We left Galilee and headed south, with a stop at the Dead Sea to float around a little bit. The feeling of weightlessness was truly incredible...and the salt in the eyes is also something I won't forget. Yuck. But overall, we had a great time covering ourselves in the mineral-rich mud from the bottom of the Sea and trying to make ourselves sink. The freshwater shower afterwards was extremely refreshing, and we found a fun beduoin tent to take some pictures in (but we haven't done a picture exchange yet and John and Pepper took those pics, so just take my word for it).
After swimming and floating our hearts out, we drove past Jericho into what may be the most coveted piece of property in the world...Old City Jerusalem. It was like nothing I've ever seen. We drove through the Lion's Gate, where Stephen was stoned in Acts 7, past the Israeli soldiers, and to our temporary residence, Ecce Homo Convent. It was dark, and there were but a few Arabs walking through the stone streets. The Muslim call to prayer from the mosques was blaring...we were definitely not in Galilee, Jesus' workplace, anymore. But the Lord was still with us.
Our first day in Jerusalem found us on the Mount of Olives, where Jesus prayed before being arrested. We then followed the Via Delarosa, or way of suffering, and retraced Jesus' footsteps as He carried the cross on the day He was crucified. I was hoping for more of a spiritual experience, but alas, the stresses of a foreign culture, issues within our 'team', and the hustle and bustle of busy yet narrow city streets somehow took a toll on my ability to reflect on the significance of the experience. Thankfully, we will have many more opportunities to retrace these steps throughout out time here.