Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Shephelah Field Trip

Sunday was our field trip to the Shephelah, the low lands of Israel between the highlands and the coast. We started off with Beth Shemesh, which means the house of the sun. This place is in the valley of Sorek, and it is known for being next to the birthplace of Samson and where the ark of the covenant returned to from Canaan. There was a cool cistern there and a pottery dump where we all got a little shard of ancient pottery. It was hot. Next was Azeka, which overlooks the valley of Elah (where David fought Goliath!). It was a beautiful outlook point. From there we went down into the valley and slew Goliath! We each got to try our hand at slinging stones around and trying to hit bushes. Some were better than others... let's just say I was one of the others. We discovered though that the way to do it is not to swing it in circles before, but just give it one hard sling and let it fly! I liked to swing it in the circles though, so I did. We had fun reenacting the David and Goliath scenes and some others from our own imaginations. The only bad part about this was we had to walk around a squash field to get to the little wadi to throw stones, and on the side of the field were HUGE piles of chicken droppings to use for fertilizer. It stunk to high heaven. Luckily we didn't smell it in the wadi, but walking back and forth was a smelly occasion. Next was Lachish where we had our picnic lunch then hiked up the hill to see the ruins. Again, it was hot. But lunch was fun. The highlight of the day was Marishah and the Bell Caves! Marishah is an ancient settlement with tons and tons of underground caves and cisterns! They built it all underground because it gets so hot in the summer and for protection in the winter. I was very thankful for their foresight because it meant that we were also saved from the heat while touring around. The cisterns were impressive. They even had an underground oil press! It was incredible, and really pretty too because it was all plastered in white. There was one really deep one with a tall ceiling, and naturally we all sang. The acoustics were really fun to play around with, and it sounded really beautiful. Next we rode in the bus for a few minutes to go see the bell caves. This was different than the cisterns because cisterns are man-made, dug into the ground, and caves are... well, caves. Natural and not in the ground. I've never really been to national parks or caves before in the US so I don't have much to compare it to, but it was amazing! The caves were so so tall!! I loved it. There was this big circular domed area in one of the caves, and we all circled up and.... you guessed it, SANG! We had a lot of different songs, even a set of hymns outlining the entire life of Christ. I love singing with this group. It is always so beautiful and spiritual. Marishah and the Bell Caves were definitely the best parts of the day... otherwise it felt like the longest day ever haha. We were all so happy to get home and shower off the heat and dust.

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