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In the morning, we renewed our baptismal vows in the same river where Jesus was baptized. In the afternoon, we went on a memorable boat ride in the Sea of Galilee.

Here’s a photo essay of our River Jordan and Sea of Galilee experience … 

BAPTISM VOWS RENEWAL AT YARDENIT, RIVER JORDAN

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Our Flock (#3) with Ryan Capitulo as our leader was assigned to co-host the prayers and activities of the day.

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We renewed our baptismal vows in Yardenit, which is one of the baptismal sites along the Israel side of the Jordan river.

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The Jordan river is quite long, and there’s no specific site identified where Jesus was actually baptized by John the Baptist. 

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You can use the restroom to change your clothes for 2 shekels.

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This is the baptismal amphitheater where we renewed our baptismal vows.

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(Mark 1:9-11) The Baptism of Jesus

9 At that time Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. 10 Just as Jesus was coming up out of the water, he saw heaven being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. 11 And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.”

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This is the side of the Jordan River where the baptism will take place. 

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Rache with her prayer partner Tita Vita preparing for the baptismal renewal.

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Fr. Eli collected water from the Jordan River to bless the pilgrims.

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We lighted our baptismal candles to symbolize the light of Christ.

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Renewal of Baptismal Promises

V. Do you reject Satan? 
R. I do. 

V. And all his works?
R. I do.

V. And all his empty promises?
R. I do.

V. Do you believe in God, the Father Almighty, creator of heaven and earth?
R. I do.

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V. Do you believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord, who was born of the Virgin Mary was crucified, died, and was buried, rose from the dead, and is now seated at the right hand of the Father? 
R. I do. 

V. Do you believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy Catholic church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting? 
R. I do. 

V. God, the all-powerful Father of our Lord Jesus Christ has given us a new birth by water and the Holy Spirit, and forgiven all our sins. May he also keep us faithful to our Lord Jesus Christ for ever and ever. 
R. Amen.

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Fr. Eli and Fr. Joel baptize each other to start the ceremony.

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“I baptize you in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.” 

“Rache, I baptize you in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.” AMEN! 

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Some people opted not to immerse their feet in the Jordan river for safety reason.

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It’s also best to do it as a couple before renewing your marriage vows.

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You can hold your hand out while getting baptized…

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…or in prayer position — whatever you feel comfortable with.

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The most important thing is to receive it, being thankful for God’s grace. 🙂 

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It is optional to fully immerse in the Jordan River. 

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Since this would be a once in a lifetime event, I decided to immerse myself fully in the Jordan River.  

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Yes, you can swim in the river, and enjoy the cold waters. 

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Make sure to bring a towel. You keep the baptismal robe as souvenir.

Final blessing and thanksgiving for the renewal of baptismal vows.

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You get an official baptismal certificate signed by Fr. Eli and Fr. Joel.

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Brothers and Sisters of the Blue Bus Group. 🙂

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There’s a shower room for those who immersed in the river. Make sure to bring your change of clothes and toiletries.

 

MENSA CHRISTI & CHURCH OF THE PRIMACY OF PETER

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After the baptism renewal, we proceeded to visit Mensa Christi rock in Church of the Primacy of St. Peter.

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The chapel is located on the northwest shores of the Sea of Galilee where Jesus appeared for the third time. 

Afterward Jesus appeared again to his disciples, by the Sea of Galilee. It happened this way: Simon Peter, Thomas (also known as Didymus), Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two other disciples were together. 3 “I’m going out to fish,” Simon Peter told them, and they said, “We’ll go with you.” So they went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing.

Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus.

He called out to them, “Friends, haven’t you any fish?”

“No,” they answered.

6 He said, “Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.” When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish.

Then the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” As soon as Simon Peter heard him say, “It is the Lord,” he wrapped his outer garment around him (for he had taken it off) and jumped into the water. The other disciples followed in the boat, towing the net full of fish, for they were not far from shore, about a hundred yards. When they landed, they saw a fire of burning coals there with fish on it, and some bread.

10 Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish you have just caught.” 11 So Simon Peter climbed back into the boat and dragged the net ashore. It was full of large fish, 153, but even with so many the net was not torn. 12 Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” None of the disciples dared ask him, “Who are you?” They knew it was the Lord. 13 Jesus came, took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish. 14 This was now the third time Jesus appeared to his disciples after he was raised from the dead.

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(John 21:15-19) Jesus Reinstates Peter

15 When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?”

“Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.”

Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.”

16 Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”

He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”

Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.”

17 The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”

Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.”

Jesus said, “Feed my sheep. 18 Very truly I tell you, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.” 19 Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. Then he said to him, “Follow me!”

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Inside the church is the MENSA CHRISTI, which means “Table of Christ”, which is believed to be where Jesus appeared for the third time and dined with His apostles after His resurrection. 

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Pilgrims would offer their thanksgiving prayers and wishes at the Mensa Christi. 

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Make sure to touch the rock with two hands…

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…and offer a solemn prayer for you, your family, and the people you are praying for in the pilgrimage. 

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We reflected on the signifance of Peter’s reinstatement as the Chief Apostle after Jesus’ resurrection.

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Make sure to visit the shores of the Sea of Galilee. Just imagine, this is the same sea where the disciples fished during the time of Christ.

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A closer look at the pebbled beach of the Sea of Galilee.

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A souvenir photo with pilgrim friends. 🙂

 

MASS @ NEW CHURCH OF MAGDALA

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We visited the new Visitor Center at Ancient Magdala: Home of Mary Magdalene in Migdal, Israel.

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This is the most recent archaelogical discovery in Israel.

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A first century synagogue was discovered in Migdal (Magdala) in 2009.

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These are the original mosaic tiles in the synagogue during the time of Christ.

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Stones with original elaborate carvings are preserved and continue to be discovered in the center.

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Surrounding the synagogue are the markets, the residences, and a bath like above.

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You can walk through Magdala and imagine the ancient civilization that was covered and is now just being discovered for all Christians to experience.

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We heard our mass at the new modern church as a tribute to Mary Magdalene of Magdala.

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Who is Mary Magdalene? Read this: Magdala and Mary Magdalene, Then and Now.

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Bro. Bo Sanchez with beautiful wife Marowe Sanchez in front of one of the mural paintings in the church.

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The Magdala Church is designed with a fishing boat as an altar, with the Sea of Galilee in the background.

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Fr. Eli, a Salesian Priest delivering his most impressive homily with home made props during the mass at Magdala Church.

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All the prayer intentions of the pilgrims and those they are praying for are offered each time during the mass.

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Bro. Bo giving a reflection on Mary Magdalene and this place of second chances.

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A souvenir photo of the beautiful boat altar with a glass wall to see the Sea of Galilee in the background.

 

LUNCH at the BLUE BEACH

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We went back to Leonardo’s where we had our set lunch before the boat ride in the Sea of Galilee.

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Our lunch was set in this function hall big enough for large pilgrim groups.

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Staple lunch appetizer of Arabic bread with vegetables.

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You can order Barkan wine for $6 or 20 shekels, or softdrinks for $4 each.

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Make sure to bring your extra Arabic bread for the birds during the boat ride.

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For something different, try the plate of mashed avocado.

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I can’t get enough of this hummus with olive oil.

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A simple spaghetti pasta was served…

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…with baked potatoes.

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Our lunchmates eagerly waiting for the main course. 🙂

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We were happy to see a family-sized serving of lamb, fish, and beef. 🙂

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As usual, dates for desserts. 🙂 Best to lower your expectation for desserts when you are in Israel.

 

SEA OF GALILEE BOAT RIDE

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After lunch, we were all excited to go on a boat ride cruise on the Sea of Galilee.

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We boarded the boat in Kibbutz Ginosar area.

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The walk to the boat was very pleasant with art installations…

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…and a flutist serenading the pilgrims.

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The walk from the bus to the boat was about 10 minutes.

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We rode the Francis Jordan Sailing Ltd that was able to accommodate all of the pilgrims in one boat.

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The boat ride starts with a flag raising ceremony and singing of the Philippine National Anthem.

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It was a surreal experience going on the boat ride and reflecting on this passage:

35 That day when evening came, he said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side.” 36 Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with him. 37 A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. 38 Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?”

39 He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.

40 He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?”

41 They were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!” 

We were dancing and praising the Lord throughout the boat ride. 🙂

 
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It’s like having The Feast in the middle of the Sea of Galilee. 🙂 

Watch the video to get a feel of the vibe. 

 
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As the boat turns around, now is the time to give the pieces of Arabic bread to the seagulls. 🙂

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Make sure to take a video not just a photo of these seagulls in action. 🙂

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The seagulls are amazing, as if symbolizing the Holy Spirit blessing and descending upon the pilgrims. 🙂

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My wife, ecstatic with the seagull experience. 🙂

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This is one of our favorite experiences in the Holy Land Pilgrimage. Make sure to savor every moment and be fully immersed in the experience.

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Make sure to give a tip to the awesome crew.

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The entire Sea of Galilee boat ride was about one hour.

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If you have time, visit the museum to see the ancient galilee boats during the time of Christ at the Yigal Alon Centre (20 shekels/person).

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An interesting geometric art installation in the Yigal Alon Cener. 

 

CAPRICE DIAMONDS

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On the way home, the tour group is offered an optional visit to the Caprice National Diamond Center to showcase one of the main industries in Israel — producing cut diamonds.

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It was interesting to learn that Israel is positioning itself as a World Trade Center for jewels and diamonds, and learning the phrase “Mazal U’ Bracha”, which is used to close a deal in the diamond industry. 

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We watched a short sales pitch video about diamonds.

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For those interested to buy diamonds, you can talk directly to these diamond experts.

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Here’s an eternity ring with a princess cut with good clarity diamond.

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All the diamonds come with an E.G.L. Certification.

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This is how much the diamond costs less VAT for tourists.

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They also have a big showroom of different kinds of jewelries.

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I must admit, it felt a bit materialistic in nature and made me wonder why they included this in a pilgrimage? Actually, some couples who were about to renew their marriage vows at Cana decided to buy a new engagement ring for their loved ones. 

 

A NIGHT IN TIBERIAS TOWN

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We had a light dinner back at the Leonardo Hotel with vegetables.

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I love this spicy tomato salsa with my vegetables.

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It was late already when we finished dinner. The Tiberias city center is a 15-minute walk from the hotel.

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TIP: Make sure to visit a local store to buy local food, drinks, and some souvenirs.

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We love the peanuts in Galilee.

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Make sure to buy these big peanuts with crunchy shells and a little bit salted. 

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We were buying snacks for the long trip from Galilee to Jerusalem the next day. 

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Buy these chocolate covered peanuts and make sure to not accept the initial price and negotiate it down.

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We also bought some water for the trip. It’s cheaper to buy the big bottles in the local stores.

Day 3- Night in Tiberias - Our Awesome Planet-19.jpgYou can also try to skip dinner and enjoy a local falafel. 🙂

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You can also shop in the local stores for unique Galilean fashion.

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The shops close early so we were back at the hotel before 9.00pm. This was our last night in Leonardo’s before our Wedding at Cana experience in Jerusalem. 

To be continued…   

HOLY LAND PILGRIMAGE with BRO. BO SANCHEZ

Live an Awesome Life,

Anton
Founder, www.OurAwesomePlanet.com 

Disclosure: We paid for our Holy Land Trip. Read Our Awesome Planet Complete Disclosure Policy here

P.S. The Next Holy Land Pilgrimage by Bro. Bo Sanchez is on February 10-19, 2015. For more info, you can email Tita Beckie at [email protected]

P.P.S. The pilgrimage tour costs P340,108 (exchange rate P44.65 – $1) for a couple, broken down into the following:

  • Tour Cost: $2,995.00 x 2 = $5,990
  • Airline/ Other Taxes: $495 x 2 = $980
  • Tip Fund: $100 x 2 = $200
  • Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner: $130 x 2 = $260
  • Travel Insurance: $45 x 2 = $90
  • Philippine Travel Tax: P1,620 x  2 = P3,240
  • Airport Tax: P550 x 2 = P1,100

Note: There’s a $300/person non-refundable reservation for the trip, which is deductable from the total amount.

Overall, the Pilgrimage tour with Bro. Bo Sanchez is relatively more expensive than the other pilgrimage trips organized with Executive Resources. But it is the best experience for us because of The Feast (Community Worship Gathering) and the Feast Builders who make the trip awesome. 🙂 

TIP: You can decide to book your own airfare if you plan to visit other countries after your pilgrimage.