Hey guys. Sorry I didn’t have this up last night. Got super busy since we got back to JUC a little later than usual. Test today, leaving late tomorrow night/early Sunday morning. Excited to be home! Enjoy the last post!
Today went by fast, as every day this week has. Today was also our last field study…sad day. We went to a few really cool places today: Capernaum, the Cliffs of Arbel, and Caesarea. But, instead of reflecting on those three places themselves, I thought I would take this last impression report to write my impression of my trip to Israel as a whole.
This trip has been amazing. I can remember arriving to JUC like it was yesterday. We all walked up the hill to campus marveling at how old the walls of the Old City must be thinking they were easily from Jesus’ time when the ones we were looking at were actually from the Turkish long after Herod built his walls. I remember going to sleep the first night—we were told the rooms would be rather cold, but they were actually incredibly warm. Sleeping the first night was difficult as we were still on Indiana time and the noises coming from the city were louder than what I put up with back home as I am trying to sleep—this lead to me listening to my iPod every night as I go to sleep. I remember doing the “Jerusalem Approaches” part of our trip and realizing that every possible holy location anyone would care about has a church built on top of it—I could list examples, but that would be too much work…I have a test to study for.
One of the things I will remember most about this trip is that if you find anything interesting while walking around on a site, a piece of pottery, a cool looking rock, anything of the sort, it’s probably Byzantine…freakin’ Byzantines…building churches and leaving all their trash for us tourists to pick up hundreds of years later.
Another thing that I found kind of funny while living here in Israel, and specifically Jerusalem is that littering is normal and accepted around here. There were so many times while walking around the city that I wanted to throw my trash down on the ground and make it clear that I wasn’t littering, but that I was simply “engaging with the culture.” Another funny thing about the fact that littering is culturally acceptable in Jerusalem is that my girlfriend, Susie Roth, has been in Singapore all J-Term, and in Singapore, you get caned (beat over the butt or back with a wooden cane) if you spit, chew gum, or litter. I find that contrast pretty funny.
A lot of us have been talking about what our favorite parts of the trip have been and there are so many great sites that could easily be called the best. I have had a hard time nailing down my favorite sites or hikes. But if I think about it really hard, I think I can narrow all of the awesome things we have seen to a favorite site and a favorite hike. We did a lot of sightseeing and hiking at various places the past three weeks, but if I had to choose a favorite site, it would have to be everything about the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Maybe it’s because it was only like our third day here, and I was still fascinated by everything we were seeing, but out of all of the sites we saw, it was the one that made my faith seem the most real. The church is built on Golgatha, the place where Jesus was crucified, as well as the most likely place of Jesus’ burial. This really rocked my religious world back in that first week. No other holy site came close. The only other place we went that fascinated me almost as much was the Herodian (or Herodium), the palace Herod built by take the top half off of one mountain and putting it on another—that blew my mind. But nothing beat seeing the crack in the rock at Golgatha that was probably from the earthquake that shook the land after Jesus died on the cross.
Now, for my favorite hike. We did a lot of hiking on this trip, we hiked all around the Judean Highlands (the land near Jerusalem), the Negev (the desert south of Jerusalem), and the Galilee (the area around the Sea of Galilee north of Jerusalem). But, when it came down to choosing my favorite hike, it had to be between our hikes at two different cliffs: the Cliffs of Arbel (our hike today) and our hike at the Wadi Zin (or Nahal Zin) last week in the Negev. I finally decided that my favorite hike was our hike at the Wadi Zin last week in the Negev. It was a really hard decision, but I ended up choosing it over the hike today because I liked the view of the hike in the Negev better. Today our view was just a few cliffs and a little village down below. But, as we were hiking up the Wadi Zin, we were looking down on an awesome canyon and a pretty cool spring running down through the middle of the canyon—definitely one of the coolest parts about this trip.
I ought to bring this report to a close because I have a final exam to be studying for. I wish I could write more. This trip has been amazing, and I have loved it so much. It has giving me a context for the Bible and my faith overall that is priceless. I am so thankful that I was able to go on this trip, and I strongly encourage anyone who has the time and money to do a similar trip. It has been an amazing experience that will forever change the way I understand God’s Word and the Christian faith as a whole.
Hope you enjoyed my last field study report! I will probably post again tomorrow because I will be bored out of my mind. I leave late tomorrow night! Crazy!