I have been so busy I haven't had to time to write emails or even update this for a while!!
On Sunday we had a complete free day so about 25 of us took a tazi/bus to En Kerem (I think that's how its spelled...) which is the birth place of John the Baptist. It is such a cute little town in the hills (so it definitely was a hike). I think that if I knew what Tuscany was like... I would compare it to Tuscany... or some little quaint town of that nature. The view was absolutely amazing and the weather couldn't of been better. We just walked around to the different little churches and shops in the city. My favorite place was the art gallery where this man has been painting for 70 years and his work is beautiful. After walking from hill to hill a few of us (Miriam, Richelle, Ryan and I) got tired and decided to split from the group and stop at a small gellato place. IT WAS SO AMAZING. They had like a cookie flavor (honestly I don't know what it was) but it was heaven. Richelle and I loved it so much that we had to split a second one. So because we slacked off on Sunday we had a lot of catching up to do Monday, so that was a dedicated study day (however those usually still turn out to be social because everyone gets together to study... and ends up just talking) It seriously feels like one big family now... I feel pretty close to everyone here (can't say if they feel the same about me though) We are getting ready to go to Egypt soon which I am excited about... though a little nervous because the staff enjoys telling us horror stories. Basically if you don't get raped, kidnapped or deathly ill you will have a good time... but about 80% of the people got one of those (ok most of it was the sick part... but you could say that their health was kidnapped) I am constantly tired and hungry... yet extremely happy- which is a good thing because it means I am busy. I am so greatful that I am able to visit all these amazing sites. I am trying to keep up with all that I do... but I am still days behind!! I hope you all enjoy!!
This week has flown by so fast. I can't believe that its already shabbat (the sabbath). Yesterday we went to the "Wailing Wall" which is the western wall of the Old City wall. I think its the only remaining original wall of Herod's Temple. We went about sundown (which is when the Jewish sabbath starts) so there were tons of people there to sing, pray and worship. It has been my favorite thing so far. I was able to walk right up to the wall which was present when Jesus was there and place a small piece of paper in the crack as a prayer to God. (It was basially the most awesome thing ever... there were pieces of paper with written prayers in every open crevice in the wall. After some moments of meditation, some of us met up with a group of Jewish girls and participated in their song and dance (the boys and girls had to be seperated so they can't be distracted in their worship.) Everyone was so kind and willing to let you into their circle. For the first time I was approached and asked about my religion... but the sad thing is that I wasn't allowed to say anything about it. (The church has agreement not to talk about the church in Israel) But other wise it was so much fun and I loved seeing the people in the midst of their culture having such a fun time celebrating the coming of the sabbath. (Just something I have holy envy for) I wish I was able to take some pictures to share with everyone, but we aren't allowed cameras because it is so Sacred. Today we walked to the Garden of Gethsemane (which is a good walk from the Jerusalem Center... as is everything) It is just a small little garden with a few of the oldest olive trees alive inside. It had such a great spirit about it though, and I was able to read my scriptures and write in my journal as I sat in the middle of all those trees. I still am astonished that I am here and able to sit and read the account of the Savior while I sit where he once was. It is such a powerful expirence.
Yesterday was definitely a study day. Luckily it was warm outside so I was able to study on the grass overlooking the beautiful Jerusalem... plus I got to take some beautiful pictures of the outside. The classes that I am taking are 1. Old Testament 2. New Testament 3. Ancient Near East History 4. Modern Near East- Jewish Side 5. Modern Near East- Palestine Side 6. Arabic I haven't decided which one is my favorite yet. All the teachers here are amazing. There is SO much homework though. We seriously have to read 30 pages or more for each class. It definitely isn't just a semester off. Plus the bad thing is that we aren't able to repeat any of these classes... so if I do bad... it's forever!! dun dun dun... and it doesn't help that the beautiful Holy City calls my name at every free moment. I am learning to balance my time for sure here. By balance I mean go out to the city by day and study and cram by night. Though today we only had an hour or two between class... so I just decided to stay in and read. As you can see... I didn't read for very long till I started taking pictures. I mean but seriously... how can you not? I love it here!!
I finally figured out how to upload on this internet... This is our first day of school... notice the awesome backpacks?
Today is Monday, yet it feels like Tuesday since we had classes yesterday (Sunday). No I am not a sinner. We have church on Saturday (as previously discussed.) Having church on Saturday seriously messes your whole week up. You keep thinking that the the day is the day after... when really its not. Confusing right? You just had to read that. I actually have to live it. But its all good. I love it enough to stay here. (Its not like my mom and dad would let me come home if I wanted to anyways.) We were able to go out again today. We still had to stay in larger groups and be back by 4pm as an extra precaution... but at least its out. I still am in awe that I am walking the streets of the Holy City and so much history is in our backyard. We are hoping that the bombing stops and there is a call to "cease fire" so we can have less restrictions and more freedom to roam about. Today we went to the Rockefeller Museum (I don't think I spelled it right... but its not like it matters) It was pretty amazing. Lots of bones and pots and carvings. You know. Typical museum ish. I love that stuff. I wish I was able to take pictures inside... but I couldn't. No use crying over spilled milk. I also had my first Arabic class today. I think its going to be my favorite. The teacher is so funny and I am pretty sure I just laughed the whole hour. And he was the first teacher not to assign us a billion sheets of homework. Speaking of HW... I should get to it.
Today was the first day that we were able to go to the Old City by ourselves (well actually in groups of 5) We were all so ansty to get out of the Center that right after lunch everyone rushed out as fast as they could. It was so much fun to finally be out and about instead of just looking at it. We had to have at least one boy in our group, so my roommates and I haggled to boys to come shopping with us. Fortunately we hadn't exchanged any money yet- so we weren't able to buy anything (though we were really tempted) It started raining just as we were about to walk home. So we were soaked- but it was still so fun. I loved every minute of it.
So I had this blog as a requirement for photoclass- and I decided that I might as well put it to good use and use it as a Jerusalem blog.
I don't think I can post any pictures... so it might not be so exciting. But its mostly just for me to keep track of my travels. Its kind of hard to work because its all in Arabic... but hopefully it works.
We have been here for about 3 days- but it feels like longer. Its so amazing to wake up and realize that you are in the Holy Land and all you have to do is walk outside and you have this amazing view. The Jerusalem Center probably has the best view you can find. It is in between Mt. Scopus and Mountain of Olives. We haven't been able to go out to the city by ourselves yet because there have been several riots going on. But we were able to go on a tour in small groups which was amazing. I hope that we will be able to go out by ourselves soon though! Its soo tempting being able to see it but not experience it.
My roommates are the best roommates I could ever ask for here. It was not a coincidence that we were put together. (Though it may have been better for our sleep if we were separated. haha) I'm pretty sure that no one has had as much fun as us and that they are all jealous. Its crazy how close we have become in such a short time.
I am so glad that I am here and love every minute of it. (Even 4am Muslim Prayer Calls)
PS. If you decided to look at previous posts... please do not expect anything amazing. We just had to post one picture a day for 2 months for my photoclass and tell something about it. They are not good. So don't expect it.