Although I haven’t technically been in Jerusalem for a week yet, so much has happened that I just have to write about it!
The BYU Jerusalem Center is one of the best places to live ever! The rooms are a bit small, but it doesn’t even mater because all you do in them is sleep anyway. I have three great roommates, and we get along fantastically. Every meal is cooked for us, and each one is delicious. The amenities at the center (gym, computer room, lounge, snack bar, etc) make life fun and easy. And have I mentioned the view?! Unreal.
Our first few days at the center were mostly filled with lots of orientations. Lots. We have had two separate security orientations and several hours worth of drilling the rules into our heads. But, I really can’t complain. If all these rules and the orientation sessions to make sure we follow them are what it takes to live in the Holy Land, I’m on board.
So far we have only had a few excursions into Jerusalem itself. The first one was a very short and quick walk-through of the city just to orient us, which I mentioned in my last post. Last Friday we intended to go to the Western Wall at sunset, at the start of the Jewish Shabbat. Unfortunately, weather didn’t cooperate with us, so we had to postpone that particular trip.
Here in The Jerusalem Center, we hold our church services and sabbath on Saturday, the same day as the Jewish Shabbat. At first I thought it was odd to switch the day when we would have church, but the more I thought about it, the more I liked it. There isn’t anything particularly special about Sunday itself. It’s just an arbitrary name that we’ve assigned to a repeating pattern of Earth’s rotations. The true important thing is that a day is set apart to remember God, regardless of what day that is.
After our church services on Saturday, we took a trip into Jerusalem and visited a site called The Garden Tomb. This site is one of the possible locations of Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection. Many reasons were given by our tour guide for why this site is the real deal, including cultural, historical, and Biblical evidences. I’m not sure if this was the real site or not, but either way it was a truly special experience. I felt true peace at that sight, and even if it isn’t the exact physical location, it was a wonderful reminder of my faith in Jesus Christ.
Today was a full day of sightseeing. We started at 8:30 AM and went nonstop until 4:15 PM. We finally got to see The Dome of the Rock, the Western Wall, the Tomb of the Prophets (from afar), the traditional location of the Last Supper, The Tomb of David, a Holocaust museum, Dormition Abbey (where Mary is said to have lived out her life after the death of Christ), the Holy Sepulcher church, and even walked along the walls of the Old City. I had a pedometer and we walked over 22,000 steps and 12 miles!
Of course we were exhausted afterwards, but it was such a great experience just wandering through this historic city.