Sunday, May 2, 2010

Last Week in Jerusalem

Well, all good things must come to an end, I guess. Jerusalem has been awesome, I am actually home now but I wanted to take some time to wrap up my semester by summarizing the events of my last week in the Holy Land.

Garden of Gethsemane. We went here for a morning to learn about and ponder the Atonement while tracing the last steps of Christ's life. It was really hard to leave this place knowing that I would not come back again.

Of course while tracing Christ's steps, we ended up at the Garden Tomb. I have so many good memories of this place, Sabbath afternoons, Easter mornings, etc. It was also really hard leaving this place for the last time.

We went to go see our friend Omar one last time. We met him a while ago (before Galilee) in the Old City. He came to our Community Concert at the center and we went to his house for an afternoon. We just became good friends with him (he is mentioned in an earlier post of mine titled "interview"). We went to where he works in the Old City, which was at an incredible building (the Old City never ceases to surprise me). It had a 360 degree view of the whole city, it was stunning. You could see everything close up, from the merchants in the markets to the rooftops of the houses to the laundry hanging out to dry. Oh how I love the Old City of Jerusalem. So much culture and character.

We painted murals at a nearby hospital/orphanage for special needs kids up by Crash Corner in East Jerusalem. This was the scene that I helped with. We called it our "Lovely Deseret", as in the hymn. It's a good one, look it up!

The finished product of Our Lovely Deseret. I was super impressed at how all of our murals turned out, there were three more scenes: a jungle, ocean, and mountain scene. They were all really good, it was a very daunting task to do four walls, but we did it!

We took a four hour bus ride to Eilat to go snorkeling in the Red Sea. We snorkled for four hours and then headed back to Jerusalem, but we got to stop and eat at the Kibbutz that we ate at on the way to Egypt. That was fun to look back on some of the memories we had then, especially to think about what we all thought about each other. Egypt was so early in the semester that we THOUGHT we knew each other but we definitely didn't. But anyway, this was a super fun day and a great "ending social" to our semester!

Words can't really describe my feelings during my last week in Jerusalem. It was so surreal, like it really never would end. But it has. It is over. Sometimes I catch myself wondering if it ever really happened, it just seems like it was a dream, but then I hear a hymn or get caught off guard by something that immediately takes me back. Those moments are so sweet to me and I don't think anyone can really understand what it's like. It makes me feel such fond feelings towards Jerusalem and the people there, I will always have a spot in my heart reserved for the experience I had there. I will never forget it. Ever.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010


I'm coming home!!!! In two hours!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Coming Near the End

Shabbat Shalom!

Well, today I woke up with the sad realization that today is my last Sabbath day in the Holy Land. It hit me hard today sitting in sacrament meeting overlooking the city, that my time here is up. And it was a very sad reality to come to! I definitely have mixed feelings about coming home. Today we sang "God be With You 'til we Meet Again"......torture! mean! I cried through the whole song. Jerusalem is so dear to my heart, it'll be hard to move on back to reality with the possibility that I may never see this place again. It has been a life changing experience for me.

Also hard for me today was to leave my nursery children! When I got released from my calling I shed a tear (just call me an emotional wreck). These children really are so sweet and I have enjoyed learning from them by teaching them the simple gospel truths every Saturday.

"Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you, that in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven.

For the Son of man is come to save that which is lost.

How think ye? if a man have an hundred sheep, and one of them be gone astray, doth he not leave the nienty and nine, and goeth into the mountains, and seeketh that which is gone astray?

And if so be that he find it, verily I say unto you, he rejoiceth more of that sheep, than of the ninety and nine which went not astray.

Even so it is not the will of your Father which is in heaven, that one of these little ones should perish."

I think this is my ultimate favorite scripture when it comes to children, and especially when it comes to my major and my future career. I have enjoyed growing closer to Christ by serving his innocent and pure children this semester.

This whole semester has been so incredible, I can't put the feelings and change I've felt in myself in words. I will be forever grateful for the opportunity to learn in Jerusalem.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Graduation Party

Last night I had the honor to attend the Jerusalem Center dinner for graduates. Some students put together this party since people who are graduating this semester are missing out on all of ths parties and stuff going on at BYU. Somehow I was qualified to attend this party.

We all found our own "caps" to wear, some went all out and even found gowns. Caps were made out of kippahs, boxes, scarves, and cardboard. I wore my Egyptian headdress that I bought in Egypt. I knew it would come in handy some day!

We ate separate from everyone else in our lounge, formally known as "The Dan Jones". We made a "procession" to the cafeteria where everyone could admire our caps and gowns and be jealous of the graduating (or close to graduating, in my case) students). We all shared what we were planning on doing with our lives after graduating.

After we ate our dear Brother Whipple who is here on a service mission spoke to us. The first slide of his presentation looked like some kind of painting, and I thought he wsa going to give us some kind of "just like this painting, life is only what you make of it" type of speech. But I really should have known better. Brother Whipple starting talking to us about how the painting was actually done by a cat, and unbeknownst to us there is actually a market and culture of paintings done by cats, otherwise known as non-primate art. He went way back and showed us pictures of cats from Egypt and other ancient cats. At first I wasn't sure if it was a joke or not, so I was trying desperately not to laugh. Which of course made my laugh even louder and more embarrassing than normal, which led to me crying from holding it all in.

According to Brother Whipple these two cats (whose names I can't remember but I do remember that they some kind of chinese influence) are the dynamic duo in the cat "non-primate" painting world.

The only time Brother Whipple cracked and laughed was when he was telling us the story of "Bootsie" and how he came into being an artist. Just like any other genius artist, Bootsie encountered tramatic experiences as a young kitten, including being neutered, left by his family when they moved, and getting is his tale stuck under a car. But he rose above it all, according to Brother Whipple, and came out victorious.

Brother Whipple, completely straight faced.

Eventually we all realized (after many confused looks at each other) that it was a joke. But joke or not, the presentation lasted for 35 minutes! And the whole time Brother Whipple kept a straight face. So funny. So random. Definitely a graduation commencement speech I will never, ever forget.


Oh, hey Iceland Volcano. So, potentially bad news (on so many levels). A volcano errupted in Iceland, grounding all flights in Europe and the Middle East. Since I am in the Middle East, that means that there is a chance that I may not be able to fly out next week! It could be cleared up by then (optimistically thinking). This issue could be cleared up within days or within weeks. So I will try not to be too dramatic about the matter and just hope that it will clear up. I love Jerusalem but I am ready to come home. This could throw a real wrench into my plans of starting school on Monday. But again. Think optimistic thoughts. Pray for the volcano to stop errupting/for the skies to clear up!


Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Masada and the Dead Sea!

This past Sunday we went on our field trip to Masada, the Dead Sea, En Gedi, and Qumran (Where the Dead Sea Scrolls were found). Here are some pictures and high lights:

I think I've seen this once. Supposedly it's about 7 hours long, so I'm sure I didn't see the whole thing, but I remember it. But then again, who wouldn't be able to remember 1,000 Zealot Jews committing suicide while 15,000 Roman Soldiers were bringing down their fortress?

Mighty Masada

We had to take a tram up to the top. It kind of reminded me of the tram at snowbird. It was super high up!

Me and the view of the Dead Sea from the top of Masada. You can't really tell from the picture but it really was pretty in a red sand deserty kind of way.

Who knew that Masada has the largest cistern in Israel???? Well, it does! We were stoked to see yet ANOTHER cistern. Look at that excitement.

You can find this picture (or one very similar to it) on the Masada brochure.

And now on to the DEAD SEA!

Here we have it. The Dead Sea. Yes, you really do float. It's so crazy! You can be completely "standing" in the water without touching the ground. A group of us even played a game of go fish in the water. The Dead Sea was so fun, it rocked my world.

This is Steve floating in the Dead Sea. And just to clear everything up, yes, he is wearing a swimsuit.

And of course we had to play with the Dead Sea mud.....

The black mud compared to my extremely white skin is almost alarming! Good thing summer is just around the corner.

After the Dead Sea we went to En Gev which is a nature preserve with lots of waterfalls. It was really pretty, we hiked around a bit. Unfortunately I have no pictures of it due to my camera getting killed by the Dead Sea. But this site was where David had the chance to kill Saul while he was "sleeping" (but in all reality, I've learned, Saul was actually going to the bathroom in the cave, not sleeping). We then went to Qumran where the Dead Sea Scrolls were found, which was kind of interesting.......if it weren't after a very long day and I didn't smell like sulfur and have other issues, it probably would have been great. But at that point I don't think I have ever been more disinterested in something. EXCEPT for I learned a cool connection between Joseph Smith and the Dead Sea Scrolls. Apparently the Scrolls use a name for Moses that doesn't appear in ancient scripture until Joseph Smith translates the book of Moses. That's pretty awesome! I love learning about connections like that.

So, the Dead Sea....CHECK! Masada....CHECK! Good day and a fun field trip.

A Bit More Jordan...

Just a little bit more Jordan for you!

Here is an example of Jordan propaganda. Man, they love their king! Even at the baptisimal site of Jesus they had a Mosaic of the King. I think it's funny and endearing.

Dan Jones bought this picture of Cramer from Sienfield in Tel Aviv one weekend and brought him to Jordan. We have been passing the painting around by leaving it in random bags, etc. Somehow he ended up with me in Jerash. It was really funny trying to explain to the Jordanians who he was. They were so confused, and a few merchants even took the painting from me and started evaluating the craftmanship of it. It was really funny. These girls wanted a picture with us so I decided to invite Cramer along as well.

While we were Jerash, which is the best preserved Roman City in the Middle East, we got to see a little Roman skit and see a little bit on how their army worked.

Horse Chariot! I couldn't talk the guy into letting me drive the chariot, even when I tempted him with a dollar bill....I'm kind of confused as to why I'm so much bigger than this guy in this picture, but oh well.