Monday, December 24, 2012

Last Day in Jerusalem

What do you do on your last day in the most magical city in the world? Wake up early (to go running of course), play hard, go to all your favorite sites, walk slowly through the streets of the Old City, eat a lot of food, and stay out of the JC until the very last minute.

Roof of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre
12-12-12 12:12:12!
Garden of Gethsemane 
Hanukkah donuts 
Western Wall
Church of the Holy Sepulchre
Garden Tomb: my favorite place.
I was so glad that I got to visit the Garden Tomb one last time. It still amazes me that all the sounds from the surrounding streets and markets go away when you're in that lovely garden. Once again I had a hard time tearing my eyes away from the open tomb. It's an amazing place!

We had to be back in the Center at 3:00 pm to finish packing. After dinner and saying farewell to the families, we got on the buses ("We're the lucky Judd bus!")  one last time and drove to the airport. After 27 hours of traveling, not enough sleep, and saying too many goodbyes, I arrived safely in Salt Lake City. I am so grateful for the time I was able to spend in Jerusalem! Let's just say that I am going back there someday. :)

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Last Week of Christ’s Life Field Trip

Over the past few days I have had the blessed opportunity to walk and talk through the last week of Christ’s life (slightly out of order though). We started in Bethany where Christ raised Lazarus from the dead. Christ truly is the resurrection and the life!

Bethphage: Christ’s triumphal entry started here. He was recognized, for one of the few times in his life, as the king and prophet that he truly is. They cried Hosanna, which means “save us now,” as he rode the donkey. I have cried hosanna to him many times in my life.

Dominus Flevit: Christ wept over Jerusalem. He foresaw the destruction of the city and wept because of the wickedness of the House of Israel. Christ truly weeps with and for us.

St. Peter in Gallicantu: Peter denied Christ three times and Christ was imprisoned here.

Cenacle/Upper Room: the sacrament was administered to the disciples here. The sacrament means so much more to me now than it did before I came here.

Gethsemane: Christ suffered and bled for the sins of the world. Brother Judd taught us that four holinesses came together in Gethsemane: 1. The place: it overlooked the temple and the name literally means “olive press.” 2. The time: Passover. Jesus was truly the sacrificial lamb. 3. The name: Christ and Messiah mean “the anointed one.” During Christ’s time, prophets, priests, and kings were anointed—He was all of these. 4. The person: Jesus of Nazareth, who voluntarily gave up his life. Mary Bennion shared her testimony about what she calls “The Great Exchange” that occurred in Gethsemane: Christ drank the bitter that we may drink the sweet. He wore a crown of thorns that we may inherit the kingdom. He went as a lamb to the slaughter that we might have a shepherd. He thirsted that we may drink the living water.

Rachel and me at Gethsemane
My Nigerian friend :)
Garden Tomb: we had a powerful testimony meeting here that confirmed my witness of the resurrection. I know that Christ lives! Just as the sign on the door states, “He is not here for He is risen,” I proclaim that Christ broke the chains of death and redeemed the fallen world. How grateful I am for Jesus Christ!

Today it was wet, rainy, cold, and windy, but it helped me better visualize the events we discussed. It created a more somber atmosphere but it also reminded me that rain brings renewal and growth. 

Adventures, No Regrets, and Jerusalem sunsets

On Sunday I went to the Dome of the Rock one last time and walked all around the Temple Mount. It’s such a beautiful building! Whenever I’m looking at the Jerusalem horizon from the JC, my eyes always seem to go to the golden dome. Something just draws my eyes to it! I think it’s because of the holiness of that site. Someday there will be a temple built in Jerusalem!

I did the Carillon (again) at the YMCA, shopped, and explored Zedekiah’s cave which is located under the Old City. It’s a quarry where they got some of the stones for Herod’s Temple. The sunset was incredible—the sky looked like it was on fire!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Last Sabbath in the Holy City

I’m sure going to miss that view out of the Auditorium where we have sacrament meeting. It’s been so amazing to look over the Holy City while taking the sacrament—it means so much more to me now than it ever did before. For the sacrament hymn we sang “There is a Green Hill Far Away” but changed the words to “There is a Green Hill Near at Hand.” It was really special to sing that beautiful hymn with the other Jerusalem Branch members. That hymn has always been special to me because my dad used to sing me and my sisters to sleep with that song.

Our cute Valiant Girls Primary class: Elisabeth, Lisa, and Mary

I went to the Garden Tomb. What an incredible place! I’m not sure if it’s the actual place where Christ was buried and resurrected, but it sure has a unique spirit about it. I talked to two Nigerian ladies names Felisha and Olydie. They were so sweet. Even though I only talked to them for a few minutes, I know that I made friends that I will see in heaven. We really had a connection and I can’t wait to see them again!

We had our last mission prep class tonight—how grateful I am for the chance I had to be taught by Bethany and Will! They are both returned missionaries who teach at the MTC in Provo. They are powerful teachers and they taught me so much that will help me on my mission! We had the Upper Room program tonight where we read John 13-17 in the Auditorium looking over the city and they had even put together a triclinium dining set up so we could visualize the Last Supper.

Mission prep!

Finals Week.

I survived another finals week! I spent hours and hours in the library but we found some ways to spice it up:

I can’t believe that was my last finals weeks for almost two years!

After we finished our last finals I went with a group of friends to En Kerem, a lovely little Jewish area in West Jerusalem. It was so fun because I didn’t have any homework that I should’ve been doing!

Dead Sea Field Trip

Masada was one of Herod the Great’s fortresses. It has the prime location! I was so impressed by the palace that was literally on the side of the plateau. Masada was the site of a massive group suicide of hundreds of Jews who retreated here during the First Revolt against Rome.

We got to float in the Dead Sea! It was such a weird sensation. I got a little bit of the salt water on my face and it BURNED. A few people got it in their eyes on accident and I’m sure that was not a fun experience. Some people, on the other hand, purposely stuck their heads under to prove how tough they are. Crazy!

We also went to En Gedi, an oasis where David fled from Saul (1 Sam 23-24).  We were able to play in the waterfalls and rinse off the gross salt water. At Qumran we saw the caves where the Dead Sea scrolls were found. Fun fun!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Awkward Family Photos

This was our Family Home Evening this week, Awkward-Christmas card style: