Monday, January 31, 2011

Egypt Day One

So I decided that instead of doing one massive blog update on my week long trip to Egypt, I would do separate ones for each day of my trip. That way you get more information and I get to easily organize my thoughts... deal?

We left the Jerusalem Center at 6:30 in the morning and hopped on the bus for a long day of driving. Our first stop was Tel-Sheva. Here we got to wander around the remains of an ancient military post, it was really interesting to see the lay out of a couple houses, the walls, and the structure of the building. Our favorite spot was the small temple that was found inside this military post. We got to touch a real sacrificial alter and go inside and ancient Holy of Holies. It was crazy to think that these were actually used in ancient times. We also visited Tel-Arad, which also had the remains of an ancient Israelite temple. We can see through archeological evidence that the temple was later used as an apostate temple, straying from the idea of one God to multiple God's. We talked a lot about the idea of worshiping multiple Gods and how that was so hard for the Israelites to give up. Our teacher asked us what our vices were, what we have in our lives that we can't seem to give up.

Here are some pictures from the two Tels we visited.
My two professors in their exploring hats
Remains from an ancient Mystery City near Tel Arad
Me and Greg just exploring
The Sign in front of the Temple
Sitting the the Holy of Holies
Me, AJ, and Brock
Donavan and his lovely nose bandage
Spencer and I in the ruins
Just trying not to blind ourselves in the sun
Rachel, Danielle, Jessica, Brother Muhlestein, and I in the Holy of Holies of an ancient Israelite Temple
Our Class in front of Tel Arad!

Then we got back on the bus for several more hours of driving. We entertained ourselves playing games like: would you rather, catch phrase, two truths and a lie... the classics. It was fun to get to spend so much time with everyone and gave us a chance to really get to know each other.

Our next stop was the sand dunes. One of my favorite stops on the trip. We had a member from the local kibbutz come down to be our guide. We all got out of the bus where we grabbed our waters and left our cameras. They never really told us what we would be doing at the sand dunes except that it was going to be a "Sand Dune Experience" so we were all speculating what that actually meant. We started trekking through the wilderness when we saw the buses pull away, not going to lie... I thought they were going to leave us there to see how Lehi and Nephi felt being left in the wilderness... So we kept on trekking until we came over a hill where we saw a giant sand dune. He said that we had 25 min to play and then we would meet at the bottom of the dune. We all lined up at the edge, took our shoes off and felt the silkiness of the sand and took off running as fast as we could to the bottom. It was the most incredible feeling. We had so much fun running up and down, doing tricks, cartwheels, and taking pictures with the few people that were willing to risk their cameras getting ruined by the sand.

After the 25 min we gathered at the bottom where our guide gave us a sheet of paper, he said to go find a quite spot near by where we could be alone and to sit and ponder, he said once he rang the bell we were to open our paper and read the prompt and write how we felt. I picked a spot on a hill near by where I could sit and watch the sun set. I was pondering how it felt to be there in that moment, how you could look around and see nothing but sand and sky, how there was no life other then your own, and somehow realize that you are not alone. I had the overwhelming feeling that the Lord was with me, that he understands me and that he is here to help me. I watched the sun fall over the dunes and stands of my hair coming over my eyes and though "If you have something to tell me, know is the perfect time". We opened our prompts and read about how Lehi and his family left everything they had in Jerusalem to wander in this wilderness... It made me really understand 1 Nephi and how they must have felt. It made me think that in a situation like that, you have to rely completely on the Lord ofr your survival, and being in that position can either strengthen your relationship with him or ruin it. Being there made me think about my own wilderness, and how we should all find a place where we can loose all distractions and just listen to the Lord and what he has to tell us. A place where our minds can fall quite and we can really pay attention.

After that we all gathered together again over a bonfire. We roasted marsh mellows and talked about the different things that came to our minds while we pondered in our individual spots. Then we all stared to sing various hymns, and it was such a beautiful sound. We all left wishing we could spend the night under the starry sky.

Then we headed to the kibbutz where we were staying for the night. A kibbutz is the closest thing that Israel has to a communist community. Every member of the kibbutz works and puts there salary into a fund which is divided up among its members. They have a certain amount they can spend on cloths and vacations and other things and everything else is taken care of for them. Schooling up to college, housing, food, medical bills, everything is taken care of. It was really interesting to learn from these people and see how they acted as a community and a family. They were so hospitable and made some great "American Food"... and by American food I mean hamburger meet inside a pita with cucumber and humus.... it was pretty tasty though.

And that was the end of our first day on our Egypt Trip. I know we were still in Israel the whole time so I guess it doesn't really count as "Egypt Day One" as the title would suggest, but it was still a great start to a great week.

Thats all for now! Egypt Day Two is coming your way!

Sunday, January 30, 2011

I'm Home

I'm home.
At least it feels like home.

This past week has been the best week of my life and I can't wait to share it with all of you!
However, I must wait because I woke up at 2:30 this morning and haven't gone to sleep yet...

I just wanted to write a little post to let you all know that I am okay.
Yes we happened to be in Cairo the very week the riots began, but we were kept safe the entire time. I felt very grateful to be there while it was happening because I learned a lot. So the worst thing that happened to me was a minor cold, and a dire need for sleep.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Walk like an Egyptian

Well more specifically Egypt. But for the purpose of this ridiculously ugly picture I generalized to the African continent, which Egypt is a part of.
See look...

I still can't believe it. After countless orientations on how to use the "squaties" (squatting toilets) we are packing up!

Today was an absolutely amazing day...
I got to sleep in until 8!
The I headed up to sacrament meeting.
Because I slept in I missed choir practice I got to sit in the audience and hear them perform while gazing over this beautiful view

We had an AMAZING rendition of "Come Follow Me" on the Piano and Violin.
Along with that, we had 3 really excellent talk, one given by a return sister missionary. When she spoke it just confirming the fact that I really would love to serve a mission. We learned about faith, repentance, and the power to change.
It was a very powerful sacrament meeting.

Then I had the wonderful opportunity to go teach Primary(:
I absolutely love being with my Sunbeams
Jessica taught sharing time and did an excellent job!
Our lesson today was on the power of prayer,
so we talked about the story of Daniel in the lions den and then acted it out!
Jacob made an amazing lion, Emily was a beautiful little angel, I had the pleasure of playing Daniel. Its so much fun to work with these children, I love them so much.

Afterwards, we got a group and headed towards the Garden of Gethsemane.
We got to walk through the Orson Hyde Garden and Jessi gave me the great idea of bringing my ipod and listening to church music.
When we got to the Garden of Gethsemane, they let our group into the private garden.
We all found our own little spots within the garden to read, ponder, and write in our journals. It was cool to think that we were all there, writing about and pondering the same event that has had such an impact in each of our lives. The sacrifice that the Jesus Christ made for us means something different for each person, but ultimately it means that we are able to be made perfect in him.

I was looking through my scriptures and I found this amazing set of verses
D&C 18:10-21
&& It just hit me again, I am so blessed to have the knowledge of my savior and to have the restored Gospel in my life today. I would love to serve a full time mission, to be able to change other people's lives the way that this church has changed mine. I was brought to this amazing place for a reason, and I believe that it wasn't only for my own personal growth, but to share my experiences with others and bring them to the knowledge of their savior and his love for them. Whether I do this by serving a mission, writing on my blog, or magnifying my calling, the greatest blessing is to bless the lives of others.

All in all today was a wonderful day filled with the spirit and immense peace.
Every day I spend here in the Holy Land brings me closer to my savior.

&& now I'm off to finish packing for Egypt! I won't be bringing my computer with me so I'll be out of touch for the next week! I'll be sure to return with a million pictures and plenty of stories to tell. Some of which includes Luxor, Cairo, The Great Pyramids, Boating on the Nile River, Camel Rides, so on and so forth:)


Friday, January 21, 2011

Sometimes I Forget

Sometimes I forget where I am.
I wake up in the morning and think
"What is this strange place".
I'll be sitting in class, look out the window
and be stunned to see the city before me.
I'll be in the comfort of my study spot
and then the silence is broken by the Call to Prayer.
Then I remember,
I'm on the other side of the world,
In a place said to be full of destruction and conflict.

Then again, sometimes I forget that I had a life before this.
I make friends that I feel I've known forever
I walk the streets and it feels like ive walked them my whole life.
I forget what that these people are supposed to hate each other
and yet they work and live together in peace.
I forget what reality TV shows are.
I forget what its like to check facebook every day.
I forget what a brownie tastes like.
I forget that I used to be waiting for this.
I forget that there are places in the world
other then this beautiful city I live in.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Life in Jerusalem

Why yes... I am procrastinating writing my 7 page paper on Islam. Sue me.

But I realized that I haven't really said much on my blog here. I've been scurrying around trying to fit in everything I can while I'm here. So I thought I might give you some details of what has been going on.

I was proposed to... several times actually. The men here are VERY friendly. If you ever need a pick me up, just walk into the Old City. The other day a merchant said I could pay him in hugs (don't worry dad, I declined) and today a boy told me I was his love, Jess got some extra loving as well. So for all you wedding hungry women out there, Jerusalem is the place to find a willing husband! All kidding aside the people here are extremely nice, and they love Mormons, they tell us all the time.

My classes are going very well, sometimes its a bit hard for me to understand my Islam teacher, but luckily he just repeats everything in the reading so that should be fine. I love my Old Testament class, I learn something new every day in that class. The Old Testament is such a gem and I'm glad that I have been paying more attention to it. We also have a really great Near Eastern Studies class, its fun for me because I love art history and since our teacher is a world famous archeologist, we get a lot from the art history and architectural side of things.

I love my roommates. We love to sit in our room together and "bond" which usually consists of laughing until we cry. I feel so lucky to have such great girls as roommates. Not only great roommates, but a really great group here all together. Our leaders are constantly telling us that we get a long better then any group that they have had before. They said each semester has its own personality and this group of kids is the "fun & talkative" group. I'll take it.

We leave for Egypt in less then a week.
I get excited every time I begin to even think about packing, let alone visiting sites such as the Great Pyramids and Petra along with the museums in Cairo.
We have had a dozen orientations about what to expect in Egypt. I'm just praying I don't get sick. That would definitely ruin the fun.
Today when we went down to the money changer, Aladdin, I was looking at the wall of notes. Since Aladdin is where all the Mormon students go to change their money, he has a wall dedicated to Jerusalem Center students where you can leave notes of advice for future JC students. Most notes say something along the lines of "Don't worry about homework" or "Go out into the city as often as possible". My favorite one so far said "Always choose the crazier option", what a good motto. I also enjoyed "Don't worry about getting fat". The last two have become my motto here in Jerusalem. When the opportunity presents itself, I will always choose the crazier option, and I promise to not worry about getting fat (I'm not by the way mom, I eat my greens every day).

The last of my two mottos has inspired me. I am now keeping a food diary, not of recipes, but of pictures. My top right hand corner of my desktop is sporting a brand new blue folder entitled "Food" where I will keep my pictures of all my favorite treats here in the Holy Land. Today while wandering around West Jeru, we found a cute little bakery. I got two of the delicious pastries above for 3 shekels! That is about $1. Talk about a steal. Its funny to go into the cafeteria and they have this food that looks like american food (rice, pasta, hamburgers, ketchup, chicken) and then you taste it and its unlike anything you have ever had before. Its like a new adventure every day.

I bought a sweet camel leather backpack. I love it. I bartered for it, and I'm pretty proud of that fact.

This is Mallory, one of my favorite people ever and the happiest girl you will ever have the pleasure of meeting.

So to wrap this little post up, I just want to repeat my motto in a more general sense. Loosen up.
Its okay to skim the last 2 pages of your reading assignment because you know your teacher won't test you on it.
Its okay to try that tempting pastry and swear your diet starts tomorrow.
Its okay to want to buy a Hamsa necklace when you have no idea what it means.
Its okay to have a little fun as long as you know you can finish the other stuff later.
In the words of Dr. Chadwick "You don't come here to die in the library"
Take chances, make the crazier choice, because time is something you can't take back and memories will last you so much longer then that chapter about agriculture in the Jordan Valley.
(Don't worry Mom and Dad, I still get my homework done)

Carpe Diem

Just Curious

So I'm just a wee bit curious about who is actually reading this blog.
Sometime I feel like I'm just writing to my mom.

Hi mom

So you, yes you, if you are out there reading this...
drop a comment and say hello.

I'd love to know what you think
(unless its bad then don't tell me)

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Its great to be a girl

As I was on Blackboard trying to find the handout for my Old Testament paper, I came across a handout that my teacher posted entitled "Motherhood Handout". I was curious so I opened it and found a plethora of quotes about women and mothers. I found it inspiring so I posted a couple that I read and liked. Enjoy!

Having looked over all of this [created earth], [God] declared it to be good. He then created man in His own likeness and image. Then as His final creation, the crowning of His glorious work, He created woman. I like to regard Eve as His masterpiece after all that had gone before, the final work before He rested from His labors (Gordon B. Hinckley "Daughters of God," Ensign, Nov. 1991, 99).

Be careful lest you make a woman cry, for God counts her tears

(Thomas S. Monson, Cottonwood Seminary Graduation, Tabernacle on Temple Square, May 2001).

And to you women . . . You too can be strong and encouraging and beautiful and helpful. We can stand for truth and goodness, and we will not stand alone. Moreover, we shall have unseen forces of heaven to assist us.

(Gordon B. Hinckley, “An Ensign to the Nations, a Light to the World,” Ensign, Nov 2003, 82)

No wonder, then, if motherhood is divine and eternal and core to the nature of every woman, that Lucifer would do everything in his considerable power to demean and undermine everything about motherhood, hoping to confuse women with worldly enticements or secular philosophies that appear more satisfying or dazzling or even more enlighten ---Sheri Dew

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people wont feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine. We are born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. Its not just in some of us, its in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same as we are liberated from our fear, our presence automatically liberates others.

-Marianne Williamson

Field Studies - Jericho

As usual... I don't have much time to post, but I wanted to share some pictures from our trip to Jericho on Monday

This is me standing in the remains of Herod's Winter Palace, the same palace he died in.
This tree is the same kind of tree that Zaccheus climbed up to see the Savior during the last week of his life.

Here we are standing in front of the remains of what might be (most likely is) the ruins from the wall of Jericho that miraculously fell for Joshua.

Me and my friend Brock standing in the wilderness looking down on the road to Jericho, the same road where the parable of the good Samaritan takes place and the same road that Jesus Christ traveled many times.
I think camels are cute.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Bits and Pieces

“All our young lives we search for someone to love. Someone who makes us complete. We choose partners and change partners. We dance to a song of heartbreak and hope... all the while wondering if somewhere, somehow, there's someone perfect... who might be searching for us.” -- The Wonder Years

Isn't that cute?! I just wanted to share that little thought with you all. Now for a couple pictures! I'm way too tired to write anything but I wanted to post some cool pictures. I've been keeping them until I get good internet to post them in big sizes but I'm tired of waiting. So here they are!

Captured this in the city the other day, its funny to see people riding donkeys down the street along side all of the cars and busses.

Here we are in front of the Garden Tomb, this was one of the best days I've had thus far. I love these girls!

Me in front of the entrance to the Garden Tomb.

Tonight we traveled into West Jerusalem. I got Ice Cream while Jess and Donavan grabbed French Crepes. DELICIOUS!

This is my new favorite thing I own! I tried to haggle for it and discovered that I'm REALLY bad at it, such a pushover. I still got a good deal though! Its warm and I needed a jacket because the one I brought doesn't keep me warm enough.

Today some kids from the center went out into a park to have a mini soccer tournament, some of the local kids decided to jump in with us. I haven't played soccer in years but still had a lot of fun. We also found this SWEET workout area for adults and the coolest children's playground ever. Videos to come... someday.

P.S. Sorry my spelling and grammar has been so terrible. I don't even read over my posts before I publish them because I'm just so eager to go out and do things. Maybe one day I'll get on and fix all of that but as far now you are just going to have to deal with my illiteracy(:

Saturday, January 15, 2011


I stole this picture from a friends camera
I think its just captures how much I love learning here
How everything just amazes me
I just want to touch everything and soak up every bit of knowledge that I possibly can.

I have already grown so much
& I've only been here for about a week
It feels like forever

I've already made some really great friends
I have become so close with my teachers
I love my sunbeams
(I just got called as sunbeam teacher, I got set apart today so its official)

Well I have to go! They set up "Tangled" in the lounge and I'm not about to miss that.
I love you all and I miss you!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Wailing Wall

Today, after 6 hours of class, we got to head out into the city for the start of Shabbat! The Jews celebrate Saturday as the Sabbath day, which starts friday night. So for our field trip today we got to go down the the Western Wall, also known as the Wailing Wall, to witness the beginning of Shabbat for the Jews.

Boy was it a party. When we were getting ready to go, they were telling us we needed to dress in our sunday cloths and in conservative colors to be respectful to their Sabbath. I was expecting it to be very reverent, but when we arrived everyone was dancing and singing. I wanted to join in but I didn't know any of the words and to tell the truth I was a little embarrassed to ask if I could jump in and now I'm regretting it. But instead I got to talk with some of the people that had gathered there. I met some girls that were a part of a "Birthright Tour" where they bring American Teens from Jewish decent that haven't come to the Holy Land and take them all over Israel... for FREE. Cool huh? It was kind of fun to talk to someone from America that spoke perfect English.

But back to the Western Wall. This wall was the original retaining wall to Herod's Temple, which was the temple during Christ's time. It has been added on to on the top, but the bottom 7 layers of brick still stand from when Christ was there. The Jews view it as such a Holy part of the city that they named it a place of prayer, people come from all over to leave their prayers in between the stones. It is so Holy to them, that many people will not turn their back to it, they back out of the area as a sign of respect. It was such a cool experience to gather with these people, watching them cry as they prayed to their God, the devotion they have is incomparable. Gathering with them, touching this ancient stone, and putting my own prayer a long with the many others was a very special experience.

It was fun to see the many ways these people, celebrated and honored their Sabbath day. Some who chose to make it a joyous occasion as they danced and sang to their God, along side with the people praying and asking to bless their loved ones. I'm sad that, because it is after dark in the city, this was the only time to witness this special occurrence. For this trip at least ;)