Saturday, January 21, 2012

Sabbath Welcome


Time is now catching up to me quite fast and I am not sure how I will be able to keep up with all this excitement. To start off with, I have to say that coming to Jerusalem was one of the best decisions I have ever made. I feel like I h

Monday, January 16, 201

2: JERICHOave learned so much and grown even more – hopefully I can try to express some of this through this blog. (This is another thought… I will try to write more.) Okay… here is the week. Ready, set, go!!

Yep! I went to the LOWEST and OLDEST city in the world. It was absolutely beautiful there too – it is a little Oasis in the middle of the Judean Desert. Several rulers actually came through the area to stay for the winter, like Alexander

the Great, Cleopatra, and Herod. The weather, due to the low sea level, was perfect. It was in the low 70’s with a slight breeze.

Our first stop was at the Tel es-Sultan, which is a mound that has been slowly built up for thousands of years by the different civilizations. So basically an artificial hill is created over lots of time because people conquer or rebuild over the same area. Make sense? If not, just google it. J ANYWAY, so we went to the Tel, which is the location of Ancient Jericho. This is the same Jericho where the “walls came tumbling down” for the Israelites to move in. Although there weren’t very many “remains” found (besides a tower 10 thousand years old) , it was so incredible to think that I was walking on ground that had thousands of years of history and civilization under it.

Herod’s Winter Palace: I LOVED this site!! This is one of Herod’s many extravagant b


ldings that he built. Herod actually died in his Winter Palace because he was sick and tried to help his illness by going to some hot springs in the area. The cool part was that I could actually imagine the palace! T

here were still walls, columns, pebbled walk ways, and even a whole bath still there. The bricks that constructed the walls were placed at an angle, so diamond shaped which was Roman style. Random fact. J While we were at the site, some adorable Palestinian children came down to show us their goats. The children here are so beautiful!!

St. George’s Monast

ery: this monastery is located in the Mount of Temptation. It is believed that this is the location that Jesus was tempted by Satan after his 40 day fast. The monastery was beautiful just resting in the side of the mountain with the rolling hills of the Judean Desert surrounding it. There are little “hermit” holes around the monasteries where monks come to meditate away from the world in solitude. The only communication they have to the outside world is a basket to bring food into their little hole. Doesn’t this bring a new light to the idea of taking away distractions? One of the things I thought about while I was looking down at the wilderness was Christ’s 40 day fast. This desert is extremely windy, barren, and cold – I couldn’t imagine living there let alone fasting in such conditions. Then, Christ was tempted by the Advocate. It is incredible to think about.

Thursday, January 19, 2012: NEGEV!!

WOW!! There is a lot to try to describe about Negev! We first went to a weaving demonstration by some Bedouin women. This form of weaving is the same type of weaving that was mostly likely done in the bible. While we watched this demonstration, we sat under a tent that was constructed in a similar fashion as the bible so it felt like I was in the past.

Then we went to Tel Avid – there is an Israelite fortress on a hill with a Canaanite city around the bottom of the hill. The coolest part – going into the remains of a small temple and the Holy of Holies. It was so amazing to see the sacrificial alter and just imagine the people worshiping their God. Then we went to the remains of Avdat, which was full of caves and other areas to explore. I walked down to one cave because one of my friends told me there was some cool writing on the wall. Once I walking into the cave, some of my class mates jumped out at me and scared me to death! It was started and encouraged by my professors…. J

Friday, January 20, 2012: Western Wall and the Sabbath

Oh my goodness… Friday night was one of my FAVORITE things that I have done thus far. I saw and participated in the beautiful event of Jews welcoming the Sabbath! It was absolutely AMAZING!! The Jews were singing, praying, and dancing and even invited all of us to join. It was such an incredible experience to see the people so joyously celebrating for to welcome the Sabbath.

Well… I feel like I need to say so much more but I need to do it in smaller segments. Thank you for reading and have a wonderful week!!!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Distortion of Time

It is so hard to believe that it has been just over a week!! I feel like I have been here forever - in the best possible way. :) So much seems to have happened this week but I will try to be brief....

SUNDAY (yes... the last one): SO Sunday is our free day because the Sabbath is on Saturday here. A couple friends wanted to get together to go the Israel Museum (to complete an assignment) but we didn't actually end up going. It turns out that whenever we (meaning my roommate Emilie and I) come up with an idea, the other 81 students here decide to follow too. Well... that is what I get rooming with an engaged person who is school focused.... :) Anyway, the rest of who didn't go (due to the lack of museum passes) ended up going to the Western Wall and the Dome of the Rock instead. Right before we went there, I exchanged some American money for shekels!! Shekels are currently 3.8 to 1 American dollar, which is actually pretty good, but it is so weird to think in shekel prices.
WESTERN WALL: This was one of the most beautiful sights I think I have seen so far. Not so much the wall itself but what was going on at the wall. This wall is the closest Jews can get to the Temple Mount - they believe it is where Solomon's Temple once stood and therefor the Holy of Holies. So Jews come to place prayers into the wall and to just touch it. It was so beautiful to see the faith and tradition of these people, some of whom cried to have the opportunity to be there. I just personally thought this was a wonderful experience to not only see but be part of.
DOME OF THE ROCK: The Dome of the Rock was a unique and fantastic experience. I can't even begin to explain the beauty of the architecture and the people surrounding it. There was a special kind of respect that the grounds represented.

MONDAY: I went on a field trip on Monday which gave an overlook of Jerusalem. It was amazing! We got a better look at all of Jerusalem from all points and even looked down into Bethlehem. I'll send you some pictures once I get a plug for my computer. In the distance you can see the mountains of Jordan called the Kings Highway ( I think...) My favorite part of the day was actually at the Augusta Victoria - which is a Lutheran Church that claims the location of Christ's Ascension into heaven on the Mount of Olives. There is a tower (224 stairs up by the way) that over sees the entire valley. After looking over Jerusalem, we sang in the chapel. It was AWESOME! The Spirit just flooded into the building and it sounded absolutely beautiful - the sound echoed like a bathroom which is a natural amplifier for singing.

The rest of the week has been cold and rainy so I didn't actually go out much. It is so weird to think of Jerusalem being cold (as in the 40's). I personally always imagined it being warm, all the time, when I read the bible. Thursday I bought a falafel in the city!! It is basically fried chick peas in a pita stuffed with tomatoes, sauce, spice, and ... fries. :)

That sums up the week... sort of. :) There is SO much more I could honestly say but I will have to squeeze it in later. Thank you so much for reading and leaving comments - I really appreciate it so much.

Monday I will be heading to JERICHO!!!!!!!

Love to all!! :)

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Old Jerusalem - New Experience


I need to be better updating! It is super busy here but I will try my best to update as much as I can. (Which might end up being every weekend....) So here are some things to update on...

The flight: it wasn't as bad as I thought! I slept a little bit but mostly just talked and read. They fed us dinner and breakfast, which was much better than frozen dinners. There was also food always available. We got to Tel Viv before I was mentally even ready. It was SOOOO weird landing into the city though. It looks like a city but just different - more Near Eastern. Everything is written in Arabic with English next to it. The bus ride to Jerusalem was killer though.I got SO motion sick.

My roommates: At first I was a little nervous because everyone was so quiet when we first met but then we moved into the room and I must admit, they are all really awesome! Their names are SaraBeth, Sarah Bradshaw, and Emilie. Sara Beth is a returned missionary from San Diego and Emilie is engaged. I haven't talked too much to Sarah but most of her family has been to Jerusalem before - her cousin is actually here with her. They are all really friendly and willing to share already! I love it!

JERUSALEM: One word - BREATHTAKING!!! I love it here SO much!!! We live on top of a "Mountain" commonly known as Mount Scopus or the Mount of Olives. It overlooks the city which is amazing. The center is located in the East side of Jerusalem which is the Palestine side - so it is dominated by Muslims. It is surprisingly dirty and a little bit scary to be honest. Then there is the West side of Jerusalem which is also known as Modern Jerusalem - this is the Jewish side. It is very clean and has a European feel to it (not that I know...) Here is the coolest part though - OLD JERUSALEM! It is almost like walking back in time! Now it is still modern but you go through these small streets that are made of cobblestone (some even date back to Roman time) with shops lining the sides. (Random note - shop owners here LOVE us! They handed out business cards to us and would say things like "Welcome Mormons," BYU!," or even "Go Cougars!" Probably the coolest part of Old Jerusalem is walking through the places that Jesus walked. Seriously... it is amazing! We walked through the trail? (I'm not sure what it is called) where Christ carried his cross. Oh I can't wait to go back and learn more about it.

Everyone here is so nice! There are some people who are easier to talk to than others but I am sure we will all get to know each other soon. It feels like we have already known each other for a long time - I can NOT wait to see how close we will all become by the end of the experience.

One thing that I did not expect was the shock I have felt being in a new country. For some reason, I thought the culture shock wasn't going to be that big and yet I feel like I am on a whole different planet. I think it is a great learning experience for me, especially as a teacher (working with multi-education). It is different to feel like the minority and almost defenseless, not knowing the language but I am sure it will be better once I become more acquainted with things. CRAZY story!! Some guy tried to scam us in the city yesterday. He started taking us a tour and then demanded money afterwards. I had no idea that kind of stuff happened but now I know! It was a great learning experience but I felt awful afterwards.

Well, that is all for now!!! Let me know if have any questions!!!


Thursday, January 5, 2012

Here in the Holy Land


Well... I am made it safe and sound into Jerusalem!! I have SOOOO much to update about but unfortunately I don't have much time. If you want to see what is going on with me, you can follow this blog : A professor here is posting about our excursions so you can see a picture of me in a coral colored sweater!!


Tuesday, January 3, 2012

7 Hours Till Takeoff


So much has happened in the last 48 hours and I haven't even left yet!! All I can say is that packing for a study abroad is MUCH harder than you think.

I have to thank my wonderful mother for getting me through the brunt of the work. Also, a special thanks to my grandma for helping me with my freak out and everything else (you know what I mean) and Kylie Rae (the older sister) for seeing me off.

I look forward to sharing my adventures on this blog!! Please feel free to leave comments and ask questions!!

me :)