Now this day we went to Nimrod's castle, which, as far as I can remember has no biblical significance to it, but it was a way cool castle and the ruins were quite lovely to jaunt around. It is an Arabic fortress built in the middle ages and named after the mighty hunter Nimrod, King of Shinar and great-grandson of Noah. Here he was punished by Allah, who put a mosquito in his head which drove him mad. I love these sites that are so rich in history. I felt it appropriate to take all of my photos here in sepia.
A view of most of the fortress
Check out this sweet Gothic stairwell. A lovely nun showed us how to get the best photo here.
Now begins our trip in Galilee. One of our first stops was to the top of the famous Mount Megiddo, which is also known as Armageddon. I think it's had somewhere around 17 cities built and destroyed on top of it, now there's just ruins and a lovely gift shop. It's been conquered by pharohs, Thutmose III, Ramses II, Shishak, and Necho as well as Tiglath-Pileser III, Alexander the Great and Napoleon, to name a few. Acording to Revelations 16:14-21 a final confrontation will occur here. Sure it looks peaceful now...
So this fieldtrip occured on St. Patricks day, and I made sure to anounce that it was mom's birthday. There were much well wishes from the JC crew. We began by visiting Bethlehem University where Dr. Musalem, our Paelistinian studies teacher, is a dean. We got to meet many of the students there and ask them questions about what they do and such. The school is a Christian school, but they admit both Christians and Musslims. They told us how much they would like to talk to the Israelis about the conflict but since Bethlehem is in the West Bank, it's nearly imposible to get into Jerusalem. They have to apply months ahead and they would only be able to visit for one day if at all. It was really neat to hear the Paelstinian perspective from student our own age.
We also went to the Church of the Nativity. The Greek Orthodox are mostly in charge of this church, but it is shared by the Armenians and Cathlolic? The Greek Orthodox do not like it when you laugh. Believe me, I know.
Eliza and I outside ot the church of the Nativity
That evening we went out to a Shepherds field and read the story of Christ's birth in the book of Luke and sang hymns and bore testimony. It was a beautiful night, and this was one of my favorite things we've done here in isreal. I could invision the shepherds watching their flock on a night similar to this night then being visited by an angel who proclaimed "For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord." The shepherds are my favorite part of the story of Christ's birth. It was a lovely way to end our trip to Bethlehem.
Today we celebrated Purim, which is a feast dedicated to Esther and her saving the Israelites. Now it's become something of a Mardi Gras/Halloween. The kids dress up in costumes all week long and get candy, and on the evening of the feast, adults dress up and go out and party. Be went to west jerusalem to Joffa street and round abouts area. There were some street performers and dancers and lots of costumes.
Here's a pictures of a large amount of our group at one of our favorite bakeries off of Joffa street. I'm the one dressed as Harry Potter.
We went to Jeresh in Jordan. It is a way cool sight that has wonderfully preserved Roman ruins. When we were there we watched a gladiator match. I was totally yelling at the top of my lungs for him to beat the other guy. At the end of the show we went down to get pictures and he looked straight at me and scowled and I just scowled back and he said, "you... I heard you in the stands, you need a picture with me" It was way funny because every time he would get a good blow in he would turn to the audience and flex his pectorals muscles. You just had to love him.
This is me and Elizabeth in the garden tomb. Elizabeth is from Nigeria and she was there on a spiritual journey. There have been a lot of Nigerians at all the Christian sites as of late. Last Shabat (sabath) a group of 5 of us went singing and she joined in. It was really cool that we were from different continents, but we sang the same songs. That day we also talked to Peter (you can see him in the back) he is originally from Nigeria, but moved to Canada. We told him we were there studying the scriptures and he asked if we were all ministers children. I chuckled inside and told him we were Mormon. It was a really cool day.
Just when we finish our trip to Jordon, we're back on the road again. Today we went to Tel Aviv, the capitol of Israel. Tel Aviv is fairly westernized, and it's by the coast, so it's much the same as many coastal towns in the US. Afterwards we went to the coast and got to go wading. Perhaps I'll come back on a free day to actually swim. It was a hot, lovely day.
Woot woot for the Mediterranean Sea!
We went to a museum. My favorite part was word light circle that rotated on the floor. I had a fun time finding different ways to accent the words.
We went to a rather large mosque in Ammon (I believe) and they had all the women wear these black dresses with a black hood (or you could wear your own scarf) We looked a bit like Death Eaters from Harry Potter, so it was pretty fun. The mosque was also very nice.
We went right down to the river Jordan to a site that commemorates John baptizing the Savior. The water was fairly murky with the rich clay in the soil, though I always imagine the water being so clear. Who knows what it looked like in the Savior's day.
The coolest thing about Kidesh, Jordan was the roman ruins. They are some of the best preserved outside of Italy, other than that, Kidesh wasn't too significant of a city in it's day, but this theatre was so cool. It was worth a visit.
Heidi, Mike, Jess, Miriam, me (Ha ha, I'm the only one not in white ;-)
So here are some highlights from Petra. More explanation to follow, I mostly wanted to get the pictures up. Actually there's not much to say about Petra historically because it has amazing architecture (as it is one of the new seven wonders of the world); however the people didn't keep much of any records, they were more interested in trade. There were plenty of Indiana Jones scene reenactments of course, and it was way awesome to see the treasury for myself. I really enjoyed Petra!
Eliza, Indiana Jones (Ken), Me, Krista
Eliza and I in front of the Monastery. This is not the famous treasury that is featured in Indiana Jones; however it is larger and pretty cool too.
You probably didn't know I could fly.
We planned this picture originally to capture the view of "the end of the world" which is a rather large and expansive valley and mountain range, but I like how this picture turned out anyhow.
Some neat things have happened lately. Because of scheduling conflicts, we enjoyed our passover meal, or Sader, on Thursday. It was a formal event and we had a triclenium table and matza and a cooked bone to represent the sacrifices that they no longer do, and bitter herbs to remember the bitterness of slavery, and much, much more. The evening was separated into about 15 parts. The actual meal didn't come out until about the ninth stage. There was lots of singing about the Lord and about gratitude and freedom from bondage. Ophir, our modern Jewish studies teacher, led the Sader. I had the privilege of sitting with Br. and Sis. Skinner as well as my good friend Amy Gordon. It was a wonderful evening.
Then on Friday evening a group of us had the opportunity to go to Synagogue. We went to an Orthodox synagogue that was open to visitors. Ophir took us, and it's the Synagogue that his family is a member of. It was pretty stormy that day, so there wasn't a big turnout. The Friday evening services consist of mostly just singing. They have a song leader, and the rest of us follow along with him. We had a hymn book, but it was often still difficult to find the correct hymn. I really enjoyed listening to the somewhat mournful sound of the hymns. It was a great service that night. Afterwards I talked with a woman there named Mindi. She's from Brooklyn. There are a lot of Synagogues around, and she even pointed out one across the street. It's a ten minute walk for her to get there. It sounds like she walks, and I'm guessing it's because the law of Moses requires that you only walk so far on the Sabbath. She was very friendly.
On Shabat Elder Neuenschwander came to our district conference. I believe he was here for a humanitarian conference. We had members from the Tiberius branch as well as the Tel Aviv branch there as well. It was different to have the congregation finally outnumber the choir. We have a lot of choir members since almost every student sings in the choir. We sang "Master the Tempest is Raging". I think it was our best song yet. It was a windy day, and you could see it through the glass windows in the Auditorium while we sang. I am so grateful for this opportunity to see the city of Jerusalem right from the comfort of our chapel because when we go home, as Br. Skinner says, we'll just be staring at a brick wall.