March 26, 2014

bethlehem, bears and brigham.

This past week has been amazing! I really need to catch up cause so much has happened. So Sunday after Galilee we had a really relaxed day to recuperate. We definitely needed it. We just had sacrament that day and got to recover all day. It was great.
On Monday, St. Patrick's Day after classes we went out to the city. We got to west jerusalem and everyone was dressed up in costumes and we were like what's going on...we found out it was a holiday called purim. They dress up just like it's halloween. Purim is a jewish holiday that commemorates the deliverance of the jewish people in the ancient Persian empire where a plot had been formed to destroy them. So we get there and there is a carnival thing. People are on stage dancing, there are hot dogs, face painting and lots of costumes. It was way fun. There were mainly little kids there but of course we act like kids so it was still very fun. There were also very weird people there. I never though Israel was weird until now haha.

We then went to the Museum of the Underground Prisoners Jerusalem. It was really interesting. It is an old prison and we got to take a tour of the whole thing. We got to watch some movies and see how poorly they lived in there. 
Later that night after fhe we went out to go to an Irish pub! The pub was kind of lame so we went to a place called Mike's Place which is basically a bar. It was fun there was irish type music. I love being in West Jerusalem at night. Sadly the night before was supposed to be when all the parties were. Some teens told us Purim is basically a night when you just get wasted. They said they didn't have school and stayed up all night. 
Tuesday we had a little field trip with Danny Seldeman. He talked about politics in the middle east and about the conflict. We got to visit the separation wall which was really cool. We went to the part of the wall that lots of reporters go where there is graffiti. All we can do is pray for peace.
Later that night we picked up our packets for the race on Friday! We then had a relief society activity about bread making. We had some of the best bread that night!
Noah's Ark
Wednesday after classes we went to the biblical zoo! I just love how after classes we can go explore. It is so nice not having as much hw and not being stressed out. The zoo was so fun. It was such a nice zoo too. I almost felt like I was in America. Later that night we had a forum.
Thursday we went to Bethlehem! It was a great day! I was so excited to go this whole semester. We got to celebrate a little bit of christmas that day. We first went to Herodion which is one of Herod's palace-fortress complexes, was Herod's burial place and also played a role in the Jew's first and second revolts against Rome. It is in the West Bank and is one a big hill so He could see Jerusalem. Herod's tomb was discovered in 2007. At the bottom of the mound there is a huge pool.
Where Christ was born.
We then went to the Church of the Nativity. It is apparently the oldest church in the area. This is where the cave is that marks the birthplace of Jesus Christ. Today the church is owned by three faiths: Roman Catholic, Greek Orthodox, and Armenian Apostolic. The church was really cool. We had to stand in line to see the cave where Christ was born. We get there and have to wait a little because the Greek Orthodox go into pray and sing. It was cool to see. They brought incense and it smelled so good. Before they came in I got to go inside alone and take pictures. And then I got to take pictures for everyone to make the line go faster. 
We then had some free time so we went to the Church of the Milk Grotto. A legend recalls how Mary spilt some milk while breast feeding baby Jesus and this is the reason for the white stone of the cave. We then walked around and found a olive wood carving place. The guy there showed us how to carve and he was very nice. I bought some things from there. We then went to the shepherds fields and some churches. We then had dinner in tents. It was super cool and yummy.  
"And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night" -Luke 2:8
As the sun was setting we went to a shepherd's field. We split off and had some time to ourselves. It was nice to have some peaceful time to think about Christ and his birth. The whole day we didn't really have time to ponder where we were. It was really amazing being where Christ was born. Waiting in line to see the cave where Christ was born made me think of the people waiting to see Christ. I love my Savior and all he has done for ME. Heavenly Father brought his own son to earth to sacrifice for my sins. I am thankful for that and I am thankful for Mary being so strong and willing to be the mother of Christ. The fields were so peaceful and the spirit was so strong. We then sang some Christmas songs and had a lesson from Brother Belnap. It was a great day to celebrate the birth of Christ.
GO RICHIE #marathoner
Friday was the Jerusalem Marathon! We got up early and took a van there. There were so many people there. I have never ran in a race before and it was so fun. There was music and weird dancers at the beginning. And then we started running. There were so many little kids. I thought I was going to trample them. I haven't been running so it was a bit tough with all the hills. We then finished and waited for the marathoners. I was so impressed with Richie, Scott and Eric from our group who finished. It was amazing! We all cheered them on it was so fun. We then we to West J and got some pizza and gelato. It was perfect weather out, it felt so nice. 
Saturday after church we went to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Since it is lent, a bunch of priests enter to take part in daily procession. A bunch of sects came to worship. I have never seen so many people at that church. It was really cool to see. 
Road where Christ walked
Steps leading up to the Temple of Herod
what the dome?
Sunday we had a Jewish Quarter field trip, it was a half day field trip. We went to the Wohl Museum and Burnt house where we saw priests neighborhoods. It was pretty cool seeing the rooms, plaster and tile. We also went to the Broad Wall which demonstrates both Jerusalem's growth during the First temple period as well as Hezekiah's attempts to fortify the city against an impending Assyrian attack. We then went to Davidson Archaeological Park. This is where we could see remaining of Herod's Temple. You could see where Robinson's arch was. It was huge. Standing there I just imagined how big it was and the large staircase up to the temple and people bringing their pets to be sacrificed. It would be amazing to see. It was also cool cause we know Christ has walked these paths. A few of us after the field trip went to Dome of the Rock. Some guy told us to get scarves to cover our arms because are sleeves were too short. I think they just wanted us to buy their things. They let us go on the mount luckily. I like being at the dome of the rock. There were many people there. We then went to Lina's which is famous for there hummus. It was real good! We also got drinks cause we were so thirsty. It was pretty hot that day. 
Custodia Terra Sanctae
Church of the Holy Sepulchre
Church of St. Mark || Last Supper room
Russian Orthodox Church of St. Alexander Nevsky
View from the tower in the Lutheran Church of the Redeemer
Looking bored in the four synagogues
Monday we had another half day field trip. We went to the Christian Quarter this time. We first went to a Roman Catholic Church which is the Franciscan Monastery called Custodia Terra Sanctae. It has a beautiful Renaissance style chapel. I loved looking at the art in this church. Hyde is carved into the hostel near by and we think it is very likely that Orson Hyde stayed there. We then went to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. I learned a lot about it. There is so much to that church. I really love it in there. It's a site of Christ's crucifixtion, burial, and resurrection. We then went to the Syriac Orthodox Church of St. Mark. This was very interesting. They spoke aramaic and it is where they believe they had the last supper and other new testament events. We then went to the Russian Orthodox Church of St. Alexander Nevsky. It didn't really look like a church, more like a residence. You can see archaeological remains dating back to the time of the Roman emperors Hadrian and Constantine. We then went to the Lutheran Church of the Redeemer. It includes a tower with a great view of the old city. There was many stairs to climb up that tower...Brig, Anna, Brooke and I went on top of a roof top. It was pretty cool. There are so many cool things in this city. It would take years to explore it all. We then went to the four synagogues in the jewish quarter. On the way home we walked by Golden Gate which isn't open anymore.
Tuesday we had New Testament and then we were free after lunch so we decided to go the Hezekiah's tunnel again! We did it by candlelight this time so it was way pretty. The brookes and I went shopping after. It was nice cause I feel like I never take the time to stop and shop. 
Christ church
Herod's Family Tomb
bud is a model
Today after classes we went to Christ's Church near Jaffa gate. Dr. Seely told us about it today. It is an Anglican church and it is the oldest Protestand church in the middle east. It was super interesting because they have hebrew, english and arab meetings. It was pretty cool and they told us to go back to go under the church to see water systems. We then saw herod's family tomb. We then tried a few more places and they didn't really work out. So we just walked around West Jerusalem and went home. It was a gorgeous day out today. Tomorrow we leave for Galilee! I am so so excited!! I'll see you Jerusalem in 10 days! Peace.


  1. Love all the pics! Love the Zoo ones! Heck, they are all awesome!

  2. Natalie, WONDERFUL JOB! I GIVE YOU AN "H" FOR HONORS! (That was the highest grade on could get when I was in school) I especially enjoy reading your testimony! What an awesome experience this has been for you!