9.05.2008

Shalom!

Dudes and dudettes! The announcement of the lifetime... I have finally arrived in Jerusalem! I thought it was pretty in the pictures- but little did I know that the chairs and cushy, the pillows are perfect, the shower water is hot and oh wait I have a balcony outside of my room with a view of the city. I wish I could show pictures of my room and the balcony, but alas the internet is connection slow so we are encourgaed not to do so... I may break that rule later if I see other people doing that, but since it is the first week I really don't want to go home before I even have the chance to go into the city without a tour guide- which by the way I am allowed to do at least 3 times a week when we have a big chunk of free time.
So anyway, Sept. 1 marked the first day of Ramadan. Don't worry I didn't know what this was before I made friends in Provo that just happen to major in Near East studies. (p.s. I learned today it is called Near East when you are studying the Ancient civilizations because today it the modern Middle East- to it is the same but I think we refer to it here as Near East most the time.) So Ramadan is a Muslim holiday when they fast during daylight hours and eat at night... but oh wait, they do this for an entire month! I think fast sundays are killer esp when my mom makes us wait until 4:00 pm to eat, but they do it longer everyday. Talk about devotion. Anyway, since it has just started and they worship on Fridays, it is crazy on the Eastern side of the city today. So we have our first lock down at the center- aka "not allowed to leave campus." There has been a blimp in the air all day and we just learned that it is the Israeli police with cameras so they can patrol the area. Everytime the blimp is out that means they predict violence or contention, so we are automatically on lock down on those days.
But back to the celebrations of Ramadan. It is so pretty with all their lights everywhere and their prayer calls are even longer in the middle of the night (the speakers from the mosques are loud enough that it sounds like it is right next door) so last night my room mate and I couldn't sleep for the half hour when the prayer was being sung, so we just went out on the balcony and watched all the traffic and listnened to the prayers. In the morning I said, "Wow we should have just slept -we are going to be sleepy today." She said, "Well when is the next time that we get to stand on a balcony and listen to Muslim prayers?" I said, "well tonight and tomorrow and the next day..." But I understand what she meant because even though it has only been a few days, everyone is trying soak up everything (or Melissa reminded me of Bro Halverson's analogy of being like a sponge). During free time everyone is outside writing in their journals and trying to save everything we have already learned and we have only been here 2 days! Well I should probably go be social before everyone makes friends. Later!
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