Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The End

Quite possibly the worst part of any travel is the end. After almost 30 hours of flying, we have reached the end of our trip and arrived in Los Angeles this morning. However sad we are to have ended the most incredible time of our lives, we are glad to be home, glad to be with our loved ones, and glad to be able to drink water from the tap without worrying how our intestinal fortitude will fare.  We would like to thank everyone for reading our blog and supporting us during our sojourn. Sorry the pictures are coming to an end.


Chelsea and Rusty

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Palestine or O' little town of Bethlehem

    Although warned by Israelis and other westerners that the Palestinian territories were incredibly inhospitable, we ventured there too. We did however, avoid the Gaza strip and the territories bordering Lebanon, feeling that might not warrant a safe visit (or enjoyable). Our journey into Palestine took us into the lovely town of Bethlehem where we spent two lovely days wandering the city of the Nativity.
We got a kick out of these knock off stores. We have seen the like all over the world, this store was particularly interesting because everything in it was a complete knock off, down to the napkins. 
This was in the Church of the Nativity, which in on the site where Christ was purportedly born. The mosaic on the wall is of a saint that spent 30 years of his life translating the bible from Greek. He supposedly never left this room for the entire duration.
This is the Chapel in the Church of the Nativity. We were invited to join a Catholic mass by a visiting Irish clergyman. Finding out that we were Mormon, he laid his hands upon us and gave us a blessing. It was a first for us.
An angel outside a church that marks the traditional location of the Shepherd's Field, where angels declared the birth of Christ. 
A grotto at the Shepherds field that some believe is the actual site of Christ's birth.
The supposed location of Christ's birth at Shepherds Field
An apropos photo of the Jerusalem in the distance on the Palestinian side. 
Palestine is far less developed than neighboring Israel and allows you to see a lot more open countryside, which is above all quite lovely. In this photo you can see a small cave that shepherds probably use as a respite from the sun. These caves (grotto's) are all around and make for a good argument as to the proverbial manger being in a cave.
Below the modern church at the Shepherds field there lay the remains of a byzantine church from the 3rd or 4th century. The church is no more than a series of tunnels, cisterns, and alcoves that allowed early Christians some safety to worship unseen.
In the church if the nativity, this is the spot where they claim the Christ child was laid to bed.
Wandering through Bethlehem we found a lot of wood shops where men were skillfully producing Christmas ornaments and rosary beads from olive wood. 
While walking around I started talking to this fellow and he insisted that I try my hand at the lathe.  He was excited that we had not come with a tour group and that we were walking around alone and gave us a full rundown of how all the woodwork is done in Bethlehem.
Stone carving in the Milk Grotto, supposedly the place where Mary and Joseph initially stayed on their flee to Egypt. There while nursing the baby a drop of milk escaped Mary's bosom and landed on the floor, turning all the stone to a milky white. People come from all over to eat a rock chip from the cave in hopes that they will be blessed with fertility and nutritious breast milk.
We finally had a bathtub of our own while in Bethlehem, so we washed all of our clothes that we had not been able to wash in some time. That is the color of the water just from soaking the clothes, we hadn't even began washing them. Needless to say, we are looking forward to having a washing machine at our disposal when we get home.

Chelsea touching and some lady kissing the spot where Jesus was supposedly born. 

Saturday, October 30, 2010


   It is a funny thing going to Jerusalem not in some tour group on a holy pilgrimage. Although we felt our journey there was part of a pilgrimage of sorts, we felt more like heathens than religious onlookers amidst the hoards of overzealous sojourners from almost every part of the world imaginable. Israel in every right is an intriguing country socially, politically, and economically. Jerusalem is teaming with myriad cultures which makes a social melting pot like nowhere else in the world, albeit the cultures aren't entirely "melting" into the same pot in many ways, here you can see where much of modern culture was sprung. Three of the dominant religions of the world have their beginnings here and only here can you see them so close together and really learn how alike they are. Jerusalem is not to be missed, although expensive and teaming with tourists it was an experience like no other.
Old olive Tree with new branches grafted into it.

This is the western wall, or the Wailing Wall. This is considered the most sacred place for the Jewish Religion. It is the only standing wall that was part of Solomon’s sacred temple.

This was at the dome of the rock

At the dome of the Rock, there were some groups of men like this all around having some sort of church meeting.

A Greek Orthodox Church

We had a picnic in New city Jerusalem, this is the synagogue we sat in front of.

Zion’s Gate- You can still see the bullet holes all over the front

Olive tree on the outside of the old city wall

The Muslim Cemetery

The Church of the Holy Sepulcher
This is considered a very holy site for Christians. It is believed to be where Christ was crucified.

Inside the Church of the Holy Sepulcher- People are lined up for a Relic

Supposedly the rock where Christ was crucified.

A Greek orthodox priest praying

This was pretty interesting. There were crosses carved into the wall by the many pilgrims that have come through this church.

The Olive Tree with the new branches grafted in.

The Garden of Gethsemane 

Around the Garden
The Wailing Wall

Some people claim that this is the site where Christs tomb was and where he was resurrected. As opposed to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher 

In the Afternoons in the Old City there are pilgrims holding wooden crosses proceeded by monks, that walk the path that Jesus walked to his Crucifixion. 

The monks that proceed the pilgrims. This one has a speaker around his neck so that all the pilgrims can here the voice of the monk giving the sermon.

An epic photo rusty took of a local child running down the street.

Hasidic men  out for an afternoon walk 

This man was carved into one of the fountains in Old town

A flower in the Garden of the Tomb

This was in the Garden of Gethsemane, there is a picture of Christ that they are bowing to. 

The Garden of Gethsemane 

Just inside of the Muslim quarter. All of the men where doing their daily prayers.

Inside the tomb
Dome of the Rock

So many tourists in the street. These ones were walking the path of Jesus.

Saturday Church at BYU Jerusalem

The View from BYU Jerusalem

The Wailing Wall- the man in black was standing there for hours.

A Muslim woman going into the Mosque
The Wailing Wall