Sunday, October 16, 2016

Nazareth Part 2

The inner door is for people to enter.  The larger door is for animals.

A depiction of the Synagogue in Nazareth.

Scrolls like those that would have been used in a synagogue.
Synagogue Windows
Tools that a carpenter may have used in Nazareth.

more tools

A typical shepherd of the day.


Our hotel was next to the Sea of Galilee with a beautiful view both morning and night.  During the day we were able to travel to many spots with historical and scriptural significance.  The scriptural stories that I learned in my youth took on new significance as I stood on sacred ground near the spots where those stories took place.  I had a testimony before I went to Israel, but I am changed somehow.  I have a better understanding of the culture.  I have a better understanding of Jesus and His gospel.  I appreciate Him more.  I want to know Him better.

Our first stop was Mount Arbel where we had a gorgeous view of the Galilee.  The Galilee refers to the entire region surrounding the sea of Galilee.  

It was a bit of a hike.

Mount Arabel was historically a pretty bloody place.  There are caves in the cliff where more than once Jews hid themselves from conquering rulers.  It never ended well.  Most who sought refuge in the caves were brutally killed.  Other jumped from the mount to avoid becoming slaves.

Look at this stunning mosaic.  


Jesus grew up in Nazareth.  He probably learned to be a carpenter from Joseph. He knew the village and surrounding hillside.  He played with other children and learned the culture of the Jews.

He also learned about His mission and destiny.  Who were His teachers?

Eventually He preached here and announced in the synagogue that He was the Messiah, but the people of Nazareth rejected Him.  A prophet is not without honor except in his own country.

This is also the place that Nephi saw in vision when the angel revealed Mary the mother of Jesus to him.  This is the place where Gabriel told Mary she would be the mother of the Son of God.  This is the place where Gabriel visited Joseph and told him to take Mary to be his wife and the name her son Jesus.

We visited a reconstructed village in Nazareth which depicted Jesus's childhood home.

We saw our first olive press here.  The olives are hung in bags and weighted to extract the first oil.  This is the prized virgin olive oil

In this type of press the olives are pitted and then crushed.  This releases more oil.  Oil is 50 % or more of the weight of the olives.

An olive garden, early tools from the period, traditional weaving and a shepherd, are some of the things we saw here.  Local Christians volunteer to be actors at this sight to make the experience more real.

This is how the olives look on the tree.

The woman who was weaving was animated and joyful.  Someone mentioned to her that she could get rich selling her rugs and mats. She did a little dance and said, "I am already rich, because I am the daughter of the King of Kings."

For some reason I was a little surprised to find Christians in Israel who openly displayed their love for Jesus Christ.  I asked how many Christians live in Israel.  Our guide estimated that there are around 160,000 or less than 5% of the population.

A noisy donkey.  Donkeys were a common way of transporting people and goods in Nazareth.  Especially for the poor.
A wine press.  Many families made their own olive oil and their own wine..  They used their feet to mash the grapes so that they would not crush the seeds which would make the wine bitter.  There was a channel cut in the ground to carry the wine to a vat where it could be put into bottles.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Why China? Part 5: Pandas

Pandas are an endangered species, native to China.  There are only about 2000 in the world and only about 49 live outside of China.  About 239 Pandas are in captivity in China and the rest live in natural habitat. 

The 49 or so Panda living outside of China are in 18 different zoos in 13 different countries.  China once gave two pandas to the United States as a gift.  Their new address was the Washington D.C. zoo.  China gave 23 Pandas to 9 different countries between 1958 and 1982 as an act of diplomacy. 

In 1984, the Chinese stopped giving Pandas as gifts and now they only loan Pandas for ten years.  The loan comes with a price tag of $10,000 to $1,000,000 per year.  Some of that money goes to conservation of Panda habitat and research.  Any offspring born to Pandas on loan also belong to

The name Panda means Big Bear Cat.  Pandas are scientifically classified as meat-eaters because of their digestive system, but live almost entirely on bamboo.   Adult Pandas eat an astonishing 20 to 30 pounds of bamboo each day. It takes a lot of time to get all that bamboo down.  They spend about 12 hours of every day eating.  That's right, 12 hours out of every 24 hours is spent in the dining room.

Pandas sometimes eat small birds and rodents.

An adult male can weigh as much as 350 pounds.  Females are smaller and can weigh anywhere from 150 to 275 pounds.   Baby Pandas are tiny, weighing less than 5 ounces .  Imagine a rounded cube of butter and you've got the idea, except that the butter is pink. Panda cubs are born blind, pink, and with no teeth.
In a few week the cub's skin turns gray in spots, the spots that will eventually become black.  The color pattern is set after about a month.  The first fur is very soft and coarsens over time.

Panda cubs crawl at around 3 months and start snacking on bamboo when they are 6 months old.  They depend mostly on their Mother’s milk for the first year.  On their first birthday, panda cubs weigh about 100 pounds.  They will live with their mother for up to two years.  In the wild, a mother Panda gives birth about once every two years.  Panda dads don’t stick around to help raise the kids.

Pandas don’t reproduce much in captivity. Apparently Pandas are shy about mating in public.  Panda
keepers have tried Viagra and Panda porn, but the most success has come from artificial insemination. 

Six Pandas live in the Beijing Zoo.  We were hoping to see at least one of them.  Our guide told us that on a good day we might see two or three.  To our delight we saw all six of the handsome creatures.  For some of us it was a first.

Six out of six.  I guess it was a good day. 

Linda Garner

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Why China? Part 4: Before I Came to China

Before I came 
to China, 
I thought that 
all Chinese people
looked alike.

In China, 
I saw that 
Chinese faces 
are as different 
as snowflakes.

I swam 
in an ocean 
of Chinese faces 
and saw the music 
in their smiles 
and the warmth 
in their eyes.

Some faces 
reminded me of 
friends at home 
who are not Chinese.

I even saw one 
that reminded me 
of you.

Linda Garner

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Why China? Part 3: More about the Great Wall

One of the highlights to our Beijing experience was climbing the Great Wall of China.

The Chinese used walls to protect and isolate their people and their royalty.  There are walls surrounding some towns and cities.  There are walls surrounding the Forbidden City.

The Great Wall was built to protect China from invading armies.  It is more than 4,000 miles long.  Longer than the width of the continental United States.  

The Wall is as wide as 30 feet in places, plenty wide enough to drive a car across.  It is 16 feet tall where it has not eroded.  To get to the top of the wall we climbed stairs that extended about a mile.  

The most curious thing about the stairs is that they are uneven.
Some stairs felt normal, others were short, and some were very tall.  I had to crawl over some of the taller stairs, lacking the stability on the snow and ice to negotiate such a tall step.

The walls were built to keep intruders out.  The uneven stairs helped to slow the enemy down.  

There was a railing on each side of the stairs.  One railing was crowded with the hands of many travelers.  The other side of the stairs was very icy and seemed a little treacherous.  I seldom was able to grasp the railing.  Closer to the top there was no railing.

Their was a guard house part way up the stairs and a tower at the top.  At the first guard house, I realized that I needed to shed some of my layers as I was getting too warm.  The sun had begun to warm us, and I was also generating some of my own heat from the exertion.  I left my heavy coat soon after, hanging on the railing.

We didn't see graffiti near the wall, but padlocks hung along the side of the stairs just under the railing.  On the padlocks were carved initials and names of some who wished to leave their mark.

We learned that the wall was begun in the Quin (pronounced Chin) dynasty and was added to during the Ming Dynasty at a cost of hundreds of thousands of lives.  Those who died while building the wall were buried within the wall.  The early builders use compacted dirt.  During the Ming Dynasty bricks were also used.
The climb was challenging for me but doable.  Reaching the top was a victory.  The view was spectacular.  We were blessed to have a clear day.  I savored the victory and enjoyed the satisfaction of completion.  

This is the hero rock.  If you have made it this far you are a hero.  I may not be a hero but I felt like one when I reached this rock.  Every once in a while, I like to do hard things.  

Linda Garner

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Why China? Part 2: The Climb

The Great Wall

It was built to keep intruders out.  One mile up and one mile down.  “There are two climbs here,” Our tour guide told us.  “One side is hard,” he said, “the other…harder.  You choose.”

I looked at the uneven stairs stretching toward the sky, and chose hard, knowing that it would be enough.

My feet were careful on the sometimes icy steps.  I wore layers against the November chill.  There were many hands clinging to the rail.  I couldn’t always reach.

It was meant to be a hard climb.  It was meant to slow down the enemy.  The un-evenness had purpose.

I am not the enemy, but the un-evenness challenged me as if I were.  My short legs were not made for tall steps.  Sometimes I had to crawl.

It was warmer near the top.  My layers became a burden.  I left my heavy coat along the way to be gathered on my downward hike.

We celebrated at the top.  The view was breathtaking.  I felt victorious.  It was hard, and I made it.  I can do hard things.

Linda Garner