Saturday, January 24, 2009

Gethsemani with Stephani Tanner and my watermelon outfit (long story)

Church of Visitation

The spot believed to be where John the Baptist was born and circumcised

Not being able to read Hebrew I put some sort of Desitin on instead of lotion, LOL.

My first shot of Bethlehem

Matrix at Ein Kerem

The kissing camel

Dome of the Rock, obviously.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Who peed on me?

In order to prepare for our ten day journey to Egypt today we went to exchange money and go to the market to buy some food. We were walking through the market and out of nowhere water starts streaming through the cracks of the "attempted roof" above the merchant shops . I quickly move and then look up to see what the stream of liquid that hit me contained. Although we couldn't see well we believe it was someone peeing from off their house above. It was quite disgusting. Every time we are in the market something happens. Today was also the first time we went in a group of five, but without a guy from our group. We had a lot of old men and teenage boys say a lot of disgusting things. I felt like I was being raped with my clothes on. Needless to say I am not going to the Old City again without a male from our group. It wasn't pleasant. One more funny story, when we were walking along the busy street suddenly this man grabbed my arm. I didn't get a good look at him, but went to go deck him in the face (maybe not the smartest when everyone carries guns here but it was a natural reaction). Suddenly, I realized it was Jimmy, a local merchant who is extremely kind to us and always looking out for us "Mormons." Turns out he ran into some members from Salt Lake City and was showing them around the sites, like I said he is a great guy who loves Mormons. He just wanted to know what time the concert at the Jerusalem Center was at tonight. I had a good laugh about that after.

Monday, January 19, 2009

The market

After classes today, we just took it easy and went shopping in the market. It is such a busy place with so many things to look at, strange smells, and pushy salesmen. I bought a purse and a skirt (because apparently my mission skirts aren't long enough according to standards here, crazy eh?). I kind of feel like a hippy with the things I bought. But its the whole "everyone is doing it" so its ok to look like a dork. Then I came back for more classes and homework.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

18 Jan 09 Ein Kerem

The weather was perfect today for hiking around the town of Ein Kerem, the birthplace of John the Baptist. We visited the Franciscan Church of the visitation, the spot where Mary visited Elizabeth, John the Baptist's mother. Spring of the Vineyard was a beautiful fountain named after Mary. The mosaics and a grotto inside of the birthplace of the Baptist were stunning inside and outside of the church. The Hadassah Hospital complex just above the town is internationally known for Marc Chagall's stained-glass windows, depicting the 12 tribes of Israel. We wandered the mountains and did a lot of walking because none of us had a map. But it was quite the adventure with a lot of good laughs and good sports.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Garden of Gethsemane

It has been a wonderful Shabbat/Sabbath today. I spoke in sacrament about goal setting. I am so grateful it went ok, I didn't have time to prepare until 30 minutes before sacrament meeting. It definitely could have been better, but oh well.

Words cannot express the feelings in my heart right now.

This afternoon was an incredible experience. We walked to the Garden of Gethsemane only a few minutes away. The guard let us go into a secluded section that only 5 of us were allowed in. The feeling was incredibly peaceful and secluded from the hustle and bustle in the streets just outside the gate. I sat silently off on my own for quite some time. I couldn't help but weep as I thought about the sacrifice my older brother made for me personally. I couldn't help but be grateful of Him taking upon Himself my every pain, sickness, infirmity. Not only did He suffer for the things I willfully do wrong, but also the things that happen to me out of my control. I don't understand the Atonement. I don't know how He did it or how it works. It is too awe-some to comprehend. But I do know it happened. I know that He knows me personally. That He sees me not for who I am, but who I can become if I will but lean on Him. If only I can trust His will more, not my own.

I asked a gardener there about the Olive Trees. He said that they live forever and are continually producing fruit. He pointed out the oldest tree in the garden, more than 2,000 years old, which would have been there at the time of Christ. It is incomprehensible to think about what those trees witnessed and felt as they watched their/my creator suffer.

I marvel that He would descend from His throne divine. To rescue a soul so rebellious and proud as mine. That He should extend His great love unto such as I. Oh it is wonderful that He should care for me enough to die for me. Oh it is wonderful, wonderful to me.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

First field trip (January 14, 2009)

Today totally rocked we went on a geography trip to several locations. Here are my random notes about each place:
  • Nabi Samwil (Prophet Samuel): This is believed to be Samuels tomb, yet it is empty. The thing that is neat is that there is both a Mosque and a Synagogue under the same roof, one of five in the world. It was fun to sing Hymn #100 in the chapel and hear the amazing accoustics. Bethel= house of God
  • Seven Arches Hotel Overlook: This is near the possible location of where Christ weaped over Jerusalem. As it overlooks the city today, the gates are closed up along the wall because its believed it will be where the Savior will come again. This spot also overlooks over a cemetary, where plots cost more than $50 thousand. Also, overlooks the Kidron valley where Christ crossed on the night of his crucifixion. The Eastern wall which was built in 1737. The Golden Gate were the Savior went through on a donkey in the triumphal entry. Al Quska Mosque which was built for men only. Dome of the Rock was built in 690 AD and rebuilt in the 60's under the Hussein family who added gold to the top. It is believed that the Dome is where Mohammed was taken up into heaven and Gabriel held the rock down. Also, it is believed by some that the Dome is where the Second Coming will take place.
  • Austa Victoria Tower: Consisted of beautiful mosaics and contained one of the oldest organs in the Holy Land.
  • Haas Promenade Overlook: We sat for lunch here along the ridge Abraham walked to sacrifice Isaac. U.N. headquarters sits on "the Hill of Ill Council" haha. At the time the Savior was born there were 2,000 animal sacrifices a day and it would wash down into the Kidron Valley, providing nutrients for farming (gross), Gethsemane is on the other side of the hill so the Saviors blood would have drained into the Kidron valley--> Christ's blood flowed the same way animal sacrifices once represented him. Jews believe Dome of the Rock is the center of the earth and it is also the location God stood to create the earth. Christians believe the Holy Sepulcher is the center of the earth. Underneath the Dome of the Rock it is believed Mohammad saw all of the prophets and then got on a "bird" and went back to Mecca. 1 prayer in the Dome = 1,000 prayers for the world. Psalms 125:1-4. Mt. Olives and Zion are in a horseshoe shape around Jerusalem, the Lord comforts you as a horseshoe surrounds. Jerusalem is not the tallest place in the area.
  • Deir Mar Elyas/ Elias Monastery: Here we got our first glimpse of Bethlehem, which is in hills not plains as the song says. This spot is the place Elijah the prophet rested after he bested the priests of Baal on Mt Carmel and escaped the wrath of Queen Jezebel.

It was great to get out and see the layout of the land. There was so much information it is hard to retain it all or even understand it all. If anyone catches that I mixed up any facts from my professors, please correct me!

Friday, January 9, 2009

Week 1

After flying for several hours, we arrived in the Jerusalem center Weds night. We had some orientation that I cannot remember because I was totally tired. The next morning I awoke at 5 a.m. to the call to prayer. It was really cool to hear, but strange at the same time. Five times a day they have call to prayer. It has been a good reminder for me to pray more often too. We were able to get a tour of the Old City, go through the market, taste some bread, and view the city from the Austrian hostile. We also walked quickly through the Holy Seplicher. We cruised through everything so that we could just get a feel for the layout of the land. It is surreal to be here. I feel very safe, despite the current circumstances.