Trip to the Holy Land
Albert & Margaret Bassett celebrated 67 years of marriage together on June 4, 1997
As told by our 92 year old Mother,
Dad died in 1998 at age 93
Mother died in 2004 at age 96)
Melvin Bassett (deceased)
Norma (Bassett) Reighard
We flew from Johnstown to Pittsburgh and then to Kennedy Airport in New York. About half an hour later we boarded an international plane for Israel. We made one stop in Paris to make sure everything was "ok" mechanically. About two hours later we were on our way to Israel. During our flight the pilot pointed out the Alps Mountains to us. After several hours of flying we finally reached our destination. We landed at Tel Aviv. From the time we left home until we arrived in Israel, we had all daylight traveling, even though it was the next day. There were two buses waiting for us with a tour guide on each bus. We were taken to a nice restaurant and hotel. At the center of the hotel was a very large and beautiful water fountain. We had our supper and were assigned to a very nice room. For breakfast and most of the meals that we ate at the hotels, we were given a choice between Jewish and American food. One table was full of breads, rolls, etc. that was for everyone. A Jewish table had several casserole dishes and many other things. I asked a waitress if there was any toast and coffee and she directed me to the American table. There I had cooked oatmeal, a roll, and coffee. They had some bread that was almost black and I tried it out of curiosity, but it wasn't my kind of bread. After breakfast we boarded our bus and headed for the Mount of Olives. Our guide's name was Jacob, which was the American pronunciation of his Jewish name. On our way Jacob indicated different points of interest. One that stands out in my mind was the mount where Jesus ascended into heaven. Upon arriving at the Mount of Olives you could look to the right and see Jerusalem. After getting off the bus we started our walk to get to the Mount. There was a lot of walking on this trip. I was using two canes and Betty had one. During our walk a very nice man came and took our arms and helped us along, which we appreciated very much. After reaching the top we sat on benches for a program. We were on the right and the speaker and other participants were on the left. Russ Bixler, who was in charge, read the Beatitudes (Sermon on the Mount) from the fifth chapter of Matthew. There was prayer and singing led by Mary Ann Skeva, who played her guitar. She is a regular on Cornerstone TV. Our next stop was in Jerusalem. When we arrived at the gate, it was closed. We got off the bus and walked up to the gate. We sang "Open the Gates of the Temple", and the gates opened. We got back on the buses and drove into Jerusalem. Our schedule was to visit the temple, but there were forty buses ahead of us, so Jacob suggested that we go on with our tour or we wouldn't get to see the other things on our schedule. We left there and went to the Garden of Gethsemane. There was a guard at the entrance. Jacob went up and talked to him and then motioned for us to come. As we walked toward the entrance, he pointed out to us where Jesus told his disciples to watch and pray. As we went inside, to our left, there were two men on ladders picking figs. We walked around in the garden, knowing that this is the place where Jesus came to pray the night before his crucifixion. To the right of the garden were steps leading up to a place where we had devotions. Russ read the scripture of what Jesus went through with the betrayal of one of his disciples and his upcoming crucifixion. Our closing song was "In the Garden".
Not everyone could sing it, as it was too emotional. One of our stops was at Bethany, where Jesus sent two of his disciples into the city. "When you see a man bearing a pitcher of water, inquire about the guest chamber." (Mark 14: 13-18) This is where Jesus and his disciples had the Last Supper. During our tour we visited the Upper Room, where we had reading and prayer. We also visited the tomb where Jesus' body was placed. On an upper level we had devotions, singing, and communion before going down the steps to the tomb. The walls of the tomb were all stone. There was an area in the wall that had been hewed out for the placement of a body. It had an imprint of a body in the stone. A lot of people went inside the tomb, including Betty, but Russ advised me not to try it as there was too big of a stone step to get over, so I stood at the doorway and looked in. One of our stops was at the Dead Sea. It was really something to see. Men were floating on their backs, as there is so much salt in the water that you can't swim. A lady minister and her husband who were on the bus with us saw Betty and I standing there watching. She asked me if I wasn't going into the water. I said "No Way". She asked "Why?" She then said that she thinks the Lord expects you to. I told her that if I went in I would have to have help. Two men came to help, so I kicked my shoes off , rolled up my slacks and went into the water. Salt water is supposed to be very healing and I must say that it made my legs feel better. After about ten minutes we got out of the water. My stockings were white with salt. There were three of us trying to brush the salt off my stockings, but most of it stayed on until I got back to my room that night and took them off and washed them.
We were told that there is a family that comes there once a year for healing. They stay in a camper. They go in the water three times a day for a week. At the end of the Dead Sea they had a machine pumping the salt out of the water through about a twelve-inch pipe onto large piles. I don't know where it goes from there, but they pump it out everyday. Perhaps this is where the salt we use in our food comes from. We also visited the Wailing Wall. A lot of Jewish people go there to pray. They write something down on a piece of paper and slip it into a crack in the wall. Betty and I both put our hands on the wall, but that's as far as it went.
We stopped at a place where you could walk up the hill to a cable car that would take you across a valley to the mountain on the other side. From the top of the mountain to the bottom of the valley is 2,800 feet.
This was Masada, where King Herod had his palace. Two of the ladies from Johnstown took the ride over and said there were other houses there. But I can tell you two ladies from Johnstown who didn't make the trip across in a cable car - Betty and I. Another city we stopped at was Nazareth, a city on a hillside, which is where Jesus lived. (Matthew 2:23) We walked up a couple of blocks until we came to a church on the opposite side of the street. We went inside to see the church and have a rest period. Some where on our journey, near Jerusalem, we had the privilege of planting a tree. People who go on tours to the Holy Land have the opportunity to plant a tree. There are trees of all sizes growing there that have been planted at different times. On our way to the Jordan River we stopped at some little shops in Jerusalem to browse around and to buy souvenirs. The streets there are so narrow that only one car can go through at a time.
Upon arriving at the Jordan River, those of us who wanted to get baptized went into a building to put on white robes. We then went out to bleachers that were on the left where the rest of the group was waiting for us. The devotions consisted of singing, Bible reading, and prayer. We then went across to the Jordan
River. It was roped off in a U-shape, which we walked along, until it was our turn to be baptized. Russ Bixler baptized Betty and another minister baptized me. Due to my knee replacement, I couldn't get on my knee so I was baptized once backwards. It was quite an experience to be baptized in the same river that Jesus was baptized. From there we headed to the Sea of Galilee. We got into a boat and went out in the water. We sang songs and had many prayers for a safe trip back home. When we got back to our hotel the last night, we were all sent up to a large dining room on the fourth floor. The hotel provided snacks and drinks for all the tourists. It was a time for prayers and wishing all a safe journey home.
Compiled March 2000
Added April 2000
After the printing of my trip to the Holy Land ended, or so I thought, I turned on Cornerstone TV to find out they were over in the Holy Lands. To my surprise, they were broadcasting from the top of Masada Mountain. He was talking about King Herod, who had all the children killed up to two years of age. The speaker said that later on King Herod had feared for his life for what he had done. That was the reason that he had a palace built on top of Mount Masada. After King Herod died, the rebel Jews took over for several years after the fall of Jerusalem. They feared for their lives of being captured, enslaved, or killed by the Roman Jews. They killed all their wives, children and themselves.
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