Friday, August 2, 2013

Private Garden of Gethsemane, the Israel Museum, the Knesset, Ein Kerem, Jewish Quarter, Christian Quarter, Informal Talent Show, Lost iPhone, and the Skinny-Dipping Issue

I definitely dub this week as the worst week there’s been at the Jerusalem Center this semester.  It was nice to be back at the Jerusalem Center this week after being in Galilee because there were some really awesome things that happened this week, but there have been a couple of really rotten things that have also happened this week.

The week started off really well, and on Saturday after church, one of the guys here Tyler Huff reserved this gated-off section on the Mount of Olives that is considered as part of the Garden of Gethsemane for us, so we got to be in the Garden of Gethsemane for an hour with just us JC students.  It was nice to have some private time there away from the other tourists and really think about the atonement in a quiet setting. 

On Sunday, I went to the Israel Museum again with some friends.  We had a nice time looking at all of the artifacts that we'd talked about in our history class.  I could probably spend days in there.  There is so much cool stuff to see from different archaeological sites that are mentioned in the Bible.  There is also a whole wing of art that I want to go look at.  They also have an exhibit about Herod the Great with a lot of stuff from the Herodion.  Now that I've been to the Herodion, I want to go look at the exhibit again because I think it will be more meaningful. 

After we went to the museum, we went over to the Knesset, which is Israel's parliament/congress building.  The actual name of the ruling body is also called the Knesset as well.  It was a lot like touring the U.S. Capitol, but much simpler.  Most of the stuff they told us I already knew from our Judaism class because we talked in class.  They showed us the room where they meet and the room where they have ceremonies, and that's pretty much it.  We also watched a video that explained about the Knesset a little bit.  The way the Israeli government works is pretty interesting.  They have an executive branch, a legislative branch, and a judicial branch of government just like the U.S.  However, their legislative branch (the Knesset) kind of rules the other two branches.  The Knesset consists of 120 members, and there are no districts for who is elected.  Instead, everyone represents everyone.  The way voting works here is that people vote for parties rather than individual people.  Then each party has a list of 120 members that they want in the Knesset if they were to be elected.  Then according to the percentage of the votes that a party gets, they can have that percentage of the 120 people on their list be in the Knesset.  There are a lot of different parties.  I think there are like twelve or so parties in the Knesset right now.  So parties have to form coalitions with one another to create a majority to get different laws passed, so there is a lot of kibitzing among the different parties and bribery that goes on.  One of the ways parties will bribe one another to pass different laws is that one party will promise another party to appoint a certain person as the minister of the department of something.  (The legislative branch here appoints people to be in the executive branch.  It would be like if the U.S. Congress appointed the heads for the Departments of State, Agriculture, etc.)  Anyway, it was pretty interesting to learn more about how another government works and visit their capital.  

After going to the Knesset, I took the bus back with Amy Hansen and Kate Wiggington to the Old City, while the guys in our group wanted to walk back to the JC.  We went shopping in the city.  I didn't buy anything, so it was mostly for Kate and Amy, but it was really fun.  Then we came back to the Center and had dinner.  It was a really fun day, and I enjoyed it a lot.   
On Monday, we had class all morning.  After class, I went with a couple of girls to Hebrew University so they could buy some things at the bookstore there.  We took some time to explore the campus there.  It’s very pretty, and it looks like what I would imagine a fancy university in Europe would look like.  There are also some really pretty botanical gardens there that we explored. 

Tuesday, we went on a field trip to the Jewish Quarter of the Old City.  The first thing we did was go to the Burnt House Museum.  It’s an old house that they found in the ruins of the city that has a destruction layer from about 70 AD when the second temple was destroyed by the Romans.  There were some cool artifacts that they found in the house.  One of them was an inscription that said “Bar-Kathros.”  This means son of Kathros, which was a Sadducee family mentioned in the Talmud.  So it was interesting to see what the house of a Sadducee family would have looked like.  After that, we visited the Wohl Museum, which was a bunch of archaeological remains of houses of rich families from the first century.  There were a lot of cool mosaics still remaining and a lot of artifacts found there.  After that, we saw the Broad Wall, which was a huge wall (about 7 meters thick) that was built up during the time of Hezekiah to defend Jerusalem against the Assyrian invasion.  Only parts of it remain, but at one time it went all the way around the city.  Then we went to the Davidson Archaeological Park, which shows the archaeological remains of exactly south of the Temple Mount.  There, we saw part of the retaining wall that Herod used to build his temple complex and the stairs and gates that led into the ancient temple.  The coolest thing we saw though was the “place of trumpeting.”  In the remains, a stone was found with a niche cut out of it with an inscription that said “place of trumpeting.”  This was believed to be the pinnacle of the temple where Christ was taken by Satan when he was tempted.  We could see the main street where all the money changers shops would have been and the beginning of the staircase that led up to the temple complex.  It was neat to stand in a place where we know Christ really had been because so much of the time it is uncertain what the actual locations of events are. 

After the field trip, a group of us took the train all the way out to West Jerusalem and then took a bus to a little neighborhood in West Jerusalem called Ein Kerem.  It was a beautiful little artsy town that looked the way I imagine little European towns.  It is the traditional place where John the Baptist was thought to have grown up.  There were a couple of really beautiful churches there that we got to see.  One was to commemorate Elizabeth and John the Baptist, and there was a place in there that is believed to be the very spot where John the Baptist was born.  There was another church there that was dedicated to the memory of Mary visiting Elizabeth.  They were both very beautiful churches that had a lot of beautiful decorations in them.  Another cool thing that we did before we left Ein Kerem was visit the home of an artist that had signs pointing to his house/studio that said “art gallery.”  His name was Yitzak Greenfield.  He showed us his art and told us that he liked the Mormons a lot.  He had some really beautiful pieces.  Most of them were abstract depictions of Jerusalem, but they were still really neat.  After that, we left Ein Kerem and took the bus and train back to a point where we could walk back to the Jerusalem Center.  It took us about an hour to get there and an hour to get back, so it wasn’t too bad. 

On Wednesday, we went to the Christian Quarter and visited churches all morning long.  It was great since that’s one of my favorite things to do.  We went to the Fransiscan church of St. Savior and the Greek Orthodox Church of St. John the Baptist, but they were both closed when we got there.  So then we went and toured the Church of the Holy Seplechre, the church that the Orthodox and Catholic churches revere as the spot where Christ was put on the cross and his tomb where he rose again on the third day.  It was really cool to go through there on a field trip because it was a lot more explanation than I’d had when I went there on my own on a free day.  After that, we visited the Lutheran Church of the Redeemer.  This was my favorite one we saw all day because it was very simple and beautiful.  There was also a cool bell tower that we got to go up in and see a neat view of Jerusalem.  This church is fairly new and was only built in the mid 1800s by the same Kaiser Wilhelm of Germany that built the Augusta Victoria church that we saw at the beginning of the semester on our first field trip.  After that, we visited the Syriac Orthodox Church of St. Mark (the one who the Gospel of Mark is named after).  This church is built on the spot that is believed to be the house of Mark’s mother, who was a follower of Christ during His mortal ministry.  It is also a traditional spot where the Upper Room is believed to be.  Here is a possible spot of where the sacrament was instituted.  The sister that cares for the church there was pretty fiery, but she was really cool.  Her name is Justina, and she explained to us all about the church and about this cool painting that is housed there that she believes was painted by Luke himself of Mary and Jesus.  One thing that was interesting about being there is that we weren’t allowed to cross our legs because making the sign of the cross in any way was disrespectful.  It was weird to make a conscious effort to not do something that seems so natural, but she got after a few people that forgot.  After the end of our field trip, we just wandered around the Old City and did some shopping around.  It was pretty fun. 

Thursday is where things started to head south for the week.  We had class in the morning, and at the end of our New Testament class, our teacher Brother Judd told us that he had found out about people skinny-dipping on different trips we’ve taken this summer.  He announced to us that there were going to be consequences for what had happened and that we would know more of what was going to happen at a later point.   That got everyone all stressed out and up in a knot about whether or not it was fair that they were going to punish people for skinny-dipping in any of the bodies of water we’ve swam in this summer: the Mediterranean Sea, the Red Sea, the Aegean Sea, the Dardanelles, the Jordan River, or the Sea of Galilee.  I never went skinny-dipping this summer even though I was invited a few times to participate and saw people doing it or heard people planning to do it.  But it was this whole big drama that has had everyone up in a knot for the last few days because apparently individuals had been confronted by teachers about it to see how serious the issue was and how many people were involved.  And all of this drama started because there were some students that complained to the administration that students were skinny-dipping.  So today after classes (In our New Testament class we had a really great lesson on mercy and the atonement.  How ironic.), we had a meeting with all of the students, teachers, and administrative staff in the forum about it.  They had us all sit two seats apart and had us write down on a piece of paper whether or not we had been skinny-dipping and what the circumstances were surrounding it if we had been.  The director of the program explained to us how skinny-dipping gave the church a bad reputation and how it was not an appropriate behavior for students in the program, even if people think it is okay to do other places.  He also explained that since a lot of people did it after dark when we were at the Sea of Galilee, that was actually a violation of Israeli law since that had happened on public property and when there was no life-guard around.  So they announced to us that as of right now, all of our field trips and free time out in the city have been suspended.  They are going to evaluate everyone on a person-by-person basis and see who is “worthy” to go out anymore.  So we may or may not get to go to the Dead Sea on Monday.  Everyone was kind of upset after the meeting, but I think that overall everything was handled fairly.  The people that deserve to get to go out will get to go out, and those who do not will have to stay behind and write papers on the stuff they are missing out on.  The director said that he did not want to take the issue any farther than the JC and that he was not going to report anything to the honor code offices of any of the three universities because he thinks that the issue will resolve itself here.  He gave people the option of withdrawing from classes and going home as soon as possible if they didn’t want to be here anymore, but I doubt anyone will do that although some people (the main offenders) were super upset.  Anyway, the fact that this whole thing happened was just crazy, and I feel bad about it because it never explicitly said in the rules “No skinny-dipping.”  They just thought saying, “Don’t do anything stupid” and “We believe in only being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, and virtuous” was good enough, but I guess it wasn’t.  I’m glad they didn’t ask us to write down who we know skinny-dipped or that they’re not going to punish everyone for a few people’s actions.  (I actually have no idea how many people went skinny-dipping actually.  It seems like a lot of people though.  Probably around 35 people is my guess.)  Actually while I was writing this, one of my teachers came up to me with a piece of paper saying that I have no restrictions and that I will be allowed to have free time and go on field trips, so that’s nice.  I think the only punishment people should get that did go skinny-dipping is to make them shave their legs and then skinny-dip in the Dead Sea.  It would burn really badly since it’s so salty.  I hope this issue totally blows over within the next twenty-four hours because there’s been a weird vibe in the Center for the last few days, and I’m ready for that to be gone. 

(As a follow-up note, by Friday evening, everyone had received their punishment.  Depending on the severity of how many times people had gone skinny-dipping or swimming when there wasn't a life guard on duty determined how many days they aren't allowed to go out on field trips or have free time outside.  The least severe I heard was people could start going back out again on Tuesday the 6th, and the most severe I heard was that some people are confined to the Center until Monday the 12th, which is two days before we leave here.  I'm so glad I wasn't involved in any of that and that I didn't go when people invited me to do those things.)  

So another thing that was bad about this week was that on Thursday, I lost my iPhone because I left it unattended on a table that I’ve left it on many times before with no problem, and when I came back it was gone.  It’s frustrating, but I realized that I had placed too much worth in an object.  It’s just a thing.  I can’t take it to the Celestial Kingdom with me, and it’s not more important than my relationships with other people.  It’s my own dumb fault, and I will pay for it.  This whole week has just been a huge reminder to me how important it is to make good choices in the moment because a not-so-good choice can have long-lasting consequences that may not have been foreseen. 

One really awesome thing that happened on Thursday was that we had an informal talent show, or basically a variety show.  It was hilarious!  It went for two and a half hours, and there were some really funny things that people did.  Some of the things that people did included singing a song with every person's name in it, a whistling choir number, funny skits, songs with rewritten lyrics about funny stuff that's happened to us this semester, songs with rewritten lyrics about love at the JC, and cool tricks that people could do.  I participated in two acts in the talent show.  The first one was that I did a cool trick with my arms that I discovered I could do here.  I acted like a hick from a trailer park when I did it, and everyone thought it was hilarious!  The other really fun thing I did was dance to a song called "Sacred Spirit" with my friends Stephen Clawson and Reba Johnson.  We danced like Native Americans and dressed up like it too.  Hahaha!!  It was so funny, and everyone got a kick out of it.  I have videos of both of those acts if anyone wants to see them in the future.  

I did want to write about one really good experience that I had this week that was really neat.  This week I was reading the account in Matthew 26 where Peter denies Christ three times.  I was feeling the Spirit really strongly as I was reading about Christ suffering the garden and about Him being tried in order to fully perform the atonement.  When I got to the end of the chapter where Peter denies that he knew Christ, it says in the last verse that Peter wept bitterly when he realized that he had denied Christ three times before the cock crew.  And when it said that Peter wept bitterly, I started to cry.  I always used to think that Peter was lame for denying Christ, and I couldn’t figure out what his problem was.  But for the first time, I felt like I understood what Peter might have been experiencing.  It was the middle of the night, it was dark, and the man that Peter had left everything to follow was being questioned by the Sanhedrin.  Peter’s life was definitely at stake because he had been in the garden with Christ, and anyone associated with Him (especially someone who had cut off the ear of a soldier) could have easily been taken and killed.  He was all alone just waiting for Jesus, and it makes sense that he was just trying to get out of the situation of being associated with Jesus.  And Peter never denied that Jesus was the Christ; he just denied being associated with Him.  I realized that there have been times in my life that have been like that.  I remember being made fun of for being a Mormon.  Christ seemed far away, just as He probably did to Peter at that time, and I just wanted to get out of the situation.  I never denied that I was a member of the church, but I probably could have done a much better job standing up for what I believed.  I just remember wanting to get out of the situation, probably just like Peter did when he was waiting for Christ to get out of being tried.  So I gained a lot of empathy for Peter through reading more about that experience and thinking about it, which I am really thankful for because it changed my attitude about him.  I’m thankful for the opportunity that I’ve had to study the scriptures here and get to know the people in them much better while I’ve been here.  

Me at the private Garden of Gethsemane. 

This was at the Garden of Gethsemane.  These branches are grafted into the older tree.  I thought this was neat since it's like the allegory in Jacob 5. 

Me at the Knesset in Jerusalem.  It's much smaller than the U.S. Capitol for sure.

The main meeting room of the Knesset.  They modeled the wall to look like the Western Wall.  The seats are all arranged in the shape of a menorah. 

Me and Amy Hansen in front of the BYU-Jerusalem Center sign. 

The Kathros House at the Burnt House Museum.

A group of us at the Burnt House Museum.  Left to right: Tyler Huff, Courtney Newell, Kaitlyn Ayers, Kendall Waite, Marissa Houdek, Jasmine Gimenez, Kimmy Meyers, and Davis Esplin.

Examples of foot basins from the first century.  Christ would have used something that looked like this to wash His apostles' feet.  This was at the Wohl museum.

A bathtub and a mosaic at the Wohl Museum.

Me and Amy Fillmore at the Wohl Museum overlooking one of the houses leftover from the first century. 

Me in front of a mural down by the cardo (main street) from Christ's time.

Part of the columed cardo in the Jewish Quarter in the Old City.

Another mural in front of the cardo by the archaeological park.

The southwest corner of the Temple Mount complex from Herod the Great's reign.  Some of these stones are larger than mattresses!

Part of the main thoroughfare that went right next to the Temple Mount.  The shops were on the left (where the moneychangers were housed), and a staircase led up to the temple to the right.  All of the stones on the ground were left from the Romans destroying the temple in 70 AD.

This is my teacher Brother Judd showing us the "place of trumpeting" where a person would stand and trumpet to let people know it was the sabbath or a holiday.  This is the "pinnacle of the temple" where Christ was probably taken when Satan was tempting him because it overlooked the main street that ran next to the temple. 

You can see the inscription a little better on the rock that says "place of trumpeting" in Hebrew.

The Greek Orthodox Chapel inside the Church of the Holy Seplechre where it is believed that Christ was crucified.  The very ornate style is very orthodox style.

Inside the Church of the Holy Seplechre.  The double columns are interesting.  The larger ones in front are from the time of the crusaders, and the smaller ones behind are from Constantine's time. 
A candle holder in the Church of the Holy Seplechre.  These are all over every church we visit.

A gate that was believed to be the "gate of judgment that Christ walked through to get outside the city gates to go to Golgotha to be crucified.  This is inside the Russian Orthodox Church inside the Christian Quarter of the Old City.  It is actually just a gate from a forum that the emperor Hadrian built after Christ's time. 

Inside the Russian Orthodox Church.  This was a really pretty church. 

Inside the Lutheran Church of the Redeemer.  It's much plainer than a lot of the other orthodox church, but it's just as beautiful. 

The entry to the Lutheran Church of the Redeemer.  I like that there is a lamb over the door.  I think it is very symbolic of Christ.

The plaque outside the Syriac Orthodox Church of St. Mark, where the upper room is. We actually had to go down some stair to get to the upper room because the ground level has risen so much since the time of Christ.

The famous painting of Mary and Jesus in the Upper Room.

The Sacrament Prayers in the Upper Room where it all began. 

The Greek New Testament with the sacrament prayers.  A man walked in with this and saw we were taking pictures of our scriptures and asked if we wanted to borrow his Greek version.  Pretty cool right?

A view of the Lutheran Church of the Redeemer.  That's the tower I got to go up in and see the whole city from.  It was really cool, and I'm glad I was able to do that. 

Amy Fillmore, Stephen Clawson, and me jumping on the rooftops of the Old City of Jerusalem.  You can see the JC in the background on the far left. 
 SPOILER ALERT!! We are not actually engaged, nor did we meet here.  Stephen and I just thought this sign was hilarious.  We found this on a random corner in the Jewish Quarter of the Old City.

We first met on the phone.

No comments:

Post a Comment