Sunday, May 27, 2007

May 27, 2007

Wow. What a day! I got up at 3:30 this morning to study for my Archaeology midterm. I had an 8 page study guide, not to mention the 6 pages of dates that I had to memorize and the 4 articles I still had to read. ~sigh. Two hours later, I was back in bed for a short 30 minute nap. Next was breakfast then off to the City of David.

Ok, this is probably one of my most favorite field trips. Travis, we are going here when you come. It's amazing. So, we started at the City of David. We stood high where we could see over the entire city and easily see how it's possible for David to have seen Bath-sheba bathing on her rooftop. We also got a sense for how small the city actually was. Then we went in and watched a 3D movie about the history of the City of David. I didn't realize it, but I'm pretty sure that's the first 3D movie I've ever been to. I have one thing to say—never watch one of those if you're nauseous. Luckily, I wasn't. :D But wow, moving quickly around corners... I guess Kristen would fly backwards every time something came flying towards us like a bird or a rock. I'll admit, I was tempted. If I had been alone, I probably would have. And I would probably have screamed a bit, too. But for some reason, because every girl in our group screams so much, I feel silly doing it. How's that for logic? ha!

Then it was off to the best part—Hezekiah's tunnel. Because I had brought my camera wisely wrapped in a plastic bag, I ended up with a bag full of other people's valuables. Hehe... come to think about it, I still have Cambell's wallet.... I should return that. I ended up right in front of the Heyes' which suited my purposes just fine. In the spirit of protecting my camera, I decided to get as not wet as possible. Our group, being the young at heart group that we are hid in little niches through the tunnel and would splash everyone as they came by. Whenever I saw someone in front of me getting splashed I would back off, then yell "Camera and the Heyes' coming through!" Which proved perfect to not getting splashed. It was also nice to be able to simply enjoy the tunnel, wading anywhere between ankle and thigh deep water in a really narrow, sometimes rather short tunnel. Again, I'm grateful to be short. :D hehe I have a special spot in my heart for this tunnel. I've written so many papers and such about it. I've been looking forward to going there, and I wasn't disappointed.

At the end of the tunnel is a little pool, which for a long time has been thought to be the Pool of Siloam. At this pool our group turned into a group of school children and had a heyday splashing each other. I ran up the stairs and took pictures to my heart's content. I got some pretty good ones, which make me happy. As well as a couple of videos. Then on our way out, we came to the real Pool of Siloam—a very recent discovery. I think he said it was discovered in 2004. It's only been partially excavated because of property rights issues, but you get a sense for how enormous the pool really was. It really neat to sit on stones at a pool that you know was thriving during the time of Christ and listen to the story of the blind man that Christ healed on the Sabbath—putting clay on his eyes and telling him to wash in the Pool of Siloam. We were right there! Craziness.

Back to the Center an hour before the other group who were at the Jewish Quarter. I quickly changed into dry clothes, then hurried down to the laundry room. It's a rare occasion that I don't have to fight for a washer or dryer. Today was one of those beautiful rare days. Then I spent my time studying more and reading an article for our Israeli class that we'd be quizzed on. After lunch it was more studying, then off to take the test. It wasn't nearly as bad as he had led us to believe. By far the worst part was the T/F portion. As if T/F isn't bad enough, he made us correct the wrong portion if we marked it false. Grrr... But I could see myself being happy with my score. I hope I'm right! Classes until dinner, and then Free Time!!! It took no thought at all to know that I was going to use my free time doing what I wanted to do. So I came down to my room and have spent the evening catching up on all of my blogs. :D And here I am, almost done. Wahoo! Well, I'm still minus Egypt. But I hear our days in Galilee are full of free time with no where to go. So hopefully you'll finally hear about Egypt then. Though, you may have to wait until I get back to the Center to post them. I'm not sure how the Internet situation is going to work out there. But I'll more than likely take my laptop, so then I'll be able to at least write every day. Wahoo! Happy day! :D

.... yeah. I think I'm done now. :D Time to go post everything!

May 26, 2007

I love Shabbat. Can I just tell you? Things are so great here. First, it's the day to sleep in! Breakfast isn't until 8 am. That's over an hour later than normal! Needless to say, I slept until 8. For possibly the first time, I got a full 8 hours of sleep. No, the first time had to have been in Galilee. But it was definitely only the second or third.

Church was amazing, as normal. I wrote 7 pages in my church journal. I just couldn't stop writing. Typically, when I write during church, I just write quotes and such that I hear and like. Today I wrote feelings, impressions, thoughts, etc. inspired by things I heard. Sometimes they had nothing to do with what was being taught. I suppose that's what the Spirit does, though, isn't it?

In Shabbat School we studied Luke 15. Sis. Heyes taught which made it that much better. She is yet another example of what I want to be like. Between her and Rebecca, I couldn't have better role models. I was meant to be here, if only to rub shoulders with those two great women. She took the chapter and pulled a theme from it that I wouldn't have typically thought of, "Rejoice with me for I have found." Typically, this chapter is associated with forgiveness, repentance, and bringing lost souls unto Christ. Which we did talk about. But mostly we focused on rejoicing when the lost is found. We should look forward to the conclusion of the repentance process as a celebration—rejoice! Help others to repent and rejoice with them. Some interesting insights:

- vs. 7. In reality, it's more like there are 99 sinners and 1 just person. But Christ treats each of us individually as though we are the only sinner and gives us personal attention to bring us back.
- vs. 8. If I were lost, I would hope someone would seek diligently for me. Am I seeking diligently for someone else who is lost?

Relief Society was equally incredible. Mindi taught... she did a fabulous job. I am a firm believer that the best teachers disappear into the lesson. The lesson is taught by the Spirit and the sisters. The teacher only leads the lesson. I recall towards the very end of the lesson she said something and it startled me. I had completely forgotten that we were in an official lesson because she had done such an amazing job at pulling us all together to teach each other. I was very impressed.

The lesson was based on the conference talk, "In the Tongues of Angels." I immediately realized that this lesson was pointed straight at me. Here are a few of the thoughts I had during class:

- When people say things about me, whether good or bad, it has a huge impact on how I view myself. How am I affecting other people's vision of themselves?
- John 1:1—"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God." That's how our words should be. —Rebecca
- For those of you girls out there (including myself) trying to find the "perfect man" did you know the scripture actually tell you who he is?! James 3:2—The "perfect man" is the man who does not offend with the tongue.
- James 3:9—I would never dream of cursing God or His image, yet I criticize those people made in His image. There is something vitally wrong with this picture.
- "In the golden age of civilization, undoubtedly, someone grumbled that it was too yellow."
- "There is no situation so miserable that complaining about it won't make it worse."
- Never think of yourself as the victim. As soon as you do, you succumb to Satan's power. As long as you view yourself as in control and having the power to help others that may be victims, and do something to help them, you will rise out of the situation.
- In greeting, don't start with, "I'm so tired" or "It's so hot" or "I'm so stressed" or anything else equally pessimistic. Rather, think of a compliment for the person. Turn something pessimistic into something optimistic. Submit to your burdens cheerfully like in the Book of Mormon.
- Pray to see people as God sees people. If you still view people poorly, pray harder.
- What you give thought to, you give power to.

I left church filled with the Spirit. I wanted to come down to my room and write and ponder and pray for hours. I don't get that intense of a feeling very often, so I was highly irritated at the amount of homework I had yet to do. I was torn. I don't do homework on Sabbath, but is it the same at the Jerusalem Center? All of my homework that I needed to do is scripture related. But as I really thought about it, I realized I simply couldn't study for my test on Sunday. (It sounds weird that I can't study on Saturday, but I'll take a test on Sunday. Ha!) However, I realized that there is absolutely nothing wrong with reading my scriptures on Sabbath. In fact, that's a good thing to do on the Sabbath. So I holed up in my bedroom and read all of 1 and 2 Kings, Joel and Amos. All in one afternoon/evening. I stopped only for dinner. It wasn't exactly what I wanted to do, but I felt better still being productive and not breaking the Sabbath. I went to bed early—10:30 pm. I did this for good reason, however. My alarm was set to go off bright and early at 3:30 am. ~sigh.

May 25, 2007

The morning started bright and early. Breakfast from 6-7:15, OT test at 7:30. ~sigh. It's funny to me, this test was over the period of the Judges and the early United Monarchy—something that hardly anyone knew anything about. Yet, everyone did a whole lot better on this one than they did over Genesis—all the stories we've been raised on. After this test, there were actually smiles. I've been doing quite well. I got a 28/30, if I remember correctly. And that's before he adds in the essays. So I'm not too upset. Everyone seems to have done rather well, though. Which makes me very happy. Especially for this class, people keep coming up to me to study with me. They think they have the better end of the deal because I help them remember things; I think I have the better end of the deal because I remember better when I teach. So it's a win/win situation. I was given the nicest compliment about my teaching style. "I love studying with you because I love your stories. The way you tell stories helps me remember the details of them." That makes me very happy. It's rekindling my desire to write a book of Bible stories in a fashion that helps people understand and remember. There are some incredible stories in the Bible, that without the proper historical background or sense of humor, are simply looked over and not seen for their true value. Actually, a part of me wants to take some storytelling classes and learn better how to express my stories in front of the public. I would love to be a storyteller. I give full credit for the idea to Taralyn and her mom, Teresa—a professional storyteller. It was listening to stories at the Timp. Storytelling Festival that I realized I would enjoy something like that. Then getting involved with the Board, I've had several people tell me that they love my stories. Every time I hear that, it gives me a bit more hope. Perhaps I should do something about it. So there it is. My next goal—to either write or tell Bible stories.

Our day was free after lunch. Our last free Friday afternoon in Jerusalem. That's so weird. The rest of our Fridays will either be in Galilee, Bethlehem or Jordan. Wow. Only 3 Friday's left. That sounds a lot shorter than three weeks. It's coming up so fast, yet, going by so slowly. It's funny how time can work like that. I had a bunch to do in the city, so I jumped on the chance to go shopping. Because it's a Friday, we're not allowed in the Old City until 2 or 3 (it's the Muslim day of prayer on the Temple Mount). We wanted to go earlier than that, so we went straight to Omar's. Brianna wanted to make sure she got a nativity before they were all sold out. We got there right after another large group and were followed in by yet another group. The shop was packed. It was craziness. Luckily, all the groups were students in our group. Odd thing was, though, Omar wasn't there. The shopkeeper next door told us that he would be back "soon." So helpful these people are. :) 20 or so minutes later Omar showed up with a big box of ice creams. Mmm... he knows how to win us over. Bro. Merrill is amazed at how much ice cream our class goes through. I would be curious how much money we've spent on ice cream alone. One bar costs anywhere between 6-12 shekels, depending on how touristy the place is. That's $1.50-$3.00. And we don't even bat an eye in forking it over. The penny pincher in me held strong for a long time... but I've given in. They're just so good! The one I really want, however, has been no where to be found ever since I caved. A coconut Nok Out. Every time someone around me is eating one, I can smell it; I have been craving it for a week or so now. ~sigh.

Then it was into the old city. I see now why they tell us to wait. We went in around 2:15 and it was so packed!!! Wow... wow. There were so many people there. We literally held on to each other's fanny pack straps and walked closely in single file to make sure we didn't lose anyone. It took us a half hour to walk what typically takes us 10-15 minutes, if even that. I finally gave in and bought me a handbag. It proved quite useful as I spent the rest of the day shopping since it's much easier to carry things in than a fanny pack is. :) I got more postcards for mom... perhaps I should start writing on them and mail them. :D hehe I got Dad and Stacie's souvenirs. Oh, and Jalin's new baby. I love when I find things that just scream that they need to be purchased for a specific person. Much easier to buy things that way. :D After awhile, we found a T-shirt shop that prints the shirts right there. So you pick your color and size and design, then he makes it right there. For $4. So I bought myself 3 t-shirts and a sweater. Yay! Now I can finally wear some cute t-shirts that aren't 12 sizes too big for me. (Mom, we were definitely way too cautious in our clothes shopping.) I also bought me a sweatshirt. Tragically, it's got the Israeli flag on it, which constitutes a political statement, so I can only wear it in the Center. Don't you worry, I'm wearing it right now. But that's ok. I don't really see a need for me to be wearing a sweatshirt outside. Ever. It's way too hot for that.

We've actually been quite lucky with weather. The classic phrase every field trip by Bro. Merrill is, "Wow, this is quite extraordinary weather. You'll never see this again." Yet, we see it every time. It's quite often overcast, which makes it much cooler, so we're not all dying of heat exhaustion. Tragically, that often means it's hazy, so we can't see very far. But usually we have at least one day where we can see really far and tell how close everything is. It's pure craziness is what it is. Even when we're just out in the city, it's quite often rather cool (considering where we are). Oh sure, we have our really hot days, but it's nothing like what I was expecting. Someone is paying their tithing, that's for sure. Keep it up whoever you are! (Travis—take note. Cuz we want this weather to continue when you get here.)

On the way home, Rebecca gave me the nicest compliment, ever. Actually, I can't really say ever, because I could quite easily say that about every thing she ever says to me. Rebecca is the epitome of the person I want to be. She talks to everyone, is constantly looking out for other people, and is full of love and compassion. I absolutely love that girl. So, we're walking home from the city, Rebecca, Cambell, and I were talking about whether it would be better to have the truth and not live it or to be a devout worshipper of a false religion. At some point, I said something and Cambell was like, "Have you been on a mission?" To which I laughed and said no. (So many people here ask me if I've been on a mission. At the most random times! Adrian tells me it's because I'm spiritually mature. Which I also think is an amazing compliment.) Rebecca didn't bat an eye. "Tianna is a constant missionary. She just works to always bring people to Christ." This is a typical Rebecca statement. I thanked her for the compliment and started to move on the conversation. But she stopped me, "If the definition of missionary work is bringing souls to Christ, then any time you help someone's testimony to grow, you're doing missionary work. Tianna, you have helped my testimony several times since we've been here. You are a constant missionary here." How am I not supposed to tear up at that one? She is simply among the sweetest people to grace the face of the earth.

After dinner I started working on homework. It was my last chance to study for my Archaeology test on Sunday. 30 minutes into it, Theresa came down and informed me that I was working snack bar. Blast—I had forgotten. But I knew everyone else was stressed, too, and wouldn't want to work, so I headed up. (Theresa actually worked for me for a bit so I could finish typing up the study guide, since we all needed it to work on.) I love working snack bar. You get to talk to a lot of people. Everyone tries to bargain with you, but we rarely let them. Matt is the biggest sweet talker. Perhaps it's because he's such a cute 16 year old or perhaps he's just really good at sweet talking. Either way, he probably gets away with at least one discounted item per night. Tonight he somehow wormed his way into working. (I think he might actually be on the committee.) By the time I got there, he had gone through the money box and stacked up all of the coins in nice little stacks. If I so much as touched a stack, he got all defensive. It made me laugh. So he became keeper of the money for the evening. But when it came time to count it, I tried to put him in charge of it, but he quickly refused the entire responsibility. So we counted it together, having way too much fun in the process. Pretty sure that's the fastest I've ever counted the money, too. I had the box down to the Heyes' by about 10:30. Usually it's closer to 11 by the time I finally get down there. I always feel so bad keeping them up so late, but they know it's coming. ~sigh. They're really cute about it anyway. So I don't really mind.

Study until about midnight, then I decided I didn't care anymore and went to bed.

May 24, 2007

The day started with a half day field trip to the Jewish quarter. Ophir, our Modern Israeli teacher, was our guide. First, I have to say that I really like the guy. He speaks very understandable English (perhaps because he's lived a long time in the US...) and is very interesting to listen to. He knows how to teach a large group of attention-deficit college students. :) That's a lot more than I can say for our Modern Palestinian teacher... but, well, that's a different story. Back to the Jewish Quarter. :D We started at Zion Gate. He gave us a handout telling all the different uses of the word Zion throughout the ages, throughout scripture. We got to the very end of the paper and moved on, but part of me wanted to stop him and tell him that he forgot a very vital use of Zion—"the pure in heart." hehe. But Ophir is an orthodox Jew, and well, I made a promise not to proselyte. So I held my tongue. But a bunch of us added it to our paper. :D Then we toured four different synagogues. It was neat to see how similar, yet different, each of them are. We were rather rushed through those, though, because they had a bar mitzvah going on and didn't want us to interrupt it. It made me chuckle when we entered the last synagogue (they're all in the same building. More like four different rooms.) because it was filled with refreshments for after the bar mitzvah. It reminded me so much of a Mormon gathering. Ah, yes. They will come in droves when they come. ;)

We went through several different places. I won't try to name them all here. My favorite was a museum we hit at the very end. Back when that portion of Jerusalem was completely abandoned, they started doing serious excavation of the city. All the really big stuff (like a portion of the old city wall) they left so we can still see it now, and the rest they just moved and built on top of. Even some of the new stuff they built on top of. They found a bunch of houses or buildings of some kind, and built on top of it. They just built on stilts so that you can go into the basement and still see everything. That one was fun to walk through and see the actual mosaic tiles and painting on the walls. They had a few displays of the pottery and such that was found there, so I got to see some really cool oil lamps. Those are the kind I want to buy in the city for myself and a few others that have requested them, but I haven't been able to find anything except the really cheap stuff. I need to ask around and figure out where they would sell inexpensive, yet still nice oil lamps.

We got home in time to scarf down some lunch, then head off to class. We had an Old Testament quiz, so all of us had been studying all day. It was craziness. I did well, though. I only missed 2 points. Tragically, I don't recall what it was out of. 30, I think. But that was only because I forgot the name of the King of Tyre. Let's be honest—who knows that? Well, I do now. It's Hiram. We had class straight from lunch to dinner. Then we had a short break, where we all studied intensely for our OT test the next day, then all headed up to the Forum. I'll be quite honest, I have no idea what it was about. Apparently it had a real impact on me. Oh wait—it was an Israeli guy talking about the political end of the current conflict. But I was tired, I was bored, and a little ADD. So I played on my computer, I passed notes with Theresa, and I gave/received back scratches with Theresa and Kathryn. hehe. Good roommates I have.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

May 23, 2007

It was a great day. We'll just forget about the first half of the day. It was full of classes, and lets be honest, who wants to hear about that? I will mention one point. We had clean checks. We had missed several things last time, so we were bound and determined to get a perfect score this time. I happened to go down between classes to get a sweater when the Lee's showed up to check. I half wish I hadn't been there. It's so embarrassing to be there when they find the stupid, nit picky things. Let's see... we forgot to lock our balcony door (we had finished cleaning the window at the last minute before class), our bath mat wasn't hanging over the tub, and someone had used the bathroom after we cleaned it. Honestly, how silly are all of those. Perhaps I simply haven't had clean checks for way too long. Either that, or I am way too used to Tye. And there was no dishwasher to clean the rust off of. ~sigh. I suppose I'll have to get used to the Lee's picky points.

Moving on to the more exciting part of the day. After lunch almost everyone went out somewhere. I hemmed and hawed and finally decided not to go. Instead, I sat down with the list of places to go and my little guide book and started marking where I wanted to go and where I didn't really care. Suddenly, Theresa popped her head back in and informed me that they had changed their plans and were doing things that I wanted to do. I gave in and went with.

We started out at the Temple Mount. Ok, I may complain about the Christians building over sacred places, but for some reason, I feel much different about the Muslims having Temple Mount. Perhaps it's because the Muslims treated the Jews so well for so long. Perhaps because they didn't deface antiquities. I don't know. But I do know that the Dome of the Rock has held a very special place in my heart for a very long time now. Every time I look out over the city, my eye lingers on that building. And not just because it's big, bright and shiny, either. It just feels sacred to me.

We made it to the entrance, a little fearful that we wouldn't be let in. It was nearing closing time and there have been several groups from the Center that have been turned away. But no worries, Theresa flashed her pretty smile and the guard let us in. Even though we had to put our fanny packs and purses through the x-ray machine, the twinkle in Theresa's eye softened his heart and he told us, "Cameras go through, yes. But for you..." and then he waved us through. Awww... good thing we brought her along. ;)

I loved walking around. The mosaic tile surrounding the building is beyond description. Pictures simply do not do it justice. Everyone should come here and see it. That's an order. :) I almost wish I had more time where I could walk around by myself. But alas, times are too troubled for that. So I stuck with my group. But I still loved it immensely. It has a similar feeling to walking around temple square.

After we finally got out, after being turned away from a gate or two, we headed through the Old City, heading straight to Shaban's. Shaban is a good man. He traded money for us and does it straight across. He knows we buy out his store, so he just trades straight across. Really, there are some amazing people here. Even in merchants. There are key shops that the Mormons, especially the BYU students, have kept in business and have earned so much trust over time (and put enough trust in us) that we all do business there. He gives us the ultimate lowest prices—we don't even have to bargain. If we find something cheaper than him someone else, he will buy it from us at his price. It's incredible. All the shopkeepers around know it and always tell us that they're friends of Shaban's so that we will trust them, too. But Shaban has warned us that all those people who say they are his friends probably aren't. :) Haha!

We did a bit more shopping. Highlights: Found a mosaic tile that says "Shalom y'all" ... that's all the highlights, really. We also went handbag and sandal shopping. Then we went to Omar's Olive Wood shop. I was a little skeptical, I'll be honest. I know everyone loves him, but I'd heard his prices and I didn't want to spend that much! But, mom wanted a nativity, so I had to go look and price things for her. Three of us went—Bridget, Theresa, and me. When we got there, his shop was closed—he was out to lunch. But not to worry. Another shopkeeper called him, and he came running up, eating his falafel. Haha!

The first 20 minutes or so was mostly spent just talking. I saw a wedding announcement on his wall for Judith and Steven Rona, so I told him that I knew them, and it made him so happy. We talked about the Rona family for a great long while. He let me call my mom to talk to her about what she wanted and as he started to dial the phone number for me, he stopped when I said 208 for the area code and got all excited because his son had gone to Ricks. Turns out, he's driven through Ririe. How in the world did I meet a Palestinian in Israel that has driven through Ririe, Idaho?! Now that is random. He told us stories about how he cried when the BYU students walked in last semester for the first time in 7 years. Which made me tear up. He asked me about Casey McDurmott (he knew his wife, Lisa) and that made me tear up again. I teared up at some heartfelt stories about the Ronas. Honestly. I went there to shop, not to cry. Lastly, I told him that Steven Rona was helping Travis and I plan our trip, but wouldn't be here to join up on a tour. Omar made me promise that if I needed any help, I would go ask him. That he would do anything I needed. It was very sweet of him. Hence, I love Omar. That man is amazing.

We started walking home. None of us wanted to walk home. It was late. We were hungry. We'd been walking all day. We were carrying purchases. ~sigh. We started down the Kidron valley when we heard someone honk. This is not abnormal, but we turned anyway. Pulled over right behind us is a bus. The bus driver is one of Center bus drivers that we know. He was an angel sent from heaven and gave us a ride home. It was beautiful!

The rest of the night was goofing off on my computer at the snack bar, then remembering late that night that I had a quiz the next day in Old Testament. Oops? Haha. Oh well.

May 22, 2007

Perhaps I shouldn't hit snooze so much. Especially since my snooze goes off every 3-5 minutes. My roommates are starting to mention how we should synch our alarm clocks so we don't have so many go off in the morning. I think that's my fault. Blasted living with four girls in one room. It's not as crammed in as one might think, however. It's not a bad apartment at all. Though, it's much more dorm style. Except that we get our own bathroom. But 4 beds, one little table, and one desk for all four of us. But who cares. We're here for 2 months and it's Jerusalem! :)

Old Testament was, for once, the relaxing class. It was rather funny to listen to Bro. Merrill as he got all tongue tied and said the wrong things. Especially when we all laughed and he wasn't sure why. So he'd have to stop and think about what he said. Most times he figured it out pretty quickly. Other times we had to tell him. Which, of course, made us all laugh even harder.

Next was Archaeology with Bro. Huntington. Quiz day. This time I think I aced it. Which makes me very happy. This is one I'm comfortable with, but definitely need review before I can do well. OT I stand a chance in if I don't study (but only a slim chance because he's a tough teacher), but Archaeology... haha! Not a chance. Especially because half of the questions are "According to Hoerth..." (the author). Which is a problem, because I don't exactly agree with his conclusions. He's all for a 15th century exodus from Egypt, whereas, everything I've studied in school the past few years points to a 13th century exodus. I've just dealt with it thus far, but today in class I couldn't take it anymore. So I tuned out Bro. Huntington long enough to write up an email to send to Avram, asking him to confirm to me that the 13th century is more likely and to please combat the evidence I'm hearing here. Tragically, I don't get Internet in that room (though all the PCs do... grrr), so it had to wait. And I didn't use my comp on the Internet the rest of the day. So it must be mailed tomorrow.

Last was the Israeli Modern Near East. We also had a quiz in there, which was bad, because no one had read. Oops? But really, we have to prioritize and the one credit classes definitely take back burner. But, miraculously, the little bit I had read and the cram studying we did just before class helped me through. I only missed one or two. Which isn't bad considering he gives us one free one. Wahoo!

Following class was lunch, then free time. This evening starts Shavuot (aka Pentecost) so a lot of things were closed. Hence, I decided to stay in instead of fighting the different stores or sites. Will they be open or not? So I worked on email, almost cleaned out my inbox, did some reading for tomorrow, and started cleaning for clean checks tomorrow. A half hour shopping trip down the hill later (to get Magnum ice cream bars for the snack bar), I came back sweating and promptly went back to the computer lab because it was cold. Cleaned out my inbox even more. Then it was time for linen exchange. Lauren helped me take up the sheets and towels that were left (Kathryn had already taken hers) and bring down the new clean stuff. (Talk about fast laundry!)

Lauren went to do laundry and I was left alone. I started making my bed and was hit by a stroke of genius. I wanted to serve my roommates, so I decided to make their beds! As I was making Kathryn's, I remembered back to when Rebecca Edwards would babysit and leave us Hershey kisses on our pillows. At that moment I wished I had some Kisses. But then it hit me! I had individually wrapped Ghirredelli Chocolate squares! Mmm... So, after a very long half hour or longer, I finally finished with the beds (they're a lot harder to make than I expected. But I'm happy to note that mine is by far the easiest to make) and placed the chocolate squares on their pillows.

I fully expected to keep a straight face when they saw their beds (or, more wisely, be out of the room), but alas, twas not to be. I was here for every single one. Without fail they asked me, "Who made my bed?!" Then, at the look on my face, they would give me a giant bear hug with much thanks as I protested, "I don't know what you're talking about." ~sigh. I have such a horrible poker face. Later we were talking about it and Theresa told me in all sincerity that it really made her day. That comment, right there, made the extra time, the bent back nail, and the frustration over square sheets more than worth it. Here's a testimony as to the power of service and how it does more for the person who serves than for the one who receives. Sure, I took a little time out to do something nice for my roommates, but their reactions, their sincere gratitude... wow. That's something powerful.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

May 20-21, 2007

I'm combining these two days because, in all technicality, it was all the same field trip. Though, judging by the alertness of my brain, I can definitely separate it into two different days.

Sunday started early morning with breakfast and getting on the bus. Recently, I have had serious problems with getting car sick on all of our bus trips--our last one I actually threw up. I decided to combat this from the very beginning. At 6, I took some Dramamine--one hour before boarding the bus. Just like the directions say to do. I did just fine for the first leg of the trip, and through the first site. Well, I say just fine in relative terms. I wasn't nauseous, and I wasn't... tired... but my brain just wouldn't focus. It was like I was on the verge of wakefulness and sleep. Where you could fall back to sleep at any moment, but yet are awake. But yet, everything just swims in and out, staying long enough to recognize its presence and to be able to react to it but never staying long enough to get a good grasp upon it. Every time I sat down, my eyes would droop, and as soon as my eyes drooped, I was asleep. It was problematic. I felt bad for Bro. Merrill as he was sitting there, teaching us something and I had my head in my arms, fast asleep. I would wake up whenever we got up and moved, but I'll be honest, the first 10 or so minutes were pure sleep hiking. Sadly, that also hindered my picture taking abilities. I haven't looked through my pictures from that first day yet, but I am kind of fearful that they will be sparse.

Let's see... where all did we go? Mt. Carmel. (Where Elijah had the show down with the prophets of Ba'al), Megiddo, and Ahaz's palace. Then we went to Ein Gev—a holiday kibbutz. Basically, their main source of income is tourism. Which is great business when you have beach side property on the Sea of Galilee.

I have never had luck with locks. Keys and I simply are not friends. We got to our little "house" at Ein Gev. They split us into houses alphabetically, so I had all new roommates: Bridget, Kenzie, and Christina. We got to the house and Bridget, keeper of the key (not to be confused with Hagrid, mind you, who is Keeper of the Keys), attempted to unlock the door. No such luck. She twisted, she turned, she pounded, pushed, and kicked. Nothing. She finally gave in and conceded her status to Kenzie. She went through the same ritual, then handed the key to Christina. Lather, rinse, repeat. At the very beginning of this I had told them that I have no luck with keys. I even got locked out of our room in Luxor for awhile. So when Christina was done, they decided to go talk to the management. However, I decided I wanted a shot at it. How ironic would it be if I could open it when no one else could? I prepped myself. I focused on unlocking the door. I focused all of my attention on feeling when the door unlocked so that I could turn the handle and open the door at just the right moment. I just knew I would be the one to do it. I was wrong. I failed. The other three went to see managment while I stayed back and watched all of our luggage. (I was so selfless in volunteering for this position. It had nothing to do with my drugged self really just wanting to sit. In the shade. Promise.)

Management came back. The guy grabbed the key, stuck it in the hole, and unlocked it. He gave us the key and walked away—not telling us how he did it! ~sigh. I promptly lay down and slept for an hour. I would have slept longer, perhaps all night, but they woke me up for dinner. Grabbing the key on my way out, I realized that half of my roommates had disappeared and I was pretty sure they wanted stuff in the house. I didn't know what to do. I didn't want to leave it open... I decided they could get whatever they wanted after dinner. You have to use the key to lock the door, and I was a little fearful to lock it since I didn't really want to sleep outside, but I was brave and did it anyway. And paid very close attention to the feel of it as it locked. Two steps later, I found my two lost roommates. "Nooo!!! You didn't lock it, did you?!" I meekly admitted that I had. "We'll never get it open!" Enter weeping, wailing and gnashing of teeth. Being the one that had caused this mourning, I returned to try to fix it. Unlocked the door first try. At that moment, I was crowned hero and officially anointed keeper of the key.

After dinner, the dramamine was starting to wear off, so I decided I needed to do some homework. I grabbed my scriptures and headed down to the beach, then read 1 Samuel until it was so dark that I simply couldn't see the text anymore. (People always think I'm weird for reading at dusk...) Just before I was ready to go, Kenzie came and asked for the key. I gave it to her. 5 minutes later, she reappeared—very frustrated. She had been unable to open it. A wee bit later, after some sunset pictures over the Galilee, I returned to the room. At first, I struggled with the key. It made me a little nervous. But alas, it opened. And there was much rejoicing. So, my first attempt failed. Prideness of my heart, I'm sure. But after I had been sufficiently humbled, I was able to unlock the door. I returned to my scripture reading and when I couldn't stay awake any more, I retired to my bed at the very late hour of 9 pm and slept soundly all night long. 9 hours later, I woke up refreshed and ready for the day.

Yes, I just got out of my Old Testament class. Please forgive the massive amounts of religious phraseology.

As I went to bed, I pled with the Lord. I did not come to the Holy Land to sleep through every site. But I couldn't make it through if I was nauseous the whole time, either. So I pled that I could get through the day, not tired, not nauseous. I was a little nervous getting on the bus, I'll be honest. I sat as close as I could to the front. I held my breath. (But not for long. I didn't want to pass out—seems to defeat the purpose.) God is gracious, that's for sure. My plea was granted—it was the most magnificent day of the entire trip. It may even have topped Egypt. (Though, it would be a close call.) The day comprised of Hazor, Dan, Nimrod, and Banias. I'll spare you the details of each site. (Site reports in coming, or you could simply use Wikipedia. It's a mahvelous site.) But I will give you highlights of my favorite site—Dan. Or rather, Tel Dan.

Ok, we have been to many, many tels already. And when I say many, I mean a lot. A whole lot. At first glance, every tel is the same. It's a really big pile of dirt with some holes and some rocks. It's really hot, and we're all fighting for the front of the line so that we can get the prime spot of shade when we stop. Oh sure, every tel has its unique features and stories. And I will admit that I actually enjoy most of the different tels. But Tel Dan is very, very unique for a tel. Oh wow, oh wow. There is a brook running through the midst of it. There are trees and bushes and brush everywhere. I forgot what green really looks like. I felt like I was walking through a mountain path. It was incredible. hi!! everyone ilove your friend Tianna she is the greatestroommateever! (My roommate just hijacked my computer. Ok, maybe I'm writing this while I should be listening to a forum... ehhhh...) Anyway.... back to Tel Dan. We started up this path surrounded by greenery. We crossed the brook periodically. One time, instead of a bridge, it just flowed through the rocks, and we just stepped upon the (hopefully) dry rock, trying not to slip.

We finally reached a spot at the head of the spring that fed the brook that had rock steps that served as benches and we stopped for a break. We decided to sing until the last of our group got there. We sang. And we sang. And we sang. Then we counted to figure out how many were missing—about 6 or so students as well as our service couple, Bro. and Sis. Heyes, and also Bro. Huntington's wife. (Sis. Huntington... duh.) So we sang. And sang. And sang. Finally, Bro. Huntington called his wife. Turns out, they had taken a wrong fork. We sent a few students down to the fork to meet them and told them to turn and go back. So then we decided to sing some more, hopefully loud enough that they could hear us and find their way back. So we sang. And sang. And sang. I'm pretty sure we sang more there than at any other site. Which, don't you worry, I was perfectly ok with. I like singing hymns. A lot. They finally made it back to us. And can you believe it? As loud as we sang, the greenery was so thick that they hadn't heard us at all until they got right up by where we were. Craziness.

We headed back home that night. I had felt so great all day and on all the bus rides that I forgot to be nervous about it. Turns out it was all good—I still didn't get sick at all. Oh happy day... We got back to the Center, late for dinner. As we sat around eating, I started talking to people about the bus ride back. I didn't think it was all that bad. Bad roads and bad driving equals bad times for Tianna. Since all was good, I just assumed that the roads and driving was good. Turns out, once again, I was very much wrong. Everyone else complained about the windy roads and how everyone had been carsick the whole way back. Wow. I really am blessed. Power of prayer, my friends. Power of prayer...

Saturday, May 19, 2007

May 19, 2007

It's the Sabbath. Yes, I know it's Saturday. Welcome to Jerusalem! I'm starting to get used to saying things like Shabbat School instead of Sunday School. It's normal now to look over the shoulder of the sacrament speaker and see the Dome of the Rock. I have fallen in love with the Sabbath more than ever. Perhaps it's because it's the one day in the week where I can sit and relax and get things done. I now have my site reports and pictures labeled from Be'er Sheva to Valley of the Kings. (Ok, so two whole days. But still—there was a lot packed into those two days.) I plan on publishing my site reports and putting a link to them in here when I'm finally all caught up. For anyone who cares.

Church was absolutely lovely. Even though I got almost 8 hours of sleep in the first time in probably a month, I was exhausted. But everything was so good that I was able to conquer the intense desire to fall asleep (for the most part. I had my weak moments) and actually pay attention. Perhaps because I was taking intense notes. :) In Shabbat School we learned about the rich man and the camel going through the eye of the needle and whatnot. I learned so much. Listening to everyone else's comments left me in a fury to write fast enough. Everyone thinks I'm the smart one here, but after listening to everyone else today, I have been sufficiently humbled. I may be book smart when it comes to what we're learning in Old Testament, but my peers have one-upped me in the stuff that matters most. I am constantly learning from everyone around me and am becoming a better person every day. It's really been a happy day.

We had linger longer after church. We all brought cookies; the locals' were homemade. The homemade cookies were most often gone before they ever touched a table. I have never craved deserts so much in my entire life. It's rather weird, considering how much I haven't been craving sweets for the past year. Perhaps it's because they're not quite so sweet and rich here. I don't know. But, oh, were they divine.

My roommates all slept afterwards. I seriously considered taking a nap, but I knew if I did, I would just sleep all day, then wake up groggy. Instead, I decided to be productive in a relaxing sort of way and started labeling my pictures, typing up site reports as I went. It was really relaxing and rather fun. Plus, as a bonus, I'm starting to learn people's names better. As I label them, I find myself looking in the student directory less and less. And to top it off, I realized that I was calling Hilary by the wrong name (Heather) for a day or two now. Even better, there is a Heather here. Haha! Oh well. She's sitting next to me right now and I apologized for my lack of brain power. She has fully forgiven me. Perhaps because our RS lesson was on forgiveness. Who knows. All the same result for me. :D hehe.

At dinner tonight, we had pistachio ice cream. Can I just say that it was divine? Oh. Heaven. I can't wait until the next time they serve that. Much better than the pink bubble gum-esque flavor. :S

I stayed in all day today, catching up on labeling pictures, site reports, email, etc. I feel slightly guilty not going out to Gethsemane or the Garden Tomb, but only a slight tinge. I really just wanted to stay in today and keep my Sabbath a day of rest. It's been a very pleasant day for me; I have no regrets about staying in. I'm discovering that I'm a lot like Grandma Lovell in that I'm a homebody—I am perfectly content to enjoy the comfort of my own home as opposed to going out and seeing the world. How crazy is that to say as I look out my window over Jerusalem? But it's not like I'm not seeing the sites. I spend hours upon hours almost every day out on field trips seeing everything with a tour guide (Bro. Merrill). I couldn't hope to have seen 90% of what I have if I had come on my own and spent twice the time here. Seriously, for the last 5 or so weeks we still have here, we will only spend 2 weeks of it in the Center. The rest will be overnight trips out at different sites. Even the two weeks here, we still have half day and full day field trips all over the near-by area. It's not like I'm becoming a hermit in Jerusalem. It's just that, with all the crazy running around, when I have free time, I want to do something different. I don't think that's a bad thing. Besides, anything I miss out on that I really want to do, I can just make Travis do when he's here. :)

We had a fireside tonight by Blair Van Dyke, an institute teacher at the Orem institute. He's out here for a 3 week tour and they talked him into speaking in Sacrament and giving a fireside tonight. It was a really good fireside. He talked about modern Church History in the Holy Land and used it to relate to the "decade of decisions" for us. Which he also revolved his repentance sacrament talk around as well. I really enjoyed listening to him both times. He really made me stop and think about my life. I truly am in the decade of decision making. This is a critical time in my life, and I have to be really smart about what decisions I make. I can't make a hasty decision because I just want to get it over with. I have to decide to follow the Lord's direction, even if I don't agree with it or know where it's taking me. I don't feel like I have any big decisions in front of me right now or in the very near future (except where to get a job when I get home...), but despite that, everything he said really struck home to me and I know those were talks that I was supposed to hear. I need to work on my faith and trust in
God so that when the time comes for me to make those important decisions, I can make them without hesitation.

One last thing, then I shall close. I want to add something that I wrote in my little scripture journal that I take to church meetings.

"As I sit here, looking out over the Old City of Jerusalem, I can't help but have a feeling of peace. As I partook of the Sacrament in the same area of the first sacrament, it takes on new meaning. Yet, the sacrament is the same—no matter wher you are. It's the same spirit in Urumqi, China or Luxor, Egypt or even Provo, Utah as it is in Jerusalem. This place is special; it has such a sacred history. But God loves me the same—no matter where I am."

I've had a tinge of homesickness recently. I am loving it here immensly, and I wouldn't trade it for anything. But I find myself thinking of home and ready to move on with my life. The last several years I have dreamed of coming here; I have focused my studies around being here. I know that the Lord worked miracles to get me here. Now that I'm finally here, I have realized that I don't need to travel around the world and walk where Jesus walked to feel the peace and love that I need. I don't need to go to Gethsemane to feel the power of the Atonement. It's a good experience to be here and keep the things I learn here in my heart (and in my pictures :D). It's a better experience to study the scriptures and gain a relationship with my Savior. I don't need to be here to do that. I am going to enjoy my time here as much as I can. I am going to live up every experience I possibly can. But when the time comes to go home, I will not regret it. The time will be perfect, and I will move on with my life and be grateful for the many incredibly blessings that the Lord has blessed me with.

Friday, May 18, 2007

May 18, 2007

Ok, so I'm really far behind. Like, a week and a half. I'm so sorry. But a week in Egypt with very limited Internet access and w/o my laptop has proven detrimental to my blog writing skills. Now I'm in the rut of not wanting to write because I'm so far behind, so it'll just prove to be a huge project that I don't have time for. But every day I don't write, I end up further behind and more discouraged. So, for now, I'm just going to skip that week and keep up on the current day. Someday I'll go back and update the past week. Even if I just put in my site reports that I have to write up for class anyway.

So, I've had requests for a more Readers Digest blog. Apparently, my blogs are too long, detailed, and pictureless to be enjoyable for all. For the record, at least two of my entries now have pictures. If I had more time and energy, I would update faster, but alas, I'm about to fall asleep as I write even this. But I'll do my best to make them slightly less detailed and more entertaining.

So today was a crazy busy day. Alarm went off at 5 am. And every 3-5 mins after that for the next 20 or so minutes. (I still haven't taken the time to figure out how far apart my snoozes are.) I finally got up sometime before 5:30 with enough time to at least get dressed before heading up to breakfast, served from 5:30 to 6:15. After breakfast, I finished getting ready and headed up to the bus. Apparently, Bro. Huntington had made a little mistake, however, and told the bus drivers to be there at 7:20, not 6:20. Ahhhhh! So after 15 mins or so out there waiting, they told us that the busses were on their way, and we had 15 mins to kill, to do whatever we wanted. I chose the Internet. After answering a handful of emails and chatting with my dearest, Jessica, I went back to the bus.

The moment the bus started, a great fear hit me. I was car sick. I quickly pulled out my pseudo-Dramamine and closed my eyes, waiting for it to kick in. It didn't. It just got worse. Finally, I fled the three seats to the front of the bus and told Bro. Merrill that I was sick. He stuck me up in the "Co-pilot" seat and within 2 minutes, I grabbed the garbage can and relived the peach yogurt I had for breakfast. I'm considering not eating yogurt for awhile. :) The next bus ride was bad, too, but didn't last long. The two sites were really neat, though, and I felt better in the fresh air. I'm glad we went to these first. Lachish, which I have written many a paper about and Beit Guvrin, which had all these caves with dove cotes and an oil press. It was so neat! Then we had lunch, which I was, admittedly, a little scared to eat. For the last little while I had no food in my stomach and that had been helpful. I was a little worried about putting ammo in me for my stomach to use against me. But don't worry, after I ate, I felt much better. No nausea after that. But when one door closes.... Nausea left, drowsiness hit. Full force. I slept through one cave, and slept hiked through the rest of the tels. Needless to say, I was ready to get back to the Center. Dinner was amazing. Hungarian Goulash, Weinerschnizel, meatballs, mashed potatoes (that were absolutely amazing) and lemonade. I ate it all, going back for seconds on the mashed potatoes.

I'm still incredibly tired. I'm debating on taking a nap while I sit here on my computer with Aladin playing in the background. Wow, I haven't seen that movie for a long time. "Her mother wasn't nearly so picky." Ha! I love the things you don't catch as a child. :)

I've been thinking a lot about home lately. Is it odd that I'm finally in the city I've dreamed about being in for years, and part of me is becoming rather homesick? ~sigh. It's like, all this is a dream and not real, and I'm just ready to wake up and move on to real life. I really just have this desire to move on with life. To get a job, to have my own life, to do what I want with my time, to fall madly in love with some incredible guy and get married and settle down. I don't know... to finally live a real person's life--whatever that may be. Being here, playing all day (in a very tiring, stressful sort of way), no dating (which is actually rather nice as it relieves most guy/girl tension), etc. just makes me feel like I'm living in an alternate reality. Like, I'm at a standstill and not going where I should be going. Not that I don't feel like I shouldn't be here or anything, but like, when it's over, I have to move on. No more goofing off and playing for Tianna. No more procrastinating the real world.. And, to tell you the truth, I'm very ready for that. I've been anxiously awaiting this stage of life for a great while now. And it's almost here!

Don't get me wrong. I'm loving it here. I am thoroughly enjoying all my time and adventures here. My pictures will prove that. :) The people are amazing. I am more convinced of that the more I get to know them. Every once in awhile I get the chance to get to know someone new a little better. I'm trying to come out of my bubble and just let go and get to know everyone--to stop worrying that other people are looking down on me. I'm realizing that people like me for who I am here. It's a nice feeling. Perhaps it's just because I'm the "smart" one here (ha!), but who cares, really? Because I help people study, I then talk to them on field trips and feel comfortable sitting by them at dinner and whatnot. Everyone is so nice! Everyone really does just want to get to know everyone else. It's great.

And now I'm crazy tired. I must go.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Update...

So, I'm behind. I know it. I'll try to remedy that. But I don't know when. Problem is (well, it's only a problem for my blog... I'm actually rather excited about it) I'm leaving for Egypt in the morning. So I won't have internet for the next week. So, when you don't get emails or updates on this here blog, don't you fret and worry. I'm just sweating my life away in Egypt. Be jealous of me everyone. You know you want to. :)

Saturday, May 5, 2007

May 4, 2007

Geography field trip! This was our first real field trip. (Yeah, sure, we toured Jerusalem yesterday, but it was fast and we only had sites pointed out to us, sometimes with a teeny bit of explanation.) For each field trip, we are required to write in a site journal, telling what we learned, our feelings about the place, etc. I'll just put in here what I put in my site journal. Just for a bit of additional information, I have been developing a cough past few days. This was probably the first of the really bad days. Hacking coughs coming every few minutes. But don't worry, Satan has been fighting me this whole way and I have overcome. You really think I'm going to let him win out due to a cough?! I think not. Also, the day was rather hazy, so my pictures aren't as clear as they could have been, but it also kept the temperature cooler, for which we were very grateful. We even had a breeze come through here and there. Some places had full out wind as you can tell from my hair in a picture. :)

Seven Arches outlook (next to the Seven Arches hotel)
This outlook provided a spectacular view of Jerusalem. From here we could see the many different landmarks that are found in and around the city. We also had a great view of the Hinnom, Tyropean, and Kidron valleys. Bro. Merrill pointed out the city of David, though, at that angle, I really couldn't pick it out. It saddened me. We could also see the stairs from the Herodian temple. He pointed out that the Jews could worship there as well, but almost 2,000 years of tradition keeps them at the Western Wall. You know, I had never actually thought about the Jews being able to worship at the stairs. Huh. He also pointed out all of the different domes and churches that I have heard of hundreds of times, but am now finally getting a grasp on and cementing them in my head. As I looked out over the city, it reminded me of the Greg Olsen painting, "Oh Jerusalem." I realized that certainly such places exist where the Savior could have sat and meditated and looked out over the entire city. It gave the place a very reminiscent feel to it.

Also amazing about this site were the vast number of graves surrounding it. Hundreds of thousands of graves—all above ground—is very awe inspiring. You can't help but have a feeling of respect and reverence for such a place. (Although, the Muslim graveyard and filled in Golden Gate—both to prevent the Jewish Messiah from coming does seem a tinsy bit overboard. :D )

Augusta Victoria Hospital/Lutheran Church of the Ascension
Oh my, what a climb. Probably not the best thing to do on a day with a bad cough. Oh, my lungs rebelled. I'm sick of this cough. Really sick of it. Despite it all, I did much better with the 10 kajillion flight climb to the top of the tower. Really, I should have counted the steps. What was I thinking? :) But, despite my growing calf muscles and my rebelling lungs, I made it to the top and was still able to enjoy the incredible view that it afforded. Being one of the highest points in the valley, we could see all over. The only problem was that they had fenced in the tower, so taking pictures was guaranteed to have little criss-crosses all over them. No good. Luckily, the had foreseen this problem and installed little window-type things. Small squares that you could push up on their hinges and take a picture. Sure, the picture has a black border around it, and you can only get 4 pictures—one for each wall of the square tower—but really, it's better than nothing. And those four shots were incredible, nevertheless.

On the East (it took me a little bit to get oriented. Honestly, I am so mixed up over here. Looking out my window should be North in my head, but it's really West. I have to find the Dome of the Rock and the al Asqa Mosque to orient myself. Also, these directions weren't the cardinal directions. Like, my west was probably more south west. But for ease of description, I'll just put the general direction) was the direction of the Dead Sea and Jericho, although, we couldn't see it due to the haze. On the South we could see the protective barrier that Israel has erected in the last few years to keep the city safe. The Muslims are protesting it, but it has greatly decreased the number of suicide bombings for which we are all grateful. Just past the wall is a little Israeli village that I forget the name of. Apparently, the Israelis are trying to surround the city with villages. On the North was the Church of the Ascension. One of the kajillion "traditional" sites where Christ ascended to heaven. On the West we could see the Jerusalem Center. It's actually really close by.

As we looked at the Center, Bro. Merrill told us a bit more about it's construction. Bro. Huntington had already told us that when they were digging the foundation, we had many supporters as well as many that opposed us. Those not in favor of the Center came and oversaw the digging of the foundation. If even one grave were to be uncovered, we would have to stop. Miraculously (especially considering how there are graves everywhere here), no grave was unearthed. Later, they were building a main road just east of the Center and unearthed a grave. Bro. Huntington had actually been present when they found the grave, and thus was able to help them dig it out and, after much persuasion, was able to take pictures, inside and out. As we reminisced about that story, Bro. Merrill told us about a quote by Pres. Faust which basically stated his belief that the site for the Center was preserved for thousands of years for this building.

Now, back to the church. When we were done with the tower, we climbed back downstairs and toured the second and first floors of the church. Being a Lutheran chapel, it was covered in Christian paintings and sculptures. It was incredible. I really appreciated this site because, having studied the ANE so much, I've actually acquired a rather bitter taste in my mouth for the early Christian church. Like, I know that they were important in preserving Christianity—paving a way for the Church to be restored. I am grateful for them, really I am. However, I am not a fan of the way they treated other ancient artifacts. Many sacred spots, they built on top of, so we can't excavate and see what the other sites were like. They also would deface sculptures and paintings because they were pagan. Looking at it now, from a scholarly perspective, it deeply saddens me to see all of this valuable stuff just... gone. However, walking around this church, feeling the spirit of reverence and respect that these Christians felt about their Savior, brought upon me a new-found feeling of respect for them. I suppose I should come out of my Jewish bubble and see the beauty in the early Christian church as well.

Deir Elayas (also known as Mar Elyas)
This is the traditional spot where Elijah stopped on his way to Horeb. It's basically a hill behind a mosque to the south of the city. Here we were able to see where Bethlehem is (he said on a clear day, we would actually be able to see. It's craziness to actually see how close Bethlehem is to Jerusalem. To be able to see both places with only a turn of the head... wow. He also pointed out Shepherd's Hill. Apparently, back in the day they used to take the students out to Shepherd's Hill where they had a grand view of Bethlehem, and watch as shepherds herded their flocks on the hill, providing the perfect atmosphere. However, there's now a village and the protective wall in the way, so we can no longer do that. ~sigh. Sometimes I really wish I could have come back in a happier day. But alas, it does me no good to envy previous groups. I should be happy with simply being here.

Haas Promenade
This site provided yet another panoramic view of the city. (This point well proven by the guy trying to sell us all panoramic posters of the city. Bro. Merrill made us all chuckle when, through our headsets (we all get fanny packs with headsets in them to wear on field trips so that he can talk to us all at the same time, and so we can actually hear him), he told us that's what the city looks like on a clear day. For it was still very hazy.) Bro. Merrill was able to point out more definitively where the city of David was, which was neat because, although I knew it in theory (i.e. from a hand-drawn map), I had yet to be able to see it and pick it out in real life. This spot provided a spectacular view of a road that goes right down the middle of the hill that the City of David sat upon. By using this road as a guide, I was finally able to visualize where the valleys were that surrounded it. Stinkin' Romans that knocked down the city and filled in the Tyropean valley.... grrr...

Then we ate lunch. I love being able to eat while looking out at Jerusalem.

Nabi Samwil
This is the "traditional" site where Samuel was buried. Rather silly, though, since the scriptures tell us he was buried elsewhere. But it is also believed that this is the place where Hannah bathed when she was praying to conceive Samuel. 2 Chronicles 1:3—this site is the high place of Gibeon. It's craziness. From the top of this Mosque (shared by Jews and Muslims alike), we could see for miles in all directions. Turning to the North was a rather close hill where Joshua fought the armies that were trying to destroy Gibeon. To the southeast, not 10 miles away we can see Jerusalem. When Richard the Lionhearted came in the Crusades, this spot is the furthest he got before he was stopped by the Muslim army he had come to crush. The poor guy... he was so close—he could see his destination—yet, never made it. In french, this hill is called the Hill of Joy.

I loved this place. I think it may have been my favorite of the day. It was here that I was finally able to understand and really visualize the geography of the place. I've been told through all of my studies how close each of these cities were, how small the cities were. But never in my wildest dreams did I ever internalize this information. Being able to see all these hills while Bro. Merrill went through and named them with city names that I recognized, then being able to see how small the hills are, and how few people could really have lived on top of them... wow. My eyes have truly been opened.

After the field trip
I came home with Lauren (who is in my OT class) and we both started writing in our site journals. I was tired, but not really sleepy. Mostly just physically exhausted from the taxing day. I wrote about one site and started the next before my tired body said, "Oh, Tianna. Just lay down. Just for a moment." Famous last words. Next thing I know, Theresa (in the other group) walked in. Me, not being able to admit when I have been sleeping, quickly rolled over (the door opens the other way) and opened my eyes. Theresa looked first at the sleeping Lauren, then back at me. "Lauren is sound asleep!" That made me feel better because Lauren spends a lot of time studying and it makes me feel slightly guilty that I'm not doing as much. So to know that she was sleeping made me feel much less guilt. So when Theresa left again, I rolled over and went right to sleep and slept straight through until dinner. A good couple hour nap that I desperately needed.

The Western Wall
After an early dinner, we dressed up and walked out to the Western Wall. (Thank goodness for Chakos that allowed me to walk so far without feeling super silly in a skirt and tennis shoes. Sure, the sandals were still tacky, but at least they were black to match.) It was a good 40 minute walk, uphill both ways. No joke. Sure, that means there is downhill both ways, too, but I swear they adjust so that each direction has less downhill when I'm walking upon it. :D I tried to stay close to Bro. Merrill this time. We didn't have his headsets, and I desperately wanted to hang on to every word he said. I really want to learn and remember everything I possibly can. (Perhaps I should start labeling my pictures somehow...) We passed through security and entered the secure area of the Western Wall.

I recognized at the very beginning that the sites now are very different than what I had pictured in my head. There are now buildings and villages in what used to be an empty hill. I knew that the Spirit I felt and the love I feel for this area is going to be dependent solely upon what I put into it—upon recognizing the fact that it is different, and being ok with that. I admit, I struggle sometimes, but I know that the Lord recognizes my effort, and in return, helps me through and helps me feel the Spirit in so many places.

The Western Wall was one place that I struggled to see for its worth. Perhaps it was due to the dropping temperature, my calves that were on fire, my slowly becoming very sore chest/lungs, and the persistent cough. All convinced me that I would much rather be home in my bed. However, I decided to look past all of that. I can lay in my bed anytime. How often do I get to be at the Western Wall—to see the wall that stood around the courtyard of the temple in Jesus' day? So I bucked up and entered the women's section. (The men and women's sections of worship are separated.) When my group got there (we left earlier), it wasn't very crowded. We were able to walk right up near the front and watch the women reading from the Hebrew Bible, singing, rocking, praying. Many girls in my group went up and touched the wall. I knew I should. I knew later on in my life I will want to say, "I touched the wall that Jesus touched." But I couldn't do it. I was hit with such a feeling of reverence for this place—to see the sacred nature that the Jews put upon it—and I simply couldn't bring myself to disrupt that bubble of awe that I felt. (As I'm writing this paragraph, a picture of Taralyn bulging out her eyes and sticking out her tongue popped up on the wallpaper of my desktop. Honestly, how am I supposed to talk about reverence and awe when those huge eyes are staring back at me? All I want to do is laugh!)

While standing there, I noted that about half of the women, upon completion of their worship, would back away from the wall—they wouldn't turn their backs upon it. The only thing I can figure is that, on the Day of Atonement, when the high priest entered the Holy of Holies, he would leave walking backwards—not turning his back on the Most Holy Place out of a sign of respect. With the Holy of Holies now gone, perhaps the Jews have transferred that same sign of respect to the place that they now deem the most holy—the Western Wall. By the end, my calves were definitely ready to go home, but I had also acquired a respect for these people who show so much devotion to the religion that they believe and follow.

Walking home about did me in. My lungs were burning. My calves were likewise on fire. I kept watching the Jerusalem Center in the distance, very slowly getting closer. I kept thinking about the hill that it sat upon and dreading the hike up it. Sister Heyes walked by me for awhile. We started talking about the sites that we could see along the way. I pointed out a couple of large somethings that stood in the midst of the Jewish cemetery and asked if she knew what they were. She told me that one was the tomb of Abimelech and the other was the tomb of some other biblical guy that she couldn't remember the name of. I'm now curious as to which Abimelech.... the one Abraham knew, or Solomon's brother. Hmmm... I should ask Bro. Merrill. About halfway home, I started walking by Gavin. We talked about school and his plans for the future. When we got closer to the Center and Palestinian guys started lining the streets, he switched me places to walk between them and me. It was really sweet of him. We really do have such great guys.

I then came home and lay on my bed, fully clothed, for about an hour. I tried to call Sis. Heyes several times. Earlier in the day I had approached Sis. Lee (she and her husband are the Housing Couple. Kind of our surrogate parents) about my cough. She had referred me to Sis. Huntington, a registered nurse, who in turn sent me to the Heyes' since she believed that they had cough medication. I had found Sis. Heyes earlier, and she asked if she could give it to me after we got back from the Western Wall and I had agreed. When we got back, I didn't know where she was, so I kept calling her apt. and getting a busy signal. Turns out that you have to dial 9 before the extension. Weird, since I'm used to 9 being used to dial out while their apt. is just downstairs. Anyway, got ahold of them, went down and got me some cough medication. After a few trips up to check my email and whine to my momma about my cough, I came home and went to bed. It was only 10 o'clock. I vaguely remember my other roommates coming home and whispering, but other than that, I don't recall a thing until around 7 this morning when people started getting up and ready for the day. Sleep is well needed for my body right now, methinks.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

May 3, 2007

PS to May 2 - Taralyn! During the tour of the Jerusalem Center, I found out we have a squatter here! Haha! Is it sad that I'm actually a little excited about it? I'm definitely going to have to use it a few times... just for memory's sake.

Now back to May 3, 2007

The day started bright and early. My alarm went off at 5:30 so I could shower before breakfast at 6:30. (Knowing I had another roommate, Theresa, showering after me, too.) Oh, this is probably an appropriate time to tell you that I hate my converter. It doesn't work. Really, I only needed an adaptor, since all my appliances convert on their own. Bother. Needless to say, I keep borrowing adaptors from roommates and other people on the program to keep my computer going. I foresee this being a giant pain.

Breakfast was divine. Eggs, french toast, fruit, plus this amazing cinnamon mush/oatmeal kind of thing. The walnuts in it were a problem, but the mush itself was heaven. Then we headed to the forum (an auditorium) for yet another orientation that was supposed to last until 8:30, but went until 9. Here we re-met everyone, learned a bunch of new rules, etc. Then we split up into groups to do a reader's digest tour of Jerusalem. Get this. It rained. It never rains here during this time of year. At least, that's what we were told. But alas, it was definitely raining. Oh well, my hair hadn't looked so great when I left. (I really need to get used to using a curling iron as opposed to a flat iron. The burns on my neck, ear, and forehead will testify to that.) So the rain gave me an excuse to have crazy hair. :) And an excuse to wear my windbreaker! :D Half of our tour guides disappeared, so we joined forces and had extra large groups. Carli told me that you go down a hill, then up a hill to get to the city. I guess I hadn't realized that it was the Kidron Valley. That's quite the hill. Man, if I don't have calf muscles by the time I leave here, it will be no fault of my own nor the Center's. :) By the time we reached the top of the hill, the rain had stopped, the sun had come out, and I was sweating profusely. I took off my never-before worn jacket and had to laugh at the water spots all over it. I can testify that the rain in Jerusalem is dirty. Haha! Having gotten a late start, we had to be speedy. We took several detours so that we could walk by the favorite merchants who showered us with business cards, promises of good business, and here and there gifts. I got a pottery lamp (come back for oil and a wick!) as well as some really good orange drink. Really, they love us here. It's brilliant. Then we went through the Old City and saw the sights. Apparently the rain scared everyone off, because everyone was shocked at how few people were there.

I said it before, and I'll say it again, our guys are great. They have taken it upon themselves to be our protectors. I ended up walking with one guy, Daniel, that I had never talked to before and he took good care of me and a few other girls around. He picked about three of us and made sure we were there at all times. All the guys are ready to step between us and any threat at a moment's notice. It's really sweet and makes me feel very safe. It's nice to know that there are guys here that are willing to stand up for me, even if they don't know me. Nothing happened, though. But it's still nice to know for future. I ended up teaching Daniel a little bit of Hebrew. We'll see if he remembers. Mostly, I taught him the letter ש and the masculine plural ending, ימ, (except, for those of you who know what I'm talking about, make that a mem-soffit. I don't know how to do that on this keyboard and I'm too tired to look. :D) That took us to a conversation as to why Jerusalem is in the plural form. (It ends in -im) Our Israeli guides didn't know. They finally just told us that not everything ending in -im is plural. Look at Eloheim, for example. It's a tragedy that we can't talk religion here, because then I couldn't argue the point. I simply had to step back and accept his answer. So I emailed Carli today, and she told me that no one really knows. haha! I love it. So now this poor kid is even more confused. Oh well. He's trying to learn, and that's what's important.

On the subject of Hebrew and the -im ending, I saw a couple of signs that were amazing. I'll have to remember to get pictures of them later. (We weren't allowed to take our cameras today because the tour was so speedy.) Seriously, they were amazing. For example, McDonalds. It is perfectly transliterated into Hebrew, except instead of the 's' at the end, it has -im. So it's pronounced McDonaldim. Haha! Or, there was another one for a spaghetti restaurant. Also transliterated. This one, however, actually had the English spelled out as "Spaghettim" ... oh boy. The worst part about this paragraph is that maybe 3 of you will actually understand what I'm saying and laugh. The rest will just roll your eyes and say, "Oh, Tianna... we don't know what you're talking about, nor do we really care..." :D But oh well. For the sake of you three or so... (and for my own future record and enjoyment)... I am including it.

We finished our speedy tour and came back to the Center for lunch. Again, amazing food. But by now I'm starting to get all of my meals mixed up, so I shan't tell you what we had. Only that it was really good. Because, thus far, it has all been really good. Oh wait, after discussing it with my roommates, it was some sort of tomato sauce covered pasta that was absolutely divine. I discovered, however, that I don't like the salad dressing. I don't know what it is, but it's gritty and nasty. Someone suggested it might be blue cheese. Bleh.

After lunch, it was time for class. We started with our Modern Near East class, taught by an Israeli. It was interesting, but I was so tired. It didn't help that I already knew a lot of what he was saying. By the end (ironically, when he started talking about stuff that I didn't know), I was fighting not fall asleep. I'm pretty sure I didn't make it. Though, the moments of sleep were really brief. They were just one right after the other. My roommate, Kathryn and I were both exhausted, so we went down to our room for a 15 minute power nap between classes. Then it was off to Archaeology in the Ancient Near East. Again, a class I knew a lot about. But I was prepared with sleep, so it wasn't too bad. The part that shocked me, however, was when he asked how many people knew what a tel is. I and one other guy raised our hands. Out of 88 people, only 2 know what a tel is! That's crazy! (Oh, and Jess, he spelled it tel. And he even talked about the spelling. Apparently Arabic (? I think) is tel and Hebrew is tell. Or something like that.) I guess that's what happens when department lingo become so common place that you forget not everyone else has the same vocab. Huh. Then, after a 15 minute break, came Old Testament. Two hours. Ahhh... It was horrible. The class itself was really good. And I was grateful that I knew most of it, so I felt less guilty about falling asleep. But I definitely fought with sleep the last 20 minutes or so. But apparently everyone else was too, because Bro. Merrill commented on it at the end of class. He complimented us all for being real troopers and sticking it out even though we were all half asleep. :)

Then came dinner. Carli, I don't know how it's possible that I won't get fat here. Sure, I walk a lot, but all it does is make me hungry. I eat more here than anywhere else. Ever. And for every meal. This meal I chose the chicken (there was also Hungarian Goulash and some type of fish). It had some sort of sauce that tasted like BBQ... but not quite. (Two of us came up with that definition at the same time.) I'm not a huge fan of BBQ, typically, but this was really good. Add on this pasta with herbs and shredded cheese, beans with sesame seeds, cucumbers, fruit, etc., and I was again in heaven. Really, I don't know how these people are so creative with every single meal. I think the only thing we've had a duplicate of is the bread and salad. And perhaps the drinks. The rest is something brand new every day. And we have all sorts of choices for each meal.

After dinner we got our new cell phones, our insurance cards, and our proximity cards. (The proximity cards are basically ID cards with a magnetic strip that allows us to enter and leave the Center. They also record when we come and go so that they know where we are at all times. Esp. since our cell phones have a GPS unit in them.) Then we finally had a bit of free time. I knew if I started to do homework, I would fall asleep. So I took my laptop up to the 6th floor—the only place that gets wireless—and caught up on my email. Goodness! I had something like 16 new messages. And that was after my 17 new messages I had last night. Y'all love me. :D Wahoo!

Interrupting my email was yet another meeting. This was our committee meeting. We're each on some type of committee to make our experience here better. I'm on the snack bar committee, in charge of finance. Basically, I get to play with money and excel sheets. How much better does it get? :D So every day, for one hour, we open up a snack bar to sell treats to our fellow students. Then, all the money we make goes towards a party or memory book or something at the end. I think it'll be fun.

Then it was back to email and catching up in my blog. I felt a little guilty as everyone around me was doing homework, but I figure that documenting this is equally as important as re-learning stuff I already know. :D So I felt justified. But tomorrow needs to be focused. I can't get behind. Bother. :) While I sat there, in the little commons room, on a couple of nice and comfy bean bag chairs, Paul limped in, ankle bandaged up, holding a bag of ice. Poor kid. Apparently he sprained it using an exercise machine. Though, he told me it was spiking a volleyball and he landed on someone else's foot. Haha. What is it with boys and their need for "manly sporting accidents" ?? (Yes, Joe, that was directed at you.)

And now, it is 11:40. I have to be dressed and at breakfast by about 6:30 and ready to go on our Geography field trip tomorrow at 7:30. So I should probably go to sleep. Even though this won't post until tomorrow, seeing as how I'm down in my room now and I'm too lazy to go up to the 6th floor simply to hit post. So sorry, everyone, you'll just have to wait one more day for this one. :)

PS - Anyone have a cure for a really bad cough? Meh...

May 2, 2007

So the flight was relatively uneventful. I think I sort of saw the ocean, but it was really cloudy and we were really high up. It was pretty cool looking. I had a window seat, but I was right at the front of the wing, so I could only see parts. Plus, when the sun finally came up, it reflected very brightly upon the wing and about blinded me. However, as we got near unto Tel Aviv and I could finally distinguish land, I assumed that the blue stuff next to it was officially water, not sky. But then again, is the Mediterranean considered ocean? Hmmm...

The poor flight attendants... apparently this was a really hard flight for them. Everyone was so rude. At one point, one was coming through to pick up our trash and the lady sitting a seat away from me handed the attendant her plate and said "Thank you." Seems simple enough, right? The flight attended stopped in her tracks, looked over and said, "Thank you for saying thank you. You're the first one this whole trip." Then she talked about how she thought one other trip was the hardest (I forget where to, but I think it's somewhere in India maybe?) but had been proven wrong because this one was by far the hardest one. Then she added, "Thank goodness for all these college kids. If it weren't for them, I think we all would have lost our minds." Ahhh... how sweet! But seriously, I felt so bad for the poor attendants. It was confirmed when we were leaving the plane and another attendant told us, "Thank you so much. You guys were great. Really. You don't know how great you guys really are." And also, as they were telling us over the intercom that the flight was over and welcome to Tel Aviv and all that jazz, they added, "And we'd like to wish our BYU students good luck on their study abroad."

We were met by Bro. Merrill, his son, Matt, and Bro. Whitchurch at the airport where we squeezed into two busses. Now I understand why they only wanted us to bring one suitcase. Even then, we had to stack some in the aisles cuz we ran out of room. The drive to the Center was amazing. It was all uphill. I've got some great pictures of architecture. And I had fun pretending that I could read Hebrew. :) haha! Isn't that a joke... We got to the Center, and holy hannah, can I just tell you that it's gorgeous? There are 20,000 rose bushes. Not to mention all of the other landscaping. Then you walk in. The building is so clean and gorgeous. There is limestone everywhere, and wood that complements everything. First things first—Dinner. You have to have priorities. :D I had the fish—brought down from the Galilee. It was really good. Then there were veggies and breads and I can't remember what all else. Except for the dessert. Oh my. It was sent from heaven. We're not exactly sure what it is, but our best description ended up being something like, "Key lime pie, but w/o the crust. And lemon, not lime. In a cool whip/ice cream fashion." That probably makes no sense, but just trust me on how good it was. Then it was off to orientation. Here they welcomed us and introduced us to the faculty while all of us tried desperately not to fall asleep. Mostly in vain. Then they split us up into our two different religion classes (we all have the same classes except religion. That's split up between Bro. Merrill and Bro. Whitchurch. I have Merrill.) where they gave us the brief version of the syllabus, gave us homework, then gave us little fanny packs with headsets in them (you were right, Carli) to wear on field trips. Then, even though we were all falling asleep, they refused to let us go to bed. Rather, we split up again and went on a tour of the Center. It is really neat, I'll give it that. But when you're that tired, and walking through 8 levels of stairs, by the end, you're simply ready to go to bed. Then, I'm down on the 3rd floor (keep in mind that you enter on the 8th level and go down to the 1st level) and the elevator only goes down to the 5th. So they had brought our luggage down as far as the 5th level, but we had to carry it down from there. And we weren't allowed to roll our luggage across the chipped limestone. So we literally had to carry it. Luckily, we have amazing boys in our group, and they carried luggage down for all the girls. Finally, it was time to unpack and go to bed. Oh, but don't forget to do all your homework first!

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

May 1, 2007

I was starting to get frantic. It was midnight and my stuff was still all scattered around the house. I was supposed to leave at 2:30 am to make it up to Pleasant Grove where I was going to meet up with Lauren Bangerter (my future roommate) and her mom was going to drive us all up to the airport to make it by 4. I told Brett my plans, which he found ridiculous. Why leave an hour and a half before I needed to be there when I have a friend willing to take me straight there? Bless his soul, for reals. 45 minutes extra was perfect. I got everything packed, the living room cleaned up, and a random smattering of miscellaneous things done. I didn't get everything I wanted to get done by any means, but it was good enough. Now I just need to email my roommates and ask the very nicely to do some last minute stuff for me. (You love me, roomies!)

Brett came through, and after a very limited amount of sleep, drove Ashley Anne and I up to the airport. I just hope he made it home awake and safe. (Side note - Mom and my car both made it home safe and in one piece.) Check in was a breeze. My luggage weighed in at 45.5 lbs. Brilliant. 4.5 lbs. under. I'm a fan of this. My belt set off the metal detector, and I got to walk through barefoot, even after we were told at orientation that barefoot was not allowed. :) Then was the three-hour wait for our flight. We were on a rather small plane from SLC to Houston—small enough that they ran out of room for carry-ons and my bag ended up being checked from SLC to Tel Aviv. It's really a pity to not have my glasses, games, and all other random things that I tactfully put in my carry-on for easy access. Luckily, I was able to keep my laptop and a few random things out of my carry-on. So I've been carrying around my iPod (or rather... my friend's iPod. Thank you Randy! However, for sake of easy and clarity, it will be hereafter be known as my iPod), camera (which has proved for some great pictures), and a bag of goldfish, along with my laptop. Great fun, really. Though, I have to admit, it is kind of nice only having one small bag to carry while everyone else is trucking along with a much larger bag. I particularly feel bad for those with duffle bags and no wheels. Oh well. I survived.

The excitement of the flight was due to Val (a friend of Shana's, actually). We were sitting next to each other on the plane. Halfway through breakfast, her rather full cup of orange juice fell all over her plate, her jeans, the floor, and my sandal. (Though, she didn't tell me it fell on my sandal. She wiped it up, then hoped I wouldn't notice. Tragically, come the end of the flight, I felt obligated to put my foot back in my sandal. Wooo.... stiiiickyyyy. :) We laughed about it, though. Really, what good are long flights and layovers if you don't at least get good stories out of them?

Next was the layover in Houston. Not much excitement came there. They changed our gate, but half of us didn't realize it until we got to the gate, no one was there, and it claimed to be heading to Denver. Val and I went on a search and found our group and our gate, then returned to tell the rest. However, Paul had left his bags there while he went in search of a movie, so we couldn't just leave. Could you imagine coming back to your gate to find your group and your luggage missing? But at the same time, none of us had any idea where he went. (We found out later he was movie hunting.) So we sat. And sat. And sat. But he turned up, and we headed back to our real gate.

This flight was also rather uneventful. Bonus, I got a window seat. Tragedy, I sat by two Asians that I'm not sure spoke any English. So, I was basically alone for the whole flight. Val sat in front of me, so we talked a bit at the beginning and end, but that was it. So, instead, I entertained myself with watching out the window, taking pictures of the amazing views (I can't believe how high above the clouds we were!), and sleeping. I must admit, sleeping got the greatest amount of my time.

Then was the Newark, New Jersey airport. We had an almost five hour layover. Luckily, our terminal was on the far side of the airport, so we wasted a bunch of time just getting there. Then I went and got some chicken and broccoli pizza. I figured I needed to eat something un-kosher while I still had a chance. Paul then had a brilliant idea—let's get a group together and read Genesis 1-20 (our homework) together. It'll pass the time, and we'll get our homework done. The next hour was spent reading about the creation, Noah, and Lot. But don't forget all of the risque stories in there. Oooh, nonono. hehe. I forgot how desensitized I've become to such things by studying them all the time. (And writing exegetical papers on risque topics.) While everyone else was squirming in their seats, I was calmly reading about Lot's daughter's sleeping with him. Part of me was sad that we didn't go on to chapter 38. ;) haha! I'm sure the time will come.

Next was the picture scavenger hunt. We got two groups and ran around the airport taking pictures of everything from Defibrillator signs to apples to a man in big glasses. The trick? All of us had to be in every picture. Luckily, I had accidentally figured out my timer earlier this week when I was trying to take pictures with it. The scariest thing I did? We needed a picture of us on a moving sidewalk, so I balanced my camera on the moving railing and put it on a timer. So it sat there, by itself, for at least 10 full seconds. Wow. That's a long time in such a situation. But it survived and we got some cool pictures.

The time came to board. An hour or so prior to boarding time, they made us go through extra security. I suppose that's what's happens when you fly to a high security area. Then we finally boarded the plane. This was a 10.5 hour flight, mostly all at night. Luckily, there was no one in the seat next to me and I had a window seat. Needless to say, my head propped against the window and my legs on the next seat made for a rather comfortable sleeping position. Well, for a plane, anyway. I'm not sure when midnight hits at this point, since we were constantly changing time zones. And now it's late, so I'll wrap this up here.