merry christmas.


{from bethlehem}
two days ago we traveled to bethlehem, to celebrate Christmas in July! bethlehem is technically in the west bank, so we had to bring our trusty security personnel with us. let's be honest, mostly I just feel cool when I have security personnel with me. we left the JC around 10:30, and headed to birthplace of christ. we visited a few churches, the church of the holy nativity to name one (except it was undergoing a restoration process, so pictures weren't the best), and then walked around the town. we also spotted a banksy piece on one of the buildings as we were driving by on the bus...I was super sad I didn't snap a picture. so to deal, we bought a shirt with the banksy art on it in the city. I also bought a few olive wood figurines that I absolutely love. 
the banksy we saw.

 go utah jazz!

 security peeps.
 14 point star @ church of the nativity.

 where I bought my olive wood figurines.
 alex, our junior tour guide.

 shut. up.

 alex, josh, daniel, brian, jason, taylor, slater.

after walking through the city, we loaded up and went to dinner at the "tent" restaurant. then we drove to "mormon's" shepherd's field. we walked a short distance from the bus, to this little valley that was completely quiet. the field was exactly as I imagined it from reading the story of Christ's birth. we settled in on the rocks, and began a christmas program. it was simple. we read the story of Christ's birth, sang Christmas songs, and a few bore their simple testimonies of Christ. it was the most incredible experience I have had since arriving in jerusalem. I came to jerusalem to get to know my Savior better, specifically to gain a testimony of his physical journey on earth and to strengthen my relationship with Him. it was so clear to imagine, to remember, the small baby Jesus (our mighty God), being sent down in such a vulnerable state to such humble circumstances in the place that we sat. I was touched as I heard a few students sing songs of Christ. in the distance, you could hear the call to prayer (for the muslims), sirens and little explosions. all I could think about is how true and clear our songs of Christ rang amidst the worldly turmoil around us. I can testify that He lives. He is our God, and because of Him we can all have eternal life. Because of Him, we can have peace even when we live in a world that is full of turmoil. I know that he is our almighty Savior, and if we draw near to Him we will find safety and peace. 

after the program, we had 30 minutes to just sit and ponder. I laid down on the rocks, and looked up at the night sky. I felt completely content. very present and very aware of my Savior and his love for me. I can't really explain everything that I felt, but it was amazing. what was incredible to me is how we can feel the spirit in any quiet place. we have visited countless famous holy sites, where there are crowds and beautiful buildings. they are amazing to visit, and they bring a lot of value to learning about the past. but there is something special about the places that the spirit can testify to you, and I think that means something different for every person. 

it was the merriest christmas I think i've ever had. I know every time I think about the birth of the Savior I will remember my special experience on shepherd's field. it was the greatest gift I've received in the Holy Land. 

merry christmas! 
jason & josh.
 me and liza.
 gosh she's pretty.

 babes of bethlehem...literally.

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