Although this is a little delayed, I thought it would be good to post last week's events.
Saturday (Sabbath) - District Conference
These meetings were so neat! It was a combined conference with members of the Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, and Galilee branches and remarks from Elder and Sister Porter. They talked a lot about humility and following promptings of the Holy Ghost. The closing hymn in Relief Society was I Am a Child of God - a group of women took turns singing in their different languages, and we all joined in in English at the end. It was so neat.
In the free time we had in the afternoon, I visited the Garden Tomb and the Church of the Holy Sepulcher.
Monday - Free Day
A group of students bussed to Tel Aviv. We spent a lovely day on the Mediterranean beach and shopping around the flea market area of Jaffa. I really need to work on this bartering business; thankfully there was a male group member in the little shop with me when I found myself under the arm of the shopkeeper who was whispering in my ear, "You have beautiful eyelashes." Oh dear. Nothing bad would have happened . . . it's just comforting to know you have friends around in a situation like that. (Mom, Grandma, don't worry - they say things like that to everyone to try and get them to buy stuff.) And the beach -- um, it was warm! Crazy, novel concept: ocean water that doesn't induce hypothermia! But there weren't really any good waves, it was a tiny little crowded beach just right there in the city, and I decided that I think I actually prefer good old Newport with the Winters fam. :)
Tuesday -- Field Trip to Jericho
When Brother Harper asked us what was cool about the field trip, my immediate thought was, "Nothing. It was all hot." But despite the sun, it was an awesome trip. Now I can visualize the Old Testament city which was like an oasis in the midst of a desolate desert, and the wilderness where Elijah and Jesus wandered in solitude. I sure wouldn't have wanted to stay there for more than about fifteen minutes, let alone forty days.
Wednesday -- Classes
Also, a small group of us went to Omar's olive wood shop -- this was neat because he really caters to church members and treated us like his grandkids. He had pictures of himself with past prophets and carvings based on temple square statues and gospel art and Greg Olson images. Pretty neat.
Thursday - Field Trip to Garden Tomb / Classes
The Garden Tomb is in a beautiful, peaceful garden maintained by some British Christian group. I really appreciated how they emphasized that, while there is lots of speculation as to exactly where the crucifixion, burial, and resurrection took place, where these events occurred is not nearly as important as the truth that they occurred.
Friday - Classes
I also spent a little time in the city, and then went to movie night: Part 2 of The Ten Commandments. Good old Moses. It's so much more fun to watch when we've all been reading and studying Exodus, and also when kids shout out, "hey look!- they're eating pitas! . . . with Nutella!" (a staple of our Oasis cafeteria).
Saturday -- Sabbath
Church, walk to the Garden of Gethsemane (the group of kids I was with got in to an area of the garden that they don't let most tourists into, because we're Mormons - we have a good reputation here. We took turns reading from the atonement accounts in the gospels. It was really neat.), amazing fireside with Brother Skinner on the Atonement (this was incredible).