Warning: This post has a ton of pictures! It is hard to limit myself to just a few when I have almost 200 to choose from. Sorry!
Our field trip this week was to Bethlehem, which I absolutely loved! Our first stop was at Bethlehem University, which was really interesting. They had a Christian chapel there which was gorgeous! After the chapel we had a question and answer session with a few of the students who attended Bethlehem University to find out what life as a student was like in Bethlehem. They talked about how difficult it was to deal with crossing the wall every day to get to class. It takes hours for them to get through and they all make huge sacrifices for their education. Personally talking to the students afterwards was so much fun because we realized just how much we had in common with these students from completely different backgrounds and how similar we all really are.
Chapel of Bethlehem University
This is Ramzi, he is hilarious and acts as my personal body guard most of the time. Love him!
Overview of Bethlehem from the campus
After the University we stopped at a Bedouin tent restaurant for lunch. Not gonna lie, I was pretty nervous when they told us we would eating in a legit Bedouin tent, and thought it was going to be kinda sketch but I was totally wrong! The food was super good, the atmosphere was awesome, and a million pitas later we were all stuffed.
After lunch we headed up to the old city of Bethlehem. Because Bethlehem is in the West Bank it is supposedly more dangerous and they brought along our security guards from the center to watch over us. The feeling I got walking around Bethlehem was anything but dangerous though. It was so peaceful and I loved walking around the streets, picturing Mary and Joseph making their way through the city trying to find "room in the inn".
Finally we got to the Church of the Nativity. This is the oldest operating church in the entire world, built in 326 AD. It has an amazing history and was built to commemorate the spot where Christ was born. The church is divided up into many different chapels, each run by a different religion, and they are all beautiful. My favorite part though was going into a nearby cave area and singing all of the Christmas hymns (Mom-I thought of you during "Angels We Have Heard On Hight". The spirit was so strong, and even though we likely were not in the same exact spot where Mary gave birth to Jesus, it was amazing to be within a quarter of a mile of where the Savior was born and to feel the spirit there.
The silver star, traditionally marking the exact spot of Christ's birth
The grotto of the Nativity, the spot where the manger stood
The room where Saint Jerome translated the bible
Singing the Christmas hymns
It was an amazing day and an amazing experience to be in the place I have read about every single Christmas Eve. Luke 2 will never be the same!