JORDAN RIVER, BIET SHE'AN & JERUSALEM, ISRAEL
We started off the day with a visit to the Jordan River where Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist. Being at the river reminded me of my experience at the Susquehanna River, back in the states, where the priesthood was restored and Joseph was baptized. I was surprised by how milky and muddy the river was but still so beautiful. The surrounding trees and flowers were gorgeous. We were even able to watch an actual baptism! After the baptismal site visit, we went to the ruins of Beit She'an. Now, we have seen several ruin sites and after a while they all start to look like a pile of rocks. However, Beit She'an ruins are CRAZY INCREDIBLE! This is where Paul and Christ preached to many people. These ruins are so well preserved that you could actually see what a real city was like in the bible times. Saint my mom had visited the ruins before she showed me this special spot that she loves, and I love now too. There was a closet in one of the old houses that someone had literally pained the Christian cross on the inside. We talked about how in the past there have been times where people have had to pray in their closets to protect their lives because of their religious beliefs. I can't express how I admire those individuals for their dedication to their faith! What a sacrifice it must have been. These ruins were incredible and easily became one of my top favorite places we have visited. Amazing! After we went to Jericho which in all honest was not very pretty. It is a desert and there is garbage everywhere. We only had a quick stop in Jericho before heading to Jerusalem. Driving into Jerusalem reminded me of what it is lie to drive into New York City and go under the Lincoln Tunnel and pop out with the most perfect view of Manhattan. Coming into Jerusalem we drove through a similar runner and she we pooped out you could see the most perfect view of Jerusalem and The Dome of the Rock! We drove straight to the BYU Jerusalem Center. It is SO beautiful there! There was so much peace on the BYU Jerusalem Center grounds. I had such a clam feeling being there and I absolutely loved it! we had a tour of the center and an amazing opportunity to sit in their main gathering room that has he glass windows that overlook The Dome of the Rock. We listened to a fantastic organ recital too! Outside of the BYU Jerusalem Center we went to the Jerusalem Overlook, took photos, and I got to ride on a camel! We then stopped by our hotel and got settled in. To be honest, the hotel is sketchy. Our hotel is right next to Old City and in the unsafe part of Jerusalem. I can tell my mom isn't very happy with our tour guides for booking this. The hotel is run down and we have ants and flies everywhere and a sewer problem in the bathroom. I also heard gun shots last night but my mom lied to me and told me they were fireworks. I didn't see any fireworks. The food is nasty too. It gave all of us food poisoning and heart burn. It has been quite the experience being at this hotel! But I wouldn't go back and change it because I know its a unique experience. After dinner we went to Jimmy's Bazaar. Jimmy is very familiar with the LDS church and is an olive wood carver. He carves Christian statues out of olive wood and they are beautiful. He did an incredible wood carving of Harod's Temple that he has been working on for months as a gift for Glenn Beck! My dad was so sweet and let me pick out my own olive wood nativity of my voice. As I looked around the store what caught my eye was a simple olive wood nativity set . I love how simple it is and still conveys so much emotion. It is a simple wood carving of Joseph with his arm around Mary as she holds Baby Jesus. You can really feel the love with these pieces and I love the intimacy of the carving. I'm sure the night of Christ's birth, Joseph had his arm around Mary all night long. Jimmy the store owner was so sweet and let me pick out the rest of the nativity since Mary, Joseph and Baby Jesus aren't a part of a complete set. I picked out a beautiful stable, camel, donkey, sheep, and cow. I am in love with my nativity set! I am so extremely lucky! What a treat!!! Thank you poppy! I love you! xx, m.