Tag Archives: Mormon University

Israel Day 8 – The Sabbath Day

Today is the Sabbath Day here in Jerusalem.  Or Sabot (shaw-bot) as they call it.  It is very quiet and the streets are quite empty.  Last night, devout Jews made their way to synagogue.  Their Sabbath will continue until sunset tonight.

When in Rome, do as the Romans do.  Likewise, Latter-day Saints here in Israel honor the Sabbath day by going to church on Saturday.  We did likewise and headed to the BYU Jerusalem Center for Sacrament Meeting.

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BYU Jerusalem Center (left) and Old Jerusalem (right)

The building where we attended Sacrament Meeting has these large arches that frame old Jerusalem.  The arch style fits the architecture of the city and the building definitely enhances the Mount of Olives.

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Building Side that Faces Old Jerusalem

We headed in to Sacrament Meeting and there were greeted by several BYU students who are studying there.  It was not a large congregation and is a branch (not a ward).  Today is Fast Sunday, so we got to hear many testimonies.

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Heading in for Sacrament Meeting

For my LDS friends and family… Imagine singing Redeemer of Israel as the opening hymn while over looking the walls of old Jerusalem.  Imagine partaking of the sacrament on the same mount where Christ paid the ultimate price for our sins in Gethsemane.  (Yes, I could look out the windows to my left and see the area near Gethsemane.)

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Looking Towards Gethsemane from the BYU Center

It was a moving and touching experience.

With our luggage in tow, we headed to Capernaum and the Sea of Galilee.

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Capernaum

Capernaum is an important location in the life of Jesus.  It was also the home of Peter.  It was here where Jesus was questioned regarding paying tribute to Cesar.  It was here where Jesus performed many miracles.  It was here that Jesus called Peter, Andrew, John and James.  It was here he cast out the unclean spirits from a man.  But, it was also here that he cursed, as he said,

23 And thou, Capernaum, which art aexalted unto heaven, shalt be brought down to bhell: for if the mighty works, which have been done in thee, had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day.  24 But I say unto you, That it shall be more tolerable for the land of aSodom in the day of judgment, than for thee.

A fair warning as also given in the Book of Mormon:

14 But, behold, my beloved brethren, thus came the voice of the Son unto me, saying: After ye have repented of your sins, and witnessed unto the Father that ye are willing to keep my commandments, by the baptism of water, and have received the baptism of fire and of the Holy Ghost, and can speak with a new tongue, yea, even with the tongue of angels, and after this should deny me, it would have been better for you that ye had not known me.

Nonetheless, Capernaum was an exciting place to visit.  They have unearthed Peter’s home and, of course, built a church over it with a glass floor where you can look below and see the home.

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Peter and the Keys of the Priesthood

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Synagogue at Capernaum

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The Sea of Galilee

Each cooing dove and sighing bough,
That makes the eve so blessed to me,
Has something far diviner now,
It bears me back to Galilee.

O Galilee, sweet Galilee,
Where Jesus loved so much to be,
O Galilee, blue Galilee,
Come sing thy song again to me.

Each flowery glen and mossy dell,
Where happy birds in song agree,
Through sunny morn the praises tell
Of sights and sounds in Galilee.

O Galilee, sweet Galilee,
Where Jesus loved so much to be,
O Galilee, blue Galilee,
Come sing thy song again to me.

And when I read the thrilling lore
Of Him Who walked upon the sea,
I long, oh, how I long once more
To follow Him in Galilee.

O Galilee, sweet Galilee,
Where Jesus loved so much to be,
O Galilee, blue Galilee,
Come sing thy song again to me.

— Each Cooing Dove (Memories of Galilee) by H. R. Palmer

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Fishermen on the Sea of Galilee

When I walked down to the water, I saw these fishermen.  Being the joker that I am, I wanted to yell out, “Try the other side,” but I didn’t.  It was nice seeing how close they were to the shore.  When you read the scriptures how Jesus yelled out to those in the boat, it is hard to imagine being able to yell loud enough for someone to hear you unless you were close to the shore.  Sure enough, these guys were catching fish close to the shore, and with a boat that small, I wouldn’t venture too far away from the shore.

Yes, the sea (lake… it isn’t that big) was calm.  However, a few hours later, the winds came up and this calm sea turned in to a raging white-capped terror.

Our next stop was the area where the Sermon on the Mount was preached.  These terraced hills were home to one of the most impactful sermons of all time, where Christ taught the beatitudes.

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Sermon on the Mount Area

A church built on the shore is dedicated to the beatitudes.  Beautiful gardens surround this church, and many had come to worship and reflect.  There is a special spirit here.

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Sermon on the Mount Church

Matt pointed out that the beatitudes were given in three parts.  (I looked it up, and it covers three chapters in Matthew.)  Each chapter covers a higher level of teaching and enlightenment.

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Sermon on the Mount Area

It has been a long day, and the sun is about to go down and we began searching for an open restaurant where we could break our fast.  We finally found a “sushi” place that also sold other foods.  I went for the lamb kebabs.  Came dessert time, the sound of this decadent dessert sounded too good to pass up.  Matt and I ended up splitting one.

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Dessert – Waffle with Dolce de Leche, Whipped Cream, Ice Cream and Pecans

We then headed to our hostel where we’ll spend tonight and tomorrow night.  This is a nice, clean place right on the shores of the Sea of Galilee.  Doesn’t get any better than this when it comes to accommodations on the thrifty side.

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Our Hostel

 

Israel Day 6 – BYU and the Museum

We started our day by going to the national museum.  This is like Israel’s Smithsonian.  The coolest thing there is this huge model of Jerusalem as it may have looked at the time of Christ. It is very detailed and quite big.  I took lots of photos of it.  It was helpful in seeing what was where then, and then picturing in my mind what is there now.

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The Temple

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Huge Model of Roman Era Jerusalem

Of course, on the temple mound today is the Dome of the Rock.  But, the above picture is how the eastern wall may have looked in Christ’s day.  To the left, you see the Western Wall.  And, in the front center is the Golden Gate.

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And Example of A Sepulcher

Inside the museum were lots of things of interest, but this one caught my attention.  This gives us an idea of what the sepulcher Christ was laid in might have looked.  Of course, the layout is a little different, but it is about the same size and shape of the Garden Tomb.

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A Painting by William-Adolphe Bouguereau

Nothing to do with religion, they had an original by William Bouguereau.  I only noticed that as I was rushing out the door.  I had to stop and take a photo.  After all, he’s my favorite.

We then drove to the Mt. of Olives to the BYU Jerusalem Center, or as they call it “Mormon University”.  We received a tour and an organ recital.  One of the volunteers played three pieces, including a very difficult piece by Bach.

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The Organ at BYU Jerusalem Center

The tour also included an overlook over the city, a demonstration of a couple different types of olive presses, and a video about what students do at the BYU center.  It’s a beautiful campus and should be on everyone’s list of “must see” things in Jerusalem.  (They do have the best view of the city.)

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Our Tour Guide at the BYU Jerusalem Center

Once outside, one of the other visitors to the campus too our photo with our tour guide.

Then, Matt took us on a hunt for a wood carver he met two years ago.  I was honestly thinking… “Really, haven’t see seen LOTs of wood carvings in the market place?”  But, I’m game and it seemed important to Matt.

In a Palestinian section of town, we found his shop.  As we parked the car, a car load of girls yelled, ‘Welcome to Palestine!’  Omar met us in the parking lot and walked us to his store.

The first thing I noticed was a bulletin board with Omar’s photo with President Ezra Taft Benson.  And, another picture with Gordon B. Hinckley.  In addition, he had pictures of LDS notables like Steve Young too.  I’m not talking about pictures of these people, but these people with Omar.

He pulled out a nativity set and said, “You know what I call this one?”

I wasn’t sure how to answer his question.  “A Nativity Set?”  I thought.

He said, “I called it the Elder Holland.  I called it Elder Holland because he always orders this set for his family members.”

This guy has some serious connections at Church Headquarters!

But, look at his work and you’ll see why…

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Omar’s Carvings

So, to be in good company, I asked to have my picture taken with my favorite piece.  (It was out of my price range.  It’s a $480 carving.)

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Omar the Wood Carver

I love the painting by Arnold Freiberg titled, “Peace Be Still”.  So, when I saw this carving I fell in love with it.

After spending a considerable amount of time in his shop, Omar asked if he could buy us dinner.  We graciously accepted.  He then added that he would normally ask us to his home, but his wife has been recovering from a stroke, so he asked us to accept his apologies and had his nephew bring us shawarma’s from his shop down the street.

Omar pulled out chairs and step stools for us to sit on, and boxes to use as tables.  (It brings tears to my eyes just retelling the story.)  There, he insisted we sit and eat and be his guests.

I came to love a fine man today.  Omar the Wood Carver as I call him.  Not only is he a very talented artist, but a man with a huge heart.

As we left his shop, he stopped and said he had one more thing for us.  He then gave us each a small nativity ornament made from olive wood.

If you ever go to Jerusalem, you MUST visit Omar’s shop.  (Also, budget about $500 as I’m sure you’ll find something you will fall in love with.  Some day, people will say, “Oh, you have an Omar!”)

Israel Day 1 – Getting Settled

We arrived at Tel Aviv about 2 and a half hours early.  Doug rented an SUV and we headed towards Jerusalem.

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Heading to Jerusalem

Israel has some nice highways and most exits are labeled in English, Hebrew and Arabic as you can see from the photo.

It’s the Sabbath here and so many places are closed.  Since the Jewish Sabbath runs from Friday sundown until Saturday sundown, comes sundown things will start to open up.

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Arrival at the Abraham Hostel

The car ride was a little cramped.  This Mitsubishi SUV should be called a 4 passenger + 2 small children.  Everyone had something on their laps and we were glad to make it to our destination.

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Front Desk Board

The hostel is clean, and it appears they cater to the young adult crowd.  We quickly checked in and then headed out to see some sites of Jerusalem before calling it a day.

In our attempt to find the Orson Hyde Memorial Gardens (https://www.lds.org/ensign/1979/12/news-of-the-church/president-kimball-dedicates-orson-hyde-memorial-garden-in-Jerusalem) we ended up on the back side of the Mount of Olives.  This entire end of the Mountain is covered with graveyards.  Because of the rocky ground, the graves are above ground boxes as you can see in this photo.  (Looking towards Bethlehem I believe.)

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Back Side of the Mount of Olives

After hiking around this grave yard in the dark, we decided to head back to the car and drive around the mountain to find our intended destination.  We found it, parked, and enjoyed the view of Old Jerusalem.

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The Group Near Gethsemane with Old Jerusalem in the Background

We then packed in to the car and headed to the BYU Jerusalem Center (aka Mormon University).

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BYU Center and Hebrew University.

This is an amazing city.  I can’t wait to see it in the daylight.

We went back to our hostel and after a short break we headed back out to the Ben Yahuda area to get some dinner.  Matt took us to a shawarma shop he had eaten at before.  (We’re about to find out that shawarmas are about as common as hamburgers are in the USA.)

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Sister Babcock poses with our shawarma chef and a skewer of shawarma chicken meat.

The shawarma was quite tasty.  Like Subway, they let you pick your toppings.  If memory serves me correctly, I had them put hummus, coleslaw, chopped tomatoes and cucumbers, eggplant and chicken on mine.  It was made on a large lavash (like a thick tortilla only lighter in texture).

We continued our walk back to the Abraham Hostel as we checked out the shops along the way.

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Bakery… yum

My favorite was the bakery where they had some of the best pastries.  I’m not real wild about some kosher foods, but these baked goods were great.  I went for the baklava – both walnut and pistachio.

Our first night in Jerusalem was fun.  We got a good view of the city and I can’t wait until tomorrow to see it in more depth.