What would it be like to live where Jesus lived—to walk the streets of Jerusalem or stand on the Mount of Olives? Dan Ball knows. Dan (9) and his family have been living in Jerusalem for the past year. His dad, Dr. Terry Ball, is an Assistant Professor of Ancient Scripture at the Brigham Young University Center for Near Eastern Studies there.
Dan’s favorite place in the Holy Land is the Sea of Galilee, where Jesus did much of His teaching. It is beautiful and green, and Dan loves to swim and look for crabs there with his younger brothers, Cody (4) and Alex (4). The Ball family took a boat ride across the Sea, just as Jesus and His Apostles did. While there, the Balls read about how Jesus walked on the water and calmed the waves (see Matt. 14:22–33).
Dan has also sat on the Mount of Beatitudes, near Galilee, and read Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount (see Matt. 5–7).
Another place Dan likes to go to is the ancient city of Jericho. He loves the story of Joshua and the Battle of Jericho and how the walls of that city crumbled when the children of Israel shouted and the priests blew rams’ horns (see Josh. 6). Dan also likes the story of when King Hezekiah, as a defense against possible attack from the Assyrian army, had a tunnel dug under Jerusalem to bring water into the city (see 2 Kgs. 20:20; 2 Chr. 32:1–4, 30). Dan has even waded through the tunnel himself.
He has been learning about many events that occurred in and around Jerusalem as recorded in the Old and New Testaments; he has also been learning about Jerusalem from the Book of Mormon. Lehi and his family lived in Jerusalem until the Lord commanded them to leave because the people were so wicked that He was going to destroy the city. And Nephi and his brothers returned to Jerusalem to get the brass plates from Laban and to get Ishmael and his family to go with them to the Promised Land (see 1 Ne. 2–4, 7).
Dan, his brother Christopher (15), and his sisters, Cami (16) and Carla (13), attend an international school in Jerusalem. They have friends from all over the world, including from Jerusalem itself and nearby cities. Even though many of their school friends are not members of the Church, the Ball children know that Heavenly Father loves these children just as much as anyone else. They have learned about many cultures and religions, but they’ve especially learned about the cultures of the Jewish and Palestinian people who live in the Holy Land.
Dan is trying very hard to follow the example that Jesus Christ has set for us. Last year he was baptized because he knew that that was what Jesus wanted him to do. And he was baptized in the Jordan River, where Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist (see Mark 1:4–11).
DeAnna, Dan’s mom, said that he worked very hard to prepare himself for baptism by learning more about the gospel and by studying the scriptures every night. “He is a wonderful example to his younger brothers,” she said. “They want to be baptized, too, when they reach the age of accountability, eight years of age.”
Easter time was very special for Dan. He learned about Palm Sunday (the Sunday before Easter), when people waved palm branches to celebrate the triumphal entry of Christ into Jerusalem (see John 12:12–13). Dan thought a lot about Jesus Christ and His Atonement, especially when he visited the Garden of Gethsemane, where Jesus suffered for the sins of the world (see Matt. 26:36; Luke 22:40–45; Matt. 26:45). Dan also spent time at the Garden Tomb, where the Savior was buried after His crucifixion and where He was resurrected three days later (see John 19–20).
Living in Jerusalem has helped Dan to learn a lot about Jesus Christ. He says that the scriptures seem more real to him now, and his testimony is growing stronger every day.