Wednesday, January 23, 2013

See the World

Song of the week: "See the World" By Gomez.
Hello from Jerusalem!

I just got done playing our nightly game of volleyball. I think when I come back to Idaho, I might be professional. No joke. 

What a week it has been! I could probably make this post super long and not that interesting if I wanted to. But I don't, so I'll try to spice it up with a few pictures. But first I'm going to tell you some stuff.

I got to go into the Old City for the first time last week. I loved it! The narrow stone streets are full of people and shops. There is so much to see, smell and hear. I love the chaos-- the kids running through the streets pushing old carts and yelling, the sound of a blaring Arabic talk radio, the sounds and smells of authentic food sizzling away in nearby shops, the happy greetings coming from every shopkeeper in sight, the feel of the uneven stones under your feet, and the faint (and sometimes not so faint) sound of Call to Prayer in the background.

Being here is everything I ever imagined it would be. And more.

This street was kind of out of they way, so there weren't a lot of people, but we were all really surprised to turn the corner and see how close we were to the Dome of the Rock. It doesn't look as close in this picture as it was in real life. 

I'm so sad this picture is so blurry! BYU Jerusalem's favorite shopkeeper always takes the students into the back and lets them dress up and take pictures. He also sells scripture cases and lots of BYU Jerusalem T-shirts just for us. His son says he thinks of the Mormon girls as his sisters.  

Lindsay, Chaille, Tawny, and me in front of Jaffa Gate. 

After walking around the old city for a while, we headed to West Jerusalem, which is much more modern and seems almost European. We got some lunch and I experienced my first falafel! It was pretty good (and very messy.) I also got some Chinese pecan ice cream and it was the best thing I've ever had (except for the homemade ice cream they make in the Oasis once a week. That is truly the best!) I think I'm going to come back thirty pounds heavier than I am now.

A quaint side road in West Jerusalem.

Yay for ice cream!

Last week we went on a field trip to all the Jerusalem outlooks around the city. It was a perfect day.

We got to go to the Western Wall for the first time last Friday night. It was really crowded (much more than usual for some reason,) but it was so enlightening for me. I am learning so much from having this opportunity to watch other people worship and experience different cultures. These people are so devoted and a great example to me.

It was so content as I made my way through the crowd so I could touch the wall and have the experience for myself. There were women everywhere praying and singing. There were others walking backwards through the crowd because they didn't want to turn their back on the wall. When I finally got there I silently watched as women stroked the wall and prayed. They would finally kiss it a few times and then leave. It was an amazing thing to experience. (Sorry no pictures for this one.)

A few days ago we got to go to the excavated sites of Tel Be'er Sheva and Tel Arad. It was really interesting to think that someone dug up a whole city from the time of Abraham. That's 1800 B.C Middle Bronze Age if you were wondering. I know things like that now.

Before we went to the sites, we stopped and watched some women weave their own rugs. It was so amazing, and the rugs were beautiful... my style exactly. They were pretty heavy and expensive though, so no rugs for me. 

Ladies and Gentlemen, this right here is Beersheba.

And this is me in front of the gate to Beersheba

And this is me with Malia, entering the underground water system of Beersheba.

Ok. This is me being really boring and looking very Jerusalemy next to an altar that they dug up. Fantastic. I know it's somehow significant, but too much information was crammed into my head on this day and I can't remember the details.

This is everyone gathering for a group picture in front of Tel Arad. 

Listening and leaning. 

And my favorite picture from the day....

Sawyer twisting that mustache of his. 

Now... on to my favorite part of the week.

On Sunday we got to go to St. Vincent's Hospital for Children With Special Needs. This is something I hope I always remember. I went with only six other students and I was a little bit nervous because we had been warned that almost all of the children were severely handicapped and would not be able to acknowledge us or communicate. However, when I walked into the room lined with wheelchairs my attitude completely changed. The seven of us immediately split up and began talking to the people. I would get down on my knees and talk to them and they would almost always give at least a faint smile. Some of them even laughed. In that moment, and throughout the rest of our time there I was so happy.

The person that took this picture was obviously not feeling very patient :) This is our group with Leah, a sweet lady from South Africa and the director of the hospital. I was in the process of putting my arm around her, and snap, the picture was taken.

Me and Huda

Spencer juggling for a few of the kids. They loved it.

We got to take their wheelchairs outside for a while and push them around. They loved it. After that we took them back inside and danced to some Israeli music. We pushed their wheelchairs all over the place and held their hands and moved them to the music.

Spencer and John, a very happy little boy.

My favorite little boys name was Umayiad and he was only two years old. He had the sweetest eyes you will ever find. My heart melted the second I saw him.  

Going for the hair again.

I love this boy

We met some monks there. It was fun to talk to them and realize that they have personalities and senses of humor. One of them was from California and was an amazing singer. He sang Ava Maria for everyone. The girl I was standing next to could not really talk, but she could carry a tune pretty well and she sang with all her might along with him throughout the whole song. After he sang, our group sang I am a Child of God for them. The spirit was so strong in that room. Overall it was an amazing day and a humbling experience that I hope I always remember. 

Well ladies and gents. That's it for now. I am having an amazing time and loving every single stressful, relaxing, educational, fun, enlightening, and memorable minute.

Until next time,

Love you all. 


  1. Wow, Court! I'm so glad you're blogging about all this. I love the pictures and I love to hear about all the places you're going to and the experiences you're having. I'm living vicariously through you!

  2. If you come back 30 pounds heavier, you'll be just about perfect! Try to gain 31 (more ice cream!) Love, Dad.

  3. love it!

    p.s. playlist has decided to be normal and is working on blogs again (at least it is on my blog) I love the song you chose!