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Israel Tour
Israel Tour

Pilgrimage to Holy Land Via Manila

Sydneyider Bob Cabrera at a showcase Nazareth village
Sydneysider Bob Cabrera at a showcase Nazareth village

Affordable Holy Land Tour are coming from Manila thanks to Emirates airlines and some tour operators in Israel who are  offering their local Philippine connection  competitive  rates to consolidate  group packages travelling  by air to Dubai then another flight to Amman, Jordan and crossing the border by bus to Israel

Some 23 Filipino Australian  Sydneysiders joined the Spiritual Highlights Holy Land Tour under the auspices of   Capitol City Foursquare  Church  (CCFC) of Quezon City led by CCFC Senior Pastor Dr Jun Ferez.  Out of the 23 participants, are nine tourists from the Agape Christian Church  and another nine from Christian City Church of Prospect, NSW including former PCC-NSW president Atoy Sayas.

The tour group left Manila Monday October 21 aboard Emirates airline, arriving at  Dubai the next day and took another Emirates  flight to Amman Jordan.  The  group crossed  the Jordan-Israel border in two buses, for the city of Tiberias in Israel..

The group visited  towns outlying the Sea of  Galilee including  Caesarea Philippi, Capernaum, the Mount of Beatitudes, and Tabgha with devotion meetings at each stop,   Many participants joined  public baptism in a resort off the Jordan river whilst  six  couples  reaffirmed  their marriage  at Cana,

A boat ride at Capernaum  gave the group  a glimpse of  life amongst the Jews at the backdrop of the of the Sea of Galilee during  Jesus days.  A group devotion even deepened the understanding..

On the third day, the group visited the town of Nazareth  including  a replica  village, Nayon Pilipino style;  Next stop was a place was the Mt Carmel  highland the supposed biblical site for  the ministry of prophet Elisha.

The old seaport  of Caesarea once the gateway for Roman shipping marvelled the group with the ruins of an ancient garrison, a hippodrome,  and public places..

A change in itinerary saw the group visiting next the awesome ancient  fortification of Masada in the Southern district of Israel on top of an isolated plateau, overlooking the Dead Sea. It is now maintained as a tourist attraction and symbol of Jewish patriotism, to remember the infamous Siege of Masada during Roman times.

A dip at the Dead Sea was an obligatory pilgrim’s trophy shortly after a visit at the historic Qumran Caves where the famous Dead Sea Scrolls were found some 66 years ago.

At the end of the third day the group then moved to Jerusalem and stayed  at the  Crowne Plaza

The following day a Friday, the group went to the Mount of Olives, for a fantastic view of  sites just outside what remains of  Jerusalem wall. The group  visited  thereafter Garden of Gethsemane, then Bethlehem and the Church of Nativity.  A time for group  moving devotion and privte prayer at the private garden in Gethsemane, owned by yet another religious order..

One’s eyes are finally opened to the importance of seriousness of the day of Shabbat to the Jewish people with  all businesses in Jerusalem grounded virtually to a halt, with few public transport if not absent, elevators on auto-pilot mode, and hotel manned by skeleton staff.

On  Friday night before the Sabbath, some 17 members of the tour groupf visited  the  Christian congregation Israel Philippines Christian New Life Ministries international in Levanda, Tel Aviv under Ps Kezia Garcia. Dr Ferrez  spoke  and gave encouragement to the group composed mostly of Filipino caregivers in Israel.

On Saturday,  the group spent all day visiting sight inside the  walls of   Jerusalem whish is composed mostly of Palestine and non-Jewish quarters. . Almost nothing move in the Jewish quarter during th Sabbth. They visited the Temple Mount, ruins of the pool of  Bethesda and  the Via Dolorosa, the Church of Holy Sepulchre, Mout  Zion, the Upper Room and the Western Wall, formerly called the Wailing Wall.

The quite incongruous living arrangement  between the Jews and the Palestinian residents,  inside the walls however did not prevent the tourists to be awed of the sights and places which had become real experience to them  Thus time the names were not merely convention of  letters to form names of places, events and situations.

At best, they have gained   assurance   the Bible is alive and deeply penetrating in the pilgrims’ feelings in the light of the Biblical events and holy places visited so far.