So I wanted to write a bit about our first field trip here.
We got up, put on our fanny packs, grabbed our sack lunches, and headed out into the city. Our groups are divided up into Old Testament classes so I went with Brother Muilstien (my teacher, what a spiritual stud) and the rest of my class.
Our first stop was on a hill in Gibia. There we found this old building that was falling apart. It was a palace that was being built in the 60s for King Hussein, but due to political conflicts it was left untouched since then. The really cool thing about this spot in particular is that the new palace was being built right where King Saul's palace was. They took down the remains there to build the new palace but down the hill a little bit we got to go down and touch some of the stones that were originally part of Saul's palace! Those are some old rocks. I have a picture of it but whoever took the picture did a terrible job framing it because they cut out the stone part of it, so its basically a picture of me looking like a sister missionary with my feet cut off. Ohh well! I can't post pictures from the center but i'll post them later. You can find the story of Gibia in 1 Samuel 10:26, 15:34, and about Davids stay there in 1 Samuel 18:1-19.
Our next stop was Nebi Samuel (meaning The Prophet Samuel). This spot was used as a stomping ground for the crusaders where Richard the Lionheart stayed. The ruins are still there and you can walk all around. There is also a Mosque there built by the Jews to commemorate the Prophet Samuel, there they have a Cenotaph, which is a casket that represents the casket of Samuel (he's not really buried there). The Jews believe that Samuel represents the prayers of the righteous in heaven, so he listens to their prayers there and then takes them to heaven and petitions for them. Here we also had a view over the city of Gibeon, we read Joshua 9-10 as our teacher pointed out where the story happened where Joshua was headed when he prayed and asked to have the sun and the moon stand still. We stood looking over the valley as our teacher read how Kind Solomon prayed for knowledge to know right from wrong, where God blessed Solomon to be the greatest king. It was incredible.
Our next stop was Church of the Ascension Augusta Victoria, where Lutherans believe Christ Ascended into heaven. It was built about 100 years ago by a German Emperor and named for his wife. We sat in the chapel as Brother Jackson taught us about the different symbols in churches and how to recognize them and what they mean. I already knew a lot of it from my Art History class but it was a nice refresher. The inside was BEAUTIFUL. The mosaic work was breathtaking. Then we headed up MILLIONS of stairs to the top of the tower where we had a view of everything you can imagine. We could see as far as the West Bank, where the tribe of Ephraim is from. It was cool to see because we aren't allowed to visit there due to political conflicts. We also had a great view of Bethel, the place where Jacob saw God face to face and where he was endowed (Gen 28: 11-19). Then we all gathered together in the chapel and sang some hymns. The acoustics were amazing and it made us sound like angels. The contrast of the silence to the first notes was glorious to say the least.
Note this picture was taken from a friends camera, my battery died :(
Our last stop was the 7 Arches Hotel which had a great view of the Old City. There we gazed on The Dome of the Rock, which is on Mount Moriah and the Temple Mount. This is one of my favorite spots because so many things have happened there. It was where Abraham bound Isaac (Muslims believe Ishmael). Its where the temple of Solomon used to be. Its also where Muslims believe that the Prophet Muhammad ascended into heaven. Just to name a few... It also provided a good view of what used to be Jerusalem (The City of David). The ruins are still there. We get to go on another field trip, and I'm so excited. Christ most likely walked of those exact steps that I'll be walking on.
So its safe to say that my first field trip was amazing. I can't believe how much I've learned already. I tried reading the Old Testament before I came here and to be honest, I barely understood it. But now it makes so much sense to me, and because of this knowledge of the Old Testament I have such a better understanding of the Book of Mormon. Today in Old Testament we learned about how all scripture is about the House of Israel, we are a part of this great heritage and all the blessings given to Abraham are also given to us. We are to inherit this great land. It gave a whole new meaning to 1 Nephi 19:22-24. Liken all scripture unto us, because it is us, its a part of us. I am so grateful for my time here, this land has taken hold of my heart.