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!

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