Wednesday, August 10, 2011

One Week....Two Days

Our last fieldtrip was split into two days.  We traced the last week of the Savior's life.  We began at Lazarus' tomb in the West Bank.  The tomb was small and cool like I had imagined.  Bethany, the town where Lazarus lived, is just over the Separation Wall from the Center, but it takes more than half an hour to get there.  It's amazing how much more time the Wall means for this people.  In past semesters students would walk to the tomb in about five minutes.  After Bethany we traveled to the other side of the Wall and visited Bethphage.  This is where Christ taught Matthew 24 and began his Triumphal Entry.  Archaeologist also found several tablets with the Lord's Prayer at this church.  The courtyard of the church is now filled with the Lord's Prayer in different languages.  It was amazing all nations represented in one place.
The last stop before we entered the Old City for the day was Dominus Flevit, a beautiful little chapel overlooking the city.  This is the traditional site for where Christ wept over the city.  Brother Judd gave a beautiful devotional and then we sang a few hymns.  Singing hymns in all these different churches has been one of my favorite things about this semester.  I love to see all the people who stop and listen to us.
Once we got into the city we stopped at the Dormition Abbey, the Upper Room, and the home of Caiaphas. It was wonderful to learn about the events of each of these places while we were there.  Everything seems more real when you are sitting there.
Our very last fieldtrip was spent tracing the last weekend of Christ's life.  We began the day with a trip to the Orson Hyde Memorial Gardens.  We saw a great view of the city and talked about this amazing man.  From the Gardens we walked down the Mount of Olives to Gethsemane.  Brother Judd gave a short devotional about the Atonement and then we were given free time to write in our journal or read the scriptures.  I have this little spot in the garden where I like to sit and think when I go to Gethsemane.  I went there and just let my mind wander through all that I had learned this semester and how grateful I am for Savior.  It was one of the most beautiful moments of the entire four months that I have spent here.  I am so blessed!
From the garden we entered the ancient city gates and came to the Church of the Flagellation and the Church of the Condemnation.  These churches share a courtyard and are incredibly beautiful.  We did not have a formal devotional, but were allowed to just walk through and think about that weekend that changed the world.  The next stop was the Church of St. Anne.  It is run by the White Fathers, a group of Catholic priests who are involved in missionary efforts in the Holy Land and Africa.  We were welcomed by Father Lavoie.  He was the sweetest man I have ever met.  We always sing in this church since the acoustics are amazing.  He was so excited for us to begin.  I caught a glimpse of him sitting in the back of the church with the most content look on his face.  Before he started he thanked us for always providing a 'divine experience.'  It is comments and experiences like these that cause me to feel overwhelmed with gratitude for this wonderful experience.  I have been able to interact with so many wonderful people.  Even though I hold different beliefs than most of them, I have learned so much about my faith and myself from them.  So many prayers have been answered through my association with people from the Holy Land.
The last stop on this amazing fieldtrip was the Garden Tomb.  Here we had a class testimony meeting.  It was one of the most powerful meetings I have ever attended.  My classmates are extraordinary people and I am honored to have shared this past semester with them.

Courtyard outside Lazarus' Tomb

Shadows

Me inside Lazarus' Tomb

Church :) 

The Lord's Prayer in Spanish 

Overlooking Jerusalem at Dominus Flevit 

Peace :) 

Friendship

The Dormition Abbey 

Best. Picture. Ever. (Dormition Abbey) 

Aren't all crypts one way.....

Matching!!

Sign at the entrance to Gethsemane 

Slices: Elise, Me, Kim, and Erica

Our last cistern :(

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