This week has been so much more than I ever had imagined. Every minute is a new thing that I had not thought about. There is so much depth here. Today I had some experiences that were unforgettable. It was my first Fast Shabbat (Sabbath) in Jerusalem. It was Saturday and yet we treated it as we treat our Sunday in the US. I woke up to the early morning call of prayer at 4 am. I am beginning to love it. As I type now at 7:30 pm it is again heard. It is like nothing you have ever heard. I cannot replicate it. But the prayer call and prayer of the Moslems resonates in all of the city. This morning I woke up early and went to the top of the center and looked out over the city and played some hymns on my harmonica. It was a good way to start. I then went to choir and we sang everyone’s favorite hymn in parts. It was beautiful. The best part about it is that we sing as we look out over the city and it just gets you. We then had Sacrament meeting. It was such an experience. I hate having to use words to describe this all because it is clearly insufficient. But imagine taking the sacrament as you look over the city where it was first administered! I was trying to figure out how to process it in my heart and mind. Then we had the opportunity to bear our testimonies. I got up first and shared mine. I have been trying to get in the mode of being very reserved in what I say here because of the strict rules, so my brain was trying to juggle my rules of non-proselytizing with my desire to share my feelings. I felt inadequate to express myself and all I said is that I know that the church is true and also that I wanted to become everyone’s true friend and that I hoped that we would not limit ourselves to bearing our testimonies ONLY to testimony meetings, but that we would be able to feel comfortable bearing it in every place we go and at any time we feel to do so. I have been trying to find people who I can just talk to openly about the way that I have been feeling about this experience and the different things we are seeing and learning. There are a few. But there are lots of really fresh people here too who are very young. Today when we where walking to the garden tomb, we passed by the place of the skull and I said “WOW, look its Golgotha” and she said: “wait, what exactly is Golgotha?” I was a little flabbergasted inside, but I did my best to respectfully explain it to her as if she really did not know. As I walked with her more, she had more similar questions. After I thought about it and remembered that I did pray that I would be able to bless the lives of other people on this trip and it was a good answer.
So we went to Shabbat school (Sunday school on Saturday) and there are quite a few Spanish speakers who come to our ward. So I was asked to go and help out in that class. There were people from Mexico, from Bolivia, from Cuba and from CHILE! The family from Chile was amazing to come to know. I talked to the father quite a bit in Spanish. His story is incredible! I could not believe it. He is Jewish in ethnicity and lived in Concepcion Chile for much of his life. This is where he joined the church. He said that he converted to Jesus Christ. He said that he received his endowment in Brazil before Chile had a temple. In later years, he felt that he needed to remember his Jewish roots and decided to move to Israel and he did with his family. He has been here for quite a while, but for a long time he had no idea that there was a church here, so he has never gone to church until recently. I need to get more details on the story, but he only began coming recently (like a month ago?). I was the one who got to translate for him in Elders Quorum. It was such an interesting experience and I am a horrible translator. He knows Spanish and Hebrew and much Arabic as well. But he was wearing a yamika and looked very jewish. His son was JUST released this week from the Israeli army service after 2+ years of service. He also can’t remember if he is a priest or what his standing is as a member, but he is one. So even though we can’t proselyte here, we can still do missionary work with the ALREADY members. Haha.
We also went to the garden tomb. It was a great experience. It is so clean compared to the pathway we had to walk to get there. It was a little tourist ridden. Maybe because it is Saturday. I liked it a lot and I went with a group of about ten students. We were all a little weak from our fasting, but we went in this covered stone seating area inside the garden and even though there were thousands of people, no one seemed to come in where we were. We also had a very cute tour guide who was British (Burt). At every stop he would bear his testimony of Christ and share with us a few more things that are evidences of why it could be here that it all happened. He said that we can’t really know if it was here, but we can know that Jesus lives and that even though it may not have been this place that he arose from, He did rise. It was really neat, and British accents always seem to make things seem more authoritative. We agreed with him in all he said. It was quite the experience.