Friday, May 4, 2012

The Final Days

This past week has been great! I have been finishing up the rest of my Israel bucket list- including Hezekiah's tunnel, going back to the City of David, going to the Western wall one last time, seeing (supposedly) Jesus' tomb in the Holy Sepulchure, going to the Garden tomb (another supposed tomb of Jesus), going to the Temple Mount and going to a Palestinian refuge camp (an awesome experience I hope to blog about soon, I learned a great deal about the Palestinian side of things). 

My academic semester is done! It is refreshing to be finished, yet I'm sad to see this season end.  Although, it's not over just yet! I leave early tomorrow morning to live with the Bedouin in Jordan, for a week! Sleeping under the stars, riding camels, no electricity, hardly any running water and eating some all natural food if you know what I mean. I'm pumped because I have been desiring a full cultural experience, and since I have been on an American campus it hasn't been an all encompassing cultural change. I sense this trip will certainly broaden my cultural horizons! I get back the 10th and leave early on the 11th to fly home!

Walking though the Old City
Temple Mount
Touching Dome of the Rock!

Temple Mount
Garden Tomb
Jesus'  tomb in Holy Sepulchre

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Easter and Jordan

Easter was wonderful here in Jerusalem. I went to a sunrise service at the garden tomb (here’s the deal.. it’s not the actual spot, but very close. The Church of the Holy Sepulcher is more likely the real location). But, it is an awesome place to gather and remember, and definitely offers the best visual. The garden tomb is beautiful, and resembles the pictures we are used to seeing- of the big rock rolled away from the tomb, with plants and flowers surrounding it all. This place was packed, and with people from all over, who represented all continents (besides Antarctica)!

Thursday I left for a four-day field study to Jordan. This field study felt much different because Jordan requires a tour guide for large groups. Oh man, I felt like such a tourist! My favorite spots were Petra and Mt. Nebo (where Moses saw the Promised Land before he died). Jordan had a much different feel that Israel. Islam is the dominant religion, it is extremely westernized and looks like you would suspect Israel to look (very dry and deserty, but Israel is much more green!). Oh yeah, and I rode a donkey! That was awesome!

Even though I have been here for nearly three months, everyday I learn something new that changes the way I look at life.  Questioning is inevitable. It seems I’m forced to process enormous questions that people definitely do not think about on a regular basis. What’s on my mind most right now are things like Christianity in the midst of other major world religions (specifically looking at the timeline from Judaism to Christianity to Islam), the psychology of religion, the essence of time and why Christ came when He did (why not sooner?), and what it really means that God came to earth and suffered (I have heard it so often without contemplating it enough).

The part of me that wanted revival immediately upon coming here is becoming frustrated.  But I know that God is working in much greater ways than in a quick spiritual high. Even through the midst of doubting, I cannot separate myself from the truth that God is real. Even in the midst of this Jewish nation, there is something that constantly pulls me back to the truth of Christ. I would really appreciate prayers for finishing well (3 weeks left), and for thinking through these questions. 

Sunrise Service
Sunset on Easter
That's right no leavened bread in the Jewish part of the city,
during Passover.
At the Wadi Yarmuk in Jordan 
Biggest Starbucks in the world (I have my doubts though)
Hiking at Petra

My donkey's name was Michael Jackson. Original.

I could totally take him! 
Beautiful people
Walking through the seek to the treasury
View from Mt. Nebo

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Third Temple

I just got back from a tour at the Temple Institute in the Old City Jerusalem. First, I would like to note that this blog post does not represent my own political view on the current political/religious situation. As of now, my opinions on the politics are still being formulated, because there much to comprehend. It may be easy to claim to be zionist or pro-Palestine, without fully understanding the entirety of the situation and how it impacts real people. I am learning that politics are not the ending factor, real people are at the core, and just because people have a different way of life, does not mean they are somehow lesser. 

Anyway, now that the logistics are out of the way, I will share my experiences at an Institute dedicated to building a third temple. A fews weeks after I arrived in Israel, I learned that people are in the works of preparing for a third temple. Where will this temple be built, you ask? That is a good question, since the Dome of the Rock stands on the Temple Mount. The tour guide did not say their reasoning on how their preparations will actually come into action.

This group has been working since 1987, to create an exact replica of the third temple articles. They have only built articles, and believe that the rock foundations will be laid from people from all nations (she said there is prophecy about this). Not only are they simply preparing, almost all of the necessary vessels are completely built. The only article unfinished is the curtain separating the holies of holies. Also, the Ark of the Covenant is obviously missing as well.  Our tour guide said she believes in a tradition saying that Josiah buried the Ark under the modern day Dome of the Rock. As of now, archeological digs cannot be completed because the Temple Mount is Muslim territory. 

This plan is certainly not supported by all Jews, and supporters of the third temple differ based on a variety of factors. 

This whole tour was so astounding to me, especially since this museum was a little hole in the wall place, in the midst of regular Jerusalem city life. If you have any questions about the tour today, or any other experiences, let me know (Email at I would love to share more about what I am learning.  

Here are pictures from the tour. These articles were built to replicate the second temple articles.

Menorah, 95 lbs of gold, 3 million dollars. 
Showbread table
Vessels for sacrifices 
Crown for the High Priest

Utensils for the temple priests 
Silver trumpets and Levitical harp.
The harp has 22 strings to represent the 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet.

Painting of the temple, light is coming from the chandelier in the picture below. 
Miniature model of temple

Monday, April 2, 2012

Videos of Palm Sunday

Here are videos from Palm Sunday! The first is the service in the Holy Sepulchre. The second is entering the gate into the Old City during the Mount of Olives procession. The last one is inside the city as people finish the parade at St. Anne's Church (right next to the Pool of Bethesda). 

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Palm Sunday in Jerusalem!

I woke up early this morning to catch a service at Church of the Holy Sepulchre (Location of the crucifixion and empty tomb). The church is divided among denominations, but it is the only church where Eastern and Western churches worship together. The service I attended was a Franciscan order of the Roman Catholic church. Although it was in Latin, and much different than what I am used to, I am glad I went. The hour-long service consisted of singing, liturgy, and walking around the tomb. The service was led by the clergy, who carried a silver cross, incense and liturgy books.  After, I went to Christ Church, as I usually do on free Sundays.

By far, the best part of the day was definitely parading down the Mount of Olives to Jerusalem!  This parade was in remembrance of Jesus' journey to Jerusalem.  It was certainly an unforgettable experience. As I looked around me I saw people from all around the world. So much diversity in one place! And it is amazing that we can all come together united, even by the thousands!  So many different languages and songs! After I made it to the city gate I went back out to watch the rest of the parade.  I loved seeing the joy people had as they celebrated. And although I could hardly understand the songs and conversations, it is experiences like this that reveal how similar we are. All together to remember. 

Holy Sepulchre Service
Holy Sepulchre
Christ Church
Start of the parade! 
Boy Scouts (yes they are in Israel too)
Laura and I  

Liz and I

Entering Old City gate
Overlooking the parade

Parade with the Mt. of Olives in the back right 

P.S. I have some videos and will upload them soon!

Friday, March 23, 2012

The Galilee

It is such a wonderful day. I look around me and wonder how I got here. The sounds of the city surround me and two worlds collide. Part of me will forever be tied to this place. Something about being here just easily brings joy- perhaps because I never thought I would make it this far, or maybe because this place is so rich with history about what I believe. It's so beautiful- a smell of spices in the distance mixed with tobacco, the sounds of some street musicians and vendors all around. 

This past week has been packed with travels. I had five days of field studies in six days. The four day trip consisted of sites in the Galilee. Saturday- Tuesday- Caesarea, Mt. Carmel, Megiddo, Jezreel Valley, Sepphoris, Nazareth Ridge, Beth-Shean, Hazor, Dan, Caesarea Philippi, Crater Lake, Mt. Bental, boat ride on the Galilee, Capernaum, Chorazim, and the Cliffs of Arbel. Then, Thursday I had a Second Temple Field Study in the Shephelah. 

The Galilee was definitely my favorite field study. The majority of the previous field studies focused on the Old Testament, which is awesome or course, but I was certainly ready to learn more about the New Testament. We stayed in Nazareth the first night, and then right on the coast of the Galilee, in Ein Gev, for the two following nights. 

Overall, it has been a wonderful week, but as expected, I am really tired out. Today marks seven weeks left! 

Mt. Carmel Elijah statue
The tree used in Jesus Christ superstar. 

Some Roman toilets. So classy.
Sunset on the Galilee

Walking on water!

Heart shaped ice cream. It's all I need.

Our hut on the Galilee!

Boat ride on the Galilee

Jordan River