Friday, December 3, 2010

Hanukkah Sameach!

The only thing better than spending an afternoon in the Shuk is spending an afternoon in the Shuk on the first day of Hanukkah. Everyone is extra happy, it's so much fun to walk around saying "Chag sameach" to the shop-owners and other people you meet. Not gonna' lie though, the best part are the Hanukkah doughnuts they sell at every  bakery for 2 shekels (about 50 cents)...filled with raspberry filling and topped with powdered sugar. Oh, how I love Hanukkah. Dr. Chadwick started it off for us last night with the story of Hanukkah, some awesome music, and the lighting of the first candle. And we have 7 more days of it! How come American holidays aren't more like that?

The earlier part of the day was spent on the Temple Mount and doing some hardcore souvenir shopping. I think that the shop-owners loved us today. I can't believe that I come home two weeks from tomorrow! As we drove up the hill yesterday on our way home from Jordan and the Center came into view, Brother Muhlestein said "Three months ago today, we drove up to this and said 'Welcome to your new home.' Welcome home." This really has become my home. It's going to be really weird to go back to America...I feel like I don't even remember living there haha. I have some major mixed emotions...I cannot wait to see people and to eat a Cafe Rio chicken salad, but I am definitely going to miss my 'family' and my home here. Also, as I was out in the city today, I realized how much I love the people here. I am so blessed to have had this opportunity! Also, we just found out that Mt. Carmel is on fire...we were there just a couple weeks ago. 40 people have died and it's threatening the city of Haifa. They are working to put it out with the aid of over 20 countries, including the U.S. It's kind of scary to hear about these things when they're happening so close to home. Pray that things will work out! Love you all. :) I will blog about Jordan later!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Update!

Hey all :) I sent out an email yesterday...so I thought I'd just post it here for others, I don't have much time to do a real post. So sorry if you've read it already, hopefully I'll get a better one up soon. Today has been an amazing Sabbath-loved it. We leave for JORDAN tomorrow! Way excited, we'll be gone for 4 days and it'll be lots of fun. So I hope you enjoy. Love you all!

Also, I stole these pics from Meg's blog. The first one was taken on top of Nimrod's fortress in northern Israel-beautiful view of Syria and Lebanon-and the second was taken at our Turkey Bowl! k bye :)
http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_t4msR5iXShM/TO62PtOmcPI/AAAAAAAAB2c/prQUj5G85Bc/s1600/PB210564.JPG
http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_t4msR5iXShM/TO_ezvl72qI/AAAAAAAAB3Q/ITzw9-a-Qq8/s1600/PB250717.JPG

Erev tov! Good evening :) and happy Thanksgiving! Thought I'd send out a little email update since it's been so long.

These past few weeks have been pretty crazy! We were in Galilee for 10 days! It was so amazing, I really think it is one of my favorite places on earth. It is so beautiful up there and there is such a strong feeling of peace, it's really neat. We stayed in Ein Gev in a 'holiday village' owned by a neighboring kibbutz. We stayed in little bungalows looking over the sea, ate loads of pita and hummus and miniature pancakes, and made 'friends' with the millions of feral cats that hang around the resort. The beach was literally in our backyard...We had quite a bit of class time and went on many field trips. It was way awesome to learn from the New Testament while we were up there, so much of Christ's ministry took place there. We spent long hours on a bus traveling all the way to the northern borders of the country. We visited over 20 places on field trips, including

-Caesarea Maritime
-Nazareth-LOVED it, especially the Church of the Anunciation that is built around what is believed to have been the place where the angel Gabriel appeared to Mary.
Bet She'an
-Mt. Arbel
-Boat ride across the Sea of Galilee to Tiberias-This was one of my favorite parts as we sang "Master, the Tempest is Raging" and read the accounts of Christ calming the sea and walking on water.
-Banias (Caesarea Philippi)
-Capernaum-this was probably my favorite place. We visited the 'white synagogue', which is built on the basalt foundations of a 1st centuries BCE/CE synagogue, which is where Christ would have taught. We saw Peter's house, where Christ would have stayed on many occasions. We walked through the streets where He would have walked and saw the houses in which He would have healed Jairus' daughter and healed the man with palsy. It was really an amazing place.
-Hazor
-Mt. of Beatitudes-Loved this place as well as we learned about the Sermon on the Mount and the feeding of the multitudes. There is a beautiful church there too that I really liked.
-Tel Dan
-Nimrod's Fortress
-Mt. Carmel-Where Elijah faced the priests of Baal. Had one of my very favorite experiences of the entire trip here.
-Gamla
-Akko
-Nain
-Mt. Tabor
-Templar cemetery in Haifa, where two LDS missionaries are buried from the mid-1800s. This gave proof of an established LDS presence in the Holy Land, which is part of what made it possible for the building of the Orson Hyde Garden and then the Jerusalem Center.
-Overlook, looking into Syria and Lebanon and over Mt. Hermon

Here are some other things we did:

-Took a rafting trip down the Jordan River.
-Went hiking in the Golan Heights with a local guide.
-Went to church in Tiberias with the Galilee branch.
-Had multiple bonfires on the beach.
-Ate at the fiish restaurant in Ein Gev (I ate the fish! And loved it! Even with it sitting there staring at me. This is a big accomplishment for me).
-Walked the boardwalk in Tiberias.
-Swam in the sea and relaxed on the beach! (And made a sand castle of the temple mount...that's when you know you've been studying in Jerusalem too long).

Anywho, sorry that was kind of scattered and random and long, but I thought I would give you a little idea of what we did. It really was amazing. We had some really neat experiences and I learned so much about my Savior. We read so many of the accounts in the places they occurred, it really was neat. It was really hot the whole time, our teacher said it was the hottest November there in years, it is usually much cooler and stormier.

We got home on Wednesday night and had free days yesterday and today. Much of yesterday was spent souvenir shopping, the shopkeepers definitely missed us. Our chefs here made us a Thanksgiving dinner! Mashed potatoes...don't worry Grandma, they were not as good as yours. After dinner, a group of us went to see Harry Potter! It was a blast. It was a neat experience, kind of awesome to see so many groups of Orthodox Jews heading to a movie. And apparently they have intermissions here. They stopped the movie mid-sentence and turned up the lights for a few minutes. It was funny. Also, it was crazy to be out past midnight haha I forgot what that felt like-we had to get special permission in order to do that. Today, we had a Turkey Bowl! A bunch of us went to a park in West Jerusalem and played some soccer and football, which was a lot of fun.

So yeah, life is good here! We leave for Jordan on Sunday for a few days, which will be great. :) We're just soaking up every minute of our last few weeks here! I can't believe it's coming so fast, but I can't wait to see you all. And eat some Macaroni and Cheese... :) I am happy as ever, they had the center decorated with Christmas stuff when we got home and everyone is singing Christmas music left and right. It makes me happy. :) I love you all and would love to hear from you! Have a wonderful day!

Love, Meg

(Also, thank you so much to all those that contributed to my birthday present from my mom I LOVED it! You are the best-thank you for all your love and support!)

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Today I...

Today I...

1. Saw the skeleton of a 100,000 year old man...

2. Wrote what I was thankful for.

3. Danced.

4. Went to the Pita Factory and got free hot pita. 

5. Thought about studying for my New Testament midterm...

Yesterday I...

1. Hung out in a cloister and stood at the "center of the world."

2. Heard all about miracles and stood in a possible site of the Upper Room.

3. Found an amazing ice cream shop and a not-so-amazing falafel restaurant...

4. Talked to Aim on the phone. :)

5. Finally found falafel chips. My favorite...

The Day Before That I...

1. Was introduced to the Shuk, an outdoor market in West Jerusalem that is seriously fantastic.

2. Hung out at the Dome of the Rock.

3. Watched a Bar Mitzvah.

4. Considered buying a mini pineapple for 28 shekels...yes, that's about 8 dollars...

5. Ran out of space on my computer....

The Day Before That I...

1. Walked on the same stairs Christ would have walked on as He entered and left the temple mount.

2. Hit my head on the Dead Sea Scrolls display glass.
3. Watched a friend pass out.

4. Took a crazy taxi ride that made me fear for my life and loved it.
(Oh wait...every taxi ride here is like that.)

5. Stood in a house that a Levite family was living in when the Romans destroyed the city.

The Day Before That I...

1. Went to District Conference with people from all over Israel.

2. Saw my dentist.

3. Missed my mama...

4. Went to bed early!

5. Looked over this view:


I wonder what will happen tomorrow. :)

This last week has been amazing. We've hardly had any class/homework. We've spent so much time in the city! Yesterday I was out for 13 hours. Thank goodness for Chacos and very large water bottles. We leave for Galilee on Sunday, which will be a blast! We'll be gone for 11 days, so it'll be kind of crazy and I probably won't be able to post for awhile...not like I post that much anyway. Anywho, I love you all. Have a wonderful day. :)

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The Longest Post Ever.....

Okay, you guys are going to have to bear with me. I finally got the chance to upload pictures (special thanks to Meg!), so I have a TON of updating to do. These last couple of days have been amazing. We finished our finals!!!! We took two on Tuesday. I don't think I've ever had so much information shoved into my head at one time. Holy cow. People were going a little crazy....but everyone is so much more relaxed now. We had a much needed Halloween party that night which was a blast! More on that later. Ok, here are the pics! I hope you enjoy!

Eilat!
 
 
Kylie and I were twinners :)

Lexi, Meg, Mickell, Kristi, and Ally hangin' out in the Red Sea!


Snorkeling in the Red Sea!



"Village Beach"



Havin' fun at the mall in Eilat. This is the closest to America I've felt since I've been here haha.



People love asking us to take pictures of them...usually it's so they can ask you for money, but these guys just wanted me to take their picture...? The people here are way funny.





Seder Meal/Celebration


It was a lot of fun to go through the traditional Passover celebration with our Israeli history teacher, Ophir. Lots of reading, singing ("Let my people go..."), drinking small glasses of grape juice, reciting prayers, eating bitter herbs, and rapping. Yes, rapping. It was quite the evening! Thought I'd make a little collage so I can get more pictures on. 





Yad Vashem Field Trip


We took a field trip to Yad Vashem, a Holocaust Museum, and Mt. Herzl. It was definitely an eye-opening experience. It was hard to take it all in and to believe that these terrible things really happened. I am so grateful for the freedom and safety that I enjoy. We couldn't take pictures inside, but here are a few of the monuments on the ground, commemorating some of the people and events of that time period.






This is our teacher, Ophir, giving us the history of these monuments.





Meg got a little bit tired of listening to so much Jewish history...




Olive Picking and Pressing!


 We are lucky to be here in the fall, because it's olive season! There are a bunch of olive trees and olive presses on the grounds, so we got to put them to good use! It was a lot of fun to see how olive oil is made using various presses. It was also cool to talk about the symbolism that relates to Christ's Atonement. This was a lot of fun. (Note to self: these olives do NOT taste like the ones Grandma has at Sunday dinner....)






Cold Cut Fridays!


 

Don't make fun of me, this is our favorite lunch. It's a big deal here. Best. Bread. Ever.
 
Garden Tomb



 
  
I love this place. :)


Israeli Folk Dancing!
...With Boaz Cohen! Hahaha what a treat.


Bethlehem Field Trip
This field trip was a ton of fun! We started out at some building...I have no idea where we were...but we heard a presentation on the conflict from the Palestinian side. As you can see, I was very intrigued...

 

In my defense, I had gone to bed at 3 the night before (stupid homework). And I was clearly not the only one!
 Next we went to Bethlehem University, where our Palestinian history teacher, Adnan is a professor. He was so excited for us to see where he gets to teach and to get to meet some of the students there. It was interesting to hear their viewpoints on the conflict and other issues. Bethlehem is located in the West Bank, which causes difficulties for those that have to commute from areas outside of it, such as Jerusalem or the Gaza Strip.

 It was so much fun to mingle with the students and to see the diversity that exists there. The student body is 80% Muslim and 20% Christian. This was a nun from Jordan and a Muslim from Jerusalem. They were so nice!
 
Yay for camp shirts! Typical Jerusalem attire...

Next, we stopped for lunch at the Tent restaurant. It was a ton of fun! They had the best wheat pita with all kinds of things to eat it with...such as hummus...and SALSA! Oh my, I have missed salsa. KT and Aim, Chili's chips and salsa as soon as I get home?!

 
 
Meg, Brandt, Justin, and Kim with our professor, Dr. Musallam. 

Next! We made our way to the Church of the Nativity. One of my favorite parts of this field trip was just walking through the streets of Bethlehem on our way to the church. They were really neat with so many colorful doors and hills and markets. The church was also really cool! It is the longest standing Christian church in the world, originally built by Constantine in the 4th century AD. (Wow, quick retard moment. I just asked my friends what year this was, just to make sure I got it right, and I said "4th century, right? Wait, AD or BC?" Meg, pretty sure they would not build a church on the place Christ was born BEFORE He was born. Cut me some slack, I've got lots of dates running through my head haha!) We had to wait almost 3 hours to get down into the grotto where they believe Christ was born. Our teachers were saying this was the longest wait they've ever experienced, and the church was under construction, so there was scaffolding everywhere. We were packed like sardines into this little church with a bunch of tourists. It was lots of fun though, we always find ways to entertain ourselves. :) 

 This is the spot where Jesus is believed to have been born. Didn't get to spend any time there really since there were about 80 billion people trying to get through. It reminded me of elementary school after gym class when the teachers would take the class in a line to get a drink from the drinking fountain...and they would hold the button for 3 seconds for each kid. "1...2...3..." *off*. And you're still dying of thirst but no one cares...that's how it felt. Very rushed, but it was still neat. :) It was interesting, though, how much closer I felt to my Savior right after this when we went into the neighboring Catholic church and sang Christmas hymns. I love that our gospel is like that, we don't need to be in amazing, significant, elaborate places to be able to feel close to Him. Doesn't hurt, though. :)

 Funniest FHE Ever....

Let's just say it had to do with a hilarious email and a snail that estivated (which is kind of like hibernating in the summer) for 6 months, came back to 'life', and died 24 hours later...


Last Day as the Judd Class :(

We will miss having you as our teacher, Brother Judd!



Fun Day on the Temple Mount and in the Old City!

A great day with Meg and Amy getting a lot of homework done. Our teacher, Chadwick, gave us an assignment to visit about 50 different sites in Jerusalem and then write a paper on some of them. Best assignment ever. :)

My first time on al-Haram al-Sharif!

Wouldn't let us in...strange. ;)


Writing our names in ancient Hebrew at the Ariel House...after the awesome 3D movie. "Oh Jerusalem, how could I ever paint you?"
 
Falafel?...or postcard?
 
Oh man.
 
Our dear friend Theo from Holland that we met on our tour of the Hurva Synagogue. We had a lot of fun getting to know him and even 'impressed' him with some 'serious' Dutch (thanks to "The Best Two Years.")
 
The Burnt House! House near the Temple Mount that dates back to the sacking of Jerusalem by the Romans. We got another awesome movie at this site.


Just a little display of Lachish at the Ariel House. Cool because we've been to this actual site!
 
This is completely normal. Walking down "Meat Street" is quite a treat...One word: stinky! There are full on animals hanging in all the meat lockers...with bins of kidneys and brains and everything you can imagine. Not gonna' lie, I'm definitely a fan of American grocery stores.
 
This store is more like it. :) Love me some gummies.
 
Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure!

This was seriously so much fun! I know I already blogged about it...so I won't really say any more besides it was fabulous. :)



Evening in West Jerusalem! 

AMAZING crepes!

Party Bus!

 Herodian/Shepherd's Field Field Trip!

The Herodian is a fortress and palace built and used by Herod the Great in the 1st century AD. There are some really cool ruins to see there! We got to visit the palace at the bottom of the tel, complete with a HUGE swimming pool and Roman baths. We could even still see some of the little tiles on the bottom of the pool! Then, we made our way towards the top, stopping at Herod's tomb on the way up. A big fortress would've stood on top of the mound, so we got to see a lot of those ruins. More bath houses, cisterns, all kinds of ancient stuff like that.

Diving into Herod's pool!
 
Just washin' our hair in the bath house...
 
Sometimes, when I'm a bad roommate, Miriam threatens to throw me in the cistern.


Next, we went to Shepherd's field, overlooking Bethlehem! We had an awesome musical program and testimony meeting and we had some alone time. During this time, a few shepherds with a huge flock of sheep came walking through. It was really neat. It was a great night. :)
 
Meg and Jamesy.
 
Meg and Nataly, since we are twinners, right Nataly?
 
"O, Little Town of Bethlehem" :)



Necessary Study Break/Trip to Crash Corner

Monday was a rough day. Pretty much all we did was study...no joke. Let's just say I'm glad it's over. So, Tahna, Miriam, and I needed a little break. We walked up to 'Crash Corner' on the top of our street to get some treats and just get out of the center. Good times.

Just had to put this up, cause I think it's so cool! We saw this on our walk up as we were reciting the Islamic months and the names of Allah and it made me happy.
 
Awesome produce stand, complete with cauliflower the size of my head and dragonfruit. What more could you need?

Candy :)

Sometimes...people ride through the streets on horses.


Surprise Party for Brother Judd!
 
Complete with cake and an amazing original song by Tessa.


Halloween Party! 

Our Halloween party started shortly after our Islam final. It started with Trick-or-Treating! The kids here came around to our rooms and we gave them candy. :) Just in case you don't know how Trick-or-Treating works....ha. Then, we had dinner and a carnival! Complete with apple bobbing, a cake walk, a fish pond, vegetable/fruit carving (pumpkins here are very rare and expensive-people got SO creative!), and face painting. People were SO creative with costumes, I was so impressed, especially considering the fact that we don't have many resources here...but pretty sure a lot of the costumes were only funny because we're here...for example! Haha people dressing up like each other...the Red Sea and the Dead Sea...a potsherd...Shishaq, Sennacherib, and Nebuchadnezzar...etc. But it was totally awesome.

Andrew, Charles, Jordy, and Robert. We had a blast dressing up like these guys. People kept thinking we were them all night and i got first place in the funniest costume contest haha, so fun.

Me with the real Robert Buss.


Anywho, that's all! Ha, 'that's all.' Life is good today. :) Love you all!