BEGIN 110th Blog Post | Russian Orthodox Church, Hinnom Valley, St. Peter in Gallicantu, Biblical Reserve | Corina's Corner

110th Blog Post | Russian Orthodox Church, Hinnom Valley, St. Peter in Gallicantu, Biblical Reserve

Long post warned. On Sundays we have breakfast at 8, church at 10, and then nothing until dinner at 4. Needless to say, I'm always starving when 4 o'clock rolls around.

After taking all of my finals the other week, we now only have 2 classes, which means lots of free time in the afternoons. Our two classes are New Testament and Ancient Near Eastern Studies. I enjoy both of them. I love that I now only have to worry about 2 classes and homework instead of having 6 classes on my mind. The problem with this, as I mentioned earlier, is all of the free time. I have such a hard time just relaxing here at the center or taking an afternoon just to work on homework. I always want to get out and going to see things. Which means I get really tired and worn out my the end of the day.

This last week on Monday our field trip was to Bethlehem. Tuesday I had New Testament and then announcements and linen exchange (like every Tuesday but an hour earlier this time). After linen exchange we grabbed our stuff and headed to the Russian Orthodox Church of Mary Magdalene. It is a really pretty church, with really goofy hours... it's open something like Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10-1. So we knew this was our chance to go see it. It was smaller than I thought it was going to be on the inside but it had some beautiful paintings and a beautiful floor as well as a beautiful exterior that was even cooler to be able to view up close. After this we hurried back to the center for lunch at 12. We has our lunch and then a group of us wondered down through the Kiddron Valley and up to the Hinom Valley. We spent the whole afternoon in the valleys. Both of them were so luscious and green with beautiful trees and flowers. The Hinom Valley is sometimes known as the Valley of Hell because this is where the Israelites sacrificed children to the god Molech. During this time it was called the Mt. of Offense. It's totally gorgeous now as I'm sure it was then. What a waste of a beautiful space to practice idolatrous behavior!

The Hinnom Valley is also the location of Potter's Field. This is supposedly the land that was purchased with the money Judas was given for betraying Jesus. After the money was returned no one wanted to use it so they bought this land and used it for burials. We went to a monastery there with lots of caves and tombs. Some kids even toughed some bones...I didn't...I don't think I like bones very much...anyway it was pretty cool.

Then we kept wandering up through the Hinnom. While we were doing this we ran into some shepherds herding their goats across the street. They got mad at us for taking pictures and wanted us to pay them. We didn't, and kept moving along. We went to another place with some tombs and to a Scottish church. It was a fun and long day.

Ok, so that was Tuesday. Wednesday I had class in the morning and then in the afternoon I went to one of many spots where it is believed the sacrament was instituted, one of the Upper Rooms. The one I went to was above David's Tomb. So we stopped in to see that too. David's tomb looked a lot like Samuel's tomb. Just a huge box, and I mean huge, with some kind of tapestry draped on top of it with a big plastic covering on top of that.

After the Upper Room and David's Tomb, we went and saw Osker Schindler's grave, which I thought was really cool. Jews have a custom of placing little rocks on top of the grave, similar to how we bring flowers. We all put a little rock on his grave.

After Osker's grave we went to St. Peter in Gallicantu. This is an amazing church commemorating the cock crowing and Peter denying Christ. Rumor around the JC is that this is Elder Holland's favorite church in Jerusalem. It's no surprise either because it is now the most beautiful one I have seen here. The walls are covered with beautiful mosaics and really really pretty stain glass windows. It was really colorful. My description is not doing it justice. I wish I could add some pictures but again, I guess I'll have to do that later.

Wednesday night we had an Arab dinner. A father and son who do the call to prayer at the Al Aqsa Mosque ( the Mosque at the Temple Mount) came and read to us some of the Qur'an and did the call to prayer and then showed us how they prayed. We then had some special Arab food for dinner. After dinner we learned some Arab dances. I think I like Israeli dancing better. It was a little bit easier for me.

Thursday we went on a field trip to a Biblical Reserve. We saw another ancient cistern and tried it out. We talked about how difficult it would have been for Rebekah to draw water for 10 camels. We crushed some hyssop, to make oregano, saw a threshing floor, learned how to make pitas (they were delicious!), and learned about many of the plants mentioned in the Bible. Oh yeah! I almost forgot, we got to herd sheep and goats. We talked about important qualities needed to be a shepherd and got to try it out for ourselves. It was neat. Thursday was a REALLY hot day. So so hot. I can't imagine what it must be like here in the summer.

Side story about the hotness: When we got home from the city the other day we walked in the lower gate and we were all talking about how hot it was and how we were all sweaty and the security guards over heard us and said, "Oh this? This isn't hot! This is warm! Just wait, you haven't even started to sweat yet!" Yikes! I'm convinced that I came at the best time of year.

Ok back to my week, on Friday I had class in the morning. We usually have little quizes at the beginning of class and in New Testament the quiz only had two questions this time. 1) Did you do all of the reading? Easy 5 points and 2) Did you bring your scriptures to class? Another easy 5 points. Love that! And then in Hamblin's class we didn't have a quiz. Score!

On Friday at 3 some of us headed up to the Pharmacy on crash corner (not the real name, just what we call it I think. It's ridiculous. Just a very busy intersection with no stop signs or stop lights or anything. Every driver just does what they want. Crossing the street is real fun.). In case you're wondering it takes me about 2 and a half months to use a tube of toothpaste, a can of mousse, a bottle of shampoo and a bottle of conditioner (a little less than 2 months for these because I bought them after I got here and used some little travel size ones I brought and I didn't take them to Egypt either).

We had to be back at the center before 4:30 on Friday because some of us had signed up for a synagogue visit for Friday night. We were there for the last Thursday service, and the first Shabbat service. There was lots of singing. I didn't know there was going to be so much singing (one of the songs they sung was to a Beach Boys tune). Our teacher told us to sit in pairs so that there could be people who knew what was going on around us to show us in our books where they were and answer questions if we wanted to talk to them. The ladies around me were all really nice. Our teacher told us that the area we were in was a predominately English speaking area. The woman I sat next to was from Canada but moved to Israel about 25 years ago.

On Friday nights they usually show a movie in the Forum. Yesterday they showed the second Journey of Faith (they showed the first one a few weeks ago) . It's really neat to watch them here because our Director was one of the producers and one of our teachers was one of the commentators. It's really cool to hear how they were made and filmed. They are really good and if you haven't seen them I would encourage you to watch them.

After Journey of Faith I played some volleyball. There's a gym here in the Center and it's always fun to go and play sports. I've been playing lots of basketball lately. Like twice a week. There are some really fun kids here to play with. I forgot how much I like basketball.

Anyway...if anyone is still reading...I'm having a great time over here. I'm absolutely loving every second of it. I started reading Jesus the Christ last week and I have decided just to read a chapter a day so that I will finish right before my last week here when we have our last week of Jesus' life field trips. I am loving it. I don't know why I haven't read it before. I love how it is going along perfectly with my study of the New Testament. Things that are confusing in class are often cleared up in the book and vise versa.

Tomorrow I'm going to Tel Aviv. I'm really excited. I've been wanting to go for a while. Let's hope for some good weather so I can swim in Mediterranean Sea and spend the day at the beach.


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