Nazareth and Galilee

The last full day!! We were really busy with lots of site visits and more bus rides!  The first stop was the Church of the Annunciation, built over the ruins of a village that is likely where Jesus and his family lived. What I loved about this church is the Catholic communities of various countries donated money for its renovation and construction, and each country that did had their own piece of artwork to display around the church, including a diorama of sorts with a motion sensor that turns on the lights that scared me when I walked up!

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We also visited a church not too far away where another cave was found where Joseph probably practiced his craft.  So they built a church just for him on that cave, too!

Next we hopped back on the bus, trekking through the rain to visit Sindyanna of Galilee, an organization of both Palestinians and Israelis to provide skill training, employment and friendship for women while producing fair trade and organic products like soap, olive oil, baskets, weaving and more!  Check out more about them here.  They also worked hard to take land that was previously unfit for farming and worked it into a flourishing olive grove!  Unfortunately the grove is being threatened to be torn down to make room for power lines by the Israeli government, so if you want to help out, make sure to learn more about it and sign the petition here

After some serious shopping at Sindyanna, we headed to the Sea of Galilee, where we took a boat ride across!  It was raining part of the time, but still gorgeous!  The captain started playing worship music for part of the trip, and several people had their Titanic moments at the front of the boat.  It's a beautiful area in the rain, and can only imagine what it must be like on a warm, sunny day!

Once on the other side we had lunch at a restaurant on the shore, and had several options for our meal.  One of which was a whole fish.  And I mean WHOLE.  Eyeballs and scales and EVERYTHING.  I forgot to get a picture but clearly I had the falafel instead of the fish. 
We loaded back on the bus and headed for as many Holy Sites as we could fit in.  We hit the Mount of Beatitudes which was stunning with a beautiful view of the Sea of Galilee, and another church farther down the hillside right on the beach where it is more likely Jesus gave the sermon on the mount.  The hill there has the correct acoustics and is right by the sea.  I didn't stick my feet in the water because I knew we had limited time but it was still beautiful to see.  Apparently there were some larger cute rodent-type animals around the church that I missed, but I was already headed back to the bus when other members of the group saw them. 

Finally we headed back to the hotel in Nazareth for dinner, packing, and small group discussion of what we're taking away from the trip and what we want to do when we get home.