Monday was field trip day as usual, as this week it was a great one! It was called the Shephelah field trip, the low land of Judea, and we made so many stops!
First, we went to Beth Shemesh and the Torek Valley, which is where Samson was born and where the Phillistines brought the Ark of the Covenent. It also is where two stone ebenezers were raised, so naturally we sang "Come Thou Fount" and reenacted the whole thing...
Next we hit up Lachish and Azekah, which are Tels that were once Judean fortresses that Joshua conquered. They were both interesting, but all the tels we visit are starting to look exactly the same! And for some odd reason we also seem to visit them during the hottest part of the day, and tels are sadly typically lacking in the shade department. But even with the heat, it is still pretty amazing to see ruins that are thousands of years old!
Next we went to Mareshah, which was awesome! It is basically an underground city complex, built so the residents could escape the heat of the summer and work in the cool. I am telling you, these ancient Israelis were smart people! The underground complex contains a cave where they raised pigeons for sacrifices and fertilizer, a winepress, an olive crusher and press, and a cistern (which all of us girls may have stopped in and sang "As Cisterns in Zion"....haha gotta love JC humor!)
From there we went to the Bell Caves, which were way cool. They are the result of mining for plaster during the early Islamic period, so there is no real religious significance behind them, but they are gorgeous and have better acoustics than anywhere in the world, according to our in-house music genius Brother Whipple. We of course had to take advantage of this, so we sang hymns in there for a quite a while, and a few people of the more talented members of our group sang solos. They were all beautiful and it was one of the highlights of the day.
After the bell caves we went spelunking at some nearby caves, which was a first for me and an absolute blast! Unfortunately, I did not get any pictures because they advised us not to bring our cameras in because there is a slight chance they could break. Knowing my luck, I was 100% sure mine would break if i risked it, so my camera stayed on the bus, safe and sound :) But even without my camera I had so much fun exploring the caves, crawling through TINY holes, and getting ridiculously dirty :)
Our last stop of the day was the Elah Valley, which is where David fought Goliath. Brother Manscill taught a great lesson about the faith of David and then we all got to try our hand at the sling, which is not as easy as it looks! I did finally get my rock to go about fifteen feet straight in front of me though, which I definitely consider a success! It was so cool to imagine David facing Goliath in the same exact field where I was standing, and the whole experience made the story totally come to life.
I obviously am not quite as brave as David haha
It was a long, great day, and we were all definitely ready for a shower and nap as soon as we got back to the center :)