Monday, December 29th, 2014:  Today we visited Bethlehem.  Because it is a Palestinian controlled area, our Jewish guide could not take us.  I felt a little bit like contraband as our Arab taxi driver dropped us off on the other side of the border and left us in the hands of a Palestinian guide.  Our guide was Naser Alawy, a very nice guy, who speaks excellent English.  He did a fantastic job meeting our goals in Bethlehem and was very well educated in Christian beliefs.

As you’ve figured out by now, I’m not into seeing the churches and all the icons as much as I am about getting a feel for the area and allowing my children the opportunity to picture the area in their mind’s eye while reading their scriptures.  Our guide quickly understood this and allowed us the freedom to spend our time talking with the kids while enjoying the views.  We were grateful that we had found a guide that allowed us to direct our day.


Luke 2: 8 And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. 10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. 12 And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,



The cave was an example of a home, where people of the area lived and where they would keep their baby sheep,

locked away safe from predators in the night.

The rock just behind Anne, is a manger.  Made of stone, not of wood.


The paintings inside the church at Shepherd’s Fields were really very beautiful.



After seeing the hills and caves, we decided to go shopping for olive wood.  This was our second goal for this day, as olive wood is usually less expensive and better quality in Bethlehem.  This particular shop is owned and operated by Arab Christians who are some of the few who still speak Aramaic.


Olive wood drying in the sun.


Most of the wood is given it’s basic shape on a machine.


Details are added by hand.

This was one of my favorite parts of this trip.  This man is reading the Lord’s Prayer in Aramaic.

Aramaic is the language that they believe Christ would have spoken.


One of the beautiful pieces at The Olive Wood Factory.


Manger Square from “Star Bucks.”


After some shopping, we stopped for some lunch (more shawarma… can you ever get tired of shawarma?) and then some hot chocolate at “Star Bucks.”  We had been told that it was a real Starbucks by some LDS friends, but hey, they are LDS… what do they know about Starbucks.  Ha ha!  We even bought a gag gift for a friend of ours… I can’t wait to get home and mail it to her!


A Christmas tree and a mosque in the same square.


A beautiful hallway just outside of the Church of the Nativity.


Shops full of interesting items everywhere.

Bethlehem is very commercialized.


After seeing Manger Square and the Church of the Nativity,

we stopped at another olive wood retailer.

This is the piece we ended up buying.

It has been shipped to friends of ours in the U.S. for safe keeping.

Tomorrow, back to Jerusalem.