Monthly Archives

January 2009


Feeling Like Death

31 January 2009

I woke up Thursday morning after sleeping 11 hours and felt so sick. My body was just sore and exhausted, my throat was sore, I was coughing, and I was full of snot. Despite being sick and feeling like death, I still went around on the tours and things because I didn’t want to miss out. But after I was out, I wish I would just stayed in.


The first place we went was the Karnak Temple complex, which is supposedly amazing. I couldn’t give you any details though, because I felt like crap and had no energy to walk around. We also went to the Luxor Temple. I took very few pictures that day and I don’t know which pictures are of which, because I had zero desire to be there. All of the temples and columns and statues and hieroglyphs became the same to me anyway after seeing so many. And all I wanted to do was sleep and lay down. 
This is a picture of a chair, one that I wanted to sit in and not move from for the rest of the day. But instead of doing that, I just sat on the ground in the dirt as our Habibi guide talked to us.

an obelisk at Karnak or Luxor

Here’s the great Ramses II, in charge of lots of building projects. I love that he’s smiling.

Don’t know where this is, Karnak or Luxor, since all the temples and all the hieroglyphs were the same after I’d seen so many and while I was feeling like death. I didn’t take hardly any pictures on this day. But hooray! Pharaoah and his wife are the same height. She’s not just a little afterthought that goes up to his knees.
After the exhausting visits to the Karnak and Luxor temples, we rode horsey carriages back to the hotel. Here’s my roomie Shamra and the driver of their carriage.
That night we rode some train back to Cairo. I wished we were riding on the Hogwarts Express, but instead it was just a regular, non-magical train. I pretty much just took some drugs for feeling like crap and then I slept the whole ride. From what I hear though, people didn’t have very good experiences on the train.
Back in Cairo we went to the Egyptian Museum, where I saw a lot a lot of oooooolllllllddddd mummies and a lot of other cool things. But we couldn’t take any pictures, not that I wanted to anyway. All I wanted to do was sleep.
Then we stopped at an Egyptian bazaar and shopping place in Cairo. I didn’t even get off the bus. I was so exhausted and not feeling well that I slept away my valuable Egyptian shopping time. So many pashminas to buy too…
After the museum and shopping, we went to the Hard Rock Cafe for lunch, where I didn’t want to be and where I wanted to be in bed instead. I didn’t want to eat, weird.

Unfortunately I had no appetite again. I did have some soup though. Mmmm… I love soup, especially Holly Girl’s yummy yumkins soups.

Saturday I woke up feeling much better! I was still totally sick, but just with a normal old cold. Yay. I no longer walked around and felt all dizzy. I just felt snotty and stuffy and was hacking up mucus quite often. But oh, I was feeling much much better. I wanted to take pictures that day even. I think I was maybe feeling less sick because it was my dear sister’s birthday.
31st of January, 1982 – Holly girl came into the world. Happy Birthday to my most amazing sister! She’s such an excellent sister to me and I love her so much. And I’m so excited to go home in three months to see her, and her little girlies, and to eat her vegetable chowder! Yay! Yummy yumkins. Happy Birthday, Sister!
We went to a mosque and some churches on this lovely January 31st. The mosque was pretty amazing. Here’s a few pictures of it.

We all had to take our shoes off inside since it’s such a holy place of worship to Muslims. 

Then we went to this Christian church. It was a church where there was a cave underneath where Mary and Joseph and Jesus sought refuge way back in the day, I think. I don’t really know. There’s so many things about all the places we went and all of these facts are just mumble jumbled together in my head.

The last few days in Egypt were jam packed of course, and I felt awful. But it was so amazing being there and seeing everything anyway. What a lucky ducky I am. Happy Birthday Holly girl!

LUXORious Tombs and Camels

28 January 2009
We flew to Luxor from Cairo and then stayed at the Sheraton. When we woke up early the next morning, after not very much sleep, we went to the Valley of the Kings, Funerary Temple of Ramses II, saw a couple huge statues, then went on a Faluka ride down the Nile, rode camels through a little village, and went shopping in Luxor that night. Twas another exhausting day, but full of excessive amazingness.
Before going into King Tut’s tomb. These tombs were so incredible. King Tut was a pretty insignificant pharaoh, he’s just so well known because his tomb was discovered untouched, with all of the incredible treasures still inside. All of those treasures are now at the Egyptian Museum. But the tombs… W.O.W.

Dearest Marianne and I standing outside of a tomb entrance.

The Valley of the Kings is this place where a lot of the pharaohs were buried. It is a kind of secluded place. They did it that way because all of the tombs would get raided and all of the amazing treasures to go into the afterlife with the pharaohs would be stolen.

You’re not supposed to take pictures in the tombs, but I secretly tried to. I just shut my flash of and tried to press the button. But as you can see I was pretty unsuccessful.

You can kinda see what the ceiling looked like in this tomb. It was totally still all colored and everything. These tombs were so amazing. There is so much intricate detail and I don’t know what they used to paint everything, but the color is still there today, after thousands of years. And could you imagine putting these tombs together? Carving the passages out of rock, making everything level and equal, then putting hieroglyphs all over the place, and painting it, and filling it with treasure once the pharaoh has died and gone through the 72 day long mummifcation process. It was intense enough just walking through the little passages and into the big rooms, and today they even have lights put in there on the floor and stuff. I don’t know how they did it.

After the Valley of the Kings, we went to the Funerary Temple of Ramses III. More huge, beautiful statues and hiergylphs. Here’s Marianne and I posing like the little wives of the huge statue. The wife often only go up to the level of the knees in the statues.

Here’s the ceiling at one part of the temple, nice and colorful.

This is the ankh symbol (and some other symbol). The ankh represents life. It is all over the place. Ancient Egyptians loved life, especially eternal life.

Ancient Egyptian time out, sitting in the corner, staring at nothing by hieroglyphs.

Three little birds! They live in the temple walls. There are just so many perfect nest spots.

Here’s another huge statue. I don’t remember what it’s called or who it is, but it was big, and there were two of them. I think they were at the entrance to a temple, which is no longer there. But it shows you how big the temple used to be.

We went back to the Sheraton, which is the intensely salmon colored hotel on the east bank of the Nile. Then we hoped onto a FALUKA and sailed down the Nile.

The other group on the faluka.

These two little Egyptian kids were on the shore and then they saw us and jumped in their little boat. They paddled next to us and were trying to sell things. The kids try and sell things all over the place. It’s so sad.

We rode on the faluka from our hotel to further down the Nile and on the other side. When we got there, forty camels and forty little Egyptian boys were waiting for us. The camel ride cost us $10 and a $1 tip. My camel guide was named Mohammed, along with most of the other little boys.

The beginning of our Camel Safari

We call this a camel caravan. Oh how I love love love camels.

Riding through the little village… we got to see so much poverty and how so many of the people live. I didn’t feel so good parading through with forty other Americans on camels. It was so eye opening though seeing how people live and it made me so grateful for America. So many of the houses are just made out of mudbrick, a lot of them don’t have roofs, and they all have dirt floorrs. There are no normal possessions or decorations inside whatsoever. All it is is a shelter. It was sad to see that, but really good, because I hadn’t ever realized what it is like to live in poverty like that.

Just cruising through the little village on our camels. My camel’s name was Ali Baba, or at least that’s what he told me. Some other camels were named Bob Marley and Obama. The people over here loooove Obama by the way. And when we walk by they just say “Obama,” and noth much else. They’re quite exited. The people in the village were saying Obama to us, it was mostly in the city. But here all the would wave. The children were really excited and really curious. There were also some children begging for money. And lots of other people working hard hard in the fields. Such a completely different life.

Our camel safari was a fabulous 45 minutes.

Don’t you love this head? I do.

After getting back to the hotel, a big group of us went shopping in Luxor. I was starting to feel sick, but I went anyways. Maybe I was just camel allergic. I think it was a combination. But here’s a blurry little picture of our crazy cab driver and our crazy cab. It was the coolest car ever. It was so old and amazing. I want one.

Sunset on the Nile

Shopping in Luxor was kinda crazy. The shopkeepers just will not leave you alone. It’s exhausting. But one of the guys wrapped this scarf all around Marianne’s head. Man she looks so cool.

Some guy also wrapped it around Nycole’s head, and then put his arm around her to take a picture. Hmm…. I think that’s a no no. Oh man, and if you ever need a self confidence booster, just walk around in Egypt. I don’t think I’ve been told that I was beautiful so many times. They just like American girls I think, no matter what you look like.

Here’s our little shopping crew, along with amazing Matt Huff, who took this picture. Each group had to have five people and one had to be a guy. So Matt was the good one who followed us around the shops and made sure we were all safe and everything. So good. And the other guy in the picture is named Adam or something. He wouldn’t leave us alone and he eventually just took us around all night. We thought he was kinda strange at first, but then he was just fun fun. And he’d talk to some of the shopkeepers to make sure we weren’t completely getting ripped off. It was pretty fun. But shopping in Luxor was crazy, and wicked good too.

After shopping, we went back to the hotel for dinner at like 8 pm. But I was starting to feel like I was dying and I had no appetite whatsoever, so I just went to bed. I was sleepy and exhausted and did not feel so good. But Luxor is pretty cool beans.


Cairo: Pyramids, Sphinx, Ramses!

27 January 2009
We left our hotel in the morning, after not eating fresh fruit for breakfast or drinking the water. We could only drink bottled water the whole time, and we couldn’t eat the fresh fruit or vegetables either because they had been infected by the bad water. If we did drink the water, even with just brushing our teeth, then diarrhea would be very likely. Diarrhea did indeed occur.
This picture barely shows what driving was like in Cairo. It was insano. In no way do they obey traffic laws and they just drive wherever they can squeeze in. They turn two lane roads into four. The drivers are actually quite talented. 

Here’s the standard housing in Cairo that is allll over. It doesn’t look like the best, and we say way worse housing than this.
There were so many sweet vans. Many of them were taxis and they shove so many people into those taxi vans and bus type things. Crazy daisy man.
The Great Pyramid of Khufu at Giza! This is it. This is it. I was here.
This thing was huge, and so incredible edible egg. How did they build them? And it was thousands of years ago. 
Jumping on the huuuuuuuge pyramid stones. These stones are huge. I jumped on them.
The cool dudes, making a pyramid on the pyramid.
These stones rock.
THE PICTURE – Kara and Chelsea at the pyramids
Me and my roomies, being ancient Egyptians at the ancient Egyptian pyramids. There are these main three on the Giza plateau but a lot of other pyramids in other places around Egypt. 
Chelsea was here. She saw these wonders.
Walk like an Egyptian
We can’t forget the dear ol’ Sphinx too!
Eating the nose off the Sphinx.
dearest Marianne and I, loving seeing Egpyt
We also went and saw some statues of Ramses. I like that he’s smiling. Happy Egypt.
The statues they make are so crazy huge.
Then we went to the first pyramid, a step pyramid, I believe built by Amenhotep. 
Shamra, Lauren, et moi!
The earlier tombs were called mastabas, and they were just regular structures. But the pyramids came about by placing mastabas on top of mastabas, creating step pyramids and the first pyramids.
Thanks to dear Holly girl sister sister for my ring… :)
Another sweet picture of Kara and Chelsea, and our Egyptian adventures!
This dude was rocking it on the camel, and I couldn’t not take a picture. I love camels. I love them. They’re the most awkward looking animals in the world. 

We had quite a jam packed, adventurous day in Cairo. And to top that off, that night, we got on a plane and flew to Luxor. This trip is long and busy and cooooool beans. I went to the pyramids today!


Bussin’ to Egypt

26 January 2009
Marhaba! We bussed it to Egypt! Yay! We went from Jerusalem to Cairo, and stopped at a Kibbutz near the border for the night. Fun parties all along the way. We stopped at all these cool places and of course learned all these cool things and took many cool pictures. This is the greatest field trip ever.
First stop was Tel Beer Sheva, or Beer-Sheba. It was an old little city where Abraham lived way back in the day.

We had to wear hard hats because we walked through a cave where they get their water from.

Note to self: prevent people from wearing hard hats with hoods and ponytails.

Human sacrifice, on the four horned, Pagan alter.

Coolest sign in the world! BEWARE OF CAMELS NEAR THE ROAD! Yay yay!

Next stop: Wilderness of Zin, where the children of Israel wandered for sooo sooo long.

Attempt at jumping picture in the Wilderness of Zin.
Next stop: Avdat! a wiiiiiicked old little city. Here’s some cooooooool ruins. I love ruins.

They had these really super cool to the max metal sculltures all over the ruins too. The first on we saw was of this camel caravan. Loved it!

Marianne and I posing on the camel. Fun fun!

You know I loooooove camels. I really really do.

Going for a walk with my new friend.

Talking story with the peeps, the Avdateans, actually, I think the people who inhabited this city were Nabateans maybe. Hmm…. I’m not sure.

Avdat was the coolest place of the day. I love taking pictures at ancient ruins, oh yes I do.

This is the entrance into the city soccer field/ entrance into something I called the soccer field.

Working it.

Just standing on a wall that is almost 2000 years old.

I think this must’ve been a bathroom way back in the day, it looked like the perfect spot.

Here’s what the bathroom was like at out next stop. I’ve never seen a woman symbol with a dress like that. :)

Me and two of my roomies at some huge crater.

We finally made it to the Kibbutz, after a looooooong journey. A kibbutz is like a little self sufficient community where all the people work and live there and everyone gets paid the same no matter what their job is. It’s an interesting way of life. They also get all of their food and housing paid for. They have a bunch of cows and do dairy, and they have a bunch of agriculture stuff. 

This was in the little cafeteria thing. I want a bench shaped like a cow.

After we crossed the border from Israel to Egypt, you could tell we were there simply by bathroom quality. Egypt bathrooms are no good. Here’s a sign that was on the wall. Most of the toilets hardly flush and there’s never any toilet paper. To go into the bathroom you have to pay the bathroom attendant and she’ll give you a few squares of toilet paper. It’s crazy being in Egypt.

Here’s the bus, where we spent so many many hours.

Finally made it to the hotel in Cairo, where they had a sweet playground with all sorts of fun things. This China man shaped trash can was one of the highlights of the Oasis Hotel in Giza.

The journey to Egypt was a long one, but pretty cool of course. You gotta love these wicked good field trips we have at the Jerusalem Center.
Favorites, Jerusalem

The Garden Tomb

25 January 2009
Third Shabbat in Jerusalem… go to the Garden Tomb, but only after having church in the most beautiful building in Jerusalem and after having Sacrament Meeting in a chapel with hug windows that overlook the whole city. This here chapel definitely has the best view ever.
Going to the Tomb!! So people aren’t 100% positive that this tomb was the one Jesus used, but they’re preeettttttty sure. This tomb and wine press place belonged to Joseph of Arimathia, and he gave his tomb for Jesus to use. From the clues and info we get from the Bible about it, this tomb was could definitely be Jesus’s. In my opinion, it was his tomb, and I got to go inside today.
Moon and Chelsea, waiting to go inside the tomb, and waiting to see where Jesus laid and where he rose.
This is it, the entrance to the tomb. This isn’t quite how it looked way back in the day, because there was like an earthquake or something that knocked down part of the entrance, and some people rebuilt hundreds of years ago, but it is so cool. The inside of the tomb was much smaller than I thought it would be though.
Into the tomb… and as someone else is coming out, which makes the picture a wee bit creepy.
Plaque on the door: “He is not here, for He is risen.”
Some cool peeps chillin’ outside the tomb on the benches.
Beautiful Jessica (who gave an excellent talk in church today), in the beautiful garden.
This place is beautiful. Today we had a little tour guide guy who told us all about everything, and I’m excited to go back when I can just go back and find and nice little secluded spot to write in my journal. You gotta love that journaling, especially on Shabbat, especially at the Garden Tomb.
Cate and Miriam… smiling as we’re about to sit there and sing beautiful hymns. He is Risen, Christ, the Lord, is Risen Today, How Great Thou Art, and I Know that My Redeemer Lives. It was so good sitting in the park at the Garden Tomb, singing beautiful hymns about the Savior and about the Resurrection. Being here in Jerusalem is incredible.
Marianne and Chelsea, saying goodbye to Garden Tomb, until a couple Shabbats from now.
Flowers! The area around the Garden Tomb is like a beautiful little park, with flowers and pathways, and to top it off, the tomb is there. Wow.
Leaving the Garden Tomb, with my new found flower. Oh how I miss putting the beautiful Hawaiian flowers in my hair…
A beautiful sunset, the end to a fabulous Shabbat.

Omar and the Olive Wood

22 January 2009
Omar is a man who has a shop here full of amazing olive wood carvings. He does them all himself. His work is amazing, it really is. And all of his carvings are totally for LDS people too. His best customers are us students I’m sure. His carvings really are incredible though, and beautiful. Omar is quite the artist. And he’s got carvings of everything, Christ of course, Moroni, Nephi, Relief Society thigs, CTR, abstract carvings of Mary, Joseph, and baby Jesus, camels, and… he has nativities too. I think I might have to invest in one of them babies. I’ll definately be getting something.
Dearest Mother… here’s some pictures so you can see the lovely nativity selection.
This nativity has quite a bit of detail and is $140 I think.
I really liked these abstract ones, such cool beans. This is $90.
This nativity costs $90 too, and I maybe like it better. I don’t know Joe, too many decisions in my life.
The Big One: this nativity has so many characters and so much amazingness to it. And with the star at the top, you can twist it and it plays Christmas music! There is so much detail to every single figure. This nativity costs $300. Here’s another thing in the Holy Land that is incredible edible egg.
I don’t know what I want to get or what I want to do, but I definitely will buy something from good ol’ Omar. He’s just so great. There’s a few fabulous shopkeepers around here who just love us “Mormon University” students. It’s so excellent.

Kotel Tunnel Tour

22 January 2009
Wednesday… another field trip! We have the coolest field trips around here.
We went to the Kotel tunnels. They are a bunch of tunnels underground along the part Western Wall that is underground. More city was built up on top of the wall waaaay back in the day. There was this guy who took us all around through the tunnels and explained all of this incredible history to us. Again, it’s hard to realize I’m actually here in the Holy Land.
Waiting around for the tour to start…
Schlomo… hehehe. I don’t know what this sign was on, but I took it as we were waiting around.
Seven branch candelabra, symbol of Judaism. 

Chelsea + Western Wall + Dome of the Rock

Western Wall (most holy site to Judaism). Dome of the Rock (one of the Islam’s holy places).

The Rampton brothers, of Eagle River, Alaska! Yay Alaska crew!

Lauren and Chelsea… happy in Jerusalem and at Kotel! Time for the tour!

model of the 2nd temple, which was destroyed in 70ish AD.

Pretty signs…

Our tour guide, who told us about this stone that the Romans could not destroy. This one single stone is bigger than a bus! How did they do it?

As all field trips are… this one was fabulous as well. The tunnels were pretty crazy daisy. And it’s so interesting learning about all this history. And learning why the Western Wall is so sacred and holy, and learning what it was like way back in Jesus’s time. This place it soooo good. Jerusalem all the way. Yay yay.

Free Day in Jerusalem

19 January 2009
Our first day with no class that wasn’t Shabbat, so what does one do when free to venture around Jerusalem?  
Why walk the walls surrounding the Old City of course! (Followed by an afternoon of shopping and bartering…)

One of my fun fun cooooool roomies, Carly, and I after we had paid our 11 shekels ($3ish) to walk around the walls.

Kara and I, excited to embark on a  2 1/2 hour long journey.

Posing it up in a little mini cave/ windowless window on the way up the stairs.

Kara Schumacher. Yeah, she’s pretty cool.

Walking around the wall! There were like 30 of us at first doing it, but eventually we all spread out. As you can see, Marianne and I are pretty excited about this adventure.

Behind a sweet, old gate.

Carly and I are so happy to be cruising in Jerusalem too! And this was before the Jerusalem cruisers.

Up on the wall, we could see soooo much. Beautiful views. I’m feel like I’m in a time warp in this city.

By this cool garden on people rooftops basically, I think.

Door. Wall. Street. Old City. 

Mini photoshoot, as we walk. 

Oh Jerusalem!

Roomies (+Shamra)!! What good adventures we have. This city is so crazy amazing. Amacrazing.

We like those photo shoots.

Behind Kara and I is… hmm… I forgot actually. But I think it might be the hill that Christ was crucified on. I don’t remember right now. Maybe later. There’s just so much to learn…. so much.

BYU Jerusalem Center for Near Eastern Studies!!! I love this place.

Little boys like to play.
Here is one of them. He had a very very cute little puppy. 
Stopping for a little snack break. We had a loooong walk. 

She gave him some money to take a picture of him and the puppy, and he kept asking for more.

So did they. 

Lauren and Chelsea!

Walking the wall, in Jerusalem, whoa.

We were trying to take this picture so that the Dome of the Rock would be a little hat on my head, but it didn’t work too extremely fabulously.

When we finally got done with our long trip around the wall, six of us girls went to the Old City for a bit of shopping. They got some candy to hook up the Shekel Shaq at the Center.

I bought the sweeeetest Jerusalem cruisers, made out of camel leather. Oh they are blessed sandals. And for 50 shekels, which is about $12. In case you guys didn’t know, I LOVE THEM. But this picture isn’t that good of them. I’ll get some better ones up later. And I’ll also get some of the most amazing bag that I bought on this lovely day.

In the Old City we went to the Jewish Quarter too. I really liked it there. So clean and open aaaannnddd…

I bought a yummy yummy piece of pizza. So if you’re in the Jewish Quarter, you should go to this place. It was good, and Kosher, a must here in the Holy Land.

The Western Wall

17 January 2009

I went to this most holy site to Judaism, and my petition joined hundreds of others filling the crevasses between each sacred rock.

The Western Wall is sacred to Jews because it is the only part left from the second temple, which was destroyed in 70 AD. The Western Wall was part of the retaining wall of the temple platform and it was the wall closest to the Holy of Holies. Inside the Holy of Holies, was the Ark of the Covenant. The Western Wall is where Jews come to pray, read scriptures, and praise God.

All 80 of us students and a couple professors walked there to welcome in the Shabbat with the Jewish community. There are many regulations and customs at the Western Wall since it is so sacred. One that we heard and one that was on a sign was that women had to have their heads covered. Men had to have on kippas. Smoking was also not allowed and cameras weren’t either (at least on Shabbat, so that picture above isn’t mine. Compliments to wikipedia.) We also weren’t supposed to write petitions there; they were supposed to be written before, but I forgot and just had a blank little piece of paper. Nonetheless, my little grubby piece of paper fit its way into a little crack.

My petition was a petition of gratitude. Before we went to the wall, one of our professors was telling us a story about how the one priest who cleans the papers at the Wall or something, gets to read them. He said they were all asking God for something, and rarely were there ones of gratitude and ones thanking God for the many ways he blesses our lives. Therefore, I decided to make my petition solely one of gratitude. Even though I forgot to write on it, I held it in my little hands and filled it full of gratitude and good thoughts. It was so good. I loved the Wall. It was really just so good.

After standing in front of the Wall for a while, and marveling that I am actually here in Jerusalem experiencing the most holy places to so many people, I walked away from the wall backwards, not turning my back on it. That’s what you’re supposed to do and that’s what all the Jews were doing.

But funny story… one thing that we heard we were supposed to do, but we actually didn’t have to do, was cover our heads. So all of us students had our heads covered with our beautiful, new, colorful pashminas. All of us women had scarves all over our heads. Did anyone else? Did the Jewish women? NOPE. So we just looked like crazy weirdos and that what everyone thought we were. Also, everyone else was more dressed up and we show up in jeans and with our heads covered. We were trying to not stand out; it didn’t work… at all. They thought we were Muslim women at first, then they thought we were married women, but we were neither. We were just very misinformed Mormon girls.

There was also a lot of singing and dancing that went along. A lot of us students were dancing it up with the Jewish women and singing singing singing. It was sooooo fun. We were singing these fun Hebrew songs, just trying to make similar sounds. And this lady was in the middle of our circle, trying to teach us, and she had a lisp, and a cool hat, and she seemed like an amazing woman. I liked her. But she was teaching us these songs and it was fabulous. Sometimes I wish we had people would bust out into song and dance during Sacrament meeting. :) Ok, not Sacrament Meeting, but we could use some more lively people in Sunday School quite often.

My welcoming in of Shabbat at the Western Wall was fabulous. It was a really good experience. I need to go back on a non Sabbath day so I can take some sweet pictures. The Wall is amazing. I love being here.


Geography Field Trip

15 January 2009

Our first group field trip! Hooray! We just went around Jerusalem area in two big, nice buses for the day. We went to five different sites and a couple of our professors guided this Geography Field Trip and told us more than I can fit in my brain right now. But it was soooooo interesting and fabulous field tripping it up. And as interesting as the Pratt Museum is year after year throughout elementary, this field trip was still pretty cool to the max.

Site #1: Seven Arches Hotel Overlook

There was a camel just chillin’ in the parking lot here with some guy. It was cooooool. I love camels. They are one of the most interesting looking creatures and I’m so excited to ride on in Egypt! So this overlook we were at has biblical and historical significance I’m sure, but I don’t really remember what it is. But form the Center, we have a view of Jerusalem from the east side and this overlook showed us the city from the south side. And it was right next to a Jewish or Muslim memorial that covered the hillside. And while we were there, one of my professors, Brother Skinner, was our field trip guide, and he was telling us so so so much. Whoa. Genius man. But we had our first experience
with out sweet field trip headsets, which will definitely come in handy in Egypto.

The View. Wow.

Site #2: St. Augusta Victoria Tower
This is a very beautiful church that is kind of a refuge for many Palestinian Christians. There is such beautiful artwork in there. And there is this huge bell tower that you had to climb up 500 million stairs to get to. And when we got to the top… preeettttyyy beautiful, and also pretty windy. I was a bit chilly willy up there. But it was beautiful and fun taking pictures. Then before we left, I bought one of my new

most favorite possessions: a little camel pin, handmade out of olive wood in Bethlehem. I love it.

Site #3: Deir Elyas Monestary

This place was a windy little hill in the middle of more hills and surrounded by city and also….SHEEP!

There actually arent that many sheep there, but while we were there
learning all the Bro. Skinner was telling us, this herd of sheep comes along. So
fun! And we all tried to take pictures, but the woman shepherd had her little son and daughter with her and they were telling us not to take pictures unless we pay. I had to shekels, so I don’t really have any pictures. But one of my friends paid the little boy and girl a shekel each and they posed with this little lambie and my friend. Cute cute. I also had a sweet photoshoot with my new olive wood Bethlehem camel pin at this site, but I’m having trouble putting all these pictures on here, so you can just see the one picture with my camel.
Site #4: Haas Promenade Overlook

We ate lunch here! Yay! We picked up sack lunches that the kitchen put together for us. The significance of this place is that this is the same hill where Abraham was probably standing when he looked out, a far off, and saw the hill on which he was to sacrifice his son. It’s either in Genesis or Abraham of both where he says how he looked out and saw Mt. Moriah. It’s so interesting with this program because what we learn in our classes, and our Bible classes, and on our field trips all goes together. It’s soo good.

Site #5: Nebi Samwill

Our last stop for the day was more like a Jewish sanctuary. They think it is where the prophet Samuel was buried, though it’s probably not. And that spot is also as far as King Richard made
it during the Crusades. But after that Crusader church was there, and Byzantine church was built over it. This history here is so old and crazy. This building was cool though. And we went to the top, where it was very windy, and we learned about the prophet Samuel some. And…. we also took some cooool pictures on the domed roof. I love all the domed roofs around here, although, I’m really loving everything.

So field trip day was cool beans of course! And good news… I didn’t even get motion sick on the bus. Woo hoo! To sum it up, I love field trips.

First Shopping Day in Old City

12 January 2009

JC Security did’t let us out of the Center for a couple of days because of protests and riots and things, since we live in the Palestinian section, but today, Sunday, we got to go out! Hooray!! But we could only go in groups of five or more and only to the places we went on our little orientation walk in the city.

So with no hesitation, eight of us girls got ready for an adventure. To be fully prepared for this, I equipped my fanny pack with all the goods: camera. copy of passport. gum. chapstick. dinosaur mirror. Jerusalem Center cell phone. Jerusalem Center ID card. hand sanitizer. and of course a polka dotted personal check to exchange money with Aladdin.
First stop: Aladdin money changer. He takes personal checks from BYU students, the Mormons. He is cool to the max. Dollars to Shekels. Exchange rate=3.8 Each shekel is worth about 25 cents. Sweet.

Next stop: Damascus Gate. Hold on to your fanny packs, or if you’re a regular,
less cool girl, hold on to your purse. But you don’t want to lose your shekels, so watch out.

And then….: THE OLD CITY!

Then us eight girls, which is tooooooo big of a group, especially of American girls, some of which were a bit too American. Anywho, then we just wandered around the little streets, going into fun shops. There are so many cool things, and all preeeettttttttty inexpensive too. I’ve got some good things to buy. Yay yay ya ya.

My first purchase of the day… a purple pashmina. (By the way, I hear pashmina is goat beard hair, interesting.) He said 20 shekels for it and I thought, “Sweet. 20 shekels, that’s like 5 bucks.” So I bought it after choosing the good one.

Then we went down the little alley streets some more and went in another little shop. The guy’s name is Emad and he, like many of the shopkeepers, loves the Mormons. He was giving us sweet deals and was selling his scarves and pashminas for 10 shekels! That’s about $2.50! Crazy cheap… and he was selling us cool earrings for 5 shekels. Whoa man. So I bought another pashmina and a pair of earrings. This store is now referred to as the “10 Shekel Scarf Shop.”

We journeyed onward to another shop called Ali Baba’s or something. The man’s name is Shaban. His store is often referred to as the BYU store. He is a huge fan of the “Young Mormons” and he has made special BYU Jerusalem shirts and sweatshirts and he sells scripture cases. And every time we go there, he gives everyone cups of juice. He’s one cool dude. My most favorite purchase of the day was bought at his store. They are….. GENIE PANTS! They are the sweetest coolest things to ever be on my legs. Oh how I love me new genie pants. I pretty much look like Jasmine when I wear them.

I also bought a most fabulous bag this lovely day. It was my first bartering experience. I need to get better. He told me like 80 shekels and I said I’d come back and he was telling me what a good deal it was and I liked the bag and he said 70 shekels and I said 60 shekels and he said okay. I now have a sweet bag that I spent $15 on. Not too bad. But I definitely could’ve gone lower. I’ll shortly acquire some improved bartering skills.

I Love Shabbat!

11 January 2009

     In J Town/Jerusalem, the Sabbath is on Saturday, not Sunday. And in Hebrew the word for Sabbath is Shabbat. Oh how I’m loving this Shabbat-ness.            The Jerusalem branch starts at 10 and is in the auditorium here in the the center. We definitely have the most amazing view of any chapel ever. Instead of there being a brick wall behind the pulpit, there are a bunch of beautiful windows with an even more beautiful view. We sit in church and look out over the beautiful city of Jerusalem, everything. It’s so amazing. I love love love it.      So this little Jerusalem branch has a few permanent members of people that work at the embassy or consulate and stuff. There’s a couple little families and a few other peeps. There’s also this one wonderful Palestinian woman who lives in Bethlehem, and she sure has a difficult time getting through the check points to come into Jerusalem. She wasn’t able to come to church for quite a long time actually, but now she works for the UN so she can get through with a bit more ease.     

     After church was over, my three fabulous roomies and I were sitting in the sunshine on our little deck working on our Old Testament reading and doing so good ol’ journaling, and of course, having a bit of a photo shoot here and there. It was fun fun fun! Hooray for fun Shabbat pictures in the Holy Land. Hooray for Shabbat in general peeps; it’s the best.


BYU Jerusalem = My New Home

9 January 2009

         Shalom! I’m here studying at the BYU Jerusalem Center for Near Eastern Studies for a semester. Eighty students get to come every semester and I am one of those lucky few! Hooray! I’m so so so glad and so excited to be here.

         The center is located on Mt. Scopus in East Jerusalem in a Palestinian area. It overlooks the city of Jerusalem with the beautiful and sacred Dome of the Rock right in the middle. That is the view from my bedroom patio. Amazing. This building is so beautiful and so nice, and I have to remind myself everyday that I am actually here. Whoa, I’m in Jerusalem right now, this very second.

  We take different classes and combine that learning with a lot of on site learning and fun fun field trips. We have an Ancient Near Eastern Studies class, two Modern Near Eastern Studies classes, one from Jewish perspective and one from Palestinian/Islam perspective, then we have an Arabic (or Hebrew class, whatever you choose), and of course some grand Old and New Testament classes. We have a lot of reading for every class, but it’s all really interesting and so it’s cool beans.
Then we have oodles and caboodles of amazing field trips. We go around Jerusalem of course and hit up all the sites, but along with that, we go to Egypt for a week, Galilee, Jordan, Dead Sea, Red Sea, Med Sea, Bethlehem, all over the Holy Land man. It’s going to be amazing! There is so much here in Jerusalem. It’s crazy. Dome of the Rock, Western Wall, Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Garden of Gethsemene, everything….. It’s all here, and I’m here too.

Traveling… to the Holy Land!

8 January 2009

My Jerusalem story begins with traveling, airports, sleep deprivation. After being in Utah with the fam for a few marvelous days and after an exceptional Christmas Break, I headed to the SLC airport at 4 am on January 6th. From Salt Lake, half the students for the BYU Jerusalem program, about 40 of us, flew to Denver, then to Washington DC. Woo hoo, my first time on the East Coast. Although I don’t think the airport is a very good representation of it. In DC, I enjoyed my last few moments in America and in my own country, then… 

On to Vienna we went. We flew with Austrian Air and it was soooo different not having everything in English. The flight attendents weren’t American, all the little caution stickers and stuff weren’t in English, and the movies came in four different languages. And the airplane was so bright and colorful too, which I loved. The seats were bright green and the pillows were red or yellow and it was happy happy. After that 8 hour flight, where we got two meals and we all had a personal tv screen, we arrived in Vienna!

Whoa… my first time out of the US. When I went to the bathroom, I definitely knew I wasn’t in America anymore because first of all, I wasn’t in the bathroom, I was in the WC, water closet. So that was fun. Then I went in, and I was wondering where all the stalls were. But toilets there are like all in their own separate room, with a real door, and with no cracks or open spaces for weirdo people to see through. :) 

And then when I was going to flush after I had finally discovered where the toilets were, I couldn’t find the flusher. There was no button anywhere, but there was this big silver panel thing above the toilet. I thought it might be under that, but nope; the big silver thing was the button. So the toilet flushed and I left my little private toilet room and washed my hands with green paper towels. Fun times in the Vienna airport bathroom. Then… three hour flight to Tel Aviv, Israel, where we got another meal! Man those US airlines are cheapo.

Tel Aviv. Israel. My first time in a different country. I am a foreigner. It’s different. It’s good. I love it.
When all 80 students had arrived at the airport, we rode these two big, nice buses to the BYU Jerusalem Center for Near Eastern Studies. It was probably a 45 minute bus ride maybe, and my coooool friend from Hawaii, Kara, and I rode together. The bus ride was crazy because this is a totally different place, totally different. I’m in the Middle East. All of the buildings and houses and geography are nothing like I’ve been around. It’s so good to experience other parts of the world.

We finally arrived at the center at 5 pm on Wednesday night, after 28 hours of traveling. The staff was telling us, “Welcome home!” and hooray, I’m home for now! My goodness it is so exciting being here. I absolutely love it! So I was quite exhausted, as was everyone else, but we had a little orientation meeting, which I partly slept through, and we had to meet a couple teachers. When I finally got to go to sleep, it was happy happy.
                       I love being here in this Holy Land.