Thursday, October 30, 2008

Pictures from Jordan


Well, I loved Egypt, and Jordan was incredible too! The first day was spent crossing the border and driving to Petra. We stopped at Mount Nebo (Where Moses was Translated) as well as Madaba—a church with this incredible mosaic of a map of the Holy Land in biblical times. The next day was PETRA!!!!! First off, let me just say that growing up on Indiana Jones definitely prepared me to anticipate and appreciate what I was about to go see!!! And oh my goodness, it was so great! I was impressed at how much Petra reminds me of Moab and other parts of Southern Utah—only it has awesome structures in the stone. I loved walking through the narrow pathway to see where it opens up to the famous treasury where Indiana Jones was partly filmed. But that is only part of how great Petra is. I rode a donkey up to the Monastery—which looks a lot like the treasury just bigger. The donkey ride was the best $5 spent! I had no guide so I rode a donkey up all these stairs by myself. It was actually a really special experience as I imagined what Mary went through on the Donkey on her way to Bethlehem with Joseph. But the Monastery at the top was so cool! Its huge!!!!! I still don’t understand how these people were able to build these awesome structures—but that goes across all different lands and cultures. After lunch at the bottom (which has fabulous falafels, yum!!!) I went to “The High Place” which is basically you just hike up all these stairs to the top of one of the rock cliff/mountain things, and you have a huge overlook of Petra—it is absolutely beautiful—I live for these types of adventure. I want to go to Moab so bad now! I loved Petra—it is absolutely incredible—everyone should go there!!! And, I got a ton of junk, I bought so many necklaces and other things. After Petra we drove to Amman. After eating dinner at the hotel I walked a couple blocks down the street with some people to this place where they had all these American food places like McDonald’s and Subway. There is also a Black Market movie store there which was very popular with the students—that man made a lot of money that night. The movies are actually legit though!
The next day was just as great. In the morning we went to this huge Mosque—where all of us women were required to wear these black robe things. I very much felt like a death eater from Harry Potter, too bad I couldn’t keep the robe or I would have had a perfect Halloween costume! The mosque was neat. After that we stopped at Jabok River where Jacob encounters/reunites with Esau. And then we went to Jersah! I LOVED Jersah!!!!! It is this old ancient Roman city. It is huge and so well preserved I was impressed! It was so neat. In the Chariot/Sports Arena I got run a foot race with some of the girls against these Jordanian girls. Me and Becca Snyder smoked everyone else, and I even did it in a skirt. I know mom, it was probably not very lady like, but hey, I still beat everyone in a skirt—that is awesome right? And it was about a 50 meter sprint, and sprints aren’t even my thing. It was so fun I loved it!! Then at the theatre there, these Jordanian men were playing the bag pipes and drums so a bunch of us girls danced with these other Jordanian girls. It was certainly a great bonding time with these women from a different culture. At one point I had about ten young girls come up and ask to get a picture with me because they thought I was beautiful—that made my day!! Especially since they were all so beautiful!
After Jersah we went and met with the District President and a couple members. The District in Jordan covers Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, and Egypt. There are about 400 members total. It is quite an incredible story. The church is everywhere, even where we cannot proselyte. And a man was even just recently baptized about two months ago!! I was so touched listening to the two members bear testimony—they truly are the pioneers of this land. I am doing my best to follow Pres. Monson’s council and pray for the missionary work to be able to come to these nations where it is not allowed yet. The work is coming here slowly, it truly is penetrating every nation!
After that we headed back for the hotel. That night many of us went to the Mecca Mall. It was a blast there, and felt like at home!!! I bought a shirt from FOREVER 21!!!! Can you believe that mom? It was so exciting! Haha. The boys from the group all rode the mechanical bull and we drew a huge crowd of Jordanians to watch us Americans. It was a riot. It was so fun, except it was disgusting cause everyone smokes in Jordan, and they all smoke in the buildings too. We went to go buy cookies from subway, and the guy gave me a free cookie cause he thought I was cute!! Man I am loving it here; I get free food for having blonde hair! We had to take taxis to and from the mall. I am pretty sure our taxi driver on the way to the mall was either drunk of high off of something. It was a little frightening but absolutely hilarious as well. I probably should have been a little more frightened than I was laughing, but I couldn’t help myself, especially since kept repeating the same English words he knew over and over again. I am safe though obviously, so it was all good. I am definitely grateful for America.
Today before heading home we stopped at a citadel and also at the baptismal site of Christ at the Jordan River. That was really special. We sang a few hymns there and read from the scriptures. I still can’t believe that I am actually at these sites. I think that one of the best part about going on these incredible trips is that when I come back home, I am coming home to the Center, which in itself is like a giant long trip. I love it. This place is wonderful and I am learning so much. I miss you all so much, and it was pretty tough to have gone all week without knowing anything about baby Brynn. I am praying and fasting! I love you all!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Gethsemane and Carillon Bells

Here is a picture of Lindy and I in Hezekiah's Tunnel! You can see where the water was at that point. That was the very beginning of the tunnel, but the water doesnt get much deeper than that.
The next one is of me playing the Carillon Bells!! I am so cool!

This has been an eventful last two days! And it will just keep getting more exciting because I leave for Jordan tomorrow! So next post will be about Petra and Ammon!!! I am so excited! But before I get ahead of myself I'll talk about yesterday and today. Yesterday was the Sabbath for us, and it started out bad. A lady from the Branch lent me here violin that hasn't been touched in years--it was in really bad shape--but I needed it cause i am going to play in Sacrament meeting with the primary in a couple weeks, and then for the Christmas concert some of us are doing a string quartet. (probably more like a trio playing quartet music) Anyway, so i went up stairs to try and tune it to a piano--i was being as careful as possible, but sure enough the bridge snapped!! It was sooo devastating to me I started bawling! I immediately ran down to call mom and dad--i didn't care if I was waking them up in the middle of the night--my mom had to ask me to repeat what happened three times cause she couldn't hear me through the tears. But I asked her to go buy me a new bridge and send it. (She didn't have to I called her back and told her she didn't need to cause we would do it here, but I didn't know what to do at the time) So I had to get the courage up to tell Sis. Squires--the music director, and the lady who's violin it was. Both were completely understanding, and assumed something would break or go wrong anyway cause the violin was in such bad shape. Ofcorse it wasn't that big of a deal at all, but at the time it happened it seemed only a matter of life and death to me. Don't you love those kind of stories? Anyway

So then Church was great, I borrowed Gage Herbst's violin to practice with the primary kids and after Church I went to the Garden of Gethsemane. I am not even going to try and describe that experience because it is too sacred and there aren't any words for it. It was so special though. I will be going there several more times before I leave.

Sis. Susan W. Tanner gave us a firesdie that evening!! Cool huh!?! she came here to the center! It was a beautiful fireside, her husband spoke too!

Today was really fun as well! Bro. and Sis. Squires go to the YMCA tower every sunday to play the Carillon Bells, and they invited me to come along so that we could go stop at a music store after to see if they had a bridge, or at least find out where we could get one from. i got to invite a few other people to tag along, so Me, Ali, Kelsey, and Lindy as well as three other people go to go play the Carillon Bells at the tower!!! I have played them!! How cool is that? After that we went ot the music store, which did not have a bridge, but we now know where to get one, and we went to this open market place for lunch. A man there gave me free food Because he though I was cute! I was flattered of corse. We also got to go to the pita factory--you get 20 hot pitas for about $1.50--its the best thing ever!! All the students that came were telling me that I should break violins more often so that we can do all these cool stuff with the Squires in a van!

Anyway, it has been an excitng last couple of days. Now I get to go pack for Jordan! I love you all and miss you!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Things I love about BYU Jerusalem (Part 1)

The Old City!!!!!
My balcony with rose garden and pomegranate tree
The Oasis (cafeteria)
Climbing Stairs
Auditorium—especially the organ
Sunday Evening Classics Concerts
Vendors who say “BYU!” and “Hey Mormons!”
Damascus Gate
Elia Photo Service
Western Wall
Calls to prayer 5 times a day
Hearing the Call to Prayer while I sit on my balcony looking over the city
Standing out from everyone on the street—blonde hair does not fit in
Ben Yehuda Street & West Jerusalem
Bad English spellings & grammar
Taking a week off of class and going to Egypt
Boats on the Nile & camel rides
Mount Sinai
Valley of the Kings
Egypt Museum
Hard Rock Cafe
Fancy hotels and restaurants
Having people take pictures of us
Walking through history
Diversity of dress
Olive wood – Omar
Aladdin’s Money Changer
Making olive oil
Living with my teachers and their families
Having my teachers’ wives come to class
Linen Exchange
Having chocolate pudding with whipped cream for breakfast everyday
Deep Fried French Toast every morning
Chocolate Croissant
Rockin awesome field trips
Rollin in Mercedes buses
BYU-JC backpack and fanny pack
Head Sets
Crazy drivers
Smells--brings me back to the Congo
1 Shekel popsicles at Lana’s
Augusta Victoria
1.5-liter water bottles and water carrier
Tel Aviv & the Mediterranean
Room checks with treats
Service couples
Donkeys, horses and goats just hanging out around the city
Internet- even if it is painfully slow
Student choir
Random schedule
Hebrew U
Consulate families
Stellar movie collection in the library
Learning about peoples and cultures
Being able to drink the water in Israel
Kibbutz Yotvata
Official nametags
Being taught by and associating with people who are known worldwide
Wandering and shopping
Palestinian Costco
Herding sheep
Tons of soldiers and people with huge guns everywhere—the best is when you see a normal dressed cute boy, then he turns around and has a giant gun!
The Center gardens
Dormition Abbey
BonBons, Ali Babas & Jericho Wafers
Genie pants
Olive Picking and Crushing
Talent Shows
St. Mark’s Covenant
Sling Shots
Playing the Violin in the Center
Hezekiah’s Tunnel
Garden Tomb
Ramadan Dinner

City of David, Dormition Abbey, St. Mark's Covenant

On Wednesday we had a field trip to the City of David. I wouldn’t exactly call it a city though—just the remains of a city. It is just below the southern end of the wall to the Old City. Back in Christ’s time it would have been within the walls of the city however. At the City of David we got to see the excavation going on what they are discovering to be David’s Palace. The most fun part of the City of David was going through the caves to see Warren’s Shaft in the Gihon Spring, and walking through Hezekiah’s tunnel where at certain points the water came above the knees. The water was cold at first but I quickly adapted to it. The tunnel is pitch black so my head lamp came in handy—head lamps are one of the best inventions ever! At the City of David we also go to see the Pool of Siloam where Christ would have sent the Blind man to wash and be healed. It was so neat. Up until the 1980’s Israelis did not believe that Warren’s shaft was the probably shaft that Joab would have gone up to get into Jebus and allow David to take over the city. But in the 1980’s a BYU student actually (sort of illegally) climb up the shaft without anything to show it was possible—so now they believe it is most likely the shaft Joab went up! So that’s a cool fact related to BYU!
After the City of David we were able to wander around the city the rest of the day like we do many other days. My friends Kelsey, Ali, Lindy and I decided to go to Dormition Abbey. It is supposedly where the virgin Mary is laid to rest. The church is very beautiful and above Mary’s crypt is this beautiful Mosaic of Christ and the women who influenced him, The outside of the Abbey is incredible, it reminds me of a Disney castle almost.—Belle’s castle probably.
After Dormition Abbey we headed over to West Jerusalem. We shopped (I got some Genie Pants and accessories for Halloween and to wear at home) and ate Falafels. On the way back we stopped at a Jewish bakery and ate cookies. They were delicious. I love the bakeries! I eat so much food here—even in the center’s cafeteria. My goodness food is yummy. I know I have put on weight but fortunately I don’t it is noticeable yet. I’ll keep exercising!
Yesterday after class I went out into the Old City again with a few people. We decided to go to St. Mark’s Covenant—this small Church where in the basement, supposedly the Last Supper took place. Whether it did or not I am not sure, but that isn’t what is important. It was such a special experience. There is this sweet old lady who takes care of the Church—she is originally from Ninevah, and is one of the few hundred people left in this world that speak Aramaic—the language Christ would have spoken! She sang us a prayer song in Aramaic, it was so beautiful! She also told us stories of miracles she had seen happen in the church. One of the nice things about the Church is it is a little hard to find it and not m any people go there. So the few of us students were able to go into the basement where the Supper took place and take about a half hour to read John chapters 13-17. I don’t know how to describe spiritual experiences very well but it was something I won’t ever forget.

well, I was going to upload images for this post, but the internet isn't working right, so I'll have to post the pictures later! I love you all and miss you!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Jewish Holidays

I have certainly lucked out being here in Jerusalm this month, because this is the month with the most Jewish Holidays!! I got to be here for Rosh Hashanah (New Year) then Yom Kippur, Sukkot, Shimhat Torah, and other small ones! This video I took this morning. We walked to the Western Wall at 6 AM to go see all these people at the Western Wall. They are all holding willow branches--I still don't understand the significance very well let alone be able to explain it to you guys, but it was so neat to watch! It was the most crowded I had seen the Western Wall--even more crowded then on the Sabbath and other holidays. Although I was not allowed to go there on Yom Kippur--I imagine it would have been just about as corwded then.
Yesterday we did a service project with all the young boys from the surrounding neighborhood--we cleaned up the streets near the center. It looked so much better, but sadly enough, by this morning there was already so much trash everywhere--in face all the dumpsters where we put the trash looked like they had been gone through, and trash just left around the dumpster. Oh well, I still believe our efforts were not done in vain--it looks great! This place is so beauitful I don't even know how to describe it.
Last night I attended one of the concerts that they hold here every sunday. It was a cello and piano duo. My mind was flooded with memories of all of my beauitufl sister Megan's recitals. Although the two men are older and not near as beautiful as Megan, it was incredible. Both are so qualified. The Cellist has played for Leonard Bernstien and with Yitzhak Perlman (Incredible Violinist) and the pianist was basically another child prodogy. I am blessed with the greatest opportunities here in Jerusalem. I have a few more occasions as well that I will be able to play the violin for people here.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Olive Crushing and Biblical Times

Two very exciting things I got to do this week are Olive picking and crushing, and then we went on a field trip to this "Bible Land Reserve" where I got to participate in activities they would have done during the Bible Times.

Olive picking and crushing was particularly special. Every Semester gets to crush olives, but Fall Semester is the only semester that actually gets to pick the olives as well, so I am so blessed! Two days in a row we picked olives for an hour and a half, then a couple days later we got to do the crushing. Bro. Skinner gave a lecture on the symbolism of the olives and making olive oil before we did it, and it was so touching. I have heard the metaphor of olive crushing in comparision to the Atonement, but I actually got to see how it works, and it was so touching. It was such a special experience.

At the Bible Times Reserve I got to heard sheep around--that was quite the experience, and make my own pita on an outside fire, learn about Torah Scrolls, make my own oregano spice, etc. It was really fun although I don't think I would have made a very good Shepherd.

The Caliber of BYU Jerusalem

I have been in Jerusalem for over a month now, and have come to realize just how great of people I associate with everyday. Still, I don’t think I even fully comprehend the caliber of the men and women that serve us here at the BYU Jerusalem Center. I just want to take some time now and let you know how incredible these men and women are by telling some of the things about them. First off, there is Jim Kearl, who although he does not stay here, is the director for the center. I think the family already knows how smart this man and how qualified he is, so I won’t spend time on him. Eran is the Director here at the center. He is a secular Jew and has been a leader of the Peace Now Movement—an Israeli movement that is pushing for peace in the Arab-Israeli conflict. It is a big and important movement here.
Bro. Huntington is the assistant to Eran. Not only is he a great administrator, I have discovered that he use to be a teacher here, and is just as qualified as any of the teachers here to teach our classes.
Bro. Skinner is amazing—you can just ask my sister Brooke about how amazing he is. One of his Master’s is from Harvard in Biblical Hebrew. He is one of the very few scholars in the world to have actually done work on the Dead Sea Scrolls. He is one of the smartest men, and not only is he smart, he loves what he teaches. He is so excited in class that he gets me excited about the subjects of the Ancient Near East!
Bro. Huff is my Old Testament teacher, and he team-taught with Elder Bednar at BYU-Idaho.
Bro. Squires is one of the service couples here, and his is sooo talented on the Organ.
Sis. Thomas is also a service couple, and she use to be a counselor in the General Young Women Presidency.
Sis. Susan W. Tanner and her husband are coming here in a couple weeks—I think her husband has something to do with Kearl at BYU.
My two teachers of Modern Near Eastern Studies, Ophir Yarden and Adnan Musallam are not any less qualified as scholars than Bro. Skinner. If you “googled” them you would find that their name and work is everywhere. I am so impressed with the people that are here. I also feel very inadequate to be here, but all the more grateful. I love it here, and I love all my teachers and leaders!

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Temple Mount

These are pictures from the Western Wall (bottom of the Temple Mount) and the Dome of the Rock (on the Temple Mount). Both are incredible to go to. The Dome of the Rock is fascinatinig in itself, and it seeing the people praying at the Western Wall is quite the experience. I got to go to the Western Wall and to a Synagogue on Wednesday for Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year) I couldn't understand anything they were saying but it was so cool to listen to. It was really interesting to watch them sing and dance at the wall. I certainly felt out of place inside the Synagogue, but it was neat to listen to them read outloud from the Torah. They keep the men and women separated at the wall and within synagogues.