Back!! Picking up at Galilee, pictures and all

"Hey, take Donkey's picture!"

Here are highlights from our day in Olympia, Greece, the first of our port stops. Just the photos, then the dirt on Galilee. As I said, Harrison was having a snit, Rex was in his element. How many animals can you see?














"Everybody hates me!!"





"Baby Bird loves to see the world,"



"And now me and Blue Monkey..."

This place is so stupid.


The first Olympic track? Who cares...












Watching the sunset in Greece



Port 2: Haifa – Field Trip to Galilee

I’ve gotta say, I really didn’t have high expectations for today’s laundry list of holy sites. If I’m being completely real, I have to admit that dragging twentyish small children around adult centered religious sites didn’t sound like my idea of an inspirational day. Of course I wanted to go but I was prepared for the worst.

I couldn’t have been more wrong.

Today was perfect. It was simply the best day ever. I’ve got to give major props to our friends, the Shumates, who set the whole thing up. Arranging two tour busses in a discombobulated country like this is no light matter and they rocked it. I love my Sharmapedia and never want to leave home without her again.

Our first stop was Mt. Tabor, commonly known as the Mount of Transfiguration. This baby has wicked switchbacks. Thirteen years ago when I was here my roommate/best friend/travel companion forced me to join the throng of hikers. It was brutal.

Today my roommate decided that pushing a stroller up 17 paved switchbacks wasn’t his idea of a pilgrimage so we took the taxi. As we drove up that mountain I was overwhelmed with the memory of that dreadful hike. It never ended. Just when you thought you were about to get to the top, another switchback would laugh in your sweaty little face.

As we stepped out of the bus and made our way on the old paved road toward the beautiful sun soaked chapel perched on top of the mountain my heart cried out for my Melissa girl. It almost felt wrong to be here without her by my side, her presence was so powerful. Melissa, I miss you! I love you, my dear friend! Thank you for making me hike that blasted mountain, for giving me such a powerful (cheap) memory to bask in.

There was a beautiful Catholic mass being held while we snapped photos.


Just as we were about to get back onto our bus at the base of the mountain, my heart swelling with memories, who do you think walked off the bus next to us? Oh yeah, a group of BYU Jerusalem students making their own pilgrimage to the top of Mt. Tabor. I’ll admit, I cried a little.

Our next stop was the River Jordan. It’s still there with all that lovely murky green water lazing along under big weepy trees while hoards of Christians line up to rent white baptismal sheaths so they can take a dip. Personally you couldn’t get me near that river, I don’t care who was baptized in it (is that bad?). The thing is full of nasty old catfish and these massive river rats called Poi something that look suspiciously like a slightly smaller version of an ROUS—Rodent Of Unusual Size. Just saying.


After the River Jordan we made a quick pit stop in Tiberias for fabulous falafels and Coke Light. We took our bus of small children to a little chapel right on the shore of the Sea of Galilee. It’s the site marking the Savior’s return to his apostles when Peter was out fishing. We wandered into the lovely little chapel there (I remembered it vividly) for a devotional and then out to the water. Of all the things my kids will remember about this trip, I’m certain that playing in the Sea of Galilee will be top of their lists. It was simply awesome. The weather was perfect, the sun was starting to set, and as our kids laughed and splashed I could see why the Savior spent so much time around the beautiful sea.

Most beautiful day ever

We finished our trip at the Mt. of Beattitude, a breathtaking sacred site marking the Savior’s Sermon on the Mount. As our friend Dan gave the devotional and talked about Jesus leaving the multitude to climb up the hill, I thought about that multitude. Frankly, I’m guessing that a decent number of them were milling around hoping for free food. With all the local miracles surrounding the Savior,He must have been quite a celebrity to the downtrodden.

But it says that Christ took his disciples up the mountain. I have to wonder about the people who stayed behind, unwilling to make that hike with Jesus. Isn’t it interesting that the distinguishing factor between a disciple and a groupy came down to laziness?

That thought might have made me a little nervous.

We ended the day at Nazareth (which was amazing) and saw the massive church lit up in the darkness. The building is massive and lovely and despite it’s hot political location, makes you want to worship.

We walked back to the bus in the light of the moon...

It was a perfect day. As I climbed the bus for our ride back I was amazed at that our prayers had been answered so thoroughly. Tomorrow we’re entering the Holy City. I’m so excited…


  1. I am thoroughly jealous. And you look like a total hottie in that first picture of you. Your hair is so long now!

  2. Two things: 1.) Is Harrison around nine? Because I have a nine year old I want to live in the shed right now.

    2.) And one of those students is my and Heather’s cousin, Taylor. 🙂

    Looks like fun.

  3. woo hoo! three cheers for a couple kid-disaster-free adventures in the holy land!!! still jealous. as for the distinction boiling right down to laziness, yeah that makes me nervous too! but what a great way to look at it, paired down & plain. so clear. such a powerful lesson. thanks for sharing that insight here. i needed it. 🙂 good luck tomorrow! btw, GREAT pictures. i love ’em all! and you look simply fabulous, darlin’. ::hugs::

  4. What a fun trip! I would love to visit all of that someday…even the River Jordan…and I’d probably stick my hands in it just to touch it. And for some reason, I pictured you touring all this in high heels. Hm, looks like you were in flats. I’m just a little disappointed in you. 🙂

  5. I really loved the post, thank you so much for sharing with those of us who have never been there. I loved seeing everything! Amazing, what a trip. holidays are coming up…you and your family are SO missed and loved very much. I am keeping you in my heart, have a wonderful holiday season. 🙂

  6. AWESOME!!! Love the pics – especially baby moons and critters! So friend, I’m headed back to the HolyLand with my lover Jan 1-8! Only the wee babe is coming too, but any chance your tourguide smarty pants friends could forward their itinerary/devos to me??? Husband hasn’t been and I could use all the cheat sheets I can get 😉 I’m so glad your day in Galilee was so wonderful for everyone!!! Phew!!!

  7. Wow! What an amazing trip. Thank you for posting this. I really enjoyed reading it. I would love to make a trip there someday with my family.

  8. baw ha! In the light of the moon. Love it.