Bethlehem was not in our original itinerary. The DHB thought we wouldn’t have enough time and that crossing the Palestinian border will be too dangerous. But somehow, I managed to convince him that it was worth the risk.
As soon as our trip around Jerusalem ended, we rode the bus together with a few from our tour group to the border of Israel and Palestine. We were told that we had to walk by ourselves to cross the border and go through security. At the end of the walk which made us feel like we were prisoners of war, our Palestinian driver gathered and fetched us. Apparently, our guide and driver from Jerusalem are prohibited to work in Palestine.
We stopped by a souvenir shop where we fetched our official tour guide. We were surprised to know that he has been a guide for 20 years and that he speaks fluent English, Arab, French, and even German! He was briefly yet concisely translating everything in 3 languages: English, French, and German. Later he told us that he stayed in Switzerland for a while because he was importing olive wood from Israel. Somehow that connection, because we are from Switzerland, made us feel safer.
We only had one goal in Bethlehem: To visit the Church of the Nativity. This is where Jesus was said to have been born. We passed through a very narrow opening that led us to the Greek Orthodox Church. Some members of this Church are people getting paid by the government to pray all day and all night. To the right of the church was an opening that leads to the Armenian Church. To the left was a door that leads to the Catholic Church. And underneath it all was the spot of the MANGER, the Star of the Nativity, and the Three Kings.
At the time we were there, there were also approximately 2,500 Indians that were visiting Israel. Apparently, it was the time of the year when they would normally visit the Holy Land.
Our guide directed us to the spot of the manger and it just felt so surreal. There were many people but I actually felt a surprising sense of calm. I could not believe that I was right there. Most Christians just dream of going to Israel but we actually managed to BE THERE. It was the perfect way to mark our first year wedding anniversary. Ours is not a perfect relationship but we really try our best to work things through. And we wouldn’t even reach a year if we never believed in that baby that was born in that manger! We owe our marriage to Jesus Christ. We owe our lives to the one true God who sent His only Son to save us from our sins.
This was the video I made from our entire trip:
And our pictures–