Saturday, February 25, 2012

Various Adventures

Walking into one of the olive wood nativity shops, we were surprised to find BYU, Utah State, and U of U flags hanging on the walls. We were even more shocked when we saw a picture of Joseph & Emma Smith! Are these vendors trying to targe a particular audience? 

Zedekiah's Cave

Arab Culture night!

Jimmy--one of the vendors--held a raffle for the BYU students,
and I won a free nativity!

Mark & Megan "climbing on the antiquities"
Roommate pic--Mark and Trav at Machaerus, where John the Baptist may have been beheaded.
The joys of camera timers. 
Why I'm happy to be a guy:

Men
Women


Rest stop during our Jordan trip.
Love,

Mark

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Mount of Temptation

Weeks ago we visited southern Israel. One of our activities was hiking up the Mount of Temptation, known for Jesus' forty day fast in the wilderness. 

The "wilderness" spoken of in the Bible

After climbing these hills, we sat down and read the account of Jesus' fast in the wilderness. You may recall that satan comes to tempt Jesus. At one point he says, "If thou be the Son of God, command this stone that it be made bread." Suddenly, this story made sense. I picked up some of the stones I was sitting near and held them in my hand. I looked to my side and saw a whole field of bread sized rocks. Satan's temptation somehow now seemed so much more real.

Elisha's Spring

In 2 Kings chapter 2, we read the story of Elisha "healing the waters of Jericho." We were able to visit what is known today as "Elisha's Spring," flowing from the same water source that Elisha would have miraculously healed.

Drinking from the fountain



Tucker strolling through the cool water

Love,

Mark

Monday, February 20, 2012

Arad & Avdat

Well into the Negev lie two abandoned cities, mostly in ruins. 

Arad is an ancient, mixed Israelite & Canaanite city, well known for the Temple that was constructed there (mimicking the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem). In fact, it was one of at least three operating temples during the time of the Jewish Kings--though later worship was restricted to the Temple of Solomon only. The Temple in Arad holds obvious significance to the LDS community.

Avdat is a fortress on a hill. Most recently occupied by the Romans, Avdat is more interesting than your average tel. Most of the ruins are still intact, the views are incredible, and even two early Christian churches are still standing. Avdat was one of the most well-kept sites we've visited. The last time BYU students visited Avdat was in 2000. Though the city possesses virtually no biblical significance, it was voted a must see for future semesters.

Early Jewish Temple at Arad:
Avdat:


Byzantine Chruch

A view from the top of Avdat




Love,

Mark

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Petra

One of the most impressive sites I've seen thus far is Petra. Originally, Petra was used by the Nabateans as a burial spot for their kings. They sculpted gargantuan tombs out of rock walls to honor their most glorious leaders.

For most people, Petra gained its fame from the movie, "Indian Jones and the Last Crusade." You may recall that near the end of the movie, Indie and some of his German enemies make their way to a tomb hidden in the "valley of the crescent moon." This is the spot where that portion of the movie was filmed.

Two spots in Petra stood out to me above the rest--The Siq (which is really just a naturally created valley cut into the stone), and The Monastery, one of the most impressive tombs of the Nabateans.


The Siq:























The Monastery:
A network of tombs
The towering "Monastery"




Perhaps, but we seemed to make it just fine ;-)

The Monastery was cut into the side of this cliff and is all one giant sculpture. Pretty impressive.
Love,

Mark