12.27.2008

Last days in Jerusalem




Well I am home back in Utah now. But a piece of my heart is still in the holy city. I am still dealing with jet lag, so I wake up early in the mornings and look at my pictures. I decided to share a few. This is my class. We were in Old Testament and New Testament together and we were all on the same bus for most field trips. We became very close and they feel like kin.


This picture probably isn't very cool when it is this small. The last morning when everyone was still at the center, we woke up at 5:30 and went to the lookout of the Judean Wilderness on top of Mt Scopus. Security didn't want us leaving that early, but they knew it was our last morning, so they came with us! Thanks Hassan!


This is the sign right before the turn into the long driveway of the center, if you keep following this road up it takes you to the lookout from the last picture. Everyone in the city knew us as the students at the Mormon University. It is the only place in the world where this term is encouraged by the First Presidency.


This is the "Arab Costco" as we called it. This was our favorite section with bulk candies. I would buy boxes with 24 Cadbury chocolate bars for only 10 shekels-- Which is less than 3 US$. Pretty good.

As much as I love the deals there, I am glad to be back and to have visited the real Costco in the US. I forgot how blessed that store is. We swung in the other day to get a few things, but I was still able to taste every sample in the store. I am really good at finding those. Merry Christmas!
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12.01.2008

Thanksgiving

I am stealing Lindy's idea. These are some things I am thankful for this week.


Nature. I love my field trips, I really do. But during Galilee we were all taking in too much information. Sometimes you just can't absorb it all and you get distracted. Thus Lindy and I like to point out all of our favorite pieces of nature. When we were in Dan (it has the mainspring to the Jordan River and an ancient altar that Ahab built who was the first king of the Divided monarchy) we were trying to listen to something important about something ancient but we were just so distracted by these darling pinecones. Look how big they are! Plus it reminds me of autumn which reminds me of Thanksgiving, so I feel it is very appropriate. I am thankful for nature and Lindy's new obsession with taking pictures of things she found on the ground.


This picture is a little blurry, but it just captures us so well. We changed around the busses so that we could ride with a mixed group rather than just people in our religion class. We are on the Matthew bus and from the first time I walked on, I knew I had a special bus bond with Eli and Chelsea. We are the 3-some and we have way too much fun making pirate jokes. I am thankful for their companionship during the long drives.


I am thankful for Mikael and Lauren and their love for sea-shell collecting and I am thankful for the millions of seashells that are beautiful and detailed. But this also highlights my awesome camera. I loved my camera before but I know so much more about it now! It is my little partner in crime in the memory-saving game of soaking in every single detail from the Holy Land. I have yet to name her, but she goes with me everywhere- thanks mom and dad, this camera is the best!


Yay for Israeli Thanksgiving celebrations. As Bro. Skinner puts it- they combine Independence Day with Thanksgiving. The entire dining hall was decorated with red, white, and blue streamers, balloons and crepe paper. Plus we get fireworks in the turkey. It was entertaining and very delicious. It was a little odd to have dates in the stuffing, but whatev you only get a Jewish Thanksgiving once. Ein Gev rocks! Tova!
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Galilee

Hola team! I haven't posted forever, I realize this. I start several entries but I get interrupted and never finish them, but I haven't regretted it because I have been doing awesome things and I don't really need to post it online but I just do because I love seeing how many people have looked at my blog- not in a prideful way, ok it might be prideful because it makes me feel good about myself, but not too good. Anyway- tonight we watched a little movie my friend made, it had clips of people hanging out on field trips, shopping in the old city, and just chillin at the center. But then he put it to slideshow music that makes people feel nostalgic. It was probably only 5 minutes but I was crying at the end because it felt like this program was over. So I stopped crying, gave him a hug and decided that I am going to keep soaking everything in and just try to push away all my homesick feelings. Everyday Lindy and I talk about foods we miss, people we want to see, activities we want to particapate in, clothes we want to wear, the list goes on and on and then we have to say ok stop we love it here remember? So mom- just know that I really do miss you all a lot and I have lots of homesickness but I am trying to not focus on it.


This is a little taste of my field trips. We are sitting on the steps of St. Peter's primacy church with the Sea of Galilee in the background.


me with the Sea of Galilee


This is the church in the city of Nain. Look up the widow that lived here in the New Testament.



SJ and I sporting our lovely treasures from the Old City. My Hebrew is covered up because I accidentally took this shirt to Egypt and they don't like Hebrew so much. Either way, I think we look cute.

11.12.2008

Passover


We went on a tour of East Jerusalem the other day and this is the view from an overlook on the Mt. of Olives. We have been talking about the temple mount a bunch in New Testament lately, so I thought I would show the folks at home. The stairs on the left outside of the wall are the steps from Herod's temple. The Dome of the Rock is centered on the temple mount now.


A little room mate shot in our fancy clothes for the Seder meal. From left to right it is Lindy, Camber, me, and Heather. We were shocked that Camber showed up because oh wait, she spent the entire day in the hospital! I told the photographer to capture these beautiful floral arrangements on either side because they are so lovely!


This is my friend David with his beautiful floral arrangement! It looks a little sloppy in this shot since he is tilting it, but his major is landscape design so he can create beautiful things.


The distant shot of the Passover meal. For those wanting to correct us here, we know that the Passover is in the spring but I will be home by then so we had to do it sooner. You might be able to see my professor on the main table by the window in the back. He teaches us Modern Near East from the Jewish perspective. He is one of the best teachers I have ever had. Today we clapped and stood up after his last lecture and I was so near tears- that is how great he is. So in honor of his awesomeness I went all around East Jerusalem today to get a group gift for him. We had a pocket watch engraved, a BYU T-shirt made, flowers for his wife, and then my handy-dandy watercolor set (thanks Miss) helped me create a card. We are so sad to be done with his class. Anyway, I went to Bethlehem yesterday and it was incredible! I was so nervous and so giddy with anticpation that I planned my outfit out in advance. I knew I had to wear blue because I always picture Mary in blue and then I found a blouse that could almost pass as a maternity shirt and it was blue! So I borrowed it from Lindy and yep I wore it to Bethlehem- so get excited for some pictures.
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11.01.2008

Jerash




A day at the races! This was at the Roman hippodrome in the ancient city of Jerash. Jerash has more Roman ruins outside of Italy than anywhere else in the world. So this is the area where they would watch jousting and whatever other athletics. Our tour guides decided it would be fun to have a race between the two buses. They did a boy race and then a girl race. I won the girl race and we were all cheering and everything, chanting "Huffle puff... Huffle puff" because my teacher's last name is Huff. I was pretty shocked that I won because the other girls ran track and stuff that when against me, so that was definetley a little added bonus to the day. But then this group of Jordanian girls on a field trip wanted to challenge us. So here we are at the starting line. I am so hard core- pulling up my sleeves and everything.

This is an action shot, just because.



This is Tim and I with our little victory pose in front of the columns. Behind each column is where they would hold horses for jousting as they waited their turn. How cool!


This is the view from a citadel in downtown Amman. If you look to the left you can see an ancient Roman arena. It is huge! Super cool. Although Jordan was awesome, I was excited to be home. It felt so good to come back to my bed and food that I was comfortable with and I knew exactly what I was eating. Which made me home-sick because I thought wow if I am excited for this stuff at the center, think of how wonderful it will be to be at home with a kitchen and a huge bed and warm clothes and a rice bag, ah. Ok I will stop now. I miss you all!
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olive picking


These are actually Sarah's pictures. I am getting a little tired of picture taking, so luckily we can all share pictures with our thumb drives. This is Sarah Jane and I in front of the center pretending to be doing something important, but really we just wanted a picture with the olives. But in my defense, I picked every one of the olives in the bag coming up.


This is on the street to the center and we discovered this darling little bench... when everyone else was picking olives... oops. It was hard because most of the trees are so big that you have to use a ladder or be really tall- both of which I did not have access to, so we took a little rest on the bench. You may notice that both Justin and Steven are leaning towards my side even though there is plenty of room on this bench, yeah... I so love it here!


This is my happy olive face. I picked all these olives all by myself. People kept saying, "Oh Becca let me take that bag for you and I will go dump them in the big bucket." I opted out because I liked the pride of carrying every single one and especially depositing it myself.


I didn't pick all of these, but aren't they beautiful?! My friend Melissa took this picture I think. There is a lot of picture trading going down, which I am so ok with.

Anyway now for a real update. I have been here about a month and a half now and I have only gotten homesick a few times and I really think I am receiving lots of help from heaven in that department. The only times I get a little teary is when I see my adoorrable niece, so that is ok because if I were home I wouldn't get to see her anyway. Although it may seem like I only have fun all the day- I am taking 15 credits. We are almost done with my Old Testament class which has been really great. My teacher is pretty tough, but we are memorizing names and meanings and places and valleys and Phillistine fortresses and it is great. It is so great to go to these sites and know the geography of everywhere surrounding and the stories that happened there.Also, we have an ancient near east studies class taught by a BYU professor- so we have been going in order of Old Testament chronology so that we can put the patriarchs in context with their actual surroundings at the time. For example, we discussed why it was so important for Abraham to be taught in Ur because he came right after the Sumerian renaissance when they would have learned writing in their temples and about how important it is to have priesthood- even though there's was corrupt. We all love love love the ancient near east class because we are learning so much new information, but gaining more knowledge about why the Old Testament is true.The other classes are called Modern Near East studies. We take it from 2 different professors, a Palestinian Christian from Bethlehem University and then an Orthodox Jewish man who teachers at a Conservative Jewish school. This class is really interesting because so far we have learned a detailed history of Judaism, and now we are starting to discuss the Jewish perspective of the conflict. Our Palestinian teacher has talked more about Palestine and covers Muslim background a little bit, but most of the things we learn about Muslim culture comes from my Arabic teacher.Ayman- my Arabic teacher could quite possibly be my favorite teacher here. He is hillarious and we all look forward to this class so much because we just ask him questions and have a blast. He told us the best restaurants to go to for falfel and kinea so I think we are going to check that out this week. Well, Arabic starts in 10 min so I better say Khatrek!
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JORDAN


This shot is dedicated to the "brethren." I was so so close to buying this do-rag for my dad, but it was such bad quality, so I hope a picture will suffice. And we are trying to do a "J" with our hands, we are not calling you all losers, I promise.


This was our first night in Jordan. This is the famous Sarah Jane. By some miraculous intervention we got to be room mates. There were 3 of us, so Sarah and I got to share a bed. How sweet, the blanket looks cute but trust me there were hairs (that we did not own) all over it.


This is me at the monastery at Petra. No it isn't the infamous treasury but I liked this more and there were less tourists.


I just got back from Jordan... wow yeah I know. It is amazing how much you learn about a country by only spending 4 days there. We went to Mt.Nebo and saw the brazen serpent memorializing his life, Petra to see the massive Nabatean ruins carved out of rock (intense pictures sure to follow). Petra was way cool! I made a little video humming the Indiana song as I walked through the pathway that Indiana Jones takes before he gets to the treasury. A lot of the rocks and pathways reminded me of southern Utah, but then some parts have these deep dark purple splotches. It is so crazy how many colors there were- so I took a lot of pictures for my friend Alex because she is a geology major and she can explain it all to me. Then we took a donkey rides up the mountain to a big monastery and oh my lands, I think it is even prettier than Indiana's treasury. It is just as big and it is way more effort to get up there so you feel like some explorer discovering this huge building carved into the rock.

Now that we are back, everyone is sick again. It was really cold and rainy in Jordan so we all caught colds again. It is pretty rough to have a Jordanian virus because my body is so not used to it, but I am getting better. It helped that we had our Halloween party last night and boy was it a hit. Who knew that 80 kids could be so creative with the few clothes we brought from home? In my room alone we came up with DJ Tanner, a telestial teal crayon, a rose bud, and I was a sumo wrestler. We helped our friends next door transition into a dove and a tree. My favorite costumes were from room 408. They were "bad girls of the Old Testament." One was Delilah and she was carrying around a hair cutting kit (she cut Samson's hair), then there was Jael with a hammer because she nailed this guy's head to the ground, then Potiphar's wife and she had a pair of boxers hanging on her necklace (Joseph's) and last but not least, Bath-sheba-my friend Sarah wore nude colored clothing with a towel, wet hair, and a pitcher of water like she was taking a bath. We have all noticed that our humor has become much more Biblical. All of our jokes use phrases from the Bible, and in all of our conversations we will be talking about somethng and then it always relates to the Bible and we say, "hey that is like when Absalom did this..." Oh goodness, only in Jerusalem. Expect Halloween pictures in the near future!
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10.21.2008

The JC

Dudes:

My apologies for no new posts or pictures. I have actually uploaded lots of pictures but for some reason they aren't working. I was looking at some of my friend's blogs here and they are way detailed and I love the way they tell the same stories that I have been through but I just don't write about them so hopefully I can add a few more details about things we are doing.
This week we had a service project for all the students here. We met with a bunch of little boys at a school around the corner and we cleaned up the street for a good couple hours. It started as just picking up trash, but trash here isn't just a few wrappers in the gutter- there is a ton of broken glass, bones...! (gag), burnt plastic, mattresses, scrap wood, long wire cables... etc. We found some pretty crazy things and we filled 4 dumpsters! My back got a little sore from all the bending to pick trash up (do I sound like an old woman or what) so I grabbed some brooms and a dustpan and swept up people's driveways and sidewalks. We were a little nervous when people started driving up to their house and we were just hanging out on their property but they smiled, so hopefully they were ok with it. It seemed like it would be so pointless to sweep up the dirt and glass especially because our hill gets so dirty so quickly, but now when we leave the center we have a new sense of pride. Whenever we see trash anywhere near the center we all pick it up now. And the best part of all, the little kids around the neighborhood are our friends. Muslims exchange presents for the Al-Fitr feast at the end of Ramadan and I am pretty sure that every boy on our street got a toy gun. The first time we left the center after Al-Fitr, my friend Sarah saw a little boy pointing his gun at us and Sarah came running up to me all scared saying, "Becca, he has got a gun, oh my gosh he is pointing it at us." By the end of the day that incident was just 1 of 10 different times that a little boys pretended to shoot us... always fun right. But now when we have totally bonded with those little boys. After our service project we ate our sack lunches with them out on the grass and we started a little water fight and they played how-mad-can-we-get-people-by-throwing-rotten-olives-at-them game. Super fun game, it is totally recommended. So now we are super tight with the boys- even though I don't know their names so well, there were many Muhamads, one Asba, and I am sure there was an Omar in the group. Now we can wave instead of take cover when we walk down the street.

Today has been great. We had the elder's quorom president speak at the forum. He works at the consulate here in Jerusalem as the religious affairs representative. He told us some awesome stories about the holy sites here and how business is conducted between all the different Christian organizations. He got to be here in January when Pres Bush and Condoleeza Rice came, so he organized their trips to various churches in the city, pretty cool stuff that he gets to plan out the details of their trips.
Tomorrow we are headed to the ancient City of David and the underwater Hezekiah's tunnel. Hopefully my "Bro. Dennis" head-lamp will work alright for the tunnel tomorrow!

10.09.2008

Engaged at the JC


Allow me to explain. There is a couple here in Jerusalem that got engaged on Mt Sinai a couple weeks ago, so I took a few engagement pictures. They are getting married a couple weeks after we get home so they need to send the invitations out in a few weeks. Here are some of my favorites from the photo shoot.




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just another day in JERICHO











Actually this is at Ben-Gurion's memorial he was the first prime minister of Israel. This is Allie from Boston, me, then Sarah Jane from Huntsville. Love these girls!










This is the pomelo Sarah Jane and I bought yesterday. We ate it today and it was definitely not ripe but it was way fun to peel.








This is a Greek orthodox monastery in Jericho. The monk here checked all of our clothes to make sure we were really modest before we were allowed to come in. It was a little dangerous, as you can see from the next photo.





Yep, totally hiked this mountain to get up to it. The monk said we could go to the balcony but only 5 people could be there at a time, and he said don't jump or else it will break, needless to say- I skipped out on the balcony adventure.

We are on lock down again today because it is Yom Kippur, but it wasn't so bad we have been studying for a big test and picking the olives at the center. Also, we are going into hard core choir mode because we have a chance to perform in Bethlehem in December! Merry Christmas a few months early!

10.04.2008

Conference

I am sitting upstairs at the Center and my friend Shane wanted me to try to see if we could get the streaming of conference. It took about 3 seconds to install the plug-in and I could see the RS broadcast loud and soo soo clear. It is the closest thing I will get to HD here. So now the good news of my life. We get to watch all sessions of conference. Before, our branch president said we could only see the morning ones because of the time difference, but now they are recording all of them and we are spreading them out between the next 3 weeks. So tonight I get to watch the Sat morning session with all of you in Utah! It is so weird to be this excited for Conference- I always enjoy it but this time I am just craving so much to see the conference center and sing Redeemer of Israel and High on a Mountain Top. We are watching the RS Broadcast next week in the center, but I had to sneak and watch at least a musical number so I turned it on and lo and behold... I forgot that my stake was singing. And my mom organized it for weeks before I left and finally the fruits of her labor. It was one of the sweetest experiences I have had here to just watch that musical number. First of all- I had completely forgotten that it was my stake and second- I got to see so many familiar faces. I saw Sis. Brown from the north stake and some other familiar faces but then I saw sweet Sis. Anderson with the hugest smile on her face and the tears just started flowing. Not really homesick tears- but certainly love of home and familiar faces and anticapation for conference. I really want to watch the rest of the Broadcast now but I want to wait until it was scheduled especially since getting the feed takes up all the narrow internet width we have, but I had to watch another hymn. When they showed the front section I paused and zoomed in and I swear I saw the tall Toone girls. Where did my family sit? I must find your section! I love that the gospel connects us in every part of the world. Go Conference!

Leaving Egypt on the way to Israel


This is the view from the mosque. If you make it bigger you can see the pyramids in the background. I like this picture because you can see how close the pyramids are to the city. My hotel was 3 minutes from it, but I always pictured it in the middle of a desert separated from anything- but no- they built up Cairo right around it.


My face is way dark, but how awesome is this picture. me, Mt Sinai, the sunrise... what could be better? The view was so worth the 2 hour hike. We had a lovely devotional up top with lots of hymn singing. I have some cool videos with every other religious domination singing their own hymns at the same time as us- pretty neat.


Another shot of the sunrise. I looked down from where I took this picture and 2 people from the program were down there and found out the guy was proposing right then to the girl. I am taking their engagement photos in a couple hours. Cool engagement story huh?!


This is kind of a weird picture to end with, but they were organized that way. We stayed at a super "SKETCHY" (this was Sarah Jane's word to describe Egypt- right when we crossed the border she started saying it and we decided it is the perfect word to explain every restaurant, shop, alley way, restroom... it was all pretty sketchy.) hotel in Morganland before we went to Mt. Sinai. I loved this chandelier in the shopping area. Have a good Saturday!
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"Let my People Go"


I love this picture. It sums up Luxor. I took this a few hours before we were getting ready to leave and we were all tired and sweaty and shopped out. So we relaxed by the pool (for my 4th time in 2 days- I can't wait until we get one now!) and then the sun was going down and the boats were out, it was awesome. Everyone loved Luxor the most out of our Egpyt trip because it isn't as touristy as Cairo. We were able to practice our Arabic and experience Egyptian culture. So many awesome adventures we had there!


Yeah I know this is hopefully the sickest picture you will see of me but it is my only picture from inside our train ride. That is my room mate Angela on her top bunk. She was sweet enough to let me take the bottom because I was feeling very very sick and this way I could run to the "water closet" rather quickly. This was one of those pictures where it was like oh yeah we should take a picture so we don't ever have to experience this again.


Mom don't be frightened. This is the outside of that car I was sleeping on- not the cleanest that is for sure. When we got on and we were all having culture shock I kept saying in a calm voice, "Brittany this is for experience, we can do this... it is just one night." We probably repeated that to each other 10 times before we actually fell asleep. And surprisingly enough, I had a great sleep and I got to open the curtains and see the cities pass by really quickly. I have some videos of this I will show you when I get back.


I have a few pictures of me and Brittany (friend from Calgary) in this mosque of Mohammad Ali, but they are so blurry because I refused to use the flash because there is such a nice ambiance with all these little glass lights so lets just be ok with pictures of the other tourists. We all went into this big room and took off our shoes and sat in circles on the carpet and listened to the history of this place. Pretty radical- it is against Islam policy to be buried in a mosque but of course Mohammad Ali broke the rules and his tomb is in the corner of this room.
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