Final Field Trips and Wrapping Up

Wellll I’m home! “How was it?” The people ask. “Amazing!” I say. “2 thumbs waaay up, 10 out of 10, would recommend.” What I want to say is more like this: “So much more than I bargained for. An extraordinary blend of learning and observation about diverse peoples, cultures, and religions, that in turn allow for self-reflection and personal learning that can be applied in any facet of life. A closed community that allows enough time to get to know each individual, which aids in overcoming quick judgments or social anxieties. A city that is so full of history, faith, and tradition that you feel like you’ve stepped back in time and into the future all at once. Teachers who are dedicated, knowledgeable, and the best in their fields, who are more than just teachers—they are friends, mentors, and guides. All of this combines to facilitate a closeness with the Lord that rivals only a full-time mission and only fails to change the hearts of those most determined to fail to see the beauty around them.” This would be a little weird to say in a light, passing conversation in the Church hallway, but it’s the only way I can sum up in a few words what I experienced.

There is so much to say about my last few days in Jerusalem. We had some of my favorite field trips from the whole semester, lots of last-minute shopping and goodbyes, and looooots of photo-taking.

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The national parks guy!
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Me, Brooke, Allie at St. Anne’s Church (right next to the pools of Bethesda)
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Absalom’s tomb
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Looking down on the tomb

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KIDS AT HEART AMIRIGHT
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City of David. David’s actual harp preserved . . .  just kidding

Then, Monday and Tuesday were our final field trips. We followed the path of the Savior in his last week. We went from Bethany to Jerusalem, from the Mount of Olives to Caiaphas’s palace, from Golgotha to the tomb. While many sites are only revered because of tradition, they have all been made holy by those who believe it to be so. We can gain a testimony of Christ and feel His love for us no matter where we are. 

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Church in al-Eizariya (Bethany in the Bible)

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Remains of a Crusader church there

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Traditionally the tomb of Lazarus

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Figs in all their stages of progress

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this is the view from a church on the Mount of Olives. It commemorates when Jesus wept over Jerusalem.
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One of the claimed burial places of Mary

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Dormition Abbey

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Church of St. Peter in Gallicantu

If there’s anything I’ve gained this semester, it’s a deepened resolve to be better. And, possibly even more importantly, a firm knowledge that I can be better because of Jesus Christ. Knowing my Savior better has given me more assurance that “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.”

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Garden of Gethsemane
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Church of All Nations
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Where the pools of Bethesda were anciently
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Better look at where the pool was
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Scriptures at the Garden Tomb
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We love our great professor!
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The Church of the Holy Sepulcher
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View of Al Aqsa mosque from afar
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Dome of the Rock from afar
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Our favorite shop keeper, Rida! He is very good to the BYU students.

For my final wrap-up, I have a few videos to share. They’re from St. Anne’s Church, which has some of the best acoustics in the world. Allie, Brooke, and I went there after church on our last Saturday and sang hymns for a while. It was a great way to spend our last Sabbath in the Holy Land.



Turns out, I have naturally baby-soft skin

Yesterday’s field trip involved, among other amazing things, floating in the Dead Sea! We all spread the mud all over ourselves (although it was BYOM = bring your own mud. The beach with mud has been closed off because of sinkholes). Apparently it makes your skin nice and soft. Apparently my skin was already soft, cause it doesn’t feel very different. It was a lot of fun floating, though! Also, wading into the water felt like getting into a hot tub, which was a much-needing soothing of sore muscles. We all just about died of dehydration though after being in the water for 10 minutes. That is some SALTY STUFF. I almost wanted to taste it just to say I have, and then I thought, why would I put myself through that type of pain just for bragging rights? (What did I tell you, Galilee made me into a more responsible adult! Incredible).

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MUD MONSTERSSSS!!!!

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Floatin’ on the Dead Sea!

We also went to Masada, a natural fortress where the last of the Jewish zealots rebelling against the Roman empire held out for months. If that sentence meant nothing to you, it’s OK. I’ve learned about it in two classes, watched a movie about it, and gone on a field trip to the actual site and I’m still not sure I understand the full story. The point is, it was a final hold-out location for Jewish dagger-men rebels again the Romans, and they held out until the Romans spent months and months building a ramp into their natural safe-haven among steep cliffs. Pretty crazy stuff. It’s also the location of Herod’s hanging palace (literally a palace hanging off a cliff. Why, Herod? Why? That guy was intense).

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They kept cramming people onto the tram to ride up to the top of a desert cliff-mountain and we were like ooookay we are all very sweaty and this is going to be FUN. It was actually really cool though.
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The tram from above.

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Remains of a fresco in a part of the fortress at Masada.
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View from Herod’s hanging palace

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The view of Herod’s hanging palace from above.
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The ramp the Romans built to invade.
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You can see the remains of the Roman camps.
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The wall around the fortress
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HOLEY dove cote!
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HOLEY wall!!!
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Descending into our final cistern!

Since I’m going in reverse-order here, I’ll tell you about our second stop: we hiked to a beautiful waterfall. A welcome, refreshing waterfall in a barren, parched wilderness.

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Waterfall Part 1
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Waterfall Part 2
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gotta get that hair flip! lol

Our other stop (the first place we went) was Kumran, where the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered! We are so fortunate to have a professor who actually was involved in their translation, Dr. Andrew Skinner. We all adore him and his wife. (We adore all our teachers, actually. I’m going to miss them and even their lectures!)

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The cave where the most scrolls were found.
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My best archaeologist demonstration of where the cave is.

To top it all off, I’m including my videos from the day. I take a lot of videos but I’ve been bad about including them. So here you go! The Dead Sea vlog! I had to include these ones because of what we sang inside the cistern. We sang “As S/CisterNs in Zion” and I CRACKED UP thinking of how happy Tyler would be to know that. Hahaha. A classic Tyler-ism lives on! (For those of you who don’t know my brother Tyler, he has this weird joke with my dad where they add “n” into the middle of words randomly where it doesn’t belong and take “n” out of other words. We all think it’s hinlarious for some reanson).

More meandering and HOLEY food!

Yesterday we got up eeeeeearly and went to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher to observe the Sunday service(s) there. There were about 3 ceremonies going on at once in the different parts of the building. It was so cool to see the different forms of worship, hear the monks singing, and see the few people who get up early on a Sunday and attend mass. Usually the church is overflowing with tourists, but it’s quite peaceful at 7 am on a Sunday.

Afterwards, we went to an incredible bakery that, well, you could justifiably say we frequent. Two shops down is a fresh fruit juice stand. Fresh pastries and fresh-squeezed pomegranate juice for breakfast. What more could I ask for? Especially when said pastries are gigantic donuts that are dangerously delicious. (Also holey, ha ha).

We spent the rest of the day meandering some more and doing the last of our shopping. I will miss days like this.

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Early morning life

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The streets look so very different early in the morning when no one has opened their shops yet
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Church of the Holy Sepulcher courtyard

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We got to go inside a little chapel I had never even noticed before! It’s Greek orthodox.

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While we were in the Greek Orthodox church, we heard DEAFENING bells (I mean those things were terrifying). Turns out it was for the procession so we got to see that. Pretty dang cool.
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FINALLY, graffiti that explains my life! PARKOUR. Hahaha
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Went to the Temple Mount again!

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Sometimes shopping is just as exciting as anything else. There’s a guy with an amazing wood shop. This is a table stand made entirely from one piece of wood, all carved out to be interwoven pieces. SO CRAZY. It folds up, too.

Sadly, I don’t have a photo of the giant donuts. Photos will be forthcoming.