Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Holy [Moly] Land!!!! (part 5 of 5)

(Israel Highpoints, cont.)

-Pool of Siloam (site B, source of water is correct but actual pool has not been found)
Wonderful occurrence where Jesus taught his disciples that neither the man nor his parents had sinned, resulting in the blind man being blind. He made a clay from dirt and his spit and put it on the blind man’s eyes and then told him to go wash in the pool of Siloam. He washed and could see!

-Holda gate to the temple, Old City of Jerusalem
We know Jesus came to Jerusalem and entered the temple on many occasions. The arch doorways are what is left of the original gate...

-Western Wall of the Temple of Jerusalem 
Last wall of the temple. Very holy site for Jews. We came on a day of Bar Mitzvas.

-Pools of Bethesda
I love this story where Jesus asked a lame man why he was not going in to the waters to be healed? (Rumor was that when the waters were “troubled” whomever was first into the pools would be healed). The man told Jesus that he had no one to carry him down to the waters. Jesus healed him and the lame man walked!

-Garden of Gethsemane (Church of All Nations)
Some of these trees are shoots from the olive trees that were there in the garden where Jesus Christ took on all our sins. The garden was peaceful and lovely and I felt very humbled to be where Christ atoned for me and you. 

(View from Mt. of Olives looking out at the Old City, Kidron Valley between)

(One of my favorite churches, Church of All Nations. Alabaster was used in the windows, instead of glass. This keeps the chapel dark —symbolic of Jesus being arrested in the night.)

-House of Caiaphas
Corrupt priest who convicted Jesus after he was arrested at the Garden of Gethsemane. Jesus spent his last night here, most likely in an old cistern. 

(Replastered, but this is the site of Caiaphas’s house). 

(Statue depicting Peter denying Christ three times that night. Peter wept bitterly...)

-The Garden Tomb
Most Christians believe Jesus was buried at a location beneath the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. But those of my faith and a few other Christian sects believe the location to be the Garden Tomb.

I am so thankful for the volunteers who maintain the gardens and give tours there. Our guide showed us Golgotha, the old cistern of Joseph of Arimathea’s home, and lastly, Jesus’s tomb. 

The spirit hit me so strongly as I waited in line to go in to the tomb. I can only recall one other time where I felt such a powerful witness—when I was 13 1/2 years old and visited Carthage Jail and felt the confirmation that Joseph Smith was undeniably a prophet of God. And, while I’ve never doubted who Jesus was, or what he did for me, now I have felt the power of the miracle that took place at the Garden Tomb.

He Lives!!!!!

(There was sooo much more that we saw but, again, this is highlights. You can ask me about my trip any time and I would be happy to share more with you!!!)

Holy [Moly] Land!!! (part 4 of 5)

High Points from Israel 
We spent four days in Jordan and nine in Israel. It would be too much to try to blog about everything in Israel. Let’s just say, I came back very educated on the area. Really understanding the history which is saying a lot since I don’t like history, at least I did not in school. But this was very interesting to see the history. Especially places like Bet She’An— where there is a hill that they have discovered 15 civilizations built one on top of another. 

That is how a lot of the sites were in Israel, somethings historically significant took place. A lot of times the Romans built something on top of it. Then Constantine’s mother, Helena, interviewed many generations of locals to learn where these sacred events most likely happened and then built churches on top of the sites—to mark and preserve them. They were destroyed by invaders or the great earthquake of A.D. 749. Byzantines sought to rebuild them. Oftentimes—more invasions, etc....Nowadays other Christian sects (like the Catholics) have tried to restore the churches to the best of their abilities and now several denominations “own” the buildings that house significant sights. (It was not uncommon to see a church building with three or more different chapels—each a different Christian denomination). 

And in many cases, such sites were also significant for various reasons to the Jewish and Muslim faiths. And now you can see why there is a perfect religious storm brewing in Israel/Palestine!

Our local Palestinian guide, Faris, was so knowledgeable about historic and current religious and political events—this was invaluable! Our spiritual guide as well, Jack, was not only a scriptorian, but also had studied extensively the traditions of the region and was very educated about the customs of Old and New Testament times. I have pages and pages of notes from the treasures that they shared.

They would often refer to different places as site A, B, or C. Site C meant that traditionally people believed an event happened here. Site B meant that there was significant historical evidence that an event happened here. And site A meant that the evidence pointed that it most definitely happened here. 

I definitely felt the spirit more at Site A’s. 

-Mt. Nebo (in Jordan, not Israel)
This is the site where Moses was led by God and shown the promised land. Unfortunately it was hazy and we were unable to see much from the peak.

-Migdal-Eder, shepherds field
The special flock of sheep reserved for sacrifices at the temple—and those shepherds—were the ones that witnessed the angels’ glorious proclamation of Jesus’s birth. Though the area around the field is building and city dinginess, I knew what had happened here.

-Valley of Doves
At Jesus’s time this was the route from Nazareth to Cana and Magdela. How humbling for me to walk a path he walked...

-Sea of Galilea
We spent time on the shores of Galilea, as well as on a boat on the sea (which is a lake, really). It was so touching to spend time where my Savior calmed the sea, walked on water, and taught priceless lessons to his apostles and disciples...

We sang and danced on the boat. Not what I expected but it was so fun!

-Synagogue of Magdala 
The city of Magdala is right on the shores of Galilea and was a major hub for fishing and commerce during Jesus’s time. All religious men would enter the synagogue—including Jesus! The story of the recent rediscovery and careful excavation of the synagogue was beautiful and divinely-inspired...

(Continued on next post...)

Holy [Moly] Land! (part 3 of 5)

We stayed in seven different hotels during our trip with breakfast and dinner buffets almost every day! (Lunches were more local fare eaten with the locals). All locations had an abundance of tomatoes and cucumbers so while I did my best to try everything (hard to do at buffets!!) I did manage to not gain any weight on our trip and I think all the tomatoes and cucumbers helped). 

Honestly, I can say that I liked Arabic food better than Israeli food. Here are some of my favorites, as well as some unique things we ate too:

Zarb, Bedouin desert cooking—kinda like a Dutch oven thing—deep in the sand. Best lamb ever!!!! (And potatoes and carrots!) 

Most of our hotels had amazing food!!!! In this photo, the nearest dish is THE BEST HUMMUS ever! Don’t know if I can ever eat hummus from around here again—the Jordanians know how to make hummus!!!

St. Peter’s fish—ugly thing, but delicious. (We found out it’s tilapia). It was interesting eating it, I felt like I was back in 10th grade dissecting things in biology class...

This is some darn good Musakham. Basically a delicious barbecued chicken with grilled garlic, onions and the secret—a beautiful and delicious purple spice called sumac. 

Kanapa—a dessert made of goat cheese. It was very rich, slightly sweet and savory. Not quite as sweet as I like my desserts but still interesting. And the best part behind this dish is the story: it was given to us from a local cab driver, Abe, that we were driving with on our last day. He pulled over at some beat up restaurant and said he had to take care of something, got out, left the car running, and ran in. We were wondering what in the world was going on?! He came out with kanapa for all of us. I made sure he took a bite before I took one, just to make sure it was safe to eat ;-).

Two other things worth mentioning—Tabul—a delicious flatbread that was cooked by pounding and tossing the dough thin (like you do with pizza crust) and then it was smacked up against the inside of the clay oven where it stuck to the wall and cooked! Fascinating and yummy! Wish I’d gotten a picture or video of it now!!!

And lastly—has some of the best baklava ever on this trip!!!!!! Yum!!!

“Pinch Myself” Moments

Farah, a lovely Muslim gal explained all the traditional head scarves color significances, as well as the traditional ways of wearing them. We went for the scarves associated with Jordan civilians and royalty.

Palestine West Bank cities—and the Israeli walls put up all around them...I’m not sharing my political opinion on all that I saw and learned, but it was unbelievable.

Floating in the Dead Sea (dig the double chins as we can’t stop laughing at the impossibility of completely immersing ourselves).

Spa day! Reaping the benefits of a good Dead Sea salt/mud scrub.

Standing in the River Jordan. The Israel/Jordan border is just about three yards behind me. Both countries had roped off areas with people getting baptized or dipping themselves. Israeli side had “No Crossing the Border” signs and armed military present the whole time. I didn’t see any military presence on the Jordan side.

-Hezekiah’s Tunnel
This was one of the things we did with our extra day. King Hezekiah, King David’s 12th successor, had a tunnel built under the City of David to divert the water from the spring of Gihon to the pool of Siloam. This was to protect their water source from invaders that had already attacked and taken over the northern country. The tunnels are still flowing filled with crisp, cool water—and we sloshed through them!!! It’s pitch black, we used flashlights but would turn them all off from time to time to get the creepy effect, heh, heh, heh. It was definitely the coolest!!

Heading down, down, down...

Rarely could we stand all the way up for the 2/3 of a mile slosh.

We were in water up to our knees, some times mid-thighs, the whole time.

Being stuck in human traffic jams on the crowded streets of the old city.

Driving through the Ultra Orthodox Jewish neighborhoods. Seen enough temple curls and women in wigs to last a lifetime...

-Dome of the Rock 
My capris were not quite long enough for me to be permitted on the grounds. But some kind Muslim men (ok, they weren’t kind at all, in fact, I thought they were rude and apparently disgusted by my immodest capris!) handed me a long skirt from a basket of skirts, for all the other immodest visitors. Skirt of shame!!!

Touching the opposite gender is completely forbidden so I held my water bottles in my hands to help me keep them off my husband.

(Continued on next post...)