Sunday Wanderings

Sunday, December 28th, 2014:  We were picked up bright and early by an Arab driver for our trip to the Mount of Olives.  It is an Arab area and Michael suggests someone who is familiar with the goings on.  Our guide was Mahel and he was a chipper, well spoken young man, who grew up on the Mount.  In fact, he spend his childhood playing at the Orson Hyde Memorial Park, so he knew we were Mormons when we asked to be taken there.

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The view from the top of the Mount of Olives, to the North.

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Center view, taking in the old city.

Note that all the graves below us are pointing the same direction,

with their feet toward Jerusalem.

This is a Jewish cemetery.

On Resurrection Day they will all stand and face Jerusalem.

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The South view.

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One of the peddlers came up and put this ghutra and egal on Eric and then insisted that he take our photo.

It was FREEZING COLD on this morning.

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And of course, the obligatory donkey ride.

After our view from the top, we drove down a tiny one way street (with cars going both directions, of course) to visit the site that is considered the Garden of Gethsemane.  It was much smaller than I had imagined, base on the photos I have seen before, and it was difficult to take photos without hordes of people in them.  Honestly, it wasn’t the experience I was hoping for.   ::people can be so loud::   I’m okay with it though.  We came, we saw, and we’ll be able to picture what it must have looked like when we read our scriptures. 

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Beautiful bells.

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I loved how this old tree was propped up with a brick wall of sorts.

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You can see clearly how the new branches grow out of the old tree and how the soil is “digged about” the base.

Jacob 5:5 And it came to pass that he pruned it, and digged about it, and nourished it according to his word.

I love these kinds of real, visual lessons for the kids.

This is why we travel!

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After Gethsemane, we took a detour that most folks don’t do.  We visited the Orson Hyde Memorial Park.  The land used to be owned by our church and has been given back to the city of Jerusalem, but the garden is still immaculately kept and is open to the public.  (Which I believe was part of the agreement when it was returned to the city.  The land is worth millions of dollars!)  The photo just above, is our first view from the garden.  This piece of land is where Orson Hyde dedicated Jerusalem to the returning of the Jews… which is different from most dedications that take place in our church.  Usually, we dedicate a land to the missionary effort and the spreading of the Gospel.

The gardener was there and he joined us and talked with us as we climbed the hill to get to the amphitheater that is on the property.  He had been working for the LDS church in that garden for 25 years and had many LDS friends.  (He is Muslim.)  He showed us photos of his wife, his 5 children and his daughters wedding, and then told us that the next time we are in Israel, he would have us to his house for a meal.  We’d love that!  He friended Eric on Facebook right then and there, so we are still in contact with him.

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The Golden Gate from Orson Hyde Memorial Park.

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Another view, from higher on the hill.

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There used to be a copper plaque with the dedicatory prayer inscribed on it,

but it was stolen when copper prices increase.

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It is hard to tell from the photos, but this garden is beautifully kept.

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This is Rosemary, and it is the most abundant plant on this hillside.

It smelled beautiful!

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At the top of the hill, we sat in the little rock amphitheater and Eric read the entire

dedicatory prayer.  It was such a moving moment, and the girls

said it was the best part of our trip!

If you’d like to learn more about Orson Hyde’s trip to Jerusalem in 1841, read this:

Orson Hyde’s 1841 Mission to the Holy Land

You can find the full text of the dedicatory prayer here:

Orson Hyde’s Dedicatory Prayer

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At this point, the kids were ready for lunch and so we had our driver return us to the hotel

and then we walked toour favorite Shawarma place on Shala e-Din Street.

(Darn it if I can’t remember the name!)

The tiny grave yard above, is a private one that we see on our way,

and is an Arab grave yard because the graves point towards Mecca.

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Decorative boxes for mezuzahs.

We saw everything from bling, to plain wood, and glass used for mezuzah containers.

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The view of BYU’s Jerusalem Center (Mormon University) from just inside the Zion Gate.

(Probably closer to Dung Gate, but who wants to say that?)

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This area is the Jewish Quarter.

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We found our favorite shops, in what they call the Cardo.

We purchased a large version of the print (above) because it moved us so deeply.

I plant to print the description out and hang it near the painting in our home.

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Right after purchasing the print, we ran into these guys,

and Bella asked for a photo.

They were more than happy to oblige her, and the tall guy even muscled his way

through the group to offer Bella his hat (and to be able to stand next to her.)

The young man on the end also offered Meg his hat when he noticed.

We’ve had some good laughs because of this photo,

mostly due to the reaction of Bella’s friends after she posted it on Facebook.

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It was getting dark, so we headed home, but came across the

Church of the Holy Sepulcher.

We stopped and went inside briefly,

but knew that our guide was bring us back in a few days,

so continued on our way home.

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The German (Lutheran) Church in the moonlight.

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The Old City is so beautiful at night.

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 Our girls LOVED the t-shirt above.

We’ll have to recreate it at home,

but use better quality t-shirts.

Tomorrow, we’ll see you in Bethlehem.