I AM IN JERUSALEM!!! Holllllla. And it is about time I blog about it.
So. Where to even begin?!?!
Welp, I hopped off the plane in LAX with a dream and a cardigan. Welcome to the land of fame, excess, whoa! Am I gonna fit in?! Okay no. That was a little Miley Cyrus to build the suspension. This is the real story.
Tuesday morning I woke up way too early after a way too fun night with Jason, Krysten, Brighton, Matt and some other Provo friends in celebration of Matt turning 22 (yes, we did blast Taylor Swift). I got all ready for the day while running around trying to finish last minute packing and snacking on left over Cafe Rio for breakfast. Eventually I was all ready to go, so off me and my mom went to the airport! We arrived right on time. I got my boarding pass, checked my luggage, met new friends, and eventually said goodbye to my sweet mom.
The rest of the day was a big blur. 2 hours of waiting, 4 hour flight, 3 hour layover in the big apple (Do you know how frustrating it is to be in the east coast for the very first time and not be able to see or explore any of it?!), after an ELEVEN hour flight we finally landed in Tel Aviv, Israel. THEN, we had a 1 hour bus ride. It was a TWENTY ONE hour day. Technically, it was two days but they blurred together as one with the time change. When we finally got the center we all looked tired and completely destroyed but we were smiling and laughing and practically shouting for joy! It felt so UNREAL and so exciting. It was all crazy and after many meetings that night they finally sent us to bed. Since the trip my sleeping still hasn't been completely normal, but I'm getting there.
Here is the thing. It does not snow in Jerusalem. BUT the snow decided to follow us Utah students and Jerusalem had the first snow storm for several years. It was beautiful. Cold? Yes. But beautiful none the less. As a result of the weather we were trapped inside the center for the past few days. What do 80 students do when stuck inside for 2 days? Go to meetings, go to class, eat lots of middle eastern food, drink plenty of hot chocolate in this freezing building, play Rummikub, take photos in the snow, have study groups, and just wish we could explore the city. WELL today we finally got out!!!! We were all super psyched. Until we left it didn't even feel like we were any place different than Utah. Some girl said we could have been Truman from the Truman Show with our view of the city being the backdrop of the world. Another girl said it was like the MTC, or better yet, a mental hospital. But it doesn't matter now because like I said TODAY WE LEFT!!! After a beautiful church meeting (we worship on Saturday here) we swapped our cute flats for high socks and Nikes with our long skirts (classy) and headed for the Garden Tomb.
This is what I just wrote to my mom about my experience there: "Today we went to the garden tomb. It was really neat, but really cold outside. If I learned anything I learned that being where Christ has been is neat, but honestly it doesn't matter. We can be close to Christ wherever we are. Regardless, it was cool to see the location where he could have risen. We sang hymns afterwards and some people started to ask questions about the church we belonged to. It was sad because we couldn't answer any of them but our teachers told us how we can bare great testimony just by the way we sing."
About the city I wrote: "The city was surprisingly really dirty. For a first world country I was shocked. Granted we were probably in a more run down part of the country. It made me start to really appreciate the United States, although when we are back in the center it feels like we are right back in Provo. I feel super safe here. Even when walking around the city there were secret security guards along the whole way we walked and I didn't even notice them until someone pointed them out. I really feel loved by so many people as a student here. I am one of the luckiest 80 people in the world."
About life in the center: "I like being around the same group of people. The 80 of us live together, eat together, study together, travel together, hang out together, work out together. We do EVERYTHING together, but it's fun."
Life here really is a party. Tomorrow we have a tour of the city then for the first time we are allowed to go out in small groups. Can't wait. Then Monday is a field trip. Class work is gonna be insane this week. We start 3 new classes (Israel/Palestine/Arabic) on top of Old Testament & Ancient Near Eastern Studies. We have lots of homework and an insane orientation exam. Gettttatmee. Managing time well will for sure be the hardest thing while I'm here just because there is SO MUCH to see and do, but then I remember I am enrolled in 15 credit hours of class....awkward.
ANYWAY, it has been such an eventful week, and it hasn't even been a full week yet! I have 14 more to go! Look forward to plenty of stories and photos about adventures in the coming weeks. Can't wait!