He planned this trip several weeks ago when he found a spectacular flight deal at literally HALF the average fare. How does he do this? It was good for departure on one specific day that just happened to work with his schedule. We are SO glad he's here. It's been a full first "day" from last night to now. So far his adrenaline has stayed ahead of jet-lag, and we'll do our best to keep that up.
My dad arrived last night and we went straight to the Old City for a celebration "welcome" dinner at the Armenian Tavern. After that it was on to our apartment to unpack his suitcase full of goodies - Christmas!
We got boring things we requested like vitamins, and fun surprises like chips, salsa and homemade cookies (my mom is wonderful - thank you!). One of the most precious gifts to us was a peeler from my sister and brother-in-law. They heard this seemingly odd request on our list and asked my dad if they could send one, and wrote a note on its handle that I will cherish every time I peel carrots (etc.). I look forward to not using a knife to peel anymore, I'm just not that coordinated and like my fingers, thank you very much.
We ended up at more places than we originally intended, thanks to Kamal's generous spirit. We travelled through the region of Samaria, visiting a couple of our favorite sites in the land of the Bible.
Biblical Ephraim was our first stop and we visited a beautifully preserved house that provides an incredible example of 1st-century housing from this region of the land. It's a great site and we love bringing people to this hidden gem. Housing styles vary not only by time period, but quite significantly throughout the land of the Bible depending on local geology and terrain. So many insights into Biblical teachings are better understood in this context, that we can hopefully touch on another time.
After the hospitality of some Turkish coffee with the caretakers of the site we were off to Mt. Gerazim for more experience and Geoff's great teaching. The views from there are as fabulous as the wind is cold. Finally we were off to my favorite Biblical site - Jacob's Well.
My dad visited Israel in 1978 - and more than a few things have changed since then; one of which was this site. The church that now covers Jacob's well was built over several decades. When my dad first visited, it was still open air. The roof was completed on the church in 2005, and Abuna continues to add beautiful masterpieces of artwork from paintings to mosaics throughout.
He has lived in Palestine for over 50 years and dedicated his life specifically to the completion and work at this church and site for the last 33 years. He has a lot of stories to tell and it is an honor to spend time with him. We enjoyed a leisurely break with Greek coffee, and conversation with Abuna and Kamal, relaxing in the gardens. Quite the honor.
We made it back to Jerusalem and enjoyed a wonderful evening drinking tea at our apartment with Kamal, sharing stories, and talking about life. I wanted my dad to meet Kamal as much as any other experience. He had a very good taste today.
Before Kamal left for the evening we were able to present a gift that my dad and grandfather helped provide. My grandfather is incredibly talented in every aspect of carpentry and craftsmanship and specializes in redwood, cedar, and mesquite tables, clocks, and more. We were trying to come up with a good gift from Texas - and he made a clock especially for Kamal of beautiful cedar.
Kamal's conversation this evening focused on the value of family and honor of legacy. It was wonderful to follow such a conversation with a gift that my dad orchestrated and brought, hand-crafted by my grandfather. Kamal paid us the highest honor after receiving it saying that we were all family - an honor not lightly bestowed in this culture.
I somehow managed to forget my camera this morning, so I must credit the majority of the photography to my papa-bear. Here are some pictures of our adventures with my dad thus far -I think we're going to have a good time!