scouts are getting ready to do their bagpipe playing at the end of the Easter service!   Actually an Arab friend of mine told me that bagpipes are not that uncommon in the Middle East, there are bagpipe players in Jordan who play for the King there.   Maybe the Arabs are wannabe Scots or perhaps during the British Mandate of Palestine period, Scotland influenced people then? 🙂

The statue is taken on a tour around the city.

So was the Easter service a nice yearly social knees-up or the were the mostly young Arab Christians there praising the Lord on the weekend of his resurrection in the very town where Jesus spent his youth?   I am not sure but this was an enjoyable end to my trip to Nazareth, and despite only 15% of the town being Christian it was good that Easter was celebrated (actually there were no chocolate eggs for sale anywhere)  and this didn’t seem like a big show for tourists as there simply weren’t any around the town.

Seems like the modern day people of Nazareth are proud of their city.

1. Arrival at the city2. Staying in the old city3. The modern day Nazarene carpenter4. Where Jesus first preached5. Religious vehicles in Nazareth6. Mary’s Well and the Bath house7. The precipice8. On top of the Precipice hill9. More old city streets and market10. The spice shop11. Churches from A to Z or Alpha to Omega12. The Basilica church13. Easter service at the Basilica

Nazareth – 12. The Basilica church of Annunciation

This is the famous Basilica church, it stands a centre point in the city, as one of the biggest buildings in Nazareth.

I didn’t see many Nazarenes on horses, only this one!  You can see the church more or less anywhere in the city, this tall turret is quite distinctive.
Built in 1969, the give away signs of the modern construction of this place is these odd dimples in the concrete structural support beams.   Other than that there are usual pews and decorations you would find in any church here.  I didn’t get to the dome up the top, I think this may be possible with this paid tours that happen on week days here.

Although Catholic, this place also attracts Christian visitors from Orthodox and Anglican backgrounds

On two floors, this place is huge!!   This floor contains the Grotto of annunciation, ie: what’s thought to be the home of Mary.
Underneath one of the walkways in the yard are more signs of ancient history under these support beams.

There’s no doubt the the Basilica is a fertile place for photographers!Here there are muriels dedicated to other countries, there are dozens of them all around the insides of the perimeter outside wall of the church,  like I mentioned a few articles ago, this is a kind of peace initiave I think, although seems to be mostly Catholic (ie: Ireland, France, Poland, Brazil etc) countries.

Lastly, as it was Easter whilst I was in Nazareth I thought I would check out to see all the crowds heading towards the Baslica, and I got several surprises there…

1. Arrival at the city2. Staying in the old city3. The modern day Nazarene carpenter4. Where Jesus first preached5. Religious vehicles in Nazareth6. Mary’s Well and the Bath house7. The precipice8. On top of the Precipice hill9. More old city streets and market10. The spice shop11. Churches from A to Z or Alpha to Omega12. The Basilica church13. Easter service at the Basilica

Glow of light in valley in Jerusalem during day of rage

I am away working in Karmiel in the middle of the Galilee at the moment,

During the Palestinian day of rage, there was fear about riots in the street, now one person died in Jerusalem and one in Tel Aviv, and there were a few cars set on fire and stoning, but a far less worse that people feared it could of been.

I heard helicopters above my flat, and a lot of police and army in the city which gave me a lot assurance as a lot of people had been dreading this day for fear of violence.   We had been told not to go near any Arab areas.

Before I went to church on sunday I went off early to meet a friend for coffee, when I was cycling along the park which is at the top of hill near my house, I saw this:-

I didn’t have a proper camera on me so this was done on a phone, I ‘stretched’ this picture by joining up the pics together from the phone, but other than that, I have not altered anything, ie: brightness etc.

The glow of the light through the clouds made these apartment look bright.   I think these flats there are Jewish although surrounded by mostly Arab buildings.

Minutes later this glow moved along a bit towards the troubled district of Silwan.

Just a pattern from the clouds or a symbol of God’s eternal covenant?   Either way it was a nice sight.

Cana – The Wedding Church

This is a church which is meant to be on the site of where Jesus did his first miracle.

In fact this place is popular for Christians to get married today.

This path has a rock in the way to stop cars coming up here, but its a path outside the wedding church.   So you imagine people waiting outside for service to start with their big hats on maybe….

The green tiles have some scriptures on, albeit some have broken off.

The church’s main area isn’t huge, so probably get upto 70-80 people maybe.

Good place for bar or tables full of sandwiches I reckon.

Above and left you can see some mosaic that was dug up underneath this church.  There is some text written in Aramaic, a language spoke to by Jesus popular as well as Hebrew.

This appears to be uncovered foundations of the original structure here.   There is money people have thrown down.   Not sure if this was encouraged by the church or something for luck perhaps.

In John 2 : 1-12 On the third day a wedding took place at Cana in Galilee. Jesus’ mother was there, and Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. When the wine was gone, Jesus’ mother said to him, “They have no more wine.”   “Woman, why do you involve me?” Jesus replied. “My hour has not yet come.”   His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”    Nearby stood six stone water jars, the kind used by the Jews for ceremonial washing, each holding from twenty to thirty gallons.   Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water”; so they filled them to the brim.   Then he told them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet.”   They did so, and the master of the banquet tasted the water that had been turned into wine. He did not realize where it had come from, though the servants who had drawn the water knew. Then he called the bridegroom aside and said, “Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now.”   What Jesus did here in Cana of Galilee was the first of the signs through which he revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him.   After this he went down to Capernaum with his mother and brothers and his disciples. There they stayed for a few days.

What has made me wonder lately, is Jesus did some of his miracles to heal the sick and raise the dead, and to prove a point, this was his first miracle.   In later times Jesus healed someone and told them not to tell anyone, such as Jairus’s daughter. Luke 8 : 49-53  I know two couples are getting married at my home church this month, it would be interesting hearing the groom’s speech from 2000 years ago if he gave Jesus credit for the wine 🙂

Could be a nice place to sit outside for a wedding reception.  Heck you could easily rig up a disco ball on this wooden roof 🙂

Here I spent less than hour looking around and then one of the nuns who I think was Italian who lives in house in the grounds told me they were closing up.   Some people on the way out were disappointed it was shut, but it was re-opening a bit later in the day.  I headed back to the main town centre and got a bus back to Nazareth.

Cana –  The High StreetCana –  The Wedding ChurchNazarethMegiddo

Peace monuments in Israel part 1

Back in the 60s and 70s, the word ‘peace’ was a greeting used by hippies, I wonder if they got the idea from Jews and Arabs who have used it as a regular hello in their respective languages for a few thousand years.

Just lately I have found it interesting with seeing examples of false peace here in Israel, not just what I see on the news.  Normally its from other nations who are asking the State of Israel to compromise with its security arrangements and borders, but there are some other things as well.

In southern England, around the countryside there are small buildings we called ‘follys’, they are buildings that where made with no specific purpose whatsoever, they were just made to provide a centrepoint on the hill above a village or mark a land boundary and to provide employment for local labourers.

In Nazareth, I saw a slightly odd aerial shaped monument next to the precipice.    Now the precipice is a hill which was meant to be where people tried to throw Jesus off that got upset by his teaching in the synagogues.

On top of here looking south you can see a spectacular view over Megiddo and Mount Tabor.   One is the place of previous wars and a future one planned for the end of the world, and one is a possible location of Jesus’s transfiguration.   On the other less steep side of the hill facing northwards is a TV aerial shaped thing at the front with a series of concrete steps to sit on which looks like a pleasant place to watch a concert or (small) sports event.   The paths that lead in between the step have rough gravel on them, certainly no good for people with baby carriages or wheelchairs.  It looks unfinished and rushed to be honest.   If I remember correctly this project was a gift for peace to the people of Nazareth from the Pope and the Vatican in circa 1997.   Having said that, the view up here is terrific, and it would be nice to see some live bands up there, but I didn’t see anything on any posters about any live music scene.  If you are interested in my travels to Nazareth, start here on part 1 of my trip the city of Jesus’s youth.

In Sderot, I went with my friend Daniel from work with one of his community projects to a small town that most of you will know gets used as target practice for terrorists in Gaza.   These poor people live with worry of being next hit by Katusha rockets.   Next to some fields and an army base on a hill I can see directly into Gaza less than 1.5km away.  Up here is a giant musical instrument, with some chime bars and a hammer thing on a piece of rope you can use to ring as a ‘peace’ gift for Israelis and Gazans.   I don’t remember who made this thing, but it a novelty chime instrument doesn’t help people having to rush into bomb shelters especially when they happen when their kids go to school.

Jerusalem is the same.   Near my house is the UN headquarters, and close to there is a monument with some inscriptions in English, Hebrew and Arabic, probably say people need to give each other a hug or something.

Closeby is the Haas promenade, there is a really nice place to walk along the side of the hill which attracts Arab and Jewish families having picnics and foreigners on rented electric Segway chariots. On the paths that go down, is a few peace monuments here, these actually look quite decent that are designed a viewpoints over the city.

That is until you go up the steps to view out of them, there is graffiti inside them, and smells of that they have used as a toilet.  One of the monuments that was a gift from Canada, has some wooden steps that go sideways onto the path.   Trouble is most of the wooden slats of the steps you can see below are missing, as someone stole them probably for firewood for their barbecue.

Ezekiel 13 : 10 “‘Because they lead my people astray, saying, “Peace,” when there is no peace, and because, when a flimsy wall is built, they cover it with whitewash.

Really, these buildings from foreign nations trying to help Israel, seem like nice gestures, but are not implemented well and are a bit shortsighted in their actual useful value.   Its a bit like getting a present of a picture of an ornament you don’t really like and having to put it on the wall when you friend comes round so not to hurt their feelings.

 

Other examples of false peace are so called authorities that provide prizes or bestow awards, such as PLO chairman Yasser Arafat who got a Nobel Peace award in 1994.   Also a well known ex-Palestinian terrorist who wrote a book about accepting Jesus, has be spoken about as being a fraud as still hating Israel, after some things spoken about recently in Arabic appears to be different from the story he originally gave in his book.

Architects seem to like create buildings for peace purposes that don’t quite yet have a proper purpose to them.

My thinking is if you want to do a tangible construction project for peace purposes maybe start with something that has a social benefit like hospitals and schools.  I really like the Magon David ambulance service which I think is entirely funded by foreign donations, but assists Jewish, Arab and foreigners to Israel if an accident or emergency happens.

I am really proud to part of Bridges for Peace, true, our two food banks won’t win any design awards, our headquarters looks lovely and has a wonderful garden but is tucked away from the public with an electric gate, and my role is in a backroom to look after resources and equipment, but the works we do impact the poor people in this nation, as well try as close as we can to follow the actions of Jesus in this land to the most needy.

Jeremiah 8 :  8-12 “‘How can you say, “We are wise, for we have the law of the LORD,”when actually the lying pen of the scribes has handled it falsely? 9 The wise will be put to shame; they will be dismayed and trapped.   Since they have rejected the word of the LORD, what kind of wisdom do they have?  10 Therefore I will give their wives to other men and their fields to new owners.  From the least to the greatest, all are greedy for gain; prophets and priests alike, all practice deceit.  11 They dress the wound of my people as though it were not serious.  “Peace, peace,” they say, when there is no peace.

It smells nasty in this look out post, signs of arson and grafitti, not all of it bad though!

My point isn’t to poke fun too much at efforts to make peace between nations, but for me, true reconciliation will only happen between Israel and the Arab neighbours will happen with Jesus’s return.

Part 2 of this article is here:

Cana – High Street

Cana’s main high street.  Like Nazareth, Jaffa and Akko, Cana is an Arab Israeli city, I don’t think any Jews live in this place, although the Galilee area is dotted with alternating Jewish and Arab places.

Getting here from Nazareth is easy from Nazareth, only a 6 shekel (£1) ride on a Sherut bus taking about 15 minutes or so.

Cana is also known as Kafr Kanna, due different spellings of Hebrew or Arabic names when you ‘Latinize’ them.   There is also a city called Qana in Lebanon also thought by some where Jesus did the miracle of the water into wine at a wedding.   Population is 17,000 people as of 2005, 83% Muslim and 16% Christian.

Brightly coloured pictures, often with guilded frames of images of Jesus, Mary and disciples are popular in churches I have seen all around the holy land.

They are not to everyone’s taste maybe, but all kinds of decorations are popular in middle east, especially looking at the beautiful coloured fabrics made by Arabs and Sephardic (ie: from other parts of the middle east or north Africa) Jews.   I actually think a lot of the artwork in these gift shops is actually quite nice.

A lot of the gift shop sell wine, the Galilee’s vineyards produce a lot of wine in this country, and you find plenty in shops around here.  Did also see a few bottles of French wine as well though.

This store had samples to give away here for people to try.

Around the town, I only spent one day here, but just before I headed back on the bus, I caught a glimpse of this arch across the street…

I also visited a church thought to be where Jesus was a guest at a wedding…

Cana –  The High StreetCana –  The Wedding ChurchNazarethMegiddo

Nazareth – 11. Churches from A to Z or Alpha to Omega

I am very out of touch with UK at the moment, but I have read the Professor Richard Dawkins is on the telly again, proof that atheists can be just as opinionated and annoying than any religious people.

I am reluctant to believe any figures in the mainstream media the church attendance is declining, when you have some churches like in my home city which have repurposed old buildings that were used (or share with another organisation) for something different, ie: a snooker hall.  I know in Israel there are some secret churches where ex-Muslim people go to in Arab areas which could put them in danger if they got discovered.

There is a lot of different religious buildings in Nazareth.   Churches can be current places of worship or dusty buildings of history.

Monastry ontop of the hill of the city.  This one is called ‘Ecole Jesus the Adolescent – Don Bosco’  I couldn’t go in because of this big electric gate which has no details if it was possible to visit from the public.

Greek church, this one is the Greek Orthodox Church of the Annunciation, its close to the Mary’s well I mentioned previously.

Yes those black clouds turned into rain a few minutes later :o)

I am not sure if this stage outside of the Greek church is for a wedding or Easter service.

One of the tours I was on showed us some churches more hidden away from the main roads:

 

These places have a lot of highly decorative pictures and fittings here.  These are not everyone’s taste, but I wonder how synagogues where in the time of King Solomon as he built the biggest most grandest places for worshipping God as he was very wealthy.

For me, church is the body of people that there, the fabric part of the building isn’t too important.  After a while the churches do get a bit samey in their styles and decoration.  The old ones in Jerusalem are pretty similar, with the main differences being writing which can be in Russian, Armenian or Greek.

Although obscured by a bus, and I can only really see this poster which made me smile, I would really liked to visit this one, but I didn’t spot it until I was on a bus on my way home back to Jerusalem.

I left out the main church in Nazareth, the Basilica church of the Annuciation, for a good reason, next I show this huge church and a few pleasant surprises I saw there…

1. Arrival at the city2. Staying in the old city3. The modern day Nazarene carpenter4. Where Jesus first preached5. Religious vehicles in Nazareth6. Mary’s Well and the Bath house7. The precipice8. On top of the Precipice hill9. More old city streets and market10. The spice shop11. Churches from A to Z or Alpha to Omega12. The Basilica church13. Easter service at the Basilica


Review of Spiceworks IT management software

A little while ago I did a recording for a podcast called Geeks and God, where I did a review of an IT management software program I use in my work called Spiceworks.

If you would like to listen to this check out: http://geeksandgod.com/episode141

This is my first time doing such a recording so forgive me as I don’t the best speaking voice for this kind of thing 🙂  I did some screen shots to refer to you can see as well.

Many thanks to my friend Ed Ross who has an amazing enthusiasm for recording audio programmes to get the attention of anyone using any kind of media for churches of Christian organisations.

I would seriously recommend anyone puts Spiceworks on a spare PC or virtual machine and see what benefits it can make looking after everyday IT tasks in your organisation.  Its free so you have nothing to lose.