January 21, 2014

israel museum + negev fieldtrip

Things are going good here. I'm still loving every second. Sunday nights are game nights and everyone gathers in the Well for games. It is so fun. Sunday we went to the Israel Museum.
For one of our classes we got a list of all the the sites we should see at the Israel Museum. We have free passes so that was nice. We only needed to pay for the transportation. The Museum is HUGE. I couldn't believe it. We mainly we're supposed to see the archaeologist section. There was also modern art and some of it was weird but some was really cool!! There was a video of a bare butt walking so that was weird...There was just SO much to look at. We didn't see everything but we were there for like 3.5 hours. We saw part of the dead sea scrolls. I took Art history last year and I saw some of the art that we studied so that was pretty cool. 
We had some more time so we walked to the city. We did some shopping and got some yummy gelato. 
Monday we had our second field trip. We got up early and left on our buses. Our first stop was visiting the bedouin women who weave. They showed us how they make the quilts and such. They were really cool. I really wanted their bags but they cost a lot. Bedouin have a nomadic and tribal lifestyle, but most have abandoned it. They gave us this really good tea, and I don't even like tea. {herbal of course}
So the negev is a desert area in southern Israel. Negev means dry. Our second stop was Beersheba. This is where Abraham dug a well and took an oath, Beersheba means oath. It was pretty cool. We went into the water system underground and that was sweet. We had to wear these funny looking helmets because there was there were some shallow parts. Brother woods and Dr. Whitchurch spoke to us and then we ate lunch.
The last place we went was Tel Arad. The Israelis and Canannites used to live there. You could see a temple there that they reconstructed that was cool to see. It's crazy that they lived in the desert. It must have been SO hot! We then had a two hour bus ride back. It was pretty long. We then had dinner and fhe at the Gunthers. They are super nice. Julia and Dan are my fhe parents. I love my fhe family! I love it here! I don't really like all the studying but I feel like I am learning a lot. Some of the readings just go over my head though. Well Shalom (peace).

January 18, 2014

getting in the swing of things.

Okay so sad news, my iphoto freaked out and deleted my pictures from monday, our first fied trip. I was really sad. I have a few from that day that I got from others so I posted some of theirs. Our field trip was to get us more oriented with Jerusalem. We looked at different over looks around Jerusalem. Our center is North East located on Mt. Scopus. I still can't believe I live here. The center is beautiful.
Our first stop was Augusta Victoria Tower which is on the Mount of Olives and provides a 360 degree view of Jerusalem and Judea. It took 233 stairs to get to the top of the Augusta Victoria bell tower, which was definitely my work out for the day. The view was amazing. It is a Lutheran church that also includes a hospital. The church is beautiful, we sang hymns and it sounded beautiful. It's amazing how well music can bring the spirit.
Our second stop was seven arches hotel lookout. We rested there while Brother Seeley shared some words. Brother Seeley and Brother and sister woods went on the field trip with us. In this picture are my good friends, emma and alicia. This view is from the East. Our third stop I have no pictures of but we went to Tayelet which gives us a view from the south. It was beautiful. Brother Woods shared some words with us there. He is such a great teacher who really loves the scriptures. We also ate lunch there.
Our forth stop was the Bethlehem Overlook. This was my favorite stop. It was absolutely gorgeous and the spirit was SO strong there. We all sat around as Brother Woods spoke. We sang hymns and pondered the scriptures. Christ our Savior was born here and walked these plains. We will eventually go down to Bethlehem, It is in West Bank and it is crazy to see the wall and how close the west bank is. Lower down were sheep and little boys were herding them, what a crazy job.
there are so many cats here! they are kind of cute actually, but definitely so NOT touch them.
Our fifth stop was Nabi Samwil where they believe Prophet Samuel is buried. We went inside the synagogue and not going to lie it was so weird. Just not something we are used to. There was a men side and a womens side. We couldnt really see anything on the women's side. It was just a white wall and people were praying in this tiny room. I honestly had no idea what was going on. You could see a lot of places from this spot. 
On tuesday Chris got his mission call to INDIA! it was super awesome cause he got to open it in the Garden of Gethsename. How cool is that?! His heritage is from India and he wanted to go there so it is perfect and super special to him. I'm super proud of him!
The church was super pretty. They have the prettiest mosiacs. The spirit was very strong in there. You had to be very silent. It was very special and neat. It was crazy and so surreal being at the garden of gethsename. I have heard the story of Christ suffering in these gardens and i can't believe I am actually here. The garden wasn't as I expected though, it is pretty small and gated off. I was kind of sad that we couldn't walk on the grounds. It was really pretty though. We get to visit here or the Garden tomb every sabbath day. I know my Savior atoned for my sins and bled and died for me personally.
On the way home the cutest little girl wanted a picture with me. I love the kids here!
I love the dirty streets here. and i love taking pictures here. i cant wait to take more.
On thursday after classes we went out to the city and did the ramparts walk. It was such a nice day out. The walk around the old city wall was really fun and cool. We were also very hyper, i just love the people here!
Standing on top of Damascus Gate
Creeping on children.
soccer fields
the sunsets here are so pretty, this doesn't do it justice.
School is very intense here. I love my classes though. We have officially started all of them. Old testament with Brother woods. He knows the scriptures so well and is a really good teacher, he is also the bishop of our ward branch. Brother Seeley is our ancient near eastern studies. He is really funny and knows so much about hte middle east and archaeology and such. The class is pretty interesting. We have Palestine with Bashir Bashir. He is SO funny. It's hard to understand him sometimes with his heavy accent. He always calls us "my friends" and our class "a party". We have Ophir (we call him by his first name) for Israel/Islam. He is also very funny and a awesome teacher. All of my classes are super interesting. There is so much reading and information thrown at me that it is hard to intake everything. I have hebrew with Ms. Goldman. She is awesome. She has been teaching here for years. We already learned a lot our first day. I can tell the class is going to be super fun. We sing songs and draw and such. I'm really excited to learn hebrew. It might be a little challenging though. Shalom means hello/peace and shabbot shalom is what you say when you are bringing in the sabbath. 
           This week has just made me realize how much reading and homework we will have. luckily we only have most of these classes half of the semester. I am still in love with the oasis food. I can't get enough of it. I am making great friends and everyone here is such a good example to me. So for the jews they start the sabbath at sundown friday night. So yesterday night (friday night) all of us got to go to the western wall at sunset and that is where a lot of the jews go to bring in the sabbath. It was amazing! We weren't allowed to take pictures because it was a very holy time and place and so it would be disrespectful if we did. There were SO many people there! Everyone was in their sunday best. The boys had to wear keepas so go in. We wrote down prayers and put them in the wall. Everyone was praying and it was such a cool experience. If you ever go to Jerusalem do this!! Lots of people were singing and dancing in circles and we got to join them. The girls were SO inviting and nice! It was so fun to talk to them and hear their stories. It's crazy that they don't have a leader but all these people go and worship the same place. It's crazy how much they they care about the wall where their old temple used to stand. These people are amazing and I am starting to love the jews. We then watch indiana jones because part of it was filled in petra, where we are going! SO cool! I can't wait to go. Later that night we had the grand opening of "The Well" (because everyone needs to fill their canteen). It is our student food stand in the student lounge. We had the best dance party ever! It was seriously so fun. It is probably the highlight of my time here haha. It bonded us as a whole. We then played "mow" a card game you play with uno cards. It is so complicated that I can't even explain it. But i love it. I get a high off it. 
Saturdays (the sabbath) are always the best. Church is SO good. It is 10x better here I swear. Maybe that's bad to say but I really look forward to it. I want to tell you a story about a women who visited out ward today. She was born and grew up in Jerusalem. She was not a member but she saw an ad for a byu scholarship and she applied for it and got accepted. She didn't know why but she felt like she should go to byu. and her family thought she was crazy. She then was converted at byu. She moved back to Israel and the only church ward she could go to was the one at the center. She was really determined to go to church and she needed a permit to get into Jerusalem because she is a palestinian, and you have to live in jerusalem if you are a palestinian. So she had to go 1.5 hours to get to a whole in the wall so she could climb through. But before she did she had to look for soldiers and had to make sure they weren't looking. Then she had to run and climb over a 10 foot wall and then run some more in a field. She then had to find a bus to take her to the jerusalem center. And not all buses would let her on. She did this for 14 years ever sabbath day until in 2007 she got caught by the guards and was almost arrested. She had so much dedication. I think this story is just amazing. I feel guilty now for the days I didn't want to go to church. Then she got a job with the united nations so she could live in Jerusalem and she then was relief society president. She then felt like she should quit her job and everyone in the ward thought she was crazy. She then felt like she should serve a mission but she didn't know why. She just got back from her mission. She was at church today because she got a 3 day permit. She probably won't be able to come back to church for a while. She is truly an amazing women who touched my heart. I love Jerusalem more and more everyday. I am learning so much about the cultures here. Each day it surprises me more and I can't wait for the rest of my journey.

song of the week/semester: Jerusalem: Matisyahu

January 12, 2014

garden tomb + dome of the rock.

i love haley.
So it is super weird having the Sabbath on a Saturday. I don't know if I will ever get used to that. Church was really good though! I am in the choir, even though I can't sing. We have sacrament on the 8th (top) floor. When you sit down there are huge windows facing the city, it is a beautiful view. You can't even look at the speaker because it is so bright outside and the city is so gorgeous. After church we went to the garden tomb. It's so weird how it is in the middle of the city. When you enter it is so peaceful and quiet. There are chairs all over. On easter the place is packed. We had a tour. The tomb was smaller than I thought it would be. There were quite a few people there. We sang some hymns and the spirit was so strong. We don't know if this is where Christ was resurrected but that doesn't matter, what matters is that we know it happened and why it happened. That night we played a bunch of games. Mormons love games. I am making lots of friends and I love everyone here!
View from the Jerusalem Center! I can't believe I live there. Gorgeous. It's like living in a hotel.
Today (Saturday) is our free day and so we got to explore the city all by ourselves. We got a little lost but not too bad. I feel like I already know the city pretty well, I recognize some people even. Also guys like to wink at you here, it's a little creepy haha. The center gave us sack lunches which was really nice. We walked around the city for a bit, at the market. I already have so many things I want to buy, it's bad...I love the feel of the old city. The vendors really want you to buy things though and it's a little annoying.
We went to the Western wall where the Jews go to pray. It is a wall from the Temple Mount which is closest to the Holy of Holies. It is very sacred to them. Right when we got there I just kept going straight into the wall and then a guy was like you guys aren't allowed to be in here, they will get mad at you. I'm glad he told us because we were going into the guys side! That would happen to me. There is a girl and guy side which is really interesting. They write down their prayers and put it inside the wall. We got a picture with some soldiers! It's pretty scary that they just carry around machine guns.
As we were walking we ran into some little boys playing with marbles. We joined them. It was real fun. I love talking to them. I just love kids here. and in general. They wouldn't let me get a picture with them so this is the best I got.
YES, this is the dome of the rock. Coolest building I think I have ever seen. It is SO beautiful. I love the mosaic tiles. It's crazy to think that this was build several years ago. How did they make this?! Before the dome of the rock many of temples were built and destroyed here. This is a shrine located on the Temple Mount in the Old City. This is a very sacred place for Muslims. We are not allowed inside. It was kind of bad because Haley and I got in trouble for posing in front of it as you can see in the second picture. It was really awkward. I got in trouble a lot today. But so did a lot of others. Many believe this is where Prophet Muhammad ascended into Heaven and where Abraham prepared to sacrifice his son Isaac.
Damascus Gate
I love it here and love the people I am meeting. I never want to leave this place. I took a five hour nap today and missed dinner...So that's why I am still up and am very hungry! Breakfast is in 4 hours haha. We have to be in the center by 12 and can't go in the Old City after sunset. We can go in West Jerusalem but with at least one guy. We always have to be in groups of three when we go out. They each gave us phones so that is nice when we need to contact each other. I have a bunch of homework and we have only had two classes haha. We have a field trip tomorrow so I am very excited about that. Our rooms are really nice! I'll take pictures later and show them to you. Each room has a balcony overlooking the city. I still can't believe I live here. The weather is a little cold. It is 50 degrees. When you walk up hills you get hot but then cold anywhere else. The sun is out half the time and it's mostly pretty foggy. It will soon get pretty hot though. There are lots of hills in Jerusalem. So that will be my work out? Haha. The boys live a floor above the girls. It's sometimes weird that we live in the same building. We each are in a committee and I am in the memories committee, how fitting is that? I just get to take pictures and put a slide show together at the end. And we are making tshirts i think. Our hashtag is #jerucrew14. I'm still so amazed at this place and how all these religions live in the same place but do not really talk to eachother. The spirit is so strong here. I can't believe I am walking on the grounds where Christ walked. This is a one in a lifetime experience and I love it. Hurrah for Israel!