So I decided that instead of doing one massive blog update on my week long trip to Egypt, I would do separate ones for each day of my trip. That way you get more information and I get to easily organize my thoughts... deal?
We left the Jerusalem Center at 6:30 in the morning and hopped on the bus for a long day of driving. Our first stop was Tel-Sheva. Here we got to wander around the remains of an ancient military post, it was really interesting to see the lay out of a couple houses, the walls, and the structure of the building. Our favorite spot was the small temple that was found inside this military post. We got to touch a real sacrificial alter and go inside and ancient Holy of Holies. It was crazy to think that these were actually used in ancient times. We also visited Tel-Arad, which also had the remains of an ancient Israelite temple. We can see through archeological evidence that the temple was later used as an apostate temple, straying from the idea of one God to multiple God's. We talked a lot about the idea of worshiping multiple Gods and how that was so hard for the Israelites to give up. Our teacher asked us what our vices were, what we have in our lives that we can't seem to give up.
Here are some pictures from the two Tels we visited.
My two professors in their exploring hats
Remains from an ancient Mystery City near Tel Arad
Me and Greg just exploring
The Sign in front of the Temple
Sitting the the Holy of Holies
Me, AJ, and Brock
Donavan and his lovely nose bandage
Spencer and I in the ruins
Just trying not to blind ourselves in the sun
Rachel, Danielle, Jessica, Brother Muhlestein, and I in the Holy of Holies of an ancient Israelite Temple
Our Class in front of Tel Arad!
Then we got back on the bus for several more hours of driving. We entertained ourselves playing games like: would you rather, catch phrase, two truths and a lie... the classics. It was fun to get to spend so much time with everyone and gave us a chance to really get to know each other.
Our next stop was the sand dunes. One of my favorite stops on the trip. We had a member from the local kibbutz come down to be our guide. We all got out of the bus where we grabbed our waters and left our cameras. They never really told us what we would be doing at the sand dunes except that it was going to be a "Sand Dune Experience" so we were all speculating what that actually meant. We started trekking through the wilderness when we saw the buses pull away, not going to lie... I thought they were going to leave us there to see how Lehi and Nephi felt being left in the wilderness... So we kept on trekking until we came over a hill where we saw a giant sand dune. He said that we had 25 min to play and then we would meet at the bottom of the dune. We all lined up at the edge, took our shoes off and felt the silkiness of the sand and took off running as fast as we could to the bottom. It was the most incredible feeling. We had so much fun running up and down, doing tricks, cartwheels, and taking pictures with the few people that were willing to risk their cameras getting ruined by the sand.
After the 25 min we gathered at the bottom where our guide gave us a sheet of paper, he said to go find a quite spot near by where we could be alone and to sit and ponder, he said once he rang the bell we were to open our paper and read the prompt and write how we felt. I picked a spot on a hill near by where I could sit and watch the sun set. I was pondering how it felt to be there in that moment, how you could look around and see nothing but sand and sky, how there was no life other then your own, and somehow realize that you are not alone. I had the overwhelming feeling that the Lord was with me, that he understands me and that he is here to help me. I watched the sun fall over the dunes and stands of my hair coming over my eyes and though "If you have something to tell me, know is the perfect time". We opened our prompts and read about how Lehi and his family left everything they had in Jerusalem to wander in this wilderness... It made me really understand 1 Nephi and how they must have felt. It made me think that in a situation like that, you have to rely completely on the Lord ofr your survival, and being in that position can either strengthen your relationship with him or ruin it. Being there made me think about my own wilderness, and how we should all find a place where we can loose all distractions and just listen to the Lord and what he has to tell us. A place where our minds can fall quite and we can really pay attention.
After that we all gathered together again over a bonfire. We roasted marsh mellows and talked about the different things that came to our minds while we pondered in our individual spots. Then we all stared to sing various hymns, and it was such a beautiful sound. We all left wishing we could spend the night under the starry sky.
Then we headed to the kibbutz where we were staying for the night. A kibbutz is the closest thing that Israel has to a communist community. Every member of the kibbutz works and puts there salary into a fund which is divided up among its members. They have a certain amount they can spend on cloths and vacations and other things and everything else is taken care of for them. Schooling up to college, housing, food, medical bills, everything is taken care of. It was really interesting to learn from these people and see how they acted as a community and a family. They were so hospitable and made some great "American Food"... and by American food I mean hamburger meet inside a pita with cucumber and humus.... it was pretty tasty though.
And that was the end of our first day on our Egypt Trip. I know we were still in Israel the whole time so I guess it doesn't really count as "Egypt Day One" as the title would suggest, but it was still a great start to a great week.
Thats all for now! Egypt Day Two is coming your way!