Being uprooted from everything that was familiar to me, I was placed in a country that predominately had different people, cultures, and beliefs. Learning about these people was by far one of my favorite things I got to do on this study abroad. I was able to learn so much about the Jews and Arabs specifically.
I had both an Israel class who was taught by Ophir, a Jewish man, and a Palestine class taught by Bashir, an Arab. In these classes I was able to learn about the history and beliefs of these people. The coolest part in taking these classes was I was actually learning about the individuals who surrounded me daily. I was able to apply what I learned in the classroom to reality as I checked out of the Jerusalem Center and explored the city. I absolutely loved watching these individuals worship and live. The Muslim’s Call to Prayer was something that frequently rung in my ears. It went off five times a day, so as you can tell it was definitely a huge part of my Jerusalem soundtrack so to speak. And seeing the Jew’s Mezuzahs, Kippas, curls, and Shtreimel ( fuzzy hats worn by Haredi Jews) became a beautiful sight to me.
Jerusalem is a very interesting place. It is such a small piece of land that holds so much significance to so many different religions. In one day I could visit the Western wall, a extremely religious site for Jews. I could then leave and go to the Dome of the Rock, a sacred site to Muslims. Not to mention the sites important to Christians such as the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Garden Tomb, or Garden of Gethsemane.
It is true that there is a lot of controversy regarding land and who should possess it. However, there is no doubt in my mind that both the Arabs and the Jews are good people.
Dome of the Rock
Church of the Holy Sepulchre
Garden of Gethsemane
Learning about the gospel was definitely another one of my favorite parts. I am somewhat ashamed to say that I had never really studied the Bible in depth before. However while living in the Holy Land I was able to study both the New and the Old Testaments. It was a unique learning experience because I was able to learn about a story in the Bible, and then go to the actual site people believe the story took place. It was just as surreal as it sounds. I constantly was battling with the overwhelming feeling of surrealism. However having the opportunity to visit these sites was incredible.
One of the strongest lessons I learned in Jerusalem however, was the importance of conversion. While studying the Bible, specifically the New Testament, I was able to study the conversion of the early apostles of the church. I never paid enough attention to their conversions. It is extremely simple minded, but I use to focus on the strength the early apostles and disciples had to have in their life. Most all of these early apostles had a strong testimony of Christ, his atonement, and gospel. However I learned how important it is important not to forget the conversion process they all took to get there. The church and teachings were being changed from the Mosaic law to the higher law Christ brought. Christ spent time healing and lifting others, however he spent a great deal teaching those around him. These early apostles had to undergo a conversion process just like each one of us.
If we want to be able to stand before the Lord and be counted as a true disciple of the Lord, we have to be actively working to it. Idleness is a sure and steady path to letting Satan deceive our hearts. It is important to always be working and striving to be a better disciple. This was testified to me in Israel. The pursuit of conversion is essential to our growth. We may have a testimony of this gospel, however we have to be constantly feeding our selves spiritually. We do not have the time or the means to relax in our spiritual pursuit
After three in a half months our last week finally approached us. Aside from trying to get everything done we wanted to, we were able to have district conference. At this district conference the Uchtdorfs spoke as well as the Porters. This was so cool. The Uchtdorfs ended up staying with us a whole week. IT was definitely weird staying under the same roof as them. It was the strangest thing. You would be walking around the Jerusalem center and all of a sudden you would see President Uchtdorf and his wife stroll past you. Talk about surreal.
There is nothing like running into the Uchtdorfs in the Old City of Jerusalem.
Our last Monday and Tuesday we were able to trace the steps of the last week of the Savior’s life. One of the most extraordinary things I got to do this study abroad was walk where the Savior walked. When many people think about Jerusalem, they think of being able to do this. However, Sister Porter gave a significant thought regarding this. In summary, she taught that we all walk where the Savior walked by doing good. If we are reaching out to others and helping, then we are walking where the Savior walked and doing what the Savior would have us do-regardless of location. This brings me such hope and comfort. Even though I am back in America, I can continue today and everyday to walk where the Savior walked.
"I may have walked where Jesus once walked, but what is more important to me is that today I can walk where Jesus would walk if He were still with us. I can listen to the promptings of the Holy Ghost and minister to those the Savior would minister to today."
- President Thomas S. Monson