Monday Morning: We got up early and prayed the stations of the cross. We walked with our cross to the first station and ended up on the roof of the Church of the Resurrection/Holy Sepulcher. Because so many denominations already split it, you cannot do the final stages inside the building (something like the remaining 4 or 5 (?) stations). After that, we ate breakfast in the Old City and then went into the church to see Calvary, the stone of anointing and then the tomb. Pretty cool stuff.
After that, we had a free afternoon. Came back, and well, napped hahaha. It was cold and rainy and gross outside. So, we got pizza and ate and relaxed the rest of the afternoon. It was much needed. At 6 we had a debriefing on how to get out of the Israeli airport. Apparently it's a pretty serious thing: individual interviews, questions, things like that. Then din din and then we had a final lecture on pilgrimage. LONG day....
Tuesday: We got up and headed off to Emmaus- Now, it turns out there are 4 Emmauses, so we chose one and headed off in that direction. The plan was to walk the road to Emmaus like those at the end of the Gospel of Luke but as mentioned before, it had been raining for about 24 hours straight, so it was flooded... : ( So, we had Eucharist at a monastery and headed back. After lunch, we napped again (you can tell it's near the end of the trip haha). Then, we headed out for the ultimate search to finish buying souvenirs.
The market here is one of haggling, and I hate it. There are no prices on things, so when you ask a price, you enter into a commitment and conversation which pretty much assumes you'll buy on the way out. So, we went into one store and they started very high and since it was a gift for my mother, why were we being so stingy in buying gifts for her. We walked out.
Next stop, he started out even higher, and tried to offer us two pairs. He chased us out of his store and was holding onto Alan's arm....yet again, a corridor of Old City we can't go back in, hahaha. Good thing we're leaving in a day...
So FINALLY, we went into a shop that said 5 shekels for pair. Wow, about a buck a pair?! Yes please! So we found a pair, 65 shekels?!?!?! WHAT! No, no, no, no, no, this would not do. So, in the end, with them getting pissy we got two pairs of earrings for 20 shekels...not bad when they started out at 65 each, right?
So, we were done. DONE shopping. We love everyone, but this is too much hahaha, I can't wait to get into America where know prices and that you can look without buying!! grrrrrr.
After that, we had a reception/hymn sing/skit time at the Deanery. It was nice- we received certificates for the program and tiles from St. George's. :)
Then, dinner, and bed......
Wednesday morn- another incredible day that I didn't think would be incredible haha
We started off to just wander...BUT, we ended up going into a Russian church which had the most and best archaeological remains of Constantine's basilica. This coupled with AMAZING icons and the Russian's own Calvary made this a winning find.
NEXT- the holy sepulcher. Supposedly, in the Armenian church, there is a 1st century inscription in one of their hidden chapels. This is one from some of the first pilgrims to Jerusalem. In Latin, it says: We have arrived.
We went into the Armenian's office. At first, the young priest didn't seem to go for it, but our fearless leader Sally talked him into it. We were in!!!!!!!! We headed into the Armenian altar...he opened a locked door, we headed down into the quarry that existed since who knows when and is what the church is built from, we then headed further down into another church, and there it was!!!
It is this boat on a wall with the Latin written under it. Wow, I mean, WOW!!!! Not very many people get to see this!!! Then, the priest gave us a blessing in Armenian!!! How cool is that?!?!
I mean, just incredible!!!
After that, we headed off to check out some Armenian pottery. We ate lunch in the Jewish corner and then, headed down to the Wester Wall tunnels!!!
This is also a site to see- one that you have to call and reserve and sometimes it takes two month to get tickets! But we were in!!! I can't really even explain this!! We were under the newest renovations to the Western Wall. Now, this is the continued section of the Wailing Wall- same wall....
Inside, we saw the biggest stone in the wall! It was huge...you'll have to ask Alan the measurements hahaha. Apparently, it started out taller though and when the Romans came to destroy the temple and city, this block was so big they just started chipping away at the top, and then eventually gave up, but not before taking off 4 feet...
Then, there is this tiny section of the wall that is proved to be the closest section to where the Holies of Holies would have sat on the Temple Mount. Just a beautifully moving section to be in...
Then, we walked through this narrow tunnel of wall space, we saw 20 feet down into more wall, we saw cisterns, and pools of water and then we were done. I mean, one of the best things we've done here! (Although, at this point, I could say that about a lot hahaha). The tunnels were just over an hour with a tour guide.
We headed back to the college and hung out and began packing and wrapping all our valuables. We got some crosses for churches that are special to Alan and I back home and the one already broke!! :( These were hand made and supposed to be of wonderful quality...lame. But, it was just the end, so we'll fix it with wood glue....and it will be as good as new :)
We then went out to din and now I'm catching up this ole blog.
Tomorrow, we plan on getting up at 445am and heading into one more quiet time at the Holy Sepulcher. Once you get past 6 am, it's tour groups galore and super annoying when you're trying to pray...So, we'll take all the rosaries we bought and rub them on the stone of Christ's tomb. We'll also take some more candles and lights them on the Holy Fire.
Besides that, I'll spend the night packing. We have some Dead Sea salt we pulled from the bottom of the Sea to package up :)
I might not blog tomorrow, so, if not, I'll see you in the states! Our flight leaves at 130 am Friday, and we'll leave from the college at 845pm to get to the airport. Good night!