Sunday, July 12, 2009

Preview for Galilee!

Since I've been here, I've been able to walk where Jesus walked, sit where Jesus walked, and for this next week and a half I'll be swimming where Jesus walked... (as one of our professors put it) I'm really looking forward to this experience (not just the swimming, but everything that goes along with it - as in spending all of our time studying the life of the Savior). I won't be emailing or blogging for a while, but I promise an awesome one when I get back to the JC...

Walking on the road that ran by the west side of the temple during the time of Christ.Sitting on steps that Christ would have walked on to go up to the temple.
The shore of the Sea of Galilee, where I'll be swimming where Jesus walked...

Friday, July 10, 2009

"O little town of Bethlehem..."

I'm a little behind. We went to Bethlehem on Monday. This was really special for me because my favorite scripture is from the Book of Mormon in first Nephi chapter 11:

"And I looked and beheld the virgin again, bearing a child in her arms. And the angel said unto me: Behold the Lamb of God, yea, even the Son of the Eternal Father! Knowest thou the meaning of the tree which thy father saw? And I answered him, saying: Yea, it is the love of God, which sheddeth itself abroad in the hearts of the children of men; wherefore, it is the most desirable above all things. And he spake unto me, saying: Yea, and the most joyous to the soul."

I like this scripture because the angel uses the image of the birth of the Savior to try and help Nephi understand how deep and strong the love of our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ is. I don't know why, but everytime I read this chapter, it has a big impact on me and I can always feel the love of my Savior. This is all just to tell you that Bethlehem was an amazing experience and I loved being able to sing Christmas hymns in the middle of July near the place where my Savior was born.

Of course there would be sheep walking along the main road in Bethlehem..The first half of the day was spent at Bethlehem University where we got to talk to Palestinian students our same age and ask them questions about what their lives were like and what it was like to go to Bethlehem University. It was a very beautiful campus.I love cheesy pictures - we had lunch under a tent, we tend to do that a lot. Its great.This is the Church of the Nativity. It is one of the oldest churches, or possible THE oldest church in the Holy Land still in use. The others were destroyed by invading armies. This one was left because there used to be a huge mosaic of the three wise men on the front and they looked like the Persians that were doing the invading and destroying. The commanders I guess throught that was pretty special and so left this church alone. Because this church is so old, they're pretty sure this is the actual location of the birth of Christ. Usually there's several possiblities, but this is the only one for His birth that I know of.
The entrance to the church is a very small doorway - it's the humility door.The inside of the church (this church has the same issue as the Church of the Holy Sepluchure because it is also owned by various denominations and before any changes/repairs/additions can be made, they all have to agree - apparently this never happens...)The 14 pointed star of Bethlehem - it symbolizes the generations of Christ.The inside of the cave

Monday, July 6, 2009

Snorkeling in the Red Sea!

This Sunday, on my best friend Rachel's birthday, I celebrated by going snorkeling in the Red Sea.... by the way, I love you Rach and I hope you had an awesome birthday! You are one of the sweetest girls I know. You are so nice to everyone and very smart. Also you are gorgeous! I miss you and can't wait to hang out with you again in the fall and do dance aerobics at 7 in the morning... :D Diiing! Thanks for being my best friend for SOOOO many years and for putting up with all my crap, always giving me your ear and your shoulder and for making me laugh whenever we get together!

As for the Red Sea, it was beautiful, the pictures don't do it justice. There were so many fish, so many beautiful colors, and soooo much coral! Unfortunately my legs and back are pretty bright red.... I think I spent too much time upside down looking at the sea floor... also I forgot that this was the first time this summer that many parts of my body have had serious exposure to the sun... o well, it was fun and the ice cream at dinner was delicious!

So the air conditioning on the bus didn't work on the way there... this is an "act how you feel picture"it was beautiful!mine are the bright, metallic blue toes... basically the same color as some of the fish we we've eaten at this kibbutz several times and i've never gotten a picture with the cows that are randomly everywhere. Icecream! SoOOOO GooOOd!

The Separation Wall

Last Sunday, the 28th, we took a tour of the Separation Wall. Our guide was Danny Seidman who works independent of the Israeli government but is an Israeli citizen who does a lot of advising and such for both the Israeli government and the U.S. ambassadors to Israel on the issues regarding the Palestinian Israeli conflict. The Israeli army is building this wall around Palestinian territories in order to decrease the acts of terrorism on the Israelis. It has stopped the bombings of the Second Intifada but has come at the big cost to the Palestinians. The wall disrupts daily life and has caused the death of individuals in emergency situations trying to get to hospitals outside the West Bank that have been delayed by the checkpoints. We went to Bethlehem University today in the West Bank and got to talk to some of the students there. One girl is from a town south of Hebron and a drive that should take 15 minutes now takes her about 2 hours. I think, if I remember right, the Israeli government does not support the army's construction of the wall and the UN has made a public statement against it. Here's some pictures of the wall.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Finals week here at the JC...

This list is courtesy of Lisa Foote's blog... This is just to give you an idea of what's going on in the JC right now...

There are people bartering study guides based on how long it took them to make it, with vows to not share it with anyone. (I was actually given a study guide who's origins were a little sketch and if anyone asked where I got it I was told to respond "I don't know where it came from")
There are people singing hymns at the top of their lungs in the study rooms, and people outside of the study rooms getting angry.
There are people crying like I've never seen before.
There has been a lot of hyperventilating.
Everyone is gaining weight because the intake of pita and peanut butter has at least doubled.
Some girls made a music video in the midst of all the studiers.
A list of countries bordering the Red Sea, Dead Sea, and Persian Gulf was erased from the board when we walked in with the explanation "I'm not allowed to share that with anyone; I got it from someone else and she'll kill me if I share it."
At the Old Testament review the tear filled question was asked "IS IT ACTUALLY POSSIBLE TO SUCCEED?"
Russell turned 25 today and is begging everyone to go get gelato with him, but no one will. is the most visited website of the week as everyone tries to learn the countries and capitals of the Middle East by playing matching games.
The dinner conversation is: "Tell me the 2 mountain ranges in Iran." "No. I'm not talking about that right now." "Okay, then let me tell you a joke... What's the capital of Lebanon?" "That's not a joke Brent!"
The tension in the building is escalating by the minute. Anyone who is not stressed out is shunned and yelled at for being happy. Jokes have to be used very sparingly and only with other non-stressed individuals when not in the presence of the temporary psycho-paths.
(Thanks Lisa, I think you got it pretty right on...)

Living so close to all of these people during finals, you see a WHOLE different side to them. For example, I never thought I would see Big Rig (Amy) do ballet in the hallway as she answered questions from the Old Testament study guide. Also studying the exact same thing so close to all these people you hear a lot of creative techniques for remembering things (UN Resolution 242, Give back land you!)...

For better or for worse I haven't felt too stressed. Judaism final went ok... Islam is a shot in the dark and today I'm taking Old Testament... we'll see how that goes. My preferred method of study is to set up a huge pile of beanbags in the hall and shout out answers from the study guide as you jump into it, run into it, or, for the more talented people, do flips, spins and such into the stack. It helps you stay awake when you are trying to get in the last few hours of study late at night. Hope y'all are enjoying your summer! I am now going to share with you the random bits of information stuck in my head...

Who Ahimelech, Abimelech and Alimelech are (not to be confused with Abihu, Abiram, Abiathar and Abishai...)
Eglon was really fat and Ehud got his sword stuck in his belly. Happy Humphrey somehow relates to this story
The order of the first rulers of Iran... Reza Khan, Muhammed Reza Khan, Muhammed Mosaddeq, Muhammed Reza Khan, and then comes the "Ayatollahs in Iran..." (Billy Joel "We didn't start the fire" always goes off in my head about this time)
How to get from Somalia to the Black Sea by boat... (Go through the Red Sea, Suez Canal, Mediterranean Sea, go through the Aegean Sea, right through the Dardanelles, Marmara Sea, the Bosporus Straits and then you're there!)
The Jews almost established a homeland in Uganda... imagine the Middle East today if that idea would have gone through
The difference in Kibbutz and Moshavs... (one has really good icecream)
The difference in Sephardic and Ashkenazic Jews
"The nature of the Palestinian discourse!"
Resolutions 181, 194, 242, 338, 1397, 1515...
Barak helps Deborah free Israel
Hussayn was the Hashemite prince who made a deal with the British
Osama bin Laden is the money and Zawahiri is the brains of al-Qa'eda
Joab kills Abner, Absalom, Amasa, Amnon...
Absalom is a very attractive man with thick locks of hair that he has to thin out once a year. Once it got caught in a tree and Joab shot a javelin through his heart.
Saul is really bad with the javelin
Context of the film Bashu
Solomon had 700 wives and 300 concubines...

I'm just looking forward to Sunday when we're heading down to Elat to go snorkeling in the Red Sea. Then all this craziness will be over... for at least another month and a half...