Thursday, January 30, 2014

Just an update...

Hello hello!

Well, this is the first break I've had yet, no pressing homework, I'm not allowed in the city before 3 on Fridays and I got a nap in (I've never been so completely and totally exhausted ever in my entire life, but I just can't seem to sleep because there is always so much I want to do!) I'll try and catch up the past few days!

I'm all caught up to Tuesday... Wednesday we were slammed with classes again. Seriously, I'm thinking they might be trying to kill us these first couple weeks. Classes are normally in 2 hour blocks, intensive learning and dark rooms. All of us are super sleep deprived... it's rough! But we had a little bit of a break Wednesday afternoon and a few of us decided to head into the old city to explore a bit, when I say a few I mean like 14. We hadn't even made it 50 feet out of the gate when some kids asked us to come play darts with them. Since I had no agenda of things to do and see that day, I joined the group that went to play with them, Eric, Scott, and Kari. We played with them for a while... my dart playing skills are just sad to say the least. But it was fun and I love interacting with the people here.

Afterwards, we caught up to the other group and Kari decided to go with them to Omar's shop. Since I still haven't decided if I want the piece he has on hold for me, I opted out, and Eric, Scott and I went exploring. We didn't find much of anything thrilling, a cool shop, some candy, a neat ally. We were walking past the fountain by the church of the Holy Sepulchre and I saw a young guy with an awesome bird. I complemented him on it and he asked me if I would like to hold it. I asked if it was free and he said for me... yes! I held this neat little bird and it immediately pooped on my finger! Sick nasty! But I still needed the picture with it so I dealt with it.

Ok ok ok ... I wrote that first part almost a week ago. And I haven't had a single spare moment since then... so I'll finish up to last Monday and then I'll start working on another post to try and capture this amazing week!

So the bird poops on my finger, picture, and then we start talking. Turns out he was a Bedouin man who owned his own shop. We started chatting because we had just visited a Bedouin camp. He asked us to come to his shop to show us some of his Bedouin heritage things. We had about 20 mins before we had to start heading back so why not? We go into his shop which is just like every other little tourist shop in the old city, but he pulls out a picture book from behind the counter and starts showing us his family. Then he points to a picture of his mother or grandmother wearing this beautiful cross stitch dress. Then he points to the dress hanging on the wall of the stairs ( I hadn't even noticed the stairs before.) Right then a little boy arrives with some herbal tea that he's brought us. Our teachers had explained how hospitality is valued very highly in Bedouin society and their trademark is sharing tea. So I took it, but I also remembered how my parents had taught me never to accept a drink that something could be put in... so I just pretended to sip it. Meanwhile, Eric downs the whole thing, Scott did the same as me. Once we have the tea he tells us that he has some antiques upstairs in his workshop. I got kinda a fishy feeling about this so I had one of the boys go first and another one behind me as he lead us upstairs. But he was telling the truth, there was a beautiful workshop upstairs, draped floor to ceiling in elaborate fabrics with intense metal decorations everywhere. It honestly looked like something straight out of the movies, a Middle Eastern sitting room. In the fireplace there were jars and jars of spices, when I asked him about it, he says "My brother, he is crazy! He is a chef!" I'll believe that now. In the center of the room there was a round table covered in bowls of beads of all kinds of colors and sizes and materials. He has us all sit down on cushions and turns to me and says "I want to make you a present, and earring!" Well... I'm not about to say no to free jewelry, so we sat there and watched as he made me a beautiful earring. He says the stone he put on there is coral... sure why not... even if it's not... it's beautiful! He hands it to me and says, "I will only give you one because I want you to come back then I'll give you the other!" I don't know if he means buy the other or he'll really give me the other, I don't even care! It's a cool story behind the earring :) I haven't had time to go back and get it because I don't want to go back there without 2 biggish guys at least. This guy is just a bit to friendly, but I am definitely going back! By the time we finally got out of there we had 13 mins to get back to the center. It normally takes me about 18 mins from the Northeast gate back to the center if I'm walking at a good pace. We were at the West gate (Jaffa)... it was a very quick run/walk we did back to the center and guess what, we only made it back 5 mins late!

Thursday, I had another quick break after classes, so we decided to go to the old city again. Brother Belnap heard us talking about a place to find and he told us about the oldest church in Jerusalem that supposedly has the skull of John the Baptist. So off we went, sadly we didn't find it in time before we had to race back to the center to make it in time for class.

Friday, Mckay wanted to get ready for Jordan by going to Shaban's and trading our Shekals for Dinars. Apparently, everyone else in the center had the same idea. We got there and about 5 mins later another 20 people showed up. The little shop was so full that Shaban had us all sit down and gave us mango juice and pita bread with thyme. And of course lots of the girls bought scarfs and the boys looked at kipas (sp?), we had to leave pretty quick though... we only had about an hour and half to play in the old city before dark so 20 mins there and then 30 mins in Shabans... we had to leave pretty quick to make it back to the center. Mckay, Matt and I were walking down the street from Shabans when we saw an open door. You know what that means - go in! It was a green door, made for midgets-I had to bend down to go through. It opened up to a small courtyard with a little church in the middle. On the door of the church there was a sign - John the Baptists Relic church! We found it! Without even trying! I was thrilled! Sadly it was closed, it's only open at random 1 hour increments during the week. But, I know where it is now and I'm going back!!

Friday night was movie night, Lawrence of Arabia, there was no way I could sit through a 3 hour movie in the uncomfortable chairs in the forum, so I went and joined a group playing games. Scategories, catch phrase, and then I suggested Rook. There was one other girl here who knew how to play, so we taught two others and started a game. Soon more and more people joined in and pretty soon we had lots of rook games going, and guess what, people loved it! Not only loved it, there is talk of a Rook tournament going down! Best day ever! I haven't really played Rook since Freshman year, I'm loving it!

Saturday, church was amazing! I feel like I'm on a constant spiritual high here! After church, a small group of us walked down to the Garden of Gethsemane. It wasn't quite what I expected. It was noisy and cold and very manicured. But I found a quite corner, pulled out my scriptures and had a wonderful experience. I am still in awe that I can just walk to the Garden tomb or the Garden of Gethsemane whenever I want to, ponder on what happened there, I feel like the luckiest girl in the world all the time!

Sunday was something else. Most of the people here decided to go on a little excursion to see some caves about an hour away from the city. I looked them up and honestly... it just looked like Timp, plus, I'm not a huge fan of caves, they make me a wee bit nervous. So I opted out and signed up instead to play the carol-on bells that morning. So after breakfast, Hannah, Brooke, John, and I hiked over to the YMCA just outside of the the old city. When we got there, Stephen, Brett, and Kari had decided last minute to do it and hitched a ride with the Carlsons. We got to chime the hour and then we started playing the bells. Like actual huge bells ringing out over the city! It was such a nerve racking and amazing experience. I got to play Somewhere Over the Rainbow and then Hannah and I played Sunrise, Sunset. Every time I hear Viva la Vida now I'm going to think of that experience "I hear Jerusalem bells a ringing, Roman Calvary choirs are singing!" I rang those Jerusalem bells!!! Afterwards, we took the most awkward picture of my life in front of the building... ask me about it when I get home!

Afterwards we went over to the Israel Museum. Brooke and I had already been there, but let's be honest... I was so enthralled the first time I didn't mind going back and looking at things at my own pace. The highlight of my museum experience this time was not the artifacts. Brett and I were wandering through and we started chatting about these giant lion gates that were in the middle of the floor. Pretty soon, without thinking, we were chatting and leaning on the ancient lions. Before you knew it, the alarm started beeping and the guard was coming towards us yelling in Arabic or Hebrew, I don't know which. Brett had blocked me from his view so he only yelled at him thankfully, I couldn't stop laughing. I'm pretty sure those weren't the real things... they were in the middle of the floor and the last time I was there the tour guide touched them...but still, leaning on them was probably not the best thing. Still... it was a hilarious experience.

After the museum, we split up. Hannah, Stephen, Kari, John and I decided to stay in West Jerusalem and see what the night life was like. We're not allowed out in East Jerusalem (where the center is) or the Old City after dark. Since we were already in West Jerusalem it only seemed natural to stay out. We wandered over to the German Colony (and when I say wandered, I mean asked directions from multiple people and turned around a couple times), on the way over, Stephen and I got in an argument over who sings Livin' on a Prayer. He called multiple people to settle this, but since Brett is the gospel truth according to Stephen, he was the official tie breaker. At first he sided with Stephen saying it was Journey, but a few mins later he called back to side with me... Bon Jovi! So now he owes me a waffle, or crepe, and I have the satisfaction of knowing my Bon Jovi! The German Colony was alright... just a little street full of fun little restaurants and a crazy looking movie theater. I don't know that I'll go back, but I'm sure glad I went to see it at least once. We grabbed a taxi ride home and Stephen and John worked to lower the rate by auctioning off kisses from us 3 girls. Thankfully the driver wouldn't go for it and we made it home with out to much of a problem!

Alrighty this post is way past long enough, and I have homework, so until next time! Goodnight!

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Homeward Bound... and a wee bit homesick

No, I'm not coming home... I'm talking Biblical home here. But before I catch up for the past couple days, I thought Mom and Dad would appreciate the fact that I got a little bit homesick yesterday. We went on an awesome field trip yesterday - details to follow - but the hour long drive there, the land around looked just like the Ranch and I got a little bit nostalgic. Then, later that day when I opened up my Picasa to organize my pictures for the day, it automatically opened up to the pictures I scanned for your Christmas present a few years ago. So I spent a few mins perusing pictures of Mom and Dad's wedding and early days on Beverly Street. I hope everyone is well at home... I miss you all! Its all I can do not to buy a ton of presents for everyone here!! I've already got about 5 million things I want to get for you girls... Ben is proving difficult... but my eyes are peeled for something perfect!

Ok... now the Homeward Bound bit. One of my first nights here, I was accompanying a friend, Heather (she has an absolutely amazing voice!!!!) and she asked me to play the old folk song Homeward Bound (Simon and Garfunkel remade it later) that Grandpa Williams used to have me play for him. I haven't accompanied anyone in that song since he passed away and as I was playing it for her I could feel him very close! Our field trip yesterday was to the Negev... the dry flatlands almost desert that the people of the Exodus wandered around for 40 years. On our way there, Brother Woods sang a few lines of Homeward Bound to us, making the connection that we are going back to the home that was promised to Abraham and how we are entitled to the promises he made. Brother Woods reminds me a lot of Grandpa Williams too... the veil felt very thin at times during the day.

We visited the Bedouin Women - nomadic people who still live a very simplistic... although more modernized... lifestyle. They showed us how make yarn, dye it, and weave these beautiful, elaborate materials. It was so primitive but so beautiful! In a few years when I have a bit more spending money, I'm going to order some of the pillow cases they made.

Next we went to Tel-Beersheva, a town that is mentioned many times in the Old Testament, because all 3 of the patriarchs were known to have lived there at one time or another. Every place I go, I'm learning so so so much, there is no way I can write it all down! But at Tel-Beersheva we focused on the significance of Alters in temples.... mostly because they found a 4 horned alter there. Wow! The thing that struck me at this site was the view that I was looking at was the same one that Abraham looked at as he left to sacrifice Isaac, the same one Isaac looked at as a young boy, and the same one that Jacob looked at some point in his life. As I stood in the streets of the city and tried to imagine what it would have looked like back then, the feelings that these great prophets and fathers and sons had to have been experiencing as they stood there (or somewhere really close!!) it made the scriptures so much more real! After wards we went into these amazing cisterns way under the city. I couldn't believe that these man made caverns were made so anciently ago... it gives me chills thinking about it!

My favorite site of the day though was Tel-Arad. Arad is mentioned in the scriptures as well as the Canaanite city that prevented the Israelites from entering into Canaan. Again, standing on top of the hill looking over the land that Children of Israel would have been camped in, I could just visualize a young women back then, standing somewhere nearby where I was and seeing this massive group of people approaching her home city. It is so easy to empathize with Biblical characters being here in this land and understanding how things are here... I can't even describe it! What fear must have been in her heart and the hearts of the leaders of Arad seeing the Exodus, how discouraging must it have been for the Israelites coming from the lush area of the Nile to be camped here in a relatively ugly place (I thought it was beautiful, but I can see how some might find it harsh and unappealing like it's described in the O.T.). But perhaps the coolest moment came for me when we looked over the layout of a complete Israelite temple that had been excavated from the site. I've seen drawings of what it was supposed to look like before, but it became so real to me. Honestly, I've always pictured a huge area making up the temple, but it was fairly small. About the size of the kitchen, dinning, and living room in my parents house. But I could feel the history as I looked at the rocks comprising the walls. I can't wait to go through our temple and compare the Israelite temples to what I learn there! I can tell I've got SO MUCH TO LEARN still! It's exciting!

Sunday I finally went to the Dome of the Rock! I remember learning about it back in High School. My teacher did such a good job explaining it and impressing into us the importance of the sight... I remember turning to Steph and we promised each other we'd go there. I got to chat with her for a few minutes yesterday and she was so excited that I'd been there! I can't wait for her to get home and we can share all the amazing experiences we've had abroad now! Anyways... the Dome of the Rock... it was even better than I had originally imagined! The tile is exquisite and the buildings surrounding it are gorgeous ruins of Roman looking architecture...except for the Mosque of course! I'm going to have to go back 4 or 5 times at least while I'm here to even start to take it all in.
Ok that really is me... 

If you turned around from where the above picture was taken this is what was behind you. From left to right: Matt, Me, Kimberly, Chris

After the Dome, Matt, Dillon, Kimberly (my amazing roommate!), Christopher, and I all set out to explore the Old City. We decided to try and find the 4 synagogues. But, somehow we ended up in the Christian quarter... I led us down a few random allies and up a few random stair cases and before I knew it we had found our way into a courtyard that I"m pretty sure was on the roof of a radiating chapel to the Church of the Holy Seplechure. Just as we came out on the roof... the bells started chiming. It sounded just like the Sound of Music. I would love to live in a city where real bells chime on the hour, there is something so majestic and peaceful about it. Next we found our way onto the rooftop of a couple houses that had an amazing view of the Dome of the Rock, Church of the Holy Seplechure and a mosque I think... Anyways, it was smack dab in the middle of the Christian, Armenian, and Jewish quarters... I'm pretty sure. It was such a cool view we decided to have lunch there. Right as we sat down, the Muslim call for prayer starting going off right above us, then about a minute later the church bells from the church of the Holy Seplechure started chiming. It was a very confusing and at the same time beautiful. I hope I can find my way back there sometime!
Rooftop in the middle of the City with me in the middle!

After the rooftops we climbed down and went exploring under the city, we went to Zedekiah's Caves, where the stone for the first temple was quarried. They were cool... but honestly the coolest thing for me was the fact that we were under such a bustling city!

Finally, the best part of the day was at the end... we visited Omar's Olive wood carving shop. They are exquisite! I'm wrestling with whether or not to buy this beautiful statue of Christ pulling Peter out of the water. It's expensive! After Omar's, we went exploring a bit more and finally found one of the synagogues we'd started out looking for. But then we discovered a breathtaking overlook of the Western Wall and the Dome of the Rock. We dubbed it our new lunch place and had a very hard time pulling ourselves away from the spectacular view, the somewhat peaceful atmosphere and the benches that were great for our sore feet!

We found another rampart walk and started going around it, but ran out of time. Fun story - We were getting pictures and I was supermanning out of a rampart window to get a cool pic. I couldn't get very far out though. Matt thought he'd be nice and hold onto my legs so I could lean out further, well he lifted me up when he grabbed my legs and I thought I was getting thrown over the wall. Terrifying. The boys I was with all found it incredibly funny however. We had to race back to the center to make it in before sundown, but we made it in time for a gorgeous sunset and a big list of things to do next Sunday!

Today, the only thing I have to report is that I made it through all my classes (6 hours worth) without falling asleep and I got a bit of a tan (as much as I tan) as I studied/napped on my balcony today. Sunny 72 degrees today... sorry for all y'all back in Utah!

Well, goodnight from Jerusalem! As always, love you all!!

Saturday, January 18, 2014

On Top of the World

I'm not in a super creative or writing mood right now... but I know I need to record as much as I can before I forget to much!

So here's a list of what's been on my mind and what I've been up to

1. I've been here a little over a week and my testimony has grown more in one crazy week than it has in probably the last two years. It's impossible for it not to grow as I'm learning more and more about the Old Testament and especially about Abraham I'm in awe of the amazing things that took place here! 

2. The impossible has happened... It think I'm finally finding my way around the Old City! I've only gotten lost twice the last time I went there! Some cool things I've found and discovered:
I held a Parrot named Rose
I found the prison and tomb that held Barabbas supposedly
I tried Falafal and Schwarma... mmmmmmm sooo good
I visited the Church of the Holy Seplechure
And I finally got up the courage to buy/barter a bag that I really needed

3. I found Kristalyn and Landon's dopplegangers - except Landon's is blonde

4. I lead a Zumba class... it was terrifying but once we started I had so much fun... and I had multiple boys come up to me the next day and tell me how sore they were from it! Score!

5. Last night we got to go into the Old Ctiy after dark and participate in the welcoming of the Sabbath with the Jews at the Western Wall. It was an unforgettable experience! We could hear the crowd singing before we were even inside the city. It was slightly overwhelming walking into such an enclosed space and having so many people, like thousands of people, all there worshiping and singing and dancing. But the really incredible thing was how inviting they were and how much they wanted us to celebrate with them. I joined many dance circles just like in Fiddler on the Roof, and rubbed shoulders with many women who were praying earnestly. What wonderful people this world is full of! When we were at the Wall, I couldn't help but think of how much the gospel would bless these people's lives! How badly I wanted them to know what they were missing, to share with them the fact that there is a temple, multiple temples on the Earth today, and that they can speak to God anywhere not just at the wall. Sadly I'm not even allowed to hint at my faith, but I know that one day these amazing people will be given the opportunity to hear this gospel, even if it's not in this life.

6. After coming back from the Wall, we decided to have our own dance party. No lie, it was the funnest dance I've ever been to and I can NOT wait for the next one!!!

7. On Thursday we went and walked the rampart wall. We spent hours climbing all over the ancient stones and looking down on the old city of Jerusalem! It was breathtaking and such a neat experience to look down into the people's lives!

Well, there's a quick overview for me! Hope everyone is well back at home!!


Monday, January 13, 2014

Like Woah...


What is this place? I've already fallen completely in love with the old city, made friends with some of the local vendors, tried some crazy new foods, and made life long friends. And it's only been 5 days! Let me try and scratch the surface of my past two days but there is no possible way I can capture all of the experiences and feelings that I'm having! Sorry for anyone who is reading this... but I'm using this blog as a way to remember each and every day so I am going to try and detail out as much as I can remember.

Yesterday. Best. DAY. EVER. I know that I will probably say that multiple times on this blog because it seems that each new experience is simply building on another. Since Saturday is our Sabbath, Sunday is our free day. Before we came here, Mckay Schoffield and I decided we would run in the mornings, problem is, we have very restricted running routes (as in one 4 mile loop) and we can only be outside when it's light out, soooo that means that yesterday was the very first time we could actually go for a run. We left at 6:30 and within 5 mins we were completely lost, thankfully we were lost on Hebrew University campus and not some "bad" neighborhood. Once we got back on course we discovered some hidden nuggets. An incredible overlook into West Bank, an ancient tomb site ruins, a cemetery, and of course the fact that we were running in Jerusalem was a fact we couldn't get over. When we rounded the corner to head back up the (ridiculously steep and never ending long) hill to get back tot he JC, the sun came up. The windows of Jerusalem reflected back the red light combined with the reflection from the Dome of the Rock, it looked like the city was on fire. It was breathtaking. Sadly, I couldn't get a picture of it.

When we got back it was a quick turn around and about half the group headed to the Israeli Museum, it was kinda overcast and a bit chilly so perfect day right? I don't know what I was expecting there, but it certainly wasn't anything like I imagined. When we got there it was massive group think and no one was doing anything, so Matt C (I have no idea how to spell his last name), Mckay, Abrianna (my roommate who I thought I would need lots of patience to learn to love, but I already do love her! Small miracles!!!) Josh Johnson, and Ricky just started walking. And guess what, it worked, we found where we needed to go, and not only that... when we got back and compared notes... we'd by far and large had the best experience. We found the giant replica of Jerusalem in the second Temple period and had a fun time trying to identify where we were and watching the "giant ravens" ravage Jaffa gate. Next we were awed by the Dead Sea Scrolls exhibit. How had I never really heard anything about them? What a mind blowing discovery!!! And I got to see those relics and look at a few of the fragments. Can you imagine discovering, handling and translating those? Wow! Simply unbelievable!! Next we went to the archeology wing, Mckay stopped to ask directions and found out that there was a tour leaving in 5 mins and that the Botticelli accession piece was still on location even though the exhibit was closed. Sooo we ran for the tour! Iris, our tour guide took a minute for introductions and when she found out we were from the "Mormon University" with a purpose (checklist) to our visit, she decided to give us the real deal. 2 HOURS later, we had been given an inclusive tour complete with minor explanations of Jewish tradition and history. I couldn't believe everything I was seeing. I honestly teared up when I saw the Goddess of Willendorf, the bust of Alexander the Great, original Corinthian column tops, to name a few. Plus there were unbelievable things that I'd never heard of, a Jewish prayer scroll engraved in Silver found in a collapsed tomb (the Jews on our tour were much more impressed then us Mormons... I'll have to research more what that is), Sarcophagi from ancient Egypt, relics from what I'm going to believe was ancient Sodom and Gomorrah (gold idols that had been burned during the time period of the Patriarchs... I mean come on!). When we finally finished our tour we were completely exhausted, but I HAD to see that Botticelli. Mckay was the only other person who even knew what it was and he was dying to get to the old city... but everyone else was curious, so we trekked back the length of the museum and found the guard. ( The exhibit officially closed on Saturday) I approached and asked if the piece had been moved yet and if we could possibly see it. She finally relented and we were ushered past the gates to our own private viewing of Botticelli's Ascension! I didn't even try and hide the tears this time. Me, Mckay and Abrianna took pictures and then we took a moment to just appreciate it. Matt started asking me questions and by the time I was done... well he needed a picture to! Which really got me to thinking... I think I picked the wrong major. I mean I like my major, but in all honest - I LOVE art history! These past couple days that is becoming more and more apparent with each Basilicas, each relic, each corbeled vaulted arch I see. When I get back, I'm going to start looking for graduate schools to study art history in. So Mom you will be glad to know I've set a goal to get a 4.0 this semester!

When we finally left the museum we decided to try our luck at walking to the old city to find the Western Wall. This turned out to be very adventurous full of back allies and endless stairs
 and even a random parking garage that Google maps lead us through out we came to the Lion's gate and proceeded to get hopelessly lost in the never ending maze that is Old Jerusalem. Vendor's called out to us, little kids raced around our legs, exotic scarfs and smells caught my attention (as well as my camera lens). Finally, we needed help so Mckay asked some little kid to point us in the right direction and he grabbed his hand and lead us to his shop. (Turns out his shop was right by the Western Wall). After some serious haggling we got out of the shop and never made it to the Western Wall... we all needed hair coverings and none of us had them. And since the sun was going down we decided to try and head back to the center. Buuuut we got side tracked with some interesting pilgrim chapels, and a monastery, and maybe a couple of shops. By the time we finally started up the hill to the center we were practically running to make it back in time. But it was so worth it!

This morning we got started bright and early to go on a field trip to the different lookouts around Jerusalem. I think I finally can find my way around, well atleast know where North is! Some of the spots didn't really do much for me... I mean they were cool, but it almost felt like the same view. But when we got to the overlook into Bethlehem and we were looking at the fields where the Shepherds literally were the night Christ was born... I felt it! It was awe inspiring and I felt like I could see those shepherds and feel their fear in seeing angels descending on them. I can't wait until we actually go to Bethlehem!

Finally... tonight we were playing Sardines as an FHE family around the center. I was loosing... badly... so I started checking obscure places and lo and behold the Chamber of Secrets appeared. I did some preliminary investigating with Hannah who was looking with me. Once we found our family we dragged them back and we climbed through until we found the book. Just then, we heard the security guard. Literally trapped. Well, the pulled us all out and took us to the office. Wrote our names down and we knew we were in trouble. So we went to find Brother Witchurch and tell him before the guards could. We tried so hard to keep a straight face, but someone would start giggling, then we all would. It was hopeless. Thankfully, he found it amusing as well, but warned us there would be problems if we went down there again...

Alright. There's my past two days. It doesn't do them even a little bit of justice, but I'm exhausted and bed is calling my name. So goodnight from the Holy Land!

Friday, January 10, 2014

Thoughts from a sleep deprived girl

We made it! After about 18 hours in airplanes and airports I didn't think we would, but some how miraculously we pulled through the night on the plane and by the next afternoon I saw my first glimpse of the Holy Land.

** side note - I got made fun of because I couldn't tell if the little thing below us from the plane were boats or other planes... I have since decided they were other planes. And this is my first experience with jet lag... woof! That's all.

First of all, my group is amazing! I already can tell I'm going to make life long friends here. AND my roommates are amazing! Talk about a blessing!!! AND classes started today and I can't remember the last time I was so enthralled through lectures, but honestly they are incredible! I can't believe how darn lucky I am to be here!

Yesterday we got a tour of the city - old and new. There is sooooo much exploring I want to do! So many more things I want all of a sudden now that I know they exist! Rings and anklets, Jeanie pants and scarfs, statues and pottery...but most of all, experiences I want to have. One of the coolest things I've already experienced is the smells here. Anyone who knows me knows that smell is by far my strongest sense. That was the first thing I noticed when I got off the plane - how heavy the air smelled, and when I got to the Jerusalem center I noticed how dirty the air smelled, but in the Old City, it smells amazing! There is a line in A Little Princesses where Sara tries to describe how India smells - she says, " The air is full of spices!" That is exactly what the Old City smells like. So many exotic spices and incense... I couldn't recognize even half of them, but they don't clash! They complement each other and make an entrancing experience.

Another mesmerizing experience I've had and continue having is listening to the calls to prayer. My first night here, I was woken up at 4:45 am when the call went off. I just laid in bed and listened to the talented caller over the loud speakers. The first call was simple, almost Gregorian Chant like in sound, but the second call that went off an hour and a half later was almost harmonizing in sound. As I laid there it hit me. I'm in the Holy Land. Where Christ lived, walked, and performed miracles. I'm in a place revered by religions all across the world! I'm in a place that has seen so many cultures and peoples, (the Orient!!) and more tragedy than I can ever comprehend. And for 4 amazing months, I get to be a part of this!

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Here we go

In 4 days (...ONLY 4 DAYS!!) I will be embarking on the biggest adventure of my life so far - BYU's Jerusalem Center! Words can not express how excited, terrified, grateful, and anxious I am for this chance I get to see the world! (At least a little bit of it!)

I'm going to be using this blog as a travel journal/way to stay in touch with people/picture sharing place. So if you want to stay updated on these crazy next 4 months of my life... this is the place :)