Thursday, November 19, 2009

Thoughts from Israel

I decided that instead of posting more pictures this time, I would just write a little reflection on my time here. Really, this is more for myself than it is for anybody who still reads this.

When I got on the plane at the end of August, I had no idea what was ahead of me. Now that I’m coming up to the end of the semester, I’ve been thinking a lot about how I’m going to answer the question, “How was Jerusalem?” There is so much that I’ve learned and experienced in the past three months that makes it really difficult to answer that question.

There are so many aspects of my semester here and I’ve been impacted by all of them. I’m writing a brief synopsis of each aspect so that I’ll remember later and so that you can ask more specific questions when I get home. J

CLASSES – The classes I’ve had here are unlike any classes I’ve had before. My Physical Settings and Ancient Egypt classes have made reading the Bible a lot easier for me. I can understand the setting of the Bible a lot better and the people seem a lot more real. My Christian Communities class has given me a broader perspective of the Body of Christ. It isn’t just Protestant America. I also have a Rabbinic Thought class taught by a Jewish Rabbi. This class has taught me about Judaism and made me think about the role the people of Israel have today.

BEING IN A DIFFERENT COUNTRY – This has had a big role in my experience this semester. I’m convinced that spending 3 months in a different country with a different culture, away from close friends and family does a lot to mature anyone. I’ve definitely noticed this in myself and in the other people here. It really forces you to figure out who you are and what in the world you are doing with your life.


VOLUNTEERING IN PALESTINE – Not only am I spending 3 months in a different culture, I spend half of a day every week in another setting and culture. Helping Arab kids learn Scripture and math on Wednesday afternoons has given me a broader perspective on the Israel – Palestine conflict. I walk by the separation wall every week and read the messages written in graffiti, looking for recent cries for freedom.


MY QUIET TIME WITH GOD – I was expecting this aspect of my semester in Jerusalem to be the easiest, but I was very wrong. I’m not going to go into much detail here, but I will say that what God has been teaching me here is very ironic.


THE PEOPLE AT JUC – I’ve become good friends with people here on campus. We’ve spent the past 3 months together and our time is coming to a close. I already know it will be hard to say goodbye to my friends when we head to the airport in December. These people are the only ones who will truly understand my experiences here, and there are so many inside jokes that no one will get when I go back home. I’m thankful for the chance to get to know the people here and hope that a lot of my friendships are continued back in the States.


Thursday, November 5, 2009

I'm back!

I'm back to the blogging world, after being gone for month.

I'll post a longer blog soon, but I just uploaded a ton of pictures to facebook, so you can check out my photo album here:
I also wanted to let my mom know that I made it out of the West Bank safely on Wednesday, even though I didn't have my passport. I walked through three checkpoints and the girl I was with had her passport, so I just walked behind her.
I love you all and can't believe that I'll be back in the States next month!

Monday, October 5, 2009


This week is a huge party in Jerusalem for the Feast of Tabernacles. There are little sukkahs everywhere on the sidewalks because Jews are supposed to eat and live in them, so businesses build them in the streets so that the Jewish people can party in public areas and still be in sukkahs. It is so fun to walk around the streets and hear live Jewish music and see all of these men dancing together.

This is a video of the Jewish men dancing on the street in the Jewish quarter of the Old City. They were having so much fun. I don't know why the women aren't allowed to dance, but they were all watching from the side. 

Monday, September 28, 2009

Student Activity Day

Yesterday (Saturday) was our “student activity day.” We took a 3 hour bus ride to Golan, a little bit past the Sea of Galilee, and went on a hike. We had packed lunches and a hot, sunny day.

This is Naomi, Jessica and I a little past the beginning of the hike down.

At the bottom of the valley, there was a waterfall. The water was freezing, but we managed to get into a little nook behind the waterfall and jump into the water.
On the climb back up, I used photo-ops as an excuse to stop and breathe before continuing to the top. 
This is when I was very close to the top. You can kind of see how far down the bottom of the valley is. It was definitely a hike back up.
And in case anyone is worried about my safety, don’t worry. All of the minefields that surrounded our hike were well marked with yellow signs and barbed wire.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Friday Field Study.

Last Friday, our class had a field study to Samaria. We went to Shechem, Mt. Gerazim, Samaria, and Shiloh.

This field study was not my favorite. It was mostly boring, and we spent a lot of time looking down onto the cities rather than being in them. So I’m not going to write about all of the places we went. Just the ones I’m going to post pictures of.

This is one of two towns in Samaria. Apparently there are only a couple hundred Samaritans and so they marry their cousins. Ew. Oh, and the big building in the back-right is a private home.

We also went to Mt. Gerizim. The gate was closed, so we had to go through the fence. I chose to go through the hole on the right, but some people wanted to go underneath.
My favorite place of the day was Jacob’s well. Scholars and archaeologists are pretty confident that this is the same well that Jesus sat at with the Samaritan woman. We got to draw and drink water from it. Unfortunately, no pictures were allowed at the actual well, so this picture will have to do.

Monday, September 21, 2009

In the Land of Benjamin.

*Many of you have commented about the brownness of my pictures. This is just to show you that some parts of the country are green. In this case, it is Jericho - a true oasis in the desert.

Anyways, we took a field trip day this Sunday to Benjamin. Our class started out walking through some of the Judean wilderness to get a feel for what it would have been like to travel between Jericho and Jerusalem - something Jesus did many times. This is our group walking up the ridges of the wilderness. 
Not exactly the kind of wilderness I pictured Jesus being tempted in, or the wilderness that the Israelites wandered around in for 40 years. We stopped at the top and had class. You know, in our normal, very brown, classroom. :)
On our way back from the top of the wilderness some of the Bedouins were waiting by our bus to try to sell us stuff. This man brought his camel to sell us camel rides. I didn't get a ride, but at least I got a picture.
After the Judean wilderness we spent most of the morning in Jericho - both the Old Testament and New Testament sites. We went to Herod the Great's winter palace in Jericho. As we walked around the ruins, Bedouin children came out and played with us. They were so cute!
Of course, we had to see the old walls of Jericho. (Go back and read the story, apparently the whole wall didn't fall down, maybe just a part of it.) Notice the palm trees in the background. The Bible calls Jericho the city of palms. 
Our last stop was at Gezer - the "front door" of Benjamin. Gezer is important because it gives Jerusalem access to the Coast and the trade routes to the sea port at Joppa. I didn't really get why these were important, but they are standing stones of some sort and no one really knows what they were for. After Dr. Wright made a comment about how girls were better at climbing them than guys were, some of the guys had to make sure that they were the first to get to the top.
The last thing we saw in Gezer was this city gate constructed under Solomon's reign. It had six little chambers inside and a casemate wall. This picture was taken after we took a group picture and then all began to explore the site.

Friday, September 18, 2009

It's been a while.

Ok. So I admit that I haven't been a very good blogger lately. I've decided that I hate taking pictures. I often forget that I should be taking them, and then its just annoying to have to dig in my backpack to find my camera and pull it out for one or two pictures at each place. But whatever, these pictures are from the limited amount that I took on our field study in the places immediately surrounding Jerusalem.

We started off at the Mount of Olives and saw these first century tombs on the hillside.

Then we headed to the traditional site of the garden of Gethsemane and saw all of the olive trees. There were a bunch of guys selling olive branches outside of the garden because people aren't allowed to pick them from inside.

After Gethsemane, our group hiked up the Herodian and stopped by Herod's palace.

After seeing Herod's palace, we went down into the cisterns and tunnels underneath. It was so deep and there were so many stairs. It felt kind of like a maze.

We made a group stop in the cistern to talk about the history of Herod and also to enjoy the coolness of the underground.

On the way to Bethlehem we stopped at an ancient threshing floor next to grain fields. It was so weird to have learned about these in Sunday School and then to actually be standing in one. This is probably only a little less than half of the one we went to.
Our last stop was Bethlehem where we visited the Church of the Nativity, which remembers the place where Christ was born. The entrance was super small, and only one person could go in at a time.

So that was our last field trip, and I'll hopefully be getting pictures from my hiking trip in En Gedi to post later. That's all folks!