Thursday, February 28, 2013

lost and young and dumb and free

Song of the week: Save Part of Yourself by Brandi Carlile

I'm back again! 
My days here in Jerusalem go by faster than any days I've ever had. It's weird. I feel like there is no time to update this thing because I'm always studying  eating, sleeping, going into the city, eating, playing volleyball, watching Stick It, going to soccer practice (yes, I'm on a two person soccer team) playing the piano, eating, and talking for hours about nothing of importance. And studying.

So much has happened since I last posted that I really don't even know where to start. I went through my pictures and tried to narrow the things I post down so people who read this blog (Mom, Dad, sibs) wouldn't die of boredom. I'm sorry to say that this is still a monster blog post and could possibly take you a significant chunk of time to read/look through. 

Go grab a snack. And use the bathroom. 

On Valentine's Day I got to go teach english to four year olds at a school a few blocks from the center. I was really nervous and I didn't realize how different and hard it would be to teach children who don't really speak your language. They were super cute and excited to have us there though, so it was fun. We taught them the letter E and the number 5. They are smart little kids! They know more than most American 4 year olds! 
As a former day care teacher, I was surprised to see that a child wetting their pants isn't a big deal here. Just carry on. NBD.
The almond trees are starting to blossom and they are gorgeous! 
Camilla taught me how to be crafty and we made Valentine's for some people here out of zebra gum (Remember that stuff?)

I woke up to find my door decorated with lots of cute little notes and some candy! I have the best roommates/friends here! 
Valentine's Day + a birthday within two days at the Jerusalem Center is the biggest confidence boost you could ever imagine. Each one of these notes was so cute and funny. I love the people here! 
22 BABY! It's going to be a good year. 

I have always wanted to go to a Holocaust Museum, so I was thrilled that we got to go the day after my birthday! Best birthday present ever. It was really interesting and not as tear jerking as I was expecting it to be. At least not until the very end when I couldn't even talk or I would start to cry and probably not be able to stop. 
This is a statue of a man who took care of a lot of Jewish children during the Holocaust and eventually voluntarily got on a train with them even though he knew they were all being taken to their deaths. 

We talked about how at this particular museum, the rebels and leaders of the holocaust are the ones who are spotlighted and labeled as heros, while the ordinary victims are downplayed, and almost shone in a negative light. That surprised me. I couldn't believe some of the things I read and saw as I walked through the museum. I feel like I didn't have nearly enough time to fully soak it all in so hopefully I'll get to go back soon.
This is outside of the Children's Memorial. All the different sized pillars represent lives cut short. This part of the museum was probably one of my favorites just because of the feelings I had as I walked through it. Everyone was talking and laughing outside, but as soon as we all walked in, the feeling changed. The first thing you see as you walk in are pictures of some of the children who had been killed. As we stared at them, everyone became completely silent out of respect. After the pictures you  walk into a pitch dark room with hundred of floating candles and mirrors so you feel like you're walking through space. It is all quiet except for a voice recording reading the names of all the children who died in the holocaust. Being in the children's memorial was an incredibly sobering and humbling experience.

The next day was our free day, so we decided to go to the Zoo! It's a Biblical Zoo, so they had scripture references to the Torah on the plaques of each animal. It was a tough call, but I'm going to have to say this Zoo is a little better than Idaho Falls. Actually, I'm going to have to say this was the prettiest zoo I have ever been to. The cages are huge, and a lot of them are not even cages at all. Just islands and stuff. 
This bird's name is Charlie and according to his plaque, he is 104 years old. It's said that he was a former pet of Winston Churchill, and at times he still curses the Nazis. Intrestin'.
Yay Biblical Zoo!
This monkey was really cute. Look at those eyes! He would put his hand on the glass and look right at us like a human. Kind of weird, kind of cool. 
We're finally aloud to climb on the statues and we get a little crazy...
Springtime in Jerusalem is beautiful!
I went with a good group and it was a really fun day. Up until we had to wait for an hour and a half in the cold for our ride to show up. I was not a happy camper. 

On the 21st we got to celebrate Passover! My committee was over planning, setting up, and decorating so I got to help with a lot of stuff (not really, it's just fun to sound important.) I really was named the stage manager though. So I got to sit in my chair and... do nothing. Dang it.
Overall, it was a lot of fun and basically consisted of about three hours of reading, singing, and eating. Our table rocked.
You know how I like my carbonated grape juice. 
Part of the Seder Dinner committee! Go team! 
My roommates are the bomb 
Now on to one of the highlights of the month...
I was a little hesitant to give up a whole day of possible studying (yeah right) to go to Tel Aviv. However, as soon as I got out of the van and saw the beautiful Mediterranean and the beach, I was overjoyed!
This is pretty much what everyone looked like. It's like we broke free for a few hours! We all love the center and the Old City. But boy was it nice to get out! Pure joy.
Pictures galore!

The Mediterranean with Tel Aviv in the distance. 
Tori and I doing what we do
The water felt so good. Too bad I didn't bring a swimming suit...
Yet another group shot by the beach. You can never have enough. Ok maybe you can...
As my hair was going wild and we were trying to take this picture, I looked over and saw two guys carrying a big sea turtle across the beach. What the!
It had gotten it's leg/fin caught in a net and pinched off. Ouch.
Alright alright... I put this picture on just because I like this man's swim wear. What?
After the beach we went to the flea market and looked at everything we never knew we wanted. It was fun but when it came down to it, I couldn't bring myself to spend money on anything. However, I was super tempted to buy this old Nikon camera we found. I've always wanted an old camera... but why? What would I do with it? As cool as it was and as much as I would like to have it, I didn't buy it. That's a waist of good shekels... right? Validate me. 
There was a lot of pretty jewelry. Didn't get any. 
Everything was so pretty!

After walking around for a while, we got ice cream from a little shop. I splurged and got three flavors, and he gave me a TON! I got cake batter pastry, nutella, and Bueno bar flavors. I was in heaven. I never knew I liked ice cream so much until I came here.)

I loved the people here. I think it's so fun when people play instruments out on the streets and I don't think I've ever seen a sax player before. He was pretty good. 
To Honey Beach!
At this point, everyone put on their swim suits and dove in the refreshing water. I, on the other hand, pulled up my skirt and walked through the shallow water. That's where it's at! 
Me and Sara

We played a little frisby and built sand castles and swam and did hand stands. It was a fantastic day all
Beautiful Camilla. This girl just read her mission call a few hours ago. She will be leaving for Russia on June 5th! And she will rock it. 
Isn't that the truth

A few days ago we got to go on a really fun field trip. Field trips are always great... but normally we just follow the teacher around a pile of [very important] rocks for a few hours and listen to him talk. But on this one, we got to actually do stuff.

Like herd sheep!! This is me keeping the goats and sheep out of the circle of rocks. I was thinking of little Babe the whole time. 
Here's my herding team. We were the last to go so we knew the drill very well by our turn. 
This little guy stole everybody's heart. 

Eye Love Ewe
Learning about Moses the Shepherd. So thought provoking.

A well!!! I was overjoyed by this thing. 
I'm so grateful for the beauty that surrounds us here! Every once in a while I'll see something that reminds me of how lucky I am to live in this beautiful world. 
After herding sheep and taking water from the well, we got to go crush our own hyssop (a seasoning that people put on their pita and other stuff)
Emily and Jacob: The hyssop crushing dream team. 

My own little bag of Hyssop seasoning!
Look at all those good looking men!
We got to go to a really pretty campground looking area and make our own pita and lentil soup like they did in biblical times. I loved it so much. I just wanted to whip out a tent and spend the night. 
awwwwh. So peaceful. 
Later on at the campground place, we got to watch a Torah scribe do his thing.  

Did you know that none of the Torahs are typed? They are all hand written because it's such a sacred text. Pretty amazing, eh?

From there we went and learned about farming techniques from biblical times. This here is an olive tree. Did you know that some of the roots of these trees date back to the time of Christ? 
This is an olive press.

Now for something really interesting. On the ride home we were driving on the highway that runs along the wall that divides Israel and Palestine. All of a sudden someone on the bus yells, "he's breakin out!" I thought he was just joking until I looked up and saw three guys standing on top of the wall. They whipped out a rope and threw it down and then one of the guys proceeded to climb down the rope! I couldn't believe they would do it in such a busy area. 
After the first guy got down another started climbing down and then the third threw down a big duffel back and they caught it and then walked away. They weren't running or anything, but I'm sure their hearts were beating fast! right after we passed them we saw a police man driving in our direction with its lights on. I didn't see if they got caught or not, but other people on the bus say they both got away. Phew! I felt like I was watching a movie.
My teacher was so excited about it. He said that he hears that this sort of thing happens a lot because the Palestinians want to find work on the Israeli side, but this is the first time he's actually seen it happen. When we got back to the center, I showed my branch president the pictures and he was thrilled. He asked me to send the pictures to him so he could show people. It was cool to actually see it happen.

Seeing this reminded me of a woman here that is a member of the church and basically holds the church together in Bethlehem. Her name is Sahar and she probably deserves a whole blog post to herself. She has an amazing story.

Before she knew about the church, she had a full ride scholarship to a great school in Washinton DC. She felt good about it but then she saw an ad for BYU. She didn't even know what it was but she felt she should apply. She did, and of course she got in. While she was there she got converted against the advice of her bishop because he thought it would be too dangerous and hard for her when she got back to Israel. She said that it was hard. Her family stopped talking to her and she had to be very secretive about her beliefs.

The sacrifices she made to get to church every week are inspiring.

She said it would take her three hours every week to get to church because she would have to cross check points, climb walls (like these men did,) run up and down hills, and hide from soldiers with machine guns. She lives in Bethlehem which is only about twenty minutes away. I couldn't believe the things she went through to attend church. How often do we take for granted our religious freedom and the blessing of having a church two minutes from our house?

Sahar just left for a mission in England. She will do great things to spread the gospel there. The church here is not as strong without her. But this will give the members here a chance to step up. 

Anyway. My week has been great. Tomorrow I will be cheering my friends on who are running the 10K (I'm not doing it anymore due to the fact that I got bumped out because of some complications. phew. What a blessing!) 

Keep it real everybody. 
Great job for making it to the end! Nice endurance! You did such an incredible job! (I'm practicing for tomorrow :)

Love you all.


  1. Was that a long post? It was so fascinating that I was sorry when it ended! I loved every word and every picture. Who's clothes are you wearing all the time? I only recognize about 3 things. Keep those posts coming, Court. I LOVE them!!

  2. Court Court Court . . . sooo awesome!!