Today we woke up at 5am and left for Galilee! I was so excited, that I didn't even let it phase me. I got on the bus and was so so so so excited. I was talking to everybody, commenting on the teacher's comments (while everyone else was completely out). It was really fun! I even took notes on the commentary that Bro. Hamblin was telling us about the scenery. I thought I would be fine the whole day, but it actually ended up lasting only a short time. Every other time I got on the bus, I was out within a few minutes (well, half-consciousness only). I even slept through the parts that were talking about the places we'd be visiting! But I was really blessed: whenever we stopped, I was able to be completely awake.
Our first stop was Caesarea. We talked how the city developed into the Gentile capital (Herod wanted to compete with the port at Alexandria, so he built an aqueduct). We discussed Acts 10 in the big amphitheater and how Cornelius wanted to share the gospel message with his family and how we should have the same desire. Bro. Manscill asked for volunteers to share missionaries experiences and I shared my story of opening my mouth with Bro. Ibarra. He also made an interesting point about Hellenization and how Paul talks about hypocricy, which he was probably comparing to Greek theatre: appearing to be something we are not. Next we went to the shore, and talked about Acts 24-26 and the trial of Paul. This was my favorite part of the whole day. I have always felt a great affinity for Paul and Joseph Smith's defending the reality of the truth that they know—and now I have been to the place Paul stood trial! We made a comparison between King Agrippa and Constantine—both in positions of power, but only one of them accepted the truth.
Next we went to Nazareth. We visited the sites of Christ's growing up. One church claimed to be built on where Joseph's workshop had stood. Another, the church of the Annunciation, was the biggest Church in all of the middle east! Our last stop was a lookout point of the Sea of Galilee—the view was incredible. I feel like I am going to love it here!! For FHE, we just talked while having our feet soak in the sea of Galilee. I stayed for another hour, though, talking to Blake and Jud about life. They are so awesome. They encouraged me to be a teacher—Jud phrased it in a way that I never gave much stock to: A teacher is a type of therapist, just in prevention mode instead of correction mode of problems that are already there. Verrrrrrry interesting.
July 6, 2010
Today we had class in the morning. It was supposed to from 8 to 9:50 and 11-noon. But it turned out to be 8 to 11 and 12:30 to 1:15pm. It kind a felt like Bro. Manscill wasn't that aware of some things (not just time, but some of the details he chooses to highlight are obscure and he talks about them “past their time” if that makes sense). But I love him. He is a really kind teacher—I honestly love how he asks questions of us like how we think the people of the New Testament felt experiencing the things they did. Today we had a panel of students pretending to be Mary, Joseph, Elizabeth, and Zechariah. I was Zechariah, and they asked me why I doubted the word of the angel. I took creative license and said that I felt resentful that we had been praying and living righteously our entire lives and were never blessed with the one thing we wanted most. That spurred a lot of thought within myself and others.
During the second half of class, we tried to play a game of “finding out who the real John the Baptist is.” I thought it was ruined because people tried to overcomplicate things—the point of the game was to learn about the life of John the Baptist, not to win. After lunch, the same phenomenon occurred. We organized a tournament for ultimate frisbee, and everyone was just... so 1. overly concerned about winning, 2. uptight about every rule, 3. would leverage all of the rules that were in place (such as the three-step rule which is intended to allow stopping from a running catch) to the point where every time a standing catch was made they would take three large steps, and 4. quick to made excuses that they weren't that good and not to expect much. We still had fun, but it would have been a lot funner if people could have just chilled and played the game that's what a game is all about! Even though my team lost our game, I had a great time... but I thought it tragic that we took that fact so hard. We were doing great in the beginning, but when the other team was on a 3-0 run, we just got that unspoken aura that “we suck” and we weren't enjoying as just a game anymore. As a result, I am kinda upset at the BYU/perfectionist mentality right now. How do I fight against such tendencies?
July 7, 2010
Today. Was. Awesome. Woke up at 6am, showered, ate breakfast, and got on the bus to go to a 2,000 year old boat that they think was used around 66AD—maybe earlier. It was called the Ginnosar boat because some people from the neighboring Ginnosar kibuttz found it. It has a pretty interesting story behind it. Next we went to my favorite stop of the day: the mount of the beatitudes. Bro. Manscill and our class had a discussion where we re-read the beatitudes and had a discussion about each one. Other insights included that they went up to the mount to listen to him—casual followers did not come, the mount is symbolic of how Christ raises us up from out of the world to a higher law, and it is a gesture to Moses receiving the law from a high mount—only now Christ is giving the law from a high mount. [See this AMAZING talk by Harold B. Lee]. The biggest thing I liked from the discussion was that within the sermon on the mount are principles that can transform us to having hapiness being an inward fountain of joy—not something that is external to us. Then we went to a stone of Ebenezer, the church of St. Peter's Primacy (“lovest thou these more than Me?”), Tagbah—commemorating the loaves and fishes miracle, and then Capernaum—which was Peter's home and Christ's home base for a majority of His ministry. Our last stop was a cool Greek Orthodox church depicting events from Christ's life as well as things from the Book of Revelation.
July 8, 2010
Today was more of a relaxed day. We had class outside—right alongside the Sea of Galilee. It was kinda fun, but to be completely honest, the novelty wore off as our teacher seemed to be frazzled by not being able to use his powerpoints... I had to help him with his computer several times as well (mostly it was related to the fact he couldn't see his screen as well because we were outside—I also think it is weird that he went to me first when I've only had him as a teacher for a week... do I have computer geek etched into my forehead?). After lunch, we went RAFTING IN THE JORDAN RIVER!! It was really sweet, not only because it was hot and a great change of pace, but because I decided to go with the other class's group (they went a little later because our class was going to go to a fish restaurant after... but I really don't like fish). I love my class (seriously, I heard stories of the other class's rafting adventures and was jealous that I wasn't in both places at once) but I do so many things with them, I feel like I don't get to know the people in the other class nearly as well. And I got to play around in ways that I never had with them before: we had boat wars to the point that just about everyone's boat was commandeered and/or flipped throughout the trip. I myself switched rafts about 5 times either trying to saving girls who didn't want to get flipped over or just for change's sake. I ended up not going to the fish restaurant afterward... and apparently it was a big annoyance to the administration here... I felt bad. But there was nothing I could do... so I tried to forget about it and move forward.
There is also a really special atmosphere here in Galilee—when I read my scriptures, things seem to pop out more easily and concepts become clearer. For example, today I was reading the story of Christ and Peter walking on the water—and it occurred to me that the story could be interpreted to be a representation of the Plan of Salvation! SO COOL! Ask me about it sometime.