Our group was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to celebrate Christmas in the holy land.  We spent the first few days in Bethlehem and then traveled to Jerusalem.  I have a lot of pictures and stories to share, so I have tried to set up this page as a photo journal of the trip.  For quicker load times, I divided the photos into several pages.
Dec. 21-23  Dec. 24-25  Dec. 26  Dec. 27-28

The day after Christmas, seven of us climbed in a van and rode north 
for a tour of a number of holy sites around the Sea of Galilee.
Our first stop was the Jordan river, in the area where Jesus was baptized.  The river is surrounded by trees and was a lot more green than I expected.
Most of the signs were not in English, so I don't entirely know the importance of this chapel beside the Sea of Galilee, but the rock was built into the chapel and is clearly holy ground (according to the sign).
Standing beside the Sea of Galilee, I was amazed by its size.  Phrases throughout the gospels like, "when Jesus went back across the lake..." and "let's cross over to the other side of the lake," caused me to picture the Sea of Galilee much smaller than it is in reality.
We stopped in Capernaum, where we saw remains of a synagogue, which was most likely built on top of the remains of the synagogue that stood in Capernaum during the lifetime of Jesus.  It was amazing to stand in the synagogue and realize that I was standing in the very place where Jesus went to pray and teach.
Atop Mt. Tabor, we saw the church of the transfiguration.  We also had a chance to climb on the rocks for some good views of the surrounding hill country.

This fountain flows down to the Sea of Galilee, where we had a nice view

Can you guess what this was used for?

Tabgha is the location of the feeding of the multitude.

One of the most beautiful stops we made all day was atop the Mt. of Beattitudes,
where there is a very nice garden, a chapel, and great views of the hills and the Sea of Galilee.

Reading the beattitudes in the garden on the Mt. of Beattitudes

After we got back to Jerusalem, we stopped by the vegetable stand and used our limited hostel kitchen facilities 
(like butter knives for cutting vegetables) to make dinner for the group.

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