First of all, I just have to write a little blurb about Aladdin because he really deserves a shout out. As most of you international travellers know, money changers are a part of life whilst living abroad. Here in Jerusalem, we have the superior services of Mr. Aladdin to assist us. This guy takes care of all the JC students money needs, and he does it all with a smile...even when we clean him out of shekels. He also has an entire wall dedicated to JC student notes, so if you ever find yourself in old city, you should pop in for a visit, because Aladdin is the man.
Fanning myself with the very last wad of shekels I could withdraw
Ok, so back to the action. Wednesday was another free day, so I finally went to visit Ein Karem, the place where John the Baptist was born and raised. While the experience was a little bit diappointing after the excitement of Galilee, it was good to get out and see some new sites. We got to roam around and explore, all the while hunting down the best deals for ice cream. The most thrilling part of the day was when we got lost in the hospital and had to surrender our sack lunches to hospital security because they weren't "kosher". Only in the Holy Land...
The Church of the Visitation where Mary and Elisabeth stayed
My favorite mural inside the Visitation Church
The supposed spring Mary stopped at while visiting the parents of John the Baptist
Thursday was our Herodian Fortress field trip to the West Bank, and I have to admit that this trip exceeded all expectations simply because the JC peeps are awesome. Even though it was freezing cold on top of the hill, or tell, or whatever it was, we still had a good time. Chelsea Owens made the trip there even more enjoyable while she entertained everyone with her violent camera abuse. Once we got off the bus and it was clearly not repairable, she proceeded to throw it down in front of unsuspecting students, who would then gape in horror. Then Jess Veater and I got to have a heart to heart discussion on the way home about our whole Jerusalem experience. Like I said, the people here make everything a hundred times better.
Chelsea and Kara V. showing off the pathetic remains of her broken camera
Anne, Carly, me, and Stefanie all bundled up on top of the hill
The separation wall that we pass each time we go to the West Bank
Sunday marked another highlight day here in Jerusalem with Easter. With services going on all over the city, it was tough choosing which ones to attend. However, the ones I went to really made the day worth it to me. A group of us headed over to the St. Augusta Tower Hospital grounds where we attended a sunrise service. Watching the sun come over the horizon as we sang Christian hymns and listened to sermons was amazing! The best part though, was when the pastor incorporated an object lesson with a racket and tennis ball. At one point, he attempted to a hit a ball gently into the crowd and ended up hitting the little wooden cross on the altar instead. It almost tipped over and you could tell from the look on his face he was fully ready to be struck down by the heavens. Awesome. After that we had some breakfast back at the JC and I proceeded to stuff my sweater full of food and smuggle it out of the Oasis since our sack lunches weren't looking hearty enough. Next we headed to the Garden Tomb where we all sung our little hearts out to Christian rock songs and praised Hallelujah as the sermons were given. The whole day was spectacular and I don't think I'll soon forget the experience of worshipping with these strangers. We all became united in our love for the Savior and it was phenomenal (can you tell I'm running out of superlatives?).
The breathtaking sunrise over Jerusalem on Easter Sunday
The pastor at St. Augusta just minutes before the tennis ball and cross incident...I almost died laughing
Me and my "food baby" walking out of the Oasis
Our Garden Tomb pastor who gave a great sermon, but the podium was my favorite
Finally, we get to today...which was the Herod and Essenes field trip. First we drove to Masada, which is the site where the last zealots (okay so they were actually the daggermen called the Sicarii, but minor detail) were defeated by the Romans in 73 AD. We hiked around, shouted out for the sake of echoes, and Miriam took the liberty of coloring my toe with yellow hilighter...which effectively disturbed the entire field trip group all day long. Then we were off to the Dead Sea where I opted to bask on the shores while everyone else got covered in mud and floated around in the water. I got many a dirty looks for my Palestine shirt, and a local Israeli even grilled me about it (clearly I took stupid pills this morning in thinking it was a good idea to wear a Palestine shirt to Israeli sites). Afterwards, we headed to the ridiculously crowded waterfall trail of Ein Gedi and then to Qumran, which is the site where many of the dead sea scrolls were found. Basically, everything has been so fantastic the last few days, that I don't know if I'll be able to leave this place after all.
Here's my "phalangical jaunditis" toe, pretty convincing huh?
Keri, me, Lara, and my Palestinian shirt in all it's glory, at the waterfalls of Ein Gedi
Valorie and I obviously doing something we shouldn't be doing...
Aleni, Jess, Chelsie, and Hayley looking very excited to learn about Qumran