Well my second full week in Jerusalem is over, and I cannot believe that I still get to be here for 13 more! Honestly I really need to come up with a better way to keep track of sights and my thoughts during the week because by the time I can update my blog so much has happened it’s hard to keep it all straight!
Although this is our second week, classes didn’t get into full swing until now, because last week was made up of so many orientations. The reading load is insanely huge, but it’s almost always interesting so I love it! The classes I’m taking include Old Testament (New Testament will be later in the semester), Israel history and culture, Palestine history and culture, Ancient Near Eastern studies, Arabic language (Hebrew is also offered) and a field-trip course. One thing that the BYU Jerusalem Center stresses is a balance and neutrality concerning the Israel-Palestine conflict, so we learn equal parts about both groups. It’s been really eye-opening to learn about the history and current state of this conflict directly from the people who are living it!
As far as sights/field trips go, last week we had a great trip to four major lookout points over Jerusalem in the four cardinal directions. As we looked over the city and the surrounding areas we heard a bit more about historical highlights of the locations we were seeing. I was particularly fascinated with the Mount of Olives (right next door to the Center) and all the events that happened there, especially from the New Testament.
We have also visited sights such as the Tomb of the Prophets, Church of All Nations, Garden of Gethsemane, Orson Hyde Park, Mary Magdalene Church, the Rockafeller Museum, and the Israel Museum. These sights were all so cool to visit, of course. The Israel Museum had some particularly fascinating displays. One was the remains of a man who had been crucified a few decades before Christ, with a nail driven through his foot still intact. It is evidently the only archeological remains ever found of a crucifixion (Except the one on display was an exact copy because of Jewish laws preventing them from being near bones). We also got to see the Dead Sea Scrolls there, and it was astounding how good of condition some of them were in, even after thousands of years. Finally we saw the “nano Bible” which contains all the books of the Hebrew Tanak in the size of a grain of sugar. It was made using bank-technology and is really mind boggling to think how much is written in such a tiny place. Very interesting stuff! I swear every day here I get to learn more and more amazing things I never thought I would!
We were supposed to be heading off to Egypt in two weeks, but we just found out that the trip will have to be postponed for security reasons. Nothing too crazy has happened yet, but our security guys are very good at keeping us safe and always know what’s up, so hopefully we’ll get to go later in the semester.
Well that’s about all that I can think to report on this week. Life is good. Jerusalem is more than I hoped for! If you can’t tell how good, I’m running out of positive adjectives to describe it! And I’m sure the coming week will be just as full of new and exciting experiences. “Hashtag blessed, ya know?”