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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The Egyptian tour


I know I know, we had to make a pyramid at the pyramids. So I made the boys get their pants all dirty because I needed this picture! This is the 2nd pyramid at Giza and the one I got to walk in! It is so weird to go in a pyramid. I was way claustrophobic in there, there is no ventilation and everyone is breathing tourist breath from every country and you are sweating uncontrollably... but then at the end of all these tunnels that you are ducking in, you get to this huge room with a big sarcophagus and we were all clapping and freaking out. It was great.


This is a shot I took from the bus- I have lots of these that didn't turn out too swell, so I will spare you from the others, but I like looking at them so I can remember what I saw even if it has my reflection in half of it. This is some mosque on the side of the street- it isn't famous so we didn't stop but can you believe how beautiful and colorful the Muslim mosques are?! Such attention to detail! Although I discussed with some of the girls that even though they add beauty to everything and special little touches- in the end we would really rather have clean water and streets than decorative railings and buildings. But I think it is really neat that even when living in poverty and bugs infesting all the vegetables and dirt everywhere- they paint their houses crazy colors and add intricate designs to their window coverings and have beautiful textiles in every nook and cranny. It is nice.


This is a perfect example of security in Egypt. This is at the airport in Cairo from when we took an evening plane to Luxor. This was the security check we went through and they told us we shouldn't take more than 3 fluid oz. so we were really careful about what we packed, and then they let us take in anything and everything including our liter water containers. At almost every other security check at other sites, you walk through and then the alarm goes off but they just tell you to keep walking- even when you are carrying a big backpack. Perfect example: My friend Stephanie walked through this check from the picture and the alarm sounded. The guy looked at her and said, "Are you carrying a bomb?" She said no and he said, "Ok have a good day." CUH-Razy! Anyway, this picture is of the employees breaking their Ramadan fast in front of the security check point and it was just funny because everyone was eating- not one person was even near the doors.


This is the great and powerful Nile river! It looks as big as the Mississippi but extremely dirty. I have never seen so much trash in a body of water. Sometimes in the smaller streams we drove by, you couldn't even see the water because the trash was so thick floating on top. Also some girls saw a dead cow floating- that is always nice. We weren't allowed to touch it- and Bro Huntington said don't even put your fingers in because we have had some problems with piranhas and we have lost a few fingers- but he said it in his really serious voice and I got all worried and was freaking out and then he started laughing. I am so gullable. There were no piranhas and we got to ride these lovely party boats 4 times. Aren't the boats so cute?!
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