The weather has been unbelievable–60s and sunny–especially given that this is the rainy season. They do need rain here, so we will pray for it after we leave!
Quite a day in Jerusalem! We started with the view of Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives. Staying on the Mount of Olives, we then went to Augusta Victoria Hospital and met with the director, Mark Brown. He shared with us the work the hospital is doing, especially as part of the Lutheran World Federation’s mission “to serve the humanitarian needs of the poor and marginalized, following the example of Jesus Christ.” This has meant not only providing medical help and emergency assistance to Palestinians (and recently, Syrian refugees who have fled the country) but also working for peace and reconciliation for this troubled region. From their viewpoint on the Mount of Olives, it’s easy to see the hardships for Palestinians created by the wall and the ever-growing settlements.
Our day continued with a walk down the Palm Sunday path with a stop at the Dominus Flevit chapel. After that, we were able to spend some time in the Garden of Gethsemane before visiting the Church of All Nations. The bus brought us back to the Dung Gate, and we once again entered the Old City. We visited the Ophel region at the base of the Temple Mount, saw the destruction the Romans wreaked in 70 CE, and sat on the steps where Jesus would have passed as he went up to the Temple Mount. From there we went through security to get to the Temple Mount to see and learn about the Dome of the Rock and the Islamic history connected with the site. We went into the Muslim Quarter for lunch and then over to the City of David park. Here is where the oldest remains in Jerusalem have been found dating back to Davidic and even Canaanite times. It’s also where some of the group walked down Hezekiah’s Tunnel (dark, narrow, ~600 yards long, all the way in water up to 27″ high) or the Canaanite Tunnel (dry and lighted but even narrower!).