Friday, December 13, 2013

Winter Wonderland in the Holy Land!

One of the many snowmen we built! This one was the best one that a couple of us built!
The JC

Our Terrace

Me being all artistic and what not!
In case you couldn't tell... It snowed! A lot!! So form what I have heard from the staff here, it only snows in Jerusalem like once in four years! I remember talking to one of my professors at BYU-I who had taught here a number of times, about how cool it was to see snow here but that it probably wouldn't happen. But, Thursday morning, I was just sitting and enjoying my breakfast when I looked out the window and it was snowing! It was so beautiful and really exciting! The only problem was that it kept snowing and then it snowed some more and then it snowed pretty much all day today (Friday). Let's just say, the main hallways here at the JC were not exactly built to hold in heat. But it's been an amazing experience and I feel so lucky to be here and experience something so rare and so pretty! I just hope it clears up soon!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Ein Gedi

Ein Gedi

Qumran - This is where they found the Dead Sea Scrolls. There were eleven caves that they have found things hidden by the Essenes. You can see a couple here

Dead Sea

View of Dead Sea from Masada

Playing Bells at the Israel International YMCA Bell Tower


Ein Gedi
These last couple of days have been pretty fun! We are in the middle of finals and luckily the weather is terrible, so there is no temptation to go out into the city. It is really windy and rainy, and I have to go outside in order to get to my room so it's unavoidable. I almost stayed in my room all day today. But for the good stuff, let's start with Sunday. It was my first real free day now that I am done with the nursing clinicals. It was wonderful. A small group of us were able to go with the Claytons, one of the couples serving here, and play the bells at the YMCA. It was so much fun!! I am so grateful for my mother you had me learn to play the piano because it helped a lot!! I got to play Follow the Prophet and Come Thou Fount while Sister Clayton made up the base part (She is an amazing pianist and organist and does all of the organ recitals and things here at the center). I honestly would consider being a professional bell player, it was so much fun! On Monday we had a field trip down to the Dead Sea! Before we got to go swimming we stopped at Qumran, which is where the Essenes lived and where they produced and preserved the Dead Sea Scrolls in a bunch of caves. Our professor here, Dr Seeley was one of the four asked to help with the scrolls from BYU so it was fun to go with him. We then headed over to Masada where we rode a lift up to the top and got to spend two hours exploring. There was a siege ramp built by the Romans who took it over after they conquered Jerusalem and the Herodian. It was actually kind of sad because before the Romans entered, the Sicarii  that lived there basically all killed themselves so that they wouldn't be taken into slavery. They found ten ostraca with names on them that they used as lots cast by the last of the Sacarii. Because it is against Jewish belief to commit suicide, they cast the lots to see who would be the last. But this place was pretty incredible. Sorry for the sad story, but moving on, we then went to Ein Gedi, which was this really pretty hike along a spring. There were a lot of little waterfalls and I just loved it. We waded in the pools and found lots of little hidden caves/passages to explore. Finally we head across the road to the Dead Sea. Boy was that incredible! They told us we were going to go float and that we were going to be amazed. They were exactly right! It was so much fun! You literally floated and, in fact, it was incredibly difficult to push you legs down vertically to tread water. I got a little drop in my eye and I thought it was going to fall out it was so salty and painful! I can see was they call it the Dead Sea. It's pretty dangerous. We then played in the black mud, which really did make my skin soft. I always thought that whole thing was weird, but I am a believer now. I don't have the pictures of me in the mud and water, but when I get them I will post them! I can't believe I am almost done here! I am sure this last week will be amazing! While I am sad to be leaving so soon, I am definitely ready to see my family!

Friday, December 6, 2013

Haifa Templar Cemetery

I almost forgot to talk about one of my favorite things. On this study abroad, we have visited a couple of cemeteries and, I think I have mentioned this before, I have really grown to like them. There is a very unique peace and spirit that I feel. This Cemetery in Haifa is especially cool, however. In this cemetery lies four of some of the early Saints of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. I am going to tell you the stories about these four people because I think it's really neat. Ok, so once upon a time there was a missionary named Jacob Spori. He was sent to Haifa in 1886 where, being previously inspired by in a dream, met Johan Georg Grau and his wife and taught them the gospel. They were baptized and are both buried here. in 1892, another missionary, Adolph Haag, a 27 year old father and husband was called to Haifa. Unfortunately, he contracted typhus and died, then being buried at this cemetery. He mentions in a journal member of the Haifa Branch named Christian Kegel. Her and her husband are buried here but I didn't get to see them (so I guess there are more than four members buried here...). The last person we learned about was John A.Clark, a 23 year old BYU student who was called in 1894. He served for a year and contracted smallpox and died right before his birthday. Elder Haag and Elder Clark are buried near each other and the broken columns on their grave monuments are supposed to symbolize their lives being cut short. My professor, Dr. Woods, read some really amazing journal entries and letter from these two missionaries and they really sacrificed a lot to serve the Lord. He reminded us that no righteous person goes before it is their time. We also learned that there is a purpose for everything. If it had not been for these two faithful missionaries, the church would have not been able to build the Jerusalem Center. The church needed to prove their existence and missionary activity in the Holy Land were able to do so by finding these grave sites. I love reading the headstones because both declare them as missionaries of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I am so grateful that I am here and that I am learning so much. The works of God are truly amazing.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

We just got back from spending 10 days at the Ein Gev resort on the Sea of Galilee. This was by far my favorite trip that we have taken for this study abroad. First off, the sea was much smaller than I imagined and is really more like a lake. But it is beautiful! It is very peaceful, except we had to pretty big wind/rain storms while we were there, which was actually pretty cool to experience. It allowed a lot of time for the reflection of the miracles performed here and the principles that the Savior taught. I have already posted some pictures of a couple of the places we went to with little descriptions. It's hard because we did a lot. Some of the things we got to do included a hike to a waterfall in the Golan where a couple of us swam, even though it was completely freezing (this waterfall was only two miles from the Syria border) and we canoed in the Jordan river. We also went to Tiberias and had fish. It wasn't just any fish though, it was from the sea of Galilee and when they gave it too us, it still looked like a fish. I even ate an eyeball. Tiberias is also where we went to church because there is a small branch there. It was cool to hear about the members there and how much they sacrifice to get to church. But it was a beautiful building. Another place that I didn't get a picture of was mount Carmel, only because it was raining and really foggy. I hear that there is a really amazing view from the top, but we couldn't see a thing. But this was where Elijah challenges King Ahab and the priests of Baal, so I guess it was kind of cool to be there when it was pouring rain. We also got to ride in a Jesus boat on the sea. They call them Jesus boats, because they are supposedly constructed after the boats that were used during Christ's time. In 1986, during a huge drought, they found and ancient boat along the shoreline that was dated back to between 100 BC and 70AD. I'll add the picture of it. I could go on for a while about the other things we did, but I have papers to write and finals to study for. But just know that I loved this place and I hope I remember it always. I love learning about the Savior and His apostles and the wonderful things that they did. I hope I can grow to be more like them by following my Savior and sharing the gospel.

View of the Sea of Galilee outside my door at Ein Gev

Galilee Trip

Church of Transfiguration on Mount Tabor

A baptismal site on the Jordan River near the Sea of Galilee

View from Tel-Dan - only a few miles from Syria and Lebanon

Caesarea Philippi - Banias - There is a picture of this place in the Bible, but it shows a lot more water than this one

Caesarea Maritima - This place was incredible. It is one of the many places that was made under the rule of King Herod. It became Judea's Roman capital after Herod's death and was a field of missionary labor for Phillip, Peter, and Paul.

Nimrod Fortress - We explored this castle for about an hour and I am sure that I could have spent more time there. It was a lot of fun. It is right next to Mt. Hermon about the Banias shown in pictures above. Arab traditions associated the fortress with the hunter Nimrod in Genesis 10:8-9. It was basically rebuilt by Muslim rulers in the 13th century AD. Also, just over the hill behind you could see this little village. Half of the village lies in Lebanon with the other half in Israel.
Nazareth - This spot was right under the Church of the Annunciation. That church was really cool because it had murals from a whole bunch of different countries showing how a depiction of Mary with the baby Jesus.

Mount of Beatitudes

Capernaum - The city of Christ - The building that you can see here was a Synagogue. Also at this site is where they believe they found Peter's home, as this was the base for Christ's Galilean ministry.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Shepherd's field outside of Bethlehem
This last week we had the opportunity to go to Bethlehem for our field trip. We first went to the Herodian, which is one of Herod's many palaces (I think this one was his winter palace). This is also where he was buried and in 2007, they found his tomb. The view was amazing. We then went over to Bethlehem where we were able to go to the Church of the Nativity. There were so many people there! We stood in a very big line for quite sometime to see where the spot where Christ could have been born. The church was unfortunately, mostly under construction, but the part you could see were beautiful. My favorite part of the day was when we spent the evening in the shepherd's field. In the picture, the building you see at the top of the hill are in Bethlehem and within the tall building is the Church of the Nativity. It was amazing to watch the sunset as we had a really nice and simple Christmas program. We read scriptures and sang songs. In case you were wondering, my trip is almost over. We will be spending this last month or so studying the Savior's life. Being able to go to Bethlehem and focus on the birth of Christ was really special. I like to think about how exciting his birth was because they knew what he was going to do. I am really excited to be able to study his life in depth and learn more about his teachings and good works. I absolutely love it here!

Saturday, November 9, 2013


We had the opportunity to spend four days in Jordan this week and it was amazing! We did a lot, so for my pictures, I chose my favorite places, and I know how fun pictures are so I am putting a lot up. They aren't really in order, but they have captions so it should all  make sense. Our first day we went to the top of Mount Nebo and to Mechaerus, which is where the ruins are of the palace where John the Baptist was beheaded. That night we arrived in and stayed over night in Petra. We spent the entire next day wondering Petra. It was one of the funnest things I have done. I didn't include a picture of the Treasury, but you can see it if you watch one of the Indiana Jones movies. I reminded me of when I climbed around Lake Powel. The sites were amazing but I really just liked going as high as I could. Behind the Royal Tombs, a group of us found a ton of stair cases that seemed to go forever. I loved it! and of course, I had to ride a camel. It was way for fun that I could have ever guessed. I think I would be totally fine using a camel for everyday transportation. The next day we were back in Amman where we did a ton of site seeing. My favorite from that day was the Temple of Hercules, just because I really like the cartoon movie. We also when to an automobile museum where all of the old cars and motorcycles of recent Kings were on display. It was pretty neat. We also went to Jerash which also reminded me of Hercules as you can see from the picture below. There was also a really cool theater here where we were able to listen to some people play some drums and a bagpipe. It was a little random, but really fun. Our last day,  we saw another theater in Amman and then went to the Jordan River. It was really interesting at first because the river at this point acts as the border between Israel and Jordan, so there were soldiers from both countries on opposite sides of the bank making sure that no one tried to swim across. It was pretty amazing to see all the people there, and a lot of them were getting baptized. I am learning to really enjoy watching others show their faith. It's very humbling and often inspiring. But with all the noise going on, I still had an amazing experience there. Overall, it was simply an amazing trip!
Jordan River

Riding camels in Petra

Monastery at Petra


John the Baptist Church at the Jordan River Jesus Christ Baptism site

Temple of Hercules at the Citadel in Amman