Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The Dead Sea

One of the most unique experiences I've had was swimming in the Dead Sea. There is really nothing like it. The Ocean's salinity is 3.5 percent, whereas the Dead Sea's is over 30.0 percent. Insanity. You can't help but float! In fact, you can stand in the water without any possibility of sinking. Awesome.

I'm standing on the salt breakwater



Salt buildup on the shore


Supposedly the mud on the shore is really good for your skin. Some of us decided to try it out!
From left to right: Natalie, Maddy, Me, Amy, & Emile
So much fun :)
Love,

Mark

Monday, April 16, 2012

Masada

The number one visited site in all of Israel was our very last field trip. Masada was a fortress strengthened by Herod the Great, taken by Zealots during the first Jewish Revolt, and destroyed by the Romans in 73 AD. It hasn't been inhabited since and thus remains one of the best kept ruins in Israel.

Masada has some pretty incredible views!
Danielle, Me, and David
Masada made quite the fortress!
It was super windy up on top!

En Gedi waterfall



Me & my roommate, David Applegarth
Love,

Mark

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Qumran

On the shore of the Dead Sea lies the remains of an ancient city of the Essenes. During the time leading up to the first Jewish revolt they were a society of scribes, copying scripture and writing other documents. Many of these papers have been found and are known as the Dead Sea Scrolls. The site is historically significant, but honestly, there's not much to see. The morning I left for the Dead Sea I called my mom and she was overjoyed that I was going to get to see Qumran. This post is dedicated to her enthusiasm ;-) I imagine Brynn will get a kick out of this, too!

WoW MoM WoW
The Cave where most of the scrolls were found
Red & Black, baby!


Love,

Mark

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Church of the Ascension

My favorite of the three towers on the Mount of Olives is the Russian Church of the Ascension. Despite the unfortunate treatment of some of the clergy towards our students for being "Mormons" (which is interestingly the only opposition we've faced from any other Christian group since being here--most other Christians, and even Jews and Muslims have been very accepting of us), the site celebrates the resurrected Christ's ascension into heaven after His visit to the disciples (see the Bible Dictionary for more information).


Christ's ascension from the Mt. of Olives
The Triumphal Entry



Raising Lazarus from the dead



Love,

Mark

Friday, April 13, 2012

Base of the Temple Mount

Much of the Temple Mount that stood during the time of Jesus stands today. Granted, the actual platform is controlled by Muslims, the Al-Aqsa Mosque and Dome of the Rock standing where the Temple once was. However, the stairs that long ago lead up to the Temple can still be visited today, though the former entrances have been sealed shut.

Stairs leading up to the Temple Mount





























All of the stairs are different heights and widths, forcing the pilgrim to think about each step as she or he ascends to enter the Temple--the presence of God. I loved that symbolism, as we often symbolically strive to focus our thought on God as we enter our Temples.

Pinnacle of the Temple, where Jesus
was tempted of satan (see Matthew 4:5)
Sealed Hulda Gate, through which
Jesus likely entered the Temple


Quite the political statement...can't imagine all of the Israeli flags around the Temple Mount encourage peace

Love,

Mark

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Resurrection Sunday at the Garden Tomb


April 8th marked over 2000 years since the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. I was fortunate enough to participate in a sunrise worship service at the Garden Tomb with a group of Christians from all across the world. It was quite the event! You can watch the service online here. I show up in the filming a few times with a large group of my classmates. Our friends at the Garden Tomb reserved those of us from BYU front row seats for the service. It was a wonderful day of much rejoicing at the "good news" of the Gospel of Jesus Christ!




















Love,

Mark

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Maundy Thursday

On April 5th I celebrated Maundy Thursday, which marks the day when Christ met in the Upper Room with the Apostles, instituted the Sacrament, suffered in the Garden of Gethsemane, and was illegally arrested and tried by the Sanhedrin.

Dome of the Rock
One of my favorite churches we visited was the St. Peter Gallicantu, which means "the cock crowed." It is located on the spot where many believe Caiphas' palace was located. We read of this story in Matthew 26, among other places. I loved the way the Church displayed Peter's three denials of knowning Christ, sharply contrasted with his three declarations that he loved the Lord in John 21, which is one of my favorite chapters in the New Testament. Whatever Peter may have done, the Resurrected Savior clearly showed His faith in Peter as His senior Apostle; and Peter became the great Apostle the moment he committed forever to Christ on the shore of Galilee.

Peter's denials
Peter's affirmations





Daniel made some new friends :)

We read the account of Jesus in Gethsemane under these Olive trees on the Mount of Olives

Love,

Mark