Today was our free day in Jerusalem- a day to do whatever we pleased.

I went into the Old City to explore and shop with friends. And we had so very much fun. The day began in the Arab Suk (market) after entering the Old City through the Jaffa gate. We helped one of our friends get some T-shirt’s, and I found one or two (ahem…six!! But they aren’t all for me!) scarves. Then we meandered to the Jewish Quarter and finally made a stop at Vic’s Armenian pottery shop.

We decided to head to The Rockefeller Museum – a hearty walk, to say the least. Only to discover once we arrived that it is no longer open on Fridays. Whoops!

So we headed off to Ben Yehuda street, to enjoy the shopping and sites there. Somewhere along the way, the beautiful sunny day turned to rain (I will never be able to convince the pilgrims that came on this tour that Israel rarely gets rain! It’s rained every day!), and we were starting to get hungry and soaked. After mailing use of the clean (but TINY) bathrooms at a Kosher McDonald’s, we decided we needed to find a place to sit down to lunch.

One of our group asked some locals at a juice stand and we were directed to a little mom-and-pop place around the corner. They were apologizing as they gave us directions because it wasn’t very fancy. They didn’t need to apologize.

We found the place, and before they could finish pulling a couple of tables together for us, there were warm pitas arriving. Then we were given menus. When we asked what was good, we were told the mousaka. Two of our group ordered that, two ordered schnitzel, and I ordered meatballs and fries. I don’t think we were waiting a minute and a half before our entrees arrived. As they arrived, the heavens opened and the rain began to pour in earnest. We agreed that this was soooo the right place to be.

The food just kept coming and it was warm, and so tasty! And when we paid the bill, it was around $10 a plate. I took pics of the restaurant so I can find my way there again in the future!

After lunch, we had magnum ice cream bars (or some of us did) and then we continued to wander for a while. Finally, we stopped in at the King David Hotel and enjoyed their beautiful lobby that includes a strip on the floor where they have the signatures of famous people (Hollywood celebs, famous musicians, well known political leaders, royalty…) who have stayed there over the years.

It was an absolutely fantastic day – especially with all the conversations, story sharing and laughter as we walked and explored.

I am reminded of these words from Romans:

Just as our bodies have many parts and each part has a special function, so it is with Christ’s body. We are many parts of one body, and we all belong to each other. Romans‬ ‭12:4-5‬ ‭NLT‬‬

This is the power of the church. A week ago, so many in our group didn’t know each other. Of the five people I spent most of today with, only one of them did I know before this trip. And we hadn’t done more than say “hi” at General Assembly or other church functions for a number of years. And yet, as we walked and talked and shared, we were members of one body – bearing each other’s burdens and sharing each other’s joys; laughing and being silly together.

What joy there is in being part of the world-wide family of the church.

Amen.

From the Arab Suk, the Jewish Quarter and the Armenian Quarter:

Our astoundingly great lunch and a Magnum Bar selfie:

From the King David Hotel:

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