BYU Jerusalem Center 2009
Reflections of Jerusalem By Study and Also by Faith
Jerusalem Center Alumni Summer 2009
To those of our children, grandchildren and beyond who read this book: Thank you for giving us the hope and the motivation to not only make the most of our experience, but also make the most out of sharing it. We hope our memories will inspire you to create and, in turn, share your own.
Table of Contents INTRODUCTION.................................................................... 10 PASTURES, PATRIARCHS, AND PASSOVER ...................................... 14 Mesopotamia................................................................ 15 Egypt ............................................................................. 19 Genesis.......................................................................... 29 Exodus........................................................................... 31 CONQUESTS AND KINGDOMS...................................................... 35 Conquest ....................................................................... 37 Canaanites .................................................................... 40 Philistines ...................................................................... 43 Phoenicians................................................................... 46 The United Kingdom ..................................................... 48 The Divided Kingdoms................................................... 52 Assyrians ....................................................................... 54 EXILE & RETURN ...................................................................... 57 Neo-Babylonians........................................................... 58 Exile............................................................................... 63 Cyrus and the Jews........................................................ 67 Hellenism ...................................................................... 71 Hasmonean Maccabees: a lesson in redundancy ......... 76 Runninâ€™ with the Romans.............................................. 80 MERIDIAN OF TIME: THE FOUR GOSPELS ...................................... 83 The Jewish Context........................................................ 84 Nativity ......................................................................... 88
Preparing for the Ministry............................................. 91 The Final Week.............................................................. 94
DESTRUCTION, DIASPORA, & DEVELOPMENT OF ISLAM ................... 98 The Great Revolt ........................................................... 99 Development of Sacred Literature .............................. 101 Bar Kokhba Revolt....................................................... 104 Diaspora...................................................................... 105 Development of Islam ................................................. 107 MODERNITY: THE PALESTINIAN-ISRAELI CONFLICT ........................ 108 Zionism........................................................................ 109 World War I and the British Mandate ........................ 111 Independence and Nakhba ......................................... 112 Judaism ....................................................................... 114 TRANSITION ....................................................................... 115 PEOPLE............................................................................... 120 PLACES ............................................................................... 202 POETRY .............................................................................. 333 PRINCIPLES......................................................................... 368 EPILOGUE........................................................................... 438
Introduction And upon these I write the things of my soul, and many of the scriptures which are engraven upon the plates of brass. For my soul delighteth in the scriptures, and my heart pondereth them, and writeth them for the learning and the profit of my children. Behold, my soul delighteth in the things of the Lord; and my heart pondereth continually upon the things which I have seen and heard. -2 Nephi 4:15-16-
n one bright, sunny day in July, seventy nine students gathered on the Mount of Beatitudes to read, study, and ponder the Savior’s Sermon on the Mount. Although two thousand years separated us from the days when Christ himself sat upon that very hill, the same spirit that inspired those pressing multitudes spoke to our hearts as well. “Ye are the salt of the earth; but if the salt hath lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted?.. Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid… Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your Father which is in Heaven” (Matt. 5:14-17).
The Jerusalem Center is, indeed, a city set upon a hill, and its foundation bears testimony of the role which it
plays in giving light to all the world. In the face of fierce opposition from both the government and local religious communities, church leaders persevered in their pursuit of the property and permit necessary to build the Jerusalem Center. When the mayor of Jerusalem, Teddy Collick, asked President James E. Faust and President Jeffrey R. Holland of Brigham Young University about their determination to build on that particular tract of land, they expressed their willingness to “see the thing through to the end.” Years later, their heaven-inspired vision was realized when the Jerusalem Center was opened to students in 1987. With the arrival of the students the light was kindled, and it is our responsibility to see that it continues to burn. Just as the life of a candle’s flame depends on its ability to burn, so too the savor of our experiences at Jerusalem depends on our ability to let that light shine unto the world. The four short months we have had in the Holy Land have been an important period of preparation for all of us. Although we cannot yet know what the Lord has in store for us individually, we can trust that all things are in His hands, and that His plans and timing are infallible. As we learn in Doctrine and Covenants 88: 80, in order “that ye may be prepared in all things when I shall send you again to magnify the calling whereunto I have called you, and the mission with which I have commissioned you,” we must remember the lessons we have learned. As we do so, we will be blessed to use these experiences to invite others to come unto Christ in all that we do. However, if
we seek instead to hide the light of our experiences under a bushel, the “salt [will] have lost its savour” and would be “thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men” (Matt. 5:13). As we choose to righteously remember our experiences, they will bring the savor of salvation to our lives and the lives of our posterity as well. As President Eyring taught in the October 2009 General Conference, the Lord “has not given you these experiences for you alone, but for your children. Write them down!” (“O Remember, Remember”) Our experiences in Jerusalem are to be shared, and it is to that work that we are called. Yet, when we die, the story of our lives will live on as retold by our children. In order to make that possible, we must follow President Eyring’s counsel and write down what has been so graciously given to us. In the Book of Mormon, the Mulekites teach us of the importance of written records. Because they refused to keep a record of their divinely-given experiences, they lost not only their grasp of language but also their faith. The Lord has promised us that, “Whatsoever [we] shall speak when moved upon by the Holy Ghost shall be scripture, shall be the will of the Lord, shall be the mind of the Lord, shall be the word of the Lord, shall be the voice of the Lord, and the power of God unto salvation” (D&C 68:4) As we take the initiative to record the knowledge and experiences we have gained in the Holy Land, the concrete words provide these experiences with a certain power that will enable them to testify with force to the hearts of
Pastures, Patriarchs, and Passover And he loveth those who will have him to be their God. Behold, he loved our fathers, and he covenanted with them, yea, even Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; and he remembered the covenants which he had made; wherefore, he did bring them out of the land of Egypt. -1 Nephi 17:40-
e, as saints of the latter days, are inseparably connected with our forefathers. The blessings of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob have been newly restored in our dispensation, and so we are entitled by virtue of our sacred covenants to the same blessings given to our fathers of old. In honor of this restoration of anciently promised blessings, William W. Phelps penned these words: â€œThe Spirit of God like a fire is burning, The latter-day glory begins to come forth; The visions and blessings of old are returning, And angels are coming to visit the earth.â€?
As Saints of God in the last dispensation, we are the recipients of such glorious promises of old. In order to understand these promises, we must first come to understand those who first received them in antiquity; namely, the patriarchs of old. If we learn of them and the historical context that surrounded them, we will, by our faith, come to comprehend our own covenants more deeply; for that same God who preserved them in the
wilderness of Egypt and Mesopotamia still preserves us, His latter-day people. Mesopotamia And Terah took Abram his son, and Lot the son of Haran his son’s son, and Sarai his daughter in law, his son Abram’s wife; and they went forth with them from Ur of the Chaldees, to go into the land of Canaan; and they came unto Haran, and dwelt there. -Genesis 11:31
Mesopotamia has come to be known as the cradle of civilization. Its priesthood to pagan gods pioneered Cuneiform script, renowned as the first organized writing system in world history. These same priests built colossal ziggurats: temples to their gods whose construction was motivated by the fear of their whimsical wrath. Mesopotamian civilization even created the world’s first written code of law. This was a people that lived in fear: constant fear of the unpredictable wrath of the divine, whether for good or ill. Yet, this proved a powerful motivator, as it moved them to create so many of history’s firsts. Yet, among these fearful and frenzied minds lived Abraham; the patriarch of Islam, Judaism and Christianity. The culture and laws of ancient Mesopotamia, therefore, had a significant effect on those of Abraham and his family. And so we, as his covenant posterity, must consider our study of this ancient civilization vital. •
Means “between the rivers” (i.e. the Tigris and Euphrates)
• • •
Mood/outlook was profoundly pessimistic Projected this negative outlook to the gods and the afterlife Pantheon o Anu = sky god, head of pantheon o Inana = fertility/mother earth Most beloved god; life depended on fertility o Enlil = sky/storm/war god Role of Temple o Center of religious society o Built to imitate sacred mountains = intersection of heaven and earth Enters Hebrew culture: temple “mount” and “mountain of the Lord's house” o “Ziggurat” = Akkadian “high place” o 5 outgrowths of the temple Writing (cuneiform) Literature (religious myths) School Mathematics (accounts of temple donations, etc.) Weights/measures and a lunar calendar Sargon I o Created Mesopotamian empire o Story about being put in a reed basket on the river, taken out by the “drawer of water,” favored by the goddess Ishtar, becomes a king (sounds like Moses) Gudea of Lagash o Apex of the Ur III Dynasty o A great temple-builder o Refers to his own reign as “the shepherding of the people” = first instance of this idea
Mesopotamia = context for Abraham Babylon o Marduk = patron deity, creator of the world o Enuma Elish (“when on high”) = Babylonian creation myth o Parallels with Genesis Creation = organization of pre-existing matter Creation = an act of divine speech World is formless and void Night and day precede luminous bodies whose function is to regulate time Gods consult before creating mankind Creation of man followed by a period of divine rest Hittites o Indo-European o Fertility cults o Iron technology o Some of them filtered into Palestine and settled o Connection to the Bible Machpelah bought from Hittites (Gen 23) Ezek 16:3, 45 - “your father was an Amorite, your mother was a Hittite” Esau's marriage (Gen 36:2)
Egypt Now the first government of Egypt was established by Pharaoh, the eldest son of Egyptus, the daughter of Ham, and it was after the manner of the government of Ham, which was patriarchal. Pharaoh, being a righteous man, established his kingdom and judged his people wisely and justly all his days, seeking earnestly to imitate that order established by the fathers in the first generations, in the days of the first patriarchal reign, even in the reign of Adam, and also of Noah, his father, who blessed him with the blessings of the earth, and with the blessings of wisdom, but cursed him as pertaining to the Priesthood. -Abraham 1:25-26
Ever since our first trips to the library in elementary school, the images of ancient Egypt have formed part of our imagination and wonder of antiquity. More than any other place we visited as part of our travels in the Holy Land, Egypt awoke within all of us a sense of childlike wonder with its timeless majesty. Egypt is inseparably connected with the Gospel of both the Old and New Testaments. The same pyramids that stand today were already hundreds of years old when father Abraham visited Egypt during his own lifetime. The great prophet Joseph ruled this great land second only to Pharaoh himself. The Lord brought the children of Israel from here to the promised land using mighty Moses as his tool. Much later, Mary and Joseph fled from Herodâ€™s wrath with the young Jesus to live in Egyptâ€™s land for a time. To know Egypt and its symbolism is to know the greatest imitation of divine truth, for such is the basis of
all Egyptian religion. The sacred images depicted on the walls of its temples teach us how important our covenants are today. If one of the world’s greatest civilizations went to such great lengths to memorialize a cheap imitation of the Gospel in rock and stone, we must be willing to do much more with the truths that we have been given, though it may require a sacrifice far greater than that which the Pharaohs paid for their pyramids. As we think of those colossal structures and intricate inscriptions built in a time nearly immemorial, whether from a book or a museum or in Egypt itself, the voices of the ancients cry out to us, “Remember, remember!”. That, after all, is Egypt’s great message to us: remember your fathers, remember your Savior, and remember your faith. • • •
Mood/outlook was confident, optimistic, and pragmatic This outlook = a favorable view of the afterlife Preoccupation: Eternal Life o Addressed letters to dead relatives o Ankh = life, even eternity One of the most common hieroglyphs o Scarab = dung beetle, rising and setting of sun = life, rejuvenation, resurrection, immortality Scarab = KHEPHRI = from the word meaning “to become, coming into existence” o Every Pharaoh is Horus; when they die, they become an Osiris o The physical form of the body is required for eternal life
Ma'at = truth, harmony, balance, justice, righteousness Egyptians believed in a final judgment for all individuals o Heart weighed against the feather of Ma'at o Moses was well aware of this ceremony (Ex 7:3; 10:1 = “I will cause/allow Pharaoh's heart to be heavy”) Ba & Ka o Ba = psychic force (what LDS would call the “intelligence”) o Ka = invisible, incorporeal twin (what LDS would call the “spirit body”) Upper/Lower Egypt o Symbols of Upper Egypt White crown Lotus crown Vulture goddess o Symbols of Lower Egypt Papyrus Honey bee (deshret) Red crown Cobra (uraeus) o Unified under Menes/Narmer Memphis also called Hi-ku-ptah (place of Ptah) Greek “Aegyptus” or “Egypt” Achievements o Irrigation o Observational astronomy o 365-day solar calendar o Physiology and medicine o Hieroglyphic writing (“sacred writing”) Pharaoh o = living God on earth
Religious Thought o Pantheaon Pharaoh = Horus, son of Osiris and Isis Amun-Re = sun god Ptah = creator-God Thoth = wisdom and writing Apis = strength, power, and fertility (represented by a bull, Gen 49:24; “gods” is in italics, because the Hebrew actually reads “bull”) o Heb-Sed Festival Rejuvenation/renewal of Pharaoh's power Also known as the “feast of the tail” • Pharaoh performed athletic feats while wearing clothing with a tail attached • It's a vestige of a ceremonial robe consisting of a complete animal skin • Idea of a coat of skin as an emblem of power and authority o Chief priest also wore skin; if he ascended in the ranks, he would change the skin from his left to right shoulder, the tail still attached o Opening of the Mouth Ceremony Performed on the mouth, nose, and ears to ensure proper functioning in the eternities Performed on dead person or statues Pyramids o Oriented to the compass o Sloping sides to represent the king's journey of ascent to be with the gods in heaven o Pyramid = intersection of heaven and earth
The Temple: A Preliminary Typology 1. The temple is the architectural embodiment of the cosmic mountain. 2. The cosmic mountain represents the primordial hillock, the place which first emerged from the waters that covered the earth during the creative process. 3. The temple is often associated with the waters of life which flow from a spring within the building itself â€“ or rather the temple is viewed as incorporating within itself such a spring or as having been built upon the spring. 4. The temple is associated with the tree of life. 5. The temple is built on separate, sacral, set-apart space. 6. The temple is oriented toward the four world regions or cardinal directions, and to various celestial bodies such as the polar star. 7. Temples, in their architectonic orientation, express the idea of a successive ascension toward heaven. 8. The plan and measurements of the temple are revealed by God to the King or prophet, and the plan must be carefully carried out. 9. The temple is the central, organizing, unifying institution in ancient Near Eastern society. a. The temple is associated with abundance and prosperity; indeed, it is perceived as the giver of these. b. The destruction or loss of the temple is seen as calamitous and fatal to the community in which the temple has stood.
10. Inside the temple, images of deities as well as living kings, temple preiests, and worshippers are washed, anointed, clothed, fed, enthroned, and symbolically initiated into the presence of deity, and thus into eternal life. 11. The temple is associated with the realm of the dead, the underworld, the afterlife, the grave. 12. Sacral, comunal meals are carried out in connection with temple ritual, often at the conclusion of or during a covenant ceremony. 13. The tablets of destiny (or tablets of the decrees) are consulted in the cosmic sense by the gods, and yearly in a special temple chamber, uksukinna in the temple of Eninnu in the time of the Sumerian king Gudea of Lagash. 14. Godâ€™s word is revealed in the temple, usually ini the holy of holies, to priest or prophets attached to the temple or to the religious system that it represents. 15. There is a close interrelationship between the temple and law in the ancient Near East. 16. The temple is a place of sacrifice. 17. The temple and is ritual are enshrouded in secrecy. 18. The temple and its cult are central to the economic structure of ancient Near Eastern society. 19. The temple plays a legitimizing political role in the ancient Near East. 20. The temple is a place of importuning and prayer (often with upraised arms)
Some Ancient Egyptian Concepts which Reflect Echoes of Truth 1. Obsession with Eternal Life (ankh) 2. Osiris is the Lord of resurrection; to gain eternal life is to become Osiris 3. Passing into the presence of the gods involves a Great Judgment and satisfying sentinels with correct information 4. Ritual washings/anointings to make one pure 5. Ritual clothing in ceremonies associated with Eternal Life 6. Gods investing humans with power and authority 7. Representations of the ultimate “good” deity and the ultimate “evil” deity be a serpent 8. Importance of a priesthood serving in their temples (high priests wore special clothing) 9. The ox or bull as a representation of deity (Ramses II is “strong ox” cf. Hebrew text of Genesis 49:26) 10. Supernatural birth of gods and kings (from the Pyramid of Unas at Saqqara, the first line of the Pyramid Texts reads: “Recitation by NUT, the greatly beneficent: the King is my eldest son, who Split open my womb; he is my beloved, with I am well pleased”) 11. Temples with gradations of holiness (Holy of Holies is the most sacred and symbolically elevated) 12. Amon/Amun as the name of the head of the gods
13. Gods represented in family units (especially note Luxor Temple); the gods were a pattern for mortals 14. Importance of family life: “While there was considerable difference in the housing of the upper and lower and middle classes, this did not apply to the family. Monogamy was the rule in Ancient Egypt. Only the Pharaoh had one or more harems…but this did not in the least undermine the husband-wife relationship. All were based on deeply felt family ties…the mother never lost her position of goddess of the hearth, in other words the ‘goddess Isis of the house,’ reciprocal affect was reinforced, and ‘respect for the father’ and the filial affection for the mother were the cardinal virtues which were to remain throughout the centuries to come. Aside from individual faults and moral defects which have always characterized humanity, these were the ideals and moral principles shared by all, even by the pharaoh, and which all had to account for when the soul passed judgment in the hereafter, a belief firmly held by all. The husband is reminded: ‘if you are wise, remain home, love your wife tenderly, nourish and clothe her well, but also heap caresses on her and comply with her desires. If you turn her away your family will fall apart, instead open your arms, call her, show her all your love.’ In painted scenes, as early as 2400 B.C., the wife is always shown next to her husband, with all their children, even when the
lord receives his subordinates, when he takes part in feasts and dances, and when he goes fishing with the harpoon along the Nile or hunting with the boomerang in the swamps and at the edge of the desert. The couple are shown playing chess together at the end of the day. Even there where tribal power prevailed and the wife was not as influential, husband and wife were joined by a bond of tender affection and partook of that great love which Isis is to Osiris.â€? (The Art and History of Ancient Egypt, 30.) 15. The tree of life image (many examples) 16. Where did these ideas originate? The patriarch Abraham tells us in his first-person account containing his sojourn in Egypt. See Abraham 1:25-27.
Genesis And I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee. And I will give unto thee, and to thy seed after thee, the land wherein thou art a stranger, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God. And God said unto Abraham, Thou shalt keep my covenant therefore, thou, and thy seed after thee in their generations. -Genesis 17:7-9
We often wonder about the apparent difference between what we have come to call the God of the Old Testament and the God of the New. They, as we know, are one in the same, even Jesus Christ, the great Jehovah. Yet, to say that He was brutal and merciless in the Old Testament is neither fair nor accurate, for the great majority of the Old Testament is based on a relatively short period of history under the Mosaic Law, which began with Israel’s unworthy denial of the fullness of the Gospel at Mount Sinai. However, for thousands of years before that moment, Jehovah interacted with His people who were willing to live the higher law of the Gospel in its fullness. In order to understand the unchanging nature of the loving Savior of the world, we need to study the limited records we have in the book of Genesis, which tell us of a loving God’s dealings with His children before Israel’s disastrous fall at Sinai. •
Validations and Illuminations of a “Patriarchal
Age” - tablets from Mari, Nuzi, and Ebla Customs o “Servant adoption” - i.e. Abraham and Eliezer (Gen 15, 24) o Concubine in case of childlessness (Gen 16, 21) o Firstborn as birthright son (Gen 48) Unless he participated in questionable behavior, in which case the father could choose any son he wished o Arranging marriages (Gen 24) o The household “gods” or images (Gen 31) Wills refer to these as symbols of ownership, power, wealth, and authority Not idolatrous—symbolic o Selling of one's birthright (Gen 25) o Pronouncing blessings (Gen 48, 49) o Wife-sister motif (Gen 12) Legal adoption of wife as sister → higher social and legal status Names o Common patriarchal names o Personal names with “Y/I” prefix (ex: Yitzhaq, Yishmael, Yisrael, and Ya'akov) Conditions o Multi-king alliances o Nomadic lifestyle Extensive travel Price of slaves o Recompense for a slave (Ex 21:32) = 30 shekels Joseph – 20 shekels = price of a slave in Hammurabi's code Menachem – recompense = 50–60 shekels – right in line with the Assyrian empire
Exodus And the LORD said, I have surely seen the affliction of my people which are in Egypt, and have heard their cry by reason of their taskmasters; for I know their sorrows; And I am come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land unto a good land and a large, unto a land flowing with milk and honey; unto the place of the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and the Amorites, and the Perizzites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites. -Exodus 3:7-8
Our study of the Exodus as Latter-Day Saints is not a study of the historical migration of a people, but of a deeply symbolic representation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Every step of the journey represented a step toward the rest of the Lord; toward the promised land of His divine presence. The wilderness of Sinai was a period of purification and preparation: purification in order to receive the law of the Lord, and preparation in order to receive the divine gift that was the promised land of Israel. We, in our daily battle to look on lifeâ€™s trials with a positive eye and a thankful heart, are not too different from the children of Israel as they murmured their way through the desert behind faithful Moses. In order to prevent the same fall that awaited Israel at the foot of Mount Sinai, we must learn of their journey, learn of them, and thus learn of ourselves. â€˘
Hyksos o Shepherd-kings who invade and take control of Egypt
Part of Northwest Semitic people of Amorite stock o Semitic names resembling the patriarchs of the Bible (ex: Jacob-el) o Establish capital at Tanis/Avaris (later Ramses' capital) o Have “large stature and build” unlike the Mediterranean features of the Egyptians o Pottery has the name of their god: “Yahu”, Yahweh Possible that the Hebrews get caught in the middle of the fighting between the Hyksos and the Egyptians Exodus 1:8 – a perfect setting for Joseph of Egypt Ramses II = the Pharaoh of the Exodus o Building projects, economic pressure on Egypt, infrastructure suffers, weakened resolve to keep the Israelites enslaved o Israelite settlement in Goshen (Gen 45:10) Ramses is a name attached to Goshen (Gen 47:11) o Pithom and Ramses (Ex 1:11) o Israelites left from the region of Pi-ramses (Ex 12:37) o Building projects, need for mud bricks o Papyrus mentions the 'apiru (sounds like “Hebrew”) o Papyrus mentions runaway slaves – shows that there are slaves in that area trying to escabe o Papyrus mention tribes coming into Egypt during a drought/famine o Coastal Route (“way of . . . the Philistines” - Ex 13:17) o
During Ramses II, Egyptian military outposts along the Way of the Sea o Ramses II ruled for 67 years â€“ plenty of time to see the Exodus The plagues o 2 purposes Humble Egyptian leadership Teach the Israelites o Each of the plagues attacked a major Egyptian deity The Nile The frog-deity (= resurrection) etc.
Conquests and Kingdoms And David my servant shall be king over them; and they all shall have one shepherd: they shall also walk in my judgments, and observe my statutes, and do them. And they shall dwell in the land that I have given unto Jacob my servant, wherein your fathers have dwelt; and they shall dwell therein, even they, and their children, and their childrenâ€™s children for ever: and my servant David shall be their prince for ever. -Ezekiel 37:24-25-
he Lord chose a people in antiquity and separated them from the rest of the world. He did so not to exclude the rest of His children, but to protect that which had been given to those who were worthy and willing to accept His gospel. This people, set apart by their covenants with the Lord, were organized into the kingdom of God on earth. Theirs was a kingdom of God at the first, with the great Jehovah at its head. He was their king, the Prince of Peace, and it was He who led the camp of the Israelites in their battles of righteousness. He led them through a sea of enemies not to mindlessly destroy their brethren, but to sanctify the land in preparation for the building up of His kingdom there. Had the Israelites kept their covenants and obeyed the commandments of the Lord, theirs would have been a never-ending kingdom of peace and happiness, forever and ever.
But such was not the case. Shortly after their deliverance from the Egyptians and their successful conquest of Canaan, the Israelites forgot their rightful King and begged the prophet Samuel for a man to take His place. A man. This was the beginning of the end for the Lord’s kingdom on earth in that dispensation. Saul was chosen, only to be replaced by King David shortly thereafter. With his fall, Solomon’s wisdom brought Israel’s kingdom to its greatest majesty, only to fail at his death. With the kingdom of God now divided by the petty disagreements of men, it was only a matter of time before the great empires of Assyria and Babylon destroyed what little might remained. The tribes of Israel’s kingdom were lost, and the Jews were taken captive into Babylon with the images of the temple’s destruction engraved on their hearts. The kingdom of God is again on the earth today, now with the promise that it will never leave us again. It is for us to become the chosen people of the Lord, but we must elect to be so. We must choose to be chosen, and by our righteous efforts the Lord will find us worthy of His eternal covenants. Let us remember the ancient kingdom of God, set apart from the world, and its great and terrible fall. Through the faithful efforts of the Saints, the Kingdom of God will not only stand firm, but shall roll forth until it fills the whole earth. Let us live with these promises in our hearts, remember Christ as the one true King of this kingdom, and let the memory of fallen Israel never be repeated.
Conquest NOW after the death of Moses the servant of the LORD it came to pass, that the LORD spake unto Joshua the son of Nun, Moses’ minister, saying, Moses my servant is dead; now therefore arise, go over this Jordan, thou, and all this people, unto the land which I do give to them, even to the children of Israel. Every place that the sole of your foot shall tread upon, that have I given unto you, as I said unto Moses. -Joshua 1:1-3
The idea of receiving a promised land of the Lord is a thread that runs throughout ancient scripture. It is especially significant in our understanding of the Gospel canon because it forms the basis of Book of Mormon history. God has always chosen to separate His people from the worldliness that unfortunately surrounds them on all sides. In the case of the Book of Mormon, He chose to carry a chosen branch of Joseph’s posterity unto a far away land that had been set apart and saved for that express purpose. In the Old Testament, the Lord gave the children of Israel the land of Israel and commanded them to make it a place in which righteousness could exist independently of the world around it. Today, though not speaking of t physical separation, we are commanded to live in the world but not of the world, and thus teach our children in safety, just as the Israelites of old, the Gospel of the Lamb. •
Exodus - A small group throw off servitude and become a nation amidst their desert wanderings = birth of “Israel” Nation is born; constitution = Mosaic Law
Sinai = covenant/treaty with Jehovah Exodus 20–23 – the “covenant code” Terms include: Regulation of social and economic spheres Establishment of a judicial system Careful outlining of forms of religious ritual Program/policy of national defense Outline of expected behavior of the monarch o Land is part of the covenant/treaty o Role of Jehovah = King/monarch Move into Canaan—Gilgal as base Palestine = in confusion in the wake of the collapse of Egyptian and Hittite empires 3 successive campaigns/stages in unleashing the conquest Tactics o Listen to Jehovah o Take seriously God's plan to conquer the land in stages o Herem From the Hebrew root HRM = sanctity, separate Both a category and an action Prohibited from common contact, or consecrated to god/king Underpinning of holy war • Canaanites were such a destructive influence that they had to be taken out of common contact with the Israelites Principle of Israel/Canaan interactions: Exodus 23:7-9, Deut 20:10-13 o Treat foreigners with great respect Even to the point of helping them financially! Lev 19:33-34; 25:35 o Give them a chance to repent Holy war is based on the foundation by a merciful god for a just and merciful commonwealth
o o o
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Canaanites And it came to pass, when Israel was strong, that they put the Canaanites to tribute, and did not utterly drive them out. And the anger of the LORD was hot against Israel; and he said, Because that this people hath transgressed my covenant which I commanded their fathers, and have not hearkened unto my voice; I also will not henceforth drive out any from before them of the nations which Joshua left when he died: That through them I may prove Israel, whether they will keep the way of the LORD to walk therein, as their fathers did keep it, or not. -Judges 1:28, 2:20-22
The Canaanites were the inhabitants of what would become the promised land for the children of Israel. The Lord commanded the Israelite armies, upon first entering their lands, to make them an offering of peace if they would but live in accordance to the principles of righteousness. When they refused to forsake their sins and live in peace with the Israelites, the people of God were commanded to conquer them. Such a commandment did not come from a vengeful God with destructive motives, but rather was given as a precautionary measure of protecting His chosen people. The Lord wanted His covenant people to live far away from the evil influences of paganism so as to preserve the purity of His law and doctrine. Yet, the Israelites did not listen, and in the end did not destroy all of the Canaanites with whom they came in contact. Later on, they paid the price, and the purity of the Lordâ€™s covenant was lost as they mingled their religious practices with the worship of the dumb idols of the Canaanites. Instead of obeying the Lordâ€™s commands
with exactness, care turned into tolerance, tolerance became acceptance, and acceptance became dependence. •
Northwest semitic o Abraham is Northeast semitic—similar cognates Evince many Old Testament customs Culture o Heavy Egyptian and Mesopotamian influences o Traders Great exporters of timber Leaders in textile and purple dye industries • “Canaan” comes from an ancient word meaning “purple” • Purple dye from mollusks growing on the Mediterranean seashore Greatest legacy/crowning achievement = writing o Evolves into an alphabet o Evolves even further into letters o Phoenicians pick it up and spread it all over the world o It's this alphabet that we use today! Ugarit/Ras Shamra tablets tell a lot about culture Religion o Debasing; tied to fertility cults o Pantheon El = father god, inactive role Ba'al = chief and active deity; name means “Lord” (“husband” in Hebrew); ancient semitic storm god; reigns on a mountain peak in the north and wields lightning bolts; resurrection deity (renewal of the seasons, agricultural cycle)
Asherah & Anat = female deities; fluid in personality and function; female aspect of the fertility cult; sometimes also depicted as bloodthirsty goddesses of war Parallels o Ba'al & Jehovah – shared characteristics Jehovah is also a storm god (rides on clouds, etc.) Shared titles: El Shaddai, El Elyon, Bull of Jacob, etc. o Ba'al & Jehovah – difference Jehovah displays moral rectitude o Families of the Gods Cult Practices o Death and resurrection of Ba'al enacted every year Sacred plays/rituals → rejuvenation of nature o Sacred prostitution
A reenactment of the rejuvenation of the earth
Associated with the temple cult Hebrews and Canaanites o The culture of the Canaanites was encountered by Abraham and his posterity o It was both impressive and insidious o Conflict between Jehovah and Ba'al Canaanites are everywhere—a very pervasive religion The behaviors they espouse are those that human beings don't need encouragement to follow—Satan is constantly tempting us with precisely those alluring practices
Pantheons of Ancient Near Eastern Religions as Compared to the Ancient Israelite Godhead Father/
Philistines Therefore David ran, and stood upon the Philistine, and took his sword, and drew it out of the sheath thereof and slew him, and cut off his head therewith. And when the Philistines saw their champion was dead, they fled. -1 Samuel 17:51
The Philistines are a timeless symbol of the insurmountable. A young King David, with nothing more than a few small stones and his faith in the living God, faced Goliath, the greatest warrior among all the Philistines. Though the culminating battle of this great civilization against the Israelites resulted in such a powerful and symbolic event in scriptural history, there was much more to the Philistines than the defeat of their champion at the hands of a faithful Israelite boy. These were a people who, much like the Israelites themselves, were foreigners settling in the lands of Canaan. Yet, the great difference between the two was, of course, their religion. The paganism of Philistia proved unworthy of meriting the same divine help that the children of Israel received as they obeyed the commandments of the living God through His living prophets. Still, whenever the Israelites faltered in their obedience, they became equal to the Philistines and, losing the support of the one true God, fell to these conquering sea peoples. • •
Name = p-l-sh = “to go through, roll in, invade” Amos 9:7 - “Caphtor” = Crete o Descendants of Greek-speaking Mycenaeans
The Mycenaean Connection o Warlike and aggressive o Invade Minoan territory → Minoan influence Take to the sea Art, architecture, customs o Gain supremacy of the Mediterranean o 1200 BC more warlike people (Dorian Greeks) displace them o join a league (“Sea People”) invade ANE Egyptian contact o Ramses III repulses the major invasion, resettles them in Gaza 5 cities (“pentapolis”): Gaza, Gath, Ekron, Ashdod, Ashkelon Religion and language o Borrowers Including aspects of Israelite culture (Hebrew loan words) o 3 main deities Dagon = god of the sea; Hebrew “fish”; sometimes depicted as Neptune; cult centers at Beth Shean and Gaza Ashteroth Baalzebub = “Lord of the flies”; Ekron Legacy o Philistia=name “Palestine” for the region o Metallurgy: steel Advantage over the Israelites 1 Sam 13:19-22 • They jealously guarded this technology
Phoenicians And Hiram king of Tyre sent messengers to David, and cedar trees, and carpenters, and masons: and they built David an house. -2 Samuel 5:11 Though similar in name, take care not to let the Phoenicians be confused with the Philistines. While the Philistines themselves dwelt in the south near modern-day Gaza, the Phoenicians lived north of Israel in the region around what is now the modern state of Lebanon. These were a branch of Canaanites, the native inhabitants of the Promised Land, that became sea-farers in an effort to improve trade and commerce. Once again in contrast to the Philistines, the Phoenicians were not a military threat or strength to Israel by any means. Instead, their strength was economic because their trade routes extended throughout the Mediterranean. This commercial wealth, allowed to flourish with a divine purpose, eventually assisted King Solomon in his construction of the Temple. And thus we see that the Lord has brought about His divine purposes through the establishment of kingdoms, nations and civilizations throughout history. •
• • •
Greek phoinike o From the shellfish that grew on the coastal region → dye o Very expensive dye → associations with royalty o Same word as “Canaan” “Canaan” = what the native/indigenous people called themselves The Greeks gave them the name “Phoenicia” Canaanites = Phoenicians; Phoenicians are sea-going Canaanites, NOT Philistines 4 small city-states: Beirut, Byblos, Tyre, Sidon Not militarily strong, but economically → great
influence in the Mediterranean region Influence o First great navigators in the world Charted sea routes First to use the north star for navigation at night o Alphabet Spread the 22-letter Canaanite alphabet around the world o Colonization Most famous: Carthage Biblical Connections o King David Timber and workmen from Hiram → palace (2 Sam 5) Hiram was the first to accord the kingdom of David international status/recognition Mutually beneficial relationship • Israel dominates the land routes to Tyre and other city-states with harbors • Phoenicians also became dependent on Israel for agricultural produce (see 2 Chr 2:10) The hand of God works in this relationship • Israelite customs and religion are transported throughout the region o King Solomon Palace and temple—building materials and workmen from Phoenicia Temple parallels architectural forms from Phoenicia • Long-room structure • Courtyard/plaza surrounding the temple • Tripartite nature o Jezebel = from Sidon Promotes Ba'al worship o Jesus encounters the “Syro-Phoenician woman”
The United Kingdom Then all the elders of Israel gathered themselves together, and came to Samuel unto Ramah, And said unto him, Behold, thou art old, and thy sons walk not in thy ways: now make us a king to judge us like all the nations. But the thing displeased Samuel, when they said, Give us a king to judge us. And Samuel prayed unto the LORD. And the LORD said unto Samuel, Hearken unto the voice of the people in all that they say unto thee: for they have not rejected thee, but they have rejected me, that I should not reign over them. -1 Samuel 8:4-7
After the conquest of Canaan under the direction of Joshua, the Israelites lived under the guidance of a series of judges, the last and probably greatest among them was Samuel the prophet. While he led the people of Israel, they grew weary of following their unseen King and, like the neighboring nations of Philistia and Phoenicia, wanted to appoint a man to take the place of Jehovah as their king. When Samuel brought the issue before the Lord, He allowed them to have their king, but reminded them that in so doing they were rejecting Him and not merely Samuel the prophet. It is here where the principle of “good, better, best” can be applied. Of course, it would have been best for the Israelites to have kept the Lord their God as their king. However, in choosing Saul as the human replacement for their divine Protector, they were simply making a good choice. They could have instead chosen to completely apostatize, but they didn’t. This, among other things, was reason enough for the Lord to
bless them mercifully in the coming years of their new united kingdom. •
Saul o Benjamite from mountain village of Gibeah o Conflict with David o Chief reason he became king: military prowess Biblical view of monarchy = regarded suspiciously (also in the Book of Mormon) David o Israel's greatest king o = Hebrew “beloved” o 4 stages of life Shepherd Courtier Fugitive King o Foreshadows/parallels the Messiah King – anointed=Heb “MSH” • David is the prototypical anointed one, by divine design, to point to Christ • All prophets and kings = prototypes of the Messiah o Accomplishments Unites the tribes into one nation Secures undisputed possession of the Holy Land Government of Israel put on a religious foundation Epitome of gifted philosopherking/warrior-poet o Wrote the Psalms – reflect historical circumstances of his life 15, 24, 68, 101 = the Ark coming to
Jerusalem 20, 21, 60, 110 = foreign wars 18 = high point of nation's prosperity 22 = song, poem, revelation, etc. Solomon o = Shlomo = “his peace” o Created administrative districts that replaced tribal boundaries (→ unification) o Opens trade with Africa, Asia, Arabia, Asia minor → substantial revenue; receives guests and dignitaries o Created a navy in Elat The first navy in Israel's history Used it to secure the southern region of the kingdom • Stable and fairly safe; helpful to Lehi's family, who take this southern route o 700 wives and 300 concubines, some to cement political alliances o Built the temple to Jehovah, and also a huge palace complex o Wisdom and judicious rulings Spoke 3000 proverbs, composed 1005 psalms
The Divided Kingdoms Wherefore the LORD said unto Solomon, Forasmuch as this is done of thee, and thou hast not kept my covenant and my statutes, which I have commanded thee, I will surely rend the kingdom from thee, and will give it to thy servant. Howbeit I will not rend away all the kingdom; but will give one tribe to thy son for David my servantâ€™s sake, and for Jerusalemâ€™s sake which I have chosen. -1 Kings 11:11, 13
The peace under the reign of King Solomon was not to last indefinitely. Because of their disobedience, not to mention the unrighteousness of their king, the Israelites were divided amongst themselves. After the death of Solomon, the Israelites split into the kingdom of Israel in the north and the kingdom of Judah in the south. This division left both kingdoms in a state of leaderless apostasy. Israel built pagan altars to golden calves while Judah polluted the true temple with idolatry and sin. Not only was this a time of spiritual weakness, but it was a preparatory period for the scattering of Israel and the captivity of Judah. Because the Israelites were no longer united, each kingdom grew progressively weaker until, with the coming of the Assyrians and the Babylonians, they were destroyed. As the story of Israelâ€™s division echoes in our own ears, let us not forget the timeless importance of unity among the saints today. If we are not one, as the Lord has said, we are not His. Just as the contention and division among the ancient Israelites caused them to lose the favor and protection of the Lord from their enemies, so will the Lord withdraw His divine guidance from us if we do not, as one, hearken to His voice.
After Solomon, tensions civil war split Northern Kingdom o 922 – 721 BC o Capital at Samaria o Captured by the Assyrians in 721 BC Southern Kingdom o 922 – 586 BC o Capital at Jerusalem o Captured by the Babylonians in 586 BC This division weakens all the tribes-vulnerable to the Assyrians and Babylonians
Assyrians Now therefore, behold, the Lord bringeth up upon them the waters of the river, strong and many, even the king of Assyria, and all his glory: and he shall come up over all his channels, and go over all his banks: -Isaiah 8:7
The idea that the Lord raises up civilizations as a means of sanctifying His chosen people is not at all strange to us as Latter-Day Saints. In the Book of Mormon, the Lord raised up the Lamanite civilization in order to bring His chosen people in the Americas, the Nephites, to remembrance in times of pride and dissention. It was for this purpose, among many others than probably remain unknown to us to this day, that the Lord raised up the Assyrian Empire. However, unlike the case of the Nephites and Lamanites of the ancient Americas, the Israelites did not react to the Assyrian onslaught by remembering the Lord their God, repenting and defeating their enemies in His strength. On the contrary, the first time the Assyrians came into the nation of Israel, the people did not abandon their pagan ways, and were destroyed and scattered. Soon after this terrible mission was finished, the Empire of Assyria dwindled and fell to its rising neighbor civilizations. As with all civilizations both ancient and modern, the Lord was in control from its humble beginnings until its untimely defeat. â€˘ â€˘
Mesopotamian city-state of Asshur Ashurnasirpal II (883 â€“ 859)
• • •
o Policy of mass deportation and power Tiglath-Pileser III (745 – 727) o Called “Pul” or “Pulu” in the Bible o → Isaiah 9:1-2 For 600 years, Galilee was in darkness; the Israelite population had been replaced with Gentiles In 130 BC, it was re-Judaized and a netzer (“branch”) settled there → Nazareth → Jesus o Death → people think a weak king will follow → revolts break out o 2 Kings 17:1-4 North kingdom had been paying tribute They saw a chance to break away Shalmaneser puts the king in prison, sieged Samaria, etc. Shalmaneser V (727 – 722) – begins final siege of Israel Sargon II (722 – 705) – completes siege, deportation Sennacherib (704 - 681) o Capital at Nineveh o 2 Kings 19/2 Chronicles 32 Northern Kingdom destroyed; Judah survives
Exile & Return Go ye forth of Babylon, flee ye from the Chaldeans, with a voice of singing declare ye, tell this, utter it even to the end of the earth; say ye, The LORD hath redeemed his servant Jacob. -Isaiah 48:20-
Neo-Babylonians Flee out of the midst of Babylon, and deliver every man his soul: be not cut off in her iniquity; for this is the time of the LORDâ€™s vengeance; he will render unto her a recompense. Babylon hath been a golden cup in the LORDâ€™s hand, that made all the earth drunken: the nations have drunken of her wine; therefore the nations are mad. Babylon is suddenly fallen and destroyed: howl for her; take balm for her pain, if so be she may be healed. We would have healed Babylon, but she is not healed: forsake her, and let us go every one into his own country: for her judgment reacheth unto heaven, and is lifted up even to the skies. -Jeremiah 51:6-9
Just like the Assyrian Empire, the Neo-Babylonians were a cleansing instrument in the hands of the Lord to bring the kingdom of Judah to a remembrance of the Lord and His covenants with them. When the Assyrians attacked the northern kingdom, they eventually came down to the south and destroyed most of Judah itself. Despite all of this, the great city of Jerusalem remained untouched. It was after this historic event that Lehi left Jerusalem with his family, having foreseen its destruction at the hands of Nebuchadnezzar and the Babylonian hosts. In this light, it is much easier to see why Laman and Lemuel thought that the destruction of Jerusalem would have been completely impossible, because it had been only a few years earlier to the Assyrians: the fiercest enemy the ancient world had ever seen. Yet, despite the doubts of those like Laman and Lemuel, the Babylonians did come to the Holy City, and it did fall to Nebuchadnezzar and his
armies. But they did not stop there. They destroyed the great temple of Solomon, carried away its precious relics, and with them carried the Jews out of their promised land into Babylon. It was in this moment that, without their temple, the Jews looked to prayer as a replacement for animal sacrifice and, according to our friend Ophir, Judaism began. •
Culture o Babylon = one of the most beautiful cities in the Ancient Near East Huge city walls w/100 bronze gates Ishtar gate Building projects → need for mud bricks → setting for Shadrach, Meschach, and Abed-Nego o Neo-Babylonian (“Chaldean”) Astronomy/Astrology Movements of the sun, moon, and planets Recognized the Zodiac Predict lunar eclipses Name of weekdays • 5 closest planets + sun + moon = manifestations of 7 chief deities → each worshipped a certain day of the week • Sun-day, Moon-day, Thors'-day, etc. Believed that knowledge of celestial events → ability to foretell the future This was adopted by the PErsians Nabopolassar o Governor of Babylon o Puts together a coalition of Medes (Persians)
and Babylonians → destroys cities of Assyria Nebuchadnezzar (“Nabu, protect my son”) o Rules from 604 – 562 BC o Destroys Jerusalem in 586 BC Pharaoh Necho vs. King Josiah at Megiddo – 609 BC (2 Kgs 23:29-30) o Egypt wants Assyria to rise again; Necho tries to create a league o Josiah rides north to head him off o → Battle of Megiddo Josiah dies Jehoahaz o = Josiah's son o 23 years old o Rules 3 months o Enslaved by Necho Jehoiakim (609 – 598 BC) o = another of Josiah's sons o Appointed by Necho o Real name: Eliakim Name changed by Necho – indicates power over Eliakim and power over Jehovah o 25 years old o 11 year reign Nebuchadnezzar invades Judah and ends the Egyptian control; puts Jehoiakim under tribute First Deportation of Judah (605 BC) o Jehoiakim's third-year rebellion and punishment (Dan 1:1) o Temple articles carried off (Dan 1:2) and Daniel deported Second Deportation of Judah (597 BC) o Jehoiakim shackled and dies (2 Chr 36:5-6) o Jehoiachin
= Jehoiakim's son Only on the throne 3 months Surrenders to Nebuchadnezzar → taken to Babylon o King, mother, and 10,000 deported [+ Ezekiel?] (2 Kgs 24:8-17) o Temple looted again (2 Chr 36:7; 2 Kgs 24:13) o Zedekiah Nebuchadnezzar appoints him as a puppet king Uncle of Jehoiachin Original name: Mattaniah 21 years old, reigns for 11 years Rebels in his 9th year → siege of Jerusalem Third Deportation (586 BC) o 18-month siege (2 Kgs 25:1-3) o Zedekiah captured (2 Kgs 25:4-7; Mulek ?) o Jerusalem falls; temple destroyed; remnant deported (2 Kgs 25:8-21) Most of the Jews are carried captive into Babylon Area G shows evidence • House of the Bullae • Seals baked by the fire • Important names • Theophoric (YHWH/Yahu) – he's a personal god • A woman named Sairah (SarahYahu); 11 mention Ishmael • Date to the period of Lehi's family—he came out of an authentic cultural milieu • Jeremiah's scribe (Jer 36:4) o Babylonian captivity inaugurated, 586–538 BC
Exile the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down, yea, we wept, when we remembered Zion. We hanged our harps upon the willows in the midst thereof. For there they that carried us away captive required of us a song; and they that wasted us required of us mirth, saying, Sing us one of the songs of Zion. How shall we sing the LORDâ€™s song in a strange land? If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning. -Psalm 137:1-5
We, having returned from an entire summer in the Holy Land, have a very unique perspective about the Jewish exile from their promised land. When we left, we all felt as if our own exile had begun, and all that was left for us was the empty, hollow grandeur of Babylon. Yet, despite what we may have felt in that moment, there was a greater lesson to be learned there which is strikingly similar to that which the ancient Jews learned as they were cast out of their beloved Jerusalem. The holiness of any land is not dictated by what happened in it or what buildings occupy its surface, but rather by the faith of the people who inhabit it. Jerusalem was holy for the ancient Jews and for us because our collective faith made it so. Let us have faith and not cease to pray so that we, as the Jews of old, may return to build up the kingdom of God on the earth once again whenever the call may come. â€˘
Developments in Babylon o Centrality of the temple replaced by the home o Synagogue Judaism is born
Although it existed before, the synagogue now takes preeminence and becomes the center of Jewish community life o Sacrificial system of the temple replaced by Torah study, prayer, and charity o Profound distrust of anything non-Jewish o Origins of Hasidim = “pious ones” (ex: Daniel) Not the modern Hasidic sect Develop into 2 important sects: Pharisees and Essenes o Oral tradition gains importance equal to the written Torah o Aramaic replaces Hebrew as the spoken and written tongue of the exiles o Babylonian personal names adopted (ex: Zerubbabel) Developments in Jerusalem o Gedaliah appointed governor; assassinated o Emigration to Egypt (Jeremiah joins them – see 2 Kgs 22:25 and Jeremiah 40-44) o Babylonian reprisal—deportation in 582 BC Jehoiachin released after 36 years Nebuchadnezzar , Evil-Merodach, Nabonidus, Belshazzar (Dan 5)
Cyrus and the Jews THUS saith the LORD to his anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I have holden, to subdue nations before him; and I will loose the loins of kings, to open before him the two leaved gates; and the gates shall not be shut; I will go before thee, and make the crooked places straight: I will break in pieces the gates of brass, and cut in sunder the bars of iron: And I will give thee the treasures of darkness, and hidden riches of secret places, that thou mayest know that I, the LORD, which call thee by thy name, am the God of Israel. -Isaiah 45:1-3
Just as the Lord raised up the great civilizations of Neo-Babylon and Assyria in order to chasten His chosen people, so He reserved a chosen, righteous man to help His penitent people in their time of dire need. This man was Cyrus the Great, the first notable leader of the Persian Empire that followed the Neo-Babylonians. The Persians themselves believed themselves to be noble and honorable, and that belief was supported by the deeds of their Emperor Cyrus. When the Persians conquered what had been the empire of Babylon, they decided to end the Assyrian and Babylonian practice of terror and deportation in order to rule their vassal nations. Instead, Cyrus decided to allow all the peoples under his rule to return to their native lands and enjoy a considerable amount of autonomy. It was in this atmosphere that the Jews were not only permitted to return to Jerusalem, but were given funds from the Persian treasury to rebuild their great temple which Nebuchadnezzar had so soundly destroyed. This teaches us that, though the Lord guides
the noble-hearted to His Church and people, He reserves some that He knows can better help the growth of His Kingdom, at least for a time, while remaining outside of its ranks. •
Persians o Indo-Europeans come to Iran Call themselves Aryan = Sanskrit for “noble” or “honorable” → modern “Iran” o Medes + Babylon destroys Assyrians o Culture Conglomeration of Mesopotamian cultures and values o Religion Zoroastrianism • Founded by prophet Zoroaster/Zarathustra (prominent between 700 and 600 BC) • Ahura Mazda (the one wise and true Lord) v. Ahriman (evil deity) • Dualism Magi • = the Persian priesthood • Astrology → predict the future • This interest in the heavens was incorporated during the conquest • This focus on the heavens → saw a new star Cyrus the Great (reigns 559 – 529 BC) o Allows autonomy within the empire Understood the futility of trying to compel loyalty through violence and terror o Student of history o Zoroastrianism forms his personality → regards Jews as a special people, with similar ideas
It's possible that Zoroaster himself was raised up and given revelation in order to influence Cyrus o Old Testament declares that God chose Cyrus as an instrument to bring about divine purposes o Cyrus = the only non-Israelite called messiah in the Old Testament (Isaiah 45:1-3) Josephus says that Isaiah's prophecies had a great impact on Cyrus (Antiquities, 11.1.1-2) o Cyrus did NOT convert to Yahwism, however Cyrus is an example of how God uses all people to accomplish his purposes (see Ezra Taft Benson, “Civic Standards for Faithful Saints,” Ensign Jul 1972, 59) Edict of liberation o 2 versions in the Bible: Hebrew (Ezra 1:2-4) and Aramaic (Ezra 6:3-5) o Permitted the Jews to return to Judah o Commanded the temple of Jerusalem to be rebuilt with money from the Persian royal treasury o All the vessels of the temple taken by Nebuchadnezzar were returned Second Temple o Governors Ezra 5:14 – Sheshbazzar Almost immediately replaced by Zerubbabel • Oversaw construction of the Second Temple (rebuilt in 516 BC) o Period of the prophets Haggai and Zachariah o Ezra = religious reformer Public reading of the law + translation (they speak Aramaic, now, not Hebrew) founds the Midrashic method o Nehemiah = political reformer Rebuilds the walls of Jerusalem
Hellenism After the Persians, the next great civilization to take control of the Holy Land was that of Alexander the Great. As part of his grand efforts to Hellenize the whole world, he conquered the Holy Land on his way to defeating the Persian Empire, and in doing so left a far greater legacy among the Jews than even he could have ever intended. After his death, control of the Holy Land was left to his successors, first to the Ptolemys and then the Seleucids. •
Alexander the Great (356 – 323 BC) ◦ Tutored by Aristotle ◦ The Greek ideal – he's handsome, athletic, intelligent, etc. ◦ Ascends to throne and immediately sets out on a path of conquest ◦ Comes to Jerusalem ◦ Personal mission: take Greek culture (“Hellenism”) to the entire world After Alexander's death, his empire divided among his 4 generals ◦ Ptolemies – Egypt and the Holy Land ◦ Seleucids – Syria and Mesopotamia ◦ Antigonids – Macedonia ◦ Lysimichans – Thrace and Asia Judea under the Ptolemies ◦ Good relations with Egypt ◦ Jerusalem becomes the capital for Judaism ◦ Rulers of Jerusalem = high priest + “men of the great assembly” (scribes) ◦ Hellenism begins causing divisions ◦ High priests and aristocrats begin to embrace it
Form of government: Greek democracy Orientation: Greek ideals of beauty, philosophy, aesthetics, etc. ◦ In opposition: staunch followers of God's truth (pro-Torah) • Form of government: nomocracy/theocracy • Orientation: perfection and holiness Battle of Banias (198 BC) ◦ Antiochus III (a Seleucid) conquers the Holy Land Judea under the Seleucids ◦ Sanhedrin established ◦ 2 parties emerge: pro-Hellenists and antiHellenists ◦ Pro-Hellenists • Aristocratic Jews • Zadokim (high-priestly families; eventually evolve into the Sadducees) • Those favoring the political/economic status quo • Commoners enthralled with Greek culture ◦ Anti-Hellenists • Conservative • Develop into Pharisees, Essenes, and Zealots Antiochus IV (174 – 163 BC) ◦ Tries to turn Jerusalem into a Greek polis ◦ High priest deposed ◦ Gymnasium built next to the temple ◦ Takes 6 measures to eradicate Judaism ◦ All Jewish sacrifices forbidden ◦ Sabbath and feast days no longer observed • •
◦ Circumcision eliminated ◦ Torah scrolls destroyed ◦ Jews forced to eat swine flesh and perform sacrifices at idolatrous altars ◦ Any disobedience punishable by death ◦ Temple desecrated – altar to Zeus built within the precinct Hasmoneans revolt
Hasmonean Maccabees: a lesson in redundancy Thou shalt in any wise set him king over thee, whom the LORD thy God shall choose: one from among thy brethren shalt thou set king over thee: thou mayest not set a stranger over thee, which is not thy brother. And it shall be, when he sitteth upon the throne of his kingdom, that he shall write him a copy of this law in a book out of that which is before the priests the Levites: That his heart be not lifted up above his brethren, and that he turn not aside from the commandment, to the right hand, or to the left: to the end that he may prolong his days in his kingdom, he, and his children, in the midst of Israel. -Deuteronomy 17:15, 18,20 • •
From the village of Moda'in Family of priests – ben Hasmon o Dad = Mattathias A Syrian official comes to offer pagan sacrifice Kills the Syrian and the Jew who was willing to obey him o 5 sons Judah (eldest son) o Nicknamed “Maccabee” = “hammer” o Leads a series of revolts → Jews retake and rededicate the temple mound o → Hanukkah John 10:22 – Also called the “feast of dedication” Simon o Another son of Mattathias o Proclaimed King of the Jews Both political and religious leadership now
in the hands of a single individual Begins to embrace Hellenism → bitter opposition between Hasmoneans and Pharisees John Hyrcanus (134 – 103) o Conquers Idumea, forces inhabitants to convert o Conquers Perea Jesus' ministry takes place here o Subdues the Samaritans; destroys their alternate temple on Mt. Gerizim Hatred between Jews and Samaritans o Established good relationship with RomeRoman imperial structure in Judea Alexander Jannaeus (103 – 76) o Flames fires of antagonism between Pharisees and Hasmoneans Massacres 6,000 Jews on the temple mount Imprisons and crucifies 800 Pharisees o His wife, Alexandra, restores peace Aristobulus II v. Hyrcanus II – two brothers whose squabbling brings Rome Pompey o Roman general o Comes to Jerusalem in 63 BC o Brings an end to the independent Jewish state o
Runnin’ with the Romans Then saith he unto them, Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s. -Matthew 22:21 • Coming of Rome fulfills prophecy – Daniel 7:2-7 • 4 beasts • Lion = Neo-Babylonian empire; the man in v.
4 = Nebuchadnezzar • Bear = Persian empire; 3 ribs in its mouth = 3 principal conquests of Lydia, Babylon and Egypt • Leopard w/4 wings (fierceness to destroy, but swift) = Alexander the Great • 4 wings = the generals who divide up the empire • Beast with 10 horns = Roman empire • = 10 toes of the figure in Daniel 2 • Surpasses all its predecessors • Represents 10 states Roman History • Overthrow Etruscans → establish republic • Patricians (upper class) v. Plebians (lower class) • Greatest legacy: legal development • 450 BC – committed law code to writing (The Twelve Tables) • Overseas Expansion • Samnite & Punic wars • Revolution: 1st and 2nd triumvirates → Empire Pax Romana • = “Roman peace” • Established by Augustus • Foundation for Christianity • 3 things needed for Christianity/restoration of the gospel • Stable political government (pax
romana/United States) Universally accepted Bible (Septuagint/KJV) Culture understood around the world (Hellenism/English) Emperors • Tiberias → “Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's” (Matt 22:21; see also Mark 12:17; Luke 20:25; D&C 63:26) • Nero → Paul and Peter executed in Rome Governors of Judea • Felix (52 – 60 AD) • Acts 24:24-27 Constantine • Battle of Milvian Bridge (Oct 31st, 312 AD) • Secured the empire under Constantine's control • Vision • Sees the “chi-rho” = Christian monogram • Hears the words “in this sign you shall conquer” • Puts this monogram on his shields, and wins • Becomes a huge supporter of Christianity • Edict of Milan (313 AD) • Declares Christianity to be an acceptable religion of the empire • Convenes the Council of Nicaea (325) • Helena • Constantine's mother • Goes on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land and identifies a number of important Christian sites • Founds a new capital: Byzantium • •
Meridian of Time: The Four Gospels Wherefore teach it unto your children, that all men, everywhere, must repent, or they can in nowise inherit the kingdom of God, for no unclean thing can dwell there, or dwell in his presence; for, in the language of Adam, Man of Holiness is his name, and the name of his Only Begotten is the Son of Man, even Jesus Christ, a righteous Judge, who shall come in the meridian of time. -Moses 6:57 (5:57)-
The Jewish Context Yea, and my soul delighteth in the words of Isaiah, for I came out from Jerusalem, and mine eyes hath beheld the things of the Jews, and I know that the Jews do understand the things of the prophets, and there is none other people that understand the things which were spoken unto the Jews like unto them, save it be that they are taught after the manner of the things of the Jews. -2 Nephi 25:5 •
Herod the Great • Idumean • Father: Antipater • Governor of Judea • Rescues Julius Caesar's troops in Egypt → become best friends • Divides his governorship between his two sons; Galilee → Herod • Galilee = full of robbers/rebels/brigands; ruthlessly crushes them • Jewish bandit chief named Hezekiah, death without due process, zealot movement established • Caesar's assassination, Parthians invade Herod flees to Masada, and from there to Rome • Asks for Roman support and returns • Named king in 27 BC • Reputation in Rome • Building projects • Tight political control • Liquidation of enemies (and friends) – paranoid • Father of a dynasty
Successors • Archelaus, Ethnarch of Judea (4 BC – 6 AD) • Herod Philip, Tetrarch of Itrurea (4 BC – 34 AD) • Capital at Caesarea Philippi • Herod Antipas, Tetrarch of Galilee (4 BC – 39 AD) • Herod Agrippa I, King of Judea (37 – 44 AD) • Grandson of Herod the Great • Tried to eliminate Christianity (James killed, Peter imprisoned, etc.) • Herod Agrippa II, King (48 – 100) • Great-grandson of Herod the Great • “Almost thou persuadest me...” (Acts 26:28) 4 Important Sects of Judaism • Pharisees • Separatist Jews • Prided themselves on strict observance of the law • Oral tradition is equal in authority to written Torah • Anti-Hellenist • Sadducees • High-priestly families • Jewish aristocracy • Denied the authority of oral tradition • Pro-Hellenist; spread Greek culture through Israel • Essenes • Wrote the Dead Sea Scrolls • Lived in the caves at Qumran • Retreated into the wilderness under the Hasmoneans; upset at the corruption of the
temple priesthood Beliefs • The idea of apostasy and restoration; believed they were called by God to maintain and restore the covenant • The writings of Moses and Enoch • A community with no poor— communal property • Open canon of scripture • Burying records for later times • Ritual immersion • Clothing of holiness (all white) • Strict Sabbath observance • Coming of a messiah (two—one political, one religious) • Complex initiation rights • Called themselves “holy ones” (saints) 4 Contributions • Attest accuracy and antiquity of Biblical books • Different manuscript families of the Bible • Changes to the Bible • Continuity of Old Testament over time—in the main, agreement, not differences! Parallels with early Christianity • Revelation 12:1–6 (wilderness incubation) • Church organization • High regard for prophets • Teacher of Righteousness died → 3 high priests and council of twelve • Temporal matters left to equivalent
of a bishop Contradictions • Essenes are NOT a pre-Christian LDS community • No Melchizedek priesthood • Had ideas in contrast to Jesus • Dead Sea Scrolls contain a command to hate your enemies • Zealots • Pro-Torah • Extremely militant and anti-Roman • One of the apostles (Luke 6:15; Acts 1:13) • Determined to resist any foreign authority in Palestine Samaritans • Those who lived in Samaria after the captivity of the northern kingdom • Descendants of: • Foreign colonists • Israelites who escaped • Partly Israelite/partly Gentile population • Mixed religion • Not allowed to participate in the rebuilding of the temple (Ezra 4:1-3) • Became antagonism between Jews and Samaritans •
Nativity And behold, he shall be born of Mary, at Jerusalem which is the land of our forefather s, she being a virgin, a precious and chosen vessel, who shall be overshado wed and conceive by the power of the Holy Ghost,
and bring forth a son, yea, even the Son of God. -Alma 7:10
Date of Jesus' birth ◦ Passover - End of March/beginning of April ◦ 3 Nephi 8:5 ◦ Upheavals attest the crucifixion ◦ From the sign of his birth until the sign of his death: 33 years and 4 days ◦ He died at Passover; he was born almost exactly 33 years earlier → it must have been Passover ◦ John is born in September/October = Feast of Tabernacles/Succoth ◦ Passover and Succoth = the two greatest feasts in Judaism ◦ Today we hold General Conference in April and October New Star ◦ A sign for scattered Israel ◦ It was seen by the Nephites, but not here in Israel ◦ Matthew 2:2, 7 – Herod had to ask about when the star appeared Wise Men ◦ We don't know; tradition = 3, because there are three gifts ◦ There must have been many more—an entire caravan; the journey was too dangerous to make with a small group ◦ Members of the Persian royal priesthood ◦ Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh ◦ Gold-altars and temple furnishings ◦ Frankincense-bread (Lev 2:1-3, 12-16) and anointing (Ex 30:22-32)
◦ Myrrh-temple perfume (Ex 30:33-38) and burial (John 19:38-40) Anna ◦ Prophetess ◦ Of the tribe of Asher ◦ Northernmost tribe, and yet she was living in Judea ◦ It's entirely possible for Lehi, from the tribe of Manasseh, to be living in Jerusalem Joseph sees more visions than anyone else in the story
Preparing for the Ministry And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man. -Luke 2:52
John the Baptist • Gabriel announces his birth • Luke 1:17 - “he shall . . . turn the hearts of the fathers to the children” • From Malachi 4, but he only quoted the first part (fathers to children) • When Moroni appeared to Joseph Smith, he only quoted the other half (children → fathers; see JS-H 1:39) • Both prepare for the coming of the Savior • Baptizing • Did they understand what baptism was? • Yes: Psalm 51 • v. 2 - “wash me” = water • v. 7 - “hyssop” = blood • v. 10 - “spirit” = Holy Ghost • Moses 6:59 • Asked 3 questions (John 1:21) • Are you... • “Christ” = the Messiah • “Elias” = Elijah, or one who restores in the spirit of Elijah • “That prophet” = the prophet testified of by Moses (Deut 18:15, 18-19) • The Jews were looking for 3 separate people; all three roles are combined in one: Jesus Wilderness Temptations • 4 temptations • “If thou be the Son of God...” • Stones=bread • Pinnacle of the temple (SW corner) • Glory and power of the kingdoms of the earth
The temptations take time—spread out over a few months, at least
The Final Week All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all. -Isaiah 53:6
Order of events
13–17 Upper room
Suffering in Gethsemane
Betrayal & Arrest—Ear
14:43– 22:47– 18:2– 52 54 12
Annas & then Caiaphas
14:53– 22:54 65
Peter Denies Christ
14:66– 22:55– 18:15– Palace of the 72 62 18, high priest 25–27
Soldiers Mock Christ Caiaphas to Pilate
18:13, Palace of the 19–24 high priest
22:63– 65 27:1–2, 11–14
Palace of the high priest
15:1–5 23:1–6 18:28– Herod's 38 palace/Antonia
Judas' 27:3–10 Remorse/Death
Temple Hinnom Valley
23:11– 18:39 25 – 19:4
Scourging & Mocking
15:20– 23:26– 19:13–
John to care for Mary Death of Jesus Christ
19:25– 27 27:46– 53
15:37– 23:45– 19:28– 38 46 30
Spear in Jesus' side Jesus' Burial— Tomb Sealed
19:31– 37 27:54– 66
15:39– 23:47– 19:38– 47 56 42
Resurrection— 28:1–10 16:1– Women 11
24:1–8 20:1– 18
Jesus walks to Emmaus
Ten of the Eleven
24:36– 20:19– (Upper room?) 49 23
20:24– (Upper room?) 31
Lovest thou me more...
21:20– Jerusalem 25
Go ye into all the world Ascension— Acts 1:1–12
Sea of Galilee
Mt. in Galilee
16:19– 24:50– 20 53
Mt. of Olives
Triclinium experience – seating chart
Gethsemane • Called a “place” - in the Old Testament a “place” already possesses some sanctity • Freshly squeezed olive oil is red; it stains the stone; it's only bleached out by the winter wind and rains • How do know what happened in the garden? He spent 6 weeks with his apostles after the resurrection; they must have been curious and asked about his experience • Mark 14:35 • All the verbs are in the Greek imperfect tense = customary, usual, repeated action in the past; sense of continuity of action • Idea of writhing in pain – trying to find a
physical way to relieve/escape the pain that had invaded him John 10:18 – Jesus had power to lay down His life; perhaps his last temptation is whether he would release His life in the throes of agony— essentially suicide. He had the power to release His own life and thereby escape. All of us in heaven must have been praying for him in that moment 3 Ne 8:2-20 – After the Light of the World was no longer on this earth, they could feel the darkness. If He hadn't risen, we would all be slaves to that darkness. Other resources: • Bruce R. McConkie, “The Purifying Power of Gethsemane,” Ensign, May 1985 • Vaughn J. Featherstone, “To Gethsemane and Back” • Melvin J. Ballard, “His Great Heart Almost Breaking”
Destruction, Diaspora, & Development of Islam And these will I place in the nethermost part of my vineyard, whithersoever I will, it mattereth not unto thee; and I do it that I may preserve unto myself the natural branches of the tree; and also, that I may lay up fruit thereof against the season, unto myself; for it grieveth me that I should lose this tree and the fruit thereof. -Jacob 5:13-
The Great Revolt And Jesus said unto them: See ye not all these things, and do ye not understand them? Verily I say unto you, there shall not be left here, upon this temple, one stone upon another that shall not be thrown down.
-Joseph Smith-Matthew 1:3 • •
Corrupt Roman governors of Judea-hatred of the Roman empire Sicarii • Sub-sect of the zealots • Latin sica = “dagger” • A secret combination that overwhelms the Holy Land Prelude to War • Clash between Jews and Greeks in Caesarea Maritima • New Roman governor: Gessius Florus • Confiscated 17 talents of gold from the temple treasury • Eleazar suspends the temple offerings for the emperor and Rome • Tantamount to a declaration of war • Jews in Jerusalem clash over how best to fight the Romans-civil war • No unification among the Jews Romans send their very best legions • Vespasian – 67 AD • Conquers Galilee, Yotapata (Josephus' headquarters), Gamla, etc. • Called back to Rome to become emperor in 69 AD • Titus • Vespasian's son
Oversaw the destruction of Jerusalem Gave strict orders: temple be preserved
Development of Sacred Literature And he said: Behold it proceedeth out of the mouth of a Jew. And I, Nephi, beheld it; and he said unto me: The book that thou beholdest is a record of the Jews, which contains the covenants of the Lord, which he hath made unto the house of Israel; and it also containeth many of the prophecies of the holy prophets; and it is a record like unto the engravings which are upon the plates of brass, save there are not so many; nevertheless, they contain the covenants of the Lord, which he hath made unto the house of Israel; wherefore, they are of great worth unto the Gentiles. And the angel of the Lord said unto me: Thou hast beheld that the book proceeded forth from the mouth of a Jew; and when it proceeded forth from the mouth of a Jew it contained the fulness of the gospel of the Lord, of whom the twelve apostles bear record; and they bear record according to the truth which is in the Lamb of God. Wherefore, these things go forth from the Jews in purity unto the Gentiles, according to the truth which is in God. -1 Nephi 13:23-25 • The Old Testament • Accepted by all 3 religions – Judaism, Islam, and Christianity • Christian • The New Testament • Evolves over time • Canon = “a rod by which to measure things” • Certain books are recorded as authoritative; over time, gathered into a collection • Church Fathers • Put Christianity on a firm doctrinal foundation • Augustine (354 – 430 AD) • Bishop of Hippos • Writes The City of God, and Confessions
Ambrose (340 – 397 AD) • Bishop of Milan • King of allegorical interpretation Jerome (340 – 419 AD) • Translates the Vulgate
Judaism • Tanakh = Torah, Nevi'im, and Ketuvim (law, prophets, and writings) • Mishnah • Compiled c. 220 AD • R. Yohanan ben Zakkai • Prophesies Vespasin as emperor • Gathers Pharisaic rabbis and founds an academy at Yavneh/Jamnia • Ultimately wound up in Galilee (Tiberias) • Mishnah = oral Torah written down • Compiled in Galilee • Rabbis concerned that they will forget the traditions associated with Jerusalem • A reaction to Christianity and Islam • Appropriated the Bible and added another book; Jews wanted to emphasize that they had another book, too? • Gemara • = discussion of the Mishnah • Two locations: Babylon and Galilee • Talmud = Gemara + Mishnah Islam • Qur'an • 114 suras (chapters) split into two parts, depending on where each was revealed (Mecca vs. Medina) • Hadith • = sayings and deeds of Muhammad • 2 parts • Begins with a chain or isnad to establish
credibility Actual text = matn
Bar Kokhba Revolt For then, in those days, shall be great tribulation on the Jews, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, such as was not before sent upon Israel, of God, since the beginning of their kingdom until this time; no, nor ever shall be sent again upon Israel. All things which have befallen them are only the beginning of the sorrows which shall come upon them. -JS-M 1:18-19
• • •
132 - 135 AD Last attempt at restoring independence Hadrian • Comes to the throne of Rome in 117 AD • Jewish tradition: he made plans to have the Jews rebuild their temple until the Samaritans opposed • Tried to turn Jerusalem into a Roman city (Aelia Capitolina) • Banned circumcision Simeon ben Kosiba • Nicknamed “Bar Kokhba” = “son of a star” (Messianic interpretation of Numbers 24 - “a star out of Jacob”) • Rabbi Akiva supports him and announces him as the messiah Rome wipes out the revolt (135 AD) • Solidifies the diaspora • Jews are banned from entering Jerusalem, except on Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) Roman legions took heavy losses
Diaspora The LORD shall cause thee to be smitten before thine enemies: thou shalt go out one way against them, and flee seven ways before them: and shalt be removed into all the kingdoms of the earth. -Deuteronomy 28:25
• • • •
Birth of Judaism occurred in the diaspora (Psalm 137) Pharisees = only sect to survive the destruction Synagogue Judaism • Synagogue = a place to read Torah Medieval Jewry in Northern Europe and Spain • Golden Age or Age of Tragedy? - both • Violent antisemitism • But flourishing cultural development • Spain • Under the Muslims, a “golden era” • Jews had it better under Islam than Christianity • But after Christians retake it, things get bad • 1492: Ferdinand and Isabella issue an edict • Jews of Spain must disappear within 3 months • Greatest calamity before the holocaust • Spanish Inquisition = to ferret out Jews who pretended they were Catholic • Blood libels • = allegations that Jews used blood of Christian children for rituals • Ecclesia & Synagoga • Popular images in medieval church art • Ecclesia (Christianity) = good; regnal,
crowned, nice clothes, staff Synagoga (Judaism) = bad; blindfolded, broken staff, book behind back representing inability to read the truth Emancipation • = granting of equal rights to Jews • Occurred at different times in different places across Europe • France • First, and most important • Emancipated, but not granted nationhood • Religification of Judaism as one response to modernity • Enlightenment • Response to the European enlightenment (17th and 18th centuries) • Flourishing of Jewish secular culture • Rise of Antisemitism → emergence of different Jewish denominations •
Development of Islam And as for Ishmael, I have heard thee: Behold, I have blessed him, and will make him fruitful, and will multiply him exceedingly; twelve princes shall he beget, and I will make him a great nation. -Genesis 17:20 • •
Islam = a religious civilization Muhammad • Born 570 AD in Mecca • Married rich merchant woman (Khadija) • Started preaching • 622 AD – fled to Medina (Hijrah) • Died in 632 AD Death of Muhammad, split in Islam • Debate over successor • Shi'ites • Supported his son-in-law and cousin 'Ali • shi'at Ali = “partistans of Ali” • Sunnis • Caliph not designated by Muhammad, elected by community 6 Pillars of Faith • Unity of God • Angels • Inspired books • Inspired prophets • Day of judgment • Decrees of God Practice • Recite creed • Prayer (5 times a day) • Legal alms • 30 days of fast (during the month of Ramadan)
Pilgrimage to Mecca Role of Islam in the Renaissance: preservation â€˘
Modernity: The Palestinian-Israeli Conflict And then cometh the New Jerusalem; and blessed are they who dwell therein, for it is they whose garments are white through the blood of the Lamb; and they are they who are numbered among the remnant of the seed of Joseph, who were of the house of Israel. And then also cometh the Jerusalem of old; and the inhabitants thereof, blessed are they, for they have been washed in the blood of the Lamb; and they are they who were scattered and gathered in from the four quarters of the earth, and from the north countries, and are partakers of the fulfilling of the covenant which God made with their father, Abraham. -Ether 13:10-11-
Zionism And the ransomed of the LORD shall return, and come to Zion with songs and everlasting joy upon their heads: they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away. -Isaiah 35:10
• • • • • • • • • • •
• • • • • • • •
A Jewish reaction to modernity 2 aspects: Purely political vs. Longing for Zion Proto-Zionism: The “Pull” Factor Psalm 137 – longing for Zion Movement for Jews of Eastern Europe to emancipate themselves Antisemitism: A “Push” Factor Pogroms • = Russian “to wreak havoc, to demolish violently” Zionism was originally a minority response Theodore Herzl (1860 – 1904) Ph.D. in law, but anti-Semitism, can't get a job, journalism, foreign correspondent in Paris 1894 – The Dreyfus Affair • Captain Alfred Dreyfus – Jewish army office, court martialed • Public reaction shows that antisemitism still exists in France 1897 – First Zionist Congress in Basel Established the Zionist movement 'Aliyah = “ascent” - waves of immigration to Israel First 'Aliyah (1882 – 1903) – families, agricultural, establish villages/towns Second 'Aliyah (1904 – 1914) – young people, socialist, secular, “religion of labor” Third 'Aliyah (1918 – 1923) – Young people, socialist, etc., but new context: after WWI Fourth 'Aliyah (1924 – 1932) – Economic refugees, U.S. immigration quotas Fifth 'Aliyah (1932 – 1939) – Fleeing from Nazism
• Clandestine Immigration (1939 – 1948) – by sea; often caught and deported to Cyprus
World War I and the British Mandate Thus saith the Lord GOD, Behold, I will lift up mine hand to the Gentiles, and set up my standard to the people: and they shall bring thy sons in their arms, and thy daughters shall be carried upon their shoulders. And kings shall be thy nursing fathers, and their queens thy nursing mothers: they shall bow down to thee with their face toward the earth, and lick up the dust of thy feet; and thou shalt know that I am the LORD: for they shall not be ashamed that wait for me. -Isaiah 49:22-23
• • •
WWI • subordination of Middle East to the West • “Middle East” = Euro-centric term, first used in 1902 in reference to British naval strategy; spread into common use through the media • Britain pledges support for Arab independence if they help rebel against the Ottomans • Sykes-Picot Agreement (1916) – Britain had made conflicting commitments to other parties 1917 – Balfour Declaration • Roots • Christian Messianism/Zionism • British imperialism • The “Jewish problem” in Europe, rise of Zionism • Zionist leaders in government • Victims (pogroms) → victimizers (of Palestinians) 1917 – British occupy Palestine 1922 – Establishment of the British Mandate • Jewish institutions created = “state-in-the-making” Proposals • Peel Commission • UNSCOP • Recommendation: partition plan, with
Jerusalem run by the UN (corpus separatum) UN Resolution 181 = partition plan of Palestine
Independence and Nakhba Watchman, what of the night? The watchmen said, The morning cometh, and also the night: if ye will enquire, enquire ye: return, come. The burden upon Arabia. In the forest in Arabia shall ye lodge…For they fled from the swords, from the drawn sword, and from the bent bow, and from the grievousness of war. - Isaiah 21:11-12, 13, 15 • •
May 15th, 1948 History • 1947 partition plan – not contiguous, a mess; Jews accept, Arabs don't → War of Independence/Nakbeh • Borders erased-1949 borders • Palestinian forces still diminished from the British response to the Arab Revolt (1936 1939) Nakbeh = “disaster” • 726,000 people displaced – 75% of Arab population • Refugees thought they would be allowed to return • Approximately 5.5 million refugees today • Palestinians fled because of chaos and fear • Zionist terrorist organizations: Irgun and Stern • Massacre of Deir Yasseen • Nature of Palestinian Discourse • Victim-oriented; externalized feelings of hate and rage passed down through generations • A discourse of dispair
Creation of the state of Israel • British withdraw from Palestine • Arab armies enter Palestine's borders • Fought hard and well, but militarily decimated after the British put down the Arab Revolt of 1936-1939—never recovered → Jews able to win Immigration to Israel • Life for Jews in Arab countries gets difficultcome to Israel • Similar numbers to the Palestinians: ~ 700,000 • Changes Jewish demographic • Refugees = lower class; Ashkenazi = upper class Armistice lines (1949 – 1967) • After the war, Israel has more land and it's contiguous • Great success
Judaism But behold, the Jews were a stiffnecked people; and they despised the words of plainness, and killed the prophets, and sought for things that they could not understand. Wherefore, because of their blindness, which blindness came by looking beyond the mark, they must needs fall; for God hath taken away his plainness from them, and delivered unto them many things which they cannot understand, because they desired it. And because they desired it God hath done it, that they may stumble. -Jacob 4:14 •
Denominations in Modern Judaism • Reform • The first reaction to modernity • Liturgy translated –vernacular adjustment/reevaluation of belief • Pick and choose what laws you find meaningful and binding • Orthodox • Completely bound by halakhah (Jewish law) • NOT first • Conservative • Somewhere in between • Moderation • “Tradition has a vote, but not a veto”
Transition And there were many whose faith was so exceedingly strong, even before Christ came, who could not be kept from within the veil, but truly saw with their eyes the things which they had beheld with an eye of faith, and they were glad. -Ether 12:19-
arly one Sunday morning, a few of us went out into the city, walking through the dim light of a fresh dawn. As we passed through Damascus Gate and our steps echoed on the closed doors of rows and rows of shops, we saw the bare shell of Jerusalem for the first time. No people, no noise, and no city. In those moments, it became clear that Jerusalem is and always has been a city of faith and, just like faith without works, a city without its people is dead. The inescapable spirit that fills the winding streets of the Old City is based on the faith of those who enter in at its gates. All who do so are in search of something, whether Muslim, Jew, or Christian. It may be a lasting peace, the fulfillment of a lifelong dream, or even a Pauline conversion. But whatever the cause may be, we are all united in the same pursuit of something far greater than ourselves, as pilgrims on a journey to the Holy Land. Before the pilgrimage, we had all seen our own Terra Sancta through the eye of faith. But now would all see with our own eyes what had for so long been nothing more than a dream.
We have seen many things in our journeys through the Holy Land that we will forever remember: taking those final steps to the summit of Mount Sinai, staring into the painted eyes of King Tutankhamen’s burial mask, feeling the warmth of the earth’s rejoicing at the Garden Tomb, and hearing the lapping of the waves on the Nile and the Galilee alike. Yet, as we have traveled amidst a sea of tourists, a quiet voice has always whispered that what we beheld was somehow different from what others could see, though we were indeed looking at the very same thing. The temples of ancient Egypt, the lost tomb of Moses on Mount Nebo, the peaceful shores of Galilee: many had traveled across the world to look upon these things first hand. Yet, sadly, they could do no more than see without seeing and hear without hearing. No tour guide’s voice or scholar’s notes could help them know what we knew through the power of the Holy Ghost. Were it not for the revelatory influence of the Holy Ghost, the depths of empty tombs and the heights of Cathedral ceilings would have been empty, meaningless, dead. Yet the pilgrimage is not dead. The journey is physically exhausting, emotionally severe, and spiritually demanding, but there is one thing that it most certainly does not have to be: lonely. We, the students of the BYU Jerusalem Center have walked the roads where the patriarchs, the prophets, and even the Lord Himself walked, and as our travels lengthened, so our friendship and brotherhood deepened. Knowing that we would separate ourselves from frequent communication with
family and friends back home, many thought that our studies in the Near East would teach us the importance of history, geography, and literature, pulling our focus off those around us. In the end, the exact opposite occurred. In studying the history of the Lordâ€™s people and those who surrounded them in the ancient world, we not only established a newfound connection with them of old, but also came to understand this important truth: that our relationships with people are the reason for which we do everything and why civilizations have done everything throughout recorded history. That is the great secret of what the Holy Land has taught us all. For this reason, the following section includes the reflections of Jerusalem Center students on specific events, places, or concepts that have affected and changed them deeply in these 4 short months. Having the creations of each individual of this group within this book will keep their memories and the vitality of their character ever-present in our lives. These reflections, as written under the direction and influence of the Holy Ghost, have taught each of us life-changing lessons that, if we are faithful, will never leave us. Now we, not wanting these memorable experiences to slowly fade from the forgetful corners of our hearts, have written them down to share them with one another, to remind ourselves, and bring the greatest treasure of our time here to our loved one who may never have the same opportunity we have been so graciously given.
“When the Savior shall appear we shall see him as he is. We shall see that he is a man like ourselves. “And that same sociality which exists among us here will exist among us there, only it will be coupled with eternal glory, which glory we do not now enjoy.” -Doctrine & Covenants 130:1-2-
People THIS MUST BE THE INTRO ........................................................ 123 Stephanie Jensen BITTERSWEET ........................................................................ 125 Mandy Roth TRAVEL ................................................................................ 130 Trisha Zemp ALLAHU AKBAR. GOD IS GREAT................................................ 133 Rebecca Ricks “HOW GREAT THOU ART”....................................................... 136 Kellyn Briggs MORMONS IN JERUSALEM ....................................................... 138 McKenzie Bennett FEELING LOVED...................................................................... 140 Esther Dupree PALESTINIAN BASKETBALL ........................................................ 141 Ian Esplin INVESTING A FEW MINUTES TO MAKE FRIENDS............................ 143 Kyle Stuart WHAT IS JERUSALEM: A NUMBERED LIST.................................... 148 Jessica Bodily
MUCH IS REQUIRED ................................................................ 157 Alli Warner THE BOND BETWEEN BROTHER AND SISTER ................................ 160 Alex Alard “BE HUMAN!” ...................................................................... 162 Mason McMullin THE POWER OF MUSIC AND PEOPLE .......................................... 164 Amy Briggs A MORE OBJECTIVE WORLD VIEW ............................................ 166 Adnan Musallam MAWWIAGE ......................................................................... 167 Brad Sawaya SIX YEARS IN THE MIDDLE EAST ................................................ 174 Gayle Brown I’M GOING TO MISS…............................................................. 176 Rachel Lee CULTURE .............................................................................. 177 Kristen Boyd REMEMBER ........................................................................... 183 Mariah Proctor
This Must Be the Intro Stephanie Jensen e all have a story. Kyle has a Southern accent. Chadwick’s dad is named Biff. Russell is moving to Wisconsin. Erin has an elbow fetish. Esther can cook. Elise is getting married. Tyler wants an ant farm. Rachel is going to serve a mission in Chicago. We all have a story; we all are unique. Life unfolds one day at a time; it may be predictable and go on just as planned, or to our surprise, we might end up somewhere totally unexpected. Our past experiences and how we have handled those experiences define us and determine where we will go in the future. When many diverse individuals are thrown into one group, something special happens. Instead of being just one person, we become part of something bigger than ourselves. We are “the Mormons.” We sing all over the Holy Land. We dress modestly and try to respect the cultures around us. We smile in the Old City. The individuals who make up this group make it great; the sum of the parts is far greater than the parts alone. We have a special opportunity to be together in Israel in an environment where we can learn from each other. We don’t have the distractions of the world surrounding us; instead, we have good books, educated professors, sacred sites, and seventy-nine best friends. Every person can learn a great number of things coming to this Holy Land, but because we are here together, we can learn even more. The greatest things I have learned while on this study abroad have not been from my classes or textbooks, but
from the other students. Their testimonies strengthen my own, and it is their love and friendship I will keep dear to my heart forever. Yes, Israel is an amazing place, but in time our memories of this place may fade. However, the relationships built, the emotions felt, and the life lessons gained here are eternally ours. This is our story.
Chacos, the shoe of choice at the BYU-JC, were the mode of transportation while we created our story here in the Holy Land.
Bittersweet Mandy Roth he scratching of pencils filled the room, only becoming less pronounced than the sound of the ticking clock. 79 eyes stared at the numbers, in anticipation knowing that the hands on the clock would continue to rotate until it was the next day and then the next. The bags were packed, the airline tickets neatly folded on the desk, in a travel carry-on bag, or on top of the entertainment center by the front door. Within a matter of hours the hundreds of terms, definitions and essentially useless facts that had been jammed into a mind already much too occupied in an attempt to get through the previous week would be drained and replaced by anxiety and excitement. They were all going for different reasons. They were all coming from different backgrounds. Nevertheless, they all went with the desire to return just a little bit different.
Experiences are strange in that way; two people can have an identical event happen to them, yet the experience, the lasting memory will be stored differently, and possibly have the complete opposite effect and impression. Yet, despite what that experience may be, they all planned to gain one. There was a sense of perfect juxtaposition as the preparations were finalized. Some left with the knowledge that things would continue on without them while they were absent, and so their place may be
lost upon their return. Others left jealous of the ones going home—how long had it been since they’d seen their families? Four months? Five? How long would it be until they saw them again? The feeling of uncertainty is sometimes the worst one of all. And yet, some didn’t care at all about what they would leave behind, but only looked forward to what was to come. And even those who wished for more time, who felt unprepared, could not ignore the event that loomed before them. The good, and the bad, the bitter and the sweet. 79 people showed up at the airport, and thoughts filled their heads. “Was it too late?” and others, “Can this flight please take off any faster?” The plane was too crowded, the food too stale, and the flight too long. The culture was rich; even on the plane, men arose with long, snow-white shawls striped with blue to cover their heads and pray in the aisles. This was new. Battling between discomfort and fascination, 79 students continued to sit as the plane moved on. The plane landed, the flight was over, and any doubts evaporated as first steps were taken in this foreign land. A Holy Land. A few small steps for man, a few giant leaps for mankind. Well…maybe not quite, but they couldn’t help feeling that way. And if not for mankind, then for themselves. Some had traveled a lot, some not at all, but either way the bucket of experiences one has during a lifetime was being filled, and at this very moment, the usual steady trickle turned into a full on faucet.
The first time these 79 people ventured into the Old City, the day was hot. Sweat dripped down the backs of their necks as they first walked down a hill and then up one that seemed twice as large. Why does everything holy have to be set on a hill? Why are there Temple Mounts as opposed to Temple Plateaus? Thighs burned as the City wall grew larger, and realization sunk. The City of David. Jerusalem. The hill was forgotten and enlightenment sprung. They entered the gate while simultaneously clutching their bags. Their eyes followed every step they took. The filth, trashâ€”how could these people desecrate such a sacred city? Didnâ€™t they understand where they were? The noise was indecipherable and the smell at first bitter, but then sweet.
Contemplating in the Garden of Gethsemaneâ€Ś
The Garden of Gethsemane was just a garden. There was the ground and the olive trees that reached toward the sky. Some rocks and bushes. But it was just a garden. Yet they were there. The same place where their Savior and Redeemer had bled from every pore. The very place where the Christ of the World had atoned for every sin, for every pain, from a paper cut to the six million ancestors of the people in that very land who had been slain at the hands of the Holocaust. The Savior felt them all, the afflictions of the victims and the transgressions of the predators. The excitement of being in that very location rivaled the knowledge of what took place there so many
years ago—what had begun the common era, Anno Domini, the year of our Lord. The experience of being there so full and rich, the comprehension of what had taken place so horrible and yet so great—the Atonement, the garden, the testifying spirit can only be explained as bittersweet. Jerusalem means “city of peace.” Jerusalem, so frequently connoted as a land of turmoil, unrest, violence and war, of suffering and tears, and yet to so many it remains home. Jerusalem, the Holy Land, the place where our prophets walked and breathed the daily air, where God began the history of our people. The history of all people. There is opposition in all things. No place knows this to be more true than Salem, Jebus, The City of David, Jerusalem. The future of this land contains fire, it contains truth, it contains destruction and reunion, bliss and horror, the end and the beginning—a land described by the absolute meaning of bittersweet.
Travel Trisha Zemp n an early August morning, before a series of long painful flights, each student arrived at the Salt Lake airport anxious and excited to begin a new adventure. Each student that walked through the sliding glass doors laden with luggage—luggage that was dangerously close to fifty pounds—came from unique circumstances. Despite our differences, we were all clumped together to grow and learn from one another. Our situation at the Jerusalem Center was one of a kind; there is no other program in the world that can compare. Each of us sat in the same classes, but we all learned different things. Yes, the same words entered all of our ears, but different thoughts penetrated deep into each of our hearts. The Spirit testified different things to each individual. We all were able to feel the Spirit, but in different ways. Many of us came to Jerusalem expecting to witness miracles and have defining spiritual moments. More often than not, we each felt the quiet peace that places like the Garden of Gethsemane, the Western Wall, and the Garden Tomb all bring. In these quiet, peaceful moments, we felt the love of our Heavenly Father and His Son Jesus Christ.
The feelings and experiences we have had here will have far-reaching effects. In twenty years, we might think back to the arduous hike up Mount. Sinai and felt the magnificence of God’s creations. As parents, we may one
day find ourselves in a family home evening lesson, testifying to our youngsters of the reality of the cleansing power of the Atonement as we relay to them our experiences in Gethsemane. Who knows? In ten, twenty, or maybe even fifty years, you will be reading the words of this book and feeling the same spirit that you first felt while having these experiences. If you are reading this fifty years from now, I hope that life has treated you well, and that the experiences you had in Jerusalem continue to resonate deeply in your heart.
At the airport in SLC!
I feel like my time in Jerusalem was meant specifically for me to learn and grow in the gospel. The longer I was there, the more I realized that the time given to me was not solely for my own benefit. We have each had amazing
experiences in the Holy Land, and we will in turn have many opportunities to share these experiences in the future. I donâ€™t think we realize the impact these experiences will continue to have later in our lives. We can't comprehend the ways that God will use our experiences to bring others to the gospel. This gospel will go forth, and we have been charged with the responsibility to do all that we can to help it progress. We each came to Jerusalem by miraculous circumstances; each of us had a reason for being at the Jerusalem Center. It was not by chance that we were each accepted. There are so many things we can do with the knowledge we have gained. There are so many lives we can bless, so many people we can influence, so many testimonies we can strengthen, and so many ways that we can share the gospel. Our experiences here can be a light unto the world and to future generations, testifying that Christ is the Savior of the world, and that He lives.
Allahu Akbar. God is Great. Rebecca Ricks y first “aha” moment, as Brother Skinner would term it, occurred after my orange suitcase was rolled into room 304 and I promptly heard the call to prayer erupting from an open balcony door.
“Allahu akbar.” God is great. I’d heard these words dozens of times in my Islam class, learned how to shape each scripted Arabic letter during my study of the language, and even memorized the first sura of the Qur’an for extra credit on my Arabic 101 final. But I’d never heard them like this—projected over loudspeakers into the heart of a uniquely spiritual landscape. As a distinct crossroad of cultures and religions, Jerusalem accommodates more than 250,000 Arabs, most of whom are Muslim. Five times a day we hear those same words, “Allahu akbar,” accompanied by passages of the Qur’an. One wonders how, after being conditioned to treat the Lord’s name with such reverence and respect, a Muslim could not come to believe these words. It was not long after our arrival that my personal beliefs collided once again with Islamic culture. I’d meandered across the street from the base of the Center to a rough patch of dirt crafted into something of a crude courtyard to service the surrounding Palestinian neighborhoods.
“Bat’arfi Allah?” the seven-year old boy asked me, pointing emphatically into the sky. Do you know God? His question took me aback. Did I know his God? Was our God one and the same? Was Allah, the God from whom Muhammad had received the Qur’anic book of scripture, my God? I wanted so much to qualify my answer, but I found myself nodding. “Aywa, b’arf Allah.” Yes. I know God. The Palestinian people I have met and grown to love share my reverence for the name of God. Their allencompassing desire to serve the Lord permeates every facet of their lives, from daily prayers to month-long fasts to observance of unique dietary laws. Nuha, a Palestinian woman with whom I’ve spent many hours, never attempted to push her religion on us, nor did she explain it away. On the days male students accompanied us on our weekly visits, Nuha dutifully draped her hair in a white hijab to greet her guests. Other days she’d teach our hips and hands to move in new ways to Arabic pop. Never have I encountered a city of such religious and cultural fluidity. In nearly every respect, the secular flows effortlessly into the spiritual. The nature of political discourse in this city is inextricably religious. Political issues will incite knotty religious tensions, embroiling them in the ongoing conflict in Jerusalem. “Allahu akbar.” God is great. Muslims conditioned to repeat and believe those words cannot help but desire
peace in this world. When the religious climate escalates and boils over, we must each remind ourselves of Him whose hand constantly reigns over us, the Lord of Jerusalemâ€™s three dominant religions.
A prominent minaret in Bethlehem in the West Bank
“How Great Thou Art” Kellyn Briggs t was our first free Sunday in Jerusalem, and a group of us set out into the Old City, ready to sightsee with the best of them. Still in tourist mode, we stopped every ten feet for pictures of hanging meat, dyed baby chicks, orthodox Jews and storefronts full of gummies. After making our way through the Rampart Walk, we decided to make a visit to the Pools of Bethesda.
Walking near the entrance, we noticed the echoing voices of tourist groups walking in and out of St. Anne's Church, each group taking a turn singing with the beautiful acoustics of the chapel. We listened for a few minutes and then found ourselves with an open opportunity to raise our own voices in song. Making our way up to the front of the church, we decided to sing "How Great Thou Art.” Our little group filled the sanctuary with such a sweet sound that those listening stared in silence as they listened to the testimony of that sacred hymn. As we walked out of the church, a woman who had been listening at the back of the room approached us. She was an American touring the Holy Land with a group of members from her Lutheran congregation. She told us that her father had passed away within the last few months. That morning, she had attended church and prayed that her father would be able to sing with her from heaven during her experiences here. "How Great Thou Art" was
her father's favorite song, and as we sang it, she felt that her prayer was answered and that she could feel that God was there to watch over and comfort her. This simple, sweet experience was my first realization that we can still be instruments of the Lord in a place where we cannot directly share the gospel. Living in Jerusalem has been a great and humbling opportunity to be able to stand back and learn from the faith of those who have beliefs different from my own. Our Heavenly Father knows and loves all of His children, Jew, Muslim, and Lutheran alike, and I am so thankful for the instances in which I am allowed to be a part of that love made manifest.
In front of the Church of the Flagellation
Mormons in Jerusalem McKenzie Bennett ince being here in Jerusalem, we have all been able to see how much the city people love the Mormons. Even though we have not been able to share our gospel with them, it is easy to say that we, along with past students, have made a huge impact on the community.
One of my best memories of the summer was the first time we went to the Garden Tomb as a group. Several of us started singing hymns. Before long, people were gathering around us to hear the beautiful hymns. Some of the people were taking pictures, and others were recording us. Some people just had tears in their eyes. We could tell that we had touched these people without even talking to them. When we finished singing, a man came up to me and said, “Thank you for the wonderful spirit that you brought here.” I think we would all agree that this summer we have learned that sometimes sharing your testimony through song makes a greater impact than it does through words. I just love how when we walk through the Old City, all of the shopkeepers can tell that we are Mormon. “Special price for Mormons!” they call. I think that we all are grateful for those who have come before us, because they are the ones who paved the way for us today.
I think that we are paving the way for missionary work to be done here someday. People who see us on the streets or in the city are always asking about what we are doing here and why we act so differently. Obviously they can tell that there is something different about us. I think that we all love the story about when President Ezra Taft Benson and Elder Jeffrey R. Holland agreed with the Israeli government on behalf of the Church and the university not to proselyte in Israel. After the lease for the land had been signed, one man said, "Oh, we know that you are not going to proselyte, but what are you going to do about the light in their eyes?" People can tell that there is something different about the Mormons, and I believe if the day comes where the gospel is introduced to them, they will be more open to it because of our example.
Enjoying lunch with Shaban in the Old City Marketplace
Feeling Loved Esther Dupree was asked to submit a short insight about everyone in the Center for our publication. I believe I have no right to attempt such a feat, as my opinions would be based on insufficient information, and they would only be my opinions. I was given a wonderful compliment in my first weeks here at the Center; I was told I have the ability to help others feel loved. I believe we have all had the great opportunity to feel loved in the JC Program. We have been plunged into a living arrangement where we all have found at least one person we feel kinship with. We have been given time and opportunity to contemplate the mission of our Savior. I want to take this opportunity to say that I have been blessed with feeling loved by the students at the Jerusalem Center this summer. I hope to convey to the people reading this publication (as few as they may be) that a vital part of personal peace is the knowledge that you are loved. Know that Heavenly Father and Mother love you and that Their love is perfect. Help others feel that same love through the way you treat them. No amount of sightseeing and historical understanding can replace the fundamental peace that comes from knowing your divine heritage. I hope that those I have been so privileged to come to know and love in the summer of 2009 will remember how much they are loved and cherished by our Heavenly parents and our Savior.
Palestinian Basketball Ian Esplin
E quickly realized after arriving at the Jerusalem Center that Friday nights would be difficult to fill with meaningful activities because the whole city shuts down for Shabbat. Luckily, someone discovered a pocket of activity at the Liberty Bell Park in Jerusalem near the King David Hotel in West Jerusalem. Every Friday night, hundreds of Palestinian families and young adults gather there to ride bikes, play in the playground, and kick soccer balls, but most importantly, to shoot basketballs. At first, we were a little hesitant to play basketball. The rules were "street" style, a no blood, no foul type of deal. One of the guys had a blind eye from the rough play. They played 3-on-3, half court, make-it-take-it, winner-stays tournaments.
With a little bit of shame, I admit that our team lost the first game or two. It is hard playing on a foreign court with a rim nearly at a 45-degree angle with no net for shooting perception. It was a bit embarrassing. I guess we probably felt the same way the 2004 US Olympic team felt losing to countries where basketball is second to soccer. We came back the next week seeking vengeance. We felt like we needed to show these guys what real American basketball was like. We ended up beating them five games in a row. It was great. It was physical playâ€”you might even call it "jungle ball.â€?
It was great making friends with these Palestinian guys. It was nice to put aside all of the political and ethical issues that we have studied here in Jerusalem and just sweat and play a hard game of ball. The games were intense, but after every game we shook hands and slapped backs and chatted with them in our very limited Arabic. They loved it when we told them that they played like Kobe Bryant or Lebron James. Playing Shabbat ball in West Jerusalem was the best opportunity I have had to interact with locals. I came away recognizing the ability sports have to unite people and the importance of bridging the gaps that exist in the world today.
Basketball in the park at night.
Investing a Few Minutes to Make Friends Kyle Stuart e arrived at the airport in Cairo with some time to spare before boarding the plane to Luxor. We passed through the security and made our way to the plane by taking the airport shuttle. It seemed that everyone was excited for our short trip to our new destination. I sat right behind the first class section where there were a lucky few in our group having a good time making fun of us â€œpeasantsâ€? sitting in coach. I took my seat by the window wondering who would sit next to me. Toward the end of the line, an Arab man sat down beside me and smiled slightly, not making very much eye contact. He was in his late twenties and well dressed, wearing a suit and tie even though it was hot for us all in the summer weather. We sat for a few minutes looking at the group of people having fun in front of us, drinking juice and eating snacks in first class. After a few minutes of silence, I broke the ice by introducing myself in the limited Arabic phrases I have picked up. He immediately seemed to change his serious, silent look to appreciation and joy since I wanted to take the effort to talk to him and try my Arabic. From the time we sat on the plane and started talking at the airstrip in Cairo to the point where I walked off the plane in Luxor, we were talking nonstop about various topics. I learned he was from Cairo and that he came from a big family, and that he also had been married
for just a few months. We talked some about Islamic and Egyptian culture, but he soon wanted to learn more about
The infamously gregarious Kyle in Egypt a day after the airplane ride
me. I had to inform him that I had given my word not to discuss religious matters while in the region, which he seemed to understand. His biggest interest was how he could best continue to perfect his English. He had studied English in public school and seemed to communicate quite well despite it not being his native language. At times he had a difficult time understanding my Tennessee English, but we worked through the communication barriers when we got stuck on words. I was able to learn about forty new Arabic words that he thought would be useful for me to know and I helped him with some grammar questions he had about English. I was able to learn a lot about his region and some of his favorite things. He asked me how
to act or what to say when he met future foreigners so he could continue to practice his English. I told him to be honest and true to himself, and he seemed to really appreciate that. I realized we were getting closer to landing in Luxor, so I asked all of my remaining questions and then waited for the plane to stop for us so we could walk off the plane. We both thanked each other and expressed how much we enjoyed visiting, knowing that we wouldn’t see each other again. We shook hands before walking down the stairs from the plane. I gained a great respect and love for those that live in other parts of the world, particularly Egyptians and those not of my faith. There are great people everywhere and we can be great influences through our actions and kindness. Another story I have is when I was waiting to begin our tour of the Supreme Court. Sitting on the stairs that led inside the building, I noticed a small group not with ours that walked in. An older couple entered slowly and made their way in my direction. The couple gave me a big, warm smile and sat down beside me, and I immediately struck up a good conversation with the man. They explained that they were briefly visiting from outside the Chicago and had come to attend a grandchild’s Bat Mitzvah celebration. After talking with the man for about five minutes, he asked me if I was Jewish and I said I wasn’t but that I was Christian. He said that he thought I was Jewish and then laughed slightly, since I had apparently seemed Jewish. He asked how our schooling has been in the Holy Land and how I had enjoyed myself here so far. I expressed that I had learned a great deal about the area and even Judaism and that I have a great
respect for it and would like to continue learning more. I then noticed that on the top part of his left arm there were tattooed numbers. I suddenly realized that the man I had been speaking with was a Holocaust survivor. I asked him if he had lived in any other countries, such as England, and he said that he had and was born in Germany close to the Polish border. He then told me that he was liberated from a concentration camp in Germany and later traveled to America where he lives today. I continued to learn about his family and current situation without knowing any more about his experiences in Germany. We talked about baseball, food, and other such topics for a while before the tour started, and toward the end of our conversation I asked him one last question. I asked, “What would be some good advice that you have that would be beneficial to me?” He thought for a few seconds, then stated, “Just be yourself.” Then he added, “Don’t be prejudiced toward anyone.” I thanked him for the great advice, and it has stuck with me ever since. I have since considered the things he must have experienced in his lifetime, and I marvel that he has been able to come away with respect for others instead of facing them with an anger that may be justifiable. We shared a few more laughs, then continued on with our tour. I expressed my appreciation for meeting him and asked if I could have a picture with him since we had just become friends. That was by far the best part of my day— getting to interact with a man who had his priorities straight in life and who was able to share a portion of his advice with me. Hopefully these two small experiences will help us take advantage of investing even a few minutes with others so we
What is Jerusalem: A Numbered List
Jessica Bodily These people eat the same food as us...with major differences. The difference is this: everything tastes different. This can be traced to the dill. It's really that simple. Jerusalem is made of hills. And tels. We haven't walked on flat ground in months. But I hear there's some flat desert called the Negev. Musallam taught us that; don't ever forget it. Unfortunately, there will never be another time when people are as impressed with our Chaco, watch, swimming suit, and closerto-elbow-than-shoulder farmer tans. It's too bad, because I would totally rock that contest. We can walk continuously for about 24 hours before needing any kind of breakâ€”unless it is on a field trip, in which case we may need to rest more often, as it's hard to learn and walk at the same time. Dr. Kearl should no longer be allowed to orient people. The only useful thing he told us was the times our flights left. It is possible to have meaningful conversations on a bus, in the JC, on THE hill, and near a mosaic, as well as at the Garden Tomb and Gethsemane. It's how we've grown together. Diarrhea also brings people together. I think we've all realized that we're nerds. We've accepted and embraced it. I think that we best express it through Bible jokes. Who else but 79 intellectual, exceptional students could call someone a "cedar of Lebanon" and understand that it is offensive? In fact, I just
heard someone say, "I speak simply so that everyone can understand,â€? and the response was, "You're like a parable." 9. Despite popular belief, Jerusalem in May is not hot. In fact we should think back to those first couple of months...whoever made the packing list should actually come here, because one jacket did not cut it. I guess it is hot now, though. 10. We've all been encouraged to write on things here, and they don't even care. I know that I left my mark on the JC underneath it all. And I may or may not have carved my initials into the Dome of the Rock. 11. People look at us, and because they are so clever, they call us Mormons. I don't think any of us have the heart to tell them that we actually prefer to be called LDS students living abroad and learning at the Jerusalem Center for Near Eastern Studies, also known as the Mormon University. 12. There was this one time that the Pope visited, and he didn't say hi. In fact, he was an inconvenience to all of us. I remember having to rock climb back up the Center when the road was closed. Remember when we saw that one mosaic in Galilee? I loved 13. that. 14. We all need our privacyâ€”some more than others. We all need entertainmentâ€”some more than others. At times, these two needs conflict and things get tense. Viva La Vida is the best dance song ever. Jerusalem bells are 15. ringing... 16. Over the past 4 months, I've realized that the natives do not speak our same language. In fact, it is a different language altogether. In fact, there are two different languages that these people are always speaking.
Firebons are better than their American equivalentâ€”I think they are called bonfires? 18. Genie pants have become a phenomenon because they are the most freeing thing we're allowed to wear. And they are good on all body shapes, sizes, and types--they make everyone look like a blob. 19. We live in a limestone bubble (credit: Kyle Stuart). We go to church in our bubble. We go to school in our bubble. We stay in our bubble until 3:00 on Fridays. For all the time we spend in our white bubble, it is surprising that we still love it here. 20. I know that for me, being from Springville, it was never necessary for me to have an entire control room of security guards at my beck and call. Or rather, at McKenzie's beck and call. But I'm going to feel vulnerable when I get back to Utah and all that protects me from the outside world is a lock on my door. 21. You know that you're living right when being barefoot and stealing food from the Oasis are two major sins. 22. It is quite the irony that there is more than one article of clothing that you're allowed to wear in public but not in private... aka genie pants, flip flops, hats, etc. 23. Let's never forget that fateful week when we stressed ourselves to a point that never needed to be reached. Remember that study guides can be useful bargaining tools, that Google docs are life savers, and that crying to your professor WILL help. 24. Girls, let's not forget that there are other men just waiting back in Provo. Boys, let's remember that we're as good as you're going to get. On the first walk through the Old City, I'm pretty sure we all 25. noticed the same thing. Odors. Smells. Scents. Butchered animals. Pink broccoli/cauliflower. Flies on gummies. T-shirts. Old metal.
Bakeries. Shwarma. Dead shark. Oh, hey, and wasn't there some Church of the Holy Sepulchre or something? 26. It's sad when you've become so removed from the entertainment world that you think a 3D movie at the City of David and a pirated copy of 17 Again should be nominated for Academy Awards. 27. Boys find it unattractive when you eat too much pita, Nutella, and peanut butter. At least, they pretend they think so. In reality, they are just selfish and want it all for themselves. 28. Never before in our lives have we enjoyed bus rides so much. I almost want longer bus ridesâ€”none of this ten-minutes-to-the-nextstop junk. 29. Ayman Jebara. Cary Crall. "I like it so much." Seductive clicking sound that means no. Just remember that he liked the second class way better than the first. For you Hebrew kids...at least you know your Hebrew alphabet. 30. There comes a time when you have to just say, "NO, I actually don't want to go with you to look at olive wood again." It almost became a cool hangout spot. 31. Falafels and Schawerma/shwarma. However you want to spell it. 32. Ophir and Musallam. Yardin and Adnan. Letâ€™s just remember how different Jews and Palestinians can be, as seen in these two teachers. 33. Remember looking at the board in Aladdin's Money Exchange and every note said not to be afraid of Musallam? And yet we all were? Still are? Maybe it will become clear when we get home. 34. Suddenly, it became okay to eat 15 desserts a day. Gelato, mousse (why is it always mousse?), dessert waffles, crepes, one
shekel popsicles, Jewish cookies, pop rock chocolate, gummies, AND that midnight Bueno bar all in one day should NOT be normal. 35. You probably won't get on a stationary bike for another year. 36. No matter how many times you describe how disgusting it was to be stuck in the Great Pyramid along with 50 Asian tourists, nobody else will ever understand. 37. I think we've all come to recognize the smell of old rocks, and I'm not sure if it is impressive or not. If we were to have a smelling contest and that was one of the challenges we would all rock it (please, no pun intended). 38. Brother Huff: "I show you." "Lez go!" Always with ice cream in hand. But he’s the greatest teacher—we know what every word in the Bible means now. Brother Masters: The vulture dance. "The Sword of the Lord 39. and of Gideon." Sister Masters: "I got a masters in Masters." 40. Brother Skinner: "Hold onto your togas." The “What Every Woman Needs to Know about Men” speech (it doesn't matter if he puts away his socks or not). His incredible testimony of our Savior. Possibly Indiana Jones? 41. Brother Brown: The hands, the hands. Lessons from Luke. A secret hippie, rebel, crazy guy masquerading as a serious JC director. 42. Dr. Allen: At this point in time he just has to look at us and then we know what we're doing wrong. He also knows just what is wrong with one look. 43. Brother Whipple: Remember when he fell asleep during church and forgot to play the organ? That IS Brother Whipple. Good thing Sister Whipple is there to guide him. Tender.
President Okiishi: Little known fact—he works out every morning. And he has those screwdrivers for your glasses. And he shot his friend on purpose. 45. SNEACHING. We're all secretly one-uppers who hate sitting through other people's presentations, yet every single one of us took 17 minutes on each "sneachee." 46. There are times when you really understand how you've totally lost all concept of money. 5 Egyptian pounds to one dollar. 3.92 shekels to one dollar. 7 Jordanian dinars to one dollar. What is a dollar anyway? Why do we spend 20 minutes bartering to save one shekel...it's only 25 cents! Sometimes we express ourselves in strange ways—like 47. through a poetry slam. I think we found out who is secretly emotional and who tried to mask their emotions with a "silly" poem. We all know what they're really like... 48. We have skills. Many skills. We have talents. Some of these are musical, some are academic, some are emotional (like they're good friends or listeners or whatever), but some were not revealed until a camera caught them. These were revealed at Oscar night. 49. I just want to say that I've never been to a good talent show before now. We are talented. Who knew that guitar, ukulele, piano and dance could all fit seamlessly into one show? I think it is symbolic of how we all have seamlessly become one unified whole. I could be wrong, though. 50. At some point, you do give into the pressure to be American— to be hardcore, cheesy fans. This moment came when 45 students bombarded the Globulus Theater to see Harry Potter 6. I was Draco Malfoy, and that's all you need to know. 51. There are times when you wake up in the middle of the night and you think to yourself, "Why is my roommate singing in their
sleep?" but then you remember that there is this "call to prayer" that goes off five times a day. 52. Omar and Muhammad are wanted men. That's all I'm saying. 53. Remember the field trip final and Brother Brown posted clues all over the Center? That was kind of fun. 54. Foosball should be a calm game during which you exert very little energy. I think we’ve all found this is not the case. 55. John Tucker Must Die is not just a movie. It is playing out in real life. 4 girls. 1 John Tucker. 56. There was a time when 60 girls were ecstatic to welcome one Nathan Huff home from the mission—new blood, you know. I don’t think any of us were disappointed… 57. When you’re sitting in the Oasis and there is a sudden outcry of more than just one girl, you can bet that Brent is at that table. 58. Did you know that in Jordan they kill dogs? And that cats are considered the bomb.com here? That is why we’re overrun with felines. 59. Pyramids. Sphinx. Petra. Dome of the Rock. Caesarea Phillipi. Eilat. Megiddo. We went everywhere and we saw everything. From Egypt to Jordan and from Dan to Beersheba. (A Biblical reference that I’m sure you all got.) 60. Just watch, all of us are going to get fined for smuggling in illegal Jordanian movies. Ponder on the Oasis, the computer room, the study rooms, the 61. shekel shack, the forum, the auditorium, the classrooms, the biblical gardens, our bedrooms, our balconies, the bomb shelter, the gym, the elevators, the library, the museum-ish area, the control room, the laundry room/club shelter, and those gates that keep us locked in. The JC is quite an impressive place.
This list could go on forever and I know that each of you could contribute something different and we would ALL be able to laugh at it. That's the beauty of the Jerusalem Center. We've found a way to transcend who is "my friend" and who is "your friend." We're all friends. I know that you'll read through this list and memories will be sparked and that's the goal. But more than just these funny memories, I hope that we never forget going to church in the auditorium overlooking the city, being within walking distance from the locations of the most incredible events in history, being given the opportunity to bear testimony on the shores of Galilee, and serving the community and the people here in the Center. I know that I have learned that Jesus Christ loves me and it has been a realization that has come as a result of everything that has happened to us. While we haven't been translated, I do believe that we have found a way to live as a Zion people (Kearl was right) and it is because we focus so much of ourselves on Christ. It has been an experience unlike any other. Oh, Jerusalem, if I forget youâ€Ś
Final fireside in the auditorium with Huffâ€™s class
Much is Required Alli Warner hrough my experiences here in the Holy Land, I have learned what an incredibly unique group of people we really are. We all have been told growing up that we are a peculiar people. We stand up for things that most kids our age wouldn’t think twice about. We not only stand out physically based on our dress standards, but our way of life and mindset is different than most people in this stage of life. Being in the Old City, I feel like we stick out even more— not in comparison to the locals, but to the tourists. Rachel Curtis and I were walking out of the Garden Tomb, and as we were leaving, a man selling beads standing near the exit stopped and asked us if we Mormons would like to buy a necklace. Rachel told him, “No, thank you,” and then asked how he knew we were Mormon. He told us that he could see it in our faces. I find this one of the biggest compliments we could receive while being here. I have felt the impact that we have had on the people here through their simple passing comments. When Karyn, Matt, and I were making our way to the Russian Orthodox Church of the Ascension, a man standing in the entrance to an overlook of the city asked us if we were Mormon. Matt turned his head to tell him that we were. As we began to walk away, he said, “God bless you.” This simple statement got me thinking. People really do notice us, and they really do care about us. We bring something to the table here that is unique and different. I don’t think it’s possible to put a finger on it, but we seem to possess respect for others’
religious practices while still standing up for our own. We demonstrate the ability to give people time and allow them to get to know who we are without being able to say it. Another interesting experience I had was while on the Kotel Tunnel Tour. Our tour guide reminded us of a very important task we have due to the nature of our stay here in the Holy Land. He said, “While you are discovering Jerusalem and discovering Israel, you are bringing back what you study to where you live in the West Coast and North America. It’s so important, because most people don’t know exactly what’s happening. They know what the newspapers say and that they need to do this and that. Even my grandfather—I went to visit him in Canada a year ago. He said, ‘You are Jewish; you don’t know anything. You need to bring the Western Wall over here to Montreal, pray in Canada, have peace, and that’s it—enough fighting.’ But it’s so complicated—thank you, grandfather.” After listening to what he had to say, I realized that we have a duty as Mormons and as Americans who have been given this opportunity not to just visit the sites for a short while, but to truly engulf ourselves in the culture and learn about this conflict from both points of view. Being able to be here and having the opportunity to learn and understand the conflict from the people it affects the most is truly remarkable. One thing that I have decided to do with the knowledge and understanding I have gained while at the Jerusalem Center is to share it. I know that before I left, I got mixed opinions on what to expect and watch out for while I was preparing for my stay in the Holy Land. It was mostly full of Westernized media stereotypes, and now I realize that it only covered a very small percent of both parties involved. I feel that I have been
given the opportunity to share what is really going on here in order to clear up some peopleâ€™s mixed up views of the Middle East.
On the roof of the Old City for the last time!
When I signed up for this program I had no idea what I was getting myself into. My expectation of what the program would be like was that I would have a great summer, learn about other religions as well as my own, and grow as an individual. I had no idea I would learn of the huge significance I have as a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints while I was in Israel, a place that allows me to speak nothing of my religion. While being here, I have more deeply understood how closely my interactions are observed. While we are students at the Jerusalem Center, we are constantly watched by everyone in the city. Through our experiences here, we can touch othersâ€™ lives without even knowing it.
The Bond Between Brother and Sister Alex Alard t this stage in our lives, we are making huge decisions and constantly trying to plan our futures. The interesting thing is that once we think we have things pretty well figured out, Heavenly Father opens our eyes to something we have never before considered. I have always been one to love organization and having a plan. My plan was to graduate in April 2009 and start working full time until I had enough experience to apply to MBA schools. My sister Raven has always loved traveling, and one thing on her “bucket list” was the Jerusalem study abroad. Considering Raven’s goal and the desire to visit the Holy Land instilled in me after working with my mission president in Argentina (who was a practicing Jew before converting), I decided to go for it. Raven had just returned from a study abroad in Spain, and I approached her shortly after to ask if she would be willing to go this upcoming summer to Jerusalem before I graduated. She looked at me like I was joking, and I quickly helped her realize that I was very serious. The timing was difficult for her and we were not sure how we were going to raise all the money, but we knew that we both would love to go together. We applied and prayed that we both would get in. The letters of acceptance came and we were blessed to find the means in order for both of us to go. Now that we are here, I can’t believe how incredible it has been to share all these experiences with each other. Raven and I had a strong bond before my
mission, but once I got home, life was busy and we did not get to spend time or talk like we did before. Our time here in Jerusalem has given us the opportunity to pick up where we left off. The experience of meeting new people and sharing all of this is blessing enough. But what puts it over the top for Raven and I coming here together, as family and close friends, is that we were able to talk about our experiences here and come to understand each other on a level only we could. I love my family and am so grateful I get to be Ravenâ€™s older brother. The experiences we have had here will always be with us and will represent a special connection between us for the rest of our lives. Now Raven and I hope our younger sister and brother will find a way to strengthen their relationship, as we have been able to do.
“Be Human!” Mason McMullin n my life, inspiration has often come from random and unforeseen experiences. Our trip to the Galilee held the unique and special opportunity of chatting with Oscar and Dina Kohl, two survivors of the Holocaust. What a choice and memorable experience it was to sit and listen at the feet of to two people who had experienced so much and would openly recall their difficult past. It truly was a once in a lifetime opportunity.
Throughout our conversation, I learned many priceless life lessons. Perhaps the most meaningful lesson came in Oscar’s response to the question, “What should our take home message be?” Without skipping a beat, Oscar replied, “Be human!” As I sat there with internal butterflies, Oscar went on to clarify his statement. He mentioned how important it is to treat all humanity with dignity, respect, and love. Our talents should definitely be used to give life to those who have been beaten down by the battles of life. In his words I could hear the Savior’s voice, echoing with the teachings of the Beatitudes and then following up with the commandment to “love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them who despitefully use you and persecute you” (3 Nephi 12:44). The more I reflect on Oscar’s and Dina’s words and stories, the more I realize how important it is to develop these characteristics. When
put into practice, they bring all people to higher ground.
The Power of Music and People Amy Briggs hrough my time at the Jerusalem Center, I have realized the power of music and people. This is not a totally new concept to me, but my understanding of each component has increased immeasurably.
While here, I have found that I am surrounded by greatness. Everyone is so amazing and talented in their own individual ways. I have loved the abundance of music this summer. Whether played in Sacrament meeting or sung on field trips or at the Garden Tomb, each song has affected me. Sacrament meetings have been my favorite. So many students are willing to share their abilities with everyone and perform musical numbers during church. It is these musical numbers that have really brought the Spirit to my Shabbat and have opened up my heart to the Spirit and to inspiration. I have received numerous answers to prayers during musical numbers because the Spirit is so strong. I feel that music makes the connection between my Heavenly Father and I that much stronger. This summer, as I have come to realize the power of music, I have started focusing more on the words of each song and thinking more about what I am singing. This, too, has greatly strengthened my testimony. I believe that the Spirit speaks to me most easily through music. The power of music is so real. After the testimony meeting on the shores of Galilee, a group of people began to sing hymns around the fire. I stayed and joined in, and as I sang, I felt the Spirit
strongly. As I pondered upon the words and phrases of each song we sang, the Spirit testified to me the truthfulness of what I was singing. This singing was one of my strongest spiritual experiences on this trip. As I pondered the words to each song, the Lord began answering each of my prayers. I have never felt such a strong affirmation of my Heavenly Father’s love for me. I am so grateful for everyone here who was willing to share their talents and skills, providing me the opportunity to strengthen my testimony and receive revelation. I am also so grateful for the people I was able to associate with this semester. I have learned something from each person, and I have learned a lot about myself from the people here. I always knew people could affect other people greatly in life, but I had never experienced this phenomenon before coming here. There are some people here that have made a great positive impact on my life and probably do not know it. They have helped me to grow and change. Their friendship and love for me has impacted me more than they can ever imagine. I just want to thank everyone—those people especially—for making my semester so amazing. I am a different but better person since coming to Jerusalem. I am changed, and I am grateful for this change. Never underestimate the effect you have on someone’s life. The smallest act of love and kindness can be the turning point in someone’s life. If we always strive to live as Jesus Christ lived and follow his teachings, commandments, and gospel, we will be instruments in the Lord’s hands, working miracles in people’s lives. We will be blessings to others around us. Thank you for blessing me and my life.
A More Objective World View Adnan Musallam t was such a great privilege to teach all of you this past Spring/Summer Session 2009.You are the 9th group from BYU/Provo that I have taught since Spring Session of 2007.
All of you are so thoughtful and so appreciative of your visit to my hometownâ€”Bethlehem. And this is not to mention that all of you have exhibited all semester the determination to learn the other side of the coin of the Palestinian Israeli conflict and to enrich your holistic cultural experience in the Holy Land. I am so happy that the BYU/Jerusalem Center has given you this unique experience. You will return home with a more mature and a more objective world view. I will miss all of you.
Mawwiage Brad Sawaya think I am the closest one of us all to getting married. Much of my time and effort here has been spent preparing for that. Naturally, I have observed the amazing elderly couples and the way they treat each other. I know all of you have observed these things as well. The purpose of this entry in our wonderful book is to remind you of a couple things I have noticed. Maybe in some future time as you are drawing near to marriage or are married, you will read this and it will be of some help.
Brother and Sister Thomas: Sister Thomas is understanding. I had a conversation with the Thomases as we were on the felucca ride on the Nile. We were talking about working long hours. Sister Thomas said something to the effect of, “Yes, it is important if you want to excel at what you are doing. It doesn’t matter what job it is.” I am sure Sister Thomas had many long days and possibly nights because her husband was a doctor. I am also sure Brother Thomas gave Sister Thomas all the support she needed in serving in such a challenging calling as she did (Young Women leader of the church or something like that). The Okiishis: A few months before coming to the Center, Sister Okiishi experienced a horrible knee injury.
Her first thought was, “I can’t go to Jerusalem.” Their thoughts are always centered around serving the Lord. The Browns: Solid. Just solid. The most important thing I can think to say is that Sister Brown always attended Brother Brown’s Sunday night lectures. She was always there supporting him, watching with pride as her husband taught. How wonderful it must have felt for Brother Brown to have that. No wonder he is so amazing. How adventuresome they both are. Also, who can forget Brother Brown giving Chadwick a huge bear hug and telling him he loves him anyway? The Masters: How many times did we hear “Hello, gorgeous wife, I love you?” The Huffs: I imagine they would see this as a blessing more than anything, but I have noticed their bravery in taking their family overseas. Taking their kids in an atmosphere such as this had to require great faith, in my opinion. The Whipples: What can I say about them? Just picture the smiles on their faces, and that is the best example I can give. Also, they adopted one child. Brother Whipple taught me that adoption is great and that many people that don’t adopt should adopt. The Skinners: On one of our first field trips, we visited a site in the middle of nowhere. As we were walking to the top of the hill, Brother Skinner propped open his elbow and Sister Skinner stuck her arm through, accepting his help on the uneven and rocky ground. Not a word was
said. I remember Sister Skinner telling me her husband is happiest when he is teaching and with his kids. The Allens: I consistently notice the fun they have together. What an awesome, righteous posterity they have! I think they know what true joy is all about. Brother Allen taught me to have a lot of kids. Early on in the semester, I told Brother Allen I was getting married. He said, “It’s good you’re here. Being here will help you be a better husband and father.” I looked at him, not disagreeing, but wondering if he might explain more specifically. “The more Christlike you are, the better husband and father you will be. I can’t think of a better place in the world to learn how to be more Christlike than here.” While a small group of us was at a Dead Sea salt manufacturing place, we watched a small video. During the video, a model in a bikini came on. Brother Allen turned his head and looked at the pictures on the wall. I thought that was cool. Then I thought, well, maybe it was just a coincidence. Then she came on again, for a little longer this time. Brother Allen did the same thing—turned his head until the scene changed. What a great example for us to follow. Brother Allen is truly striving to let virtue garnish his thoughts. Tawfic brings his son to work with him from now and then. Mr. Hayet takes time off to support his child in a competition. Love you all.
Jesus Wept Didi Mehner Jesus wept (John 11:35). One of the shortest verses in the Bible, and yet one of the most intimate. I love this verse, and while living in the Holy Land, I have come to understand the detailed depth of the Savior’s compassion in this story and how it is manifest not only in Mary and Martha’s lives, but each of our own stories and lives. Although I have read this story hundreds of times before, reading this account of the miracle of Lazarus this time struck a chord in me. As I read about Christ coming to see if Lazarus had really passed on to the next life, it started to register to me how connected Christ was to this family and to their suffering. Jesus knew He would shortly raise Lazarus from the dead, He understood that He had the power to save him, He knew that their heartache would cease to exist after He performed the miracle, and yet He knew that in that moment, they felt pain, and He wept with them. The creator of worlds without end wept with his sisters as they experienced the sorrows of loss in this life for but a moment. I have experienced the sorrows of loss in my life, and therefore can relate to Mary and Martha’s pain at being frustrated with the Savior not coming to their house right away when Lazarus was dying. As many of you know, I lost my mom four years ago. It was horrible and tragic and a
nightmare which had come to life. I wondered many times as a 15-year-old how the Lord could take away one of the most cherished relationships in my life. I wondered how He could allow one of the most righteous people I knew to suffer so intensely for so long. I wondered how I was supposed to get through the first years of dating and driving without my mom, how I was supposed to get through marriage and labor and just everyday life without the support of my best friend. I am sure I experienced similar feelings as Mary and Martha must have when they lost their beloved brother, Lazarus, for those four days. I wondered why, out of all the people in the world, it was my mom that had to be taken. Just as Mary and Martha were frustrated that the Savior did not come quickly enough, I felt frustrated that the Savior did not allow my mom to overcome the cancer she had been able to fight in the past. But just as the Savior came to perform a miracle for Mary and Martha after four days of Lazarus being dead, the Savior has performed miracles in my life since my mom has died. Since the time of my motherâ€™s passing, I have come to realize that the Savior shows His compassion in different ways throughout my life the way he did for Mary and Martha in their time of need. Christ knows how short my life is in the eternal perspective. Christ knows that everything will be made whole through His sacrifice. He knows that my mom is so close to me in all that I do still, and yet He provides his loving compassion through little miracles in my everyday life. Even though He understands the eternal perspective,
He understands the pain that we go through, even if it is only for a moment. He knows how difficult it is to be 19 and not have a mother. Heavenly Father has given me this trial, but he has given me many resources in order to get through it. A small, blue, tattered BYU journal with the name Barbara Jamison embossed on the cover was one of those small miracles He has given me to show me His compassion. I found my mom’s journal from when she came here back in 1978. At my same age, she had experienced many of the things I am experiencing—not just on this trip, but in life decisions she was making. Many of her fears, her goals, and her problems were the same as mine. She had fears about her future. She liked ice cream and worried about her weight. She did not know who she would marry or who her children would be, let alone what she would major in. She stressed out about tests and about her hair. She had inadequacies. She loved to dance. She had crushes on different boys in her group. One of them even gave her flowers that are still dried in the back of the journal. My mom wrote faithfully in her journal every single night. I know down to the day what was happening in my mother’s life 31 years ago while here in the Holy Land. She hiked the same Mt. Sinai I did, she visited Jordan, she sang on the Mount of Olives. At 19, she was just like all of us, trying to somehow make sense and beauty out of all of these seemingly meaningless details and significant decisions. She was trying to figure out who she was and who she was going to become. And yet her
19-year-old self did not know that her simple words written every day here would serve as one of the most profound spiritual experiences for her daughter at age nineteen 31 years later. This journal has served as an intimate physical manifestation of the Saviorâ€™s compassion for me. I believe He allowed this miracle to happen in order for me to continue to know my mom even though she is not here physically. Although the Savior did not raise my mom from the dead, He allowed her 19-year-old self to be brought to life to me through her journal writing. The Savior weeps with me over and over again throughout my life for the loss of my mom, but his tears turn into miracles as He also reminds me of His compassion through small details like this journal. While getting to know each of you here, I have come to recognize how much each of us need His compassion, no matter what our struggle is. He understands. He weeps with us, because He knows more than anyone else the pain we experience. He sends us miracles to us to help us feel his tears. It is through the miracle of these tears that we are able to find comfort and peace in this life and become one with our Savior the way Mary, Martha, and Lazarus have showed us. Through this experience in the Holy Land, I have come to understand the miracle of how involved both the Savior and my mother are in my life.
Six Years in the Middle East Gayle Brown fter living in the Middle East for six years, I have more thoughts running around in my head than I have space to write. I have been grateful for the opportunity to live here. The first time we lived here was 30 years ago, and we had five children aged 3-10 with us. It was a defining experience for them and for us. Each experience here has been unique for us. We have come away with wonderful memories and wonderful friendships. The 60 students from our first group in 1978 are still very much connected and plan a reunion tour in 2010. They lived in the Vienna Hotel and Ramat Rachel with very Spartan accommodations, but they came away with the same experiences that the 2009 group does. They traveled to the same places and, in a place like Jerusalem; some things don’t change very much in 30 years. The biggest change that I notice is that in 1979, mail-call was the highlight of the day. Now we rarely expect anything to arrive for us via mail. We’ve received two letters so far. Students often ask me what my favorite place is in Jerusalem. That is always hard for me to answer. The whole city is fascinating to me, and I enjoy where I am at the moment. I’ve had reflective moments at the Garden Tomb; I’ve loved wandering through the Old City. I used to ride the buses, take them to the end of the line, and wander through neighborhoods. Each field trip I go on is a new experience for me. Even though I’ve been to most sites numerous times, the presentation of the teacher and the interaction with the
students makes each outing unique. I’ve never been bored with repeated trips. My favorite times of day are mornings and evenings. I love to watch the city of Jerusalem fill with light in the morning. I’ve taken many photos to try and capture the lighting of the city. Nothing does it justice. I love watching the warm hues of the sunset from many locations in the Center. The upper garden is a particularly beautiful place to watch the sunset. It seems that Jerusalem is bathed with holy light from sunup to sundown. I can’t clearly articulate the feelings of sunrises and sunsets, but they seem to give a blessing and a benediction to my day as I try to remember the significance of the events that took place here so many years ago. We love watching the students. That is really why we are here. It isn’t fun being the “enforcers,” but it is wonderful hearing your talks, listening to your testimonies, watching the light in your eyes, and having conversations with you. We know we are old enough to be your grandparents. We must look like we are ancient. But inside we feel like one of you. We pray for you daily. We hope that you find what you have come here for. We love seeing the light in your eyes. Now and then we notice that it isn’t there, and we are concerned. Usually, it reappears. My wish for this student group, and for all students who study at the Jerusalem Center, is that there will be no empty chairs. I hope that in your quiet, reflective moments, you will feel the Savior’s love and the place for you in His kingdom. I hope you will live with the honor and refinement that are required of disciples of the Savior. I hope you will “Be Wise” in the way you live your lives.
I’m Going to Miss… Rachel Lee ’m going to miss this summer of ages 18 to 28, secret “smart kid” study guides, viral comas on the bus floor, and impromptu music videos. In a few short weeks, I’m going to get off that Delta airplane and blow into the SLC airport, where I stood four months earlier with a shiny nametag and a homesick heart. It will be then that I’ll know how much I’ve really changed.
Culture Kristen Boyd ulture. It's a strange concept, seeing as how it is different in every country in the world. It even differs from city to city, from one home to the next. Neighbors may grow up with a different understanding of what culture consists of, dependent on family customs and traditions. Culture can be made up of social customs, religious traditions, educational emphases, work ethics, history, and other such elements. It is interesting to note that we are born into a certain culture and thus become accustomed to cultural norms. There reaches a point where we do not see our own surroundings as a unique culture, but rather as what we term "normal life.â€?
The true confusion surrounding culture manifests itself strongest when you, being accustomed to your own culture, immerse yourself in a different set of customs and traditions. This is where the term "culture shock" comes into play. The change from one's own way of life to a new set of customs sometimes produces uneasiness or feelings of anxiety. At other times, being immersed in a different culture produces an appreciation for differences in the world. It also tends to create a greater love for one's own culture. As we experience different ways of life, we develop an increasing love for customs, activities, or even food that we have grown up accustomed to.
Our experience here in the Holy Land reflects these different reactions to culture on a daily basis. The beginning of the trip displayed an excitement for all of us in discovering the new culture of Jerusalem. The first day here consisted of running through the halls telling everyone to run outside and hear the Muslim call to prayer from a neighboring minaret. Now, the call to prayer seems a basic part of every day. Many of us don't even consciously hear it anymore. Just as our own culture became “normal” to us as we grew up, our new mix of cultures here in Jerusalem has become second nature. Yet why is it that a night in Amman, Jordan yielded a trip to the mall for Pizza Hut, ice cream, and Cinnabons? With our newly acquired array of cultures, we often desire a taste of home.
J erusalem girls being… umm…. cultural on the Mt. of Olives
Even though new cultures broaden our horizons and help our understanding of the world, there will always be a familiar ring to the culture we call our own. As we return home and find ourselves in the midst of familiar culture, there are certain elements of our experience here in Jerusalem that will remain with us. These elements will find their way into our lives back home, and consequently, there are parts of this experience here in the Holy Land that will never leave us. There are also parts of the Jerusalem culture that people back home will not understand because they have not experienced it. Our families will not know why we wear genie pants all the time, sing Hebrew folk songs as we walk through the halls, or possess an inexplicable infatuation with pita bread. These elements, and many more, from the culture here in Jerusalem have been an adventure to discover, and will remain treasures to rediscover as we again become accustomed to life back home.
Religious Envy Brother and Sister Skinner s we have lived in this country, we have met many wonderful people of all faiths. We have come to appreciate their devotion and fully believe in the principle of “religious envy,” the idea that there is some aspect of every person’s religion which we can apply to our own circumstances. These are some of our memories and observations.
--Father Angelo's willingness to give up all of his material wealth to serve the Lord. --A Hassidic Jew praying with his whole soul in Me’a She’arim. --Christian bells on Sunday morning ringing throughout the city of Jerusalem. --Bassam, our security officer, explaining how he tries to teach his sons to pray five times a day. He relates prayer to wanting to eat once a day or wanting to eat more often. --Jewish children at the Western Wall receiving their first Hebrew book of scripture and sitting with their parents, who carefully help them read the word of God. --Justina, the custodian of St. Mark’s church, standing in the chapel above the “other” upper room and explaining the miracles she has seen in that place.
--Jewish men marching around the synagogue holding the Torah for all to touch and kiss as they exult in the word of God. --Lutheran Church members building the Augusta Victoria Hospital to provide hospital care to Palestinian Christians who otherwise would have no access to medical care. --Amoun Sleem from the Gypsy Center who is trying to make sure gypsy children stay in school and the women have skills to earn their way in this world. --Thousands of Christians gathered on Palm Sunday at the Bethphage Church to reenact Christ's Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem during the last week of his life. --The sweet caretakers of the Garden Tomb who work so hard to create an environment where we can ponder the resurrection of our Lord. --Shopkeepers we have known who through trying to make a sale have become true friends. They are scrupulously honest, thus honoring their religious commitments. --Listening to the all-male choir of Jerusalemâ€™s Great Synagogue chant the weekly Torah portion as they are wrapped in their prayer shawls. --Kneeling in Ammanâ€™s Blue Mosque, being taught how Muslims pray by our Jordanian guide.
--The Franciscan friars who attend Gethsemaneâ€™s Garden and keep the olive grove a quiet place of contemplation. --Workers at the Center who have cared about our safety and been so helpful in making a richer experience for all of us. --Easter morning at Augusta Victoria, celebrating the Lord's resurrection with many Lutherans and other Christians while singing hymns of praise. --Jewish families walking to the synagogue on Sabbath. --Nuns who have accepted the responsibility to teach the gospel in Africa. --And last but not least, seeing the tremendous efforts of Latter-day Saints who expend great energy and time to attend church services when borders, family opposition, work commitments and geography make it so difficult to do so.
Remember Mariah Proctor Dear Mariah,
ould that the heart that we share could be permanently calmed and full of the peace that I’ve found in so many odd moments in this place. But even as I write this, the chambers of my soul feel as hotly contested by emotional forces as the place of our namesake is by physical ones. “If I forget thee, O Jerusalem” is burned into me, and yet I’ve already forgotten half of what I’ve been taught here, but I hope that I’ll not soon forget what I’ve learned. Remember the smell of frankincense and zatar and the echoes of the call to prayer and the magic of the city at twilight? Do you remember the cold roughness of Jerusalem limestone or the eyes of the women selling grape leaves at Damascus Gate? Do you remember how Galilee made you crave for the first time the ability to ‘write your hatred on ice and wait for the sun to come out?’ We’d never felt that kind of capacity for loving before, but even as I pulled back the fleshy parts of my heart to let life in, I knew that I was leaving myself exposed to the piercing of new and deeper heartbreak. Maybe you’ve felt that most acute aching by now, but I hope you still know,
as I do, in Whom you have trusted and that your heart is still fearlessly peeled back and ready. I hope you remember that night at the Western Wall, the night that confirmed your choice to pursue a study of the thoughts and feelings of the human heart above all else. Remember the stilled feet and writhing hands and pounding hearts of the devoted people around you pushing through to get as close to their beloved temple as the physical things of this world will allow them to. Remember wanting to want your temple that badly. Remember the prayers crammed as thickly as mortar into the crevices of the wall and the moment, surrounded by entreaty, that you finally realized that other people in this world are as desperate and devastated as you are. Remember the moment that you were embraced from behind and turned to see your Mom there, remember how freely and uncharacteristically you wept at that reunion. Remember looking over Motherâ€™s shoulder in tears and seeing the longing, shining eyes of another in the dark and knowing that she too will get a chance for that same glorious, long-awaited celestial reunion. That night at the wall became the reference point for all other nights so spent; thinking and praying and wondering in these places weâ€™d only heard about. I hope and pray that my decision to choose passion over practicality and the life of almost certain rejection that it will bring you somehow finds a way to be rewarding. I hope you have, by now, found the confidence to say to the people that we love that you love them.
If, at the time when you read this, some earthly trial has cut your strings and left you lying a crumpled and lifeless marionette on the planks of a rotting wooden stage, I hope that my words will bring you back from exile. That each admonition and memory will be a knot retied and that somehow you can be hoisted back up and regain your footing again. It is deep emotional water that you are wont to swim in, but there is Another who descended below it all and has tread even more fearful currents. I hope you remember the day in this place that you woke up and found that Heâ€™d changed you. I hope youâ€™ve found many more moments like it since and that the sensation never ceases to astound you. Remember that all seventy-eight of the other people here were supposed to be here at this time for your profit and learning and loving. Remember that every minute that you close your eyes to the needs of the people around you, you lose sixty seconds of light. Remember that Christ excelled socially, physically, spiritually, and intellectually, but when it came time to perform that greatest act of love, He fell back on the one thing you truly have in common: his humanity. When you see those stilled feet and writhing hands and pounding hearts that you have been given to perceive, remember humanity and remember that they arenâ€™t just praying to a wall. You are not a thing forgotten. Remember. Always,
Part of Our Extended Family Brother and Sister Allen What an amazing semester we have had with the 2009 spring/summer students! Your student group has brought excitement and enthusiasm to the Jerusalem Center. This semester has certainly been exceptional because of you. We have loved traveling with you, eating in the Oasis, enjoying your outstanding talents, and being uplifted every week by your spiritual talks, outstanding music, and powerful testimonies. You have blessed us by visiting our apartment, and our oven has produced more cookies for your group than the other three groups we have been associated with. This can be taken as a good indication of your preference toward quality gourmet cookies or perhaps of your motivation by late-night hunger pains! You have provided several opportunities for us to go on special, personal field trips to places such as Ein Gedi, emergency rooms, the Shuk, doctorsâ€™ offices, the Pita Factory, pharmacies, the Dead Sea, dental offices, and several other special sites here in the Holy Land. We hope and pray that each of you have learned the principles of repentance and can quickly apply them in your life to overcome your difficulty with the eighth commandment: THOU SHALT NOT STEAL. This semester has set an unreachable all-time record of taking more food out of the Oasis than any other group since the Second
Intifada. This unbelievable record cannot be broken until the enrollment of the JC is at full capacity. Congratulations! In addition to your thievery, your group has created and discovered many advanced techniques and nefarious ways to smuggle items out of the cafeteria past us two old people sitting by the door trying to protect the cafeteria's bottom line. Shame on you! Some of these devious methods were hilarious to us. How about hiding pita in your blouse as shoulder pads, fruit under your hat, muffins or cereal in your backpacks, Nutella in your pockets, rolls in your genie pants, or simply trying to sneak past us on the patio? However, your best technique was wearing heavy sweatshirts in the heat of the summer to hide desserts in your hoods. When caught, you had a neverending list of excuses, such as: "I didn't know,” "I forgot this sandwich was in my hand,” "I feel sick and I won't make it back to the next meal,” "You're just going to let me starve to death," and on, and on, and on. Or, there were defensive responses, such as: "Is this a new rule?” "Who made this rule?” "Do you want me to waste this food?” "Why can't we?" "When did this become the policy?" or "Where is Jim Kearl? I want to talk to him!" In spite of the above, we want you to know that we have come to think of each one of you as part of our extended family. We truly do love you and wish you the very best in the future. We know this experience in the Holy Land will be a powerful influence for good throughout your life.
Please keep in touch and let us know of your successes, weddings, and children. Highlights Roy Huff One of my favorite memories as an instructor here has been when I see a light click with a student as they make a connection that they had never made before. This has happened throughout my teaching career, but seems to occur much more frequently here as students see geography or history or culture combine to enlighten the scriptures. I had to laugh when one student said that after being in the Holy Land for two months, she suddenly realized that the Jews did not believe in Jesus Christ. She said it was another month before it dawned on her that they did not celebrate Christmas. I told her one more thing I thought might be hard for her to graspâ€”that Jesus was Jewish. I could see that she had never realized that either. Brother Skinner and I got a big chuckle out of that. I also would like to thank this wonderful group particularly for including my family in many of your adventures! Zachary was so happy to play with anybody, especially Brent Black. Holly and Kristi loved to be taught in Sunday School by Rachel and Mike and Annie. Several of you included Kristi on your excursions to the Old City. They talked about you all in glowing terms. And I will remember for quite some time the reception you gave my son Nathan when he returned from his mission to the Jerusalem Center. The tunnel he and the rest of us had to run through was one of my favorite highlights.
Thank you all, and may the Lord's choicest blessings be yours!
Favorites and Faces Brother Brown How do I love thee? Let me count the ways. – Elizabeth Barrett Browning
“What is your favorite field trip?” or “What is your favorite site?” are questions that come to me frequently. Such questions invite pondering. But even careful thought leaves me without a clear answer. For me, each piece of the student program carries a purpose and strikes an important chord. There is also a quality of the whole that is both lofty and invigorating. Of course, my first experience of going to places and talking about them on site bears a special significance. But my memories have dimmed over the thirty-plus years that have passed since those initial forays into the land. And I am thus happy once again to visit and to learn. Your coming gives me an excuse to do just that. Thank you. My prideful preference, naturally, would be to enter the classroom with you and make each of you one of my students for either a flying trip through the Old Testament or a slow-burning examination of the Gospels. Alas, I have accepted a different role that I do not always relish. But I do it because it is the right task for me to be doing at the moment. And I enjoy my association with colleagues in the Center’s administration. Particularly when on field trips,
as I see flickers of understanding in your eyes and voices, I am happy to be a small part of the discovery that all students are privileged to pass through who come to Jerusalem. At this moment, all of your faces and laughs and voices are embedded in my mind and heart. I hope that they will not dim much in coming years. I also hope that our paths will cross again in other memorable settings. But whatever those settings might be, they will have to rise to mountainous heights to equal the noteworthy cluster of experiences that we have shared here.
The ever-elusive Brother Brown
A Bittersweet Ending Mandy Roth It was the best of times; it was the worst of times. The end, and the beginning. For 79 students in the middle week of August, life had come full circle. Approximately four months ago, bags were packed and waiting by the door and airline tickets were in hand, burning holes in pockets until their inevitable use. Approximately four months ago, there was an adventure looming ahead that really only seemed like a far-off dream. This was like that, only different. The summer was concluded, the adventures fulfilled. There was nothing new about the future, it was a returning destination. A new old. They knew where they would fly to, who was there, and they perceived what awaited them would be fairly similar to what they had left behind. And yet the experiences they wished to gain before venturing off over the ocean had been experienced, and the realization was understood that it truly is the past that to some extent determines the future. The past was now different for 79 students, and so it was only appropriate to assume that the future would be different as well. The past now included swimming in the location that Jesus walked. Yes, swimming, for Christ walked upon the Sea of Galilee one clear summer night, His path illuminated by the glow of the moon overhead. The past included an afternoon upon a ship in that very same sea, and comprehension of Godâ€™s power. The ship was small, the sea was large, and the shore was only about as visible
as the distant horizon. Had a storm struck, had the tempests begun to rage, the 79 students aboard would no doubt be afraid. The storm did strike and the tempest did indeed rage as Christ was fast asleep upon a fishing vessel. His disciples, though faithful and good men, allowed Earth’s natural wonders to instigate fear. “O ye of little faith,” was Jesus’ reply when His friends awakened Him. The Lord looked up into the cloudy, opaque sky and spoke to His Father. The sky cleared, the clouds separated, and the sea grew calm. The past included knowledge—knowledge of the Bible, and of the locations of incidents within its thin pages that had previously seemed so foreign. The students had been in this foreign land, borne their testimonies in front of the rising sun on Mt. Sinai, stood on the Mount of Transfiguration, lived upon the Mount of Olives, and looked out from their patios to Mt. Moriah, and distantly, Mt. Zion. If there is one thing these students would take away, it would be an understanding of God’s fondness of high places and His humor in creating valleys. Either way, they now were armed with the comprehension of the context in which the prophets of old composed their spiritual accounts. The past included love—a love for people. An understanding that in all places people are the same, with the same needs and the same wants. No matter where these 79 students would go, they knew the people that they would encounter would have two eyes, two ears, and most importantly, that they were sons and daughters of
God just like them. They could feel the love God had for His children; they could understand His pain. When a parent watches His beloved children fight, He feels sorrow and melancholy. Wars would always remain—that’s just the way things are—but if those fighting only knew they were slaughtering their brothers. Love includes pain, and this pain also was now part of the past.
The past included an empty tomb, and these 79 people would now thank God every day for that fact. The tomb is empty, they know, because He has risen again—their Savior and Redeemer, to whom they had become so close throughout the events of the summer. They knew when they first stepped foot upon the ground of the Holy Land that there would be adventures like hiking, swimming, camel back riding, merchandise bartering, and miraculous sight seeing. Yes, the past did have those things, but the most glorious one of all that had snuck upon each one unaware was the closeness of the gospel, now tangible and fully internalized. The tomb is empty, their sins atoned for in an infinite, eternal, and individual way. Their living Christ walks next to them at all times. “Oh, Jerusalem,” they whisper to themselves, “I will not forget thee.” And no, indeed, they shall not forget. They leave as different people, with 78 friends beside them. They leave with a better knowledge of the wonders of their world, and with a better understanding of themselves. It is a bittersweet ending, but it is sweet in the fact that it is really a beginning. They had that past to now share with the future. Additionally, they knew that although they were saying goodbye to a place they’d come to know as home, the Holy Land—Jerusalem—would continue to stand. Despite its turmoil, despite its times of yore, it shall remain steadfast, awaiting the return of the Lord.
Brother Brownâ€™s Farewell Blessing
(as recorded by Chadwick)
As your district president, I invoke a blessing upon you. I call down the blessings of heaven to be upon your heads: blessings of good health throughout your lives, health of the body, mind and soul. I bless you with the aability bility to hear the words of the Lord, and as you do so, your testimonies will increase. I bless you that as you turn to the Lord, He will turn to you. I bless you that you will feel the hand of the Lord in your moments of need. I bless you that the Lord will will be your light even when the path in front of you is dark so that He may light your way. I bless you that you will know the path to follow for all your lives to come. And I do so in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
“Behold,, It is my will, that all they who call on my name, and worship me according to mine everlasting gospel, should gather together, and stand in Holy Places; “That the work of the gathering together of my saints may continue, that I may build them up unto my name upon holy places;; for the time of harvest is come, and my word must needs be fulfilled.” -Doctrine & Covenants 101: 22, 64-
Places HEAVEN ON EARTH................................................................. 203 Catherine Taggart THE VIEW FROM THE HAAS PROMENADE .................................... 207 Cary Crall EGYPT .................................................................................. 211 Raven Alard CHURCH IN EGYPT .................................................................. 217 Monica Ripplinger WILDERNESS OF ZIN AND KADESH-BARNEA ................................. 217 Mary Kate McKay MT. SINAI – TO WALK BY FAITH ............................................... 224 Megan Hirschi WESTERN WALL .................................................................... 229 Sydney Heaton YAD VASHEM ........................................................................ 235 Aubrey Reeves YAD VASHEM ........................................................................ 238 Mary Lu Funk PETRA .................................................................................. 243 Matthew Adams HOW FAR IS IT TO BETHLEHEM? ................................................ 257 Jonah Fjeldsted BETHLEHEM .......................................................................... 260 Elise Kelly
THE JORDAN RIVER................................................................. 262 Candace Shields
SEA OF GALILEE ............................................................. 266 Annie Clark A FISHERMAN’S NETS ............................................................. 269 Katie Cooper MIRACLES IN GALILEE ............................................................. 272 Bethany Bateman MIRACLES AND CAPERNAUM .................................................... 274 Camille Buma SACRAMENT IN GALILEE .......................................................... 280 Rachel Herrmann MT. OF BEATITUDES ............................................................... 283 Ashley Bradshaw THE MOUNT OF OLIVES........................................................... 286 Brigitte Dean THE GARDEN TOMB ............................................................... 288 Karyn Alvey A PILGRIMAGE (CHURCH OF THE HOLY SEPULCHRE)...................... 292 Katherine Lyman THE TEMPLE MOUNT.............................................................. 296 James Burrell THE HAIFA TEMPLAR CEMETERY ............................................... 302 Rachel Curtis GATHERING OF ISRAEL............................................................. 306 Stephanie Lacy THE YMCA CARILLON ............................................................ 317
Heaven on Earth Catherine Taggart ome can be a heaven on earth.” I think it’s safe to assume that most of us have grown up our whole lives hearing this simple phrase. And I think the statement is true—our homes can be a heaven on earth. For four months, we made the Jerusalem Center our home, and hopefully all of us felt a little bit of heaven in our home in Israel.
The Center from the Walk to the Old City
Did you notice the first phrase to leave everyone’s lips when we would come back from a trip (namely Egypt, Jordan, and Galilee)? In essence, it was, “I’m so glad to be home,” or “I love the Center.” Maybe I just feel like everyone else said one or both of those things, but I know I felt that way whenever we returned from a voyage. And we definitely had a reason to feel that way. The Center is a
special place, and in my opinion, the reason it is a special place is because of the spirit contained therein. In my opinion, the reason the Center is a special place and has such a spirit is because it is a dedicated building. The Center was open to students in 1987, but was not dedicated until May 16, 1989 by President Howard W. Hunter. I have noticed in my life that there is a power in dedicated buildings, a spirit that resides in them that doesn’t reside in other similar buildings. I think about some of the rules implemented in the Center. I remember many days thinking, “Really? We have cleaning checks?” or “Really? No shorts – especially in this heat?” or “Really? No flip flops?” I don’t think the reasoning of having cleaning checks was to keep our rooms neat and tidy. I don’t think the reasoning of not being able to wear knee length shorts was because they were too immodest. And I most definitely do not think the reasoning for not being able to wear flip-flops was because the “acids and oils” on our feet would ruin the floor. I am in no way representing the opinion of the Center when I tell you why we had cleaning checks, why we couldn’t wear shorts, or why we couldn’t wear flip-flops, but in my opinion, I think it’s because the Center is a dedicated building. At times it was difficult for me to accept the reasoning behind why we couldn’t wear flipflops or wear shorts, but when I really thought about it, I realized it was all about respect – respecting a dedicated building of God. It is a place for His spirit to reside, and in
order for His spirit to effectively dwell in a building, the building must be taken care of with the utmost respect.
The Auditorium Arches, 7 Floor
I think about what it took to build the Center. I don’t think I fully understand what had to happen to see this project through. Have you ever thought about how special it is that there’s a Center in the Holy Land? An offshoot of our mother campus, BYU, in the Holy Land? The church could’ve built a building anywhere else in the world for students to gain an education (and it probably would’ve been less of a hassle), and yet they chose the Holy Land. When we were at the Templar Cemetery in Haifa, I thought about John Clark and the sacrifices he made in order to serve a mission in this area of the world. Learning about John Clark was such a powerful testimony to me
that Heavenly Father plays such a big part in all of our lives. If it hadn’t have been for John Clark and others like him, the Center would not exist today. We wouldn’t have had a place to call home for the last four months.
Dewy Balcony Roses, 6 Floor
The Center holds a special place in my heart. Although some may think it odd of me to admit, I oftentimes felt the spirit more at the Center than I did at the sites themselves – and I think a big part of this was due to the fact there is such a powerful spirit that resides in the building because it is dedicated. For four months, the Center was a piece of heaven on earth. It is my sincerest prayer that all of us can take this advice and make our future homes a heaven on earth.
The View from the Haas Promenade Cary Crall
View of the Temple Mount from Haas Promenade Overlook
hen on the third day Abraham lifted up his eyes, and saw the place afar off” (Gen. 22:4). Standing on the Haas Promenade and overlooking modern Jerusalem, I feel the history of Mount Moriah overwhelm me. While first sight of one’s destination after a wearisome journey normally elicits excitement and joy, I can’t help but feel that Abraham was weighed down by much different emotions. I wonder if he pointed the place out to his son as they left their fellow travelers behind to complete the last leg of their journey;
the son who was to fulfill the promise that through his seed would “all the nations of the earth be blessed” as his posterity grew to be as numerous “as the sand which is upon the sea shore” (Gen 22:17-18). The son whom God had commanded Abraham to kill. While hiking through the dry and unforgiving wilderness of the Negev desert, had Abraham been reminded of the barrenness which had mocked both the prayers and promises of his youth? How had he borne the oppressive silence of the 80 kilometer trek from Beersheba to Jerusalem without the voices of internal turmoil shattering his sanity? And as they drew near to the base of the 741 meter mount, had he flinched as the shadow of the place of sacrifice consumed his son with its fearful severity? We all know the basic story. This boy would be allowed to grow up. His seed would become a mighty nation into which a great prophet would be sent to bless the world with His teachings. The identity of this prophet is the question that divides the three great monotheistic religions of world history. The Jews point to Moses, the Christians see Moses’s teachings fulfilled in Christ, and the Muslims look to Muhammad as the one to unify the message sent through all former prophets. Three children of Abraham heading three great religious traditions. The conflict can be traced back one step farther, as each tradition gives its unique answer to the question of which son Abraham took with him to sacrifice. The Muslims believe it was Ishmael, the great father of the 12 Arab
princes. The Jews identify the boy as Isaac, the receiver of the covenant through the patriarchal line. The Christians side mostly with the Jews, but with the caveat that in Isaac, they see but a symbol for another son offered up in sacrifice. These arguments are but the start of the legacy Abraham brought down from Mount Moriah. While the Great Patriarch’s experience there served to strengthen his love for his family, the experiences that have ensued have sought to tear it apart. I can only imagine how Abraham would feel now had he stayed at the Haas Promenade and seen the events that his posterity would participate in throughout the course of history. All centered around Mount Moriah, the brooding crag on the horizon. Standing on the Haas Promenade today and staring down at Mt. Moriah, I, like Abraham, am unsettled with what I see. Regardless of whether it was Isaac or Ishmael who was taken up by Abraham to be sacrificed that day, neither of them was fully spared. Their children have been shedding each other’s blood upon the rocks of Moriah ever since. I wonder, how long must we proceed in faith until God intervenes with a sacrifice to step out from the bushes and make everything right. To take away the pain and wrongs of generations and bring healing through a perfect mix of both justice and mercy. The scapegoat that intercedes so Abraham’s children can be spared. As we wait, the violence continues. It’s been a long time since goats could wander free on Mt. Moriah.
We must be careful when considering what lessons we choose to bring down with us from the holy mount. Abrahamâ€™s story carries hints of both devotion and heartlessness, submission and tyranny, faithfulness and fanaticism. It walks the razorâ€™s edge of morality in its powerful demonstration that sometimes, God requires us to sacrifice both our goodness and our evil. How far into the future could Abraham see when he first stood on the Haas Promenade and looked down upon Mt. Moriah? We
Old City with Palestinian Neighborhood in Foreground
do not know. I am confident, however, that the current state of the Judean Plateau would not illuminate eyes darkened by the prospect of impending violence against one of his beloved children. Abraham must weep as his family still pays awful sacrifices to a demanding God.
Egypt Raven Alard eing a devout lover of Ancient Egypt, I know that it is famous for its mystical, wrathful curses, and unfortunately, I know that many of you contracted a powerful Egyptian curse in May 2009. Somehow, a mysterious bacterium crept into your intestines and festered in the pit of your stomach until, like a volcano, it erupted and erupted…and erupted, and erupted!!! Enough with the fluff…it was the curse of Diarrhea! So, for many of you, your memories of Egypt make you cringe. I completely sympathize with any of you who are groaning at this horrific reminiscence, as I too spent my fair share cleansing my colon in, let’s just say, “unique” water closets when toilet paper was MIA. However, it is my sincerest hope that you can find a glimmer of a pleasant memory outside of your toilet prison sentence and begin to fathom the wonders of Egypt you experienced.
We were eyewitnesses of a thriving ancient civilization when we saw the Cairo and Luxor Museums full of gold, Pharaoh’s mummies, sarcophagi, magnificent art and sculptures, The Giza pyramids’ Sound & Light Show (Imagine Isaac impersonating the Sphinx’s voice), and hieroglyphics loaded with symbolism at the Karnak Temple. We paid our respects by visiting the dead in the Valley of the Kings and Ramses III and Hatshepsut’s Funerary Temples in Thebes and Saqqara. We experienced a soothing felucca boat ride down the Nile River, took a crazy camel ride, and observed how papyrus is made, and
got thrashed around on a creepy wannabe Hogwarts Express train ride, while our bartering skills were challenged by relentless Egyptian salesmen. The week culminated at about 2am the last morning when we followed the voice of our Bedouin guide yelling, “Habee Bee!” as we trekked through a maze of switchbacks bottlenecked by Asian tour groups just to make it for the sunrise at the top of Mount Sinai and finish our trip with a meaningful testimony meeting. I don’t know about you, but my mind is blown just reflecting on all this stuff! The Giza Plateau with the Sphinx and Cheops’ Pyramid
But really, Egypt was our first big trip together. It was where we first discovered friendships; we broke embarrassing barriers and lost all our sense of pride in conversational topics, and I hope you donâ€™t regret it one iota. All in all, it is where the BYU JC Spring/Summer 2009
bond began. So I would like to think that our temporary â€œcurseâ€? ended up being a lifelong blessing!
Pillar Room at Karnak Temple
The Restored Church in Egypt Monica Ripplinger n Egypt, we had the opportunity to learn about ancient Egyptian beliefs about the afterlife as we visited the tombs in the Valley of the Kings and saw the hieroglyphics in the Luxor and Karnak temples. At the Cairo museum we even saw a hypocephalus, which is a papyrus disc that was placed under the deceased’s head. It is described as an endowment cheat sheet. It is a record of everything the ancient Egyptians needed to know in the afterlife to pass by the gods. It was amazing to hear about and see all of the ties to our own temple endowment. Brother Skinner explained that the Egyptians had a form of the endowment that had been altered and lost through apostasy. They had the form, but not the function. Not only was there knowledge that was lost and distorted, but the crucial piece that enabled it to function—the priesthood—was absent.
Friday morning, after a night train ride, we were given fifteen minutes to clean up and meet back together for Sacrament Meeting. We were quite a ragged bunch. We were tired and disgusting. Most of us hadn’t brought our Sunday clothes, so we sat in our travel clothes that we had already worn twice that week and were in desperate need of a wash. As the men blessed the sacrament, I was struck with this thought and taught by the Spirit.
Mohammed Ali Mosque in Cairo, Egypt
Over the course of the past few days, we had had a glimpse into the riches and power of the mighty pharaohs with their awe-inspiring pyramids. There was so much knowledge in the temples, but they were lacking true power and authority. Now, instead of meeting in a church, our group sat in a hotel room with elevator music playing overhead, but we were not lacking. There was more significance and validity in the simple ordinance of the sacrament than in any of the knowledge and outward beauty of ancient Egypt. There was real power in the priesthood inside that hotel room, a contrast to the hollowness of the ancient knowledge in the temples. Their situation pales in comparison. It doesnâ€™t matter how you dress it up. The young men we are with today have more power and pure knowledge than the mighty pharaohs of Egypt.
This summer has made me appreciate and value the restoration of the gospel. I know not only that Christ is our Savior and Redeemer, but that He appeared to Joseph Smith on a number of occasions to restore that which had been lost for centuries. I know that He stands at the head of this church, which is so much more than just an organization. It is the kingdom of God on earth once more. Of this I testify in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.
Echoes of the Endowment on Holy of Holies at Karnak Temple
Wilderness of Zin and Kadesh-barnea Mary Kate McKay arly in their exodus from Egypt, the Israelite people reached the Midbar Zin—one of seven wildernesses they met while wandering. This “inhospitable desert” is named Zin, Hebrew for briar and indicative of the land’s uninviting harshness (Wooley 15). In this lifeless location, “all the children of Israel” reminisced about their days as slaves and even despised their lot to death: “Would God that we had died in the land of Egypt! or would God we had died in the wilderness!” (Numbers 14:2).
From this wasteland, Moses dispatched twelve scouts—one from each of Israel’s tribes—to “spy out the land of Canaan” in search of a new homeland (Numbers 13:17). Caleb and Joshua are the only scouts to report in favor of claiming the “good land” bordering the wilderness (Joshua 23:15). Their proposal rejected by popular vote, Caleb and Joshua suffered the consequences of Israelites’ faithless hesitation, and they wandered with the children of Israel for thirty-eight years before receiving the oasis promised them by the Lord. Their obedience, endurance, and faithful receipt of promised blessings are a standard to any would-be disciple of the Lord God. On the western edge of the Midbar Zin rests “a wellwatered and fruitful spot” called Kadesh-barnea—a name that connotes holiness (Bible Dictionary “Kadesh-barnea,” 720). The scouts were to assess this land, the strength and
population of “the people that dwelleth therein,” and above all, to “be of good courage,” for the Lord “give[s] unto the children of Israel” this land (Numbers 13:18, 20, 3). Upon their return, the scouts confirmed the land as one that “floweth with milk and honey,” and they even brought fruit to prove it (Numbers 13:27).
The Judean Wilderness as seen from the Jericho Overlook
But spoiling their hopes of claiming this idyllic territory, the scouts succumbed to the daunting presence of the people surrounding Kadesh-barnea: “[t]he Amalekites […] in the south: and the Hittites, and the Jebusites, and the Amorites, dwell in the mountains: and the Canaanites dwell by the sea, and by the coast of Jordan” (Numbers 13:29). Much to the Israelites’ dismay, the oasis had already been discovered and claimed by conquerors not prone to forfeiting land. Admittedly, ousting the established civilizations would be no small
feat; but the Israelites collectively chose not to try. With cowardly resolve and no hope, ten of the scouts and all who heard them concluded: “We be not able to go up against the people; for they are stronger than we” (Numbers 13:31). Only two of the twelve scouts trusted the Lord’s initial charge: “Send thou men, that they may search the land of Canaan, which I give unto the children of Israel” (Numbers 13:2, emphasis added). Believing that the Lord would indeed give the land He had promised, Caleb and Joshua “stilled the people […] and said, Let us go up at once, and possess it; for we are able to overcome it” (Numbers 13:30). The faith of these leaders incurred blessings from the Lord, but no backing from the children of Israel. Fixed in their fears, the children of Israel were unwilling to claim the land and other blessings promised by the Lord. The Israelites’ doubts incurred this assurance from the Lord: “Doubtless ye shall not come into the land, concerning which I sware to make you dwell therein [a]nd your children shall wander in the wilderness forty years, and [‘suffer for your unfaithfulness’], until your carcases be wasted in the wilderness” (Numbers 13:30, 33). But because Caleb and Joshua “wholly followed the Lord,” they would receive the promised blessings of the Lord: “[they] shall see it,” meaning they shall both behold and be given the holy land (Deuteronomy 1:36). As prophesied and promised, all but Caleb and Joshua died in the wilderness with no claim to Kadesh-barnea.
And when the time came to divvy land among Israel’s nine and a half tribes, Caleb recounted his faithfulness before Moses’s successor, Joshua: Thou knowest the thing that the Lord said unto Moses the man of God concerning me and thee in Kadesh-barnea. Forty years old was I when Moses the servant of the Lord sent me from Kadesh-barnea to espy out the land; and I brought him word again as it was in mine heart. Nevertheless my brethren that went up with me made the heart of the people melt: but I wholly followed the Lord my God. And Moses sware on that day, saying, Surely the land whereon thy feet have trodden shall be thine inheritance, and thy children’s forever, because thou hast wholly followed the Lord my God. (Joshua 14:6-9). With the same confidence Caleb had proposed to “go up [and] possess [the land],” he testifies of the Lord’s hand in his life and lays claim to blessings previously promised: “the Lord hath kept me alive, as he said, these forty and five years […] As yet I am as strong this day as I was in the day that Moses sent me […] Now therefore give me this mountain, whereof the Lord spake in that day (Numbers 13:30; Joshua 14:10-12). Ultimately, Caleb was enabled to do all that the Lord commanded—spying out the land, being of good courage, and enduring years in the wilderness before the promised land was officially given to him. Caleb’s commitment to and confidence in God are a scriptural standard of faithfulness—a helpful example for
anyone facing comparable challenges. When we visited the Wilderness of Zin and Kadesh-barnea en route to Egypt, Dr. Skinner taught that the Wilderness of Zin is a geographical representation of wildernesses in our lives. Each of God’s children faces “customized trials such as experiencing illness, aloneness, persecution, betrayal, irony, poverty, false witness, unreciprocated love, et cetera” (Maxwell 22). These times can be as bleak and barren as the wilderness’s harsh environment—times when hope seems futile, courage irrelevant—times when anyone scouting us out may conclude: ‘there is no way s/he will be “able to overcome it”’ (Numbers 13:30). During these times, we are reminded that God and His ways are the best we have. Concerning faith necessary to move mountains, heal, and receive help, the Bible Dictionary teaches about the source of all power: “The Lord has revealed himself and his perfect character, possessing in their fullness all the attributes of love, knowledge, justice, mercy, unchangeable power, and every other needful thing, so as to enable the mind of man to place confidence in Him without reservation" (669). In short, we have every reason to trust Him who "first loved us" (1 John 4:19). As we obey, endure, and claim promised blessings, Heavenly Father promises to us the same abiding strength, comfort, and guidance that enabled Caleb to “cleave unto the covenants” that he had made (Doctrine and Covenants 25:13).
The Wilderness of Zin from the Ben Gurion Outlook
Our current prophet, like Moses in ancient times, has preached the Lordâ€™s commandments and blessings promised to the faithful as they obey and endure: â€œ[The Lord] commands. And to those who obey, whether they be wise or simple, He will reveal Himself [to them] in the
toils, the conflicts, the sufferings which they shall pass through in His fellowship . . . they shall learn in their own experience who He is" (qtd. in Rasband 12). Ultimately, overcoming our own wildernesses requires “wholly follow[ing] the Lord” (Joshua 14:14). We are to obey His commandments and trust not only in the blessings He promises, but that “all things wherewith [we] have been afflicted shall work together for [our] good and to [His] name’s glory” (Doctrine and Covenants 98:3). We, too, must echo Caleb’s commitment to and confidence in our Heavenly Father as we heed the command: “[t]rust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding” (Proverbs 3:5). Ultimately, the Lord fulfills His promises to the faithful. At Caleb’s plea “give me this mountain,” the Lord’s servant “blessed him” and gave him an holy place for an inheritance (Joshua 14:13). Even so, Heavenly Father honors our faithful plea “[m]ore holiness give me, [m]ore strength to o’ercome” with the assurance “I am able to make you holy” (Hymn 131; Doctrine and Covenants 60:7). WORKS CITED AND CONSULTED LAWRENCE, T.E. AND WOOLEY, C. LEONARD. THE WILDERNESS OF ZIN (ARCHAEOLOGICAL REPORT). LONDON: HARRISON AND SONS, 1914. MAXWELL, NEAL A. “APPLY THE ATONING BLOOD OF CHRIST.” ENSIGN. NOV. 1997:22. RASBAND, RONALD A. “SPECIAL EXPERIENCES.” ENSIGN. MAY 2008: 11-12.
Mt. Sinai – To Walk by Faith Megan Hirschi he air was cool and crisp that morning, as we huddled at the base of the mountain. The clock read only 2:30, and the early morning hour was reflected in our tousled hair and glassy eyes. Although everyone was looking forward to hiking Mt. Sinai, most of us had yet to achieve a state of consciousness sufficient to recognize that fact. And so the hike began in relative silence, with most of us barely shuffling along.
After only a few minutes of rigorous hiking, the blood was pumping hard enough to wake everyone up. And yet the silence continued, this time borne from a state of reflection rather than sleepiness. “Do you think he knew?” The voice beside me asked quietly. “Do you think that Moses knew when he set out in the morning what the Lord had in store for him and how long he would be gone?” It was a good question, and one I had never thought about before. Did Moses know beforehand what he would experience? Or was he like Nephi, who was also caught up into a mountain by the Holy Spirit and who knew not beforehand the things which he should do? It’s easy, I think, to assume that because Moses was a prophet he must have had a more clear-cut vision of where the Lord was leading him. But I think that Moses wasn’t so
different from the rest of us; I think that he, too, was walking by faith. To walk by faith… it’s a lot like hiking in the dark, really. When we set out that morning, we could see only the outline of Mt. Sinai silhouetted against the starlit sky. We knew where we wanted to end up, but the path to reach the peak was hidden from our sight. We could only trust that the course we were on would eventually lead us to the summit, just as we trust that the gospel of Jesus Christ will lead us to eternal life. And yet, the Lord doesn’t make us wander blind and without hope. The eye has the amazing capability of adopting night vision. After entering the dark, our eyes adjust, allowing us to see just enough of the ground before us to take a step forward. The amazing thing is, once we have taken that step, we can see just far enough to take one more… and then another after that. Each time we step to the outermost bounds of our vision, we find that those bounds have moved, illuminating more of the path that is already laid before our feet. The Lord leads us the same way he led Moses, Nephi, and all the other prophets: step by step, line upon line, and precept by precept. He doesn’t expect us to wander blind, but instead provides us with the Holy Ghost to help guide us as we take that one step forward. Unfortunately, it is sometimes easier to rely on the artificial light of the world than it is to depend upon the vision of the spirit. The flashlight seems so appealing…
and its light is so easy to access! And yet, its presence is really more of a hindrance than a help. Although the beam from the bulb starkly illuminates your immediate vicinity, it also prevents your eyes from ever adjusting to their surroundings. You may feel more secure in your immediate surroundings, but your ability to see far-range is compromised and what was only a vague outline before becomes even more obscure. On the other hand, Godâ€™s light is truth and wisdom, and when we allow our eyes to adjust to Him we can perceive the distant scene in distinct detail.
The View from the Top of Mt. Sinai
However, even when we allowed our eyes to properly adjust to the lighting, our path was never smooth. As we continued up the trail, we occasionally encountered brief intervals where the overhanging rock enveloped us in
Sunrise on Mt. Sinai
even greater darkness. At such times it was easy to stumble and fall, but as we kept moving forward we were guaranteed to emerge into the open air, where the hazy light of dawn could again light our way. The impenetrable darkness never lasted forever. Towards the end, the trail became only steeper and seemingly insurmountable. But it was when the trail reached its steepest that we were provided with stairs. While the stairs still required intense exertion on our part, they transformed the hardest part of the climb into a much smoother and clearly delineated course. But why? Why struggle up the side of a mountain in the dark? What did it really accomplish? The answer came with the rising sun. As the sky was flooded with light, the grandeur of the vistas which lay before our eyes was awe-inspiring. Similarly, as we reach
the summit of our eternal climb, we are blessed with the opportunity to dwell within the light and glory of the Father and His Son. In this celestial realm, our Heavenly Father’s light will also illuminate new vistas of eternal truth and beauty. As Joseph Smith wrote from Liberty Jail, “Therefore, dearly beloved brethren, let us cheerfully do all things that lie in our power; and then may we stand still, with the utmost assurance, to see the salvation of God, and for his arm to be revealed” (D&C 123:17).
Taking the final steps…
Although the hike was long and the way difficult, when we stood on the summit of Mt. Sinai that morning, we, like Moses, stood in the presence of God.
Western Wall Sydney Heaton Here is an entry from my journal on May 8. This is my experience from our first visit to the Western Wall.
Women in the Kotel Tunnel Three Weeks before Tish Bâ€™Av
fter dinner, we all got ready for our special trip to the Western Wall. Out of respect, we were asked to wear long sleeves and muted colors. We left a little before sunset. By the time we got to the wall, the sun was about to set. Brother Masters told us that we could take pictures up until sunset, because when the sun sets that means it is the Sabbath and the Jewish people don’t do work on the Sabbath. Clicking a camera would be work. I started taking a few pictures, but soon got in trouble. Apparently, it was already dark and I was being disrespectful. I felt pretty stupid so I quickly hid my camera. Our teachers let us loose for about an hour to explore the wall. There were so many people there! It was interesting to see the orthodox Jews with the big black hats and the curls and the conservative Jews who were wearing normal Sunday clothes. At first we went to the fence and just looked out at everything. The men and the women are separated and it makes a remarkable difference. On the men’s side, students were laughing, dancing and singing. It was like a huge party. One of our boys who went in said he felt like he was at a concert! The women’s side was completely different. They were praying and reading from prayer books. A few of us girls decided to go in and attempt to reach the wall. We were stopped on our way in by two gorgeous Orthodox girls. They stopped to talk to us. It was so interesting to hear about their lives and their standards. They were in Jerusalem to study for a year but were both originally from New York. After their year of study they were going
to get married. But get this...they would be set up by a matchmaker. Yep, that still happens. They go to the matchmaker, basically pick out a man from a book, go on a few dates, and decide whether they want to get married. They still have a choice, but one of the girls said that they pretty much always marry the man the matchmaker picks. They also refrain from touching males until they are married. These girls had never touched any men besides their fathers. I was so amazed! It was fun to hear about their standards and see how much they loved God and their religion. We talked to them for a bit and then moved into the area around the wall. Looking around, I was surprised to see how absolutely beautiful all the women were. I donâ€™t know what I was expecting, but it wasnâ€™t what I saw. I have never seen so many dark haired, dark eyed, beautiful people in my life. Plus, their children were even prettier! I want to marry a Jewish man now ;-) So we made our way through the hundreds of women to the wall. As I started to get closer I had this overwhelming feeling of the Spirit. Everywhere around me I could hear the whisperings of sweet prayers to God. I was able to make it all the way up to the wall. As I placed my hands against the Western Wall, I started crying. Heavenly Father loves all his children. I placed my hands where hundreds of others had placed their hands in reverence to our Heavenly Father. Hundreds had stood where I was standing pleading for help and for peace. I was able to stand at the wall for about five minutes, and, to be honest,
those five minutes may have been the most spiritual of my life. I can’t describe really what happened, but the emotions I felt were so strong. These are God’s people—he loves them so much. I will never forget the feeling of that
The Western Wall… on a Slower Day
wall, the feeling of the cool, smooth stone on my small hand. This beautiful, simple wall that has meant the world to so many now means so much to me. I am so grateful for the opportunity to simply be there in that moment and reverence my Father and my Savior. It wasn’t necessarily the wall itself that meant anything, but all the prayers that
have been offered there. It truly is a holy place. I may have looked out of place, but standing there, holding the wall, pouring my heart out to my Heavenly Father, I felt at home. Slowing, I backed away from the wall to let others come in. I wasn’t ready to leave the wall area, and so a few of us stood back and just watched. To the side of us, a group of seminary girls started singing and dancing. It was so fun to watch them and so we sat there for a few minutes. One girl noticed us watching and pulled us in. So there we were, five American Mormons dancing with a group of beautiful orthodox Jews in front of the Wailing Wall. It was so fun to hear them sing and chat. They were so happy and excited! I now love dancing even more! One of the girls pulled me aside and asked if I was there for Birthright. Birthright is a program that sends Jewish American youth to Jerusalem to study. She started to open her prayer book and show me where they were singing from, but I sadly had to explain to her I couldn’t read Hebrew and I wasn’t Jewish. She started laughing and got excited and pulled me back into the dance circle! They were so sweet to us. After they finished the dance, they stayed by us and answered all of our questions. I bet it was annoying to have a group of Mormons who know really nothing about their religion bombard them with questions, but they were sweet about answering as much as they could. After talking to them for a bit, it was time for us to go. I didn’t want to leave the wall! I could have stayed there all night just watching and feeling the great spirit that was there. It was so
interesting to experience two such different feelings: one strong spiritual feeling and then an excited, happy feeling! Walking home, I took a few minutes to just ponder and figure some things out. I am truly grateful for my experience here in Jerusalem. If I had to leave tomorrow, it would have been worth it.
Western Wall, Dome of the Rock, and Walkway to Temple Mount
Yad Vashem Aubrey Reeves have learned and read about the Holocaust many times throughout my life, but despite the continual reminders and experiences I have had in regard to the Holocaust, I am never quite prepared to be exposed once again to the atrocities that occurred during that time. My experience at Yad Vashem was no exception.
The Educator Janusz Korczak and his children. He remained with the children, even when given the chance to leave.
As I moved through the museum, a constant stream of emotions ran through me. The pictures and words of the victims hit me with great force as I tried to comprehend the terrible sorrow and dread that must have consumed them. I realized that I would never understand. How could I? I have never been torn from my house, shipped in a train to a place of unimaginable suffering, been treated like an animal with housing unfit for such, pushed to the brink of starvation, watched my family and friends waste away in front of my eyes, or paid the ultimate price of my life due to my beliefs and heritage. How can I even understand a fraction of their suffering? Among the photos and words of those who suffered, I saw pictures and words of many who contributed to the terror and grief. As I looked upon their faces, a realization hit me that our tour guide reiterated. The faces before me did not betray the disturbed person within. There was no external evidence that these people sanctioned the extermination of millions of innocent people. There were no fangs or horns: nothing to give their darkness away. I wasn't looking on the faces of monsters. I was looking on the faces of humans. As hard as it is for me to imagine what the victims must have felt, it is harder for me to understand the mentality of those responsible for the Holocaust. We as humans may struggle with comprehending extreme suffering, but I believe that the thing we struggle with the most when it comes to the Holocaust is knowing that
people within our own race, the human race, were the source of these heinous acts. As I have thought about my inability to fully comprehend any of the feelings or thoughts possessed by those involved in the Holocaust, I have realized that I am not meant to. I am not meant to feel extreme suffering. I am not meant to understand the motives or thoughts behind cruelty. I am meant to have joy in this life. "Men are that they might have joy" (2 Nephi 2:25) The sorrow, grief, and confusion of those involved in the Holocaust was never meant to be felt. These individuals came to earth for the purpose of experiencing joy, but unfortunately the weaknesses and frailties of humans chase away the joy God wants to bless us with. God knew when He sent us here that we would all sin and fall short of the glory of God causing pain and suffering to enter our lives and the lives of others. The inevitability of sin does not justify our actions, but because God knew of our certain shortcomings, He provided a perfect sacrifice to sanctify the sinner and heal the victim. Our Savior Jesus Christ suffered all so that we â€œmight not suffer if [we] would repentâ€? (Doctrine and Covenants 19:16).
Yad Vashem Mary Lu Funk aving been to the Holocaust museum in Washington DC as a child, I was expecting Yad Vashem to be very similar. This could not have been farther from the truth. While both were museums about the Holocaust, the stories and experiences were completely different from what I remembered. Starkly different approaches were taken to telling the horrifying story of the slaughter of six million Jews.
â€œWarsaw Rebellion.â€? Ideal of Heroism in the Holocaust
I first visited the Holocaust museum in Washington DC when I was about 12 years old, and then again about five years later. I remember vividly the impact it had on me as I walked through the museum. I had been given a passport of sorts with the identity of someone who would inevitably die before my journey through the museum was over. I remembered harsh images of naked, scared, emaciated individuals and groups both alive in concentration camps and lying dead in mass graves. I remembered the darkness of the museum, the horror and fear that I felt as I spent hours there amazed, shocked, and terrified by the things that I was learning. I remember wondering how something like this could ever happen. There were walls and bins of shoes, hair, clothes, personal belongingsâ€Ś There were uniforms from the concentration camps and terrifying videos and photos that documented the events of the attempted destruction of this people. How could so many people rally behind such an inherently evil leader? It seemed as if nothing could stop the Nazis. The Jews were first on the list, but they would not stop there. They would come after me too. I just wanted to find a place to hide â€“ a place to be safe. But no place was safe. When we visited Yad Vashem as a class several weeks ago, I was excited to see how it would compare to the museum in Washington. I was curious to see how the Jews would portray their struggle and the events that took place during this terrible piece of history. I anticipated a similar feel to the museum and similar reactions and feelings on my part. However, I was grossly mistaken.
Though the stories, information and facts presented were about the same events, the feel of the museum was completely different. Yad Vashem told about the atrocities and terrors experienced by the Jews; however, it did so from a much more hopeful perspective. My first reaction to this was to assume that any wronged people would portray themselves as the good guys, regardless of the reality of the situation. However, as I spent more time in the museum, I realized that the focus was not on portraying the Jews as a great people or as anything special. Rather, the focus was on portraying them as normal people, just like you and I. They are our neighbors and they are our friends. They are not some foreign group of people that have a sad story. They are real peopleâ€” imperfect individuals who lived lives just like everyone else. Yad Vashem told me of the importance of personal choice and decision-making in aspects of everyday life that could have great influences on life and death. Which bunk do I sleep on? Where do I stand in the food line? Such seemingly unimportant, mundane and routine decisions could be for them a decision of life or death. One never knew. It was about inner struggles and turmoil. It was about sacrificing one for the good of all. It was about banding together as a group and never giving up hope. Yad Vashem portrayed the Holocaust not as only a terrible tragedy for the Jews, though it certainly was, but also as a time of self-discovery, unification, and support among the Jewish people.
A Memorial at Yad Vashem
I was struck by the impact that the Holocaust museum in Washington D.C. had on me. I do not think that I knew it at the time, or even realized it until over a decade later. I knew at the time that I was somber because of what I had seen and that I did not understand everything that happened, but I knew that it was not right. I was just not
sure what to do to make it better. With time, I have learned that there is nothing I can do to take away the pain of the past or remove the terrible actions of others throughout history. However, I can learn from what has happened. I can make sure it does not happen around me. I can stand up for others when I see that something is not right. Being in the Holy Land and thinking about the Jewish people has given me a new perspective of who they are and what is important to them as a people. Visiting Yad Vashem gave me a greater appreciation for the museum in Washington and brought back memories that I had forgotten. I was initially disappointed by Yad Vashem because I was expecting a similar experience. I was expecting to have some great experience that would leave me with a new perspective on the Holocaust and the experience of the Jews. However, that feeling did not come right away. Rather, Yad Vashem taught me a lesson about enduring the vicissitudes of life with hope for tomorrow. It taught me the importance of individual decisions and never letting go of who I am regardless of what I am faced with. While these two museums were very different and left me with very different feelings and thoughts about the Holocaust, I can see that one is not better than the other. They are different. They each serve a purpose. They each have impacted me to make me better. One taught the horrors and atrocities of man; the other, devotion and hope through God.
Petra Matthew Adams
hen one thinks of Petra, a monumental sandstone structure cut into a cliffside usually comes to mind: a massive and beautifully intricate carving called the Treasury. Indeed, the structure is an icon, the face of Petra’s hidden city. But it is just that—the face, and not the body of work that its creator civilization left behind. The Treasury represents only a small portion of the treasures that the Nabataean nation built and left for us to enjoy.
The Nabataeans were an empire—a civilization of traders. The ancient city of Petra was a massive inland trading port. It is now understood that fully a quarter of
the goods that went into the Roman Empire during a brief period flowed through Petra. Taxes on these goods and the goods going to other nations and empires enriched the Nabataeans, providing the means for the construction of the structures and carvings that now constitute one of the Seven Wonders of the World. The entrance to the hidden city is fairly humble. There is a mouth to a canyon ahead and a dam to the right, a recreation of the original that was produced to protect the city from flash floods. The canyon winds about, at widest maybe twenty-five or thirty yards across and at narrowest two or three, averaging about ten. The sandstone cliffs on either side are impressive in scale and the colors are surprisingly rich. There are soft tans and creamy mahoganies, dark browns, and swirls of surprising colors like blues and yellows. The walls have been shaped by a millennium of floods and downpours followed by long dry spells. The effect is to have waterfalls seemingly etched into the canyon sides, a smooth sandstone representation of the water that flowed over the sides in times past. The system of dams prevents such deluges now, preserving the city and the incredible architecture therein. After walking for a few hundred yards, small anomalies in the rock walls become more recognizable: a small, rectangular figure carved here, the remains of an ancient water system in the sides of the cliff over there, and other such things. At the time, they seemed incredibly exciting, but in retrospect seem almost silly when compared to the other things that are found in the city. We
were taught that caravans passed through that canyon to the city all the time in the cityâ€™s most busy times, long ago.
Path into Petra
At the point when some are beginning to tire from the walk through the canyon and others are growing a little impatient that the Treasury is still not in sight, the tour guide asks us to gather tightly and close our eyes. Holding on to the person ahead, we walk forward as he builds excitement for what we are about to see. After a short while, he tells the excited group to open there eyes, and behold! Through the narrow fissure ahead of us, we could see what we had some
for, what Harrison Ford could when he nobly saved the world from Nazi takeover in Indiana Jones and The Last Crusadeâ€”the Treasury! There were laughs of amazement from many and a few squeals of excitement from those not ashamed to do so or unable to contain themselves. It was absolutely magnificent, a work of artistic and architectural genius, beautiful both in craftmanship and engineering. The sun swept over half of it, ruining the perfect picture that so many were looking for but adding, in my mind, splendor to the intricacy of the
stonework. After a short historical explanation of the structure that a faithful some truly listened to and a more faithful few took notes on, we were turned loose to take pictures and enjoy the ambiance and seeming nobility of the area. The Treasury was awesome, and then we moved on to what I considered far more amazing, the city of Petra proper. After another short trip through to the end of the canyon, the rock surrendered us into an open area where there were literally hundreds of tombs carved into the rock. These guys spared no expense, it seemed, and provided amazing (and perhaps garish) homes for their corpses. Perhaps a noble endeavor, but one lost on the likes of me, who wants to be thrown into the ground in a bio-friendly bag and remembered in word and deed rather than with rock monument. Spare the tree that would die to provide my coffinâ€”but fortunately for all of us, the Nabataeans disagree with me and built long-lasting rock tombs that we can all visit and marvel over. After the tombs, there was an example of the type of Roman theatre that has become common to us in our travels. It seems that one was built in every major city in which the Romans had control for a significant length of time. The theatre is usually a notable and impressive part of a telâ€”often the most imposing structure among the ruins of a city. They are monuments to the insatiable human appetite for entertainment. But in this city, the theatre was cool, but not nearly the most impressive of the
buildings. That honor, to me, lies with the Monastery, which I will talk about later.
The area further widened until we were in a large, dusty valley, nestled between a dozen rocky peaks. The ruins were all around us. Hundreds and thousands and perhaps tens of thousands of rectangular stones lay all about, indicating the location of the structures that they once composed. There were several buildings that were still standing, or partially reconstructed. There were temples and churches and other holy sites, as well as the market center and a large flight of stairs still telling their story. We passed a large group of carvings in the cliffside on our right, but I paid little heed to them, knowing I would come back to them at the end of our time in the city when Brother Huff would take a group of us to see them. We
reached the base of a mountain on the far side of the valley after a dusty walk. I was told that the record time for reaching the top was twelve minutes and decided, naturally, that I could do better. I handed off my bag and camera and took off running up the mountainsideâ€”a mistake that I regretted about six minutes into the run, when my eyes began to bug and my head began swimming in the heat. I
Stairs leading to a temple in the city center
made it in 13:10 and proceeded to curse the day I was born until my backpack arrived with my water. It was well over 90 degreesâ€”not humid, but with direct sunlight. Urg, not a fun run.
â€œThe Monasteryâ€? is the name for the structure carved into the rock face at the top of the mountain that we scaled. It was impressive, and of the same rough outline as the Treasury. The stonework was far less detailed, but the Monastery was larger than the Treasury and recessed deeply into the rock wall maybe thirty-five feet or more.
The incredible magnitude of the structure was impressive—the very most impressive part of the city, in my opinion. I got a picture on the spot and at nearly the same angle as a shot from Transformers II. I was standing where Shia LeBeouf stood in the trailer, which is exciting. I spent half an hour there, cooling off in its shade, enjoying the grandeur, helping people in and out of the chamber inside the Monastery, and thinking about the effort that went into such a building. But my very favorite part of our time in Petra came next. We explored the top of the mountain and went to several places from which one could look out over a massive valley and across to the endless rocky mountain ranges that swept away in every direction. It was a peaceful and enthralling feeling, standing on the cliff’s edge seemingly at the edge of the world, calling out loudly and listening to the echoes come back at you from every direction. After enjoying the initial thrill of standing on the cliff’s edge for a few minutes, I discovered a way that I could make my way down the cliff and run out to a peninsula of rock jutting out into the abyss fifty feet below. Leaping from rock to rock, I made my way down the mountain’s face, ignoring the all-too-logical cries of my fellows telling me to stop and enjoying the thrill of danger and the wonder of solitude in the midst of such splendor. I reached the spot that I had seen from above and saw another even farther out just below that one; when I got to that outcropping there was another even lower, and another, and yet another, until finally I was completely
alone, my friends just specks standing on the cliffâ€™s edge a few hundred yards away and a few hundred more above me. I made my way to the very edge, sat down, and enjoyed Godâ€™s creations spread before me. What a rush! What an absolute high on life! The nature of our trip hit me while I was sitting on that small corner of rock; I reflected on the incredible opportunity had to learn about a land and people far from my home, a time to reflect on the Holy Writ that I take for granted, to make friends, to expand the parameters of my mind in every way and direction, and to step out of my comfort zone and enjoy an incredible experience that will never happen again.
On the edge of oblivion
I sat there, surrounded by a sheer drop on three sides, legs dangling in space, thinking about what a blessing it was to be there and soaking in the view, when I heard
Stevenâ€™s faraway calls. He and those I was with were leaving, and I needed to depart as well. It was just about lunchtime, and if there is one thing that I have learned during my time in the Holy Land, it is to never miss a meal. I made my way back, smiling as I grunted with exertion, climbing boulders and jumping chasms. About a third of the way back, I started upon some beautiful stones that I wanted to keep. Alas, they were too large. Naturally, I picked up a bowling ball-sized rock that looked promising and dropped it several feet away. It broke as desired, except the larger half bounced at an odd angle and landed directly on my right big toe. That was an unpleasant sensation, to say the least; I did not want to check for blood or damage because if I took off my shoe it would probably hurt too badly to put it back on. I carried on my journey after and carefully breaking the beautifully colored sandstone into a finger sized rock. I think I later left it on the ground, though, feeling guilty that I was taking something from the site. And my toe is fine; thanks for the concern. Lunch was fantastic, cold water expensive, and the bathrooms better kept than I thought they would be. Brother Huff said that he was going to visit all of the sites that we missed on the way in and would take anyone who wanted to go with him through the ancient city. Heâ€™s a cool guy who knows where the cool stuff is, and I wanted to go along. He left without a few of us who were finishing lunch, but Megan and I caught up to him after a quick hike
and joined the exploration of the sandstone monuments that cover the cliffside. There were half a dozen or more monuments of equal proportion to the Treasury, except not as intricately carved, or perhaps just a great deal more worn. They were next to each other and stacked on top of one another and
A Well Preserved Temple
had tunnels and caves attaching some of them and ancient stairwells up and down the mountainsides. After touring the ruins, we climbed yet another mountain to another building, this one a temple where many animals had been sacrificed. It was a fun hike with lots of good friends, and that is really the story of the day: a great time with great people in a great place. The top of this mountain also afforded an incredible view of the ancient city instead of
facing away from it as the other lookouts did. I again took off down the cliffside as far as I could go and enjoyed the solitude that is so rare on a trip like this. Weirdly enough, It was as spiritual an experience as any I have had here, including such places as the Garden Tomb, the Garden of Gethsemane, Nazareth, the sites around the Sea of Galilee, and the numerous other holy places that we have seen. The glory and splendor of Godâ€™s creation sank in to me as they never had before while in Petra, and I felt like a nineor ten-year-old kid getting his first mountain bikeâ€”life was an adventure, the possibilities endless! Such were the thoughts of the day. The hike back was also fun. The lighting was better for pictures as the day grew later, and maybe a hundred thousand shots were taken by our group all together. I love one especially of the treasury just as we were leaving. It is obstructed by cavernous walls of stone on either side, as if the mountains were again swallowing their treasure, the hidden city. I received a few messages from the anciently lost and recently found Nabataean city. Firstly, mankind is capable of incredible feats when money is not an object and slave labor is in abundance. Second, Petra really is all itâ€™s cracked up to be. Thirdly, and most importantly, the works wrought by man simply do not compare to the works of nature, the works of the great God of Abraham.
First, and last, view of the Treasury
I went to Petra to learn about a people and drink in the glory of the epic buildings constructed by that ancient empire, and indeed I did, but I came away most significantly with the memories of a few glorious moments of solitude, just my God and me, on a cliffâ€™s edge in a faraway land, overlooking His works.
How far is it to Bethlehem? Jonah Fjeldsted rom the moment that I arrived in Jerusalem and saw Bethlehem on a nearby hill, I had an Old English Christmas carol running through my head. In my mind, it began as a simple song that told the story of Christâ€™s birth, but as I thought upon the words more, I realized there was a deeper meaning. We visited so many sites where Jesus walked and taught while in the Holy Land, but spiritual experiences didnâ€™t come by simply visiting these places. They would come in much the same
Church of the Nativity, Bethlehem
manner they did when we were back at home: by living righteously, praying for spiritual experiences to strengthen our faith, and making personal sacrifices. As you read over the words of the song, think of its
message. Think of the miracle of the Holy Ghost which testifies to us of Christâ€™s divinity, even if we have never met Him, seen Him, or been to the places where He lived: How far is it to Bethlehem? Not very far. Shall we find the stable room Lit by a star? Can we see the little child Is He within? If we lift the wooden latch May we go in? May we stroke the creatures there Ox, ass, or sheep? May we peep like them and see Jesus asleep? If we touch His tiny hand Will He awake? Will He know we've come so far Just for His sake? Great kings have precious gifts And we have naught Little smiles and little tears Are all we brought. To know Jesus and that He was born of Mary, that He lived, and that He died for mankind doesn't take a time machine or a visit to site where He walked and taught. All
it takes is a quiet moment when we get on our knees and pray to our Heavenly Father, and then we can know our Savior. In yet another Christmas song, another question is posed: "What Child is This?" As the song continues, the answer comes, "this, this is Christ our King!" Can you imagine being a lowly shepherd and kneeling at the side of Christ’s birth, asking yourself the same question? Can you think of how it would feel to hear the Spirit whisper, "This, this is Christ your King?” I'd imagine that it feels similar to how I feel now, and tears stream down my face as I picture it. That same Spirit which would have testified to those Shepherds does so to us today, in the same way he always has. Often, we experience the emotion that the author of “How far is it to Bethlehem” captures so perfectly in his last poignant verse. There always seems to be someone else more righteous than we are, another who makes our sacrifice seem so small. Yet as we go to Christ with “little tears” of gratitude for what He has done for us, He loves us in return with a love greater than we can imagine. He is always so close to us, even when we feel He has withdrawn His spirit. Therefore, to answer the question put forth in the Christmas carol, “How far is it to Bethlehem?” Not very far. Not very far at all.
Bethlehem Elise Kelly have loved all of the experiences that I have had in the Holy Land, but there is one particular experience that really sticks out to me. As we walked into the Nativity Church, I was a little disappointed by the things that I saw. There were five different chapels all claiming that they were located on the exact spot where our Lord and Savior was born. The chapels were crowded, filled with incense, hot, sticky, dirty, and covered with unattractive art. This was not a prime atmosphere to have a spiritual experience. I had dreamed about this place my whole life, and this was not what I thought it was going to be.
Marker in the Grotto of the Church of the Nativity,
But after going through the chapels, our entire group finally congregated in one of the chapelâ€™s basements. We
started singing hymns and I was immediately filled with the Spirit. We sang “Away in a Manger” and “Silent Night,” and I could not hold back the tears. All the ornate things of the church suddenly did not matter any more, and the only thing that I could think about was the birth of our Savior. Jesus could have entered the world under any circumstances but he chose to enter it through the humblest of circumstances. Because his parents were traveling, he was not born in a familiar environment. There was no room for him in a hotel, so he was taken to a cave. He was brought into the world next to animals and wrapped in swaddling clothes. I looked around and felt like I was having a flashback. I felt like I had seen this before and that I had been part of the angels of heaven looking over this site, singing praises. I could only imagine that I was so excited to see the Savior of the world born, and to know that because of him, we would all be able to be like our Heavenly Father. I know that all of us in Heaven rejoiced at this sight.
The Jordan River Candace Shields “The River Jordan was the site Jesus chose for His baptism by John . . . Is it significant that this sacred ordinance was performed in virtually the lowest body of fresh water on the planet? Could He have selected a better place to symbolize the humble depths to which He went and from which He rose? By example, he taught us that He literally descended beneath all things to rise above all things. Surely, being baptized after the manner of his baptism signifies that through our obedience and effort we, too, can come from the depths to ascend to lofty heights of our own destiny.” - Russell M. Nelson, “Why This Holy Land?,” Ensign, Dec 1989, 13
Marker for the River Jordan
nowing our bus was headed to the Jordan River, I was anxious to feel the Spirit that John the Baptist felt the day he baptized our Savior. I wanted to prepare myself mentally and spiritually so I was worthy to feel the confirming power of the Holy Ghost. As I prayed and read the account of Jesusâ€™ baptism, I was filled with love and reverence that I knew was a gift from Heavenly Father. I knew He was recognizing my efforts to come closer to Christ and the reality of His mortal ministry. When I stepped off the bus and walked down the path toward the supposed site of His baptism, the love inside me grew. My testimony grew simply by being on traditional hallowed ground.
Then, as we sang praises to our Redeemer and reflected on what truly happened in this sacred river, the tender love of the Holy Ghost descended into my heart. His baptism became more than a story or event in a far-off place. His baptism became a reality as I stepped into the murky green water and somehow felt the Spirit testify that Jesus was baptized here. Right here. I realized while watching others dip their feet in and take picture after picture that I will never look at a baptism the same way. Whether an eight-year-old or an eighty-year-old is stepping into the waters of baptism, they are making the same covenants that Jesus made that day. As I watched the students and thought about baptisms across the ages and throughout the world, I was reminded of the records in the gospels.
The Jordan River near Bethabara
Christ came to John. Christ asked John to baptize Him. Even though John felt inadequate and humbled, he knew Christ. He declared that Christ is the “Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world” (John1:29). He understood the importance of the ordinance as the gateway for us to enter into Heavenly Father’s presence. He understood that this baptism would make the Atonement possible. He understood, as Christ reminded him, that He must be baptized, for “it becometh us to fulfill all righteousness” (Matthew 3:15). All righteousness. President Hinckley declared, “None can fully comprehend the splendor of His life, the majesty of His death, the universality of His gift to humankind. We unequivocally declare with the centurion who said at His
death, ‘Truly this man was the Son of God’ (Mark 15:39)” (Liahona, March 2008, p. 7). The Jordan River held the spirit of His gift to humankind. It held the testimony that He is the Lamb of God. It reflected the splendor of His life. It fortified the majesty of His death, because without this baptismal act, death would be hopeless. I echo John’s testimony that our Savior, Redeemer, and Friend is the Lamb of God. I echo Joseph Smith and Sydney Rigdon’s testimony that “He Lives!” (Doctrine & Covenants 76:22). I echo President Hinckley’s words that “None can fully comprehend,” and I am grateful for what I do know. I am grateful that I know Him. I am grateful that I can follow His example of baptism every week as I partake of the Sacrament and relive those covenants. I am grateful for the Holy Ghost and his power to testify not only to my heart but also to every heart that yearns to know: for He Lives.
Sea of Galilee Annie Clark have never had such a stunning experience as when I was on the Sea of Galilee. We were reading the story of Peter walking on the sea to meet Christ, and I was struck with something I had never before realized from this story. I have always known that Peter had a very strong testimony, but I never realized the importance of the scene that illustrates it in the New Testament. I was impressed at how great his testimony was and how incredible it was that Peter asked Jesus if he could walk on the water to meet him. Usually I find in my own life that I just donâ€™t ask the right questions, and if I were to ask more thought-out and brave questions, I would find that I might have more testimony building experiences and be brought closer to the Savior. Peter knew the right question to ask, and I love that when the Savior called him out to the water, he promptly stepped off the boat into the raging sea and started walking to meet the Savior.
I find it incredible that even though he had been working on the sea for many years, and even though the waters were wild, he had the faith to step out of the boat without question and walk on the water. When Peter was focused on the Savior, he was walking on the water, but when he became distracted and started being fearful, he started to sink. I know that when I lose my focus on the Savior, my life starts sinking and I start being fearful. I know that if I look back at the Savior, he will give me his hand and pull me back up to where I was before. But we
have to look up to him and take his hand. I am so impressed by this story and by Peterâ€™s amazing faith in our Savior.
The boat we took across the Sea of Galilee
I love this story so much, and I love applying it to my own life. I noticed the hand of the Savior pulling me out of my fear also when I was in Galilee. I was going through trials that I needed to fully rely on the Savior to pass through. When I focused completely on the Savior and involved him completely in my life and my decisions, I noticed an incredible change in my life that I know was made only by the fact that my Savior was helping me walk on the water of the troubles of my life. I know that with the Savior in my life, I can overcome any troubles and be blessed by seeing the blessings that come from my trials. I am so grateful for the Savior in my life. I love him with all my heart, and I am so grateful for my wonderful experience in Galilee to strengthen that in my life. I love my Savior, and I love being his daughter. I want to serve him, and to invite others to be part of his fold and be able to feel the Saviorâ€™s love in their life. I am so grateful for my experience this summer. I am so amazed at the amount that my testimony of the Savior has grown, and I am so thankful for this unbelievable experience. It will stay with me every day for the rest of my life.
A Fisherman’s Nets Katie Cooper lthough I have loved all of my experiences here in the Holy Land these past few months, my experience on the shores of the Sea of Galilee seems to stand apart from the rest. One morning I had the opportunity to sit along the seaside and read while the sun was rising. If that type of setting wasn’t already enough to get a person thinking, let’s add to my field of vision a family out in the water, fishing. Usually, witnessing a family fishing would be no spectacular sight to see, but under the circumstances, I found it quite intriguing. Rather than have each man hold a fishing pole, as I am used to, each family member had a portion of a large net and would walk into the depths of the sea to drop the net. After waiting for a couple of minutes, the men would drag their catch up onto the sand and collect the fish.
As I sat and watched the family perform this routine, laughing and joking with one another in Hebrew, I couldn’t help but reflect on the daily routine of Peter, Andrew, James, and the other disciples of Christ. As I thought about the faith each of them exemplified when they cast their nets into the sea once more in response to the advice of a stranger from on shore, I was blown away. Matthew 1:17, “Come ye after me, and I will make you to become fishers of men,” just repeated in my head over and over again.
I began to wonder if I listen to where Christ tells me to “cast my nets” so that he can make me into a fisher of men. Would I give up because I brought in an empty net, or would I try again—this time listening to the advice that was so divinely inspired? Even more than being willing to throw my net out once more, I began to think of the apostles who “straightway…forsook their nets, and followed him” (Matthew 1:18). Through studying the New Testament, we have learned that these boats and nets were everything to fishermen. They represented their entire life savings and leaving them behind was a great sacrifice.
A family fishing with their nets on the shore of the Sea of Galilee
I obviously havenâ€™t been asked to sacrifice my whole life income, but I have been asked to make other sacrifices in my life and leave behind a different type of net. Some of my sacrifices are not as tangible, and many are not easy to leave behind. As I reflected on the nets that I needed to leave behind in order to straightway follow the Savior, I realized that sometimes one foot might still be caught behind in my net when I tried to walk away. Having one foot stuck would do me no good because it would prevent me from following the Savior to the same extent as if I were entirely entangled in the net. This thought struck me fairly hard and I realized that no net is worth separating myself from the Savior.
The Old Fishermanâ€™s Boat at Nof Ginosar, Galilee
Miracles in Galilee Bethany Bateman alilee is a beautiful paradise. I love riding the bus on the winding highway through the hills surrounding the Sea of Galilee and catching glimpses and gorgeous views of the blue green water through green foliage, with yellowing grassy hills visible on the other side. It is truly a blessed, fertile land. I can feel the Spirit here through the native beauty of the landscape, the splashes of color in the flowers, the sound of the waves on the shore, and by bearing testimony here with my friends. It has been a blessing to my life to spend time here seeking the Savior. I know that Christ loved these hills and knew the people of this land. I can picture Him walking in this landscape; it just fits. These towns overflowed with miracles in His presence. He had compassion on all men and women and healing met all who came to Him in faith.
I know that miracles are a part of the gospel of Jesus Christ. I read and ponder the miracles recorded in the New Testament and I know Jesus has divine power manifest in them. During his mortal ministry He raised souls from the dead, rebuked devils, fed the multitude, and forgave sins. The greatest of all miracles is the resurrection of our Lord, through which he has loosed the bands of death that bind his people.
The miracles that marked Christ's ministry have not ceased. God still performs divine acts of compassion. If miracles ever cease in my life it will be because I have lost faith. Many times priesthood blessings of healing and of comfort have been miracles. When a righteous man's hands are placed on my head I feel the Savior touching me through him, with His healing power calming my soul, bringing me peace and also physical comfort. Answers to prayers are always miraculous in their perfect timing and wisdom. I feel a miracle within me with every piece of music that carries the Spirit with power into my heart. It is truly a miracle to have the hand of the Lord guiding my life.
The Sea of Galilee from Ein Gev
Jehovah, the unchanging one, once healed his servant King Hezekiah, and I believe his words of comfort are spoken to us today: "I have heard thy prayer, I have seen thy tears; behold, I will heal thee" (2 Kings 20:5).
Miracles and Capernaum Camille Buma n the Galilee, my mind was taken up with the idea of miracles and how the Savior taught through them. On the northern shore of the sea lies Jesusâ€™s beloved city of Capernaum, where the majority of His recorded miracles took place. During my visit there, the Spirit brought to my remembrance the miracles I have witnessed throughout my life, in the lives of others and in my own. It reminded me of a poem I received from a seminary teacher of mine years ago. He received it from a sister missionary who wrote the poem while she was serving a full-time mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
I think the picture says it allâ€Ś
Still Miracles Remain Remember when the people stood in awe When Jesus made the blind man see? Remember when they stood in awe When he healed a leper from leprosy? Remember when a diseased woman Reached out and touched his robe! And through her faith fell upon her knees When she saw it made her whole. Remember when 5000 gathered To listen to the things Jesus said And before he left he fed each one With a boy’s 2 fishes and 5 loaves of bread. And remember when Lazarus Had been dead for many days And the Jews stood in awe when From the dead he was raised. What miracles these were They say today it isn’t so They say these miracles were only meant For people centuries ago. Well I tell you, today I saw a blind man see What a miracle that was to me When I taught him truths and he opened his eyes And he saw what he’d never seen.
And a deaf man heard today Things he’d never cared to hear He listened to the message sweet He opened up his ears. And a leper diseased with the things of the world Reached out and touched what made her whole Putting aside her worldly ways I saw another miracle. I knocked on the door of 2 starving spirits And left each spirit full What a miracle that was to me I filled a hungry soul. I taught a Lazarus today Who had been dead for not just days But all his life he searched for life I saw a dead man raised. The dead man raised the blind could see The gospel light of eternity What a miracle that is to me. At these very miracles I stand in awe and dismay And still the blind will say, Christ’s miracles just don’t happen to people today. ~ Unknown.
The Synagogue in Capernaum adjacent to Simon Peterâ€™s House
While in Capernaum, the Savior instructed His disciples, “Go your way, and tell . . . what things ye have seen and heard; how that the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, to the poor the gospel is preached” (Luke 7:22). Unfortunately, after all the miracles that beloved city had witnessed, the people rejected the Savior and the city was cursed. This poem has been a favorite of mine for many years and someone mentioned to me how the ending seems to be quite sad—that people today may still not believe. That’s what I feel most impressed to learn from Capernaum, that we must believe in the Savior and in His capacity to perform miracles in our lives. We must not be faithless, but believing. As Moroni tells us, the only reason that miracles would cease would be “because of unbelief” and because “faith has ceased” (Moroni 7:37-38). In my life I have been fortunate to see many miracles, and being in Capernaum and the Galilee area only made me reflect on them more. Meanings became even more profound and the reality of the Savior’s power more real. I can say with Moroni that our “God has not ceased to be a God of miracles” (Mormon 9:15) and that it is through our faith in Him that miracles are wrought even today. In the Bible Dictionary we are told that miracles are “manifestations of divine or spiritual power . . . signs, visible tokens of an invisible power” and “the natural results of the Messiah’s presence among men.” Something I find interesting is that miracles are also defined as “wonders, marvels, because of the effect produced on
those who saw them” (BD 732-733). The things I was privileged to experience and witness as a missionary have so affected my life and the lives of those with whom I labored that I can only call them wonders—marvels. I have witnessed miracles. I have been able to witness firsthand the “Messiah’s presence among men.” During my time in Capernaum, I reflected on these cherished experiences and how they came to pass, accompanied with the urgent desire that they would never end. Don’t we all want to see more manifestations of divine spiritual power in our lives and in the lives of those we love? Or in other words, don’t we all desire to see such miracles? I have learned that if our desire is to see miracles, we need to put ourselves in a position to experience them, to qualify ourselves to see them. One of the best ways to see the Lord’s “mighty works” is to become involved in His great work; in other words, to become an instrument in His hands. The charge the Savior gave his disciples centuries ago is still in force today—to go forth and share “what things [we] have seen and heard” concerning the Lord’s mighty works. Could this seem like a daunting task? For many, yes. However, as our beloved prophet, President Thomas S. Monson, has said, “Do not pray for tasks equal to your abilities, but pray for abilities equal to your tasks. Then the performance of your tasks will be no miracle, but you will be the miracle.” In this great work, the Lord is trying to shape us, to qualify us to return to His presence. And He doesn’t want us to come home alone.
Sacrament in Galilee Rachel Herrmann rother Masters’ class walked into the Galilee branch house and was stunned by the view of the brilliant blue water sparkling beyond the window of the podium. I knew it was going to be a spiritually uplifting meeting, but I did not realize the extent thereof.
View of the Sea of Galilee from the Tiberias Branch Building’s Porch
A few weeks before, I was asked to play a musical number. However, the arrangement I’d planned, which contained a singer and an accompanist, unfortunately fell through. I decided to just play my own rendition of the song “This is the Christ” and not have anyone sing the lyrics. A couple minutes before Sacrament, I had a feeling to have someone sing the words in the song, but I kept telling myself that I hadn’t practiced it with anyone so there could be no way it
would ever work. The feeling persisted, and I finally gave in and asked Kellyn if she would sing it while I played. She miraculously agreed, despite that fact that she had never sung the song before. We got up to play, and somehow the lyrics and music blended together better than I had ever hoped for. It sounded as if we had performed the song a hundred times before. We finished the musical number, gave each other a look of, “Did that really just happen?” and sat down, still reeling from the success of a difficult piece performed to near perfection. Once the meeting concluded, Kellyn said to me, “Rach, it wasn’t me who sang that song. I know I had help from someone, because never in my life have I sung that before. I wanted to thank you for asking me to sing. It was through inspiration, and that experience really strengthened my testimony.” About five minutes later, Kellyn walked up to me with a look of amazement on her face, handed me a note, and told me I needed to read it. The note said, “Thank you for your beautiful song. It was sung when this building was dedicated by Elder Faust two and a half years ago. Brother Moody, the composer, was with us that day and joined with our choir in singing it. Elder Faust, who wrote the words, had a very special relationship with our branch. So this song has very special significance for us in the Galilee Branch. Thank you for your beautiful rendition of this psalm of praise. –Ann Hansen, 18/7/09.”
I just looked at her in astonishment, putting all the pieces together in my head. I knew there was a reason I was supposed to play that particular song and, more importantly, ask Kellyn to sing the beautiful words. It was a testimony to us both of how Christ works in mysterious ways, always wanting the best for everyone. He was there to fulfill the needs of Kellyn and I, as well as the members of the branch, to whom the song meant more than I ever could have known.
Tiberias Branch Church Building This is the only property owned by the LDS Church in Israel.
Mt. of Beatitudes Ashley Bradshaw ne of my purposes in coming to Jerusalem, which I’m sure everyone can relate to, was to grow closer to my Savior. Weeks went by, and while I had learned plenty of things about the Savior’s life and had seen His tender mercies pour into my daily life, I still couldn’t shake the feeling that I had not accomplished what I had set out to do; that is, to deeply strengthen my relationship with Christ. Little did I know that I had grown closer to Him—just not in the way I had expected. My epiphany moment, if you will, happened at the Mt. of Beatitudes when we sang the hymn, “Lord, I Would Follow Thee;” specifically, the line, “To the wounded and the weary, I would show a gentle heart.” In that sweet moment I knew that the Lord was reminding me of something that He had already confirmed in my patriarchal blessing years ago. My instruction to look to those whose hands hang down, or whose knees are weak, and help them come to Christ was the answer to my prayers. I needed to stop focusing on how I was going to grow and instead help others grow. With this new and improved focus on my experience, I looked around at each person during the fireside that Shabbat and I realized that I had grown closer to Christ because I had grown closer to these people who embody Christ-like characteristics. It truly is through feeding His sheep that we show our love and gratitude to Him who shows unconditional love. I was
then reminded of a few verses from Matthew 25 that I would like to share.
Chapel at the Mount of Beatitudes
Matthew 25: 34-40 “Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: “For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: “I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. “Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? "And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” I do know who the Savior is, and part of that is because I have received the blessing of loving each one of you and playing a small part in each of your lives. I do know that the Lord answers every prayer, but we are often the instruments in His hands though which those prayers are answered. I’m grateful for this humbling lesson and I testify that Jesus truly is the Christ and the Redeemer of mankind. Thank you all for everything!
The Mount of Olives Brigitte Dean t is a great blessing and miracle to reside on the Mount of Olives. It truly is hallowed ground. Many times, I have imagined the Savior walking along this mount. Here, He suffered in Gethsemane; here, He ascended into heaven; and here, He will return. These are miraculous events that have taken place and will take place on this very mountain. We as students have had the great privilege of living here and studying His word. His disciples watched as He was taken up and heard the angels promise, â€œThis same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heavenâ€? (Acts 1:11).
As I look out to the Mount of Olives, I picture Him coming in glory to a covenant people, the Jews, who will feel the prints in his hands and feet. They will come to the realization that He is their Savior. What a blessed day that will be. One day, every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Christ is the Messiah. I long to embrace Him and to sing praises with the angels and glorify His name! Whether I live to witness His coming or die beforehand, it doesn't matter. He will come again in His great majesty and glory and I will take part in it. I love Him with all of my heart, and know He loves me. He loves us all. I am reminded of His love when I read and ponder
these great events that have and will transpire on the Mount of Olives
The BYU Jerusalem Center and Mount Scopus at night from the Old City
The Mount of Olives from near the sealed Golden Gate
The Garden Tomb Karyn Alvey efore we came to the Holy Land, the Garden Tomb was one of the places I was most excited to see. I remember as a child imagining what it must be like to see where our Lord and Savior was resurrected. It was a dream of mine to come to this holy site.
The first time we went to the Garden Tomb, I was surprised to see the geography of the area. For some reason, I always pictured it at the base of a small hill, in the middle of a thin forest. I never imagined it would be just off of a main road in the city, with a bus station as a next door neighbor. However, the more I think about it, the more I love that this is the case. Of all the neat places we have been, this garden in the middle of the city has been one of the (if not THE) most peaceful places. This has become a testimony builder for me. The city is hustling and bustling outside the garden walls, yet inside, there is always a soothing and comforting stillness. I love the way the sunlight reflects through the leaves in the many trees, and the light breeze that rustles them just a bit. I love the constant hum of birds chirping around us. I love how the blossoms and flowers provide a colorful accent to the green trees. The garden is beautiful. When I stand next to the tomb, I find myself picturing Mary. When the apostles ran off, she stayed behind.
Standing alone with tears running down her cheeks, she heard a gentle voice behind her. I wonder why she didnâ€™t
The Door of the Garden Tomb
recognize the voice at first. I suppose it could have been because she was so distracted and distraught with what she believed had happened. (This makes me question and wonder how often are we too distracted to recognize the promptings of the spirit?) What impresses me most in this story is what happens next. Christ says, “Mary.” He calls her by name. I imagine he says it in a way that is gentle, soothing, and full of love. At this, Mary recognizes the voice. Her heart must be racing with anticipation as she turns. What sincere joy and happiness she must have felt as she saw Him—as she looked into His eyes. I love this story. I wonder what it will be like when one day I too will get to see my Savior again. What will I feel as I look into His eyes? Will I be able to recognize his voice when He speaks? I hope that I can always live worthily so when that day comes, I can stand before Him with joy and happiness rather than guilt or sorrow. How wonderful it is to know that the day will come. We will all get to see our Brother, Savior, and Redeemer again. Standing in the tomb, touching the stone—being and seeing where prophets believe Jesus Christ was laid, is something I will never forget. I am so grateful for the opportunity I have had to see it, and to feel the spirit there. I am so grateful for the Atonement, for Christ’s sacrifice for me. I am grateful to know that He did indeed rise from the tomb. He conquered death. I am amazed that we will one day rise and conquer death as well. How grateful I am for this. I’m so grateful for the Plan of Salvation. Without the
Savior and his sacrifice, eternal life would not be possible. I am so grateful for Him and love him with all of my heart.
Contemplating at the Garden Tomb
When I think of the Garden Tomb, the hymn that always comes to mind is one of my favorites: “I Know That My Redeemer Lives.” I want everyone to know that I do know that my Redeemer lives. He died, but is dead no more. He rose from the tomb! I know he loves us, and that he will comfort us in times of need. He is there waiting for us—with open arms reaching out to us. I hope we will all remember Him and choose to come to Him.
A Pilgrimage (Church of the Holy Sepulchre) Katherine Lyman “Pater noster; qui es in coelis, sanctificetur nomen tuum; adveniat regnum tuum…”
n elderly woman’s voice rings out clearly, untrained but confident. She walks matter-offactly at the front of our group, leading the way down the Via Dolorosa just behind our Franciscan guides. I have been following along for almost an hour, checking a vague guidebook periodically to see where we are at each Station of the Cross. There are about fifty people in our group—some Spanish tourists, some of the local religious orders, five BYU students, and a Japanese family. After every stop, the Roman Catholics among us sing the Pater Noster, and by this point, I’ve caught on to the melody and can hum with them.
Three Orthodox sisters stand right in front of me, hair covered and faces solemn. I used to smile at everyone in churches when I first got to Jerusalem, but I quickly learned that Christian culture in Jerusalem has a more serious bent than the Southern Baptist hospitality I am used to at home. I don’t smile at these sisters, even though I would love to talk to them and ask them questions: “Why did you decide to become a nun? How did you end up in Jerusalem? What’s your story?” They don’t sing, but they are completely involved in this experience—not
preoccupied with their thoughts or with the people around them.
Incense hanging over the stone of embalming
Our group pauses for a minute outside the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, and as we start walking through the door, we sing the Pater Noster again. A group of Spanish women behind me sings together, mixing their voices with tapestries, brass ornaments, incense, and candles as we climb the staircase to Golgotha. Their voices are simple,
The Entrance to the Church
but completely at home in the Catholic atmosphere of the church. Without warning, the sound triggers a flood of images in my mind from centuries of Latin American historyâ€”Mexican women revering images of the Virgin of Guadalupe, a Salvadoran man telling the story of a miraculous healing, missionaries spreading Christianity through the wild parts of Paraguay. And I am standing on a staircase in a church in Jerusalem that has been the spiritual focal point of these people for 500 years. We reach the top of the staircase, and we can see Golgotha. An image of Christ on the cross stands out from the mountain itself, protruding up through the floor. Pilgrims already in this room are kneeling, many in tears, in front of the cross. Our group is silent, some praying and
some examining the ornate altars around us. I try to take a picture of the cross—where heaven meets earth, for many people in this room—but a priest forbids me with an urgent “No photo!” This is his Holy of Holies, not an image that should be captured on film. I have not grown up saying rosaries or chanting at mass, but I have learned what it means to feel awe. And in this church, surrounded by Christians who represent generations of devotion, I am in awe of a community of believers that has stretched through millennia and permeated an incredible diversity of cultures. The Church of the Holy Sepulchre is not well-ordered, and it is not even beautiful in places. But if any building in the world is a home for traditional Christianity, it is this one.
Prayer Candles on the Catholicon, the “Middle of the Universe”
The Temple Mount James Burrell y experience this summer has really made history and the scriptures come to life for me. I have so many significant experiences that choosing only one is difficult. One that has been a recurring thought to me though is the significance of the temple at the time of Christ, and the circumstances surrounding it. I have visited different parts of the Temple Mount, including the Western Wall, the Kotel tunnel, and the Davidson Archeological Park; each visit has yielded some new realizations that have helped to create a much greater understanding of the importance and reality of Herod’s temple. In a way, it isn’t limited to one moment, but rather the same overarching topic gradually being understood more clearly through each new experience. By studying the scriptures, learning more about the history of the Jews and Jerusalem, and visiting the Temple Mount, I have reached a higher level of understanding regarding the significance of the temple to Jewish life at the time of Christ.
The Temple Mount itself is located on Mt. Moriah, which is the traditional spot for the binding of Isaac (or Ishmael for the Muslims), within the walled Old City of Jerusalem. It isn’t the highest location in the Old City, but it is certainly spectacular—the sheer size of the Temple Mount alone is astonishing. Despite this, however, I at
first found it somewhat difficult to picture the Temple Mount as it once was. Much like the vast majority of the Old City, things have changed greatly since the time of Christ. For example, most of the Christian sites I have visited have churches built on top of them, and, while the churches in and of themselves are fascinating to visit, they make it difficult to imagine the scene 2,000 years ago. I gained a new perspective though during the Herodian Jerusalem field trip, as I was able to better imagine the Temple Mount in its ancient form. First, visiting the Western Wall Tunnels gave an interesting opportunity to see areas that dated from the time of Christ. Then, visiting the Davidson Archeological Park further added to my comprehension. Because the digging is so recent, it is kept in more of a period condition than many other sites. When I was there, I really felt as though I was able to step back in time in my mind’s eye and view the location when the temple was in its full glory. I could envision the arches, the streets, and the stairs. In other words, I felt as though I was able to connect to the location in a more tangible way than other places. Standing beneath the remains of ‘Robinson’s Arch’, I was able to picture some of the different events that took place near there, such as in Luke 4, when Satan is tempting Christ to jump off of the pinnacle of the temple. I realize now that it would have been a high drop over a crowded area, which is something that I didn’t really understand until that visit. Another thing that stood out to me in this area was the number of mikvaot. Before studying here in Jerusalem, I
did not understand the concept of ritual purity in Judaism. Having learned about the need for ritual purity and the ritual baths in several classes and field trips, I feel that I was able to better understand the significance of the mikvaot outside the temple. Each visitor to the temple had to ritually purify themselves, and though several mikvaot are visible outside the temple, people would often trek long distances only to wait in line at the mikvaot for their turn to be purified and worthy to enter the temple. The more I thought about it, the more I realized just how central the temple was to Jews at the time of Christâ€” nearly everything about their lives revolved around the temple. Having had the opportunity to visit many sites throughout Israel, I have been able to see environment and the distances between the various towns and cities mentioned in the Bible. Much of the land is truly a desert wilderness, and I believe that it would be a struggle for many to come to the temple during the major feasts. Jewish law, however, stated that they had to come to the temple, and so they did. Reflecting on the centrality of the temple helped me to further understand the motivation behind Nephi in 2 Nephi 5:16 where Nephi states, â€œAnd I, Nephi, did build a temple; and I did construct it after the manner of the temple of Solomon save it were not built of so many precious things; for they were not to be found upon the land, wherefore, it could not be built like unto Solomon's temple.â€? Though that took place much earlier, the temple was so important in the lives of the people of
Jerusalem, and Nephi so faithful, that one of the first things he did when reaching the Promised Land was to construct a temple after the manner of the one in Jerusalem. Something else that ‘clicked’ for me during that field trip was the connection of the temple priests and New Testament. After visiting the Wohl Archaeological Museum, I was able to see how the priests lived a luxurious life near the temple. Seeing the houses and artifacts there helped me to understand more fully how the temple had become corrupted. Later, learning about Simon the Hasmonean claiming the office of king and high priest and the history surrounding that incident helped me better understand how much of this corruption developed. The temple still remained the center of Jewish life, but it was being misused to make the priests rich, and the Sadducees had reached the point where they cared more about maintaining their luxurious way of life than serving God; they went through the motions, but they did not have the faith. This realization helped me understand why Christ confronted the Sadducees with such fierceness, such as in Matthew 21:13 where Jesus says, “It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves.” By extension, I also better understood why Jesus drove the money changers out of the temple, and where that might have taken place. Imagining Herod’s Temple intact, I thought of the prophecy of Jesus in Mark 13:2 when Says said, “Seest thou these great buildings? there shall not be left one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down.” To
the people who actually saw the magnificent structure, this prophecy must have been difficult to believe. But as I stood there, I could look and see the giant Herodian stones that had fallen from high atop the Temple Mount and had smashed the street below. Looking at those stones resting on the broken street, I could actually see how that prophecy had been fulfilled. As I have increased my understanding of the centrality of the temple in Jewish life, I feel as though I can better comprehend what exactly it meant to the Jews when the temple was destroyed by the Romans. While we know in from the New Testament (such as Luke 4 where Christ read in the synagogue) that synagogues existed at this point, the temple was clearly still the center of Jewish religion. Its destruction must have been devastating to the Jews. With no temple, no priests, and no sacrifices, both the temporal and spiritual lives of Jews changed drastically. Today, Jews consider the Western Wall (or Wailing Wall) to be their most holy site. It is simply part of the retaining wall of the Temple Mount, though it is all that is left of the original temple built by Herod. When I was able to visit the Western Wall and watch as the Jews there welcomed the Sabbath, I was struck by their faith. Their beliefs are not the same as mine, but they certainly believe in what they were doing. I didnâ€™t expect to be touched so much by their faith and obedience. Even today, without a temple, the Jews try to incorporate the temple into their lives by worshiping as close as they can to it.
I personally have a tendency to sometimes take the temple for granted in my life. While I have always loved the temple, I feel as though my experiences here have helped underline the importance of the temple both then and now. The people of Jerusalem made the temple the central part of their life, and many Jews today, nearly 2,000 years later, still mourn its loss and worship near the site of the temple. I think I can learn a lot from this as I strive to follow the counsel of the Prophet and Apostles and work to make the temple a central part in my life. I feel blessed to live at a time when there are so many temples around the world Although what we as Latter-day Saints do in the temple and what the Jews at the time of Christ did in the temple are different, there are more similarities than I realized before coming here, which has helped me to begin to connect with, and understand, more about the people of that time. While I donâ€™t think one has to visit the Holy Land to have a testimony, I believe that studying here in Jerusalem has enhanced mine. As I have learned more about Jerusalem and the circumstances of it during the time of Christ through personal visits, historical study, and scripture study, I believe I have enhanced my understanding of the life of my Savior, Jesus Christ.
Haifa Templar Cemetery Rachel Curtis n our way back to Jerusalem from Galilee, we stopped at the Haifa Templar Cemetery. Brother Huff called this place “one of the holiest sites in Israel.” This cemetery is holy, not only because of the many buried there, but because six specific people buried there were great pioneers that made it possible for all of us to study in the Holy Land this summer.
In 1884, Elder Jacob Spori from the LDS Swiss-German Mission was sent to create the “Turkish Mission.” Elder Spori traveled to Haifa where he met Johan Georg Grau (who had seen Elder Spori in a dream the night before) and his wife Magdalena, who were both baptized within the month. LDS missionaries continued to be sent from Istanbul to labor in Haifa. Two of them passed away and were buried there: Adolph Haag (from Payson, Utah, where he’d left his wife and two children), who died of typhoid, and John Clark (from Farmington Utah), who died of smallpox. The Haifa cemetery contains the graves of Elders Haag and Clark, of Johan and Magdalena Gray, and of two other Templar converts, Fred and Christiane Kegel. Little did these six people know how many lives they would affect just by being members of the LDS church and being buried in the Holy Land. More specifically, they had no idea that they would affect the lives of thousands of college students.
After the birth of the state of Israel in 1948, the Knesset decided that they would no longer allow any new religions to develop in the nation. This policy became an obstacle when the LDS church was trying to build the BYU Jerusalem Center. Although many apostles of the LDS church had offered dedicatory prayers in the Holy Land and the presence of the church had been established before 1948, the Knesset needed more legitimate evidence. Because these six members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints were buried in Haifa, it was concluded that the Mormon Church had in fact been a religion established in the Holy Land before 1948, so the BYU Jerusalem Center could indeed be built. This cemetery had very significant meaning to me on the day we visited it, because I was expecting my mission call to be at the Center when we returned from Galilee. As a part of the devotional given at their graves, we sang, “I’ll Go Where You Want Me to Go.” Two of the verses had a great effect on me. “It may not be on the mountain height or over the stormy sea / It may not be at the battle’s front my Lord will have need of me. / But if, by a still, small voice he calls to paths that I do not know / I’ll answer, dear Lord, with my hand in thine: I’ll go where you want me to go. / There’s surely somewhere a lowly place in earth’s harvest fields so wide / Where I may labor through life’s short day for Jesus, the crucified. / So trusting my all to thy tender care, and knowing thou lovest me / I’ll do thy will with a heart sincere: I’ll be what you want my to be. / I’ll go where you want me to go dear Lord, over mountain
or plain or sea / I’ll say what you want me to say, dear Lord; I’ll be what you want me to be.” As we sang this song, I was overcome with gratitude for these missionaries that went where the Lord wanted them to go. Elder Spori didn’t realize the magnitude of what he was doing when he created the “Turkish Mission,” nor did the other Elders who served there or those that joined the church in Haifa. They were truly pioneers who marked the way for the LDS church to be recognized in the Holy Land. They went “to paths that [they did] not know,” and they answered, “I’ll go where you want me to go.” They didn’t know that “the lowly place” that they were to serve would affect so many. Because they did this, the BYU Jerusalem Center was built, and thousands of students have been able to study here. I am personally indebted to them for their sacrifices; because of them, I can study here in the Holy Land this summer. My time in the Holy Land has become sacred to me, and the things I’ve learned here are of eternal consequence. My testimony has been strengthened by the things I’ve seen, heard, learned, and felt this summer, and I walk away from this experience forever changed. Brother Huff allowed me the opportunity to bear my testimony at this holy site. I bore witness of the importance and power of missionary work. My family was brought into the church because of missionaries in England. Missionaries may never know the influence they can have. By bringing just one soul to Christ, my entire family has been affected and blessed for generations. This
experience helped prepare my mind and heart to receive the mission call that I opened later that day. I have been called to serve a mission in the Illinois Chicago North Mission, Spanish speaking. My experience at the Templar Cemetery humbled me and filled me with gratitude. I truly felt and carried in my heart the words, “There’s surely somewhere a lowly place in earth’s harvest fields so wide / Where I may labor through life’s short day for Jesus, the crucified.” We covenant at baptism to take the name of Jesus Christ upon ourselves and stand as a witness of Him. I can think of no greater honor than to physically bear the name of my Savior on my chest and be a full-time witness of Him for a year and a half. What a sacred responsibility that is—a calling that I am so humbled to be able to fulfill. As I reread my call later that day, I was filled with emotion and the Spirit. I am grateful for the chance to do as Elders Spori, Hagg and Clack did—to “go where You want me to go, dear Lord” and “be what You want me to be.”
Gathering of Israel Stephanie Lacy hat a glorious thing it is that the work of the Lord is starting to come forth in the Holy Land. One of the things impressed upon my mind over and over again while I have been here in the Holy Land is that the gathering of Israel is happening right before our very eyes. And part of the reason for that is due to a man that we have all heard about countless times throughout our lives: Orson Hyde.
The commencement of this gathering of Israel in our dispensation took place in the Kirtland Temple when Moses appeared to the Prophet Joseph Smith to give him the keys of the gathering of Israel. Later on, Orson Hyde was called on a mission to take these keys and come here to Jerusalem, to a place just down the street from where we now live to dedicate this land for the return of the Jews and the gathering of Israel. Orson Hyde was the man that was foreordained to fulfill this mission in the Holy Land. A few days after his baptism in October 1831, Orson sought the Prophet Joseph Smith to find out the Lordâ€™s will for him. In Doctrine and Covenants 68:1, Orson is told in a blessing that he is to â€œproclaim the everlasting gospel, by the Spirit of the living God, from people to people, from land to land, in the congregations of the wicked, in their synagogues,
with reasoning with and expounding all scriptures unto them.â€? The fact that this verse specifically mentions synagogues is talking about his mission that he needs to fulfill in this land. It was part of the Lordâ€™s grand plan to send Orson Hyde to this land to dedicate for the gathering of Israel so that the work could come to this land. The journey that Orson had to take in order to fulfill the work the Lord had given was not an easy one. Often, I have found that when the Lord gives us a great work to do, it is not easy. Nothing truly worth it is ever easy, and when great things are about to happen, the adversary knows about it. It is his will to stop the work from progressing, but the Lord will always win in the end.
Sunbeams through Olive Trees
A letter that Orson wrote to Brother Pratt while on his journey describes the hardships that he faced in coming to
dedicate this land. “The Lord knows that I have had a hard time, and suffered much, but I have great reason to thank Him that I enjoy good health at present . . . The heat is most oppressive, and has been all through Syria. I have not time to tell you how many days I have been at sea, without food, or how many snails I have eaten; but if I had had plenty of them, I should have done very well . . . Syria is in a dreadful state, a war of extermination is going on between the Druses and Catholics . . . a battle was fought in the mountains of Lebanon, near that place, and about 800 killed. Robberies, thefts and murders are daily being committed. It is no uncommon thing to find persons in the streets without heads.” I think that we can learn a lot from this man’s experience, and realize that although our journey to do the Lord’s will may be hard, it is worth it! On Sunday morning, October 24, 1841, Orson Hyde went up onto the Mount of Olives and repeated this prayer that had been given to him by revelation through the Lord. It has three themes: the gathering of Judah, the building up of Jerusalem, and the rearing of the temple in this dispensation. "O Thou! who art from everlasting to everlasting, eternally and unchangeably the same, even the God who rules in the heavens above, and controls the destinies of men on the earth, wilt Thou not condescend, through thine infinite goodness and royal favor, to listen to the prayer of Thy servant which he this day offers up unto Thee in the name of Thy holy child Jesus, upon this land, where the Son
of Righteousness set in blood, and thine Anointed One expired. "Be pleased, O Lord, to forgive all the follies, weaknesses, vanities, and sins of Thy servant, and strengthen him to resist all future temptations. Give him prudence and discernment that he may avoid the evil, and a heart to choose the good; give him fortitude to bear up under trying and adverse circumstances, and grace to endure all things for Thy name's sake, until the end shall come, when all the Saints shall rest in peace. "Now, O Lord! Thy servant has been obedient to the heavenly vision which Thou gavest him in his native land; and under the shadow of Thine outstretched arm, he has safely arrived in this place to dedicate and consecrate this land unto Thee, for the gathering together of Judah's scattered remnants, according to the predictions of the holy Prophets -- for the building up of Jerusalem again after it has been trodden down by the Gentiles so long, and for rearing a Temple in honor of Thy name. Everlasting thanks be ascribed unto Thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that Thou hast preserved Thy servant from the dangers of the seas, and from the plague and pestilence which have caused the land to mourn. The violence of man has also been restrained, and Thy providential care by night and by day has been exercised over Thine unworthy servant. Accept, therefore, O Lord, the tribute of a grateful heart for all past favors, and be pleased to continue Thy kindness and mercy towards a needy worm of the dust.
"O Thou, Who didst covenant with Abraham, Thy friend, and who didst renew that covenant with Isaac, and confirm the same with Jacob with an oath, that Thou wouldst not only give them this land for an everlasting inheritance, but that Thou wouldst also remember their seed forever. Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob have long since closed their eyes in death, and made the grave their mansion. Their children are scattered and dispersed abroad among the nations of the Gentiles like sheep that have no shepherd, and are still looking forward for the fulfillment of those promises which Thou didst make concerning them; and even this land, which once poured forth nature's richest bounty, and flowed, as it were, with milk and honey, has, to a certain extent, been smitten with barrenness and sterility since it drank from murderous hands the blood of Him who never sinned.
The path at the lower gate of the Orson Hyde Memorial Park
"Grant, therefore, O Lord, in the name of Thy wellbeloved Son, Jesus Christ, to remove the barrenness and sterility of this land, and let springs of living water break forth to water its thirsty soil. Let the vine and olive produce in their strength, and the fig-tree bloom and flourish. Let the land become abundantly fruitful when possessed by its rightful heirs; let it again flow with plenty to feed the returning prodigals who come home with a spirit of grace and supplication; upon it let the clouds distil virtue and richness, and let the fields smile with plenty. Let the flocks and the herds greatly increase and multiply upon the mountains and the hills; and let Thy great kindness conquer and subdue the unbelief of Thy people. Do Thou take from them their stony heart, and give them a heart of flesh; and may the Sun of Thy favor dispel the cold mists of darkness which have beclouded their atmosphere. Incline them to gather in upon this land according to Thy word. Let them come like clouds and like doves to their windows. Let the large ships of the nations bring them from the distant isles; and let kings become their nursing fathers, and queens with motherly fondness wipe the tear of sorrow from their eye. "Thou, O Lord, did once move upon the heart of Cyrus to show favor unto Jerusalem and her children. Do Thou now also be pleased to inspire the hearts of kings and the powers of the earth to look with a friendly eye towards this place, and with a desire to see Thy righteous purposes executed in relation thereto. Let them know that it is Thy good pleasure to restore the kingdom unto Israel -- raise up Jerusalem as its capital, and constitute her people a distinct nation and
government, with David Thy servant, even a descendant from the loins of ancient David to be their king. "Let that nation or that people who shall take an active part in behalf of Abraham's children, and in the raising up of Jerusalem, find favor in Thy sight. Let not their enemies prevail against them, neither let pestilence or famine overcome them, but let the glory of Israel overshadow them, and the power of the Highest protect them; while that nation or kingdom that will not serve Thee in this glorious work must perish, according to Thy word --- Yea, those nations shall be utterly wasted. "Though Thy servant is now far from his home, and from the land bedewed with his earliest tear, yet he remembers, O Lord, his friend: who are there, and family, whom for Thy sake he has left. Though poverty and privation be our earthly lot, yet ah! do Thou richly endow us with an inheritance where moth and rust do not corrupt, and where thieves do not break through and steal. "The hands that have fed, clothed, or shown favor unto the family of Thy servant in his absence, or that shall hereafter do so, let them not lose their reward, but let a special blessing rest upon them, and in Thy kingdom let them have an inheritance when Thou shalt come to be glorified in this society. "Do Thou also look with favor upon all those through whose liberality I have been enabled to come to this land; and in the day when Thou shalt reward all people according
to their works, let these also not be passed by or forgotten, but in time let them be in readiness to enjoy the glory of those mansions which Jesus has gone to prepare. Particularly do Thou bless the stranger in Philadelphia, whom I never saw, but who sent me gold, with a request that I should pray for him in Jerusalem. Now, O Lord, let blessings come upon him from an unexpected quarter, and let his basket be filled, and his storehouse abound with plenty, and let not the good things of the earth be his only portion, but let him be found among those to whom it shall be said, `Thou hast been faithful over a few things, and I will make thee ruler over many.'
The view from the upper gate of the Orson Hyde Memorial Park
"O my Father in heaven! I now ask Thee in the name of Jesus to remember Zion, with all her Stakes, and with all her assemblies. She has been grievously afflicted and smitten;
she has mourned; she has wept; her enemies have triumphed, and have said, `Ah, where is thy God?' Her Priests and Prophets have groaned in chains and fetters within the gloomy walls of prisons, while many were slain, and now sleep in the arms of death. How long, O Lord, shall iniquity triumph, and sin go unpunished? "Do Thou arise in the majesty of Thy strength, and make bare Thine arm in behalf of Thy people. Redress their wrongs, and turn their sorrow into joy. Pour the spirit of light and knowledge, grace and wisdom, into the hearts of her Prophets, and clothe her Priests with salvation. Let light and knowledge march forth through the empire of darkness, and may the honest in heart flow to their standard, and join in the march to go forth to meet the Bridegroom. "Let a peculiar blessing rest upon the Presidency of Thy Church, for at them are the arrows of the enemy directed. Be Thou to them a sun and a shield, their strong tower and hiding place; and in the time of distress or danger be Thou near to deliver. Also the quorum of the Twelve, do Thou be pleased to stand by them for Thou knowest the obstacles which they have to encounter, the temptations to which they are exposed, and the privations which they must suffer. Give us, [the Twelve] therefore, strength according to our day, and help us to bear a faithful testimony of Jesus and His Gospel, to finish with fidelity and honor the work which Thou hast given us to do, and then give us a place in Thy glorious kingdom. And let this blessing rest upon every faithful officer and member in Thy Church. And all the glory
and honor will we ascribe unto God and the Lamb forever and ever. Amen."
Poppies in the Orson Hyde Memorial Park
Only through this dedicatory prayer could the work begin to come forth in this land. I do not that it is a coincidence that in the 1840s, around the time that Orson Hyde gave this prayer, Jews around the world were touched by the spirit of gathering by men like Theodor Herzl and Leo Pinsker. Jews all around the world expressed a desire to return to their ancient homeland.
Without the dedicatory prayer that Orson Hyde gave to this land, we would not have the opportunity to be here studying. Only through that prayer were the first missionaries of the early church able to come to this land. After 1948, the Knesset had made a law that said no new religion was to be introduced into the Holy Land, but because the gravestones of the early missionaries of our church were found in Haifa, the Jerusalem Center was allowed to be built. How grateful we should be to those that have gone before us for this unique opportunity! Because we have been given this experience, we all have the duty to go and share with the world the knowledge that we have gained here. We all must answer the call in our own way to help the work come forth in this land. The work is already coming forth here, and it will continue to do so, but how quickly it happens is up to the Lord.
The plaque for the church building in Amman, Jordan,
A sign of the gathering of the seed of Abraham in the modern day.
The YMCA Carillon Walter Whipple never dreamed of playing tower bells. How often have I heard the carillon at BYU-Provo without the slightest idea of what was going on up in the tower! I have known Don Cook, the BYU carilloneur, for years. I never gave a moment’s thought to ever playing the carillon; that is, until we spoke with Michael and Maria Moody, our predecessors at the Jerusalem Center. “Oh, by the way,” they told us, “you may be playing the bells at the Jerusalem YMCA. We did. And we loved it.” They went on to explain how several years ago, the long time YMCA carilloneur stepped down, and they stepped in by volunteering to play the tower bells rather than have them rust from not being used. When I asked Michael how to play the carillon, he simply said: “It’s just like playing the piano, except that it’s different; you’ll figure it out! Besides, we left behind some music for you to try.”
My cousin Dan Berghout is an organist, and so is his wife, Elizabeth. During Christmas break when they visited us in Provo, I asked Liz how to play the carillon, since she plays the bells at the University of Kansas. She said, “Instead of regular keys, there are levers which look like short broom handles, arranged in two rows much like the black and white keys of the piano. You grab hold of those levers, one by one, briskly snapping them downward. Then you must quickly let go. If you don’t, the clapper
stays in contact with the bell, not allowing it to continue ringing. This may sound complicated, but it’s not. You’ll have it figured out in no time.”
The “keyboard” of the Carillon
Just two days after Mary and I arrived in the Jerusalem, Norm and Doreen Squires took us to the YMCA tower. They showed us the “dummy” console—the one that can’t be heard outside—and let us figure out how to play a few numbers. After we had “warmed up,” they played a few hymns, then slid off the bench and said, “Now it’s your turn.” We were not at all confident of our ability, but we did our best. We made mistakes, as beginners typically do, but we were thrilled to hear the sound of the
bells—the only carillon set in the Near East—ringing out over the ancient city of Jerusalem. The next Sunday, some students came along. I showed them what I had learned only a week before. They picked it up quickly and seemed to enjoy it. Since then, every week except those Sundays when they were out of town on field trips, we have had anywhere from 2 to 20 participants in the bell tower. What makes the ringing of bells so special? For one thing, once a note has been sounded, it becomes part of eternity. Just as the words we speak cannot be recalled, neither can a bell be un-rung. And just as we will never know just who will be affected by our words and actions, we really have no idea who is listening to our tower music. True, some of the Jerusalem Branch members who work at the nearby U.S. Consulate have mentioned hearing “I Am a Child of God,” and assumed that it was BYU students in the tower. And Michael Moody mentions that when Condolezza Rice was staying at the King David Hotel across the street, she appreciated hearing “America the Beautiful.” She even wrote a thank-you note. Since that first day in the bell tower on April 26, I have developed a fondness for the people at the YMCA. Associate director Yossi Eisenberg appreciates our bell ringing. The parking attendant, a well-fed immigrant from the former Soviet Socialist Republic of Georgia, whose name is David but who is affectionately referred to as “Peugeot” because of his corporeal appearance, is always
glad to let us park. Michael D. Bussey, the long-time Director General, who recently returned the States, took time to speak with us about the history of the Jerusalem YMCA building. It was constructed in the years 1926-33 by Arthur Leomis Harmon, who concurrently built the Empire State Building in New York City. He pointed out some of the symbolism of the three main monotheistic religions which have been incorporated into the building’s design, such as the bas-relief of the six-winged seraph from Isaiah 6 which adorns the front of the tower, or the scriptural passage “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men,” which is found on the largest bell. Roei Smith of the Jerusalem Center security staff is Director of Youth Summer Camps at the YMCA. Ezz Abu Diab also works there. I have become acquainted with Rena Sered, a native of Chicago who immigrated to Israel more than a decade ago and is Director of Health and Wellness.
Carillon Bells in the top of the YMCA Tower
I have taken note of several quotes etched in the stone walls of this magnificent building. On the tympanum of the auditorium exterior, we read, “In essentials unity, in nonessentials liberty, in all things charity.” On the gymnasium is etched, “Es gibt nur einen Tempel in der Welt, und das ist der menschliche Koerper.” [There is only one temple in the world, and that is the human body.] Inside, just opposite the elevator door on the ground floor, is this quote: “O thou that hearest prayer, unto thee shall all flesh come.” Some of my happiest hours so far in the Holy Land have been those spent at the YMCA bells with you dear students. Even more than playing the bells myself—which I have come to enjoy immensely—I am fond of watching
your faces light up when you discover that you actually can play the bells. “And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good” (Gen. 1:31). I don’t think this verse pertains so much to the quality of God’s handiwork, which we can assume is always good, but rather to the joy He felt in organizing the elements in a creative way. This is the same joy we feel when we build birdhouses, paint pictures, write poems, memorize scripture verses—or play the bells at the Jerusalem YMCA.
YMCA Carillon Tower, West Jerusalem
â€œLet the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.â€? -Colossians 3:16-
Poetry HE WAS HERE ....................................................................... 327 Isaac Calvert WORK & GLORY .................................................................... 329 Kim Matheson THE DRIVING FORCE ............................................................... 330 Lisa Foote GREATEST MIRACLE................................................................ 331 Karyn Alvey UPON THE WATERS ................................................................ 333 Emily Holman WHAT YOU CAN BE................................................................ 334 Lisa Foote THE STORM .......................................................................... 335 Lisa Foote WHEREAS I WAS BLIND ........................................................... 336
Lisa Foote THE WILL OF THE DIVINE ......................................................... 337 Lisa Foote
THE CROWN ......................................................................... 338 Lisa Foote
ALONE ................................................................................. 339 Lisa Foote REVERENCE HIM .................................................................... 340 Lisa Foote FOREVER TO BE HIS................................................................ 341 Lisa Foote I'LL NEVER FORGET................................................................. 342 Lisa Foote WHICH ART IN HEAVEN........................................................... 343 Jane Barlow THE OLD CITY, MY BROTHER, AND ME ...................................... 345 Mandy Roth THE ONE .............................................................................. 346 Emily Page THE FATHER'S WILL I'LL LIVE .................................................... 347 Hannah Faux THE SONGS OF MY HEART ....................................................... 349 Amy Briggs
MORE LIKE HIM..................................................................... 350 Lisa Foote
He Was Here Isaac Calvert
I look out on the sea I hear the trees I feel the wind and He was here. I feel the Sun I hold the Book I search the sky and He was here. I read His words I feel His love Then my heart sings that He is here!
Then all at once a fear inside one day I may forget that He was here. But then the song within my heart sounds louder still that He is here. A month, a day, a year One eternal now Here is my heart and He is here.
Work & Glory Kim Matheson
A seed and a spirit began to ascend And wend their way up the mountain Seeking the summit, the sun, God's face, And amidst the desert a fountain. There in the distance, a glimmer I caught Of something both strange and familiar The presence of God in this arid place, And in the seeing, a terror. But forward I press, intent on His grace, Casting my sandals away, My feet as roots in holy ground, Wrestling, compelled to stay. Rod to snake, water to blood, hand to scab, Life to death to life, Transfigured, aflame, but not consumed Branches grown of strife. Burnt by His glory, bearing His fruit, Ever rapt in his flame, God be praised! The great I AM For Endless is my name. Inspired by Moses 1; Exodus 3â€“4
The Driving Force Lisa Foote & Andy Proctor What motivates men to greatness? What is the driving force That brings them outside themselves and makes them something more? Why did the Egyptians build the pyramidsâ€”an incomparable feat? Because they wanted life eternal. Because they believed. The Mesopotamians built the ziggurats, the fickle gods to please To sacrifice to Deity, to worship and to plead. But a portion of truth sufficient, greatness to inspire An architectural testament of man's deepest desire That partial truth, the key stone of wonders' creation Sincere belief the driving force, faith the motivation. The truth I have's not partial; the fullness now restored A clear path to salvation, through the blood of Christ the Lord. My faith should motivate excellence, the pyramids to exceed For the truth I have is complete and Christ is in the lead. So I'll build a life of greatness, dedicated to my God A pyramid of faith within me, immovable and strong.
Greatest Miracle Karyn Alvey
Innocence was overruled. Darkness spread throughout the world. After pain and grief, impossible to comprehend, A weak voice whispered- Heâ€™d reached the missionâ€™s end.
With gentle reverence and with care, They wrapped his body to prepare. But where should they lay him to rest? He, especially, should have only the best.
He was gentle, humble, and kind. He fed the hungry, healed the blind. His resting place should reflect his love. A place of beauty, where light shines from above.
The morning of the third day arrived. What pain and anxiety they must have felt inside, When they saw the massive stone, rolled back, The tomb stood empty, front to back.
But this was not a darkened day, like one few days before. No,no. Indeed it was brighter than any other! Forâ€Ś This day stood as a promise of hope, light, and life eternal. We too, like Him, will rise againâ€Ś and that is the greatest miracle of all.
Upon the Waters Emily Holman
Upon the Waters that served as his teaching tool Are thoughts that have gained rule: Just as the Savior has calmed the Sea of Galilee, So he can calm the storming seas in me. “Depart from me O Lord, for I am a sinful man.” And yet, I will cast my net when I can. As Peter had faith to take that step on the clear abyss, So do I have faith that you will hold me above this. You have walked the waters of a troubled sea, And I know that through my anguish you have tarried with me. With the tempests raging, O Master, My troubled soul must be thy disaster. Yet the deep is yours to control, my Lord. Your grace, an ever-sweet reward. “Carest thou not that we perish?” No, all of our lives you cherish. In my prideful state I have fallen in front of thee, But through you alone I have been born free.
What You Can Be Lisa Foote
To fisherman on Galilee The Savior of mankind did speak He called to them â€œCome follow me And see what you with me can be Cast your nets and boats aside And on this path with me abide You much first come and learn of me Then follow all that you have seen. The cost is high, the journey far To make you more than now you are. But someday you will be complete As you kneel worthy at my feet.â€?
The Storm Lisa Foote
Alone upon the mountain, yet watching them below There within the midnight storm, he watched them toil and row. He watched them struggle for hours as waves tossed to and fro And knew this storm was needed if their faith was to grow. And so he stayed His hand 'til the darkest hour prevailed When they could endure no more, He came to where they sailed. Walking on the water He called “Be of good cheer. It is I; be not afraid. There is no cause for fear.”
Then Peter said, “If it be thou, bid me to come to thee.”
Jesus beckoned, â€œCome.â€? And they walked upon the sea. Peter left the boat he knew and stepped into the waves He walked, then sank in fear and called to Him who saves. Stretching forth His hand, Jesus saved His sinking friend Lifting him to higher ground and walking hence with him. Only when within the ship the storm did fin'lly cease As the Master brought to waves and soul and lasting peace. Whereas I was Blind Lisa Foote
So many others passed me by Such lonely darkness was my life. Blind since birth, I knew not light. My life was one unending night. Then One that is called Jesus came He paused and He perceived my pain He saw me though I could not see Him and said my blindness came not from sin. He spat upon the ground, made clay I felt His hands upon my face. My eyes anointed with this earth These eyes had never seen since birth But with obedience to His law I washed them in Siloam and saw. With light and color, life was new
This Man's promise proven true. I was healed but He was not there. Who was this Man who had shown such care? And why did others tell such lies Why was I questioned and despised? Yet I spoke the truth, though cast out I could see; I could not doubt. Now with sight but alone again Until He came. I was found by Him. He told me that He was God's Son I knew the Messiah had finally come. Now I see, whereas I was blind I've found the Savior of mankind. The Will of the Divine Lisa Foote
The Son of God, the Perfect One, yet too a man was He He felt each pain, He wept, He hurt in the silence of Gethsemane.
He fell upon His face, He bled, He shrunk before the cup Alone He trod the wine press, by an angel lifted up. He was pained and very heavy, awestruck, troubled and grieved. He was sore amazed, in anguish and afflicted here for me. He sweat as it were great drops of blood, dejected and depressed. Sorrowful unto death, astonished, stricken and distressed. In agony of soul He cried, "Abba, all things are possible to Thee If thou be willing, take away, let pass this cup from me." Then the Perfect Son concluded, "Not my will be done, but Thine" The suffering of the Beloved Son. The Will of the Divine. For the Father and the Son had love beyond their grief And knew that only Perfect blood could offer true relief. Because His cup was bitter, my cup can be sweet.
His cleansing blood can make me whole to kneel before His feet.
The Crown Lisa Foote
Delivered by Pilate to be scourged while the treacherous one went free The Messiah meekly bore His lotâ€”humiliation, pain and agony. The cracking whip across His back, His flesh was torn apart Beaten by those He died to save, bruised body and broken heart. A purple robe draped o'er Him, a rod placed in His hand. The true King, the Son of God, made to seem less than a man. Mocking soldiers bent their knees and smote Him with the reed They knew not who stood before themâ€”the King of David's seed. The crown of thorns placed on His head, they spit upon His face This chilling price He chose to pay to save the human race. He wore that crown of grief, held in place by perfect love So I can wear a crown of glory in His royal courts above.
Alone Lisa Foote
Betrayed, abandoned, left alone To reap the sorrow I have sown With pain that man can't comprehend That He my broken heart can mend Even God withdrew His power In the Savior's chilling hour. Alone, like man has never been Alone, the One who did no sin And yet He hung up on the tree That left alone I'll never be. Though I don't always feel Him near I know that He's before been here. When in my own Gethsemane I know He suffered here for me. He felt each pain, all shame, each fall. Descended below, He felt it all. He paid that price to take my sin I'll pay the price to come to Him. Alone He mustn't be again He died for me. I'll live for Him.
Reverence Him Lisa Foote That chilling path He walked alone, no friend or comfort there And all He asks of me is to remember and revere. I need not suffer in the garden or die upon the cross.
But remember that my Savior did, for that's what my soul cost. I must take up my cross; I must follow Him But only He was sent to die for all of mankind's sin. He doesn't ask that I carry all the world's heartache He already paid that price, for salvation's sake. He descended from His throne to find that which was lost To heal the lame, bring sight to blind and save the tempest tossed.
My soul redeemed through His blood to gain all that He hath Saved through His perfection, for I deserve God's wrath. And so I reverence Him; praise praise and honor give To my Savior, Friend and Lord who died that I might live.
Forever To Be His Lisa Foote
In this garden now I sit, the place where Mary knelt The empty tomb she saw, I see and feel what she has felt. Beaten, stripped and scourged, pierced through hands and feet Christ gave His life on Calvary, His mission here complete. His bruised and bloody body then taken from the tree Laid in the silent, borrowed tomb by friends so lovingly. The heavens and the earth cried out, echoing mortal tears Consuming darkness crushed the glowing hope of all the years. The King of Kings was slain, was dead. His body lifeless lain Three days the tomb was silent. Three days the stone remained. But light o'ercame the darkness; salvation conquered sin A body once laid down in death was taken up again. His miraculous birth in Bethlehem, life came forth from a cave This tomb cave too brought forth His life, victorious o'er the grave. There Mary saw her Master, and knew what I now know He is not here for He is risen. He lives forever more. The consequence of Adam's sin will take me to the grave But I too will come forth again through Him with pow'r to save. He gave His life, He paid my price;He died and yet He lives. That I, cleansed from my sin by blood, Forever may be His.
I'll Never Forget Lisa Foote
I see your struggle. I see each and every pain. I was as sunny days cloud o'er and turn to rain I watch as perfect plans are ripped and hearts are torn Leaving bright lives darkened, forsaken and forlorn. I know your faith is shaken and doubts start to rise But you have strength within; it's written in your eyes. If you drop to your knees and let me take the lead I'll turn failure into triumph; together we'll succeed. So keep pressing on though the pathway is unclear. I walk unseen beside you. I dry your quiet tears. When storm arise and winds so furiously blow, I know you feel defeated, helpless and alone But I watch each moment and I'll never forget That agony, that pain, it was to pay your debt. The mark of my love is forever in my hand Love which makes a God of an ordinary man. And so you struggle, I let pain and sorrow come To sanctify your soul and turn creature into son.
Which Art in Heaven Jane Barlow
O Lord— Lord— For bread and salt And sunsun-warmed stone, For dusky nights, And cool, still dawns. For these, Hallowed be thy name. We pray For bread and life And rainrain-wet fields The taste of honey, For milk and love. For these, these, Our Father. Forgive us, With bread and wine with blood and flesh. For our children’s sake And Adam’s love For this,
Which art in heaven? Our Father, Which art in heaven? Did Picasso make the cut? Renoir, Rodin, Monet, Matisse? Warhol? Dali? Pollock? Pastoral scenes are in (no doubt) With sheep and shepherds and such. Does the theme of a Madonna and Child, a suffering martyr, a glorious vision guarantee an entrance? It is, after all, thy kingdom come. I like to think that the Lord appreciates This earth (as it is in heaven) And so, perhaps, in His corner room, Even I have found a place. And there hangs, carefully preserved, That sketch of a sycamore I made While sitting on the lawn,
Charcoal in hand, Squinting into the sun. And God saw that it was good.
The Old City, My Brother, and Me Mandy Roth
The uneven limestone ground meets our sandaled feet as my brother and I enter the city gate, running our hands against the stone wall. The colors that come into view are overwhelming and yet simultaneously warm and welcoming. The vendors line up along the street in anticipation. My stomach turns as I quickly walk past particularly forward and pushy merchants. My brother stops to shake their hands. I cringe when the foul smell that exudes from the shop of the butcher reaches my nose; my brother smiles. The city seems to be yelling as shopkeepers make their deals, townspeople converse about the news, and children cry in the road. I want to put my hands to my ears to muffle the sound, but my brother restrains my instinct and the sound no longer is obtrusive to my peace,
but complementary. A beggarâ€™s eyes widen as I approach, and then fade as I briskly walk away. My brother pauses to buy the woman a loaf of bread. My sandal stumbles upon a step and I wince as my toe begins to throb. My brother also feels the pain, but instead of taking notice, bends down to attend to my need. I look up into the face of my best friend, my brother, whom I know so well and come to the realization that He walked this path two thousand years ago and yet, here He is, walking it once again with me.
The One Emily Page (Written in the Garden of Gethsemane)
The peace of an Olive Tree reminds me of thee, The love and the beauty that I can still see. One tree, one prayer, one child like me, Jesus the Savior died here for me. The plead of a Son to Father above, The plan was complete through Christ's pure love.
Remember, remember, oh, little one, The worth of your soul is equal to that of the Son.
The Father's Will I'll Live Hannah Faux
I’ve seen the place where Christ was born I’ve trailed the shepherd’s road. I touched the rock He sat upon As the parables He told. I followed the path he stumbled through The day He bore his cross, And I knelt where Mary Magdalene knelt When she found all was not lost. I’ve seen all these and yet I ask, “Do I know my Savior’s will? Would I follow where he bid me go If He roamed the Earth still?” For as I've trekked this Holy Land I've come to realize: It's not important where He walked What matters is what He taught. Through every word that Jesus spoke He taught the Father’s will – Revealed the precious truths of life, The weary hearts he healed. He showed us life and death then life As the chains of Hell He broke. And I can have a burden light
If I take upon His yoke. But living gets in the way of life And when I’m most content, My pride starts slowly seeping in— My perspective’s narrow and bent. How do I fully accept Christ’s words With no fear in between? And practice my humility To see what Christ has seen? The stumbling block of pride must fall And die its natural death and through Christ, the Redeemer’s blood I’ll put my heart to rest. I see that I’m so small, so weak— There’s not much I can give Except for one small sacrifice: The Father’s will I’ll live. Now as I walk the paths He walked And see the things He saw, I’ll make sure every now and then I step back and take pause to close my eyes; to remember Him and not just where He trod. For wherever I am my Jerusalem lies – I can walk and talk with God.
So wherever I go, my heart must reach The altar at Gethsemane’s heart My pride, my vanity, my own free will For my Savior I’ll lovingly part. I’ve seen the manger, the mounts, the tomb, But now I can see with light How a grateful heart through repentance makes My humble soul take flight! The Songs of My Heart Amy Briggs
Music opens the gate to my soul Letting the Spirit flood me whole As others let their music ring It plays the songs I cannot sing While they sing songs of praise My spirit’s voice I raise Each phrase and word I ponder The deeper meaning I discover Inspiration and revelation flow As the Lord shares with me what he knows
New insights and thoughts within me grow Answering prayers that only my heart does know My testimony grows stronger The more I think and ponder How grateful I am To those who can Sing the songs of my heart Allowing my spirit to take part More Like Him Lisa Foote ‘Neath the shadow of the moon, a graveyard there beside The wounded Jesus knelt in prayer. “Father let this pass,” He cried. And yet He suffered, ‘yond mortal power to feel or understand Their scarring hatred, His perfect love, seen in feet, side and hands. Unto death obedience proved; the sinless One in sinner’s stead A perfect life He lived, He gave. Laid in the tomb His body dead. But rose again triumphant; sin nor death could prevail. Hell and the grave overcome with the rending of the veil. These events of ancient date, my shackled soul set free For He was not simply a man, but the Christ of Galilee. Adam’s sin will lead me to greet the grave of death, But my Lord will raise me up with everlasting breath.
My mistakes and follies have left the scar of sin, But His love has healed me and made me whole again. Through sorrow’s darkened shadow, life’s path so often leads, But He brings light to guide me, calm my fears and fill my needs. No grave so deep, no night so dark and no sin so depraved That, through His Redeeming blood, my soul can’t be saved. For He’s been scarred, He knows the grave, through shadows He has passed; Descended below to lift me up and make me His at last. His gentle touch has changed me; I’ll never be the same Because the babe of Bethlehem is the Christ who bore my shame. His love has healed my heart, balmed my sorrow, eased my sin. I am not who once I was; He’s made me more like Him.
“Teach ye diligently and my grace shall attend you, that you may be instructed more perfectly in theory, in principle, in doctrine, in the law of the gospel, in all things that pertain unto the kingdom of God, that
are expedient for you to understand.â€? -Doctrine & Covenants 88:78-
Principles OLIVE TREES ......................................................................... 355 Kim Matheson THE ONLY THING THAT MATTERS .............................................. 373 Alyssa Norr APOSTLES ............................................................................. 377 Heather Andersen MARY AND JOSEPH................................................................. 379 Regan McDonnel THE LOVE AND COMPASSION OF THE SAVIOR ............................... 386 Rachelle Wayman RETURNING MEMORIES........................................................... 389 Lydia Scruggs PARENTING窶年O GREATER CALL .............................................. 393 Brent Black FAITH .................................................................................. 411 Mandy Foote THE ENABLING POWER OF THE ATONEMENT ............................... 416 Jennalyn Welsh JOURNAL ENTRY AFTER SACRAMENT MEETING AT THE CENTER ....... 422 Chadwick Densley
DUST TO DUST ...................................................................... 425 Marie Sykes ROCK OF AGES....................................................................... 429 Jessica Sagers ATONEMENT/FORGIVENESS ..................................................... 432 Calli Buehner MUSIC IN THE HOLY LAND ....................................................... 436 Erin Platt “FEED MY SHEEP” ................................................................. 438 Rachel Curtis SERVICE ............................................................................... 450 Kristi Cheney PREFACE......................................ERROR! BOOKMARK NOT DEFINED. Andy Proctor PARABLE OF MISSING THE BUS ................................................. 466 Tyler Sheffield
Olive Trees Kim Matheson n the section heading to D&C 88, Joseph Smith titles the revelation the “olive leaf . . . plucked from the Tree of Paradise.” Joseph equates (or at least associates) the olive tree with the Tree of Life. This enriches our reading of Genesis 8:11. Noah, his memory seared with the screams of drowning people and the difficult year spent in the ark, is sent a sign of peace and comfort from God: 'It's over, the earth is cleansed. You can start over. The Garden of Eden is still here; it's still possible for you to return to my presence.' That dove had entered the Garden and returned with a branch from the Tree of Life, making Noah a priest and king as he disembarked from the boat that had become a temple (See Facsimile #2, figure 7).
In the Old Testament temple, the Menorah (candlestick) was a representation of the Tree of Life (it was even described as having seven branches). The menorah was lit with olive oil and was kept constantly burning (Zechariah 4; BD - “candlestick”), representing Jesus Christ, who is our eternal light that never dies. When we anoint the sick, we anoint them with olive oil. Why? Because olive oil represents the Tree of Life. What better way to physically heal someone than to give them the fruit of the Tree of Life, (access to which we are granted, again, only through the Atonement of Jesus)? The oil also represents the Holy Ghost, through which we are purified from sin, and thus healed spiritually, as well (2 Ne
31:17; Alma 13:12; 3 Ne 27:20; D&C 19:31; see also James 5:14–15). In the Old Testament, only two types of people were anointed with oil: priests and kings. When you're anointed in the temple, you are being made a king/queen, a priest/priestess for eternity, because that oil represents the Tree of Life and the presence of God. (See Exodus 19:5–6; Revelation 1:6; 5:10; D&C 76:56–58.) “Christ/Messiah” means “anointed one.” His very name reminds everyone who reads of him that he was anointed (ordained) to suffer for our sins and become our eternal king and priest.
Olive Tree in the Garden of Gethsemane
The olive tree/Tree of Life is a very poignant symbol of the Savior. In 1 Nephi 11:25, we learn that “the fountain of
living waters” is the same thing as “the tree of life.” Just as the Christ is the fountain of living waters (Jeremiah 2:13), he is also the Tree of Life. In 1 Nephi 11:9-11, immediately after Nephi asks to know the interpretation of the Tree of Life, he is shown the birth, life, ministry, and death of Jesus Christ. Is there a more potent expression of the “love of God” (1 Ne 11:25, again) than the Atonement of His Son, which gave us Light and Life for eternity? It is no mistake that the word “Gethsemane” means “olive press,” or that it is a garden of olive trees. It was in a grove of these trees that Jesus Christ was pressed until he bled from every pore, that fluid becoming our way to Light and Life eternal. The Ancient Near East is where life began. Jerusalem is the city where the Life, the Light, and the Way walked, preached, healed, and suffered. Every time I stepped out onto my balcony at the Center, I was reminded of that. Every time I see my dad's oil vial on his keychain, I'm reminded that the only way to life eternal is through the priesthood (D&C 107:3–4) and its ordinances, and ultimately through the Atonement of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
The Only Thing that Matters Alyssa Norr hroughout our experiences in living the Gospel and sharing in its light, the words of Moses have resonated in numerous Seminary lessons, pleadings of prophets, and even quiet moments of reflection: “For behold, this is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man” (Moses 1:39). But I have noticed in my own life how often these words slide through my thoughts as a simple verse committed to memory, carrying meaning to be pondered at a later date. I wonder how many experiences and opportunities I have missed where the Lord has pleaded with me to simply notice how deeply He loves and cares for me.
My ambitions in coming to the Holy Land were not specifically focused on the changing or growth of my spirit, but merely on learning of the Gospel and the infinite sacrifice of my Elder Brother. Little did I know that the Lord had a different plan in mind –to whisper to the depths of my very soul that He loves me, and that each of my brothers and sisters are cared for and watched over in the same way that I am. Jerusalem has presented numerous challenges and opportunities to notice that the Savior watches out for the individual, offering hope to all those who struggle. To the one who feels the pains of loneliness, to the one who struggles with feelings of inadequacy, to the one who fears
the future, and the one who fears the strife of the past, the Lord stands with His hands outstretched, offering a peace and calm through love that only He can offer; how simple it is to reach up. That small action takes a great measure of courage and faith, but holds the greatest of rewards in store. We began our study with a book reaching back to the origins of man that subtly taught us and showed us the work of the Lord. The Old Testament seems to cry from the dust that Jehovah is the Lord. We have stood at the foot of Mount Sinai, seen the whisperings of greatness of David and Solomon’s empires, touched the very walls of Solomon’s temple—the Lord’s temple, and, in effect, our temple. As I reflect on the wonderful adventures we had at the beginning of our experience here in the Holy Land, I wish that I had recognized more fully how each of these events embodied the hope of a people to draw closer to the Savior, to be drawn to His unearthly light and warmth. As the days passed, as exams were accomplished and movies watched with wonderful friends, I am sure that each of us looked forward in some way to the freedom of Galilee. Little did I know that for me, Galilee would not simply testify of the Messiah who walked and taught there, but of a dear friend who thought of me thousands of years before I had ever learned His name in mortality. His teachings spoke of simply being human. His actions spoke of caring for the one. His sacrifice reaches into the darkest, most hopeless corners of the heart and mind and whispers of a better way to live. Each of us read these words in the
land where the Savior spent so much time, but I struggled to find which part of this experience I was to take home to make this trip worth my time and devotion. Most days, I felt extremely close to finding an answer to my searching, my pleadings, and my personal struggles. Many a prayer was begun with, “Lord, I don’t know what to do; I don’t know what I’m supposed to be gaining here that I’m obviously not.” My peace only came when I changed the form of my question.
View from the Mount of Beatitudes
While sitting on the Mount of Beatitudes, pondering the concerns of my heart, I chose to ask a different question: “Lord, what would thou like me to learn that I have missed due to not listening?” An overwhelming quiet
came over me, and a sudden clearness of mind offered this simple phrase: “I am trying to show you how much I love you.” How simple, how very true! What grandiose implications were contained in this short statement. To know that the God of the Universe, the Father of my Spirit, the Magnificent Ruler of all matter and spirit, cared for me—what greater knowledge could I ask for? The amount of peace offered in these few words was indescribable. The direction of my life no longer matters; the Lord will lead me where he wishes me to be. How wonderful it is to know that I am safely in His arms and that He has created such a magnificent plan for such a very small spirit as mine. I hope that each of us may rejoice with Moses in knowing the intentions of our Heavenly Father and His Only Begotten Son. We are valued, we are numbered, we are known, and, above all, we are loved. What knowledge could matter more than this?
Apostles Heather Andersen n Galilee, I gained a greater testimony and understanding of the apostles. As my uncle, Elder Neil L. Andersen, was called to fill the vacancy in the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles last April, the spirit testified to me instantly that he had been called of God and prepared in
advance for this calling. With this experience, I really wanted to better understand what an apostle was, and I feel like my prayers were answered as we learned about the apostles that Jesus called while in Capernaum. Of the twelve called, eleven of them were from Galilee. I love Matthew 4:19-22 where Jesus speaks to Peter, Andrew, James and John, calling, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Peter and Andrew straightway left their nets to follow Him, and James and John immediately left the ship and their father to do the same. This is the epitome of the apostles’ example. They have dropped everything and followed the Lord without hesitation. I have personally watched my uncle leave his occupation and the comfort of his home and lifestyle to serve in various parts of the world in answer to a call to “Follow me.” He has now been called to be an apostle, one sent forth as a special witness of Jesus Christ. In Caesarea Philippi, my understanding of apostles was strengthened as we discussed Matthew 16. Jesus
asks, “Who say ye that I am?” Peter responds with power and emotion as he says, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.” As we sat there, I flipped to my copy of The Living Christ, the testimony of our modern apostles, and read the final paragraph where it says, “We bear testimony, as His duly ordained Apostles—that Jesus is the Living Christ, the immortal Son of God.” The apostles on the earth today testify of the same principle of which Peter testified as an apostle two thousand years ago. Jesus is the Christ! The organization is the same, the priesthood is the same, and Jesus Christ is the same. I testify that the Lord has called apostles for our day and that there are fifteen men on the earth today we rightfully sustain as prophets, seers, and revelators.
Pickled Fish Amelia Fenn I never knew that pickled fish could strengthen my testimony. It was as I pondered by the Sea of Galilee, however, that this simple fact became a profound testament to me of the Savior’s love for us all. I saw this love in the story of a common fisherman whose life changed overnight when he listened to the Savior and chose to follow Him. This was the tale of Simon Peter fishing on the Sea of Galilee, who, after having worked all night and caught no fish, listened to Christ and cast his net down to be rewarded with a bountiful catch. For me, this story evolved from being just another of Jesus’ miracles to showing me how the Savior provides for those who follow Him. In Luke chapter five, we read about what happened after Jesus instructed the men on the boat to cast down their nets: “And Simon answering said unto him, Master, we have toiled all night, and have taken nothing: nevertheless at thy word I will let down the net. And when they had this done, they inclosed a great multitude of fishes: and their net brake. After this event in which they were blessed with an abundance of fish Peter fell down at Jesus’ knee and said, “Depart from me; for I am a sinful man, O Lord.” Peter was astonished at what had occurred and realized that he was in the presence of
the Master. He was not a perfect man and probably questioned whether he was worthy to be in the company of the Savior. The Savior sensed his reluctance, and yet His response was to assure Peter and those with him that they should “fear not: from henceforth thou shalt catch men.” Indeed, in verse 11, we learn that “when they had brought their ships to land, they forsook all, and followed him.” Peter recognized the power and ability of Christ and was willing to give up all to become a disciple.
St. Peter’s Fish from the Fish Restaurant in Ein Gev
In Galilee, Brother Brown spoke to the class about how it was likely that these fish caught by Peter were brought to the town of Magdala on the coast of the Sea of Galilee. This is important because in Magdala, Peter would have been able to preserve his abundant catch instead of
having his fish go bad after about forty-eight hours. Therefore, Peter would have been able to provide income and food for his family while he took up the discipleship of Christ. In this way, the Savior not only showed a miracle to his disciples but also provided a bounteous harvest for their families so that when they took up the discipleship their families would not be destitute. This story not only shows the great love that Jesus had for Peter. It is also a story of faith. Peter had to follow Christ. If I can learn to put my faith and trust in the Lord, I know that he will always provide for me. This does not mean that there will not be hard times, but it does mean that the Savior loves me and will watch over me.
Mary and Joseph Regan McDonnel
efore coming to Jerusalem, I had never really given much thought to Mary and Joseph. I knew that they raised Christ, and I was familiar with the Nativity story. On May 23rd, in St. Sergius’ church, my thoughts began to turn toward this couple, and I believe it began when someone mentioned the term “holy family.” We sometimes think of Christ as a great individual without fully realizing the importance of his family unit. That is where my thoughts began, but to make more sense, I would like to start at the beginning. Mary’s reaction to her encounter with the angel Gabriel impressed me. When we went to Nazareth, specifically to the Church of the Annunciation, I thought more about Mary and how difficult a task she faced. To be visited by an angel and told that you were going to have a baby before you were married—and that this baby was to be the Son of God—would have been hard to accept. She would have to face the scorn of society, and the thought must have crossed her mind of how would she tell Joseph—and if he would believe her. The current social laws gave Joseph complete permission to kill Mary and abandon her to public embarrassment. Still, Mary responded, “Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word.” Her life had completely
changed direction, but immediately she did what she thought was best, and there is never any sign of murmuring or hesitation on her part. Her strength, diligence, and faith are hard for me to envision or to ignore. At this church, I began to understand for the first time why she is prayed to or worshipped in some Christian sects.
Jonah Fjeldstead as Joseph and Rachelle Wayman as Mary in Brother Huff’s class Nativity Pageant
Another thought I had was expressed in class in Galilee, concerning the humility of Joseph and how special a man he was. Joseph had the choice to put Mary “away” for embarrassment, but he did not. He loved her and kept her at his side. The angel also came to him and gave him a confirmation of Mary’s experience. From this moment on, Mary and Joseph must have known that their lives were not going to be anything like those they had planned. What an experience, to be handed the responsibility to raise the Son of God! The Lord’s life was
entrusted into the hands of Mary and Joseph, and they knew that they were to parent and teach the Son of God, who was to be a perfect man. I cannot imagine being Mary, who had never been a mother before, being told to be the best mother on her first try. This is where the “holy family” concept begins to interest me. Joseph must have been very sensitive to the Spirit in order to direct his family where they needed to be to be protected and to know when to leave and what to teach Jesus as a child. It amazes me the size of the task that Mary and Joseph agreed to take upon themselves— to raise the Savior of the World together. When I sat thinking these thoughts, I considered how these principles apply to us today as Latter-Day Saints. As we know, we are preparing the world for Christ’s second coming. We ourselves are a chosen generation, but each generation is becoming stronger and stronger; now, Heavenly Father is sending some of his strongest spirits here to the earth. I think we can take that as a valuable lesson, to know that we need to be sensitive to the spirit like Joseph and Mary and follow Heavenly Father’s direction, because that is how we are going to raise the next royal generation. We will have similar pressure as parents—to parent a generation that will be greater than ours, and who will be responsible for furthering the Lord’s work. With that in mind, we have a great responsibility to learn all we can, to keep the Spirit with us, and to listen to the Spirit as we prepare to start and raise families. I will always look to Mary and Joseph as an example of great
parents, both faithful and accepting of the Lordâ€™s will without hesitation.
The Love and Compassion of the Savior Rachelle Wayman hile being here in this Holy Land, one major theme I have noticed continually is the love and compassion the Savior has for each one of us. As I have studied the Old and New Testaments, I have been struck by how much compassion our Father in Heaven and His Son, Jesus Christ, have for us. Often in the New Testament Christ heals someone because He is “moved by compassion towards them.” As I have been here, I have felt that very love and compassion of the Savior more fervently. We are ALL divine sons and daughters of God, and He loves us and wants the best for us.
As I have visited the Garden of Gethsemane and pondered upon Christ’s infinite atonement, I have been filled with a deep sense of gratitude and love for the Savior of the world. He atoned for the sins of each and every person that has ever or will ever live upon this earth. The very first time I was sitting in Gethsemane, I was watching all the people from all over the world walk by and thinking about how Jesus Christ suffered beyond anything any of us can ever imagine for each and every one of them. It is because of His complete and infinite love for each one of us that He was willing to do so. In the Garden Tomb where the Savior was resurrected to conquer and overcome death, I have come to know more fully the pure love and joy that come through this knowledge. Through the greatest miracle of all, Christ’s resurrection, we all are
able to live again. We do not need to fear or doubt what is to come, but have only faith and joy because Christ has overcome the world. We can come to experience the great gift of charity He offers to each of us by desiring to serve others, and we can express our love of the Savior by extending this gift beyond ourselves.
View of the Old City from the Kidron Valley
On the shores of the Sea of Galilee, looking out over the waves of the very sea the Savior walked on, I have felt the deep love and compassion of our Savior. I know that He has been very close while we have been in the Holy Land, especially in Galilee, where he taught, preached and ministered throughout His life. I know that just as Peter
called to Jesus while he was sinking into the depth of the sea, if we too call out to Christ and look towards Him to help lift us up, He will be there immediately to lift us out of the waves of doubt and despair. He is waiting to take us into His arms and encompass us about with His love, which is the remedy to overcome all things. The very miracles and healing that took place in the New Testament can take place in our own lives. Christ lives, and it is through His healing and empowering atonement that we can come to realize His deep and unwavering love for each of us. We must have faith and trust in Him. By doing so, we can make use of the wonderful gift of the Atonement and receive its healing power. When we make use of this tremendous sacrifice, we will feel the Savior’s love and experience the complete peace that only that love can bring. Our Savior knows us personally and intimately and is always there to turn to. I know that our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ love us, and even though we do not know all things, as long as we know His love and compassion, it will be enough. With this knowledge, we can overcome all fear and doubt. The compassion that Christ had while walking this very land has not ceased, and neither have His miracles. Christ lives today and He loves us. John 3:16 states, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish but have everlasting life.” If there is one thing that my experiences here have taught me, it is that our Heavenly Father truly does love us, and it is through the atonement of His son, Jesus Christ, that we can feel that love.
Returning Memories Lydia Scruggs here I was, at the Western Wall after a week of adventures and new sights. The problem was that the sights werenâ€™t exactly new for me; I had walked these streets and stood at this wall twelve years earlier. I had no memory of this place, and it was a little frustrating. Remembering is not something I could do on my own, so in the middle of the crowd I said a prayer, asking Heavenly Father to let me remember my previous trip here, if that was at all possible. Almost immediately, I remembered. I could practically see my eight-year-old self standing at the Wall with my mother, sisters, and grandma. I remember feeling small and overwhelmed; I remember standing next to my mom and slipping a prayer into the cracks, not understanding the significance of what I was doing. My guess is that millions of prayers have been said at that Wall, but mine was heard and answered faster than any prayer I had ever said. Heavenly Father hears the prayers of all His children, regardless of their religion, race, age, or gender. I went home that night thankful for that one memory. If that was the only memory that was brought back to me, it would have been enough. Luckily, I remembered more than one event from my previous trip.
As the trip goes on, more memories come to me. In the most random of places I will be able to remember the sights or even just have a familiar feeling when I walk into
a building. More importantly, though, I will be able to recall my feelings. I remember feeling heavy in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher and feeling peace at the Garden Tomb. I remember feeling incredibly special to be able to spend Easter morning at the empty Tomb. I remember falling asleep in the most uncomfortable of places, places at which I have probably fallen asleep this summer. I remember tired feet and crowded hotel rooms.
On the Jordan Riverâ€Ś this time with boats
The most important memories that have come to me are those from Galilee. I recall my dad teaching me about baptism and the Atonement on the Mount of Beatitudes before I entered the River Jordan to be baptized as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. I remember getting to Yardenit. There, I remember changing into my white jumpsuit with the help of my mom and being extremely nervous that I was going to mess up
my baptism. My parents had decided that Yardenit was not the place for my baptism—too many tourists. There were so many people dressed in white and waiting in lines to enter the river. I’m sure I didn’t completely understand the concept of proper priesthood authority, but I knew that the other baptisms weren’t like mine. My family and I then drove down the river in hopes of finding a more private spot. We found what looked like an empty Israeli Boy Scout camp with canoes and rope swing. We stood by the river and sang every Primary song we could think of, thanks to my Mom. I even remember knowing our singing didn’t sound exactly angelic. However, my nerves were calmed and I knew that the Holy Ghost was present. Then my 16-year-old brother David and I went down into the river, and I became clean. I knew I was doing something important, I knew Heavenly Father loved what I was doing. I was in the dirtiest water I had ever touched and became the cleanest I have ever been. My dad jokes that the River Jordan washed away my sins, but he could not wait to wash the River off of me. Looking back at my baptism, I now understand its necessity. I know that Jesus is the perfect example, but that kind of perfection is something I am not able to achieve. However, I think that baptism is a way that will allow me to follow exactly in Christ’s footsteps. It is remarkable that my Savior and I need the same ordinance in order to return to our Heavenly Father. I will admit, though, that I love knowing that Jesus and I performed that ordinance in the same river. It does not matter where
people are baptized, but it is important that they decide to follow Christ’s example and take His name upon them. The memories that I have of my first trip to Israel and the new memories I am making here are gifts that I will cherish for the rest of my life. I know I won’t remember everything, but I hope to remember the important things. I know my parents taught my siblings and I from the New Testament while we were here, but I was too young to really absorb the details or even to understand the basic stories. I still feel like many of the details I am learning now are not going to be remembered. Those details are not as important as remembering the times when I felt the Spirit. While knowing the meaning of the original twelve apostles’ names is interesting, it is more important to know they were called of God. It is not important to know if it was on Mount Hermon or Mount Tabor that the Transfiguration took place, it is important to know that priesthood keys were given which enabled the early church to carry on the work of Christ. I think that the past twelve years of having almost no memories of the Holy Land was worth the experience of regaining them one by one thanks to the grace of God. I realize that I was lucky to see Israel once in my life, and seeing it for a second time has been life changing. Touring this amazing country again and being able to take in the importance of each site I visit is something I didn’t imagine I would ever be able to do. Hopefully, the memories I have made this summer are ones that will last me a lifetime.
Parenting—No Greater Call Brent Black s I have studied the history of the Holy Land, my mind has been frequently caught up in the power and importance of wise parenting. The greatest figures of history in this land have had their characters molded by caring parents and teachers.
God works through parents in order to bring to pass His wise purposes. E. T. Sullivan made an interesting observation concerning the way that God works through men: When God wants a great work done in the world or a great wrong righted, he goes about it in a very unusual way. He doesn’t stir up his earthquakes or send forth his thunderbolts. Instead, he has a helpless baby born, perhaps in a simple home and of some obscure mother. And then God puts the idea into the mother’s heart, and she puts it into the baby’s mind. And then God waits. The greatest forces in the world are not the earthquakes and the thunderbolts. The greatest forces in the world are babies. Moses received his first lessons as an infant from a caring mother. After drawing Moses out of the water, Pharaoh’s daughter sent her maid to go and find the mother of the child to serve as the midwife. I believe it was during those intimate moments shared between mother and son when God inspired the mother of Moses to
whisper into his impressionable ears divine teachings about his true identity. His mother’s teachings gave Moses a strong foundation on which to build, and Moses later became the powerful tool that God used to help guide His chosen people out of Egypt and to the Promised Land. Ramses II, often regarded as the greatest and most powerful pharaoh of Egypt, was also molded by the influence of his parents. His father, Seti I, encouraged Ramses to run two miles every day. His father likely hired the best teachers in all of Egypt to train Ramses in the art of language, warfare, and economy. Under the watchful and caring eye of his father, Ramses gained a strong foundation in discipline and work ethic that later led Ramses to become a mighty pharaoh. President Hinckley recounted the story of a group of women in ancient Rome who were showing their jewels to each other in vanity. Among them was Cornelia, the mother of two boys. One of the women said to her, “And where are your jewels?” To which Cornelia responded, pointing to her sons, “These are my jewels.” Under her guidance, while walking in the virtues of her life, these boys grew to become Gaius and Tiberius Gracchus—the Gracchi, as they were called—two of the most persuasive and effective reformers in Roman history. For as long as they are remembered, the mother who reared them with virtue will be remembered and spoken of with praise also. In the words of Brother Skinner, Philip II, the father of Alexander the Great, “put all of his resources” into the
development of his child. Alexander learned to read and write a very young age. In his adolescent years, Alexander was schooled by Aristotle, possibly the greatest philosopher of his day. Even though Philip II had many other achievements, his greatest accomplishment, for which he goes down in history, is being the father who invested everything in his son.
Young boys moving furniture in the streets of the Old City
Reading the Bible this summer has also brought to remembrance many other great examples of wise parenting. I am deeply impressed by He who prefers the sacred title of Father, even Heavenly Father. In every recorded instance we have of God the Father speaking on earth, He expresses His love and appreciation for His Son.
There are no greater words that a father could use to introduce his Son than “This is my beloved son, in whom I am well pleased.” President Faust comments on the love that parents have for their children: The depth of the love of parents for their children cannot be measured. It is like no other relationship. It exceeds concern for life itself. The love of a parent for a child is continuous and transcends heartbreak and disappointment. All parents hope and pray that their children will make wise decisions. Children who are obedient and responsible bring to their parents unending pride and satisfaction. The effects of wise parenting are eternal in consequence. Proverbs 23:6 declares, “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” I am forever indebted to loving and wise parents. My most vivid memories of learning as a child stem from morning scripture study. I can still firmly recall the sound of the dreaded cowbell that my dad would bang at 6:30 a.m. while simultaneously yelling, “Wake up and roll over and say your prayers and come up to read scrips!” It was during those sacred moments shared with my eight other drowsy siblings that I learned my first lessons about my divine heritage and godly potential. As I reflect on the many principles and spiritual experiences that I have gained while here in the Holy Land, I often wonder to myself, “Could life get any better?” I asked myself the same question at the end of my mission
in Spain, and I vocalized the joy that I felt to a local Bishop. He smiled as he replied, “This is probably the happiest you have ever felt up to this point in your life. Just wait till you experience the joy of having a family.” Likewise, President Hinckley said: “Of all the joys of life, none other equals that of happy parenthood.” I give my testimony of the power and importance of wise parenting. God places incredible trust in allowing us to raise his spirit children while here in mortality. He who is the perfect parent mercifully allows us in our imperfections to take part in His work and His glory by becoming parents. What greater gift could we give to our creator than to invest everything in our children? Heavenly Father is the ultimate example of investing everything in His children. May we look to the examples of Christ and Heavenly Father as we take part in raising a righteous generation.
Shepherd’s Field: A Refugee’s Christmas Steven Williams Story read on July 30, 2009, (Christmas Day for all of us while in the Holy Land) at Shepherd’s Field overlooking Bethlehem and the West Bank refugee camps.
“The Lord is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; the God of my rock; in him will I trust: he is my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my high tower, and my refuge, my saviour; thou savest me from violence.” -2 Sam. 22:2-3-
t is Christmas eve, a missionary sits on the floor of a dingy town house with small hands and eyes reaching curiously towards the various lumps and bundles around his companion on the rusty folding chair. The children’s high, chattering voices mirror the smile in their mother’s eyes as her own curiosity draws her to scoot closer and crane her neck around the small bodies to catch a glimpse. They begin to erect a random conglomeration of mismatched joy: the evergreen, looking more like a branch than a tree, the bulbous tangle of multi-colored lights, the miniature candy canes, which didn’t last long on the bottom half of the tree. All these precariously positioned adjacent to the only available outlet inconveniently placed by the front door. The 13 children, all under the age of 14, and the two mothers (the younger of whom is actually the
oldest daughter of the old woman) begin to pepper the missionaries with question after question“Qhov ntawd yog dabtsi?” (What is that?) “Ua li cas peb muaj cov teeb nyob saum tus ntoo?” (Why are you putting lights on the tree?) “Cov khob noos nev? Peb noj lawv tam sim no puas tau?” (What about the candy? Can we eat it now?) The missionaries smile and hand each child a candy cane to put on the tree or in their mouth, as the case may be. This is this family’s first Christmas ever. They converted to the church 3 months previously from traditional Hmong shamanism and have grown to love many aspects about the living church. Their excitement and eagerness to understand the strange American customs surrounding this winter holiday is apparent, as they have lived in the United States for just over a year, having recently arrived in the country after 25 years in the refugee camps in Eastern Thailand. Only the old woman remembers those harrowing times. The terror of the flight from the Laotian Communist Army after the United States pulled out of Vietnam-the night travels, the land mines, the crossing of the Mekong river with nothing but a deflated rubber tube and her months-old baby. These are refugees-people who left their country to find a place of safety and protection that could not be
procured in their homeland. They dreamed for a quarter of a century of coming to the Promised Land of the United States, but upon arrival found less safety and protection than they did confusion, inability to communicate, fear of gang violence, and misunderstanding of how to do normal, everyday activities. Their new home was not the idyllic refuge they had hoped for. For this particular family, the pressures mounted even higher. The father, provider and patriarch, had a stroke after six months in the country, leaving them essentially orphaned & widowed, but with mounting and continuous medical bills to pay. He sits alone in a dark corner of the room, unaware of the joyous bustle continuing in the glow of the prismic Christmas lights. In this time of great darkness, a light like the one emanating from the Christmas tree came to illuminate the gloom and dispel the despair. Two young Americans knock on their door, and even though the missionaries are two feet taller than them and significantly blonder with bluer eyes, and even though their Hmong is hardly intelligible, this destitute family welcomes them in immediately, sits them down, and offers what little food and drink they have. The mother sits on a low stool across from the missionaries seated on the large and lonely couch in the small front room. All around is chaos-children screaming, naked babies running from frustrated and embarrassed older siblings, a young mother trying to cook and feed her child simultaneously, and not succeeding
very well at either. The missionaries hesitate, wondering if they can even be heard above the tumult. As the missionaries began to talk about God- a Heavenly Father who loves and knows each of us, his Children- the children gradually become quiet, and start to gather into this room until nothing can be seen but folded legs, naked arms, and wide-open eyes. Tears come to the eyes of those old enough to understand. Over the course of the next three months they are introduced to a loving God, a personal Savior, an eternal Plan, a boy Prophet, a restored Gospel, a revealed Book, and a living Church. Their insurmountable everyday obstacles gradually become easier as they learn to love the scriptures. Their family relationships gradually become more loving as they learn to recognize and invite the Spirit into their home. Their personal testimonies slowly become more powerful as they experience the love of the Savior through welcoming Church members. They are baptized and confirmed members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints after three months of investigation and observation. They soon discover that they have finally found a true refuge from the storm. So, they sit, three months after their baptism, listening to a new set of missionaries explain to them the meaning of Christmas. The Christmas tree is complete, and the Christmas story begins. The story comes alive as they see that it is, in so many ways, their own.
They understand how Mary and Joseph felt as they sought for relief from the ridicule of friends in Bethlehem. They have felt the anguish of carrying children through unknown dangers and bringing them into the world in less than desirable circumstances. For 25 years, they have felt the rejection of innkeepers claiming that there is no room in the inn. They have experienced the abject fear of fleeing from hostile governments in the middle of the night, not knowing where they’ll end up or how long they’ll be there. They have experienced the frustrations of living in a country where they don’t know the language, praying in tears for the day to come when they can return. They find great joy in the reality that the Savior of the World understands experientially the extremities and difficulties of their own experience. And yet, without these difficulties, they may never have know that there is a Savior who understands them perfectly, who has felt as they have felt and lived as they have lived, the unwanted and refused of the world. As Christ said, “Foxes have holes, and birds have nests, but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head.” They never would have known that the greatest man to ever live was also a refugee from his birth. But more importantly, they never would have found that he is also the greatest and only true refuge. The explanation continues: the evergreen represents his everlasting and eternal love for us- the building blocks of our shelter from the storms of life. The lights are His shining example, the Light of the World that shines in the
darkness and redeems all men who turn to Him. The candy canes are the crook of the shepherd to guide all who are willing back to their eternal Home. The stripes of the candy cane represent the ultimate sacrifice of the Lamb of God’s red atoning blood juxtaposed with the purity which that blood will bring into the lives of the repentant. This touches a special chord—How all knowing is the father who led this family here! How personally aware of each of his children, and how desirous to bring them all back into his fold! As it says concerning the Promised Land of America in 2 Nephi 1:6-7, “There shall none come into this land save they shall be brought by the hand of the Lord. Wherefore, this land is consecrated unto him whom he shall bring. And if it so be that they shall serve him according to the commandments which he hath given, it shall be a land of liberty unto them.” These refugees from Southeast Asia came to this land consecrated by the Lord and were able, as a result, to come to Christ. The hand of the all-knowing God was over them through all their travails and knew the greater purposes and plans that he had in store for them. The expected refuge provided by a free land pales in comparison to the liberty provided by the principles of truth and righteousness. On that sacred night before the day of his birth, I saw the face of Christ in each of those innocent upturned faces. The light of faith and hope burned bright in their eyes, and
they knew that they could find real refuge in their Redeemer. Christ is the only true refuge, although he lived his life as one who was so often alone and forsaken. This refugee family found that refuge and rejoiced in this new-found light and knowledge which had so dramatically transformed their inner selves.
Olive groves in the Shepherdsâ€™ Field near Bethlehem
As we stand here in this place where was announced the birth of our Rock and Redeemer, we stand in a land of refugees which has for long sought for the rest promised by the Prince of Peace. I pray for that peace to come quickly, for the purposes of the Lord to be accomplished, and for all who seek for protection, safety, and joy to come to the Savior of all mankind, the true refuge from the storm. We are all refugees, seeking for a place of greater protection and safety from the attacks of the Adversary while in this world of sin. May we all, through repentance, seek out that shelter of salvation and join in the triumphant cry, â€œBehold, the Lord hath redeemed my soul
from hell; I have beheld his glory, and I am encircled about eternally in the arms of his love.â€?
The Last Days of Christ’s Life Trisha Zemp Throughout my in-depth study of Christ’s life and the Atonement this semester, I have had many moments of insight. These moments have come during classes, while reading the scriptures, listening to shared testimonies, through other materials I have read, and through instruction I have gained by the Spirit. Each little moment of inspiration I have had has been significant in teaching m In New Testament class, while learning about Christ’s experiences in the Upper Room, we learned about the paschal lamb. Historically, Jews would sacrifice a lamb for the Passover meal. Because paschal lambs were perfect, they were rare. Their rarity ensured that the lambs would be well taken care of. Paschal lambs were kept safe within the home, so that when Passover came, the family would have an unblemished, spotless lamb to sacrifice at the temple. Because the lamb was kept safe within the home, the family grew attached to it, but when it came time for Passover, this new pet would have to be sacrificed. In class it was explained to us that the sacrificing of this lamb would have included the father of the home killing the lamb with the family watching as he thanked the lamb for living a spotless life so that his family could be cleansed of their sins. As Jesus sat at the triclinium in the Upper Room with his apostles, He instituted the Sacrament with the words, “Take, eat: this is my body” (as recorded in Mark 14:22). This statement would have been particularly
poignant, as this would have been a deviation from the normal comments made by the leader of the Passover Seder. In knowing the traditions of both the Passover Seder and the slaughtering of the paschal lamb, my understanding of the Atonement is deepened. Christ is the Lamb of God, even the paschal lamb without spot or blemish that was sacrificed to take away my sins. Just like unleavened bread is broken at the Passover Seder, Christ who is the bread of life was broken and bruised as He atoned for my sins. Another enlightening moment I had pertaining to the Passover in the Upper Room came during our Passover Seder. Near the end of our Seder, we were told to mix our grape juice with a few drops of water. As I did this, I thought back to the Upper Room when Christ instituted the sacrament. He said, “This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you” (Luke 22:20). The notion of mixing the water with wine, which symbolizes Christ’s blood, is neat to consider when thinking about the events He is foreshadowing. The mixing of the water and the wine could be foreshadowing the event in the Garden of Gethsemane when Christ’s sweat came as great drops of blood. The mixing of Christ’s sweat and blood in Gethsemane is not the only thing being foreshadowed. This can also represent his experience on the cross, when “one of the soldiers with a spear pierced his side, and forthwith came there out blood and water” (John 19:34). As I partook of the grape juice at Passover, I could hardly swallow while thinking of these events and considering
the role of the Sacrament. Since this experience, partaking of the Sacrament has gained so much more meaning. After Christ’s experience in the Upper Room, He passed through the Kidron Valley to the Garden of Gethsemane. In New Testament class, we learned that the Kidron Valley was known as a place where blood soiled the earth. Because of the Kidron Valley’s location below the Temple Mount, blood ran through the valley due to the large number of sacrifices performed at the temple. This event took place at the time of Passover; therefore, because of the time of month, there was a full moon. This full moon would have cast a shadow of the temple over the Kidron Valley as Christ descended to suffer in the Garden of Gethsemane. On the eastern slope of the Temple Mount is the Jerusalem cemetery. The elevation of the Kidron Valley is very low in relation to the Temple Mount, so Christ really did descend below all things both literally and spiritually during His experience in Gethsemane. If you put together all of these elements, you can see vivid imagery that points to the Atonement. As Christ descended to the Garden of Gethsemane, He passed through the graveyard in the shadow of the temple, through a place where blood often soiled the earth. “Great drops” (St. Luke 22:44) of the most precious blood that was ever shed was shed where the blood of sacrifices often saturated the ground. Christ was the ultimate sacrifice. There are many things about Judas’ betrayal of Jesus that are ironic. First is the method of betrayal: Christ was
betrayed by a kiss. A kiss is a sign of trust, closeness, and love. Christ has a perfect love for every person on this earth, including his betrayer, Judas. Even though Judas betrayed his master through a perceived act of love, Christ still performed the greatest act of love by suffering for Judas’s sins. Secondly, the money given to Judas for the betrayal of Jesus was thirty pieces of silver: the price of a slave. Through Christ’s Atonement we are free from spiritual bondage and the enslaving powers of sin. Christ bought us from the captivity of sin through the priceless act of His Atonement.
Sun shining on the Holy Sepulchre
Christ sat in prison with a blasphemer by the name of Barabbas. The Aramaic meaning of Barabbas is “son of the father.” When the crowd was given the choice to either let the sinful Barabbas or the sinless Christ go free, they chose
the former. Christ is the Only Begotten of the Father. When “they said, Barabbas” (St. Matthew 27:21), they were saying the right name, but pointing at the wrong person. One sinful “son of the father” was granted freedom, while Christ, the true “Son of the Father,” was committed to crucifixion. When Christ was born into this world, there was no room for him. Christ was the creator of this world and worlds without number, yet he was buried in a borrowed tomb. There were many instances in the life of Christ where there was no room for Him. I need to be sure that there is plenty of room in my life for Christ and his Atonement. Christ should be the central figure in my life and should not have to be turned away for lack of room. Throughout this entire semester, I have had mini moments of enlightenment about the sacrifice of the Savior. When put together, each of these small inspired moments create a larger picture of the divinity and power of the Atonement. There is so much more to be learned from the scriptures and from the sacrifice of my Savior. I look forward to the lifetime of scripture study I have ahead of me to continue my study of the Savior’s life and Atonement. This semester, I have not only learned of the Atonement, but also of the unending love that my Savior has for me. The Atonement is the greatest act of love ever performed, and the Savior performed this Atonement for my benefit. While being in the Holy Land, I have had many private moments while upon my knees as the Savior has comforted me and I have felt his love.
Faith Mandy Foote efore journeying to Jerusalem this summer, I had various experiences that focused my attention on the first principle and ordinance of the gospel— faith. I have become fascinated by faith. As I read through the Old and New Testament, I find the word faith over and over, in example after example. Faith seems so simple, and it wasn’t until I was at the pools of Bethesda that I more fully gained insight into its true definition. We started the afternoon by visiting the Church of Flagellation. This is the supposed spot where Christ received the crown of thorns and the starting point for the Via Dolorosa. On the roof of the church is my favorite mosaic in the Holy Land. It is a beautiful tile mosaic of a crown of thorns that covers the entire ceiling. It is gold with gold undertones and powerful to look at. As I looked at the golden tiles, the thought came to mind, “He wore this crown so that one day you can wear yours.” I believe this statement will have more meaning when I go to the temple one day, but even now it reminded me of the foundation of my testimony—that I am indeed a child of God. That is faith. I was able to carry this spirit with me to the pools of Bethesda. I fell in love with the pools of Bethesda from the moment I stepped inside the gate. I had an instant urge to find a quiet place and be alone. I snuck away from the group and found myself on an upper level overlooking most of the pools. I wasn’t thinking about anything in particular, but I remember staring at the rocks that made up the walls
around me. I was staring so hard at them I thought I might put a hole through them, but instead, Heavenly Father took the opportunity to teach me. The impression came to mind, “Do you believe that I can heal?” My instant response was, “Yes, of course,” but the impression came again and again with persistence. “Do you really believe that I can heal?” Suddenly, my answer lacked confidence. I began feeling uneasy. I do believe in miracles. I believe that Jesus healed not just the blind at the pools of Bethesda, but performed countless miracles throughout his ministry. The next impression came: “Do you believe that I can change someone’s heart?” I quickly realized the question’s hidden intent—the Atonement. Does he really forgive? Is the power of the Atonement real? I realized that as one sins and then comes to Christ to repent and be forgiven is a miracle. To be able to change your heart—to submit your will and desire to the Lord—is a miracle, and this change is a manifestation of faith. I came to the conclusion that faith is a change of heart, a miracle. Miracles are more common than I realized. That night I went home and began researching. The Bible Dictionary defines miracles as events that should not be taken out of the ordinary. They come by prayer, need, and faith. That night as I read the Book of Mormon, I happened upon Alma 5. Multiple times, it says that faith is having a change of heart and that that is a miracle. The end of the chapter bears testimony of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. The Atonement is the ultimate miracle, an ultimate change of heart that comes when we forsake all and come follow him.
I continued to let faith swell within me as we visited more places of significance, and I have gained a greater love and appreciation of the gift of the Holy Ghost. The Holy Ghost manifests truth. As I sat at the shore of the Jordan River on our field trip in Jordan, singing baptism songs, the most simple but powerful manifestation entered my heart and mind. Baptism is an ordinance and necessary for entering into eternal life. Baptism is truth. Feelings like this came over me at multiple locations, fleeting but piercing manifestations. At the Mount of Transfiguration, priesthood keys were restored. Priesthood is truth. My most distinct and important realization came in Bethlehem as we sang Christmas hymns in the cave where Jesus was born to the Virgin Mary and Joseph the carpenter. A striking impression came as I sat knowing that a babe named Jesus was born here. I began wondering what I truly believe. Jesus is the Christ. Christ is truth. The most important truth I could ever receive came in a crowded cave of people. I have come to realize how important truth is in my life. In this world, there is nothing of enough significance to compensate for truth. I yearn for truth. The scripture Alma 32:21 comes to mind. I have read and memorized that scripture multiple times, but it has never been made so clear. Faith is hope for things which are not seen, which are true. The Holy Ghost allowed me to derive that truth because of a seed of faith, a miracle that has occurred inside of me and softened my heart to what the Lord teaches me. Reading the Old Testament has showed me the importance of faith and Heavenly Fatherâ€™s knowledge
of its power and influence in the lives of his children. This is where sacrifice comes into play. We talk a lot about Abraham's sacrifice of his son Isaac, and I realize that I've been looking at sacrifice in the wrong way. I had been focusing on myself and on the things I have sacrificed without realizing that sacrifice is a gift. Sacrifice is faith. It is not meant to prove our faith to our Heavenly Father, for He already knows the things we are capable of doing, but to prove our faith to ourselves. Sacrifice shows us how strong we are, illustrates our governing virtues, and demonstrates our faith and conviction to Heavenly Father. Everything that we are asked to do by Heavenly Father is meant only to benefit and bless us.
Jumping for joy on the Shores of Galilee
It is so simple. The gospel is simple. The deeper I venture into gospel principles, the simpler they become. Nephi’s declaration, “I glory in the plainness of the gospel,” has never seemed so true. There are so many things to study, so many questions to ask, so many places to travel, so many experiences to obtain and paths to take, but all of it comes back to the basic principles of the gospel, and all of those principles stem from the first principle of the gospel—faith. Believe in Him. Believe that He is. Jesus is the Christ. He is my Savior and Redeemer and the lover of my soul.
The Enabling Power of the Atonement Jennalyn Welsh hen I came here to Jerusalem, I knew that I understood very little about the Atonement. However, I soon realized that I knew even less about the enabling power of the Atonement. While I have reached some breakthroughs, there is still very little that I know and understand. In fact, I think I have mostly learned just how much I don’t understand and how much farther I have to go. My favorite scripture is in 1 Nephi 11:17. Nephi says, “I know that He loveth His children; nevertheless I do not know the meaning of all things.” All I know—really, truly know—is that my Heavenly Father loves me, and the times where I have felt His love and the love of my Savior, Jesus Christ, have been the happiest moments in my life, the moments filled with the purest joy. A few verses later in 1 Nephi 11, after Nephi realizes the symbolism of the tree of life, he says, “Yea, it is the love of God, which sheddeth itself abroad in the hearts of the children of men; wherefore, it is the most desirable above all things.” The way we come closest to that love is through the Atonement, by studying it and using it in our daily lives. During my study of the Atonement, I read about how prophets have tapped into the enabling power, how the miracles Christ performed symbolize this power, and how the creation parallels it.
In Isaiah 6, Isaiah sees a vision of Jehovah in all His glory. Isaiah responds in verse 5, “Woe is me! For I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in
the midst of a people of unclean lips: For mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts.” Isaiah, the great prophet of the Old Testament, felt overwhelmed by the realization of his sins and unworthiness as he stood before the Lord. He was cleansed of his sins as one of the seraphim placed a hot coal from the altar of sacrifice against his lips. This action reminds me how every Sabbath we lift the bread and water to our lips. The sacrament is blessed on a table that symbolizes the altar of the Great Sacrifice. Isaiah’s experience cleansed him of his sins, just as our weekly participation in the sacrament cleanses us of our sins: “Thine iniquity is taken away, and thy sin purged” (Isaiah 6:7). This allows the enabling power of the Atonement to take part in us. In Isaiah 6 the Lord asks, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Isaiah, the man who previously felt unworthy to be in the Lord’s presence, now feels capable to do the Lord’s bidding, to act in His name, and to be His mouthpiece. By himself, Isaiah did not even feel worthy to be in the Lord’s presence. The cleansing power allowed him to stand in front of God. The enabling power gave Isaiah the strength to rise and become the Lord’s mouthpiece—to become like Him. How incredible is the miracle of Isaiah 6, where one of the greatest, most quoted prophets of the Old Testament receives his calling and is able to rise to the occasion through the enabling power of the Atonement? Many other prophets have used the enabling power to accomplish great things in this life, and they no doubt continue to use it in the next. Moses and Enoch, two prime examples, also felt unworthy, flawed, and incomplete. In
Elder Ray H. Wood’s talk, “Our Thorns in the Flesh,” he says, “The grace of Christ – His power, His strength, His help – is only ‘made perfect in weakness.’ When a person ultimately recognizes his total dependency on Christ and lets his will be swallowed up in God’s will, then, and only then, can this enabling power be brought to bear in perfection.” Once we recognize our weak and imperfect state and hand over what little we have to offer, Christ can then make up the rest and we can become greater than we ever thought possible. I know that is true. The men and women that have done great things in this world are those who have turned their lives over to Christ and experienced the enabling power of the Atonement. As I have been reading the New Testament, I have found parallels to the enabling power of the Atonement in the miracles Christ performed. In Matthew 9, Christ heals a man with palsy. Christ first forgives the man of his sins and then tells the man to take up his bed and walk. Christ cleanses the man and heals him, but He also gives the man the strength he needs to progress. The enabling power is often described as a strengthening power. In Philippians 4:13, Paul says, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” I have learned so much by reading the stories of Christ’s miracles through the lens of the Atonement. Not only do these miracles show the compassion, power, and authority of our Lord and Savior, but they have also helped me to understand the Atonement a little more.
In Abraham 4:1-2 it says, “The Gods organized and formed the heavens and the earth. And the earth, after it was formed, was empty and desolate, because they had not formed anything but the earth, and darkness reigned upon the face of the deep, and the Spirit of the Gods, was brooding upon the face of the waters.” The Creation was an incredible miracle. Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ worked together to make the heavens and the earth— everything from the awe-inspiring constellations to the most delicate flower. The earth is a beautiful thing, miraculously made through the organization of preexisting matter in the universe. They did it through the Spirit, Their great power, and Their love for all of us so that we could progress. In Mosiah 2:25, King Benjamin tells us, “And now, I ask, can ye say aught of yourselves? I answer you, Nay. Ye cannot say that ye are even as much as the dust of the earth; yet ye were created of the dust of the earth; but behold, it belongeth to Him who created you.” If the creation of the earth out of dust was a great miracle, how much greater then is the miracle of the Atonement, that can take someone like me who is “less than the dust of the earth” and provide me with the chance to become like God (Helaman 12:7)? I did not see the parallel between the Creation and my own path to exaltation until I came here to Jerusalem. I have prayed many times to understand the reason for the Atonement and how a Being as great as Jehovah could or would condescend to earth to suffer for all of our sins. How could this Creator of the universe and all the power and love that He has be contained in a mortal body? I now know
that it had to be done so that the greatest miracle of all could take place in all of our lives and so that we could be given the opportunity to “[put] off the natural man and [become] a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord” (Mosiah 3:19). We become saints in this life and exalted beings in the next through the combined sanctifying and enabling power of the Atonement of Christ. Just like “the Gods watched those things which they had ordered until they obeyed” during the Creation, They are watching, waiting and hoping that we will take hold upon the grace of God and obey the commandments which They have given to us so that we might progress.
Standing above the Garden of Gethsemane on the Mt. of Olives
I know that my Father in Heaven and my Savior love me infinitely. I know that I understand very little of that love, but I do know that my understanding of that love will grow. I find it very fitting that the love of God is the tree of life, and that the fruit that it bears is the atoning sacrifice of the Son of God. President Hinckley once said, “I sense in
a measure the meaning of His Atonement. I cannot comprehend it all. It is so vast in its reach and yet so intimate in its effect that it defies comprehension . . .When all is said and done, when all of history is examined, when the deepest depths of the human mind have been explored, there is nothing so wonderful, so majestic, so tremendous as this act of grace when the Son of the Almighty, the Prince of His Fatherâ€™s royal household . . . gave His life in ignominy and pain so that all of the sons and daughters of God, of all generations of time, every one of whom must die, might walk again and live eternally.â€? I know that my Savior created this beautiful earth. I know that He walked here in the Holy Land. I know that He did many miracles and gave the commandments and teachings we find in the New Testament and the Book of Mormon. I know that He carried the weight of my sins, my pains, and my sufferings on His shoulders that Thursday night in the Garden of Gethsemane. I know he was hung on the cross, died for me, and was buried, and I know that He rose again. I know that he condescended to live a life among the men and women of this earth so that the greatest miracle of all could be performed on a daily basis in each of our lives. I know that my Redeemer lives. I know that He loves me with a great and incomprehensible love. I hope that each day I can allow myself to be molded a little more by the Masterâ€™s hands. I want to thank all of you for the things you have taught me through your knowledge, testimony, and actions. There is not one of the 78 of you that have not helped me learn and grow. I love you!
Journal Entry after Sacrament Meeting at the Center Chadwick Densley May 2, 2009
s I sit on the 5th row of the auditorium, it is almost impossible for me to take in all the beauty and splendor within my view. The room is magnificent with huge arched ceilings, a wonderful organ, and twenty-five-foot floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the city of Jerusalem. I don’t believe there exists a more perfect setting in which to partake of the Sacrament. Today, to prepare for the Sacrament, we sing hymn 173, “While of These Emblems We Partake.” We sing, “For us the blood of Christ was shed,” and looking out the window behind the pulpit down the hill to the left, I see the Garden of Gethsemane, where the Lord suffered and bled for MY sins. We continue, “For us on Calvary’s cross He bled,” and straight across the Kidron Valley, up on Mt Moriah, I see Golgotha, where Christ was nailed to a cross and gave up his life. Finally, we sing, “But rise triumphant from the tomb / And in eternal splendor bloom / Freed from the pow’r of death and pain.” Right next to Golgotha is the Garden Tomb, where Christ was miraculously resurrected! Today the Sacrament became real to me. It was such a spiritual Sacrament not only in remembering these things, but being able to see exactly where they happened right out my window. Being able to truly experience this gave me a greater appreciation for the Atonement and the
Sacrament. I came here with the intent of growing closer to my Savior. Today I realized He has been right in front of me all along every Sabbath when I partake of the Sacrament. The Sacrament is not just bread and water. It is a covenant with the opportunity and privilege to take upon ourselves the name and image of Christ. The bread represents His body that was sacrificed and resurrected; the water represents His blood that was spilt for us. I know that my Savior lives. I am so grateful for that night, a few days before He gave us His life on the cross, when he went to the Garden of Gethsemane to do the will of the Father. He knelt down. He started to pray. He started to suffer, He started to Bleed. He was praying for me, He was praying for us. When the King of Kings, the Lord of Lords was suffering for the sins of the world, a world that had rejected and would still reject Him, He wasnâ€™t thinking of Himself, but of our salvation. I love my Savior. I know that He paid for our sins. I know that he went below everything, so that we all can be lifted up with Him in the last day. I know that in Him we can become perfect. We can be sanctified of our sins with His blood and be found spotless before Him at the judgment day, when His mercy will satisfy the demands of justice and we will be able to find rest with Him in His kingdom. He cries with us when we cry, He rejoices with us when we rejoice, He pleads to the Father in our behalf. He loves us. He is the anchor of our life. Without this anchor we are lost. He is the light that will guide us if we let Him. He loves us. He knows us by name, and He calls. Let us all come unto
Christ. Let us all partake of the love that He has for us, let us all do His will and be made perfect in Him, and let us all realize our weaknesses, but know that with and through Christ we can accomplish all things. I know that the Book of Mormon is another testament of Jesus Christ. Through the Book of Mormon, we can come to know our Savior, Jesus Christ, I did. I still have a long way to go. But line upon line, precept upon precept, I will come closer and closer to my Savior, until one day, whether it be in this life or the next, I will meet him face to face and He will say, “Well done, my good and faithful servant, a place has been prepared for you among the mansions of my Father.” Everything is possible because of His selfless Atonement, and every week we have an opportunity to experience the Atonement in our lives through the Sacrament. It is that simple. I leave this invitation to whoever may read this to come unto Christ, to get to know Him during your life and to have your own personal encounter with Him, for “this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.” My testimony is that He lives, He loves us, He is aware of each one of us, and that He calls us by name, for our names are engraved in the palms of His hands. In His name, Jesus Christ, Amen. Chadwick Miles Densley
Dust to Dust Marie Sykes oincidentally, three of the Old Testament’s greatest stories, though completely unrelated and chronologically separated by hundreds of years, all share a common thing—Mt. Moriah. Tradition holds that this small, barely peaked mountain in Jerusalem is the place where Abraham offered Isaac as a sacrifice, where the floodwaters receded for Noah, and where God gathered the dust He formed into Adam.
As the story goes, Mt. Moriah is the first place on the earth that mortal man ever set foot. That fact alone should resonate at least reasonably well with all of the 6.5 billion people on earth today. Alas, that is not the case. Basically, only Biblical archeologists, religious zealots, or Jerusalem Center students care to know anything about what ancient tradition would say for such a place. Most people are content to retell the age-old tale of the creation of Adam. There are several good reasons to be content with the story of Adam’s creation without considering where it actually took place. First, who said tradition was right? The chances that the actual location of dust becoming man is still known thousands upon thousands of years later…not so hot. Second, Mt. Moriah is difficult to access and maintains very precise visiting hours. It’s extremely inconvenient to return time and time again to go in for just five minutes. Third, there is so much to learn from our first parents’ experiences on this earth. They began life as we know it.
If Charlton Heston had played Adam, another epic Biblical film could have been shelved next to The Ten Commandments and Ben Hur, and could easily have provided the world with a superficial glance of what the Biblical text has to offer. An angle only a sliver deeper than Charlton Heston opens an entire cavern of questions, insight, knowledge, observations, and understanding. Adam was one of the last of God’s creations. All of the other creations—the earth, waters, sun, moon, stars, plants and animals—were specifically mentioned as being organized matter (Abr. 4:1). Genesis tells us that Adam was formed from the dust of the ground and was given life by the breath of God. And he became a living soul. Once Adam had this precious gift of life, he was loaded with commandments. The world depended on him to maintain the Garden, name everything, have dominion over all, and not eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, not to mention to multiply and replenish the earth. Obviously, he needed help, particularly with the last of those commandments. Adam named each and every animal. I’m sure he put two and two together when all of the other animals matched up and he was the one and only man. He probably kept an eye out for someone that would match up with him while he continued naming the animals and plants. Obviously, there wasn’t one. God knew that. Adam was probably pretty lonely and wondering why he was the
odd man out. So with His infinite wisdom and one rib, God presented Adam with Eve. Eve was an incredibly unique creation. She was the last thing God created and the only creation that was presented and given to another creation as an equal. All of the other creations were under Adam’s dominion—all except for her. Adam and Eve were united as the first family in the history of this world. Together, they generally kept all the commandments God gave them. However, they did have one baby hiccup that proceeded to shatter everything they ever knew. A serpent tempted Eve with knowledge. Eve, being a rather smart woman, realized that to multiply and replenish the earth, she and Adam had to get some knowledge—shake things up a bit. There was a lovely tree with attractive fruit that could easily give the knowledge she wanted. Upon further investigation, the serpent fudged a half-truth that if she partook of the fruit, she wouldn’t die that exact day. He failed to mention that death would eventually creep into her new life. Clearly, serpents were never meant to be desirable animals. As a knowledgeable Eve approached a comparatively ignorant Adam, what would that conversation be like? What could she possibly say to explain herself? All she could do was present Adam with the facts and a choice. He could either stay in his current happy, progress-free state
or trust his wife’s judgment and stand by her. I have to admire Adam’s decision to cleave to his wife, to protect her as he was charged, and to eat the forbidden fruit. Eve is equally admirable in fulfilling her role as Adam’s helpmeet. She could see they needed knowledge of good and evil to progress, but he could not. She opened his eyes to that opportunity. Adam and Eve weren’t entirely shocked when God walked through the garden and discovered what they had done. They knew it was coming. They were condemned to mortality—life was going to get real hard real fast—but they weren’t left alone. God told them that life would be harder and that they would have to leave. The next thing he did was help them make better clothes. He replaced their fig leaf aprons with animal skins. This part of the Bible shows how important Adam and Eve were to God. After they had disobeyed his law, He not only gave them the mental capacity (tools and knowledge) that they needed to start life outside of the garden, but he prepared them physically by making them clothes. The story continues as we know it. Life outside the garden gets harder and harder. Their family grows and they teach their children. Their children inherit mortality and suffer temptations. Death, as denied by that old serpent, creeps into the world. Dust to dust. They came full circle.
Rock of Ages Jessica Sagers Wherefore, I am in your midst, and I am the good shepherd, and the stone of Israel. He that buildeth upon this rock shall never fall. -D&C 50:44-
and and limestone are the same color as hummus and skin. Here, the world blends together across a spectrum of beige: living, nonliving, and no longer living. Crushed chickpeas match my stratum corneum and the worn bricks under my feet. This world is made of limestone. It falls outside familiarity, even outside what I've seen in textbooks. Things grow out of walls here. And walls grow out of water. Limestone is itself a miracle, an accumulation of calcium carbonate created by the slow crystallization of the sea with tiny fragments of crushed shells. In nature, this rock forms only in shallow water, given color by impurities left from ancient organic materialsâ€”the mysterious residue of life. Depth and perfection do nothing for its strength; counterintuitively, only an imperfect creation yields a product that endures. Strike this stone, and overtones resound in perfect integer multiples of the fundamental frequency that has echoed through my veins for as long as I can remember. We resonate, this place and I.
After skimming the rows of neatly labeled reagents in my chemistry lab, I select two vials from the familiar
shelf. Solubility rules tell me that calcium chloride and sodium bicarbonate will combine to form pure calcium carbonate—limestone in its cleanest form. These compounds react in perfect integer ratios every time, delivering a calculable volume of the product I expect. Sure enough, an opaque, white precipitate forms at the bottom of my test tube as I flick my carefully measured chemicals into motion. Limestone—right? And yet its purity is artificial. The product mocks me from its tube, effortlessly immaculate, sickly pale—devoid of color, for that comes only with imperfection, with life. Annoyed, I dissolve the perfect solid with hydrochloric acid, watching what seemed strong shrivel and steam beneath my fingers.
Standing on the Pyramids of limestone in Giza
But behold, according to the scriptures, this stone shall become the great, and the last, and the only sure foundation, upon which the Jews can build. -Jacob 4:16-
The rock face seems impenetrable, but tufts of green still manage to extend their tendrils between the ancient bricks. Itâ€™s an impossibility, but then so is this wall. Birds grow here, too. They duck into spaces too small for my fist, into nests formed from the text of prayers. The entire wall is alive with people in Sabbath attire, the men in sharp black suits and the women in subdued dresses. Finally, it is my turn to touch, and I place my hand on the cool rock and look up. The wall seems endless against the evening sky, and through its cracks small pieces of paper protrude like fine hair. These ancient stones hold the prayers of millions and the tears of twice that. In comparison, my prayer seems a mere triviality, a wish formed in the confines of comparably limited experience. Regardless, I rest my forehead against the rock, as so many around me are doing, and tuck my words safely into a rare unoccupied fissure. I pray for help to become articulate, to find my voice in a world full of voices. The Jews believe that prayers placed in the Western Wall are answered first. I can only hope thatâ€™s true. Either way, touching this stone is an electric link to the ancient cries of millions, and I feel the weight of their religion in my fingertips. No prayer written here is ever thrown away. Because devout Jews are unable to destroy anything that contains the name of God, each recovered testimony is kept, collected, and buried on site. Hence, my newly crystallizing faith will be buried in Jerusalem until time erodes the lines of Sharpie marker that shape my name. Beige with impurities, my faith begins to take formâ€”slowly, and in shallow water.
Atonement/Forgiveness Calli Buehner would like you to go back in time for a moment and imagine that you are a child again. More than anything in the world, you want a baby lamb as a pet. The following day, your father takes you to a farm, and together you sift through every lamb in sight, because you certainly can’t just have any regular lamb. This one must be perfect. Finally your eyes slither down the rows of lambs and fall upon a flawless, white one. Almost immediately, you run to it and hold in your arms. The lamb’s soft fur tickles your face as you grasp it more tightly in your arms, and it licks your face as you pick it up to take it home. This pet now becomes an integral part of your family. It follows you everywhere and helps you through your hardest moments in life.
One day your father gathers the family together. You are informed that each member of your family has sinned, and as a result, you must follow him up a mountain. At this time you can’t understand why, but you do what he says…and you bring your prized lamb with you. When you reach the top of the mountain, you notice that an altar sits on the middle of it. You watch as your father pulls out a knife from his bag. He apologizes to all of the children, but he has no other choice. He grabs this flawless, beloved lamb and sacrifices it right in front of you. Immediately, tears fill your eyes. Why? Why should a lamb have to
suffer for my sins? Why should something so untainted and pure receive such a fate so I can become clean? If you understood that you caused someone you loved pain every time you sinned, would you think twice before you acted? I would like to compare this story to the Atonement. Our goal is to come to love Christ more than anything and to allow him to be an integral part of our lives. And why would we want someone we love more than anything to have to suffer for us? If we understood the pain we cause the Savior each time we sin, I believe we would second-guess ourselves before acting. We should strive to choose not to make Christ suffer for our actions. Another point of view we could take on this story is that we should love Christ so much that we shouldnâ€™t want him to suffer at all. We should do everything we can to assist others in righteous living so Christ doesnâ€™t have to suffer for their sins as well. As each of us participates in missionary work, we will help bring people to love Christ just as much as we do. I have thought a lot about the Atonement and forgiveness as I look at Jerusalem and all of the hatred and scars that exist between the Palestinian and Israelis. Instead of the current generation learning to heal the wounds that existed between their parents and grandparents in previous decades, they have clung to these feelings, and as a result, walls are both figuratively and literally built up between the two peoples. I feel like this conflict in the Holy Land can work as a parable for our
own lives, and we would be doing ourselves a disservice if we chose not to learn from it. What unnecessary walls have you built up against others? Do you currently hold onto unnecessary grudges? Do you take the time to understand people, or do you make judgments before you get to know them? I would like to compare the Palestinian-Israeli conflict to a story I learned in my childhood. Two brothers shared farmland, and the only division on the property was a small stream. Occasionally, a sheep would wander into one of the brother’s farms and the other would refuse to return it. Other problems arose between the lands, and eventually mutual hatred ruled the brothers’ lives. Finally, one of the brothers hired a carpenter to come and build a wall to divide his land from his brother’s so he would never have to see his brother again. After hiring the carpenter, he left for the day. When he returned, he noticed that the carpenter had not built a wall, but instead a bridge over the stream connecting the farms. As he was about to yell at the carpenter, he saw his brother crossing the bridge with open arms. His brother hugged him tightly and said, “Thank you. I am so sorry.” All it took was for one brother to tear down his wall and instead build a bridge. I can’t help but think that if the Israelis and Palestinians would tear down their separation wall and instead build a bridge to understand one another, they could find peace. I found this quote by George Herbert during my time here, and I think it fits in perfectly. “He that cannot forgive others breaks the bridge over which he himself must pass
if he would ever reach heaven, for everyone has need to be forgiven.â€? I like this quote because it clearly states why it is so important to forgive others. By refusing to forgive others, I believe we belittle Christ and His Atonement. He is greater than us all, and if He forgives everyone, what puts us on a higher level so that we do not need to forgive? By refusing to forgive someone, we show that we are above Christ and that we should not be held to his standard.
A depiction of Christâ€™s suffering in the Garden of Gethsemane
If you do not get anything out of what I have just written, I hope that you will learn to love Christ and others more than yourself and gain an appreciation for the Atonement. I have grown to love all of you so much during our time together, and I will never forget what an amazing impact you have had on my life.
Music in the Holy Land Erin Platt am a firm believer that music can speak to the soul; it is a language of the spirit. Music can transform the pessimist into an optimist, it can comfort the weary soul, it can soften the hardest of hearts. Although we may not be able to share the gospel yet here in the Holy Land,
A psaltery from 1430. Look at the illumination!
we can express our testimonies to others through music. I have seen the power of music touch others, and those experiences will never escape my memory: A most earnest monk summoning us to sing in the chapel at the Pools of Bethesda while Spanish tourists gathered to listen. A newly introduced group of students on their first free day out in the city at the cistern near the Church of the Holy Sepulcher uniting through the song â€œI Am A Child of God.â€? Christmas hymns ringing through the cave in Bethlehem where our Savior, Jesus Christ, was born, as well as hymns about revelation sung below where Jerome translated the Bible. Songs about the Savior upon the Sea of Galilee. Our
first Shabbat in the Jerusalem Center Upper Auditorium where we first listened to the organ, the talented musical numbers, and the congregational hymns that brought us to the realization that, yes, we truly were in the Holy Land. A prominent memory I have of the power of music was at Peter’s Primacy. Brother Huff recalled when the keeper that overlooked the church for many years would get so excited for the Mormons to come that he would ask to stand right in the middle of the students and ask them to sing “All Creatures of Our God and King.” Brother Huff noted that when a group was singing this particular song, a woman approached him and said, “I’ve always wanted to hear the Mormon Tabernacle Choir sing that song.” He didn’t have the heart to tell her that they weren’t the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, but that story has inspired me to sing often and sing as if it were my testimony because music has a great effect on people whether we realize it or not. When we arrived at St. Peter’s Church, the keeper from the story wasn’t there, but we decided to sing that song anyway. The chapel filled with angelic voices, and others from outside crowded in as we sang. Although we didn’t teach a missionary discussion, I felt that my testimony of the Savior was being expressed. These are just a few of the many experiences I’ve had here in the Holy Land where I believe I was able to share something I hold most precious through the power of music. “For [as the Lord said] my soul [truly] delighteth in the song of the heart.” (D&C 25:12)
“Feed My Sheep” Rachel Curtis (talk given at the Saturday fireside on the shore of the Sea of Galilee, July 18, 2009)
s I wrote this talk, I really felt like was only its messenger, not its author. I felt like I was writing a message from our group to our group. I really felt like this talk had a bit of each of us in it, that we can all relate to it in some way, and that each of our voices went into this message, telling ourselves what we needed to hear and do with what we’ve learned here. Many of the ideas I’ll share with you tonight come from speaking with many of you, and I feel like anyone of us could be up here teaching this. All of us have been very privileged and blessed. We all have the blessings of being American, and with that comes the opportunity to gain an education. We are lucky to be gaining an even higher education. The odds of being American or having an education are small enough, but yet we all have families and parents we know and love with whom we have relationships. Even more than that, Heavenly Father has blessed each of us with the blessings of the gospel. He has blessed you. One of these blessings alone is more than millions of people could hope for in the history of mankind, and yet we’ve been given these things. On top of that, we are here studying in the Holy Land and gaining the most important education possible this summer. The education and spiritual understanding we
are gaining here are helping to build our personal foundations so that we can continue to build upon and gain even more knowledge in this life and the eternities to come. Each of us is here for a definite reason, as the branch president in Jordan let us know. Heavenly Father will let you know why you are here specifically if you ask Him. I feel that one of my reasons for being here is to share the knowledge I’ve gained not only with my family and ward members but with my future family and those not yet of the fold. Before I came here, I thought that even though I would come to all these places where Christ had been, I would never use it in a talk or lesson because I didn’t want to seem like I was showing off and because it isn’t necessary to come here to have a testimony of Christ. But as I was speaking with my mother last week, she said, “What an opportunity you now have to strengthen the testimonies of others because you have been to those places. You have seen the tomb that Christ rose from—you’ve been there.” As I thought about this, it filled me with such excitement. To think that when we share our testimonies with others we will be able to know with an even stronger conviction that the Bible stories did in fact take place and that Jesus Christ lived and rose from the tomb—that He was resurrected and now lives! So how do we take these experiences and the knowledge that we’ve gained and build upon it, never letting it die?
We do this by doing three things: The first is continuing our study of the gospel each day. Elder Ned B. Roueché, “‘Feed My Sheep’,” Liahona, Nov 2004, 30–31 “There is a flame of desire for good deep within each of us. When that flame is fed and nurtured with the eternal truths of the gospel and the testimony of the Spirit, it will respond and grow stronger and brighter until it leads us to the fulness of truth. The flame must be kindled by love and tender care, then followed by constant nourishing. It is like the gardener who raises beautiful flowers. The constant, tender care and nourishment over time brings beautiful blossoms that are enjoyed by all who see them.” The second way to not lose the knowledge we’ve gained here is to keep a close relationship with our Father in Heaven through prayer. The third is by sharing this knowledge with others. Sharing our knowledge is what I’d like to focus on. Why would we deny others the opportunity to come unto Christ or deny them the strength of our testimonies when we have actually seen where He has walked and performed miracles? Doctrine & Covenants 18:15-16 15 And if it so be that you should labor all your days in crying repentance unto this people, and bring, save it be one soul unto me, how great shall be your joy with him in the kingdom of my Father!
16 And now, if your joy will be great with one soul that you have brought unto me into the kingdom of my Father, how great will be your joy if you should bring many souls unto me! We find true joy in life when we share that which is our most treasured possession—the gospel of Jesus Christ. We may worry that we don’t know enough to share what we’ve learned, but Heavenly Father will take even the littlest bit of knowledge that we have and magnify it. Elder Henry B. Eyring, “Rise to Your Call,” Liahona, Nov 2002, 75–78 “The Lord will magnify what you say and what you do in the eyes of the people you serve. He will send the Holy Ghost to manifest to them that what you spoke was true. What you say and do will carry hope and give direction to people far beyond your natural abilities and your own understanding. That miracle has been a mark of the Lord’s Church in every dispensation…The Lord will not only magnify the power of your efforts. He will work with you Himself.” “You can have the utmost assurance that your power will be multiplied many times by the Lord. All He asks is that you give your best effort and your whole heart. ….Your efforts will be magnified in the lives of the people you serve.” So we learn from this that when we try and serve others and share what we know, Heavenly Father will
magnify our efforts and our knowledge. Just like the parable of the talents, if we bury this knowledge, we will lose it. Elder Ronald A. Rasband gave an interpretation of the parable of the talents, saying: “Those who obtain other talents receive more talents in abundance. But those who do not obtain other talents shall lose even the talents they had initially.” Elder Ronald A. Rasband, “Parables of Jesus: The Parable of the Talents,” Liahona, Aug 2003, 34 Just as it is in this interpretation of the parable of the talents, so it is with the knowledge we’ve gained here. Matthew 5:16 16 Let your alight so shine before men, that they may see your good bworks, and cglorify your Father which is in heaven. This next scripture counsels us not to say “we need no more, we have enough” which will cause us to loose what we have. 2 Nephi 28:29-30 29 Wo be unto him that shall say: We have received the word of God, and we need no more of the word of God, for we have enough! 30 For behold, thus saith the Lord God: I will give unto the children of men line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little; and blessed are those who
hearken unto my precepts, and lend an ear unto my counsel, for they shall learn wisdom; for unto him that receiveth I will give more; and from them that shall say, We have enough, from them shall be taken away even that which they have. Doctrine & Covenants 50: 24 24 That which is of God is alight; and he that receiveth light, and continueth in God, receiveth more light; and that light groweth brighter and brighter until the perfect day. From this scripture we learn that as we continue to grow, we receive more light. (This story was summarized) Elder Boyd K. Packer, “‘Feed My Sheep’,” New Era, Oct 1987, 4 I want to talk to my young friends of the Aaronic Priesthood. I begin with a parable, and then I have a test for you. Imagine that our bishop has appointed you and me to plan a picnic for all of the ward members. It is to be the finest social in the history of the ward, and we are to spare no expense. We reserve a beautiful picnic ground in the country. We are to have it all to ourselves; no outsiders will interfere with us.
The arrangements go very well, and when the day comes, the weather is perfect. All is beautifully ready. The tables are in one long row. We even have tablecloths and china. You have never seen such a feast. The Relief Society and Young Women have outdone themselves. The tables are laden with every kind of delicious food: cantaloupes, watermelon, corn on the cob, fried chicken, hamburgers, cakes, pies—you get the picture? We are seated, and the bishop calls upon the patriarch to bless the food. Every hungry youngster secretly hopes it will be a short prayer. Then, just at that moment, there is an interruption. A noisy old car jerks into the picnic grounds and sputters to a stop close to us. We are upset. Didn’t they see the “reserved” signs? A worried-looking man lifts the hood; a spout of steam comes out. One of our brethren, a mechanic, says, “That car isn’t going anywhere until it is fixed.” Several children spill from the car. They are ragged and dirty and noisy. And then an anxious mother takes a box to that extra table nearby. It is mealtime. Their children are hungry. She puts a few leftovers on the table. Then she nervously moves them about, trying to make it look like a meal for her hungry brood. But there is not enough. We wait impatiently for them to quiet down so that we can have the blessing and enjoy our feast.
Then one of their little girls spies our table. She pulls her runny-nosed little brother over to us and pushes her head between you and me. We cringe aside, because they are very dirty. Then the little girl says, “Ummm, look at that. Ummm, ummm, I wonder what that tastes like.” Everyone is waiting. Why did they arrive just at that moment? Such an inconvenient time. Why must we interrupt what we are doing to bother with outsiders? Why couldn’t they have stopped somewhere else? They are not clean! They are not like us. They just don’t fit in. Since the bishop has put us in charge, he expects us to handle these intruders. What should we do? Of course, this is only a parable. But now for the test. If it really happened, my young friends, what would you do? I will give you three choices. First, you could insist the intruders keep their children quiet while we have the blessing. Thereafter we ignore them. After all, we reserved the place. I doubt that you would do that. Could you choke down a feast before hungry children? Surely we are better than that! That is not the answer. The next choice. There is that extra table. And we do have too much of some things. We could take a little of this and a little of that and lure the little children back to their own table. Then we could enjoy our feast without interruption. After all, we earned what we have. Did we not obtain it by our own industry, as the Book of Mormon says? (see Alma 4:6).
I hope you would not do that. There is a better answer. You already know what it is. We should go out to them and invite them to come and join us. You could slide that way, and I could slide this way, and the little girl could sit between us. They could all fit in somewhere to share our feast. Afterwards, we will fix their car and provide something for their journey. Could there be more pure enjoyment than seeing how much we could get those hungry children to eat? Could there be more satisfaction than to interrupt our festivities to help our mechanic fix their car? Is that what you would do? Surely it is what you should do. In this same talk, Elder Packer stated: “Every conceivable manner of spiritual nourishment is ours, and we are commanded to share. We, as members of the Church, have the fullness of the gospel. Every conceivable manner of spiritual nourishment is ours. Every part of the spiritual menu is included. It provides an unending supply of spiritual strength. Like the widow’s cruse of oil, it is replenished as we use it and shall never fail. If we keep all this to ourselves, it is not unlike feasting before those who are hungry. We are to go out to them, and to invite them to join us. We are to be missionaries.”
Again, the question I ask each of us is why would we deny others the opportunity to come unto Christ or deny them the strength of our testimony when we have actually seen where He has walked and performed miracles? Elder Ned B. Roueché, “‘Feed My Sheep’,” Liahona, Nov 2004, 30–31 “We all have a great responsibility that has been placed upon our shoulders by the Savior. He said, “Feed my sheep”. That includes searching out those that are not with us and extending to them our love and fellowship.” John 21:15-17 15 ¶ So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs. 16 He saith to him again the second time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my sheep. 17 He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep. Christ asked them three times to feed his sheep. Not once, but three times. It must have been important if he repeated it so frequently.
Matthew 28:19-20 19 Âś Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: 20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen. This is the last request Christ left with His apostlesâ€” to teach all nations, to feed his sheep.
Shepherds in the fields, keeping watch over their flocks.
As I read this and finished the gospel of Matthew this week, I thought, “What an incredible story of this man’s life, our Savior’s life. He was always focused on others, even down to His last request. He cared for us all so much that He asked the apostles to feed his sheep.” I know this gospel is true, that we belong to the church of Jesus Christ and are led by a true prophet today, and that my Savior lives. What a precious knowledge that is to have. One of the purposes for each of us coming here this summer is to come unto Christ. Let us not hide our light. Let us share it with others and undertake the responsibility Jesus left with His apostles on these very shores. Let us feed His sheep. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
Service Kristi Cheney hile in Galilee, we learned of how the Savior spent his life on this earth. We saw Capernaum and talked of how he healed and forgave the paralytic who was lowered from the roof. We went to the church in Nain where he raised the widow’s son. We played by the shores of Galilee where he reached out to Peter, calmed the seas, and proclaimed his message to the people on shore from a boat. We all know how he eventually ended up in Jerusalem, suffered for all the sins of the world, and gave his life so that we might live. It is easy to see that during the ministry of his life, no matter the circumstance, he was willing to be there and help anyone. Even the lessons he taught always reflected back to the basic principle that he explained to the lawyer in the parable of the Good Samaritan: “Love the Lord thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbor as thyself.”
We all know that while we have been living in this holy land we have had a lot of time to deal with our own personal trials: trying to figure out who we are, how to become better, and how to get through this life’s test the best we can. I think we have realized since we have been together for so long and after everything we have been through that we all have something in our lives that is not perfect. We are all having difficulty and are in need of someone to be there for us. While I was in Galilee, I
realized that I have been so focused on solving my own problems that I may have forgotten about the 79 other people around me who are going through the same things. Spencer W. Kimball said in the New Era, “When we are engaged in the service of our fellowmen, not only do our deeds assist them, but we put our own problems in a fresher perspective.” At the beginning of our trip to Galilee, I heard someone say that instead of focusing on our own problems, we should ask ourselves every day if we had changed someone’s life. We should be able to say that we had been there for someone or had helped them grow that day. After I heard that, I decided while I was in Galilee that this ws exactly what I was going to do. I was not going to dwell on anything in my life and instead focus on others. And you know what?! It worked! While I was there, not only did I get strep throat and have other issues become worse, I also found out that my grandpa had passed away. However, this did not stop me from keeping the promise I had made to myself. I made sure at the end of each day I could say that I had changed someone’s life or had made them feel more loved. Surprisingly, when someone would ask me how I was doing, I could tell them I was doing just fine and it was the honest truth. I was feeling my Savior’s love more than ever, and I was genuinely happy. I truly believe that because I had decided to serve others, I had built a shield from the beginning so when the rains came down, I was protected. I believe this relates to the Savior’s life. I know for a fact he
had a lot of trials and that none of them were easy. I also know for a fact, now more than ever, that he dedicated his life to others and did not dwell on his own problems. I think that is how he got through each day. I think that is how he was able to make it through Gethsemane. It was because He did it for us individually. Through his suffering, He gave the greatest service known to mankind and because of that had the strength and shield of love to follow through. I guess you could say the moral to this story is that we can survive our own Gethsemanes by remembering to always focus on being in the service of others.
Temples Andy Proctor This paper was very enjoyable for me to write. I feel like a huge nerd having written more for this paper than I have written for almost any class in my undergraduate career. I hope that this will be enjoyable for you to read and that it will inspire further study of the importance of temples. I know that the majority of the JC-ites have not gone to the temple, but their day will come, and my hope is that this means even more to you then. I love you all.
Where Heaven Meets Earth
remember telling my father about how I was going to miss the temple while in the Holy Land, but I feel like what I have learned about the temple here has been something that will enrich my experience when I return to the temple. Even though the temple has been inaccessible to me here, perhaps the things I have experienced and learned here will have done more good than if I had been able to go to the temple ten or twenty times in Provo. Did Adam have a Temple? Temples are an integral part of all history. There are many critics in the world who say that Mormonism is a cult because of the worship that goes on inside the temple. They cannot see inside and thus assume that we are practicing something satanic or secretive. Without being rude, I would say that these people just do not know their history. Though religious critics disagree, Latter-day Saints are not the ones who have changed. We are not the ones who have gotten it all wrong when it comes to
religious rituals or practices. I submit to you that we are the only religion and people who has it right—who keeps the idea of a temple alive today as it has been throughout all history. Our temples are the closest to what has always existed. As Hugh Nibley says, “The modern world is as unstable and changing as an isotope, but the temple has always been the same” (The Meaning of the Temple CWHN 12:34). Since the days of Adam, the temple has been around. We do not know if he built a temple and worshiped in it, but we do know that the ordinances were revealed to him and that he witnessed a joining of heaven and earth. Adam caused this light and knowledge to be preached and spread to all who were living: “And thus, the Gospel began to be preached from the beginning, being declared by holy angels sent forth from the presence of God, and by his own voice” (Moses 5:58). Adam was taught by the voice of angels and by the voice of God himself. Therefore, a debate on whether or not Adam built a temple is entirely unnecessary because the purpose of building a temple is to create a place where heaven and earth can meet. This scripture makes it quite clear that Adam had communion with God and His angels whether or not he was inside a building. Temple Truth Spread Till the End of the World The word we use for what we construct to enable communion with God is “temple,” or in Greek, templum. Hugh Nibley points out that the root tem- in Greek and
Latin denotes “a cutting or intersection” (What is a Temple?, The Idea of a Temple in History, Hugh Nibley, 1958). In other words, the whole purpose of having a temple is to create a place where heaven and earth can meet. It is a place where we may become spiritual amphibians—enabled to live in this world, partake of the glory of a higher world, and learn how to return to that higher world. This gospel knowledge was spread abroad from the beginning: “And thus all things were confirmed unto Adam by an holy ordinance, and the Gospel preached, and a decree sent forth, that it should be in the world until the end thereof; and thus it was. Amen” (Moses 5:59). Since this time, the truths of the temple were spread across all the earth—wherever there were men living who were the posterity of Adam and Eve. The teachings of the temple were very important and must have permeated all people of the land for many generations. We have little records of those days and generations in ancient times. What we can see, however, are fragments of truths and ordinances that come from the temple. These truths and ordinances can be seen in many different civilizations throughout the ages. Ziggurats, Tabernacles, and Temples One and Two Remnants of the things that Adam taught manifest themselves in the way people build edifices and what they do in these places. The Egyptians are probably the earliest
of those who can provide evidence of what Adam taught. A more in-depth sketch of the parallels between the Egyptian’s temple rituals and our own will follow. In early Mesopotamia, the Sumerians built ziggurats. These step pyramids were man-made mountains that were dedicated to the worship of Sumerian gods. By this time, these people had lost the authority and the purity of the ordinances Adam taught, but the importance of the temple in their society was paramount. The whole society was centered on the ziggurat. The most important contributions: their writing system, literature, mathematics, educational systems, and system of weights and measures all found their origins in this holy place. Hugh Nibley attests to these developments when he said: “All the arts and sciences began at the temple. Dance, music, architecture, sculpture, drama, and so forth—they all go back to the temple” (Letters to Smoother, Etc., 104). Some of the earliest records we have are of temple rituals and worship. These rituals are recorded not only in things such as the Ugaritic tablets of the Canaanites or Egyptian hieroglyphics, but also in the Tanakh, the five books of Moses. These rituals and ordinances were revealed unto the prophet Moses in the wilderness. The sacred tabernacle in the wilderness was where the presence of God came to dwell. Over many years, this tabernacle endured the wilderness and many conquests. Centuries later, King David united the tribes that Moses had freed. How did he do it? Just as many civilizations have—with the ideals of a holy temple in their midst.
David envisioned it, and his son, King Solomon, brought to pass the construction of a temple in which expiatory rituals were performed for all of Israel once a year on the Day of Atonement. This temple became the icon of communion with God in Israel and Judea. This temple was destroyed, rebuilt, and then destroyed again. The impact of this temple has been very pervasive throughout history. Even the temples in Neo-Babylon had similar rituals. Yom Kippur was the Day of Atonement for the children of Israel. Similarly, the day of Kuppuru was designated for Babylonian priests to kill an animal to scourge demons and cleanse the people from evil. Has the Third Temple been Destroyed? Another question that may be asked is: Was the “first temple” in Jerusalem really the first temple? Josephus has said that Melchizedek actually built a temple when he reigned in Salem anciently. This could be debated because of the current lack of a record from Melchizedek’s day. But perhaps Josephus had access to the records that existed in those days which could have included Melchizedek’s first temple—the true first temple. Just don’t tell a Jew in Me’a She’arim that the third temple has already been destroyed! All temple instances point to the fact that people of all time periods desire to have a place where heaven and earth convene and commune.
Egypt: Blessed with Wisdom but Cursed According to the Priesthood I will now provide two vivid examples from antiquity and modernity of temple parallels. First, I will address the Old Kingdom of Egypt. This place has countless parallels to the truths of the temple, as well as to its rituals. The ancient Egyptians were obsessed with eternal life. For them, to gain eternal life was to become a god. Passing into the presence of the gods involved a great judgment as well as knowing the correct information to tell those who stand as sentinels before the presence of the gods. Their temples included ritual washings and anointing to become pure. The gods were depicted on the walls of these temples as investing humans with power and authority. Priesthood was important in their ceremonies, and the high priest wore special clothing. Their temples had gradations of holiness with the Holy of Holies being the superior sanctuary (For more details, see Brother Skinnerâ€™s green sheet: The Temple: A Preliminary). The pharaoh is also depicted as being given the power to have eternal increase and be able to reproduce forever. This is shown in the image below (Karnak Temple, Luxor):
As the pharaoh covenanted with the god, he was blessed with the power to procreate eternally. The walls in Egypt tell of another ancient ritual in which the departed were to engage in a sacred embrace before they could enter into the presence of the gods. See the picture below from the Karnak Temple:
How did they know of all these things with such precision and yet not have the true authority? The answer comes from an ancient Egyptian papyrus translated by a modern prophet: “Now the first government of Egypt was established by Pharaoh, the eldest son of Egyptus, the daughter of Ham, and it was after the manner of the government of Ham which was patriarchal. Pharaoh, being a righteous man, established his kingdom and judged his people wisely and justly all his days, seeking earnestly to imitate that order established by the fathers in the first generations, in the days of the first patriarchal reign, even in the reign of Adam, and also of Noah, his father, who blessed him with the blessings of the earth, and with the blessings of wisdom, but cursed him as to pertaining to the Priesthood.” (Abraham 1:25-27). They had the form and likeness of the priesthood, but no authority. An Italian Endowment Mosaic? The last example of remnants of temple ceremonies and truths comes from something much more modern. The Egyptian temple parallels date from as old as 4000 B.C., but a more modern example shows how these truths were still around after many cycles of restoration and apostasy. In Ravenna, Italy stands a basilica called Sant’ Apollinare Nuovo that was built in about 560 A.D. Inside, there are mosaics that depict scenes familiar to anyone who frequents modern LDS temples. There are men and women in white robes—men carrying crowns and women carrying similar headdresses. Both are on opposite sides of the room. Both are walking toward the front where
Jesus stands surrounded by four angels who stand guard. Also found in this same room are depictions of white curtains where hands are seen reaching through. See selected images below:
A bove is the zoomed out view of the curtains. (The Palatium)
Here is a closer look at the reaching hand.
This basilica was is one that shows that even in more modern times there are remnants of the temple truths and ordinances. Perhaps this mosaic has nothing to do with the temple ceremonies that Latter-day Saints are familiar with from the restoration of the gospel, but I submit to you that there are too many similarities for this to be simply a good piece of religious art. It is a beautiful demonstration that, like the Egyptians, these early Christians had fragments of truth about these ordinances and rituals that will lead us back into the presence of God, but were also without authority. Perhaps John the Beloved was writing to an audience of endowed members of the church in his first epistle when he said: â€œBrethren, this is the testimony which we give of that which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled.â€? (JST John 1:1- italics added). We do not know who instituted the temple ordinances to the early members of the church, but remnants of that which was from the beginning linger in early Christian history. Shall We Not Go On in So Great a Cause? Many other remnants could be shown to help us know that Joseph Smith did not just fall off the beet wagon. He revealed and restored things that have existed since the days of Adam, and he did it in a full and true manner. Countless civilizations have attempted to reach for the Adamic ideal of the temple. The Egyptians, Babylonians, Sumerians, and even early Christians have all approached this ideal. But none of these had the voice of God reveal it
to them, as did Adam, Moses, David, Solomon, and Joseph Smith, the great prophet of the Restoration. Considering all the temples of the past, it is amazing that we are alive in this time. We have currently 129 dedicated and functioning temples around the world and 17 under construction. It is no wonder that Joseph Smith says (in reference to the restoration of the temple): â€œNow, what do we hear in the gospel which we have received? A voice of gladness! A voice of mercy from heaven; and a voice of truth out of the earth; glad tidings for the dead; a voice of gladness for the living and the dead; glad tidings of great joyâ€ŚBrethren, shall we not go on in so great a cause? Go forward and not backward. Courage, brethren; and on, on to the victory! Let your hearts rejoice, and be exceedingly glad. Let the earth break forth into singing. Let the dead speak forth anthems of eternal praise to the King Immanuel, who hath ordained, before the world was, that which would enable us to redeem them out of their prison; for the prisoners shall go free.â€? Countless dead must be glad when we consider that no temple work for the dead could happen until after the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Billions of people who died before Christ were waiting, and there was no temple at this time for this purpose. They have waited till now. This day is the day of their redemption. But before we get to the temple to do this work, we must get the purpose of the temple into us. There must be
a desire within us to create an intersection between heaven and earth—not just to “do names.” We can have that communion in our own homes. Even the Bible Dictionary says that “only the home can compare to the temple in sacredness.” We do not need a building to have sacred communion with our God. There have been many who communed with God without a building: Jacob embracing the angel at the river Jabbok when he received the new name of Israel. Moses on Mt. Sinai. The brother of Jared seeing the Lord’s finger and then seeing everything. Peter, James and John on the Mount of Transfiguration. Nephi being carried away to a very high mountain. Isaiah’s vision of being purified with the incense of the temple. Joseph Smith in Palmyra, Kirtland, Liberty, and a host of other locations. There were no buildings involved in these sacred experiences. We can have sacred communion in many locations if we seek it and are worthy of it. Is the Jerusalem Center a Temple? Over the course of this semester, I have not entered a dedicated LDS temple, but I have had many experiences in the Jerusalem Center and in the Holy Land when heaven meets earth and the voice of the Spirit is present. Perhaps the ordinances were not present, but the priesthood has been, and surely we all enjoyed intersection between heaven and earth in our hearts. It was there as I awoke many early mornings sitting on the eighth floor balcony to watch the sun creep from the YMCA tower to the Church of
the Holy Sepulcher to Dormition Abbey to the Dome of the Rock on the Temple Mount to Gethsemane. It was there as I sat looking over the city of Jerusalem taking the Sacrament as the Lord instituted it with the true priesthood. It was there as I pondered the infinite Atonement in the Garden of Gethsemane. It was even there as I sat listening to classical music on some Sunday nights in the upper auditorium. There were moments when I felt that it was just the Lord and I enjoying a sacred moment together. It was there as I shared moments with some of you throughout the semester. This place became holy to me and reminded me of something more than just this lifeâ€”a taste of heaven on earth and a temple forever in my heart.
Parable of Missing the Bus Tyler Sheffield St. Tyler 5:3-10 3 And he spake many things unto them in parables, saying, Behold a bus was to depart from Ein Gev; 4 And when the bus was nigh unto departing, almost all of the students were on the bus, but Tyler was cumbered about much getting ready. 5 That is to say, Tyler was in his apartment, and should have already been on the bus. Now Tyler was a bus counter, it being his job to make sure all were present. 6 And it came to pass that the bus rolled on forward, But the people of the bus were uncounted. And again the people of the bus went abroad
and had a most joyous time together. 7 Yet Tyler tarried in Ein Gev being separate and single all day, having no companions to hang out with. 8 And again the bus was nigh unto departing, but departing from a different land, when a count was called for; with Tyler being absent another student made sure all were present; 9 Behold, two were missing; And the company halted as a search was made, supposing the missing students to have been in the company at the last site. 10 Then a call was made, and it was found out the two students never made it on the bus to begin with; And again the journey continued.
ne of my most memorable experiences from Galilee will be the day that I spent at the kibbutz alone. At first I was a little hard on myself for not being on time and missing the bus, but after a few minutes I decided to make the most of my day: I did just that. Iâ€™m not only grateful for the great day I had running along the beach, swimming, and reading, but the fact that I had the parable assignment on my mind gave me a chance to practice taking everyday situations and applying them to principles of the gospel.
On the busâ€Ś without Tyler.
In my parable, consider the bus as a representation of the gospel and traveling on the bus as moving forward toward the celestial kingdom. All of the students who were ready and prepared continued on the field trip; however, I was not able to participate because I was not ready when it was time to leave. I was like Martha who â€œwas cumbered 467
about much” with the things of the world, or for me, getting ready, instead of “[choosing] that good part” and being where I should have been at the time of departure. This reminds me of the saying, “When the time for decision arrives, the time for preparation is past.” I’ll just change it to “When the time for departure arrives, the time for getting ready is past.” When the bus leaves, we are either on it or not. I think this is like times in our lives when we are called to take an important next step in our journey back to God, and at any particular time we are either ready for the challenge or not. In Ein Gev, I didn’t live the law of timeliness and therefore had to spend the day alone. This can be likened to those who do not do what is required of them in this life. For example, those who do not live the new and everlasting covenant of marriage “are appointed angels in heaven” and “remain separately and singly, without exaltation, in their saved condition, to all eternity” (D&C 132:16-17). Although my day was very nice and peaceful, I was missing something crucial to receiving a fullness of joy—I was missing the company of others and the relationships I enjoyed with them. I missed the good times that were being experienced by all those that were traveling on the bus. Similarly, King Benjamin states that those who are “blessed and happy” are those who are “keep[ing] the commandments of God” (Mosiah 2:41). Another insight I had deals with individuals working in the kingdom of God and the way the kingdom of God moves forward as a whole. On the bus, I had the 468
responsibility of making sure everyone was present. I was an important part of keeping us all together and making sure no one was left at a site. Obviously, being absent, I wasn’t able to give the warning that anybody—including myself—was missing. That was not too bad; it was a natural consequence of my absence. However, what was a bit more inconvenient was during the middle of the day when it was thought that two people may have been left at a site. This caused everybody to stop and send out a search party. Eventually, the truth was found out and the trip continued. At the other stops, someone else made sure more weren’t lost; however, if I had been there, the trip would have gone more smoothly. We can relate this to the kingdom of God here on Earth. The kingdom of God will continue to roll forward, and no matter what, this dispensation will not end in apostasy. However, when someone doesn’t do their duty, it takes more time, as the problem has to be fixed and someone else has to take over the neglected duty (D&C 88:70,74). One of the most touching parts of this experience was that a prayer was said in my behalf and all the guys present went running in the heat to find me. Truly, this was a living example of how our Savior cares for each of us. Whenever there is a lost sheep, He is out there trying to find it. That day, I wasn’t physically with the ninety and nine, and I was searched for, but how much more grateful am I that when I haven’t spiritually been with the ninety and nine, I was searched for by Him.
Eric Malmgren O Jerusalem, once you existed only in imaginations. You were the distant stage of my faith, the land of the prophets, the birthplace of my Savior. You were the mystical land of a story I’d created in my mind with the words of the prophets that knew you. My mind’s eye saw nothing but the desert sands, a Dead Sea, and the occasional oasis of civilization. The people primitive, the landscape barren, and an atmosphere tense is all I foresaw before I knew you. But you changed all of that. You pulled the shades from my eyes and allowed me to see a new world. Preconceived notions, misunderstandings, and misconceptions gave way to love, friendships, and a feeling that I was home. Recall that night when I gazed upon your white walls. It was the first time you spoke to me. So many events, so much history. The victories and failings, the glory and the affliction. Millions of lives and millions of stories summed up in one beautiful word: Jerusalem. Thank you for the lessons. Day after day, you taught me a little more about you, and thus a little more about me. You showed me where I came from, who my fathers were, and you spoke of things to come. “Many prophets and righteous men have desired to see those things which [I] see, and have not seen them; and to hear those things
which [I] hear, and have not heard them” (Matt 13:17). O Jerusalem, I am indebted to you. It is said that home is where your heart is. I have left pieces of my heart in places near and far. As I returned from the majesty of Giza, the rock city of Petra, or the Sea of Galilee, I spoke of “going home to Jerusalem.” You have become my home, a place where I feel that I belong. And you know why I came here to meet you, O Jerusalem, ever vibrating with the distant echoes of my Savior’s words. You were there when He was brought to the temple, and when He returned a young man to teach the wise and proud. You saw when He placed His hands upon the blind and they received sight. You heard Him command the deaf to be made whole. You can testify of the unbelieving and faithless that were healed of their plague. A witness to when He entered your walls amidst shouts of “Hosanna,” you remember the last time His mortal feet tread the stones of your streets. You stood helplessly to see your King raised upon Calvary, the City of Peace contorted around false accusations. You cried as the prophesied judgments of wickedness fell year after year, century after century. O Jerusalem, a maelstrom of past, present, and future. Claimed by all, but owned by God. Taken from you, I am a captive of time—time I cannot take back. In my personal Diaspora, I sit down often to think of you. My song is one of sadness, but one filled with hope that I will return. Like the children of Israel, I long to see the golden city, carved from the stone of the 471
mountains. I dream of the day that “shalom” and “salaam” will gladly fall upon the same ears; I pray for the day when Israel and Palestine become one vision. I seek the hour when peace will be no longer the substance of fairy tales and dreams, but a reality, and when walls will fall to make neighbors of enemies. I await the Lord’s temple here in Jerusalem and the return of my Savior to the mount from which He left. “If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning. If I do not remember thee, let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth…” (Psalm 137:5-6). Let me not forget you. Let your memory sear itself into my soul. Changed with years and experience, I await the day of reunion. Until we meet again, O Jerusalem.
This is a record of the journeys, thoughts and experiences of students of the BYU Jerusalem Center. Each semester about 80 students are give...
Published on Sep 30, 2009
This is a record of the journeys, thoughts and experiences of students of the BYU Jerusalem Center. Each semester about 80 students are give...