What a great past ten days!! We left on Easter morning, after Evangelical church services at the Garden Tomb and went up north. We stopped at Megiddo, where huge battle will take place in the last days. Late in the afternoon we made it to the Sea of Galilee! Our hotel/resort was right on the water with a pretty big beach that we could play on all day. We are divided into two religion classes here, so the two classes would switch between going on field trips and staying at the resort in classes every other day. 

Our first field trip we took a boat across the Sea on the most beautiful morning. It was so great to have a devotional in the middle of the water and talk about Jesus and Peter walking on water together. That was the beginning of a full day. We went to churches that commemorated the feeding of the 5,000, the calling of Peter, and the Beattitudes sermon. Lastly we stopped at Capernium and had a lesson in the ruins of the synagogue. 

Our next field trip was to an ancient city called Gamla. On the top of a hill, Jews lived here until the Romans came in and tried to take the city. Instead of submitting to the Romans, 5,000 people jumped off a cliff and chose to die. It was really fun to hike up to it and run around the ruins where are really well preserved. This area of Israel is so beautiful, this city was in the middle of a grouping of hills which were all green and so pretty. The rest of the day was spent running around ruins of Roman cities and learning about their influence in the area. 

My favorite day was when we got up and went to some hot springs in the morning and got to spend a few hours swimming. The springs come up from the ground, but the government has built a state park around them and made it like a nature reserve. From there we went to this small and simple church in Nain, the city where Jesus raised the widow's son from the dead. Because of the simplicity of the church, we were able to have a very sweet devotional and really felt the spirit there. That afternoon we went up to Mt. Tebor, a traditional site for the mount of transfiguration. We got up to the top and by chance, we ran into Elder Truman G. Madsen, the well known mormon scholar. He talked to us for a while about his documentary he is filming in the Holy Land and promised us he would be at our church services the next day. Lucky for me, I was asked to speak in church in next day. Talk about intimidating. In sacrament meeting the next day, I was relieved that the Madsen entourage wasn't there, but alas, they came 20 minutes late and I still had to speak. I chose to steer away from deep doctrine since I didn't want to be wrong, so I just kept the talk personal and short! Talk about intimidating though! 

My other favorite part of the trip was when we hiked in the southern part of the Golan Heights to this huge waterfall. The water was freezing!! Think Lake Chelan temperature in March! Our whole class, about 40 kids got in and we took really funny pictures all screaming and cold. 

On the days when we were at the resort all day, we spent about 4 hours in New Testament class. When we weren't in class we were trying to keep up with the huge load of homework they put on us (reminding us we weren't on vacation!). Luckily, we did get to study on the beach which was a really good time to relax and calm down before the last crazy three weeks of the semester. 

We left the Sea of Galilee and spent a day in Nazareth at the most beautiful church I have ever seen. It commemorates the angel Gabriel announcing to Mary the birth of Jesus and the calling the Lord gave her. Countries from all over the world sent art depicting this event which was placed around the grounds of the church and inside. A church right next to it commemorated Joseph and the role he played as Jesus' mortal father. It is a relationship I don't think about very often but really loved. We went to the synagogue and read in Luke 4, when Jesus declared in that very place that he was the Messiah and was fulfilling prophecy. It was just a really great experience and being in that city taught me a lot about the life of Jesus and his family. 

It was a really amazing ten days, but it was so nice to be back at the Center where I was able to finally take a long hot shower and wash my clothes! We have less than three weeks here and in that time we have 7 field trips, 2 major finals, and a million places left to see in the city. I am loving every minute of it and will post a ton of pictures from the trip later today when I load them all on my computer! 

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