"Today was just a really great day! You know how some days are a little rough, some are mediocre, and some are fantastic? This one was very close to fantastic. This morning we had Old Testament class, then right afterwards we went to the Garden Tomb. The Garden Tomb is an alternate site to the location of the tomb and resurrection of Jesus Christ (as opposed to the Holy Sepulcher). There is also a possible site of Golgotha right next to the Tomb which really has the whole skull-like appearance in the side of the hill. I really liked the Garden Tomb. It was so peaceful and so beautifully kept. One thing I also really appreciated was the emphasis on the event of the resurrection, and not on the supposed place it occurred. Whereas a lot of places (especially here in the Holy Land) overdo their commemoration and seem to focus solely on the location of holy events, the workers at the tomb were very clear to say that this might not be the actual site of the resurrection, but that’s not the important part- the important part is that it happened. It truly is a little oasis inside the city. The garden is outside of the old city, just along the main road going up into downtown Jerusalem. Even if it wasn’t a religiously significant site, I would still love to just sit on a bench amidst the greenery and beautiful flowers. The place just has a really nice atmosphere and spirit about it. Personally, it was much easier for me to imagine the resurrection here in this organic setting than in the shrine of Holy Sepulcher. I’m not trying to make one better than the other or say that one is right and one is wrong, but I was just able to better personally relate to and picture the story of Jesus Christ’s resurrection in the Garden Tomb. It’s funny because all the workers there really love the Mormon student groups, and they kept telling us over and over again to come back. I would have gone back even without the invitation, but it’s nice nonetheless to be welcomed. After taking the short guided tour around the garden, we were able to wander a bit, take pictures, and just contemplate. Then all of us sang hymns together. I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this before, but everyone (or a great majority) here is so musically talented! I mean, they are all talented in a lot of ways, but there are a lot that are really gifted musically. So, when we sing places, it’s a really beautiful chorus (if I can brag a little bit). I was still sitting down by the tomb when they started singing, so I was able to listen to the “choir” sing about the death and resurrection of Christ. It was really powerful for me to be in this peaceful place that is similar to what Christ probably would have been surrounded by, then hear voices of my friends sing inspired words about the miracle of the atonement and the resurrection. It was an amazing testimony and confirmation to me about how God knows each of us and how to touch our hearts. The atmosphere was perfect to me for those few moments, and I was able to feel the love that Jesus Christ and God have for me. I’m really grateful that I was able to go to the tomb, and I can’t wait to go back."
Tomorrow we go to Turkey for a week!! I can't wait. I won't have my computer, so I probably won't update my blog until next week. I'm just giddy about going. We're going to Istanbul, Troy, Ephesus, and a bunch of other places. We're really going everywhere. Yay! Turkey, here I come!!