Over here at the Jerusalem Center, we celebrate the Sabbath on Saturday instead of Sunday, so we had church services Saturday morning. It was definitely the prettiest sacrament meeting I have ever been to. Church is held in the Jerusalem Center Auditorium, which is absolutely amazing. The audience looks out on a wall of windows overlooking the old city. Taking the sacrament is a whole new experience when you can actually see where Christ suffered for your sins. The auditorium also has an amazing organ, and Brother Whipple-a master organist here at the center-accompanies every week
the organ at the center
After church the roommates and I were visited by the relief society presidency, wrote in our journals, and of course took the official sunday/now saturday afternoon nap.
first sabbath with the roommates
After dinner, I went out with Melissa, Jake, Scott, and Katie to Orson Hyde Garden. On our way there we ran into another group of adorable local kids and played with them for awhile. They little girls were so stinkin cute! I taught them hand clapping games, they tried to teach me how to say their names (lots of giggles resulted) and played marbles with them. When it was finally time to leave they all gave us hugs and kisses on the cheek, and ran after us waving. (pictures of this to follow)
The Orson Hyde Garden is the place where the land of Jerusalem was dedicated by Orson Hyde. The church spend about a million dollars to create it as a memorial, and also as a way to help build our local relations by beautifying the city. They did an amazing job, because the garden really is beautiful. We brought our scriptures and studied there for awhile. We also prided ourselves by finding the EXACT spot where the picture of the garden found in our bibles was taken and took our own picture.
this is not the replica picture, but I think it shows how pretty it is!
That night we had a fireside from Brother and Sister Brown about the creation of the Jerusalem Center. It really is a miracle that the center is here today, because it received so much opposition. It took years and years to get everything approved and once construction started the local community was not at all happy about it. The Church persisted though, and Elder Holland once said that the Savior wanted this center here and prepared for it from the time of mortal ministry. The building really is beautiful, and it is widely believed that it will be converted into a temple one day. The fireside was a great way to learn more about the history behind it.
After the fireside, I went out into West Jerusalem (the Jewish side of the city) to go to a Jewish Festival. We took taxis out, barely survived the crazy local driving, and got dropped off in the city. I was surprised at how different the West side of Jerusalem was from the East. It was a lot more modern and westernized and felt a little bit more like big cities i have been to in the states. We had to wander around for awhile to find what we were looking for, but we finally found the festival. The festival commemorates the death of a famous rabbi who helped bring back lost truths from the torah, and the Jews celebrate by lighting massive bonfires in their neighborhoods. And massive is by no means an exaggeration-the fire was at least sixty feet high. It was in this orthodox jewish neighborhood and we definitely stuck out like a sore thumb haha. There were hundreds of people there, and the guys in our group were the only ones in sight without forelocks and us girls were the only ones there without traditional dresses on. They got mad at us at first because we came in together as a group, instead of separating the women from and the men, but after we fixed that problem everything was great. The fire was crazy and it was a great cultural experience. It really made me realize how different our lives are, from the traditions to the dress to the homes, and how much I have left to learn about the Jewish culture.
Haha I think the contrast in this picture is pretty hilarious, the Mormon in here BYU sweatshirt surrounded by orthodox Jewish kids with their kippas
Shabbat Shalom everybody!