I am back from Jerusalem, sitting in my apartment preparing to fly home at 1:30 a.m. It’s amazing how fast time has passed. Part of me doesn’t want to leave, and part of me is excited to spend time with family and friends in Utah for the next two months before I move to Houston.
I will miss Jordan. I’ll miss the noisy and active neighborhoods, the people who randomly shout “welcome to Jordan”, the semi-tasty food, the chaotic driving, the community of Arjan, the late nights with fellow interns, the awkward moments when the person I’m speaking to doesn’t understand a thing I’m saying, waking up to multiple bug bites on my body each day, and just being in a new and foreign culture. Most of all, I’ll miss my friends at Zaytoon International and all the fun we’ve had together. Thanks for a great month!
On to Israel. Traveling to the Holy Land was a fantastic way to end my journey. I went with five other friends, and we stayed at a great hostel in Jerusalem. They even had breakfast with Nutella! I’m a little obsessed with that stuff if you can't tell.
After having passport control question Stephen Kenny about his mysterious travels throughout the Middle East (he has visas from all over), we made it to Jerusalem on Thursday afternoon. We spent our first day walking along the Via Dolorosa, which highlights the traditional path that Jesus Christ walked between His condemnation and crucifixion. It was surreal to walk around and think about that last day of the Savior’s life.
Our group (minus one who is taking the photo, thanks Jacob)
Friday we took a bus down to Masada, which was the last Jewish outpost against the conquering Roman Empire. After a siege from the Romans, the people in this mountain fortress chose to take their own lives instead of become slaves to the Romans. The views from the top of the mountain were incredible.
Steve showing me my inheritance
Our group at Masada
Friday night we went to the Western Wall to watch the Jewish people pray, worship, and celebrate the Shabbat. I loved that experience. I felt something very special about these people praying at the base of the Temple Mount, waiting for the day when the temple will be rebuilt there.
Steve and I at the Western Wall
Saturday, we went to church at the BYU Jerusalem Center. The room that they hold sacrament meeting in overlooks the city, and it was a fantastic experience. After church, we went to Orson Hyde Park, which honors the Apostle who dedicated the Holy Land for the gathering of Israel. After, we had the opportunity to visit the Garden of Gethsemane, Golgotha, and the Garden Tomb.
Garden of Gethsemane
We had a fantastic tour guide at Golgotha and the Garden Tomb. His name was Alistair, he was probably over 70 years old, from Scotland, and a devout Christian. As he took us around the sacred area where the Savior was crucified and resurrected, he shared his personal feelings about those events. He told us that although they aren’t completely sure that those events took place at the location we were at, all that mattered is that they did happen. He spoke of his love and gratitude for Jesus Christ. It was a spiritual moment that I will never forget.
The empty tomb
I’ve learned and experienced so many things during my month here in the Middle East. However, the most important things I have experienced are those things that have brought me closer to my Savior, Jesus Christ. I’ve felt the love God has for the people in this part of the world. I’ve been amazed at how much the language and cultural nuances of the Book of Mormon resonate so powerfully with our Arab friends who have read from it. I’ve loved reading the New Testament and thinking about how the events that took place during Jesus’ short life have changed the world. Most of all, I’ve felt the Spirit confirm to me that Jesus Christ did live here 2000 years ago. And not only did He live here, but He lived His life perfectly. He suffered, died, and was resurrected so that we all can return to live with Him and our families again.