Walking thru Jesus’ 1st Century Jerusalem; Renewal of Baptismal Vows in the Muddy Jordan; Floating in the Dead Sea, Camel Rides and more

by Steve Ray on February 3, 2013

(Keep the humor and comments coming below. Everyone loves it when I read them on the bus!)

Of all the days on our pilgrimages, today tends to be the fun day. Camel rides, floating in the Dead Sea, visiting the Jordan River where Jesus was actually baptized and loads of fun and laughter along the way.

The day began with a tour of the Temple Model that is like walking through the city of Jerusalem in the time of Christ. It is a model built to scale. We also see the Dead Sea Scrolls while at the Israel Museum.

Group picture at the Jordan River

Everyones’ ears pop as we descend from 3,000 feet above sea level in the mountains of Jerusalem to 1,250 feet below sea level at the Jordan River near the tip of the Dead Sea. If Mount Everest is the highest place on the surface of the earth, the Jordan Valley is the lowest place on the face of the earth.

Here we renewed our baptismal vows at the authentic site where Jesus was actually baptized. The river was swollen from the recent rains but it was beautiful — a favorite site for many of the people. If you threw a stone across the river it would land in the country of Jordan. 

Lunch in Jericho is always a treat and only the second time our group goes shopping and that is only because there is a unique shop attached to our restaurant. There are a lot of biblical things to discuss in Jericho including some important events in the life of Our Lord.

Qumran, the Essenes, the Dead Sea Scrolls, monastic life, John the Baptist. All of that comes together in Qumran located in the Judean Wilderness near the northern tip of the Dead Sea, only a few miles from the location Jesus was baptized.

Floating in the Dead Sea

The Dead Sea swim, err, you really can’t say that because it is really just a float. But most of the people get right in and float around on their backs. It is a bizarre sensation.

The highlight of the day — which you can tell by the howls of laughter and squeals of delight is the camel rides. Everyone takes their turn and we get great pictures and videos.

It was a great day and tomorrow will be too. If you want to know how special and holy tomorrow will be — consider that we will pray seven Mysteries of the Rosary on site tomorrow!

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Beth Markel February 3, 2013 at 3:18 PM

Thank you for sharing your pilgrimage with us. Our family has really enjoyed watching the videos and seeing all the Holy sites. We would like to say hello to the Westphalia group and let them know our prayers are still with them. I would like to let Father James know that everything is going well at St. Mary parish. I can’t promise that any work is getting done but we are having a lot of fun.

Mary Beth February 3, 2013 at 4:49 PM

Jean and Larry (aka. Mom and Dad),

It has been wonderful following your journey through Steve’s videos! Very educational for us! We didn’t see the two of you swimming in the Dead Sea, but Mom looked great riding the camel! Bring one back for us! We look forward to your return. We will pick you up at the airport. Love, Mary Beth

Mary February 3, 2013 at 5:00 PM

It is great to see everyone have such a great time at the River Jordan. Being re-baptized in the same spot that Jesus did! Wow. How special was that? Seeing you smiling at the Dead Sea and the Camels. Three very vivid shots of my Mom that will always bring a smile to my face. You look fantastic. Though the journey is winding down, I suspect the next three days will be tiring, emotional and very uplifting. I love you and miss you and will see you on Wednesday. Love Mary

Kathy Swiderski February 3, 2013 at 6:33 PM

To Jean and Larry Skendzel: Hi Mom and Dad – it’s been great to follow you on this trip, and to see photos of you daily. What an amazing adventure for you. It sure looks like you’re eating well too!! We laughed to see Mom on the camel, but didn’t see either of you swimming in the Dead Sea. Hope you enjoy the rest of your trip. We can’t wait to hear about it when you’re home.

Love, Kathy, Alex, Ben and Matthew

Becky Stegall February 3, 2013 at 9:37 PM

Hello! It looks like you are all having such a wonderful time. We are enjoying watching the videos. James thought the camel rides were the best part! Did you guys go swimming in The Dead Sea? We didn’t see you. You will be happy to know there was only one minor problem with The Super Bowl this evening, they lost power in half the stadium for 34 minutes after halftime! You also will be happy to know that you missed the half time show… but I’m sure you can catch it on youtube if you feel like you must see it. How truly amazing to stand in the same place where Jesus once stood! God Bless! We’ll see you soon!

James Stegall February 3, 2013 at 9:49 PM

It looks like you are all having such a wonderful time. We are enjoying watching the videos. James thought the camel rides were the best part! Did you guys go swimming in The Dead Sea? We didn’t see you. You will be happy to know there was only one minor problem with The Super Bowl this evening, they lost power in half the stadium for 34 minutes after halftime! You also will be happy to know that you missed the half time show… but I’m sure you can catch it on youtube if you feel like you must see it. How truly amazing to stand in the same place where Jesus once stood! God Bless! We’ll see you soon!

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