Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Day 6 - Wednesday

Ok. Because its "Holy Week" and has almost been a year since our trip I guess I'll finish writing about it.  Ok, day 6.  This was a super crazy day.  It started early when we woke up and went to the Temple Mount.  It was a little bit nerve racking because of all the strict guidelines.  There was a strict dress code and we couldn't say Temple Mount, we had to say Dome of the Rock and we were definitely not allowed to talk about scriptures or Jesus or anything gospel related while on the grounds.  We weren't allowed to touch (notice in the pictures).  Just talking about that made us nervous.  We waited outside in line and then we went through security.  We were all anxious and no one was laughing or anything, it was very serious.  One by one they took us through security and then we walked across this narrow bridge and on the other side of it as soon as we stepped of, there were guards with guns there making sure everyone was dressed appropriately. Long sleeves and long dresses or pants.  Some people had to put on extra scarves and they wouldn't let some people from our group in because of it.  It was crazy.  It was a beautiful place and crazy to think of all the history that has taken place there.  It was really neat.  It was also neat to learn about why this place was so sacred to both Jews and Muslims. In the Jewish tradition this mountain is sacred because it is where Abraham offered Isaac, where Solomon built his temple, and where the Jews will once again built a temple in preparation for the coming of the Messiah.  In the Islamic tradition this mountain is sacred because it's the place from whence Muhammad ascended into heaven.
Brief history:
1. David built and altar
2. Solomon built the temple (955 BC)
3. Babylonians destroyed the temple (586 BC)
4. Zerubbabel rebuilt the temple (522 BC)
5. Damaged by Seleucids (167 BC)
6. Repaired by the Hasmoneans (164 BC)
7. Reconstructed by Herod (19-9 BC)
8. Destroyed by the Roman Titus (AD 70)
9. Dome of the Rock built (beginning of 7th century AD)
10. The mosque of El Aqsa built (end of 7th century AD)
11. Mosque was used as a palace for European kings during crusader period.
12. Mosque was refurbished as religious structure (AD 1033)

(Genesis 22; 2 Samuel 24:18-25; 2 Chronicles 3:1; 2 Kings 6-8; Ezekiel 8, 40-47; John 2: 13-17; Acts 3:3-8).

 Outside the Dome of the Rock before we went in. 
 The bridge we walked through after we went through security. 
Those boys are totes checking us out. 
We walked out and headed over to the pool of Bethesda (John 5: 2-18) where Brother Top taught us there were two traditions that Christ "blows out of the water". The first being you do not need a pool to be healed, you need the Savior. And the second being, that He heals on the Sabbath purposefully to teach them that they were so focused on the rules of the Sabbath that they were missing the point to serve, heal and bring people to Christ.  They believe a righteous man can heal but only God can forgive sins. 
This is how we would listen to brother Top talk
BD: "Bethesda: House of Mercy or house of Grace. 
Pool at Jerusalem, having five porches or cloisters. It seems to have had medicinal properties, popularly attributed to the "troubling" of the waters by an angel. There was possibly an intermittent spring flowing into the pool, which produced a bubbling at the surface. It was here that Jesus healed a man who had been an invalid for 38 years. 
After that we walked close by the St. Ann Church, the birthplace of the Virgin Mary and home of her parents.  And then we walked around the Old City where Christ was scourged. We went to Pilate's judgement Hall/Condemnation Chapel and the Chapel of the Flagellation. Then we walked through the Church of the Holy Sepulchral. 

We then had a break and went to lunch and did some shopping and then walked over to the Room of the Last Supper.  The most memorable part of being in that room was singing hymns with our group.  We sang, "I know that my Redeemer lives" and it was so incredible.  I hope to always remember that especially when I take the sacrament.  They talked about how he said to them, "Take, eat" and the new covenant replaced the old one. They talked about how the theme of the Passover was freedom from bondage. The Passover was a joyous time but this time, it was not for the Disciples. They were gloomy knowing the Savior would soon be leaving. He said, "Peace I give unto you" and then in John 14:27-28 said, "if ye loved me, ye would rejoice..Arise, let us go hence".  

From there, we went to the house of Caiaphas where we walked down into a little cave and saw a hole they would have had in the top where they would have lowered Christ down on a rope and dropped Him into it.  Then we went to the Mount of Olives to take beautiful pictures of the city. 

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Day 5 - Tuesday

I know it has taken me so long to do all my Israel updates but I don't think its by chance that I'm doing this day at Christmastime.  This Christmas just has meant a little more to me because of this trip.  It was so amazing to be in the place where Jesus was born.

Our first day in Jerusalem.
We started the day by driving to Bethlehem.  It was interesting because Bethlehem is Palestinian so they had a huge wall we had to go through with tight security.  It was crazy.  We went to this shop in Bethlehem to do some shopping and I got myself a Palestinian boyfriend.
(Sorry for me creepy look) But I got some free stuff! Jamie got jealous and Eric got mad because the guy on the right said I needed a Palestinian husband.  It was funny.

We then headed to the Church of the Nativity.  It was apparently where Jesus was born they built this huge shrine and church on it.  It was a little gaudy but still cool.
We then went to the Shepherd's field which was calm and peaceful and much easier to feel the spirit.  We sat around and had a lesson and sang some Christmas hymns.  The spirit was amazing.  My favorite was when we sang "Picture a Christmas" as we looked around at Bethlehem and pictured that first Christmas all around us.
 Brother Top talked about the shepherds and the significance of them.  They were the first witnesses of Jesus Christ.  It was not a coincidence that it was these specific shepherds.  He said they were selected and consecrated, the angel showed them where to go and they "went with haste". They held the priesthood and were watching the flock of God, a flock without blemish.
Then he talked about Mary.  Mary did not have to go to Bethlehem (only Joseph had to) so why would she go?  Why would she make the 5 day journey at 9 months pregnant?  The stable with a cave (which we were able to walk through one what it would've been like) with a stone manger.  Brother Top mentioned how the inn keeper showed mercy (Luke 2:7) to them by allowing them to into the cave. The inns were packed and the cave allowed them to have the privacy that her delivery deserved. It was a really sacred experience that I will never forget.  
We then went across the street to eat lunch in a Bedouin tent and it was delicious.  Eric told me and Cha that the pitas, hummus, and pickled veggies was our lunch so Cha and I stuffed ourselves because we were starving.  Soon after we mentioned how full we were, they brought around the meat course.  It was the best food we had all trip but we were too full to eat it! I still haven't forgiven him for it.
We then went to the Israel Museum which was super cool.  It had a model of the Holy Land as it would have been during the time of Jesus and it was really cool, especially the size of the temple that stood out to me compared to the rest of the city.
It was SOOOOO hot. But at least we got these cool hats.
This is an oil lamp from the time of Jesus
Inside the museum we were able to see the Dead Sea Scrolls (that apparently we weren't allowed to take pictures of...OOPS).

That night we went back to the hotel for dinner and then went out to Ben Yehuda street for crepes and ice cream.  Its a party street with live music and shopping.  It was so fun to see.