Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Geography Field Trip

That's me on top of the Nabi Samwil Synagogue with all of Jerusalem behind me! Today was our first field trip!! Woohoo!! Although we stayed within 15 minutes of Jerusalem, we were able to have some amazing views atop some important historic structures that really brought things into perspective for me. Our first stop was the Seven Arches Overlook (this site is named after a hotel that sits behind it so there is really no special meaning behind it). It was absolutely breathtaking to look at all of Jerusalem from just one spot of land! What a humbling experience it was to see the beginning of my journey start to take off as I saw the scriptures come to life right before my eyes. Right below us was a Jewish and Muslim cemetery that was kind of creepy but cool in a way. To the right of us sat three churches at Gethsemane that were absolutely beautiful! One of the churches is called St. Mary Magdalene who was a devote follower of Christ and whom is believed by some religious sects to have been His wife. I thought this assumption to be quite strange since I have never heard of that prediction ever before. All we know for sure is that she was present at Christ's Crucifixion and at the Garden Tomb which makes one speculate that she was the grieving wife and widow but I don't agree with that so moving on. On the opposite side lies the City of David or the Canaanite/Jebusite town or Zion or whatever the heck you want to call it. In case you're confused, Jerusalem has multiple names that are all correct depending on what time period you're talking about. The City of David became the name of Canaanite/Jebusite Jerusalem after some conquest. I'm having a brain fart right now and can't think of who conquered it so sorry! Anyways, directly in front of us was Mount Moriah where Abraham obediently sacrificed his son Isaac as an offering unto God. As we all know that didn't actually happen but there are some sweet correlations between Christ and Isaac as it states in Jacob 4:5 that Isaac is a similitude of God and his Only Begotten Son. You should check it out more in Genesis 22 as well! At that same site now stands the Temple Mount or King Herod's Platform with the Dome of the Rock smack dab in the center. The platform contains the original stairs that Christ walked on which is totally insane! There are very few sites in Jerusalem that have not been repaved in modern times and that is one of them. We then went to the Augusta Victoria Tower which has been converted into a hospital by the British long ago. Interesting is the second largest hospital in all of East Jerusalem. Not that crazy of a fact but that's all the exciting news I got from that site. Next we visited the hill outside the Elias Monastery (we weren't allowed inside for some reason). It was freezing cold with the wind blowing super hard but the trip was all made worth it when out of nowhere, a HUMONGOUS herd of sheep appeared over the horizon in perfect sync with what my teacher was talking about!! It was hilarious! The sheep were all around us so it was way cool but they were nasty dirty so there was no way I was getting close to them to contract rabbis. I think one of them read my mind or something because it started charging toward me right away. I flipped out but skillfully, I still managed to take a quick picture because it was just too cool. I got in big trouble by these little Palestinian kids who were with the sheep because they didn't want us taking pictures unless we had money to pay for them. Being the obedient spirit that I am, I succeeded at taking a couple more pictures without them looking! Our last stop was Nabi Samwil which means the Prophet Samuel in Arabic. This church/mosque/synagogue (I'm not exactly sure what to call it) was the supposed birthplace of the prophet Samuel but sorry to burst your bubble, it's not! Samuel's real birthplace is farther east in the village of Ramah. We got to see tons of Orthodox Jews who worship there and I was trying to take a picture of them secretly with their sweet ringlets they have on both sides on their face by their ears but I could never get one without them looking. Somewhere in the scriptures it talks about curls or ringlets or something so every night they go to bed with two curlers in their hair. I don't even remember the last time I wore curlers...I think it was probably those little pink spongy ones. Well today was a very exhausting, extremely cold and windy yet informative day. One lesson from today seems to stick out in my mind the most. It is, the better we understand the Holy Land geography, the better we understand the Old and New Testament. I believe that one of my purposes in being here this semester is to do just that; I am so excited to learn more about these sacred texts and I feel so privileged to be given this incredible chance to gain a more firm and steady testimony of the Holy Bible. President Hinckley has once said that we are a biblical church which means we are commanded to teach from, bear testimony of, and read from the Bible just as often as we study the Book Mormon. It is important that we understand the doctrines contained in the Bible since they contain the same principles of love, charity, and sacrifice that we see in the Book of Mormon. I am so grateful for this opportunity to study in this Holy Land because every day is a new discovery for me, whether it be about myself or about the glorious gospel in which I hold so very near and dear to my heart. Shalom until my next adventure!


Mom said...

Wow!! Sounds like it was a grand adventure today. Loved the detail & pictures! Miss you tons, but grateful you are being safe & adventurous when you can. Love you!

Brooke and Aaron said...

We're glad that you are able to visit these sites first-hand and make all of these discoveries. I, too, think the Mary Magdalene rumor is strange. The story about the sheep was hilarious. You dare-devil you, taking unauthorized pictures!! :) I remember those pink curlers too. I loved it when Mom would put those in our hair. We miss our favorite aunt and sister! Be safe!! Love you!!