Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Sunday's Adventure

The black dome in the background is part of the Dome of the Rock complex,
a mosque where many Muslims gather to worship

Since the Sabbath is on Saturday in the Holy Land, our free day is on Sunday. We have all day to go into the city, explore, and take trips to neighboring cities. We packed this Sunday full of things on our to-do list.

The morning started early, as usual, with a nice workout in the center's gym. It's slightly weird working out on Sundays, but I kind of liked it. After our 7 AM breakfast, we headed off into the city to see the Dome of the Rock (Click here to read more). The Dome of the Rock closes early to Christians (at 10:30 AM), so we were herded out onto the streets and set off to our next stop--the Israel Museum.

For our Ancient Near Eastern Studies course, we were asked to visit the Israel Museum, the largest museum in all of Israel. We didn't realize how far away it was, but an hour and a half later, after getting lost only twice, we arrived! On the way, I kept running into Russians asking for directions. We had a map, so I would do my best to explain where they needed to go. Some of our group thought that was worth documenting. There are so many Rooskies in the Holy Land! None of them have asked why I speak Russian, yet...I guess it's not just in Russia that many assume that everyone speaks Russian! We mapped our route at the end of the trip and found out we had walked 12 miles. It was quite the trek.
The highlights of the Israel Museum were examining the dead sea scrolls and seeing the large model of Jerusalem during the Second Temple period. Honestly, seeing scrolls written in perfect Hebrew script that were hundreds of years old was cool enough, but then reading the description being about the "War Between the Sons of Light and the Sons of Darkness" was a humbling experience. I was quite impressed by those displays.

Herod's Temple is the large structure directly behind me.
Notice the difference in the size of the walls of the city
and the Temple walls.
Seeing a giant model of Jerusalem was also enlightening. Herod's Temple would have been an even more impressive sight to those living during the Second Temple period. In fact, the Temple would have been a constant reminder of their duties. It reminded me of how the Salt Lake Temple became the heart of the Salt Lake Valley when the first Mormon pioneers began settling in Utah. Jerusalem during Christ's ministry surely would have been a sight to see!
After finishing our tour of the Israel Museum, we returned to East Jerusalem and met some vendors who have been selling olive wood nativities and other figures to BYU students for over 20 years. The LDS community has clearly made huge impact on these merchants, for they love us! I'm sure we've been almost single handedly the cause of their success in the past two decades. They have all of these special deals for us just because we're Mormon. For instance, one of the vendors gave me some free wooden trinkets, and another is giving me a free nativity. The girls get even more perks--free scarves and other souvenirs. One man gave us free juice. He said, "For my other best customers, I offer tea and coffee, but for the Mormons, I have juice!" I liked that.

However, the coolest part about meeting those shopkeepers was not the free stuff, it was the fact that they love the LDS people for who we are. Over 20 years of good examples have led them to trust and love us. They respect us for our faith. In fact, one of the merchants sent two of his sons to BYU even though they are not of our faith. He has met several general authorities of the Church and hangs their pictures on his wall. He recognizes the good influence the Church has here in Jerusalem, and elsewhere in the world. It's nice to be in an area where my faith is well respected, even though it is not well understood.

When we got home from our day out, we all crashed. It was quite the Sunday adventure!



1 comment:

  1. What a day! I hope the food you are eating is enough to replenish all of the energy you are expending in your LONG journeys! It is also fun to read about your opportunity to speak Russian... You will one day be visiting the site where the Dead Sea Scrolls were located. That is very interesting to see, as well. This was a very good post about your full day in the city. Thanks for the great descriptions! Keep lovin' and learnin'! :-) Love you~ xoxo