It has been one month since I have been here in Jerusalem but it really hasn’t felt like a month. In some ways, it feels like I have barely been here and in others it feels like I have been here forever – just because of everything that I have experienced! Okay… so I am going to try to come up with a lame excuse for my lack of “blogging.” Most of my classes are actually ending in March (this includes Judaism, Islam, Old Testament, and Arabic) so February is going to be pretty packed, as this past week has clearly demonstrated. Luckily, most of this past week was consumed in studying so I can focus on last week and my wonderful trip to Jordan!!
January 23, 2012 – the beginning of this day consisted of a couple of hours to cross the border, which was an exciting process to complete. Jordan is actually only about 30 to 40 minutes away from Jerusalem; it is the luggage checking and passport stamping that takes most of the time. When I walked up to the man who was checking my passport, I excitedly (ie with a lot of energy that consisted of a high pitched tone) said “Hello!!” The man jumped back and slowly said “Hello…?” as he took my passport from me. Oops. J
Mount Nebo was the first stop we made in the country of Jordan. After taking an extremely windy (and somewhat sickening) road, we made it to the top. It was a little bit chilly up there so I may have not gotten as much out of it as I could have but it was still awesome. There was a giant sculpture of a serpent on a pole (even though it wasn’t the place it happened) but it was such a beautiful reminder of the power of the Lord and the sacrifice of Christ.
St. George Church was the next stop but to be honest, I am not really sure what was super significant about it. It did have a giant mosaic on the floor of the church, which was uncovered about 100 years ago. After this, we made a 4 hour drive to PETRA!!! We pulled up to the hotel and were given a grand welcome. There were live musicians, people serving orange juice, and horses available to take pictures on. The hotel itself was … well it could have better. (I ended up having to take a cold shower – aka freezing) Oh!! There was also snow on the ground in Petra – weird to think about huh?
January 24, 2012 – PETRA!!! Okay… this was one of the best days I have experienced yet!! You know the scene from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, where they go to Petra to get the Holy Grail? Yep, I was there! We pretty much just spent the whole day playing in the ruins ancient structures all Tuesday and Wednesday. The coolest thing about the architecture in Petra is that all of the structures were carved OUT of the limestone rock – nothing was added built into the rock walls. So this construction had to be carved without mistakes. The hardest part about going to Petra was the little children. While I was walking down from “The Monastery,” a little girl came up to me and asked for my scarf. She said things like “Can I please have it? I need it! It looks so pretty. It looks so pretty on me! Can I have it?” It was so hard to walk away from her. A little bit further down, another little girl tried selling me something and was literally shoving it into my hand. I had to forcefully pull my hand away and shake her off me – it broke my heart. The best part of Petra was… I rode a CAMEL!!! It was awesome! Then we all rode horses back to the entrance of the park. I wish we had more time to spend there but I am so grateful to have spent as much time as I did. J The day ended with a 4 hour drive back North to the grand city of Amman.
January 25, 2012 Okay… this day was PACKED with fun adventures so I will try to sum it all up. The first stop was King Abdullah’s Mosque – which is the most famous mosque in Jordan. Our tour guide explained the beliefs and practices of Islam. Now I must admit, I was extremely proud of myself for knowing almost everything already (Thanks Rabea for teaching me the ways of Islam!!) Then we went to the Citadel of Amman, home of the Temple of Hercules in Jordan. Jabbok River followed which is the location where Jacob wrestled with a man in Genesis 32. Afterwards, we went to Jerash, home of the ruins of a Greco-Roman city. Playing in the ruins commenced once more here with my friends along with lots of pictures. It was so fantastic to walk past giant, elegant columns - it felt like I almost stepped back in time, just walking down stone pathways, lined with columns (well with what was left of the columns of course) We ended the day to see King Hussan’s famous car museum. I must admit that it was honestly quite boring to me but it was fun to see all the boys get super excited looking at the vehicles. Later that night, I went out with a handful of friends to get some gelato. It was not only delicious but the people at the pastry shop were so kind.
January 26, 2012 Part of the day consisted of crossing the border for a couple of hours (I was the last student to cross the border by the way) but it started with going to a Roman theatre. We all sang hymns and then had a performance of beat boxers. The guards loved the beat boxing! It was astonishing to see how HUGE the theatre was and hard to imagine filling up with people. One side note – I absolutely LOVE singing hymns here. We sing ALL the time and the Spirit just floods in. It puts a whole new meaning to the music and words behind the hymns. Afterwards we went to the Jordan River. This was such a special experience for me – to be in the place of Jesus Christ’s birth. Did you know that the Jordan River flows through one of the lowest places on Earth? It brings a whole new meaning to think of Christ, the Son of our Living God, to go to the dirty waters of one of the lowest places on Earth to be baptized. Once again, we sang some more hymns as others were dipping their feet into the water. It was so wonderful and the perfect way to end our trip to Jordan. Also, the weather was absolutely perfect the whole week.
Pretty much… Jordan was incredible! From what I have heard, Turkey and Galilee are supposed to be even BETTER. I can NOT wait for my future adventures.
Okay now I need to make a shout out to some of my friends that I have made here. I have met some unbelievable people that I feel so blessed to know and become friends with. David, Annalise, Jason, Sterling, Kyler, Emilie, and so many others. I spent most of my time in Jordan with Annalise and David in particular along with Jason and Emilie.
I want to just say that I have learned so much here, about the history of the area as well as the gospel and my Heavenly Father and Savior. It has been such a blessing to be here and have such great teachers who care so much about my learning. The thing is, our Heavenly Father loves us all so much – this is evident in the scriptures, even the Old Testament. He has provided so many tools in our life to search and find Him and I am so incredibly grateful for having the gospel in my life. It is during times of this realization that I want to proclaim the word of the Lord to the whole world! He has blessed my life so much. I thank my parents, family, and friends who have influenced my life so much and for helping me come to Jerusalem. Anyway, hopefully that wasn’t too preachy; I just feel so much gratitude and happiness. J
Hopefully I can explain my daily life here in Jerusalem next post. Thank you so much for reading!! I love you all!!