So I've been here a few days now. I'm slowing getting accustomed to life. Slowly is not an exaggeration either...it has not been easy adjusting while being sick. But I'm reallllly feeling a ton better now.
We had a Scavenger Hunt around the Old City the other day. It was one of those “take a picture with a guy in the military” hunts, or “find the shopkeeper and ask him to wear a hat for you”. To be honest, it really wasn't my cup-o-tea (must have been Early grey. Haha). My group got lost after about an hour and a half and we didn't get back fro another hour. It was frustrating for me because I was ill and my head was about to explode but at the same time I was with people I hardly knew and didn't want their first impression of me to be “a complainer”. The streets were busy, I was paranoid because of the lecture we had had before we went out about the danger of men and that women should'nt look or talk to them and so I was completely paranoid and jumpy and watching the street below me, trying to avoid eye contact with everyone, hoping I wasn't dressed inappropriately, hoping someone wasn't going to notice that we didn't know where we were going, and I felt helpless. I couldn't ask for directions...or so I felt. I had to follow the guys we were with. I had to be “dependent.” Which...if anyone knows me a bit, is not my cup of tea either. Well, I'm making it sound like it was annoying and just a little thorn in my side. But the angst I felt upon arriving back at the school was awful awful. I told myself I hated the city, I hated the rushing around, and I hated even more that I was a women. I was exhausted and sick and hadn't slept in 20 hours. So I cried a little, and then I slept.
The next day was immensely better. I apologized to my group from the previous day about being a poor sport about things. I hope they understood. We had a huge tour of the Old City this day. Cindy Parker, our Physical Setting instructor, led it and told all sorts of historical facts and geographical layouts. It was very intruiging and having her with helped me feel a little more confident and a little less paranoid....we, all, have a comfortability level that is tested, and her presence allowed mine to pass the test and be a little more free, yet aware. Plus, after a good night's sleep, things can always seem alittle less dark. There's so much to tell, it's difficult to get it all here. I saw the Wailing Wall again, we went into East Jerusalem where no one's allowed to go by themselves, we walked down King David's street and saw from a distance the Mount of Olives. We went into an Arab grave yard, we passed through the damascus gate, the Lion's gate, the Jappa Gate, and another one that I can't remmeber the name of, but those gates are originals from the city...I think. We also visited all four quarters of the Old city: the Christian quarter, the Muslim Quarter, the Armenian Quarter, and the Jewish Quarter. The only way for tourists to enter the temple mount area is from the Jewish Quarter, and we all had to go through security. Almost all the streets in the old city are ancient or roman, some are newer. It's difficult to walk on sometimes and it's more like climbing forward than walking on occasion. Other streets are very smooth, but most things run either down into a valley or up into a hill. There's not too much on one level it feels. My school is located on the south side of the Western Hill (modern day Mt. Zion) and overlooks the Hinnom Valley, the valley that holds most of the metaphors for hell in the old testament. (hmmm...). I really am liking it here, but my spirits have been down because I've been sick, but I'm getting better. ;)
Cindi Parker introduced us to two of her friends today, one Jewish guy and one non Jewish guy, (I think he'd call himself a Palestinian....). This was by far the best part of my day. The Jewish guy, Mosha, discussed his love to God and Judaism and what we would call “the law”. He said it's not a painful binding “law”. It's a way to show his love and devotion to his Beloved. He spoke of the Holocaust and how many Jews “lost” their faith in God. He spoke of those Jews and ones with greater faith than himself, being justified to be angry and feel hurt and abandoned. He said the only way one can feel that much hurt from God is if they loved him in the first place. He blamed the Holocaust on men's choices, and not on anything God inflicted. And of course, I smiled inside. This Jewish guy had a more gracious and loving theology than half the Christians I'd met. He spoke of how Christians believe in the shedding of blood sacrifice, but how Jews believe in a change of Heart, a contrite heart and spirit. This also warmed my soul. I considered for a moment whether or not I had been a Jew all my life or that possibly he was more of a “Christian” than I was. He invited any of us back as often as we'd like to ask any questions. I'm definitely going back. Although I have many more questions for him, I can't possibly believe that a spot in heaven isn't reserved for this wonderful man.
“Israel will not make you a better witness. Israel will make you a better servant....God has called you here because he wants to spend some time with you in your Father's house.” -Mosha