Miracle of Miracles!
We witnessed several miracles on our trip. One of the most important is that we actually found where we wanted to go. When we were trying to get out of the airport and head to Nazareth, Wes handed me a page of instructions he printed off the Internet. Unfortunately all the street names were in HEBREW!
The challenge began all over again when we arrived in Jerusalem. Jerusalem is a crazy city, laid out across many hills and with winding roads that suddenly turn into one-way streets, or change names every block—with very few street signs. Even between maps and all eyes on the lookout, we struggled. One time, after several mistakes, Wes told me to put the map away and he would go by feel. In just a few minutes we arrived at our destination. And in the end we found every place we were looking for. Truly a miracle!
We rented a house in Jerusalem that had a kosher kitchen. Which meant, of course, that besides other things, we were not allowed to eat any pork products or meat with dairy. In fact the kitchen had separate microwaves, dishes and silverware for our dairy meals and meat meals.
We mostly ate at kosher restaurants as well. (Even McDonald's is kosher there) One day we decided to buy pizza for dinner. We scanned the menu for anything familiar to us, but could only find a list of strange vegetables. No such thing as “Meat Lovers” there!! Another time we ate at an Italian restaurant where they had cheese lasagna, and sweet potato stuffed ravioli.
We actually really liked our food in Israel, (we ate a lot of shwarma!) but the first thing we all did when we arrived in the US was buy a sausage, egg and cheese breakfast sandwich!
The best place for fruit and vegetables is the Israeli Market, but the best place for souvenirs is the Arab Market in the Old City. The most fun part about shopping there is the shop keepers will haggle over the prices, and they love the Mormons!
With our shopping list in hand, we traipsed into our first store to check out the selection and prices. After hearing the shopkeeper’s “best” price, I suggested to my sister-in-law, Leslie, that we visit a few other stores before buying. The shopkeeper turned to Leslie and said, “You I like. Her I don’t like!”
But he then gave us a better price!
I was only looking for oil lamps for my friend Lisa, but ended up buying some spices as well. I got a cup of saffron threads for $7.00 (my most expensive item) along with spices for Israeli salads, pita bread and shwarma. Now I can’t wait to try them all out. Party’s at my house!!
Make a joyful noise!
One of the most memorable experiences is a visit to the Western (Wailing) Wall in Jerusalem. This is simply what is left of a wall that surrounded the temple grounds and since it is all that remains of the temple, it is also the Jew’s most sacred site.
All during the week devout worshippers come to offer prayers, read their scripture and leave notes to God in the cracks of the wall. It is touching to see at any time, but unforgettable to witness on a Friday night—the beginning of the Jewish Sabbath.
On Friday the worship area is packed with people, praying, singing and dancing. Although “reverence” isn’t a word you could use to describe their worship, the energy level was impressive and contagious. If I had known the words to their songs, I am sure I would have been tempted to join them.
But instead, the following night found us at the Jerusalem Center watching the first session of General Conference live with the students there. That was also an unforgettable experience—to be in Jerusalem and hear the “word of the Lord” go out from “Zion” to the world.
Part II—(later this week) Our Adventure Into Palestinian Bethlehem!