ISRAEL PART 3
February 12th, on the Sabbath, we entered the Holy City... Jerusalem. The remainder of our trip would be spent in Jerusalem or right around it. After visiting the Mount of Olives and the Garden of Gethsemane, we approached the 'Old City' on Mount Zion. After a brief tour of the four different quarters of the city within the walls we went to a place just outside the main walls to the "Garden Tomb." This day was extremely busy and packed full of memories. It was very beautiful, confusing, enlightening, and frustrating all at the same time. I think one of the biggest struggles of this journey has been the amount of questions that arise everytime we find one answer. I had expected to come on this trip and see and learn and experience things that would become firm foundations of my faith. I had foolishly expected to enter this holy land and gain immediate clarity and assurance about some big stories and questions in the bible.
At the Mount of Olives and the Garden of Gethsemane we maneuvered through crowds of people from all over the world. In one of the spots overlooking the Old City, a German group was singing 'God is so Good'. I loved being in the middle of the crowd and hearing all of the people, because it gave me a new perspective. It doesn't matter where you are from, or what you believe, or what language you speak. This place matters to people. This place, while full of disagreements and struggles, still brings people form all over the world to worship and love our God who is so good.
In Jerusalem there are four major groups; Christian, Jew, Muslim, and Greek Orthodox. All of these people live within the same four walls. They are all striving to protect and take control of the holy lands that are so important to their religions. It was difficult to understand this struggle. Four completely separate groups are all seeing and living in the same place, yet they believe such different things. Everywhere we walked in Jerusalem was a new world. Every door and alley opens to vastly different languages, cultures, and beliefs. It was unlike anything I have ever experienced.
February 13th we made our way to Bethlehem, to the Shepherd's Field, to the Church of the Nativity, to the Museum of the Dead Sea Scrolls, and then were set free to make our way around the markets and crowded alleys of street vendors. We concluded our day in the Hasmonean Tunnel underneath Jerusalem.
The "spot" where Jesus was born at the Church of the Nativity
Passing the wall between Bethlehem and Jerusalem
(Bethlehem is Palestine territory)
February 14th was our last day in Israel (insert reflective sigh). We concluded our time in Jerusalem at Temple Mount next to the golden dome, standing by the wailing wall, and then exiting the city for a half-day tour of the Judean Lowlands and the Valley of Elah (you know, the place where David and Goliath fought).
Februrary 15th we left Israel and made our way back to Greece. Leaving the hotel at 2am, we got to the airport in Tel Aviv at 3am. Security took a few hours and then we finally made it to the gate at 6am for our 7am flight back to our home away from home. While I was waiting at the airport I got some good news from back home... My friend Lacey and I were voted by our club at school to be the Vice Presidents next fall. The ladies of Chi Omega Pi nominated and voted for us to lead the plegding process next semester.