Updated: Jun 6, 2022
Photos by Trish Thompson
An Interview with Von and Gerlie Long
This trip has been a bucket list item for Von and he is excited to share this trip with fellow members. For Gerlie, this is her second trip. She has added her perspective through several sites.
Great start today on the Mount of Olives enjoying a panoramic view of Jerusalem. We watched as a live camel walked up the street…it was bring your camel to work day! We took a group photo. Von was amazed that people desire to be buried on this hill to avoid the rush to heaven during the Second Coming. He also shared how seeing the city from this perspective put life to the passion story, he could visualize the location of the garden, the upper room and Golgotha.
We traveled up the hill and visited Pater Noster, also known as Eleona. Like other sites, we saw ceramic inlays of the prayer in many different languages. One particular inlay had side by side Aramaic and Hebrew. Gerlie found the prayer in Ilongo, which is one of the directs in the Philippines.
Our next stop was church of All Nations. On the grounds we walked around an olive grove, The Garden of Gethsemane. The church is known for the purple alabaster windows making a dark interior. Surprisingly while tourists were wondering around snapping pictures, a Spanish mass was ongoing around the altar table. Gerlie was fascinated that the rock on outside was connected inside the church. The rock is said to have been where Jesus wept before being arrested. She offered prayers of thanksgiving for her return visit.
From this location we commenced our walked on The Via Dolorosa, which is what stations are modeled from. We entered the Old City through the Lion’s Gate. The first and second stations were together. The Church of the Flagellation had two chapels, one was in the site where Jesus was scourged by Roman soldiers. The walk reminded Von of living in the Middle East with all the shops. Second thought was how hard the walk would have been carrying a cross up hill and bouncing along the rocky way. The walkway was also very narrow and Von contemplated what must have been shouted at Christ
The church of the Holy Sepulcher was the last stop before lunch. Six different churches call this location home. Tradition also holds that the Tomb of Jesus is inside the main area. We did not wait in the very long line to see the inside of the tomb. Many Pilgrims were worshipping in their native tongue and in their local ways. It was wonderful to see so many nationalities represented.
Quick bite in a local eatery before walking to the Upper Room. No religion can claim this location due to the religious agreement known as Status Quo. At one time the location became a mosque and stained glass windows still reflect Arabic writing. Von mentioned “the room was for everybody but nobody.” We're not allowed to sing or pray in this place because it can’t be used for worship of any particular religion.
Our final stop was the French Catholic Church called Saint Peter in Gallicantu (rooster). It was beautifully restored in 1997 and had two amazing chapels full of artwork and a third cellar floor that might have been the area where Jesus was held prisoner. The church uses rooster emblem as a reminder of the night Peter denied Jesus three times. We wrapped up with a look back across the Kidron Valley to see all the places we visited today.
Today was moving because we walked and saw and experienced for ourselves the final walk of Christ as a human. The vast number of pilgrims and the countries they represent is astounding. The financial commitment for some must be grand but the experience is worth it.