Thursday, January 22, 2009

Carrying on the “foxy 403” tradition

As is my typical fashion, my friends and I have caused quite the commotion around the Jerusalem Center. My roommates and I decided to create a “hottest hookups” board on our depressingly empty bulletin board in our apartment. We drew pictures of all the 79 people in our program and have been keeping track of blossoming relationships between the males and the females. Some of the pairs are the hookups we think should happen (to which we have vowed to assist in any way possible) and some are just from our own observations concerning who sits with whom in class. Keep in mind, the information disclosed on this board remains in our room (obviously) and it was only supposed to be for apartment 410. Somehow though, word got out on these O-ne-ders (That Thing You Do reference…). The ENTIRE program now knows about it and is constantly discussing it… greaaaaat. Dinner, being a social event in the Oasis (the cafeteria here) has become a “board” meeting. Every night now, we have at least two visitors who come to see it, normally followed up with a lot of girl-talk. Even the boys “pillow talk” about who they might be on the board with. We have unintentionally created quite a hullabaloo. It has been great to get to know people, but eventually we decided to shut down the operation. The board is still active but we had to institute regulations to ensure that this is not a tool for gossip. Did I mention we’ve been right a few times…?

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Random Pictures

I have decent access to the internet at Hebrew University so some friends and I took a trip there today to upload some pictures. Here's some random ones from various shenanigans throughout the Holy Land!

Here are my awesome roommates and I enjoying our amazing gelato in En Kerem! These girls are awesome! They loooove to take pictures because they are both photographers... so hopefully they'll teach me some tricks! The one in the middle is Moon. Yep that's right... Moon! And she's suuuuch a rockstar. If nothing else, her hair is so fluffy I just like to touch it sometimes. The one with the extended tongue is Richelle. She is SO loud, but then again we all are. We like to take naps in between classes because they wake us up before any sane person should. The naps get us into trouble, however, because we missed a get-to-know-you party the first week (because we went to take a nap at 8pm and never woke up), and once woke up in a panic because we were late for a field trip orientation! Apartment 410 is basically the best one at the JC [Jerusalem Center]!!! woot woot
This picture is just plain beautiful! Its the view from the
hike we took in En Kerem... and its beautiful because
of the girls in it!! Heidi and Stephanie... period!

This is the view from my room at sunset. Amazing huh?
I'm basically the queen of Jerusalem... enough said.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

"Each rising sun tells of thy goodness"

The title of this entry is part of a song we sang in the Choir yesterday. The verse continues,
"Each rising sun tells of thy goodness. The rain
proclaims thee in the life it brings. All creation
bears thee sure and silent witness. And my
grateful spirit sings"
I thought these lyrics were perfect for our trip to the Garden of Gethsemane that yesterday afternoon. It was beautiful and the very trees testified of Christ through their beauty. It was a really cool experience. A huge group of us, about 35 out of the 79 people here, all treked up to the Orson Hyde Gardens which lead to the Garden of Gethsemane. Then we all had a chance to sit around (outside the gate of) the garden and read our scriptures/ write in our journals. The Garden was not exactly how I have always pictured it to be, but there is a great spirit that surrounds it. The Orson Hyde gardens were actually more like what I had in mind. It was interesting because though both gardens were beautiful, it is a different kind of beautiful. It is not so much green, more of random flowers next to trees. It is all pretty brown, but trust me, it is beautiful.

Today we had our first full free day!!! Woohoo! A really large group of us (things always seem to be in large groups, everyone is just to fun to leave behind) went to En Kerem. This is the birthplace of John the Baptist. We saw the well where Mary visited Elizabeth in the scriptures. One of my favorite things we did was to see the stained glass windows done by Mark Chagall. There were 12 windows, each one representing a different tribe of Israel. They were beautiful windows!! Then we took a few wrong turns up a few mountains until we finally found the actual town. It was the most adorable little town in the world! The view was beautiful as we hiked there and then once we were there, all the houses were cute stone houses with pretty little iron fences and flowers and greenry everywhere! We went to the St. John's Church there as well as the Visitation Church. Both were great!

I guess they have a siesta type thing in this town though because everything closes from noon to 2:30. We didn't know this until 11:30 so instead of walking all the way down a huge hill and back up the correct side to get to the Visitation Church, the monk inside the gate let us climb over it. It was an interesting experience, luckily (after a few close calls) no one riped their pants! After seeing the churches, we ended the day with one of my new favorite things... Gelato!!!! I don't know if I'll ever be able to go back to ice cream, this is so much better! Anyway, needless to say the last two days have been jam packed with fun!!!!

Friday, January 16, 2009

Hurrah for Israel!

It has been a very eventful week this week! We took our very first field trip, which was a geographical field trip. We went to a bunch of towers (one of which we had to climb 202 stairs to get there) and saw the most beautiful views of the land. Then yesterday we had a free afternoon so we decided to go into the Old City and get some lunch. My new favorite food here is Shwarma (if I spelled that right). Its just shaved meat in a really really tasty wrap. Then we did a little shopping until the Center called us to tell us there was a demonstration in the other side of the city so we had to leave. If that wasn't so awesome that we had to evacuate, I would have been mad that we had to leave. Today we got to go see the Western Wall. We went right when Shabbat was starting so it was crazy there. The faculty told us to wear our scarves around our hair but when we got there, a jewish woman asked us if we were a group of married muslims... when we said no, she told us to take off the scarves. Interesting. I met some Jews that were visiting in a big group from Australia and they taught us a song and dance. Everyone was so excited that Shabbat had started. There was tons of dancing and singing everywhere, and some praying right against the wall. The stones were the original stones that made up the wall around Herod's temple in the time of Christ, so that was neat. This week was so fun, but next week I go to Egypt...

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Shabbat Shalom

Hello Sabbath everyone! Today we had our first branch meeting here at the Jerusalem center. There are the 79 of us students, then faculty, and then the local branch members. Church is held in the auditorium with the best view of the Old City... so much for easily paying attention. Today we were taught in Relief Society by a Palastinian woman who is amazing. She was telling us how she almost did not make it to church today because checkpoint wouldn't let her cross into Jerusalem since she is a Palastinian, but her UN lisence got her in finally. How crazy is that? I'm kind of tired of being locked up in the Jerusalem Center already though. Yesterday there were demonstrations after the Muslim's Friday prayer service down in the city so we were not allowed to leave. We could see it from our balcony though, so of course most of us students were hanging over the balcony watching. We even got the local faculty members to come out and explain what was going on. There was a police blimp and police helicopter hovering over the Old City making sure nothing got out of hand. But we could see all the protesters running down the street when the cops came. It was pretty awesome. There will be a cease fire for fourteen days though so hopefully we'll get to go out soon!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

24 hours later...

After 24 hours of travel, I finally arrived in the Holy Land. It was pretty long but once I saw the city, it was all worth it. I have to admit, I was pretty disappointed once I got off the airplane in Tel Aviv; I didn't see anyone with guns!!! Even in the Austrian airport, nothing exciting to report. The airport took us about 10 mins to leave though because of the gates all around it and everything. Except for the restless sleep on the airplane, I haven't slept in about 32 hours. So this will be short, but the center is AMAZING. From every room in the building basically, there is a gorgeous view. We arrived just as the sun was setting over the Old City. It was spectacular. Well, I'm off to bed.