I have posted pictures and given a little bit of information, but I don't think I've actually written much about what I'm experiencing. We have been surrounded by a couple of famous individuals the last two days. The Pope has been living next door to us as of yesterday and tonight we had dinner with Governor Hunstman, the governor of Utah. He spoke to us after dinner, along with the Attorney General of Utah, General Shurtliff (I'm not sure if you're suppose to call him general actually...). Our already intense security has reached a whole new level filled with really intimidating guns and lots of soldiers.
I guess that wasn't really much about my experience, more just about my current surroundings. Yesterday we went to Jericho. My favorite part was seeing the sycamore tree that Zacchaeus climbed up order to get a better view of Christ (because he was too short...). Christ recognized him through the crowd, and despite his reputation as a sinner, Christ invited Himself over to Zacchaeus' house for dinner. Zacchaeus was a rich man, possibly as wealthy as the rich young man who approached Christ the chapter previous, but unlike the rich young man Christ told Zacchaeus that on that day, salvation had come to his house. The difference between the two was that the young man loved money while Zacchaeus gave half of his wealth to the poor.
I suppose the sycamore tree gave me my first experience here of the scriptures coming alive. I could almost see Christ making his way down the street and calling this man, who simply desired a glimpse of the Savior, by name.
On Friday night we had the opportunity to go to the Western Wall and see the Jews welcome in Shabat (Sabbath). I didn't expect to see what I did or be effected the way I was by witnessing and being a part of that celebration. It really was a celebration. The men were singing and dancing. The women weren't quite as active, but they were definitely showing their devotion to their religion in ways that I had never done in my own life. The Western Wall is one of the few walls of the temple left, and it's not even technically a wall of the temple, but a retaining wall. It is, however, the closest thing left standing to the Holy of Holies. This is all they have for a temple. In my religion, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, we have over 120 temples spread across the world in various convenient locations and I still have a hard time making it to the temple as frequently as these Jews make it to one wall of their twice destroyed House of the Lord.
The next day we went to the Garden Tomb, where Christ's body was lain and where He rose on the 3rd day. We also saw Golgotha, where it is believed that Christ was crucified. These two very sacred locations are located right next to each other, in a beautiful garden, miraculously set off from the crazy busy streets of Jerusalem. There was definitely a unique spirit there and its location, along with the proximity of the Garden of Gethsemane, allows me to visit there as frequently as I like (as long as I have two other people and don't go after dark or before 3 on Fridays... :) After learning about crucifixion and the pain that is involved that I did not even understand or comprehend prior to our visit, my awareness of my Saviors love for me and all the children of God has increased. However, I am still lacking in understanding.
Well that was my little note for the last two weeks. I will try and continue sharing what I'm learning and maybe post some more pictures before I go to Egypt on Sunday. I love you all, thanks for your love and support! I hope you're doing well!