HO. LY. COW.
What is this place? I've already fallen completely in love with the old city, made friends with some of the local vendors, tried some crazy new foods, and made life long friends. And it's only been 5 days! Let me try and scratch the surface of my past two days but there is no possible way I can capture all of the experiences and feelings that I'm having! Sorry for anyone who is reading this... but I'm using this blog as a way to remember each and every day so I am going to try and detail out as much as I can remember.
Yesterday. Best. DAY. EVER. I know that I will probably say that multiple times on this blog because it seems that each new experience is simply building on another. Since Saturday is our Sabbath, Sunday is our free day. Before we came here, Mckay Schoffield and I decided we would run in the mornings, problem is, we have very restricted running routes (as in one 4 mile loop) and we can only be outside when it's light out, soooo that means that yesterday was the very first time we could actually go for a run. We left at 6:30 and within 5 mins we were completely lost, thankfully we were lost on Hebrew University campus and not some "bad" neighborhood. Once we got back on course we discovered some hidden nuggets. An incredible overlook into West Bank, an ancient tomb site ruins, a cemetery, and of course the fact that we were running in Jerusalem was a fact we couldn't get over. When we rounded the corner to head back up the (ridiculously steep and never ending long) hill to get back tot he JC, the sun came up. The windows of Jerusalem reflected back the red light combined with the reflection from the Dome of the Rock, it looked like the city was on fire. It was breathtaking. Sadly, I couldn't get a picture of it.
When we got back it was a quick turn around and about half the group headed to the Israeli Museum, it was kinda overcast and a bit chilly so perfect day right? I don't know what I was expecting there, but it certainly wasn't anything like I imagined. When we got there it was massive group think and no one was doing anything, so Matt C (I have no idea how to spell his last name), Mckay, Abrianna (my roommate who I thought I would need lots of patience to learn to love, but I already do love her! Small miracles!!!) Josh Johnson, and Ricky just started walking. And guess what, it worked, we found where we needed to go, and not only that... when we got back and compared notes... we'd by far and large had the best experience. We found the giant replica of Jerusalem in the second Temple period and had a fun time trying to identify where we were and watching the "giant ravens" ravage Jaffa gate. Next we were awed by the Dead Sea Scrolls exhibit. How had I never really heard anything about them? What a mind blowing discovery!!! And I got to see those relics and look at a few of the fragments. Can you imagine discovering, handling and translating those? Wow! Simply unbelievable!! Next we went to the archeology wing, Mckay stopped to ask directions and found out that there was a tour leaving in 5 mins and that the Botticelli accession piece was still on location even though the exhibit was closed. Sooo we ran for the tour! Iris, our tour guide took a minute for introductions and when she found out we were from the "Mormon University" with a purpose (checklist) to our visit, she decided to give us the real deal. 2 HOURS later, we had been given an inclusive tour complete with minor explanations of Jewish tradition and history. I couldn't believe everything I was seeing. I honestly teared up when I saw the Goddess of Willendorf, the bust of Alexander the Great, original Corinthian column tops, to name a few. Plus there were unbelievable things that I'd never heard of, a Jewish prayer scroll engraved in Silver found in a collapsed tomb (the Jews on our tour were much more impressed then us Mormons... I'll have to research more what that is), Sarcophagi from ancient Egypt, relics from what I'm going to believe was ancient Sodom and Gomorrah (gold idols that had been burned during the time period of the Patriarchs... I mean come on!). When we finally finished our tour we were completely exhausted, but I HAD to see that Botticelli. Mckay was the only other person who even knew what it was and he was dying to get to the old city... but everyone else was curious, so we trekked back the length of the museum and found the guard. ( The exhibit officially closed on Saturday) I approached and asked if the piece had been moved yet and if we could possibly see it. She finally relented and we were ushered past the gates to our own private viewing of Botticelli's Ascension! I didn't even try and hide the tears this time. Me, Mckay and Abrianna took pictures and then we took a moment to just appreciate it. Matt started asking me questions and by the time I was done... well he needed a picture to! Which really got me to thinking... I think I picked the wrong major. I mean I like my major, but in all honest - I LOVE art history! These past couple days that is becoming more and more apparent with each Basilicas, each relic, each corbeled vaulted arch I see. When I get back, I'm going to start looking for graduate schools to study art history in. So Mom you will be glad to know I've set a goal to get a 4.0 this semester!
When we finally left the museum we decided to try our luck at walking to the old city to find the Western Wall. This turned out to be very adventurous full of back allies and endless stairs
This morning we got started bright and early to go on a field trip to the different lookouts around Jerusalem. I think I finally can find my way around, well atleast know where North is! Some of the spots didn't really do much for me... I mean they were cool, but it almost felt like the same view. But when we got to the overlook into Bethlehem and we were looking at the fields where the Shepherds literally were the night Christ was born... I felt it! It was awe inspiring and I felt like I could see those shepherds and feel their fear in seeing angels descending on them. I can't wait until we actually go to Bethlehem!
Finally... tonight we were playing Sardines as an FHE family around the center. I was loosing... badly... so I started checking obscure places and lo and behold the Chamber of Secrets appeared. I did some preliminary investigating with Hannah who was looking with me. Once we found our family we dragged them back and we climbed through until we found the book. Just then, we heard the security guard. Literally trapped. Well, the pulled us all out and took us to the office. Wrote our names down and we knew we were in trouble. So we went to find Brother Witchurch and tell him before the guards could. We tried so hard to keep a straight face, but someone would start giggling, then we all would. It was hopeless. Thankfully, he found it amusing as well, but warned us there would be problems if we went down there again...
Alright. There's my past two days. It doesn't do them even a little bit of justice, but I'm exhausted and bed is calling my name. So goodnight from the Holy Land!