Jerusalem was so special and memorable in every way.
I want to tear up just thinking about our experiences here.
It is a city that means so many different things to so many different people,
which is part of why it is so fascinating and complicated and important all at once.
It somehow still feels ancient despite all of the tourists and residents passing through it
daily. It has such a unique feel as you wind through the Old City and try to begin to
comprehend the things that have taken place in this city … and what it represents.
It was a true highlight for us and a place that will stay with me forever. We first arrived
on a chilly evening later than planned, and joined a tour of the Old City. It was Friday
night just as Shabbat began at sundown, and the sights & streets were all so packed.
We were exhausted from a full day of touring through the Holy Land, so as we walked
up and down the hills and steps of the Old City I was pretty overwhelmed at the crowds
and not feeling my best. We visited the Church of the Holy Sepulchre (where many believe
Christ was crucified, buried and resurrected).. and although it was fascinating, I was claustrophobic
and again overwhelmed by all of the people shoving and pushing and weeping over the stone,
clamoring to get to the different spots inside the church, and the Greek Orthodox
group doing a procession with singing and chanting through the hallways.
I was glad to be seeing it, but just didn’t feel what I thought I would there.
We then made our way to the Western Wall which was so memorable to see at the start of
Shabbat. So many Jews were there in emotional and dedicated prayers, and again I was just
sort of overwhelmed at all the different displays of faith I was witnessing at all of these sights.
I hadn’t yet had my own spiritual moments that night because it was just so much to take in.
We finished our tour and got straight to our hotel for the night because we hadn’t slept in a bed
for 3 straight nights due to our crazy travel to get there (and a delayed flight). So we ordered room
service and went straight to bed. We woke up on Saturday morning, their Sabbath day, and began
by far the best day of the trip — and one of the best of any of my travels, anywhere. It was so so special.
After all of the tour groups from the prior days, it was so nice to be on our own schedule
and head out just Chase and I. We walked the quiet city streets in the early morning and I
couldn’t believe how different it felt compared to the night before. It was so peaceful to walk through
the streets in that early morning light. Our first stop was the Garden Tomb, which in our LDS faith we
actually view as the place where Christ was laid to rest and resurrected. The cliff right next to it is
what we consider Golgotha, or the hill where He was crucified. This is to take nothing away from the
Church of the Holy Sepulchre which many feel connected to, but when I stepped through the entry at
the Garden Tomb I had such a powerful feeling come over me. I felt the spirit so strong and especially
noticed it compared to how I had felt the night before at the other places. There was barely anyone else
in the garden since we got there right at opening, and it was so simple, peaceful and beautiful as we
walked the path leading down to the tomb. I could not stop the tears and was so surprised to have been
hit with such strong emotion out of nowhere. It was such an amazing experience to feel such a connection
to a place and for us, we really felt the spirit of the Savior near. In my mind, this is how his burial
sight would be- simple, natural, and with a feeling exactly like the one here. The Garden Tomb was
by far my favorite sight, and I will never forget the feeling that I had while here. So much awe and
love for my Savior and what he did for us here on Earth. It was humbling to stand in this spot and
I didn’t want to leave. I could have spent the entire day wandering that garden and feeling the spirit.
From there we went straight to the Garden of Gethsemane, another humbling and beautiful
place to see. To look at this simple vineyard and think about what Jesus Christ suffered
for all of us there was also so emotional. The tears continued! From there we walked up
the Mount of Olives and through the Orson Hyde Memorial Garden which leads up to our
church building at the beautiful BYU Jerusalem Center. It was such good timing that we
were in town on a Saturday (their sabbath) and could go to our own church service.
Going to church and taking the sacrament while looking down at all of Jerusalem
and the sights we’d seen was a life-changing experience for me. It has never been so
real, or meant so much. I could not stop crying (see a trend on this day ? :) and the
entire trip was worth that experience to me. It was also amazing to see the Center
and we had a cute family friend who is studying abroad there through BYU, so we
got to see her and hear her speak! It was all so lovely in every way. After church we
made our way back down into the city and wandered the Muslim Quarter, walked
Via Dolorosa and traced Christ’s footsteps on his walk with the cross, explored
more on our own, found the best hummus and falafels ever ever ever, and soaked up
our time in this sacred city. This day is one I’ll never forget. Sorry for all of the words,
but I wanted to record them while they were fresh – and I can’t explain enough how
powerfully this place resonated with us. Of any sights we have seen on our travels, I
don’t know what could be more important or central to our lives than to see these places
that make up a major part of our beliefs in this life. Below are lots of pictures of it all!
Outside the city wall, and across to…
The Garden of Gethsemane ♥ ♥ ♥
Best church service ever at BYU Jerusalem Center ^^
Ran into my parent’s cute friends the Morgans here, and our cute friend
Grace Gochnour. Leave it to mormons to find each other anywhere in the world! :)
^^ Views of the city from our hotel The crowded Friday night sights ^^ This is the entry to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.
^^ Rooftop exploring
Found some of the best food EVER! If you are in Jerusalem, go to Abu Shukri for hummus & falafel.
Supposed to be best in Israel! Lina Restaurant was a close second and right up the cobbled street. Love all the fresh pomegranate and orange juice sold on every corner!
Middle Eastern spices, and a U of U shirt spotted in the market .. haha!
Prettiest city, morning and evening ^^
Inside the Church of the Holy Sepulchre ^^
The stone where they say Christ’s body was washed, although our tour guide
told us that proof has been found that this pink stone was not native to Palestine
at the time of Christ’s death. Either way, people come here to touch this stone.
The procession we witnessed by the Greek Orthodox group ^^
I promise he did not know I was taking this hah but loved this door!
I had to have a little bump pic to show baby #2 that they were in this special city!
PS yes I’m pregnant haha. 18 weeks and just announced here!
And yes I felt pretty sick this whole trip but still loved it all.
Last night at the Western Wall
One of the best sunset hours I’ve witnessed in my life ^^
Panorama from my iPhone! No filter, if only it did it justice.
We loved you Jerusalem, and will never ever forget you & the experiences had here.