Final Day :(

Today felt a little more relaxed because we didn’t have the pressure of any bookings except towards the middle afternoon.  We had planned on heading up to Al Aqsa mosque (Dome on the Rock, Temple Mount) first thing this morning but the line to get up there was too long – possibly a 2 hour wait.  The whole city has been busier than we’ve experienced before, but we got to see some different things as a result of shifting our schedule (which I’m more than happy about!).  We ended up adding the Upper Room – acknowledging where the Last Supper happened, King David’s Tomb, and the Dormitio Abbey – the resting place of Mary, mother of Jesus.  These were nice additions to the schedule and I wonder if the students got more out of these places, than they would have, wandering around the Temple Mount anyway.  From there we zipped over to The Pool of Bethesda and St. Anne’s Church.  We sang the Doxology because this is a thing that tourists do – sing in cavernous churches with beautiful acoustics.  It was so peaceful and lovely that Cameron guided us through a couple verses of Amazing Grace.

The big thing of the day was the Via Dolorosa.  This walk is also known as the Way of the Cross and is the traditional route that Jesus took to his death and then his resurrection.  We usually do this walk, first thing in the morning because it’s not so busy and most of the shops aren’t open.  Doing it in the afternoon this year made for a hurried and distracting walk.  I was more intentional this year about focusing on each of the Stations of the Cross but I noticed it was difficult for everyone to stay focused because at times it was difficult to even hear the explanations of each Station.  When we got to the tomb, the lineup was far too long to stand in, so we looked at the outside for a moment and exited the Church of the Holy Sepulchre where the end of the Via Dolorosa is.

We had just a couple of hours of free time to eat lunch and shop in the Old City.  I went back to a couple of my favourite shops.  It’s amazing talking to some of these shop owners who have owned these shops for many generations.  I always go to one shop that has the dad and 3 sons working there.  Two of the sons are jewelry makers and they always remember me when I return.  It’s full of knick knacks and it’s an interesting enough shop for both genders, so I took a rather large group of students there to look at their scarves, their Ottoman period crown, and their ancient (older and deepest they say) well in the corner of the shop.

Our final stop of the day was The Garden Tomb.  This is probably the only Holy Site in Jerusalem that is dominated by Evangelicals.  It’s a peaceful garden where they have proposed an alternate site to Jesus’ death and resurrection.  We were able to share communion in the garden and it was very meaningful as Cameron sort of forced us to pause and reflect on being in the Holy Land.  He reminded us that it didn’t matter where it happened – just that it happened!

We finished the day with a longer debrief, which I will try to consolidate at a different time and a dinner out with our tour guide and bus driver.  We leave tomorrow morning – we head out at 8 a.m. local time so you’ll be seeing us soon.  It’s been nice to keep all of you updated with the blog and I’m glad that you decided to join us on this trip.  Like I’ve mentioned before, it’s been very difficult to post any photos or sound clips on here because of our Internet connection, so in the next few days I’ll be adding to these posts.  I hope you come back to give them a look.

Wondering what it sounded like in our hotel, around 3 and 6 pm?  Click the link below.


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