Souvenirs from Egypt, Israel and Jordan

Souvenirs are a must for every traveler. In the all the places I’ve been to, I’ve purchased magnets, accessories and local products that are unique to the place. Whenever I feel the urge to over-spend, I tell myself two things: baggage limit and storage. When I went to Egypt, I knew that I had to get papyrus paper. Of course in my head I was thinking it’s light, it’s thin, it can easily fit into one of my flat luggage pockets. When I got to the shop, I was enticed to take home not just plain papyrus but those with Egyptian hand-painted illustrations.
Papyrus Paintings

You can’t just slip paintings like that into pockets right? The good thing is, Golden Eagle Papyrus has a special way of storing the painting—you roll up the papyrus paper, put it in a circular cardboard case and slip it into your bag.
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My friends know that I am such a sucker for aromatherapy. Lavender and mint are my favorite essential oils because they give off such a clean, calming scent that puts me to sleep easily. Purchasing these oils weren’t part of my original plan. I walked into the oil shop, listened to the demonstration and like most of my companions, I walked out of the store with these bottles:
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SHOPPING IN ISRAEL
Since we were to spend five days in Israel, I expected to spend more on souvenirs. When we took a dip in the Dead Sea, I thought “Maybe I should gather some of the mud and take it home!” I was told by our travel coordinator Tita Mina that someone from the previous Holy Land trip did take some of the mud but they weren’t even done with the trip when it started to stink. As tempting as it is to take the free-flowing Dead Sea mud, we have to first learn how to handle and preserve it correctly. So really, Ahava products are the closest you can get. They’re manufactured in Israel and they’re much cheaper too.

Free flowing Dead Sea mud

Free flowing Dead Sea mud

Of course I had to try it on. This is one Israel experience I won't forget! I had the mask on for about 15-20 minutes (we only had an hour to spend). My skin was baby-smooth and lovely to touch when I washed it off! Imagine if I left it on for about 30 minutes!

Of course I had to try it on. This is one Israel experience I won’t forget! I had the mask on for about 15-20 minutes (we only had an hour to spend). My skin was baby-smooth and lovely to touch when I washed it off! Imagine if I left it on for 30.

Our first legit souvenir stop was at the Nissan Brothers Store in Bethlehem. They had so much to choose from—olive wood Bibles, olive wood carvings and sculptures, crosses, jewelry and gemstones, holy water, holy oil, holy soil, olive oil products, Dead Sea Salt products, the list goes on and on.
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Eilat Stone pendants

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Israelis usually press their own olive oil right in the comfort of their own home.

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Anointing Oil in different scents. $6.99 a box

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Olive wood Bible

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The Olive wood Bible in Spanish

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Miniature model of the Temple

We went to a lot of tourist spots after that, of course there were small stores selling souvenirs but they pretty much carried the same items found at the Nissan Brothers Store.

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That evening, my companions discovered the shops at the lobby of the Hotel Rimonim. They were fixated on the jewelry being sold because the prices were remarkably cheaper than the other places we’ve been to. Other than jewelry, I saw more interesting shirts, camel leather products, sculptures, figurines, magnets and even bags.
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I bought camel leather wallets for my dad and brother and cross necklaces for me and my Lola.

I also got myself a Star of David pendant from a store in Nazareth, Jerusalem pouches from a small stall outside Cana (the place where Jesus turned water into wine for a wedding celebration) and an Eliat stone ring at Galilee.

The Star of David is a symbol of Judaism. The six-pointed star points to God as David's True Shield.

The Star of David is a symbol of Judaism. The six-pointed star points to God as David’s True Shield.

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EILAT STONE (The King Solomon Stone) is the national stone of Israel.

EILAT STONE (The King Solomon Stone) is the national stone of Israel. “Both names are derived from its notable mining location close to the Red Sea–King Solomon’s copper mine near the city of Eilat. A natural composite of the minerals malachite, turquoise, azurite, and chrysocolla, its flamboyant colour ranges from turquoise to deep green and has the striking characteristic of no two being alike.”

Now let’s proceed to JORDAN.

Sand bottle art

Sand bottle art

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Also from the Dead Sea!

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Pendants, pendants, lots of pendants

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Jordan for me was much more festive and colorful. Jordan is well-known for their mosaic art. We visited the mosaic factory in Madaba where we saw how the artists carefully arranged the colorful tiles into beautiful pieces.

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I was tempted to purchase some mosaic artwork but since Jordan was our last country, I was getting more worried about my baggage limit. Mind you, the mosaic pieces are heavy. Every night, when we’d get to the hotel, my roommate Lizza and I would unpack and re-arrange our luggage just to make sure everything still fits in.

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The Tree of Life Mosaic Art (I think this was being sold for $750)

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Here are the other items I got from Jordan:

Pashmina scarves from a Bedouin at Petra
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Myrrh smells like Christmas ($7)
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Frankincense smells like a Cathedral ($7)
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Do you think I purchased too little or too much? If you were to visit these countries, what do you think you’d spend a lot on?
Let me know on the comment box below. Thank you for reading!

Travel Video: ISRAEL

FINALLY! I finished this travel video! WHOOOO! When I edit videos, my tendency is to really get lost in time because I want to finish a project. It was a challenge to complete this because of my crazy schedule at work, events and ministry.

I spent weeks going through 600-800 video clips, noting which ones are good from those that are just crappy and blurry. So ladies and gents, my dear blog readers, here is ISRAEL IN MOTION (done with lots of love)!!!

Holy Land Photoblog: Megiddo

The first time I heard of Megiddo, the images in my head were of scary arms and artillery, troops and their tanks locked and loaded. Megiddo is said to be the site where the final battle between good and evil will ensue (Revelation 16:12-16), when nations will gather against Israel and the latter will call out to Jesus Christ to rescue them. 

Megiddo - the site of the final battle between good and evil

Megiddo – the site of the final battle between good and evil

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View of the Jezreel Valley from the top of Megiddo

How can such a beautiful, peaceful-looking plain be the backdrop of a bloody battle? History and the Bible both reveal that Megiddo has been the site of epic battles. The Megiddo Expedition site says:

Megiddo was the site of epic battles that decided the fate of western Asia. When the Canaanite city-states revolted against 15th century BCE Pharaonic attempts at hegemony, it was at Megiddo that they assembled to do battle. The Egyptian army, led by Pharaoh Thutmose III, surprised the rebels by choosing the most dangerous route of attack – through the narrow ‘Aruna Pass. After routing the Canaanite forces and capturing rich booty, Thutmose III laid siege to the city for seven months. His decisive victory enabled him to incorporate Canaan as a province in the Empire of the New Kingdom. The description of the battle of Megiddo is the earliest account of a major war in antiquity.

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Model of Tel-Megiddo

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The Late Bronze Period Gate

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The Late Bronze Period Gate

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Manger

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Flags

Flags

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It was interesting to see these birds get into their V formation. I tried to capture the V perfectly but this was all I could muster.

The Sacred Area

The Sacred Area

The entrance to the Megiddo Spring

The entrance to the Megiddo Spring

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Yes folks, it’s that deep

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It’s very cold in here.

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Hold on to the railings. The steps can get slippery

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Holy Land Photoblog: Caesarea Maritima

Would you believe that this was again founded by Herod the Great? The man was obviously rich, had a penchant for building colossal structures but he was also very paranoid specially when it came to power. He is the king who ordered the killing of male infants, after the visiting Magi asked him about the “one who has been born king of the Jews.” Aside from that, it’s also been recorded that Herod had his wives (Doris and Mariamne I) and two of his sons (Alexander and Aristobolus IV) killed.

Herod started building Caesarea Maritima in 22BC. It was named in honor of Augustus Caesar and became the Roman administrative capital, the military base of Pontius Pilate, Antonius Felix and other Roman officials.

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Harbor

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The remains of the pool. It was said to be filled with fresh water and had a statue in the middle.

Continue reading

Holy Land Photoblog: Masada

Masada has such a moving historical background as told by Josephus Flavius. Built by Herod between 37-31 BC as his Northern Palace, this desert fortress served as a refuge for some 1000 Jewish zealots and rebels who revolted against the Romans in 66 CE.

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In 73 CE, Flavius Silva led the 10th Roman Legion to conquer Masada. They infiltrated the fortress through a siege tower and fortified camps that can be seen from the viewing deck.

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Before the legion even reached the top, the zealots (as told by Josephus Flavius) decided to take their lives in their hands instead of surrender and become slaves to the Romans. The only ones left to tell the story of Masada were two women and five children who hid in a cistern.

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Holy Week Photoblog: The Garden Tomb

If you haven’t read my previous post, there are two sites in Israel which are believed to have been the tomb of Jesus Christ–The Holy Sepulchre and The Garden Tomb, which is featured in this post. The Holy Sepulchre is located within the walls of Jerusalem while the Garden Tomb is outside the city walls.

Most Protestants believe that this is more likely the location of the rich man’s new tomb, belonging to Joseph of Arimathea who along with Nicodemus, dressed, washed and anointed Jesus’ body for burial. If we look back at the description of the Jesus’ burial place as mentioned in the Bible, it enumerates the following characteristics:

 

 

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At the place where Jesus was crucified, there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb, in which no one had ever been laid (john 19L41). Since it was the Jewish day of Preparation and the tomb was nearby, Joseph and Nicodemus laid Jesus there (John 19:42).

 

The Garden Tomb is in Jerusalem but not within the Old City. According to our guide from the Garden Tomb, the location matches the description in the Bible: -Located along a highway -Public execution -At the skull-shaped hill -Near a gate of the city -A garden

The Garden Tomb is in Jerusalem but not within the Old City. According to our guide from the Garden Tomb, the location matches the description in the Bible:
-Located along a highway
-Public execution
-At the skull-shaped hill (Golgotha)
-Near a gate of the city
-A garden

A key characteristic of Golgotha is that it looks like a skull

 

You might be asking, why is there a winepress in the tomb? Remember that the tomb originally belonged to Joseph of Arimathea who was a rich man, a member of the Sanhedrin who was a secret disciple of Jesus. When he found out that Jesus was dead, he asked Pilate for the body of Jesus, took it and prepared it for burial along with Nicodemus (Remember him from John 3?).  The presence of a winepress in the tomb indicates that it was also a

You might be asking, why is there a winepress in the tomb? Remember that the tomb originally belonged to Joseph of Arimathea who was a rich man, a member of the Sanhedrin who was a secret disciple of Jesus. When he found out that Jesus was dead, he asked Pilate for the body of Jesus, took it and prepared it for burial along with Nicodemus (Remember him from John 3?).
The presence of a winepress in the tomb indicates that it was also a “working garden” fit for a rich man.

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Of course, worth noting are the beautiful flowers scattered around the garden

Now let’s get to the tomb

The entrance to the tomb

The entrance to the tomb.

The fact that it was a new tomb is crucial–once corpses have already been laid to rest in a tomb, tomb toxins cultivate, therefore making it easier to decompose any new corpse that would be laid in there. Jesus’ body was laid in A NEW TOMB, meaning there was still no existence of tomb toxins/decomposing bacteria that could have easily made his physical body decay.

His tomb was cut out of solid rock, with a large weeping chamber, and a channel for a rolling stone. It is remarkable that all the features mentioned in the biblical account of Joseph’s tomb can be seen at the Garden Tomb.P1140022-001

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Joseph of Arimathea was a rich man, a member of the Sanhedrin but a secret disciple of Jesus Christ (John 19:38, Matthew 27:57). This was his own new tomb, cut out from a rock (Matthew 27:60).

Indeed! My Savior is RISEN! Despite the debate regarding the exact location of Christ's crucifixion and resurrection, the most important truth is that Jesus conquered death and made salvation possible for all who come to Him and believe.

Indeed! My Savior is RISEN! Despite the debate regarding the exact location of Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection, the most important truth is that Jesus conquered death and made salvation possible for all who come to Him and believe.

I hope you enjoyed my Holy Week photoblog. 🙂 Looking forward to sharing more of my Holy Land journey and Bible insights with you.

Holy Week Photoblog: Holy Sepulchre

The Holy Sepulchre is believed by a lot of Christians as the place where Jesus Christ was crucified (Golgotha) and where He rose from the dead.  

THE MAIN ENTRANCE: It took a while for us to get through those doors as it was very crowded inside. I find it interesting that different Christian denominations share control of the church but Muslims are said to have the keys to the main door.

THE MAIN ENTRANCE:
It took a while for us to get through those doors as it was very crowded inside. I find it interesting that different Christian denominations share control of the church but Muslims are said to have the keys to the main door.

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Lines and lines of tourists flocked towards this huge structure--the entrance to the tomb of Jesus Christ.

Lines and lines of tourists flocked towards this huge structure–the entrance to the tomb of Jesus Christ.

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The Stone of Anointing is where Jesus is believed to have been laid after he was taken off the cross

The Stone of Anointing is where Jesus is believed to have been laid after he was taken off the cross

A lot of people bow, kiss and pray at the Stone of Anointing

A lot of people bow, kiss and pray at the Stone of Anointing

At the courtyard of the Holy Sepulchre. It was nice to be able to move about freely after staying in line.

At the courtyard of the Holy Sepulchre. It was nice to be able to move about freely after moving like ants inside. 🙂

Later, we’ll look at the Garden Tomb which is the alternate site believed to be where Jesus was really buried. Researchers looked into the historical and geographical facts in the Bible and found that the location fit the descriptions of Golgotha (The Skull Hill) and the tomb which was originally owned by Joseph of Arimathea and “lent” to Jesus Christ.

Holy Week Photoblog: The Church of St. Peter in Gallicantu

Peter Disowns Jesus 69 Now Peter was sitting out in the courtyard, and a servant girl came to him. “You also were with Jesus of Galilee,” she said. 70 But he denied it before them all. “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” he said. 71 Then he went out to the gateway, where another servant girl saw him and said to the people there, “This fellow was with Jesus of Nazareth.” 72 He denied it again, with an oath: “I don’t know the man!” 73 After a little while, those standing there went up to Peter and said, “Surely you are one of them; your accent gives you away.” 74 Then he began to call down curses, and he swore to them, “I don’t know the man!” Immediately a rooster crowed. 75 Then Peter remembered the word Jesus had spoken: “Before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times.” And he went outside and wept bitterly.

Matthew 26:69-75 Peter Disowns Jesus
69 Now Peter was sitting out in the courtyard, and a servant girl came to him. “You also were with Jesus of Galilee,” she said.
70 But he denied it before them all. “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” he said.
71 Then he went out to the gateway, where another servant girl saw him and said to the people there, “This fellow was with Jesus of Nazareth.”
72 He denied it again, with an oath: “I don’t know the man!”
73 After a little while, those standing there went up to Peter and said, “Surely you are one of them; your accent gives you away.”
74 Then he began to call down curses, and he swore to them, “I don’t know the man!”
Immediately a rooster crowed. 75 Then Peter remembered the word Jesus had spoken: “Before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times.” And he went outside and wept bitterly.

Following Jesus’ agony at the Garden of Gethsemane, we now find ourselves in the place where Peter denied Jesus Christ. It was a panic-filled evening; their master and teacher has just been arrested. Imagine yourselves in the place of John and Peter. Despite the obvious danger, the two still wanted to find out what would happen so they followed all the way to the high priest’s place. Since John was known by the high priest, he was able to get in. He persuaded the servant girl to let Peter in and it was then that two servant girls recognised him as having been with Jesus. Like a deer caught in headlights, Peter outrightly denied association but his Galilean accent gave him away. After denying Jesus the third time, the rooster crowed and Jesus looked straight into Peter’s eyes. This compelled the latter to get out and weep bitterly, remembering the Master’s words (Matthew 26:75).

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Holy Week Photoblog: Via Dolorosa

The Via Dolorosa or the Way of Sorrows is the path that Jesus went through on His way to Calvary.

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According to our tour guide Diko, even in the ancient times, it was a marketplace. That meant that Jesus had to carry His cross towards Calvary, bearing the weight, humiliation and mockery of the people

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The Chapel of the Condemnation commemorates where Jesus took up the cross after He was sentenced.

The Chapel of the Condemnation commemorates where Jesus took up the cross after He was sentenced.

The third station is where Jesus falls for the first time.

The third station is where Jesus falls for the first time.

The fifth station is where Simon of Cyrene helped Jesus carry His cross

The fifth station is where Simon of Cyrene helped Jesus carry His cross

IMG_3190-001The 14 stations on the 600-meter stretch culminates at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre where Jesus is believed to have been crucified and buried. Later, we’ll look into another location called The Garden Tomb which some Christians believe is the real site of the burial and resurrection of Jesus, given the archaeological and geographical evidence.

Holy Week Photoblog: Gethsemane

36 Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” 37 He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled. 38 Then he said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.”

Matthew 26:36-38

Gethsemani means "oil press" in Hebrew. It is located at the Mount of Olives and stands next to the Church of All Nations, which houses the rock where Jesus is believed to have prayed in agony.

Gethsemani means “oil press” in Hebrew. It is located at the Mount of Olives and stands next to the Church of All Nations, which houses the rock where Jesus is believed to have prayed in agony.

One of the 8 olive trees in the garden. Many have debated on the age of these trees--if they were the ones that stood when Jesus prayed. Research from 2012  says "Analysis of their DNA found they were planted from the same parent plant, possibly in an attempt to preserve a particular lineage."  Olive trees can regenerate themselves through shoots from the parent tree's roots which in turn, become new trees.

One of the 8 olive trees in the garden. Many have debated on the age of these trees–if they were the ones that stood when Jesus prayed. Research from 2012 says “Analysis of their DNA found they were planted from the same parent plant, possibly in an attempt to preserve a particular lineage.” Olive trees can regenerate themselves through shoots from the parent tree’s roots which in turn, become new trees.

The Church of All Nations is a Roman Catholic Church completed in 1924. It is one of the many churches built by Italian Architect Antonio Barluzzi who is also known as the "Architect of the Holy Land"

The Church of All Nations is a Roman Catholic Church completed in 1924. It is one of the many churches built by Italian Architect Antonio Barluzzi who is also known as the “Architect of the Holy Land”

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The roof has 12 small domes, each representing the 12 countries (Argentina, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, France, Germany, Italy, Mexico, Spain, the United Kingdom and the USA) that donated funds for the building of the church.

The roof has 12 small domes, each representing the 12 countries (Argentina, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, France, Germany, Italy, Mexico, Spain, the United Kingdom and the USA) that donated funds for the building of the church.

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The ceiling was intentionally painted a dark blue hue like the sky at night while natural light streams through the beautiful coloured glass.

The ceiling was intentionally painted a dark blue hue like the sky at night while natural light streams through the beautiful coloured glass.

This is the rock where Jesus is believed to have prayed to God. Matthew 26: 39 "Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, 'My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.'"

This is the rock where Jesus is believed to have prayed to God. Matthew 26: 39 “Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, ‘My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.'”

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