Thursday, April 2, 2009

April 2

Hey everyone! So I just got back from Galilee and it was the coolest vacation I have ever had. We went to a lot of the places that can be tracked through the scriptures. One of my favorite parts was taking a boat across the Sea of Galilee and sang Master the Tempest is Raging while the waters all of the sudden got rough. We went on field trips a lot of the days and in the mornings when we didn't, we would have New Testament classes. We had a lot of bon fires and played a lot of guitar. Things were a lot more laid back than they are here in the center and that was really nice.
Tomorrow morning at 6am we're going to the border to go snorkeling and that should be really fun. The activities my committee planned went even better than expected. the Kayaking on the Jordan river turned out to be rafting and the competition to be first was really fun. The other thing we organized was a hike to a huge waterfall with a pool at the bottom we went swimming in, it was sooo cool...and cold! We did more things than I have time to write about, but things are going well and I will update soon.

Friday, March 20, 2009

March 20

Wow I feel totally relieved right now. I took four tests in less than two weeks and I feel like everyting went pretty well, I actually learned a lot of things that I have wanted to learn. When I am pushed by a test and a grade I feel like I can really get down to business and get a lot of things done. So now that I am off of panic mode we just had a Galilee Orientation and they showed us a couple of awesome places we will be going.
I don't have much to write about because I have been way busy, and for the almost two weeks we will be in Galilee and I may not be able to give any updates while I'm gone. But keep it real out there. Until soon.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

March 7

Hey everyone, I just got back from Jordan and we got to visit some awesome places. First we went to Mount Nebo where Moses would have stood and would have been shown the promise land that he would never be able to enter, but for the people he was able to identify the land of Isreal as the promised land they had traveled to before he was taken up by God. Then we went and walked throughh some Roman ruins which was so cool to walk those streets that have been there for more than two thousand years and being able to see the city structure with churches, stadiums, and other huge buildings with the classic arches and the whole nine yards.
The biggest event was going to see Petra and first saw the treasury that is the second wonder of the ancient world. There are so many more things there though that I had no idea where there. There is a lot of hiking there and I climbed up to a couple of high points and had a lot of fun there. Petra is a place I was so glad I was able to go and experience. We went to the Jordan river last and it was cool to see the place that I was named after. We sang a couple hymns there and I really was able to feel that it was such an important place in Christian history.
The night we got back we played a game of soccer and the next morning we went to Tel Aviv which is a more modern city about forty minutes away and relaxed on the beaches of the Mediterranean Sea for a couple hours after we went to a meeting house where David Ben Gurion declared the state of Isreal.
Now that that trip is over we have a couple of midterms we will have during this next week so we have our work cut out for us. In fact, we even have a half day field trip tomorrow to some museums I haven’t heard too much about. It was Shabbat today and church is always such a needed thing. Life is so good right now. I love all of the things I am experiencing right now.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

A couple pictures

Summer Sales Update

I just found out we'll be going to Portland Oregon this summer. I have never been North West and I feel unbalanced having not lived there. So this will be the fourth corner of the U.S., fun fun. We're celebrating the Pass Over meal today here at the center, the only bummer is that I have to dress up...

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Feb 25

Today I had one of the coolest days out here yet. We went to Hesekia's tunnels which are underground tunnels they used in times before Christ to bring water into the city without getting attacked, since the water was outside the city. We were waiste deep in the water in a pitch black cave with flashlights. The day was very eventful after that and we went to a bunch of churches and met a ton of cool people along the way. The coolest thing was meeting this Armenian guy that was just going to show me the view from his house of the Old City and it turned out that he took four of us into his house and talked with us for a while and invited us to come any weekend and have a BBQ and that he would introduce us to his neighbors and that we could hang out with all the people there. I had never really been in a native's house like that before and thought that was such a cool thing. I have his number and a lot of people here really want to do that. I thought it was cool because Shant (who is Armenian) has a family that always treated us like this guy did! So sweet.

The day was really just filled with the theme of awesome people and that's what made it one of the best days yet.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Feb 23

I had a spare moment to go to the Old City and we went to an old old library that has been run by the same family for years and years. We got to see the coolest old books! They had this one book on poisons and remedies that was dated back to 997. It was so amazing, this lady that was nice enough to show us this stuff (which is not common to get in, but this one girl in our group, Jane, is able to win anyone and everyone over) and she was just handling the books like it was no big deal and letting us handle them and take pictures.
Then, like usual, we hit up a couple churches before Hebrew class. We Have been playing soccer and volleyball any chance we aren't studiying or exploring around the City. Life is almost too easy here. There are no real trials or difficulties and that in itself is the biggest trial.
Sacrament meeting here is like General Conference every time. The spirit of the people here, along with the spirit of the place just make things intense. I gave a talk on Shabbat (Saturday) and I figured it would be pretty good. I had some cool new ideas on how to really define and develope humility from C.S. Lewis from "Screwtape Letters" and worked on it foor about an hour, maybe two the night before. Well, it turned out that the big window behind you as you speak, with the view of the old city was really scenic while I was speaking because we were having a huge thunder storm with big old lightening bolts reaching across the whole skyline. Also, right before I spoke, there was a violin/piano piece that a couple of extremely talented students played and that just set the stage so that my talk had to be good. I am pretty sure that was my most favorite talk I have given or can ever imagine giving. Music, weather, subject matter, view, people, it all just lined up perfectly for a great experience. I am really happy about that whole deal.
The food here is sooo good here by the way. That's just a cherry on top right? Hasta pronto.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Feb 19

What's up people? Yesterday I had one of my favorite experiences here yet. We went to Yad Vashem which is a Holocaust museum here in Isreal. The work they put into the place is amazing. As you walk through, it is all in a sort of artlike architecture that is symbolic of different things they want to convey like unhealed wounds and the good that is yet found in human beings. I had studied the Holocaust before, but never in such an upclose and personal way. They have survivor stories playing all around that are just impactful. They have all the names of the victims they can find and pictures of the people so as to "help them live that much longer." Yad Vashem in Hebrew translates to memorial name. It comes from Isaiah when the Lord promises that their name will be conserved for all eternity. Jewish culture and history is so rich.
Two days ago we took a group to Tel Aviv, which is the major city around here. We just hung out on the beach for hours, shopped around at the outdoors markets and got some hambergers and had a lot of fun there. We were also celebrating our friend Andrea's birthday, there were ten of us and it was a fun dynamic.
Classes are still very demanding, but in a good way. I am convinced that some of the stuff we learn here, I wouldn't be able to learn anywhere else in the world in a school, really. Like in our Ancient Near Eastern History class we are able to take archeological evidence, writings, modern revelation and everything else and have a real lesson in history. I had no idea how many stories in the bible had concrete evidence of their reality. I didn't worry too much about those stories really happening, I just benefited from the lessons they taught, but to see the amount of things we learn here is incredible. We can really dive into all of the Old Testament stroies here. We haven't even touched the New Testament yet! I am so excited for that.
I am making a lot of great friends here. I had no idea how much the people would make this program or break it potentially. It must be like that in all study abroad programs, but I had never thought of that. The people here really do make it though. Too many to even mention all of them. But my roomate chris is the ideal roomate. Man we have so much fun. Everyone guesses that we knew each other before. I mentioned Andrea who is such a great friend to have and has been so fun to have around here. All the teachers are so awesome! While I was writting this, chris got on the phone and called one of them, brother skinner, and said "Hey bro skinner I had a couple questions about the reading, can I come down to your apartment to ask you a couple things? Ok, be there in a second." Its crazy living with them. Chris and I even home teach all their daughters!
Alright well I'd better go, Hasta pronto.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

well darn

I couldn't get those pictures up woth this internet connection here, sorry!

Feb 15

What's up everyone? So I finally got to go to the chruch of Mary Magdalene and that was really cool. Gosh maybe I'll take some time today and post some pictures. We have been really keeping busy with school work and tests, wee have yet another one tomorrow for Jewish Civilization and we just had one for Ancient near eastern studies. We have been playing volleyball a ton here. Last semester they mentioned they played basketball a lot, but this semester we have some good players and things get nice and competitive. Other than that I have a great roomate and a lot of really good friends here and that makes things a lot better too.
I'm speaking this Shabbat on Humility and hope I can do as well at conveying the spirt like pretty much all the speakers have done so far. We have great church services here, everyone just has a deep desire to know the Savior and grow and be better. Scripture study has been really good too.
V day was great, all the people here really make an effort to make everyone around them feel loved and you often see people expressing gratitude and speaking well of each other, it's just a good group of people. It's a joke that everyone comes from such perfect back grounds. We just had a talent show and it was amazing seeing all the talents we have here. I played "One Year Six Months" by Yellowcard on guitar with a friend of mine Andrea and I feel like it went really well. I had never formally performed like that, but I really liked it. You all should have seen some of the other talents though, it really is an amazing group.
Happy V Day to everyone and sorry for all the birthdays I forget about. I thought of Moms and Carlene's but it stayed at just a bad. Maybe one day I'll do better at all that stuff. Hope all it well, I miss my nieces the most. Hasta pronto.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Feb 9, 2009

Ok so I have concluded that I really don't like to blog that reasons being that I don't have any kind of feedback and have no idea if people are reading what I write, I don't get responses like I used to on my mission and I liked having a time set aside to write people which is not the case here. So unfulfilling might be the overall description word I'm looking for. We are always on the go here and I am really having the time of my life people! I just got back from the place where Sampson broght down the building, also where David killed Galiath. We learned how to use slings to throw rocks, read those scriptures where they happened and the coolest part was we sang hymns in a cave and them explored through some crazy old caves and had places where you have to shimmy your way through to be able to even move. I have to go!

Monday, February 2, 2009

Egypt Jan 2

So the reason I haven't written in a while is because I just got back from Egypt baby! I really don't have a lot of time now because we have a midterm tomorrow and I need to get things done. Its really an ordeal to load pictures here and that's why I haven't posted much at all anywhere. But we saw the pyramids, road camels, sleeper trains, buses, taxis, airplanes, horse drawn carriages, rode sail and motor boats, hiked mount Siani at sun rise, had sacrament meeting in street clothes, fought off perverts from the girls, bought cheap stuff and negotiated sweet prices for things like t shirts and papyrus scrolls, went to museums and all kinds of Egyptian sites, learned along the whole way, saw mummies, slept any chance we could get, the list goes on. I have to go, but I'll post soon.

Sunday, January 18, 2009


I put pictures on facebook

Jan 18

Man since I have last written I have been to the Garden of Gethsemany, the Western Wall, the birthplace of John the Baptist, the Garden Tomb and more. It has been pretty non stop. I have this feeling like I don't want to second to go wasted. I also have the feeling like I don't ever want it to end. I live in a palace, we have personal cheifs, they wash our sheets, the classes are amazing, the culture and sights are incredible, the spiritual experiences are constant, the people here are thirsty for knowlege and friendship...I can't ask for much more really. Hope all is well with all of you. I'll try to post pictures soon.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Jan 12

I noticed I got a lot of emails about people being worried about how things are here so I wanted to first just clarify that everything out here is 100% safe right now, I promise. They take really good care of our safety here and I haven't once felt scared or threatened about anything. The people here are actually very friendly to us and the previous students have already won the people here over to the point where I'm confident that we would have plenty of help if something were to happen. In a past situation, people actually recognized the students and pulled them into their houses until things calmed down.
I have been out in the Old City these past two days and I feel like I know someone on every corner now. The people just love BYU students and are used to seeing them around.
I went to the church of the Holy Sepulcre for the second time yesterday where they believe is the exact location where Jesus was crucified. They also have the old tomb where they believe Jesus was placed and where the angels said, "He is not here, for he is risen." It is considered in the Christian world as the most sacred spot in all christianity. They also have the actual stone where they believe he was placed on and people bow their heads on this stone in all humility and are just so reverenced by it.
You can feel a deep peace in the church. I can't say that it is because it was really the actual place or if it is because of the honest and pure worship that happens there, but regardless, it is an amazing experience.
The classes are so interesting and today we actually had our first class on Hebrew.
The girl to guy ratio is overwhelming. There are more than three girls to each guy here and you don't want to hurt feelings so that has been interesting...
Know that things really are safe and that I'm doing my best to make the most out of this experience. See ya

Friday, January 9, 2009

Jan 9

We had our Old Testament and Near Eastern Studies classes today which turned out to be amazing classes with great information and insights. We spent two hours on the first three chapters of Genesis alone and I learned a lot of new things. NES is going to be insane! We're going to first learn about the early river societies, which I have learned about before, but the cool part about it is that we'll be in Egypt in just a couple weeks to be able to see first hand the places we're learning about.
I'm chair of the "Out of Jerusalem Activities" and we are thinking about going to a place called Eilat to go scubba diving with these awesome coral reefs and exotic fish out there. We're also thinking about going Kayaking in a place in Galillee called Abu down the Jordan River. Also I'm hearing that you can get a camel ride in Egypt for pretty cheap and I am all over that. If anyone has any suggestions for outside of Jerusalem activities, let me know.
There are protests in the old city today so I'm stuck in the ceneter, but that's pretty normal here and things should be calmed down within the week if not tomorrow. We're actually close enough to the old city that you can actually see what's going on there too.
I have a huge homework load and we'll be learning about the 5 Pillars of Islam tonight so I'll be in touch soon.
I'll also try to upload some pictures soon.
Oh, and also I can't get this spell checker to work so there will be spelling errors, sorry.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Getting settled update

To the near thousands of people who follow my blog I felt obligated to update all of you on the recent events in my visit to the Holy Land...
First of all the flights were so incredibly long that when we all got to the orientations, we knew we wouldn't remember what was being said when we woke up the next morning. The longest flight was from D.C. to Vienna. It was with Austrian airlines and all the Flight Attendants were Austrian women in red suits with a baby blue neckerchief. When I first got on, I asked where one of them was from and she said Austria...for those of you who have seen Dumb and Dumber, you'll know how I wanted to respond!
So the city of Tel Aviv tuened out to be a place I absolutely will have to visit again while I'm here. On the ride on the bus from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem was a very scenic route and as we neared the city, things finally really started to sink in and I was grasping the fact that I was really about to be in Jerusalem, just as I had that thought we turned and the Dome of the Rock was right in front of us! That was what made it official that we were really in the Old City.
The Center itself is so awesome. We got off the bus and walked through the front garden into the top (8th) floor where we were welcomed by the wonderful seasoned people that host the students year round.
The are only small elevators that work on three of the eight floors so we helped the girls get their luggage to their rooms. Really this was a big job considering that for every male there are more than three females here. The pros outweigh the cons obviously though.
I can't remember anything but how tired I was for the rest of the night for all the the orientation classes and tours. The next thing I remember was being woken up at 5am by some different sounding sort of chanting music that blared throught the whole city. It is part of Islam that you pray 5 times a day (this is one of the five "Pillars of Islam") and they let the whole city know about it aparently. People here say it takes about two months to become acustomed enough to sleep through it.
Imagine this though, I woke up and sat up in my bed and looked out through the sliding glass doors, over the patio. Staring me right in the face is the Dome of the Rock. Yeah, I can see that from my bed!
The food is the best! All the hummus you can eat and really different food that tastes really good. And the best part: all you can eat. After breakfast we went on sort of a "wet your appetite" walk within the walls of Jerusalem and saw different places like the Church of the Holy Sepulcre where they believe that Jesus was Cruficied. We met all the different owner of the shops that, for obvious reasons, love the BYU students here. We saw so many other things, but I'll have to go back to really have more time and be able to soak everything in. I have to go right now, but there is more to come.
A special thanks goes out to evryone who made this world famos blog what it is today.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Is Jordan really the "blogging type."

Simply put, not really. But although bloggers are usually a certain type (interpret that as you will), I think this will be the most effective way to document and share my trip to Jerusalem to everyone at once and save myself a lot of time. I hope it serves that purpose.