Friday, February 27, 2009

Hair cut

So, news of the day, I cut my hair! I don't know why I ever had long hair. This is by far my favorite hair cut ever. PS this picture was taken in the Center by the Shekle Shaq.


Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Older posts!

Check out some of our older posts. I've uploaded some new pictures and even written some additional experiences. Enjoy!

Just a picture that I like. It was taken at either Beth Shemesh, Azekah, Elah, or Bet Guvrin (we went to a lot of places that day).


Hezekiah's Tunnel

Today we hiked Hezekiah's tunnel. It was so fun! The tunnel was originally built to bring the exterior water sources of the City of David into the city so if they were ever laid under siege, they would have their water right there with them. The tunnels still have water in them, but it's not too high. Most of the time it was around my ankles or mid-calf. I didn't want to walk around wet today, so I wore my water shorts under my skirt, and ditched the skirt while I hiked the tunnel. This is one of the cooler things we've done so far. Afterwards we had free time so a small group of us went to the Bethesda pools where the people believed the waters posesed medicinal powers and where Christ healed the man sitting beside the pools. The pools are just inside of Lions gate, and you have to enter St. Annes church to get to them. Today there's no water, but a lot of neat ruins. It's a very rustic and peaceful place. It was a nice relaxing day.

Look how smart we are! Cate, Jessica and me
Inside of Hezekiah's tunnel


Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Church of the Holy Sepulchre

Today was a lovely day. I went out with a group to explore the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. The last time I had been here was at the very beginning of our trip, which was somewhat of a blur. This time we did a more thorough visit. My favorite part was probably going onto the roof of the church. It was very calm and quaint. Afterwards we walked through the Old City to the Kidron Valley where there are some caves. We found a pretty cool cave for spelunking. All day I was thinking about the seminary lesson I was going to teach this evening. I was fortunate enough to be able to substitute. The lesson was on 1 Corinthians 1-7. I team taught with Stephen Blunck. I think the lesson went really well. It was a nice day.

Me and my friend Ryan on the roof of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre


Thursday, February 19, 2009

Jecia makeing a new friend.
The annaconda on top of the temple mount. First time touching a snake... It was special.
Jecia coming out of the "birthing canal".

Micah's cave/ tunnels. Lindsey and I went on a wonderful exploration where we got covered from head to foot in dirt.

Yad Vashem

Yesterday we went as a class to Yad Vashem. Yad Veshem is the athority when it comes to the Holocaust. It gave a very interesting perspective on the Holocaust. It was similar to many other museums, but there was one part that I really liked. They have what is called "the righteous among the nations". These are those individuals who where heroic and helped the jews in their time of need. There was a quote by a pope who inspired a town of 500 to save over 300 Jews, he said, "I don't know what a jew is, all I know is what human beings are". Yad Vashem is not only a monument to the 6,000,000 jews who died in the holocaust, but it is also a witness to the good inthe world. That even in the midst of such a horrifying display of man kind there where those willing to step up and say this is not right. It makes you stop and wonder: Would I sit by and allow others to die or would I stand up for what I know was right, even if my life were on the line?



Two days ago Jecia and I had one of the coolest experiences. We went to the Dome on the Rock with a group of six people. Ever since 2000 no one but Muslims are allowed in the actual building, but we wanted to see if we could sweet talk our way in, we couldn't. We ended up talking to this group of Muslim girls that were 16 and 17 years old. They were on a school field trip. They were some of the cutest girls ever! They tried sweet talking us into the buildings. At one of them (there are multiple mosques on top of the temple mound) an underground mosque they couldn't get us in, but they were allowed to take my camera underneath and record what the entire thing looked like. Brother Skinner was shocked that I was able to get that footage and told me that it had some tie to Solomon's cave, I can't remember exactly. Well these girls ended up spending the next two hours with us. They talked some guy into letting us take a picture with his anaconda. They also took us to their favorite place to get desert- Jafar's sweets. One of the girls insisted on paying, "no let me, let me, I am very rich". It was really cool to get to talk with them and see how much we had in common. We were talking about dating and modesty. They told us that they dressed the way they did because they loved their bodies and it was a choice they made to dress like they did. It reminded me of how LDS girls talk about modesty and it being their choice. They also talked about how boys just made life complicated, I had to laugh. One of the girls was telling us how another girl had a crush on one of the guys who worked at the restaurant we were at, the girl with the crush started blushing- it made it feel like we were all just a big group of frinds sitting around sharing stories. They told us how they watched LOST, Prison break and friends and in their free time listened to music like Enrique Inglesius and Shakira the rest of the artists I didn't know. When it was time for us to go they insisted that they get our names so they would remember them and we got their names as well and they wrote notes like, "think of me every day" and "love you". They also taught us how to do the head wraps that they do and endured all of our childish questions like, if they had to wear the head dress all the time: Answer- they don't, when they are at home they take it off, but they always wear it in public. That was probably one of my favorite days in the old city.

Monday, February 16, 2009

The Center

I have received requests to describe life at the Jerusalem Center so here we go.

Center Layout:
We have everything we need here in the Jerusalem Center. The living apartments are the bottom 5 floors. Right now the center is running at half capacity, so the 1st and 2nd floor are empty. I live on the third floor. On the 6th floor we have "The Oasis" which is the cafeteria and serves some excellent meals, though I am pretty meat-ed out, and have become a "vegetarian" this last week (except on Mexican night). On the same floor we have our classrooms and the forum, so when you're running late at breakfast, don't worry, class is 30 seconds away. Also on the 6th floor is the computer lab and study rooms and the social hang out/ lounge/ shekel shaq/ party room. This last room is where all the large social gatherings happen, are where people can get local candy and confections for a few shekles. And last on this floor, but not least, is the gym complete with basketball hoops, optional volleyball net and workout room. I like to go in there after lunch to shoot some hoops, and later in the evening they often have a volleyball game going. The 6th floor is where the majority of the comings and goings happen. The 7th floor is the administrative offices. The 8th floor, which is the top, is where I spend the majority of my study time because this is where the library is located. It's a great place to study, since there's rarely anyone there. I suppose that most prefer to study on a more conveniently located floor. There's a small library next to the main library which I like to call "the think tank" and is my favorite place to study when it is available. Also on this floor is the Auditorium which is also our chapel. The walls facing the west are all glass, so it has the most amazing view of the city. I love how accessible everything is, and yet how much room there is. It's close together but not crowded.

Contrary to popular belief, we do have to study while we're here. We have five classes right now: Old Testament, Modern Near Eastern Studies from the Palestinian perspective, Modern Near Eastern Studies from the Jewish Perspective, Ancient Near Eastern Studies, and either Hebrew or Arabic language. I'm taking Hebrew, and Eliza's taking Arabic. Classes are normally in the morning and/or right before dinner, so our afternoons are often free time. I am amazed that there is never a shortage of placed to see around here, and I plan on using my free time to it's fullest extent.

We're on Mt. Scopus which is right next door to the Mt. of Olives. We live in East Jerusalem, which is mainly Palestinian. It's about a 20 minute walk into the old city from here. We can walk to most of the places we want to visit around here, but we will also often get a group together to take a taxi to the west side of town. Since it's about the middle of the semester, the merchants have gotten more used to seeing us and they aren't as pushy. I spent the day yesterday walking around the walls of the city, getting more accustomed to my surroundings. We went to every single gate, including Golden Gate which had been sealed off by the Romans to prevent the return of the Messiah (pretty cool story). We also explored the Christian, Armenian and Jewish quarters within the wall. The city is not nearly as big as I had imagined. If we walked at a good pace it would probably take us 1-2 hours to walk around the whole city, but there is so much still to see! It's amazing how they can put so much into such a small area.

What else do you want to know? Leave a comment and answer you!


Saturday, February 14, 2009

The Garden Tomb.

Today was a lovely Valentines Shabat. Eliza was one of the speakers in Sacrament, and her topic was of course love. She did a fabulous job on her talk. After church we went with a group to the Garden Tomb. This is my third time going. It's one of the most peaceful places around Jerusalem. We got to meet some neat people there today, including a small group of German Mormons.

Last night I also got to do some missionary work! Now don't get too excited, I'm not talking about proselyting to people outside of the church, because we as Mormons have made an agreement to not proselyte here in the Holy Land. What I am speaking of is teaching the gospel to those who are already members of the church. Yesterday I had the opportunity to go with the Relief Society Presidency to visit a less active sister in the branch, Luz who is from the Philippines. It was Friday night, so the streets were mostly empty because the Jewish Sabbath begins at sundown, which was so nice for us because traffic is normally chaotic, and it was neat to go in a regular car to a regular apartment. She lives off of Joffa street, and it was difficult to get there on the Jewish Sabbath because many of the side streets were blocked off with barriers. These streets lead to ultra orthodox Jewish homes in Meir Sharim. They are so strict about keeping the Sabbath that they won't even allow others to drive through their neighborhoods (rumor has it you could get stoned if you walk through). Anyway, we got to Luz's house all right and visiting her with the sisters felt just like my missionary days. She is such a sweet woman, and she really wants to be able to go to church, unfortunately her work won't allow her to, so we told her we'd pray for her. Something else that was just like my missionary days was the constant distractions from the television, my great arch Nemesis. I have occasionally wondered why I don't watch much TV since I've gotten back from my mission, but now I know. Other than the TV, it was a lovely visit, and I'm excited to go out and visit other sisters in the branch. Yea for missionary work!

Eliza and I with what is supposed to be Golgotha in the background. You can sort of see the image of a skull behind Eliza's head. (this picture was actually taken a few weeks ago, but it works for today's entry)


Friday, February 13, 2009

Not too exciting

Contrary to popular belief we do actually have to work. These last few days have not been uber exciting because we had our ancient studies midterm and a research paper due for modern near east studies, Palestinian perspective, due on the same day.
In case you were wondering I think I did well on the test. I'm feeling a low A. And my research paper sounded like it was written by an 8th grader, but it is all good.
Tonight we had a dance because it was Friday the 13th and let me tell you my makeup looked amazing. Let me just say I look good in blue lip stick... I'm just sayin.
Well I have a talk to write and scriptures to study and a journal that needs writing.

Sunset over the Nile.
Walking like an Egyptian. Don't judge, it was the tourist thing to do.
Jecia, me and JJ sitting on the pyramid. Yes it is legal to sit on the base of the pyramid.
This is an interesting place. It is extremly war torn and you can't help but feel heart broken.

Jecia riding a camel like a true Arabian.
Eliza at the valley of Zin or Sin. I know... so risque.


This is Jec and I at the church of the Holy Seplicher, first week in Jerusalem

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Eliza contortionist extrodinare

I have decided to turn over a new leaf. I am going to write at least once a week for the next week. We'll see how this goes.
Yesterday was a great adventure and I really wanted to share.
We went on a field trip yesterday and I missed my bus. But don't worry I was able to jump onto Jecia's bus. Yet another amazing feat brought to you by Eliza. After all my years of group travel I would be the one to end up on the wrong bus... twice.
We went to the place of Samson and Dalila and David and Goliath. We built a Goliath out of boxes, they gave us slings and we went at it. It was probably not the most wise decision and I am pretty sure that the box Goliath was laughing inside. Let me tell you though, those birds flying by had something to worry about. Jecia did finally fling the death blow, I was so proud. Soon after that she almost took out Mike's teeth too. It was an adventure to be sure.
The trip ended with a visit to Micah's cave. It was a labarith of caves under ground. I loved it. We were climbing in and out of the smallest holes imaginable. One tunnel is now nick named the birthing cannal. But Lindsey and I went exploring through the longest birth cannal of my life. The whole time we were army crawling, crawling on hands and knees and shimmying our way through some of the smallest entries ever. This morning I woke up with the soarest rib cage/ core of my life. I was snakeing over and under rocks like no other. By the end of the exploration I was covered in chalk like dirt from head to foot and I loved it.
This land is beautiful and so diverse. Within an hour if where I live there is almost every form of geology imaginable. Hope everything is good at home.


Saturday, February 7, 2009

Eliza hits yet another continent

With much anticipation I finally decided to address the masses. I know it has been too long, but it helps build suspense... I went to Egypt. One of the coolest/ dirtiest experiences of my life. I lived off of hand sanitizer and bottled water. There was no drinking of the water and after seeing the Nile I understood 100 percent. I rode a camel that was an adventure I would do again only next time I would pick a less discusting camel. Lets be honest though- it was great! My camel was named Mr. Love-Love. What more needs to be said. I was proposed to multiple times and I was asked many times if I was a polygamist (normally there was at least 4 girls to every guy) in an attempt for self preservation I always said yes I was married and I even switched my ring to the proper finger... good memories. The temples were so cool and the pyramids were amazing. The Egyptians were truly amazing and a great civilization. They had so much temple symbolism and I was really glad that I was there with Brother Andrew Skinner, who is a true genius, I don't know if I would even want that much knowledge in my brain, it might hurt.
Our tour guide in Egypt was Mama Pharaoh and she was a riot. She took really good care of us.
We had one over night train ride... I don't really know where to start with that one. Our breakfast in the morning was, no joke, four different kinds of bread all individually wrapped and stale. The breakfast of champions. That night I slept with all my cloths on, my pants tucked in my socks and a hood over my head. I tried with all my might to sleep like a mummy (not the most comfortable sleep ever). All in all though it was worth it for the memories.
Before I went to Egypt I thought Jerusalem was pushy and that I had to watch my back some times, but after Egypt Jerusalem is a cake walk and I feel more at home here than ever.
While we were on our way to Egypt we stayed in a kibbutz. It is a community where everyone lives and works together. The kibbutz pays for 80 percent of your expenses (housing, electricity, food etc) and then they give you an allowance to get the rest. It was a really interesting idea, but it seemed too much like "1984"with big brother or "the giver". I have to admit I could never live like that.
Today we had Presiding Bishop Burton give us a fireside and it was really enlightening. I just kept thinking how blessed I am. I am in the holy land. I have amazing professors. I get the presiding bishop to give us a fireside. Can life get any better? I submit that it can not.
A few days ago I went to this place called Ein Kerem. It is the place they say John the Baptist was born. It looked like a scene from a movie. There were two churches that were so picturesque. The streets were adorable. The whole thing looked like it should have been in Italy. It was beautiful and I am totally going back.
I also went to the biblical gardens which in case you were wondering: in January/ February are dead. The only area that looked semi-green was the north-American section in the Nevada, Arizona region. The palm trees,cacti and brownish shrubbery made me feel right at home.
Summation: I love it here. I have met some of the most amazing people and am having a blast with all my new friends. I am so grateful to anyone and everyone who helped me get here. Thanks


Wednesday, February 4, 2009

So Egypt

Hey Hey! Egypt was over a week long so I'll do my best to emphasize the finer points. The pyramids were phenomenal, there were a lot of tricky sales men around there that we had to dodge though. I appreciated more the Valley of the Kings where we interpreted religious hieroglyphics that showed ancient pot lucks and scout camps and ensigns etc. It was so much fun! I really did love walking around the temples like Karnak and Ramses III and Luxor. We were split into two groups, Eliza and I were separated, but often I would join her group and more than just for her company; her group had a more explanatory guide, Br. Skinner, who gave all sorts of commentary along the way. Memphis had only one statue of note, but I loved going there because my favorite song is "Walking in Memphis" so Eliza and I did a recording of us walking in Memphis as well as triple stepping in Memphis. Also, the camel ride was the coolest thing ever! I wore a skirt so I could ride like Laurence of Arabia. So much fun! The last thing we did before we left was climb Mt. Sinai for the sunrise. I was excited for this hike and it was very cold, but I was at the end of the group so when we got to the top, we didn't have to stay up there very long in the wind. It was neat to think about what it must have been like for Moses and with the analogy of the mountain being like the temple I felt that it didn't matter if I made it to the top if those I loved couldn't make it with me. This is the condensed version of our trip. Any elaboration you wish to hear may be given on request.

Eliza and I with the Sphinx and either Menkehure or Kufu's pyramid in the background.

Me on Mt. Sinai as the sun began to rise.


Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Back from Egypt!

First of all I want to share some great news we got today. The security announced that the atmosphere in Jerusalem is back to normal and we are now allowed to leave the center in groups of three rather then groups of five. More updates on Egypt to follow.