Today we had a tour of the International Center of Bethlehem where we have been staying. It is quite amazing the things they do and the spirit of hope in a place that many might not seem to have hope. We visted with the Rev. Dr. Mitri Raheb who is the Pastor of the Evangelical Lutheran Christmas Church in Bethlehem and head of the International Center.
Next we had lunch just off Manger Square - then to the Church of the Nativity. There were no lines, so we could move quickly through the church. The place that is honored as the location of Jesus's birth was awe-inspiring. We also went to St. Catherine's Church and the location of where St. Jerome was buried (until he was made a saint.) St Jerome is the Patron Saint of Librarians, so that had special significance. We also went to the Milk Grotto where Mary and Joseph stopped to feed their baby as they fled to Egypt.
We had time for shopping and meandering around Manger Square before we were to visit our next desination; however, the situation with the boat at Gaza has postponed this visit.
Tomorrow - the Dead Sea.