Saturday, January 19, 2013

Marhaba!!! Which means "hello" in Arabic! What a week!!! Since I've last blogged we've been on one field trip, one class trip to the Western Wall and have spent plenty of afternoons exploring the Old City. Let me tell you about it all!

First, last Monday we had our first official field trip!! The trip was called the "Jerusalem Overlook" tour. We stopped at different points to look at the city from all different angles. It was a long day, but filled with learning new things. It definitely helped me orientate myself.

Tess & me at our first spot overlooking the city from the SE corner.
 Overlooking Bethlehem, where Christ was born.
 The view from the top of the Augusta Victoria Church, located on the Mt. of Olives.
 The look out point from Nadi Samwil, overlooking the Benjamin Plateau, north of the city.
 The class at Hebrew University.
 Near Bethlehem.
 Brother Jackson teaching us about some ancient tombs located at Hebrew U on the Mount of Olives.

As you can see, I had a pretty eventful day. Then during the week I started the rest of my classes. I'm now fully immersed in all five of my classes (Ancient Near Eastern Studies, Palestine/Islam, Israel/Judaism, Arabic, and Old Testament). They are all fascinating, but fully time consuming. Each day I get up, go to class, study some, go out into the city for an hour or two, then come back to study more and go to any evening classes I have. Although busy, I am having a great time. I haven't uploaded my other camera so I don't have photos of my adventures out in the city quite yet, but don't worry. They'll come.

The strangest thing about being here is being with the same people ALL of the time. I think I mentioned this in my last post, but really - it's weird. I am so used to having different personas for all different areas of life (roommates, work, class, home) but here I don't really have that luxury. But it is fun to feel like I have 80 friends around me all of the time.

Last night we took a trip to the Western Wall right at sun down. This was by far my favorite experience I've had in Jerusalem thus far. Here is Jerusalem Saturday is the Sabbath. On Friday night hundreds of Jews gather at the Western Wall to bring in the Sabbath. We couldn't bring our cameras, but I wish I could show you all what it was like. There were people worshiping in all different ways and styles. There were groups of men singing and dancing. Some women were singing quietly, some were crying, some repeating prayers. I watched as groups of people approached the wall to place their written down prayer in the cracks. It is such a neat experience. I can't even describe it. It was something I'll never forget.

Mission update: Earlier this week my dad sent me an email. My papers had finally made it to SLC!!! Then a few days later I received an email from the MTC telling me I didn't have enough iron in my blood. So after talking to our doctor here at the center, the awesome Brother Bench, I created a plan. I bought some iron supplement pills which I'm now taking every day. Then after we get back from Jordan in a few weeks I'll get retested here in Israel and if my iron level is high enough (hopefully!) then my papers can continue to go through and I will then be assigned my call!!! So we're looking at 2 or 3 weeks until I'm assigned...then it has to be shipped here...sooo pretty much it is looking forever away until I get to know where and when I'm leaving. Oh well. Everything happens for a reason!

All in all, it was a great week. Today is my cute roommate, Lindsey's birthday. Yay! Jacque, our other roommate, emailed her missionary and had him write her a surprise letter which we had her open this morning. She started tearing up, so sweet! I have the cutest roommates in the world. I will post a picture next blog post of us four. I feel so blessed to be here at this time and with these people!

Next week look forward to photos from our field trip to the Negev, as well as lots of photos of adventures in the Old City. We leave for Jordan in a week and a half, yeeeeahhh! Life is good and it's just getting better :)

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