We’ve arrived – in more ways than one. Not only did we arrive in Jerusalem yesterday, but when we got off the plane we received our official Guide Cards issued by the Ecclesiastical Authority in the Holy Land and the Commission of Christian Pilgrimages. We have arrived!
Usually these cards are only issued to clergy, but because of many visits to Israel, our close associates and friends here, our video/DVD project, and pilgrimage groups, they made an exception and issues us the cards. We were delighted!
These cards may not recognized by the Israeli Tourist establishment, but they are recognized by the Christians and all the Christian Holy Sites and they give us the permission and authority to guide groups in Israel. They also establish our credibility on many levels we were delighted to receive these cards and the authority and recognition they provide.
Today we spent meeting contacts, agents and friends. We are preparing two future pilgrimages (June 2006 and September 2006) and two future video projects (David & Solomon in November 2005 and Elijah & Elisha in November 2006).
Our agent in Israel is Raji Khoury, a Christian Palestinian who is the best of men. He handles all our pilgrimage arrangements. We also met Fr. John Solana who is now head of the Vatican’s Notre Dame Center where we stay when we visit Jerusalem. Fr. John and I are working on a pilgrimage for Deacons and their wives in September 2006. You can learn more at my Pilgrimage webpage.
We also met our Jewish friend and guide Zvi Harpaz (as of 5/5/08 he is no longer a friend or our guide) to discuss the details of the current pilgrimage and to plan for the filming in November. We still have a few places to visit in preparation for the filming. On October 1 Zvi will take us into the Palestinian territory to explore the Wilderness of Ziph where David hid from King Saul. On October 2 another friend and guide, George Carmi, will take us into the West Bank to finalize the sites of Mizpah, Gibeah of Saul, Gibeon, Shiloh, Ramah, and Nebi Samwil.
We also visited our friend Miriam at the Christian Information Center and met with our great friend Fr. Adam Civu a scripture scholar from Uganda who has lived for 35 years in Jerusalem. Busy day!
Pool of Siloam and the City of David
I also took the long walk down to the Pool of Siloam where they have unearthed what appears to be the original pool during the time of Christ. However, some think it was the Pools of Solomon. You can see many pictures of this at www.bibleplaces.com but I am adding one picture here.
I met my Muslim Palestinian friend Ibrahim Siam at his antiquities shop at the Pool of Siloam. I purchased an ancient “sling stone” such as was used by David and others to fling from their slings. I will use this in our David video. I also bought a flint knife like the one that was used by Abraham to circumcise himself and his household. He is also finding me an ancient coin with a lyre on one side. A lyre is a small harp like the one David played.
Ibrahim also took me on a tour of the ruins of the City of David and the Pool of Gihon. I have investigated these sites a number of times in the past but he took me on a tour from a different angle and perspective.
Meeting our Group
Tomorrow morning we get up early, meet with a local family who wants to talk with us and then pack and leave to meet our group at the Ben Gurion Airport. The bus will pick us up at 2 PM and our guide Zvi will join us. We are VERY excited to meet all these new and excited Catholics. It is very calm in Israel and we look forward to a wonderful 9 days of Walking in the Footprints of Mary and Jesus.
More later. Stay tuned!