Last Sunday, July 25, was another field trip day. We were able to go into the Old City and see Herodian Jerusalem, or the Jerusalem during the time of Christ’s life. Since that time, the city has built up numerous times so the actual streets that Christ walked on are feet below the streets today. But we went to a museum and an exhibit that had all of those things unearthed so that we really could walk on the streets that Christ walked on. We also got to take a tunnel underneath the City that got us from the very south end to the very north. It was much more convenient rather than trying to walk through thecrowded city streets. If only we could use that every day… :) I also got to see and be taught on the actual steps that led up to the temple that Jesus would have walked on. It’s just really cool to be so immersed in the Lord’s life and see everything He saw.
After our field trip, a couple of my friends and I went to Hezekiah’s Tunnel again. If you don’t remember, this is a tunnel that provided water for the Jerusalem during the time of king Hezekiah. Basically it was just a really hot day and we wanted to cool off so we went into the tunnel and walked through the cold water. The activity definitely fulfilled its purpose. :) Haha.
That night there were so many fireworks lighting up the sky! The Arabs are always shooting off fireworks, usually to celebrate a wedding. I have a prime view of the sky from my balcony, so I get a fireworks show almost every night! It’s absolutely amazing. Random fact, but just in case you wanted to know. :)
Monday July 26 was the day we set off for the country of Jordan! We left pretty early which was good so that we could drive during the hottest part of the day. Right after we crossed the border into Jordan (it’s only about a 45 minute drive from Jerusalem to Jordan), we went to Mt. Nebo which is where Moses saw the promised land and where he was supposedly ‘buried’ (even though we know from Latter-Day revelation that he was actually transfigured). We then did a stop at a place called Madaba. The only thing significant about Madaba is that there is a church from the 300s or so that has a map of the entire Middle East on its floor in mosaics. It’s a super cool mosaic that gives a lot of detail to what the land looked like at that time.
We then drove for about three hours to get to Shobak Castle which is basically a ruined castle that we could just explore and play around in.
That night we stayed in a hotel in Petra. I was going to get a Turkish bath, which is basically a massage and steam rooms and stuff, but unfortunately my group got screwed up so I couldn’t get one. It was good though because I was completely exhausted from the day that I just got to relax and get to bed early.
Tuesday July 27 was a very long and hot day, but totally worth it! We left at 5:45 am to get to the entrance of PETRA! For those of you who don’t know (and I didn’t know until I was actually there), Petra is basically a valley made of sandstone. Into the sides of the valley there are huge, humongous, enormous, magnificent tombs carved! There are a couple of huge ones like that, but most of them are just regular tombs. But the huge ones are amazing. They are probably the size of a six-story building or so. I mean, they’re huge. I was just so boggled as to how people all the way back then could make such magnificent buildings! Petra is known as one of the New Seven Wonders of the World, and it’s in the top 10 cities that everyone should visit before they die. Anyways, we started our tour at 6:00 am because again, we wanted to stay out of the sun as long as possible. We were there for a total of about 9 hours, and in all that time we probably walked about 8-10 miles, depending on what each person did with their free time. By the end of the day I was exhausted again, but this time it was a satisfying exhaustion.
After we left Petra, we had to drive about 3 and a half hours to get to Amman which is the capital of Jordan. That night we just had free time, and I decided to go to a little food court mall place. They had some good American fast food restaurants, such as McDonald’s, and I bought a brownie sundae. I know, McDonald’s isn’t good fast food, but in a foreign country after three months, McDonald’s is amazing! Anyways, they also had a DVD store in this mall. In Jordan, pirating DVDs isn’t illegal, so of course we all bought pirated DVDs for very cheap. I bought six movies for $9! I mean, that’s $1.50 a piece which is as expensive as going to the dollar theaters, and I get to keep the movies! Seriously best deal ever. So let’s just say that that day was one of the best of the trip. :)
Wednesday July 28 we went to the remains of a Roman city called Jerash. This city is the best preserved Roman city outside of Rome itself. This place was almost up to par with Petra. I mean, they had a huge amphitheater, hippodrome (which is where they did chariot racing and gladiator fighting and stuff), a huge cardo (a main street lined by columns and side shops), two temples (one to Artemis and one to Zeus), and a ton of other stuff. I got to sing in the amphitheater again. This time I sang “Defying Gravity” from Wicked, and this performance went much better than the last one.
After our tour and free time we went to a show in the hippodrome. We got to see how Roman soldiers of the day dressed, what weapons they used, and how they fought. We also got to see how gladiators fought. The best part of the show was when one of the members of our group came out as a gladiator! He is huge, just huge, and they pulled him aside and asked him if he wanted to be in a part of the show! Oh man it was so funny. After the gladiators we got to see some real chariot racing. Overall the show was kinda cheesy, but way fun and exciting. We even got to take some of our pictures with the ‘actors’ afterwards.
This is me with our own JC gladiator! :) No worries, we're just friends.
That afternoon we had a meeting with the Amman District and Branch presidents. They basically just gave a fireside on the growth of the church in Jordan. About 1/3 of the branch members are local Jordanians which is so great! Unfortunately we aren’t allowed to openly proselyte, but the leaders think that it could happen any day now. That night was again a free night. I had heard that there was a bowling alley close by our hotel in Amman somewhere, so a group of us just started walking and looking for a bowling alley. Well, we walked for about two hours and we never found it, but instead we found an Arab circus! Haha. We didn’t actually go to the show because they were charging about $12 for a back row seat, but it would have been fun. It was just so random because we’re in the middle of this huge city of Amman and there is a circus in some random field. Haha. After we got back to our hotel we had a girls night and watched “The Last Song.” Now, for any of you who have already seen it, don’t judge me, but I loved it! And for those who haven’t seen it yet, it’s a great chick flick if you’re at all interested. Anyways, that’s my randomness that day.
Thursday July 29 was our last day in Jordan. That morning we went to the Abdullah Mosque. We’ve been to other mosques before, but this one was different because all of the women had to put on black ‘death eater’ robes in order to be modest in their eyes. Haha. We got some good awkward pictures in our awesome robes. And man, we looked hot!
After the mosque we went to the old archeological site of Amman where they have some of the Dead Sea Scrolls. So yes, I saw the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Copper Scroll to be exact! Check off the list of things I must see. After we toured those two sites we started our drive back to the Israeli border. Before we reached the border we stopped at Bethabara which is the site where Christ was baptized. It’s on the east side of the Jordan River which is in Jordan’s territory, so that’s their claim to fame in the Christian world. We were allowed to actually get in the water and wade which was SO refreshing because it was probably 110*F if not hotter.
Anyways, after that sweaty adventure we drove to Israel, went through the border, headed back to the JC, and I even had time to work out and shower before dinner. Of course I also called my mom as soon as I could that night. That’s a no brainer. :)
Friday July 30 was a ‘recuperating’ day. We had breakfast and class an hour later than normal which was nice (even though I got up at the same time because I went running). However, we did have almost four hours of class which was very long. We had a free afternoon, but Jane and I decided to just stay in and relax because we were so tired. We actually watched “Eclipse” (the Twilight movie that’s still in theaters) on my laptop. Yes, we both bought it at the pirated DVD place. Oh man the quality was horrible, but I still got out of it what I wanted for about $6 cheaper than it would cost in a theater. Totally worth it. That evening we got to go to the Western Wall again for their Shabbat services. We got to do this about the second week we came to the Holy Land, but we just got to do it again. It was completely packed with Jews worshipping, dancing, and enjoying themselves.
When we got back I watched some of the boys play basketball. I usually watch them every time they play. I think I told you all that they have a team that competes against a semi-pro Palestinian team. Anyways, they are always playing in the gym, and as their team mom, I watch them ‘practice’ all the time. Well, I decided that I wanted to play with them instead of just watch last night. I was completely terrified because there are some guys that are like 6’6” and just mean when they play! Luckily I was given the easiest person to guard and I didn’t even go near the big guys. I even made a couple of baskets! I mean, I missed way more than that (my percentage was probably around 20%), but still, I did contribute to the team. Oh man it was so fun, and I will definitely be playing a lot more over the next couple of weeks.
Today, Saturday July 31 has been a great Sabbath. I went to the Garden of Gethsemane this morning before our church meetings to study my scriptures and some other stuff. It was actually really ironic because I was reading my New Testament for my classes this week, and the block of reading was about the atonement. How random and very cool. I just sat there reading it and thought, this is where the most pivotal event in the history of the eternities happened! Not a big deal really. ;)
Anyways, we also had great church services today. I want to share with you all this great quote that I heard today about sacrificing: “ Tonight we have a fireside and then I’m sure we’ll watch some epic movie.
Overall I am doing so well! I want to let you all know that my health is improving. I took a break from running for a week to get my body back to normal, and even though it’s not all the way there, I am seeing some improvement. However, one of my best friends here isn’t as fortunate. Cameron has had really bad intestinal problems since the first week of being here. They have really been trying to figure out what’s wrong with him for the past week, and they haven’t made any progress. He went to the ER and then was admitted to the hospital last night. We had a special fast for him today even though our fast Sabbath isn’t until next week. He was supposed to go home tomorrow, but now that he’s admitted he won’t be able to. Anyways, I just ask that you guys keep him in your prayers if you remember at all. On another note, I come home in 12 DAYS! CRAZY! I only have 3 more class periods, two more free days, three finals, one more Sabbath, and then I’m basically home. I hope you’re all excited to see me because I am very excited to see you all! Have a great week, and I’ll see you all soon!