Thursday, March 10, 2005

Continuing the Adventure

by Steve Ray on March 10, 2005

The Cedars of the Lord
How in the world do I begin? So much has taken place since my last entry. We took a whole day to find the magnificent grove of cedar trees, way up in the mountains of north Lebanon. The trees are anywere from 1500 to 6000 years old (though I doubt the oldest dates) and are called “The Cedars of the Lord.“ The snow was about 10 feet deep in places and beyond the cedars the road was closed with snow deeper than I have ever seen in my life — and I’M FROM MICHIGAN! The trees were beautiful and we got marvelous video footage for our David/Solomon video. The cedars played an important part in the history of Israel and the building of the temple in Jerusalem. Cedars are mentioned over 77 times in the Old Testament.

After joining the protest and celebration with the Lebanese – waving flags in downtown Beirut – and viewing the unbelievable devastation of the assassin’s bomb in Beirut again, we finally boarded our flight on Cyprus Air to fly to Larnaka in Cyprus. Our driver met us and off we went.

Divided Cyprus
Cyprus is divided into two sections with a wall running through the center of their capital Nicosia. The Turks invaded a decade or so ago and divided the country much like Germany was divided before the fall of the Berlin Wall. It was sad to see. The Turks even renamed all the cities in the north. We were warned we could be shot if we crossed the fence, except through the four official checkpoints. The north is Turkish made up mostly of Muslim Turks whereas the more beautiful and prosperous south is made up of Christian Greeks. We were fortunate enough to cross the barbed wire border and visit the North as well as tour the South.

Footprints of Paul, Tombs of Lazarus and Barnabas
Our main goal was to follow the footprints of Paul and discover the remains of early Christianity. We started at the Tomb of Lazarus where tradition says he moved after the death and resurrection of Christ and where he became a bishop for 30 years before dying and being buried near Larnaka. We prayed at his bodily remains. We then went to the tomb of St. Barnabas who was from Cyprus before joining up with Paul who began his First Missionary journey on the island of Cyprus (Acts 13). He landed in Salamis and traveled across the island to Paphos. Anyway, we found the church with the tomb of St. Barnabas. In the 5th century his body was discovered by revelation under a carob tree holding a copy of the Gospel of Matthew in Hebrew and Constantinople gave the patriarch of Cyprus special autonomy because Christianity on the island had an apostle as it founder.

We traveled through both sides of the divide in the capital of Nicosia, visiting the Patriarch’s museum and church. The next day we left for the western portion of the island visiting the birthplace of Aphrodite, and many churches and ruins before arriving in Paphos where Paul caused a false Jewish prophet to become blind and where the proconsul Sergius Paulus became a believer. Paul, Barnabas and Mark then shipped out from the port of Paphos.

Driving on the Wrong Side of the Road
Have you ever driven in a country where you drive on the left side of the road? It is like England. Our guide asked me to take his rental car back to the airport for him and I readily agreed. I love to try new things. So, with Janet very nervous sitting where we expect a driver to sit, I jumped into the car on the right side where you expect the passenger to sit. The steering wheel is on the right side and I had to shift through the five gears with my left hand. Then I had to remember to keep the car on the left side of the road. It was great fun even at night in a big rainstorm. Janet said I did a great job! We flew out of Larnika to Tel Aviv at 11 PM.

Back Home Again — in Jerusalem!
We arrived in the brand new and beautiful airport in Tel Aviv. Since we are bringing a group of pilgrims over here in September we wanted to check out the airport and we have good news to tell– it is very nice, efficient, and user-friendly. But more about Israel in a day or two. For now we have a lot of work to do and a lot of exploring to accomplish. We will also meet with all our agents and guides and make sure everything is ready for the rest of the year with filming, pilgrimages and research.

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