Friday, July 10, 2009

remembering jerusalem

i can't believe that it has already been a year since i was at the byu jerusalem center. i REALLY miss it and i am so lucky to have had that opportunity. there is so much i can write about, but i think i'll have to break it up and include only a few of the hundreds of pictures i have each time i post about this amazing experience.

this is the jerusalem center. the huge building on top of mount scopus overlooking the mount of olives. this was my home for 2 months, where classes and church were held and where i ate and slept (when not on field trips). it is a beautiful building with huge windows so that no matter where you were in the center you had a view of the holy city. everyday we could hear the islam call to prayer 5 times a day, including the 4 am call to prayer that would usually wake me up, it is loud! but you eventually get used to it and kind of enjoy it. hearing muslims and jews say their prayers almost sounds like they're singing a song. it was a safer than i had expected, people think that because it is in the middle east and a religiously hostile city that we would have to be cautious, but the people were very tolerant of us american mormons.

one night, we all went to the western wall the night before the sabbath (we had church on saturdays like the jews). the wall was divided so that women were on the right side and men were on the left. it was a really neat experience. men would dance and sing together, as well as the women, like a celebration and were really enjoying themselves. we took part of this and they were very friendly and inviting to have us join them. people would pray aloud and place written prayers in between the stones and cracks of the wall. when you walk up to touch the wall it is custom to walk away facing the wall, so you are walking away backwards.

the dome of the rock on the temple mount was beautiful. i could not believe how much detail and color was used to decorate the exterior, it is incredible and breathtaking to see it up close. this is where muslims believe muhammad ascended to heaven with the angel gabriel and the jews believe it is the place where abraham prepared to sacrifice issac, was well as the place of holy of holies during the time of solomon and herod's temple.

the garden tomb is located outside the city walls. it is outside and feels like a little oasis with lots of plants and a gravel pathway leading to golgotha and then to the garden tomb. it was very peaceful to be there and away from streets and city. it's hard to describe the way it feels to be there, because besides bethlehem and visiting the places where it is believed Christ was born, this is the holiest of all the sites i will ever visit. the tomb represents the Crucifixtion and Resurrection of Christ. it is empty because Christ had risen and overcame death. He died so i may repent of my sins and obtain the gift of everlasting life. He is the Son of God, my Savior and Redeemer. I am so grateful to have the Gospel and to know the Plan of Salvation/Happiness.

since the byu jerusalem center opened, it has been promised that latter-day saints will not proselyte and teach the Gospel. so we could not speak about the Gospel or our religion with any palestinian/israeli even if they asked. i know eventually this will change and i cannot wait for day when the Gospel can be taught here.

golgatha adjacent to the garden tomb. can you make out the skull-like eyes?

the holy sepulchre. when comparing the garden tomb and the church of the holy sephulcre, they are polar opposites. as you can see from the pictures. a church was built around the holy sepulchre and it is decorated a great deal. while waiting in line to enter the holy sepulchre i could feel the excitement of those around me who had travel so far to see it. an older woman behind me was actually pushing me along to make sure she wouldn't miss the chance.

the garden of gethsemane. this was another very special place to be, the place where Christ was last with his Apostles before He was arrested. the neat thing for us was that there are two gated areas. one for the public to tour with much older olive wood trees that were gated off. so the public could only walk around them and not through the garden and then this area that i am pictured in. this area that i am in is a garden of older and newer trees, the gate is locked and we would have to ask the gate keeper of the other gate to let us in and out. this was a priviledge for us to have this privacy in the garden, to sit and read the scriptures for as long as we wanted. i think that because people in jerusalem respect mormons, the jerusalem center, and our faith, they are willing to allow us in this private area for jerusalem center students both in the past and in the future.

i am so lucky to have add the chance to explore and learn more about the culture and history of this city. i cannot wait to go back with matt.


  1. Loral! I am so glad I found your blog! I am for sure marking it and checking it often. Your wedding pictures are amazing!

  2. Very cool! My dad and sister went right before her mission and just loved it! I am also LOVING that wedding pic of you and Matt on the beach!! Beautiful! :) xo