We woke up super early on Saturday morning so that we could stop by the Dome of the Rock on our way to church. Both of our guidebooks said that it was open for tourists Saturday through Thursday, which makes sense since Fridays is the Islamic day of worship.
Since we had to be to the BYU Jerusalem Center before 10 AM, we decided to hit up the mosque at 8 AM, which meant that we had to wake up with enough time to walk over there after getting ready for church. Our goal was to leave the apartment by 7:30 AM, but as per the usual we left a little late.
I had a little wardrobe malfunction in which I shattered the zipper on my skirt while I was trying to do it up. Not just broke, shattered. I don’t know what happened; it fit last week. At this point it seems like I can almost watch my stomach growing.
I had another muumuu-type dress with me, but I had washed it and it was still drying and far too wet to put on and have it dry on my person. That option was out. We poked around for a while trying to find a safety pin or some other doohickey to hold my skirt up and ended up coming across a needle and thread, so I sewed myself into my skirt.
We had been up for less than twenty minutes and I had already broken Shabbat. As I remember being chastised by my aunt when my cousin and I would sneak off to do cross-stitch on Sundays, “Every stitch you stitch on Sunday comes out your nose in heaven.”
Personally, I don’t think sewing on a Sunday is a sin, but even if it were, I think it would be forgivable if you have a wardrobe malfunction. (My mom once had to sew up her dress at church using some woman’s emergency sewing kit. She was the organist and had slipped out during a talk to nurse Patrick, stepped over a bench in the nursing lounge, and ripped her skirt right up the seam. She finished sewing just in time to walk back into the chapel and up to the organ to play the next hymn like nothing had happened.)
Andrew also had some wardrobe issues and played the part of what we like to call the “inactive father.” He had no belt, no tie, no Sunday shoes, no black socks. He looked so cool in his Sunday pants and flip flops, with his shirt gaping open where his tie should have been.
We left the house much later than expected, but that turned out alright because the Temple Mount ended up being closed, apparently due to Shabbat.
“But why?” Andrew asked the guard.
“Because it is Shabbat. Shabbat. You know?”
“Yes, but,” and Andrew actually said this, “Friday is their special day, not today. So why would their mosque be closed on your special day?”
The guard mumbled some sort of incomprehensible answer and we left, after Rachel and I went up to touch the Western Wall because we hadn’t been able to push our way through the crowds of women the day before to get there. Being there bright and early on the Sabbath, however, guaranteed us a spot at the wall.
We also got to hear some of the men wailing, which was interesting.
And then we left because there wasn’t anything else for us to do. We wandered around for a bit trying to figure out where the Jerusalem Center was so that we could walk to it; but we gave up in the end and took a taxi, who drove us the long way around to get up on Mount Scopus, where the Jerusalem Center lies.
We had nothing to do, but at least we had washrooms and drinking fountains nearby. We wandered around, played the piano, and took pictures to kill time before sacrament meeting started.
Slowly, slowly branch members began filtering in. We met the Geublers, who lived in the Cairo branch five years ago; the Lewises, who happen to know the Perrys, who are in our branch now; Brooke and Max, who I’ve been corresponding with for over a year now; Brother Emmett, who taught one of Andrew’s geography courses at BYU; and Jeremy, my Russian 101 teacher who was there with his wife—they’d been in Amman for the past six weeks working.
It’s a small world, after all.
By the time sacrament meeting started, Rachel was beyond all reason. She was exhausted and tired of us telling her to be reverent and she wanted a snack. Unfortunately, we forgot to pack a snack.
“Maybe animals crackers?” she asked, “Maybe fishies? Maybe pantoes [pancakes]? Maybe apples? Maybe candy?”
“I don’t have any of those snacks, Rachel. We forgot to pack snacks today. You’ll have to wait until nursery; maybe they’ll something to eat there.”
Obviously the child was getting desperate. She has good logic, though, choosing something I can’t forget to pack. Too bad there’s no milk left for her (will she ever understand that?). Andrew had to carry her out screaming; he brought her back asleep. She slept right through the end of the three hour block of meetings.
When she woke up she asked me if I would take her to nursery.
“You missed it, babe,” I informed her.
She wasn’t very happy about that because she wanted to play with the kids and have a snack. Lucky for her there was a mix and mingle after church and we crashed it. We forgot to pack snacks—what else were we supposed to do? Besides, several people asked us to stay for it so it wasn’t technically crashing, although I did feel mildly guilty for not contributing to the pot luck.
We ate and visited and played around in the yard. Rachel had a blast. She ran around on the lawn in bare feet, singing made up songs of nonsense words, and laughing her head off.
One day? We need a yard. With grass.
After wandering around the grounds we got to walk down to “Level 1” with the nursing professor so that she could let us out of the gates down there—the missionaries gave us directions to the Orson Hyde Memorial Park…we had missed it by less than 100 feet on the day we couldn’t find it!
We kind of fell in love with the Jerusalem Center after “touring” around it. All we could say was, “Those lucky, lucky Jerusalem Center kids!”
Their experience in Jerusalem must be so different from the experience we had on our study abroad in Amman where we were dumped off in the city and told good luck. Talk about pampered! Those Jerusalem Center kids have a library, a gym, a cafeteria, dorms, church, school, gardens, everything! Everything is right there when they arrive in the city. And everything is beautiful and doesn’t smell like scary-apartment-smell.
Andrew said that one day (mark his words) he’d teach at the Jerusalem Center. Whether that be through BYU or while on sabbatical from another school, we don’t know. We don’t know if it will even happen, truthfully. We still don’t know where we’re going for his PhD program…but it’s a nice dream. The Jerusalem Center is amazing and we’ve fallen in love with Jerusalem! We’d love to spend more time there.
It only took about fifteen minutes to get to Orson Hyde Park from the Jerusalem Center, and that included a stop on the way for Rachel to visit with Wall-E. These yellow pipe things (fire hydrants maybe?) are all over the city and Rachel insists that they are all Wall-E. “So many Wall-Es!” she says.
Orson Hyde Park was pretty cool. We weren’t expecting it to take up the whole mountainside. That kind of makes the fact that we couldn’t find it even more embarrassing! It is so close to the Garden of Gethsemane. To get to it from the Garden of Gethsemane you just start heading up the Mount of Olives and veer left, and keep veering left at every opportunity. Eventually you’ll come to a small parking lot of sorts. There’s a red gate of sorts; you go through that and find yourself at the bottom of the park.
Of course, that means that you’d then have to walk uphill to walk through the entire park. The directions we got from the Jerusalem Center led us to the top of the park so we got to work our way downhill, which was kind of nice. We made Rachel walk the whole way; not that she minded. She had a great time!
We took a lot of pictures, obviously. I promise we weeded through them before putting them up, but I think we probably have so many here that you feel you walked down the Mount of Olives with us.
We walked from the park to the Old City through Lion’s Gate and walked down Via Dolorosa again, stopping at a few churches on the way back to our apartment.
At the Church of the Flagellation, there are flagstones on the floor that have little charts carved into them. These are apparently like the game boards that the Roman soldiers used to gamble away the Savior’s clothes.
The apartment that we stayed in was only a five minute walk from King David’s Hotel, which is not to far from Jaffa Gate. There’s a pretty big hill that we had to climb everyday to get home from the Old City, though.
We wanted to see the light show at the Citadel because we heard that was a show not to be missed, so while Joseph and Andrew went to acquire some tickets for us, Patrick, Rachel, and I began the long climb up the hill to “David the King” street. Rachel walked the whole way; quite the feat for such a little girl.
When she got to the top, Uncle Patrick offered to give her a lift the rest of the way home. She was pretty exhausted and could hardly even hold on, so he threw her over his shoulders like a sack of potatoes. In spite of her tiredness she was pretty excited to be “up-down” (translation: upside down). She loves her Uncle!
By the time we made it home, Andrew and Joseph had caught up with us. Pregnant ladies and two-year-olds must walk slowly…Rachel and I had a long and luxurious nap to make up for all our walking when we got home, in preparation for Saturday evening’s activities (the light show at the Citadel, which I'll blog about when I finish uploading the video).