I mentioned in my last update that we travelled to Jerusalem this past Sunday. Our first encounter with the Holy City was incredible.
We travelled through the city, entering the Damascus Gate and leaving through the Dung Gate to get to the City of David. Here the team donned their water shoes and hiked their trousers up to walk through Hezekiah’s Tunnel. Hezekiah’s Tunnel is a tunnel that was dug underneath the City of David in Jerusalem during the reign of Hezekiah. This engineering feat was accomplished by digging a 1,750-foot tunnel into the mountain. An ancient stone carving found near the entrance describes this incredible operation. When the city was defending itself from the approaching Assyrian army, King Hezekiah decided to protect the water by diverting its flow deep into the city with the impressive tunnel system (2 Chronicles 32). It is one of the few intact 8th century BC structures in the world that the public can not only visit, but also enter and walk through. There is still water flowing through the tunnel and although there were some deeper parts, most of it was mid-shin deep. Without flashlights, in the tunnel we were enveloped by darkness. It was the highlight of the day for many of us. After leaving the tunnel, our clothes were dry in less than a half hour…gotta love this dry, warm heat!
Our journey from the tunnel took us to the Temple Mount. In order to pass through security, we had to remove our Bibles from our bags and leave them at a designated area, and all the girls on the team had to put on extra, communal clothes that were provided so that none of our skin was showing, except our faces and necks. (This was a very unsettling experience for most of us and definitely made us appreciate the liberties we enjoy back home in America!) On the Temple Mount, sits the Dome on the Rock, the third most important Islamic holy site. We were not allowed to go inside it but it’s golden dome shining brightly under the hot sun was a sight to behold. It is definitely the visual centerpiece of Jerusalem. Inside the mosque, sits the rock of Moriah, where Jews believe Abraham went to offer Isaac as a sacrifice. Muslims believe the same except that instead of Isaac, Abraham offered Ishmael. I know that many teammates found our brief time spent outside the dome to be awe-inspiring, since it is such a “hot spot” in the world today.
We shopped A LOT for the rest of the afternoon, stopping only for another meal of falafel and/or shawarma. All of us added to our growing piles of souvenirs and gifts to bring home.
Work at Hope School is progressing. We started concrete today. We poured a sidewalk and a footing for a small wall. Forms are still going up for the other wall. The team is hauling dirt and rock a long way for fill. The return journey with full buckets is up hill making the task that much harder. We are continuing to clean up the property by trimming trees, raking up dead grass, and picking up ALL the trash…which is a never ending job because the school hosts soccer matches every night which always produces more garbage.
We are still struggling to have a team that is 100% healthy. Colds, coughing, and sinus issues continue to plague half the team. A few have gone down with fevers too. Please keep praying!!