Bethany is the place were Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead (John 11:1-44) and he visited Bethany often. It is also the home of Mary and Martha, the sisters of Lazarus. Bethany was a suburb of Jerusalem and is very close to it. Today it is in the western area of the city near al-Eizariya.
There is more than one Bethany and the Bethany that our leaders planned to visit was not the Bethany described above. The Bethany we were going to visit was on the East side of the Jordan and was the place John the Baptist spent some time and was close to the place that Jesus was probably baptized. Instead we visited a spot on the West side of the Jordan that is claimed to be the place Jesus was baptized.
You will notice in the pictures that the water is not very clean and the river is not very big. (It’s good to remember that baptism doesn’t depend on the quality of the water or the one baptizing, but on God’s promise.) The river was probably bigger at the time of Jesus and John the Baptist, but perhaps not a lot cleaner. You will also see in the pictures that there were a lot of other people there. They are Ethiopian Christians who come there once a year to celebrate. We just happened to show up on the same day. The Israeli military is also there. Throughout Israel they have a noticable presence.