Monday was field trip day! Yesterday we went to the City of David, which is on the southern slope of Mt. Moriah, in between the Hinom and Kidron valleys. This is the city that David took from the Jebusites in order to establish the capital of United Israel in Jerusalem. Most people think that the Old City and the City of David are the same thing, but they're not. Really the only parts of them that overlap are the Temple Mount and some of the area surrounding it. The Old City is set up more on the hill, while the City of David was on the slope in order to have easier access to the Gihon Spring (the main water source). When we arrived, we watched a little 3D movie about the history of the City, which was actually very helpful. Then we walked around the city to see some of the ruins. Brother Huntsman was getting a little antsy though, so we hurried to the main event- Hezekiah's tunnel! I had really been looking forward to the tunnel, and I was not disappointed! We had so much fun. The tunnel was built in order to direct the water from the spring to a gathering pool, that way there was easier access to it. We actually got to trek through the entire tunnel, with the water still running through it! The best part was that we got to wear our headlamps (Mom- the Wal-Mart investment did not go to waste, mine was perfect). I just had so much fun. I had some really fun people around me, we wore headlamps, we had water up to our mid-thighs (ok, my mid-thighs... other people just had it to their knees), people popped out and scared each other, we turned out our lamps and walked in the dark, it was a party. The tunnel then drops the water into the Pool of Siloam. Well, actually the one you come to at the end of the tunnel isn't the real one. The actual Pool of Siloam is around the corner and they've only excavated some of it. This is one of the places mentioned in the Bible, and where Christ sent the man to be healed of his blindness. One special thing we did as a group was sing the hymn "Come, Follow Me." It's a song about taking the invitation to follow in the footsteps of Christ and become more like Him. It was especially significant to me when we sang it because we actually were where Christ walked, where his footsteps had been placed. Most places in the old city, you don't really walk where Christ did; you walk above it because layers upon layers of building and roads have been added over time. Except here at the pool and the City of David, you actually walked where Christ did. We also walked in an excavated tunnel that lead from the pool to the temple mount, which is most probably someplace that Christ and his disciples would have walked. So, not only were we learning about Christ to follow his example, but we were literally walking in his footsteps.
After the field trip, we pressed olives! You might remember that we picked olives last week. Well, they've been soaking for a few days, and it was time for them to be processed! We are so lucky here at the center to have all of the authentic methods and presses for olives and grapes. So first we put the olives into the round stone press. This is a big stone basin with a heavy heavy round stone wheel with a beam in the center. You walk around the basin, pushing the beam, which then rolls the stone wheel around the basin and grinds the olives. It's a lot simpler than I probably just made it sound. By crushing the olives first, it's easier to get the oil out when you press them. After all, about 30% of the oil comes from the pit of the olive, not just the meat, so you need to get the pit crushed before pressing it. After grinding the olives, you pack the mush into these big woven baskets shaped like doughnuts. Then you take the baskets over to the presses, stack them up, then let all the oil be pressed out. We have two kinds of presses: one with a screw-type press that you turn to increase the pressure, and one with a beam that is weighed down by stones at the end. The screw on worked better, at least that's what I thought. I loved being able to take part of the actual pressing of the olives; doing things like this make the experience seem real. I mean, you don't just press olives everyday in the USA, do you? No, you don't. But you do in Israel! Also, our Judaism teacher, Ophir Yarden, came to visit with his two little children, and they are simply cherubic. I'm not even joking- beautiful light blonde curls and blue eyes and round faces. We have a running joke here that all the girls are baby hungry; this just made it even worse. If a girl here wasn't baby hungry before, she is now.