Saturday, October 31, 2009

Trick or Treat!

Last night we had a Halloween party in the center, because today is the sabbath for us. My roommates and I dressed up as Fudge Pillows. Don't know what Fudge Pillows are?  That's because Fudge Pillow is the name we gave to the cereal in the center.  But that's what we were.  We had to be creative with lack or resources.  Not everyone had arrived for the picture, but here you can see Brother Brown, a rubix cube, a prayer rug, swine flu, ninjas, and other obscurely random costumes, that most people would never think to be.  After this picture also came the Dome of the Rock and the falafel, with the falafel balls, lettuce, tomato, and pita.  Creativity doesn't get much better than this. 

Amy and Taylor were the center cats, so they wanted to drink some of the milk in our cereal

Warning: This is long...

This week we went to Jordan! I got my fanny, my water-bottle carrier (and of course did the "bottle waddle"), and my headset.  All of which, if I didn't have, I would be nothing.  These are my new favorite possessions in life.  We started off at Mt. Nebo, went to see mosaics in Madaba, and finished our day at the Shobak Castle.  At night we stayed just outside of Petra and we practiced our Arabian dancing in the streets with the local men from the village. We were walking, when all of a sudden we heard music coming from an alley, and some of our group down there dancing.  This was an opportunity we couldn't miss.  Last week we were taught how to do their dancing, so we had to show them what we could do.  SO funny.

Tuesday morning we walked into Petra.  The walk in was like walking through the Grand Canyon, then all of a sudden the canyon opened up and this is what I saw...
It was amazing to see all these structures built into the rock!  And they built them from the top down, so the planning that must have gone into it is amazing!  Along the roads were little kids trying to sell rocks, necklaces, postcards, etc.  You'd feel bad for a minute, but then look off on the side of the road and see their parents sitting under the shade.  This took away my desire to buy something from them, but it did make me want to steal the child away.  He was my favorite...
me, Amy, La, Adri, Laur, Kate, Alli, Kate
After Petra we got in the bus and drove to Amman, Jordan.  It was a bigger city, and felt a lot more clean than anywhere we have been, yet. Except for our hotel.  Kelsey found a cockroach in our shower, and the room felt like a cabin-room in a train.  But the city was nice!  The next morning we went to Jerash, which has ancient Roman ruins that are better preserved than those in Rome.  Who would have guessed.  Better Roman ruins in Jordan than in Rome?  Obviously they were different, and not as many, but still very cool.  On our way there, our bus broke down, and so all 97 of us had to cram onto one bus.  We were imagining the headlines..."Bus crashes in Amman, 97 killed..." 
But we made it!

At Jerash, they did a show for us, but it didn't seem worth $10 to some of us.  So we pretended like we were the peasants and went to the edge of the stadium and watched it from there.  We saw all we needed to see, especially this chariot race! The coolest part of the show.
That night we went to the Royal Automobile Museum.  I was just going a long to get out and explore, but it really was interesting and fascinating to see the different cars the royal family here has had since the early 1900's.  There was even a car that drove on water!  And randomly, while we were there, I saw Heather Sanders!
On our last day, we went to a mosque and then the Citadel Overlook.  Not only could you see the royal palace, set within the poor neighborhood of Amman, and the world's largest flag pole, but there were ancient ruins, columns, and a museum with pottery from different ages and some of the Dead Sea Scrolls. 
When we were at the overlook, an older man was sitting out on a little ledge.  He was probably in his sixties, and was just looking over the edge.  Another Jordanian couple were sitting out on the ledge also, celebrating the guy's birthday, with presents, candles, and food brought by his wife.  We all sat on the railings, as pictured below, which turned out to be a good thing.  The older man got up to come back, when he lost his balance and fell.  Like a rag doll, he fell down at least 20 feet of rocks, and then landed out of sight.  It was a heart-stopping moment.  Without telling of the detail of what I saw, he survived, but with a broken clavicle, many broken fingers, bruised ribs, and his ear was almost completely ripped off.  No one wanted to break any rules after seeing this. 
But the trip still ended on a good note as we went to the Jordan River. It even started to lightly rain as we were there, and 3 men striped down in their speedos and decided to get in this disgustingly polluted river.  Yes, it has a lot of importance, obviously, but so does life.  I did put my feet in, but made sure they were cleaned after!
It felt good to come back home!  Especially to Sister Whipple greeting us and rain!


Saturday, October 24, 2009

A Day to Always Remember

This morning in sacrament meeting, President Okiishi stated that, "Today will be a day you will always remember." I thought about it, thinking that of course I want to remember today, I want to remember everyday. But his words were profound.
Today is the halfway mark for my time her in Jerusalem, and I feel an overwhelming amount of gratitude for my experiences here so far, and the people I am with. Elder Holland arrived at the BYU Jerusalem Center, the same building he helped create, in the early afternoon, as we were finishing church. He ate dinner in our ordinary Oasis, but they went all out for him tonight. We had turkey with cranberry sauce, and actual chocolate ice-cream. This is big. Usually it is chicken cooked with Palestinian herbs, or fish with the skin still on it, and every desert tastes like egg nog. But today we had turkey with cranberry sauce. I instructed Sister Holland on the tricks of the salad, and welcomed both her and Elder Holland as we moved through the line. And yes, of course Dad, I asked him about your tennis match, which he said he won!
I sat on the third row in the auditorium, directly in front of the podium, waiting to hear the voice of an apostle speak to us. I looked at the stage and was struck by the presence of those in front of me. Not only the presence of Elder & Sister Holland and Elder & Sister Porter, but also the everyday presence of Brother and Sister Brown.
The Porters bore their testimony, then Sister Holland, and Elder Holland was to speak next. As Sister Holland went to sit down, Elder Holland waited for her, looked into her eyes, grabbed her hand, and kissed it quickly, but with affection, as she sat down.
He began by forcefully reminding us students of our privilege and obligation we have for being here. He stated that if we go home the same as we came, he will be ashamed and disappointed. That this experience is of such great worth that it should change our lives forever. He then continued to talk about the Nephites begging Christ to stay a little longer in 3 Nephi 17, and that with Christ, mercy trumps justice. His talk was unbelievable, and so powerful. I sat watching him talk about the most important site of the Old Testament being the Mercy Seat in the Ark of the Covenant, which resided in Jerusalem, and gratitude doesn't begin to describe what I felt. And as he talked, Jerusalem lit up behind him.
Later a group of us met on my balcony to read each Gospel's description of the Atonement, and then read through what Elder Holland taught in 3rd Nephi 11-17. I know, not a typical activity for me to sit and do on a Saturday night. Technically, Saturday is the sabbath here, but still.
The gratitude I feel for being here is unbelievable, and I feel like I am not appreciative of it unless I express it. It's not every study abroad where an apostle of the Lord comes and speaks with you, hugs you, and stays in the apartment right above you. I feel like I am having an experience that is fully changing my life forever, and today helped me remember that. Everyone always notices how people come back from Jerusalem a little bit quirky... or kind of obsessed with the other people they were with... but I understand why. This is a life changing experience. One that will bless my life forever. So I feel like I need to yell it! Today is a day to always remember.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Diet Coke and Mentos...

A Diet Coke and Mentos a reaction of Diet Coke and mint Mentos candies...Dropping some Mentos into the bottle, usually around four, causes the Diet Coke to foam at a rapid rate and spew into the air. Mint-flavored Mentos are used, as fruit-flavored Mentos have a smooth coating which slows the reaction...    - Wikipedia, "Diet Coke and Mentos Eruption"

Tonight I ate fruit Mentos and Diet Coke, while studying.  Uh oh.

Since my last blog...

I have been to a monastery...
I have been to the lowest city on earth...
Got gelato at the most delicious place on Ben Yahuda street.  We felt like this little girl...
Explored the city with the girls...
Allison, La, Shelley, Brooklynn, Amy B, Amy E, La
Walked through underground tunnels...
Experienced Matisyahu...
IN Jerusalem...
Had a beach day, ending the greatest way possible, at La La Land for dinner...
Herded goats & sheep...
Listened to this man read the Torah...
Had unplanned perfect moments...
Laughed hysterically...
Had our bus searched...
Laughed even harder...
Crushed olives and made oil...
And had quality roommate bonding. 

Just in case you were wondering.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Best I Ever Had

Well it's an uneventful night at the BYU Jerusalem Center tonight. At least for now. I have some time to spare, so I thought I would do my end of summer post. Yes, I know summer ended more than a month ago, and fall is fully there for everyone in Utah. But here in Jerusalem, it is still in the 80's, and I don't think I've wanted to say goodbye to summer quite yet. It was after all, one of the best summers thus far. Whiffle ball on Sunday nights, Greenhouse Effect at 1 am, boating, tennis, early morning runs, JCC, Creamies, The Bachelorette, diet coke, "white lips", Newport Beach, 4th of July fireworks, The Fray, Jackson Lake, milk duds, Bear Lake, family, and love. Who would want to say goodbye? But just because we say goodbye, doesn't mean it's the end. Just new beginnings. So Summer 2009, "you da best I eva had."

I hated saying goodbye to these girls, and all others. You guys made summer the best, and I love you all!

It was so fun having Mark and Ash back this summer! Brady and I loved hanging out with you guys, even when our boating adventures were way too cold to handle!

I miss this boy.

Lily Jules Richards!!! The first little girl in the Richards family was born on August 19. I'm so happy for my sis and her family!

Brady took me up to Bear Lake with his family the week before I left, and it was the perfect ending to a perfect summer. Especially notice the unwashed hair, going on 6 days. He's mastered it.

We came home Sunday morning, and I had a goodbye dinner Sunday night. The whole family was there, and I loved it. There is nothing like my whole family being all together. It was Brady's first experience with everyone, and I'm sure it was quite the experience. I love all of you. I feel so lucky to have been surrounded by you all right before I left
! I think of you all as my best friends and I miss you all like crazy!

Lily Jules!

A typical day for me at home is talking to my sisters and my mom. This has been a hard change for me! You guys are my best friends, and I love you so much!

So now I embrace fall. Yes, the only leaves I see are the crisp dark green leaves that have fallen on my porch. But that porch looks out over Jerusalem, so this fall, I think I will survive without the oranges, reds, browns, yellows, and many other mixtures of colors. But just this once. I miss fall in Utah, and I miss all of you! But I'M IN JERUSALEM!!! I'm grateful everyday, and I feel like I'm dreaming.

My first weeks here, I felt so awkward walking through the city. I didn't know where I was going, I was looking around constantly, it was hot, and I felt lost. Yesterday we got out of the cab and started walking. We continued our conversation, casually and with no pauses for directions. Naturally, we got to where we were going. It's amazing that I am starting to feel at home in Jerusalem. I'm in love with this city.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Bruce... tell me a joke

Written by Kate Hoffmire.
Kate: Jane I have a knock knock joke for you... Knock, knock.
Jane: Who's there?
Kate: Matisya.
Jane: Matisyahu!!!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009


I think this was the first time in months Jerusalem's streets were cleaned, and it wasn't by the city. It rained!!! So cool.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

To the Owner of the Brown Leather Jacket,

Today is Saturday, yet really Sunday. Make sense? It didn't to me either for a while, but now Friday night I get excited for Church in the morning. I want to write you back on my blog, because let's be honest, I like to copy you. After church today I sat out on the steps that in 3 1/2 months you will sit on. I had to sit in the shade because the sun was so hot and I didn't want to melt. I miss fall in Utah. But that's not why I'm writing you back.
I'm so happy for you that you're all over the world. You've seen so many places I want to go, but I think after next April you need to come back to Provo for a little while. And you need to stay. I'm all better now, though. It's not like the sick where I would stay congested for weeks and have to sleep out in our living room, but you'd always sleep out there with me. Usually on the couch. In that room is also where Sara and I hid from you behind the curtains to try and scare you. It's where we sat alone at 1:30 am watching Marley and Me, crying. The same room with the window you leaned out of and sang "Blackbird" to people on the sidewalk below. Or when I left to the Grand Canyon with my dad, and as I got to the car I realized I forgot something. I yelled your name, and you opened that same window to throw the Vitamin Water down three flights, knocking me to the ground. Or the unmentionable drawings that occured there. I'm still trying to forget about those.
But I feel better. I am healthy and not dying. At least not from diabetes. Yesterday I woke up and ran 5 miles. I would have ran more but no one wants to. I figure if I keep running, maybe I can stay ahead of the things that are wrong with my body. So far, it's working. I haven't gone low while I'm here, at least in the mornings. I don't think anyone here would be there to throw a snickers at me, or take the mop outside if I told them to. And they see me carry my insulin around everywhere. In Provo I could hide it. People could know me for months and not know I had diabetes. But here it's like I pretty much stood up in the cafeteria yelling, "I HAVE DIABETES!" That is at least how it felt when really all I do is pull out my pen and shoot up. Like a druggie, yes. But quickly people notice, and ask, and I don't mind. I like it more than the people who look and turn away. I carry my insulin around everywhere with me. Sometimes in my pocket, othertimes clipped onto my skirt, and my friends here tell me it's always in my mouth. "Take your insulin out of your mouth!" Lauren told me the other day. I don't keep it as much of a secret here.
When we get older you're going to be in Oregon. or Paris. but probably London. I don't know where I'll be, but it'll probably be somewhere in the U.S., that is one thing I know. I won't be drifting down the river, like your leaf, going away from you. If that happens, just accio me back. Cause I think you're like my horcrux, and I want to see the pillowcases in your future home. And the pictures of us. xoxo.

ps. even though my blog is public now, you still know I invited you to read it before. FLIP