Today we made our way over to the Temple Mount to visit the Dome of the Rock and Al-Aqsa Mosque. The Dome of the Rock is the golden dome most people associate with the image of Jerusalem.
According to Jewish tradition, the rock is the site where God first gathered dust to create Adam and later where Abraham attempted to sacrifice his son. According to Islamic tradition, the rock is where Muhammad began his night journey to heaven.
The Dome of the Rock and Al-Aqsa Mosque sit on the Temple Mount, the location of the Jewish temple. The Western wall of the Jewish temple still stands and we went down to pray alongside our Jewish neighbors. We spent extra time praying for those who requested prayer from St. Gregory the Great and our sick loved ones and friends. We left small pieces of paper in the wall with our intentions.
Later we walked on the walls of the Old City, imagining what it would feel like to be in battle on the wall, and then towards the Upper Room where tradition says Jesus held his final meal with his disciples and then to the Tomb of David. Then we sat outside and waited for the bus that was stuck in traffic to come get us. A few felt sick or tired and our guide and bus driver were nice enough to drive us back to the hotel to drop of us off after lunch. The other half of the group went to the Church of St. John the Baptist and then to the Israel Museum to learn about what Jerusalem looked like during the time of Jesus.
Many took the evening to shop in the market and then we all gathered together for our Goodbye Dinner at a local restaurant serving us salads, pizza and lasagna! We spent time reflecting and thanking our leaders and each other for such a wonderful pilgrimage! We all feel so fortunate to have had this experience. We are thankful for all we've learned and experienced here and how God will continue to use our experiences for his glory. We leave with a fresh understanding of the stories we read in Scripture, a better comprehension of the conflict and people groups here, and a host of new friends. We thank God for good health and energy on this trip and for the patience and laughter we needed to travel together for two weeks.
Tomorrow is our last day in Jerusalem, a free day for each individual to decide what they'd like to do - shop, visit the tomb of Jesus, go to the Holocaust Museum, visit the City of David museum, eat good food, rest, etc. Then we'll check out of our hotel at 1am to head back to the airport and travel home. We'll be stateside by Thursday evening! Thanks for following our journey in the footsteps of Jesus! We appreciate your prayers and hope you know that we've been praying for you, too.