The Pleasure of Dust! -- By: Stephanie Hernandez
BSpade 22:1 (Winter 2009) p. 9
The Pleasure of Dust!
Nineteen people, most of them strangers to each other, descended on Jerusalem in the last two weeks of June 2008. Most met at Newark Airport in New Jersey, while others joined the group in the coming days. There were the usual questions: “Where are you from?” “Is this your first trip to Israel?” “What do you do for a living?” and the occasional “What was your name again?” But by the end of our two-week journey, friendships were forged that are sure to last a lifetime, with the common bond of Israel and the Lord at their center.
The Associates for Biblical Research’s Temple Mount Sifting Project group participants came from all over America, and even all over the world. But we all shared one common desire: to know the city of Jerusalem where the Lord chose to set His capital, a place where the grace, wrath, love, hope, and faithfulness of the Lord was revealed to mankind in the past and will continue well into the future. It was the chance to hold Bible-related history in our hands that interested many in the program. With the exception of a few people, most of the group members had no experience in archaeology or even sifting. Yet by the time they left, each person had a firm grasp of the immense importance of the very soil of the Temple Mount and the land of Israel. “My personal discovery about archaeology,” participant Scott Astbury remarked, “was that it first and foremost provides you with undeniable evidence of existence.”
Our typical day would begin around 7AM with a great breakfast prepared by the kitchen staff at the comfortable and welcoming Gloria Hotel, situated just inside the Jaffa Gate of the Old City of Jerusalem. Gathered around the table, we would talk about the previous day’s events and speak with excitement of what was to take place that day. Most days we toured the city of Jerusalem in the morning and then proceeded to the Temple Mount sifting site in the eastern part of Jerusalem, but there were a few days when we went first to the sifting site, and then explored the city in the afternoon. Although the option of a taxi was available to anyone who needed it, almost all of the participants chose to walk to the sifting site every day, through the winding and sometimes confusing streets of the Old City. Once outside the gates, we walked along the walls of the Old City, passing people who live in the midst of this multi-religious center, those who have made their homes in the most contentious city in the world. The last stretch of the walk to the site was a difficult one, with a steep climb to the Zurim Valley National Park, where the Temple Mount Sifting Project is established.
No doubt a few were surprised when we were greeted by the sight of an armed guard standin...
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