Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Goodbye 2008

One last post for the year. My Christmas vacation is fast coming to an end. I fly back to Utah on Friday. It has been lovely to have a couple of weeks to relax and not worry about homework or reading or papers. They'll all be reappearing shortly, but I'm fully enjoying their absence.

As you can see, I changed things up a bit on here. I like to switch things around now and again. I don't have a house where I can rearrange furniture, so this will have to do. I'm going to switch up some pictures and update it a bit more, so check it again soon.

Christmas itself was nice. It's a lot smaller affair than it used to be now that all the cousins are married with kids and inlaws to please. It was just our family plus Grandpa Lee and Grandma Helen for dinner this year. Aunt Jean and Uncle Steve stopped by later in evening for a visit too. We all ate good food and watched Wall-E, one of our family Christmas presents. One of the happiest gifts we received was the news that my brother Luke and his wife Janna are expecting a fourth child in June! They don't find out the sex beforehand, but we are all hoping for a girl! After 3 cute boys, Janna is a bit outnumbered. It's time for some catch-up!

It has snowed almost every single day this whole break. I think I heard that all in all, we have received somewhere around 50 inches in the last two weeks. The snow has been interspersed with some rain, so it's only about 2 1/2 feet deep now, but that is still a lot of white stuff. I'm thankful to be from a place that doesn't have to worry about drought!

This has been quite the year. I've set foot in 5 countries, made 80+ new best friends, had a dozen or more close friends get married (but couldn't attend any of the weddings- curse my poverty!), lived with 7 different and new roommates (with the 8th moving in by Monday), work at 3 different jobs, wrote 100+ pages in writing assignments this fall, read five times that amount, go through too many strange ailments to count, and had a tonsillectomy. No need for any pear trees thank you, I have enough to worry about!

It's been a crazy year for me and I'm sure it has been for most of you as well. But it's been a good year if we look for the right kinds of things in it. I've lived in the Holy Land, saw the pyramids in the rain (that only happens about once every 4 years!), learned a lot, made amazing friends, had bunches of happy reunions, a new nephew born, swing dancing on the weekends, and safe travels through it all.

May we all bring our best and be able to deal with the worst as we enter a new year. Thanks for caring to follow me along in my life as I know it.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Life just got adventurous

Wow! Check it out-- two posts in one month!

THE END HAS COME! No, not that one. But falls semester is over and school is out! I had the best finals week ever. I only had four classes that had anything happen during finals week. I had one easy test and three writing assignments to submit. I had to finish the writing for two of the writing assignments the week before, so I just had to do some revising before I turned them in as my finals. That left only one big theory paper to worry about writing and I got it done in good time. As much as I hated my two 18 page theory papers this semester, I totally feel empowered to know that I really can write that much and have something to say the whole time. I wrote more pages this semester for all my classes combined than I ever have in my life. It's validating to know that I must know what I'm talking about or else I would have run out of things to say a long time ago.

All my finals were done on Wednesday and I prepared to return home on Thursday. I stayed up late packing and then I had to wake up at 4am since I had an early flight. It took me a little longer than I expected to head to the airport, and I arrived at the bag check counter at about 6:10 and my flight was supposed to leave at 6:30. Yikes! The lines were all super long like I haven't seen in years. Think post-9/11. I'd never make my flight. With the encouragement of fellow travelers, I boldly walked to the front of the line and plead for mercy. The travelers tehre let me cut to check my bag. The security line extended clear across the airport, so again I walked up as near as I could to the front of the line and asked to cut since my flight was already boarding and I really wanted to get home. A nice man let me cut there too. I felt bad cutting in front of so many people who had been waiting a long time, but I did NOT want to get stuck in Utah and complicate my life.

I hurried through the terminal and made it to my plane in time. Turns out they then decided to delay the flight for 20 minutes to allow people stuck in the security line to make it. Soon we were off and had an uneventful flight to Seattle.

It was snowing in Seattle. A large winter storm had descended upon the entire Inland Northwest. We sat and waited as airline employees told us that our flight was delayed as we waited for clearance from Spokane. Finally, they announced the flight was canceled. Nothing was flying in or out of Spokane. I jumped into the long line at the counter to try and find a spot on a later flight and simultaneously called Southwest on my phone to see which could help me faster. After 15 minutes I got an agent on the phone and she got me onto the 1:20pm flight that day. All these activities were interspersed with calls to Mom and Sarah because her father-in-law was going to pick me up at the airport. Sarah couldn't because they were snowed in at the house and Dave was the only one who could safely get out in his truck.

I killed time by eating some food and watching a movie on my laptop. I periodically checked the monitors to make sure my later flight was still on schedule. About an hour before we were to leave I checked again and the flight was canceled. I hurried back to my gate and got in an even longer line and on the phone again. There was one more flight that evening I could catch. After 20 minutes on the phone I finally got an agent, but she told me that their computers were down and she could do nothing for me; I'd have to change my flight at the airport. I don't know why the call took 20 minutes if that's all she was telling people. In the calls back and forth to home, my mom mentioned that my cousin Dusty's wife Angie was in Seattle and preparing to drive to Coeur d'Alene to meet up with Dusty either that day or the next. I gave her a call and informed her of my predicament and she became my plan B.

After waiting in line almost and hour, an airline employee came down the line to answer any quick questions we had. Someone asked her about Spokane and she announced that ALL flights to Spokane were cancelled that day and they were concentrating only on passengers that needed to go somewhere else, namely Boise and Las Vegas. Basically, if you need to get to Spokane, get out of line and don't even bother asking for help for a while until everyone else was helped. All our baggage was dropped off at baggage claim. I called Angie back as I headed to find my bag and we decided I'd come to her apartment and we'd figure stuff from there. I was worried my bag never made it to Seattle since I had checked in so late, but I eventually found it.

Angie gave me instructions on which buses to find to get me close to where she was in the city. I've never taken US public transportation before, so this was an adventure. I found the right one and hopped on. It's only 15 or so miles to downtown Seattle. It took us over 3 1/2 hours. The driver decided to take an alternative route and avoid the freeway. Bad idea. With all the snowfall traffic was horrible and often at a standstill. The first three miles took the first three hours. Finally the snow had stopped and traffic finally opened up a little. I made friends with the lady next to me on the bus. She borrowed my phone to call her boss and she told me how to navigate myself with the bus system. We had lots of interesting characters come on and off our bus. People would get on because they were stuck in the snow, then ride a while and then asked to be let off since they could walk faster than we were driving. A little girl across from me sat and played around crossing her eyes the whole time. And I mean the WHOLE time. I thought she'd get tired of it. Then I thought, well maybe she is just permanently cross-eyed, but I couldn't tell.

We finally made it to the station downtown and I caught a bus taking me up to the UofW campus. This ride was less eventful and a lot faster. It dropped me off very near where Dusty and Angie live, and Angie came and picked me up. I felt bad making her wait for me when she could have already left for Idaho, but then a guy on bus #2 informed me that all the passes had been closed all day because of the storm, so I didn't feel so bad knowing she couldn't have left anyway.

Once we get to the apartment and I am able to charge my phone so it doesn't die on me, I call Southwest again. This time they tell me that all flights to Spokane are booked through Sunday. Guess I'd be driving with Angie! We ordered a pizza and watched Gonzaga crush TSU the rest of the evening. The next day I mercifully slept in, then we packed up and headed out at noon. The passes were open again and the weather was clear. There was some ice and compacted snow over Snoqualmie, but we had no trouble but a gimpy wiper blade on the passenger side. Good thing I wasn't the one driving! After Ellensberg the roads were completely clear, and we made it to Coeur d'Alene safely and soundly. And that's how I made it home for this Christmas break. Took a little longer than I thought it would, but I made it.

Some may wonder what happened to Danny. He is going on a study abroad to Mexico next semester so he has to drive all his stuff home. He needed to stay a few extra days too, to get the last of his paperwork done. He is supposed to drive home tomorrow, Monday, but I'm not sure how that will work with another storm coming. Hopefully he makes it home by Christmas!

About that first storm: it was a recordbreaker. It snowed 30 inches in 24 hours in Spokane and Coeur d'Alene. The previous record had been set in the 70's and was only 13 inches in 24 hours. It has been bitterly cold, so the snow is the fine, powdery kind. The snow has settled in the last couple days so it isn't as deep as it was, but there is still about 2 feet with more to come in the next week. This is the most snow I have seen since I was a little girl. I missed all the big snow accumulation last year since I was in Israel having the mildest winter of my life. It's fun to have so much snow again and have a decidedly white Christmas.

So that's the last week of my life. It was long, but finally exciting. It makes up for the rest of my semester when all I had to write about was how I slept, ate, went to class, went to work, and did homework. Stay tuned; maybe I'll write again before the end of the year!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

I can see the end from here!

CLASSES ARE DONE! But I'm not quite finished. Tomorrow and the next day are our study days, and finals run Monday through Friday of next week. I'll be done by Wednesday and I head home early on Thursday. This semester has passed by so fast! Probably because I was so busy. Time flies whether or not you are having fun.

Thanksgiving was fun. We didn't have school Wed-Fri, and I only had one class on Tuesday, so I skipped it and went home on Monday night. I only had one class on Monday too and I would have just missed that one as well, gone home even earlier and no harm done, but I had to turn in a big paper that day in class. I made pumpkin pies and a cheesecake for the big dinner that was at our house this year. Mom cooked a turkey in the oven and Scottie cooked one in the smoker. We had all the rest of the best fixin's too. Despite the fact that most of my cousins are married and live elsewhere now, we still had a good turnout for Thanksgiving.

I got sick the day after Thanksgiving. I think my body was just shutting down after being under so much stress all semester. I wasn't sick too long and I felt fine by the time I went home, but it was convenient that I was sick at home and not while I was at school.

While home I got to hang out with with my niece Kyla and new nephew Carson who was born right before I left for school. Kyla turned two the Saturday after Thanksgiving. She is so smart and so much fun. I'm basically her favorite. She'd follow me around and always wanted to see what I was doing.

Mom participated in her second community Messiah concert while we were home. It was a nice way to start the Christmas season. After the concert I stopped by and visited with my friends Chris and Debbie Copstead. I worked with the Copsteads when I served on the Coeur d'Alene Junior Miss committee my senior year of high school. I always try and visit whenever I'm home in Idaho. Their children had organized a surprise party that weekend to celebrate their parents' 30th wedding anniversary and I made it near the end. Debbie is one of my most faithful readers and I promised her that I'd update my blog soon. Sorry it took me so long, but here it is!

Sorry my recent blogs are so boring. My life isn't very exciting right now. Mostly work and school. I make time for something fun on the weekends usually. I'm excited that basketball season has started. The BYU mens team is undefeated so far this season and currently have the longest home winning streak in the country. I have never seen them lose at home, and I'm in my fourth year! This weekend will be fun. A favorite former roommate is getting married right after Christmas and I'm helping to throw a bridal shower for her on Saturday. We are also having our work Christmas party and then my church ward is having a catered dinner for our closing social that evening. Sundays are always the best part of my weekends. No homework, not stress, just a day of needed rest.

We are supposed to get real snow this weekend. Finally! We've only had a couple of flurries so far this season. It's hard to feel like it's really Christmas until it snows. I'm glad I get home a whole week before Christmas, I'll actually have time to work on presents this year!

I hope you are all safe and well. I'll see a lot of you soon!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Free Fallin'....

Time for the monthly report. I can't believe it is already November. That means Thanksgiving is coming soon! But that also means my 15 page midterm paper for my anthropological theory is coming due the day I leave. Eek! Gotta get it done.

One of the life decisions I've been trying to make is where to go and what to study for my field project for my major. We have to do a project where we go out and do real, empirical anthropological research on a topic of our choice. I'm on track to do it next summer and then the next school year is spent writing my thesis and finishing up all my remaining classes. I was presented with an opportunity to possibly go to India on this really awesome program that my advisor is currently trying to get approved, but it never felt right and didn't really fit into my academic plan well because it would take up my fall semester and it would just complicate my life all the more. So, I kept looking around for ideas and I told my mom to think of something for me. Last week she called and she and my dad found me a project! The plan is to go live with my grandma in Orderville, Utah, and study her community. Orderville was one of the places the United Order was practiced and was quite successful. I'm interested in studying how living the United Order way back when still affects the social dynamics of the community today. This project fits my timeline, is NOT oversees (which my parents appreciate), I can live with my grandma, she knows everybody, I'm related to half of them, and it just feels good. I thought my advisor would be disappointed about me not going to India, but it turns out that the United Order is one of his areas of research interest that he has had for a long time and he wants to collaborate. He's also teaching a class next semester on intentional communities in America and one of the units is on the Order! I'm going to take it in preparation for my project. Everything is working out just right.

BYU football won again yesterday against SDSU and our defense was back! It went missing the last month and a half. Maybe SDSU was just not very good, or we were doing something different, but either way we were looking a lot better comparitively and I hope the upward trend continues. We need all the help we can get against Utah this year. Basketball season opens this week and the first tipoff is Friday night. I missed basketball season last year because I was in Israel, so I'm very excited for it this year!

Halloween was fun. I was inspired by Michael Jackson's Thriller and dressed up as a zombie. I've never dressed up as anything scary before so it was really liberating. I brushed and ratted out my hair into a fro, had scary makeup, and had so much fun! I freaked a lot of people out. I'll put up some pictures. I also watched a scary movie that night and survived. I'm not a scary-movie watcher, but I sat next to a girl who had seen the movie before and she'd warn me of all the scariest parts so we could hide our faces. I got though it with flying colors.

The happiest parts of my fall are when I get to meet up with friends that I haven't seen in a long time. The Jerusalem and Nauvoo reunions continue all the time. Last night we had a big Nauvoo reunion that we've planned for a month. We probably had at least 40 or more students come over the course of the evening. Many brought husbands or significant others. Some kids came down from Idaho, Logan, and Salt Lake City, and even Arizona. It was so fun because all the boys but one are home from their missions so I saw many of them for the first time in almost three years. One kid got home the night before the reunion! My semester in Nauvoo was such a formitive part of my life. Whenever I see people connected with the experience it's like seeing long lost relatives again, and it makes me happy faster than almost anything can.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

I'm still here

So, uh... how is everybody? I'm still alive, in case you were wondering. I've been so busy that I have not had the luxury of blogging. But this weekend is General Conference and I have no other obligations today.

Nothing much to report on for the last month. I've just been working and school-working all the time. I got a job at the Museum of People and Cultures here at BYU as a collections aid. Right now I am working on doing inventory for lots of collections that we have in storage. Really exciting, I know. But it's only a block away from my apartment, and I get to set my own hours.

My classes aren't hard, but they are time consuming. This semester is hardest I've ever had as far as time management. I have just enough time between class and work to get my homework done for the next day, but I have bigger projects coming up that I need to make time to work on and it is really hard to do it all.

I try to make time for some fun every so often. I always watch the football games and I'm on my ward's Ultimate Frisbee intramural team. My ward has had several activities and I've made lots of friends. I was able to attend the Relief Society General Broadcast last weekend and saw some friends from home there. Earlier this weekend I drove down to Saint George, UT, with a friend to support some Jerusalem friends who ran in the St. George Marathon yesterday. We stayed with my Aunt in Toquerville then went into town to watch everyone finish. All our runners did well despite the rain that came down virtually the whole race. My cousin Tom Gatten was also in the race and I saw him too. After the race we watched the afternoon session of conference before heading to the new In-N-Out Burger in Washington, UT. For three of us it was our first experience and I must say it was a good one! After that we all headed back north. It was nice to get out of town, if only for a day!

I added a new picture album of recent doings including the birth of Carson, reunions, India Fest, and other activities I've been up to. Enjoy.

Monday, September 1, 2008


The last two weeks of August were super busy. I worked extra hours at my job, visited some old friends, and then the fair started. When I wasn't at work I was at the elephant ear booth working, so there were some looooong days. The next Monday my sister Sarah had her baby. His name is Carson and he was 6 lbs 7 oz and 18.25 in long. I was having my last day of work and training a new girl when Sarah left me a message that she was in real labor. Mom and I headed over to the Valley Hospital as soon as I got home from work and the little guy came only 2 hours later. I got to be there for the whole thing. Sarah had an epidural and felt nothing. She went from a 5 to a 10 in 10 minutes and got him out in about 3 pushes. No sweat, literally. Mom made sure to tell me MOST deliveries don't go that smoothly. He's really cute and looks just like his big sister.

I was very happy the baby came on his own on Monday instead of Wednesday because then I was able to leave on schedule for Utah on Wednesday. I packed all day Tuesday and Wednesday morning and then Grandma Blackburn and I headed out Wed at lunchtime. We went as far as Uncle Gary's in Rigby, ID, then continued the rest of the way on Thursday to Mapleton, UT, and Uncle Don's house. They let me stay a couple nights because I still had nowhere to live. A while ago I did but the landlord sold my contract before I had the chance to sign it. Friday I kept checking and finally snatched up a spot close to campus. The downside is I can't live with my friend Diane like we had originally planned. Another stressor was we found out our dog Annie had cancer. We had her home another week before she could no long eat or function so we had her put down the day I left for school

Friday night was our big Jerusalem Reunion. The "first couple" of Jerusalem, Kristi and Davey, was married and at least 50 of the 78 students made it to the reception. All the teachers came too and it was a great party. After the stress of homelessness and doglessness and new babies it was great to just have fun with my friends. Saturday morning I had another small reunion, this time with Nauvoo friends. Seven of us went out to breakfast and it was so much fun too! Four of the group have just got home from missions so I hadn't seen them in 2 years or more. I'm very excited to see many more who have returned home from their missions and will be around campus again. Seeing Jerusalem friends is like meeting up with best friends. Seeing Nauvoo friends is like meeting up with family. Saturday afternoon we had another smaller Jru reunion. Some kids organized a bbq before the game.

Saturday was the first BYU Football game! We played Northern Iowa. We didn't play too well, but still won easily. They'd better step it up for the ULCA game coming up soon. No more fumbles. After the game I finally got some groceries, then I went to the weekend swing dance with the swing club. I haven't danced any swing in 8 months, so it was fun to see all my dancing friends and cut a rug for a while. I'm a little rusty, but it's like riding a bike-- you really don't forget.

My reunions continued on Sunday. I left church a little early so I could ride with Uncle Don and Aunt D'Anne to take Grandma down to Aurora, UT, and Uncle Brett's house. We had a family dinner and Uncle Scott and his family came too. Neither Brett or Scott came to the family reunion this summer, so it was fun to see them. I love reunions. Nothing can raise my spirits as fast as seeing someone I love!

This is enough for one sitting. I'm hungry, my battery is dying, and I need to buy books. I'll update you when there is something new to tell.

Sunday, August 17, 2008


So much for bragging rights. I got a sunburn the next day. I finally had my big garage sale and the temps got up to the high 90's. I stayed in the shade most of the day, but obviously not long enough. I got it bad on my forehead and neck. It was pretty tender, but now it's feeling better already. But my forehead is peeling. Gross. The garage sale went fine. I practically gave a lot of stuff away. Gosh, people can be such garage sale snobs. I tell them something nice, like a stuffed animal or a new pair of shoes is $1 and they complain and ask for 50 cents. I always said "sure" because the point is to get rid of stuff, but it surprised me how cheap people are, even at yard sales. You really get to see all kinds of personalities though. There are the people that don't even get out of the car: they just drive in, crane their necks out the window to scan the merchandise, then pull out again. Then there are the nice ones that get out and walk around forever, then leave with a nod and a thanks. Then there are the greedy ones that aren't satisfied and ask if we have more in the shop in back, and when they do find something they want they ask to get it at at least half of the already ridiculously low price we gave it. Then there are the ideal customers that come, find something they like, ask the price, give a reasonable counter offer, pay and then leave with a smile.

Today is my mom's birthday. The kids at church guessed she turned 24. She didn't correct them. If she's 24, that means I'm still an egg. Happy birthday Mom.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Two for One

Written August 7 while our internet was being dumb:

Hey people. Hope the last... month was fun. I've just been keeping busy working and living life. Grandma Blackburn came up a couple of weeks ago to visit and stay through our family reunion. She's still hanging out here. Last week we had our biannual Blackburn reunion up here in North Idaho. Usually it's in Utah, so it was fun to have the cousins all come up here. We went up to the St. Joe wilderness where our family camps for Memorial and Labor Day. The weather was great and everyone had a lot of fun. We took one day to drive over to the Clark Fork River for a day of rafting. The water was pretty low so we only did one loooong run down the river. But the day was beautiful and a good time was had by all.

I head back to school in a couple weeks. I have some Jerusalem friends getting married in Utah on the 29th and so we are all planning on making it a reunion. I just hope my sister has her baby by then so I don't feel guilty for missing out on it. I've actually had a lot of Jru friends get married this summer. Some got engaged before our semester, some got engaged to their significant others right after getting home, and then a few couples within the student body are marrying each other! Three couples to be specific, despite the rules on no dating during the semester. Two of the couples did fraternize a bit throughout the semester, but one of the couples didn't date till they got home. They got 'er done pretty quickly and they get married tomorrow, the first of the intra-Jru couples. The other two couples both get married on the 29th. I've heard that they have changed the rules since our semester. Spring term the rule was "light dating". By summer term it was simply "no PDA". I guess they figured that if the kids weren't going to keep the rule, it was easier to change the rule than change the behavior!

Health update:
I think this summer is the winner for most random and frequent ailments ever. To add to my list, I broke out in a mysterious rash during the reunion that still hasn't cleared up and I had migraine for two days this week. With all the pain meds and antibiotics I've taken this summer, you'd think I'd be sterile and numb by now.

August 13:

Today was my nephew Rusty's birthday. He's 4 years old. Luke and his boys are still here but leave tomorrow to start the drive home to Denver. Rusty got plenty of superhero paraphernalia and had a little pool party with some cousins at Aunt Jean's pool earlier. I had to work this evening so I missed cake, but I made sure somebody saved me some! I always remember Rusty's birthday because he was born on Friday the 13. Makes it convenient.

Finally got to watch some Olympics for the first time this games tonight! I saw a little of the men's all around for gymnastics and some swimming. I also caught part of a table tennis match. Dang, they sure get serious in that sport! It was pretty intense. I've been working in the evenings and when I'm home I forget about the Olympics. Our house has been topsy-turvey though because we had to clear out the old kitchen so they could gut it. The remodeling on it began yesterday and lots of progress has already been made. Actually, I don't think the cable has been set up for a few days, so I couldn't have watched anything anyway. The old kitchen will be a new laundry room and a nice front room. It's amazing how much faster it goes when they don't have to start from scratch.

The fair starts next week already. Feels like we just closed up that booth! Monday we opened it up and got it cleaned out and set up. Elephant Ear time is fun because I get to see a lot of family and friends I don't see often, and I get all the ears I want! But the fair will forever always be a little scarring for me too. I was working at the fair when I found out my brother Scott had cancer two years ago. Needless to say that fair week was not fun.

Health update:
Ready for this? Nosebleeds. Yup, bleeds. I've had 5 or 6 in the last week. And some of mine don't just bleed, they gush. Today was the first day since Saturday I haven't had any bleeding from my nose, I think. I've got a good story about one episode I'll tell later. I've lost so much blood that I can't stand up too fast or even sit up too fast or I black out. Oh, and headaches still. I had another bad one this week plus one not-as-bad-but-still-not-fun yesterday. You can make stuff like this up, but who'd want to?

On the bright side, I have no sprained joints like the ones that plagued me last summer. I've had no sunburns, and my skin is actually quite blemish-free for once. I can still dance, run, walk, talk, eat, and work just fine so life is still good.

Monday, July 14, 2008

The rest of the story...

I'm pretty much recovered now. After that last post my throat took a turn for worse and by my doctor's appointment I couldn't talk it hurt so bad. No complications, just lots of pain. But then it just got better from there. I didn't end up going back to work that week after all. I couldn't talk well still and was trying to wean myself off my painkillers. The great ladies at work covered for me and I went camping with the fam in Montana for the holiday weekend. Sitting around doing nothing among family and friends was better than sitting around doing nothing alone at home. I didn't get to do much but it was nice to relax and recover. Everyone else had fun going rafting on the Clark Fork River with the high water we've had all spring and now into summer.

I went back to work last Monday and it's nice to have something to get up and do. As much as I liked sleeping in every day during my recovery, I don't like it when I can't be productive with the rest of my day. Life is basically back to normal. I'm able to do physical activity again; I ate some chips this week and had some orange juice, all things I craved because I couldn't do them as I healed. The only time I have twinges of pain still is when I yawn or sneeze because the new tissue in my throat is still sensitive to those motions, but even those get easier every day.
Thank you for all of your caring inquiries into my health and recovery. And for those with less tact who seemed offended that I hadn't had my tonsils removed earlier like they had, my answer is simple: Nobody had told me to do it earlier. This summer was the first time it was suggested, so I got it done.

For all those that actually read this and are interested, I'm planning on having a small garage sale this weekend, a precursor to a later one. This one will be mostly clothes and shoes- lots of my own stuff I never wear anymore and also lots of little boy stuff. I've been cleaning all the little boy stuff out of Scott's room this summer. Later once we move into the new part of the house, I'll have another sale to sell the bigger items and miscellany as we purge our old things. The sale will be on the corner of Hanley and 4th street, at my grandparents' home, since our place is still a construction zone. See you there. Maybe.

Sunday, June 29, 2008


Wow, I've already posted 40 times. That's a lot. The tonsils are gone. It all went smoothly or so I was told because I only remember half of the morning. I have had no bleeding at all and my pain has been manageable. I had lots of people tell me how bad it would be since I'm "old" but I am happy to report they have been mostly wrong. I had it done Wednesday and today is Sunday and the first day I have felt really kind of sick. The first few days are usually fine, but as the nerves in the throat grow back it gets more painful and the pain reaches up to the ears; I am at that stage. I think it's giving me a little fever; I'm nauseous and a little dizzy. I'm taking liquid Lortab for pain and it takes the edge off so I can swallow ok, but I think that is what is making me feel woozy now even though it didn't earlier. It's painful to talk today too when it wasn't before. I go back to the doctor on Tuesday for my follow-up and will go back to work on Thursday. The family all left me this weekend to fend for myself. Danny went to a wedding out of town and the rest went on a spur-of-the-moment fishing/camping trip to the Big Hole in Montana. I hung out at Grandpa's on Friday and stayed by myself at home the rest of the time. Luckily I felt good during that time and wasn't sick till today. Everyone is back home tonight. It has turned blasted hot this weekend. I'm sure glad I live in the basement where it stays cool. I just feel bad that the upstairs was so hot when everyone came home!

Friday, June 20, 2008

Much ado about nothing

I have been instructed to write a new post, because apparently y'all are tired of reading my old postings. The reason I haven't written is because life hasn't been unusual or interesting. Nothing has changed except maybe the fact that my work schedule is finally becoming more consistent, and that isn't very cool to read about. Um.... I cleaned my room? Sorry, I don't have much else to go on right now. Our house is looking like a house again. The new part is being painted now. Then all that is left is counter tops, fixtures, flooring, and siding. The weather finally turned warm this week so we aren't living in a refrigerator any more. It would get pretty cold since the weather was 20 degrees below average and the add-on had open window and door holes. Oh, I get my tonsils out next Wednesday. I'll take a week off of work after that to recoup, then it's back to the grindstone! Actually, work isn't bad at all. Business has been slower than normal because of the cold and rain, but since it has warmed up and things are happening downtown, it has picked up a lot. I don't live with my camera around my neck anymore, so I don't have any new pictures up, sorry. So there you have it, a whole paragraph for me to say that nothing is really going on that you didn't already know about. Sorry to bore you, but I didn't make you read this.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Work work work

I finally start working full time all the time this week. I'll be working at the boutique and at Marmalade, another store by the same owner downtown. It'll be nice to be able to keep busy and be making money at the same time. I won't be working the other part time job anymore because it had to unexpectedly close. With the prices of food and fuel going up the place just isn't making money so they closed their doors Friday. I'm not too sad though. I'll be getting at least 30 hours a week working the stores, so I just have to come up with something to cover the other 10 hours. I'm thinking of cleaning houses like I did at school last fall. It's not something I'd like to do full time, but 10 hours a week is just right! If any of you know somebody who needs a pt housekeeper a couple times a week for the summer shoot me an email, comment here on the blog, or give them some way of contacting me. I'd really appreciate it!

Since I've been home I'll see people and they tell me how they have loved reading my blog and/or looking at my pictures and it always surprises me! I have no idea who reads this beyond a few friends a family members, but apparently I have a lot wider audience than I thought. I'm glad I have people that care about what I'm doing enough to get on here and keep updated, even if my life "isn't as exciting" as it was! I'm working on it.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Weekend Adventures

It's official, I'm going under the knife. I'm finally getting my tonsils out at the end of June. Thankfully, when the swelling went down on my nose it wasn't crooked after all so I don't have to get anything done to it. I'm lucky to be working at businesses that are so accommodating. A couple days after calling in sick for my first day I called back and asked for a week off for my tonsils and they have been really nice about it. If it was my business I'd probably fire me and hire someone else less injury-prone!

I did finally get to work down at the boutique. It's a really cute shop and it's fun to help the people that come in. People from all over the country come to stay at the resort and I never really realized that personally. The holiday weekend was kind of a downer for the people downtown though because the lake was so flooded that the whole lake was a "no wake" zone.

For Memorial Weekend my family always goes camping up at the St. Joe River, just south and east of Coeur d'Alene. I had to work Saturday, so I went up that evening after work with my sister Sarah and her little family. Lots of extended family and friends come up too. The weather was great most of the weekend. Sunday evening we always have a big potluck dinner with Dutch oven cooked food and other yummy stuff. We also go rafting because that is the only time of year the river is high enough to raft. With all the recent snow melt it was running nice and high... and COLD. I rafted yesterday and it was quite a adventure. I went on two runs and on the second run on the last big rapid our raft tipped and dumped everyone but one person out. I fell out and had someone else fall on top of me, landing on my face so my nose is bruised and a little swollen again. I got swept away fast, so I was in the river the longest as every one else got dragged back into the boat and then tried to get the tow rope close enough to me to drag be in. It was a scary minute or so! The water is so cold it's really hard to breath. I was also floating through rolling water and getting hit in the face with more water. One can get hypothermia fast. I had a lot of layers so my body didn't get too cold, but my arms and legs went numb fast. By the time they dragged me aboard I couldn't move them. I was ok though and that being the last rapid we were done in another 5 min and I was able to jump in a warm car. I was tempted to go on the afternoon runs, but I was too fatigued from the morning's adventure! I still love rafting. Falling out on the St. Joe in May is about the worst case scenario, so if I can survive that, I can survive anything!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Here comes the sun!

Who loves the sun? Sadie loves the sun! This is the weather I was prepared to come back to. For a while it was like I was back in a Jerusalem January and missed the summer-- all cold and rainy-- but now I know summer is coming. I hope it doesn't take too much longer... I'm losing my tan fast.... You think I'm kidding. I'm not. I really had a "tan". Of sorts. Just ask my mom, I was darker than Sarah for the first time in my life!

Life keeps coming at me. I did get another PT job, but I haven't started yet because I got sick Friday, the day I was supposed to start training. I also had to call in sick before my first full shift at the boutique. I felt really bad for whoever had to cover for me! But I think I'm healthy now. My nose is doing fine also; I'm glad it wasn't injured as badly as it could have. It's been bruised, but you can only tell if you are looking for it and that is almost gone now too. It's not really crooked either. It may be slightly lopsided which you can see as you look from the bottom up, but I hope nobody looks from that angle! I go to the doc tomorrow about my tonsils (if I need them out), and I'll have him take a look at my nose too, but I think it will be just fine.

I finally dug into this mess I called my room this weekend. We packed up the living room in preparation for knocking down the back wall, so I got one of the old bookshelves. It helps to finally have somewhere to put all my books (I have a lot). I finally contained the things I store for school in one corner and I can easily access my closet and see myself from head to toe in my mirror. That hasn't happened in a while! Lastly I finally changed my bedding into something less masculine. My room now used to be Benji's room, so I adopted my mom's old bedspread so that it finally looks like a girl lives here.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

The Good, the Bad, and the Broken

So this second week home was a little more exciting than the first! I did get a PT job at Marie's Boutique downtown in the resort and I'll start working next weekend after training. I'm going to keep looking for another part time job so I can be working full time.

Our add-on is starting to look like a real building. The framing is done and the roof has been started. Turns out the old roof on the house was in bad shape, so this week all the shingles were stripped off and we'll get a new roof over everything. We've had pounding overhead all week and it sounds like the workers are going to bust through! Mom keeps pictures of the project updated on her blog, so you can look at them by following her link on the left.

This week I also came down with tonsillitis. I don't know if I've ever had it before, at least not this bad: it was pretty painful. It's usually strep throat I get, but not this time. I've always had sore throats growing up so the doctor suggested I just get my tonsils out this summer. I'm going to go in and get checked by the ear, nose, and throat guy to see what he thinks. I've never had surgery other than getting my wisdom teeth out, so it's kinda scary to consider! I've never been put out under anesthesia either.

Lastly I think I broke my nose today. Doesn't quite look like it did before. I was down at Dad's office helping with an emergency tooth extraction. As I was cleaning up, I stepped halfway into the lab to quickly set something in there. While I was pulling my head back out and turning my head, I creamed my nose on the door jamb. We have a family history of broken noses. I think I'm the 4th kid to break it, and my mom and all her siblings have broken their noses too. It's not too swollen, but it is still kinda painful and not as straight as it once was so I've been icing it. Good thing I already have an appointment with our nose doctor!

Happy Mother's Day tomorrow for all of you moms, almost moms, and those who act as moms!

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Get in on the Ultimate Steal!

Hey if any of you readers are enrolled as students at a college or university and have an active school email ending in .edu than you can get in on this deal. Microsoft is promoting all their new software put out in 2007 and they are selling it to students for 1/10 of the normal price. You get $600 worth of software for $60. Thats the average price for just one program. Click on the "Ultimate Steal" link to learn more and purchase it.

This is a real deal. I bought it while I was in Jerusalem this last semester and I was referred to it by the Costco free concierge service guy that helps me with my computer when I struggle. You get all the programs in the Microsoft Ultimate Office package. I got mainly because I needed OneNote (which I use to take all my class notes all semester-fabulous program!), Word, and PowerPoint and even so that's a deal just for those programs. If any of you have students that need this (or if YOU need it and want to exploit your student and let them buy it for you) let them know about it quickly because the offer ends in 6 days! If you have any questions just ask me and I can help.

For any BYU students, I had a problem at first because I thought my school email ended in, but it actually ends in The .net address is just an alias that is delivered to the real address. Use the .edu or it won't work.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

New Face

As you may have noticed, I changed things up a bit on here. I didn't realize it at first but when I set up this blog, the color scheme actually matched the Holy Land-scape unintentionally. Since I am no longer there, I thought it appropriate to change it to reflect where I am now- Idaho! K, I'm done being deep.

I'm still looking for work. I had an interview this week and I was hoping to find out if I got the job by today but no luck. It's been kind of nice to relax and hang out all week, but I'm getting lazy and I need an occupation. I have been unpacking and cleaning up my room. It's kind of a disaster, but I'm making progress and going through and getting rid of stuff. I'll have a yard sale later when I get it all gathered. If I'm not going to use the stuff anymore I may as well make a buck on it. If any of you want to donate to my cause, feel free!

Sorry, I didn't know how to make any of this sound exciting this time. It's inherently boring material, not much to work with. Hopefully I'll have cooler news next time.

ps. I've reached over 1000 hits since I began my blog. Thank you to all you faithful readers, all five of you.... Ha! And I added a new album of pictures of the JC itself so you could see more of what the building looked like that I spent so much time in.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Back at the ranch

Hm, not sure how many people will keep reading this now I'm back at home in the states. The flight was long but I think I'm about over jet lag. I ended up with a 8 hour layover in Chicago because my flight was delayed and hour because of weather. My friend Ashley was there with me because her flight left late too, but hers ended up getting canceled and she had to sleep in the airport! Bummer. I don't feel like I'm had to do much adjusting; I think I was ready to come home.

I didn't name this blog after Jerusalem on purpose because I intend to keep it updated with what is going on in my life. I was informed yesterday that now that I'm not in Jerusalem my blog won't be interesting, but I'll try my hardest to make it worth reading! The day after I got home I had some real pizza, and I had my Mexican food the next afternoon so that was exciting. Ok, maybe not but I was pretty happy about it. It takes me a while to get dressed in the mornings because I have so many options. I love it. One weird thing about being home is I get to experience spring all over again. Let's pray for summer to come fast! My parents are adding on/remodeling our house so I came home to a hole in the back yard and a huge pile of dirt. The walls and floor of the new basement are in. Soon they'll move to the upper story.

Right now I am summer job hunting, so if you have any ideas or connections, let me know! Hopefully I'll have good luck since I get out for the summer sooner than most universities. Mom started her own family blog so she doesn't have to put lots of family stuff on my brother's Scott's medical update site. She's got pictures up of spring break to Mexico and the house remodel. Check it out via the link on the left. Hope all is well with you and yours and hopefully I'll see some of you around now that I'm home!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

And thus ends life as I know it... again...

It's our last night in Jerusalem. Nobody is going to bed. There is still a lot to be done: packing, picture sharing, etc. Half of us head to the airport at 3am, so... no point in trying to get any sleep. It was a good week. Monday and Tuesday we went to all the places Jesus did the last week of his life culminating at the Garden Tomb where we finished touring the last site of our last field trip of the semester.

Today was a free day to spend as we liked. I went all around the Old City with friends, saying goodbye to all our favorite vendors. I met a few I had never met before and I wished I would have! I'll just have to come back someday to see them again. One guy owns a photography shop. He used to be the photographer for the late King Abdullah II, the king of Jordan. He's probably the kindest man I have ever met in my life. I'm sad I didn't know him all along. I said goodbye to Shabban, Omar, Jimmy, Baghdadi, Aladdin, the falafel guys at Damascus Gate, my 15 shekel shirt man, and all the other shopkeepers that know and love the Mormons and expressed their sadness at our departure as we passed them by. I finished my day coming up the valley via the Orson Hyde Park. We ate our last dinner in the Oasis and then watched our end-of-semester DVD. We had a last devotional out on the lawn all together overlooking the city. We all got tours of the underneath side of the center where all the workings are. I think we were the first group to not sneak down there. Now we are finishing up all our last things. I need to get all my things together, weigh my bags, and get ready to get on the bus at 3. I don't want to spend my last three hours on a computer.

So long Israel, so long Palestine. Life as I know it ends once again.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Coming down the homestretch...

Classes and finals are done! I am getting excited to come home. I know I'll miss all my friends here a lot, but I'm ready to come back. I'm worn out! We've had several field trips this last week. We did a tour of some archaeological sites that date back to the first century AD and we toured a lot of the old Christian churches. We had one ancient near east final last Thursday, and we had out New Testament final this morning. I think I did well on both, so that is satisfying.

The next two days we walk the places Jesus during the last week of his life. Should be really cool and a fitting end to our semester. Wednesday will be our last full free day and then we fly out early on Thursday. Coming up quickly! It has been a good semester and I am satisfied.

Today I walked around the Old City and finished my shopping. The Old City is my favorite part of Jerusalem and I'll miss walking around, seeing all the vendors, visiting our favorite shop keepers and haggling for cool stuff. It has been so warm and every day is beautiful. The rainy season is most definitely over and it's sunshine all the time. I checked the weather at home today. 32 degrees, feels like 24. BRRRR!!! Here I am ready for summer and I'm going to have to go through spring all over again! So much for my base tan..... ha!

I added a new picture album-- Jerusalem: the Part.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Singing and Sneezing

The choir concert went great. Since it was in the Anglican Church there were a lot of British people and it was fun to meet them. It was a big deal that we sang there because the Mormons have a historic clash with the Anglicans, namely the Anglicans hate the Mormons' guts. Often the faculty have their children here in Israel with them and have always sent them to the Anglican Church and it can be rough on the kids. The center has tried to create good relations and once invited the Anglicans to give a concert here and they refused to step foot here because they don't consider Mormons Christians. SO.... it was a really big deal that they invited us to perform in their cathedral. It was a big step in a good direction and we had a really great experience. The bishop and the bishop's assistant were very welcoming and loved our singing.

Just my luck, the sniffles are being passed around and I think I got it. Or it could be allergies. Or both. Whatever it is, I have a leaky nose, the sneezies and a congested head. This happened last year right before finals too. It is making an already stressful week more inconvenient.

We have a final on Thursday and another on Sunday. I've finally cracked down today, got myself a study buddy, and got some hard core studying done. My previous efforts had been embarrassingly weak, but we got a lot of work done today. We had another field trip today into the old city to the big, old Christian churches. I'd post pictures, except in my haste this morning I forgot my camera on the bed. I also forgot my sunglasses. Kind of a sad morning. But! I did finally get to go up in the tower at the Church of the Redeemer after 3 previously failed attempts (but without my camera... ouch!), and I had lunch at the best falafel and humus place ever. Literally a hole in the wall, or basement rather, in East Jerusalem.

8 more days! Eek!

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Coming down the homestretch....

My time is growing short over here. We have one final on Thursday, the other next Sunday, and then school is finished! I come home on the 24, so in 11 days. Actually, I leave in 11 days, I'll be home in 12! It takes a whole day to get from here to there. It's time for all the lasts. Last shopping, site seeing, etc. I've got much of my souvenir shopping finished for family and friends, and I only have one last site to see that I really want to see before I'm done.

Today we had a field trip of the archaeological park by the Temple Mount. We saw lots of things from the 1st century, it was pretty cool. It was pretty warm out today. I'll be coming home with lots of freckles and a real watch and sandal tan. I'm sure glad we leave before it gets REALLY hot. That would be unbearable I think.

Tonight is our choir concert over at St. George's Cathedral; should be good. We had our dress rehearsal last night. Our conductor and his wife, the Gailbraiths, go home on Tuesday, their time here is up too. They are one of the service couples that just stay at the center for a year or so. They have been in charge of Sunday concerts at the center and the student choir. Their replacements are the Squires who have recently arrived. Brother Gailbraith has been a saint dealing with us students! We are a pretty "interactive" group in the words of Bro Huntington, aka loud and distracted. Since Bro Gailbraith is a musical genius and either wrote or arranged nearly all the music, we can record the performance without violating any copyrights, so when I get a copy I'll see if I can post those up for y'all to listen.

ps. My pictures are updated through the Dead Sea FT. Look for those under the "Second Half of the Middle" album.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Life Since Galilee

Now it's time to catch up with what has happened since Galilee! The day after we got home was a free day, so I went out into the city. I went with a couple of friends to the citadel, which is often called David's Tower, but it wasn't actually build by King David. After that we walked over to West Jerusalem, had an amazing bagel sandwich from Holy Bagel on Jaffa Street, and did some shopping at one of our favorite stores. The next day I got to go help with a painting project. One of the teachers here has his wife and two of his children here with him. The son is working on his Eagle Scout project (and he is only 13!) and for it he is doing a mural in the hall of a nearby school. We all got to go contribute. We had a lot of fun painting the walls and each other. On Shabbat I paid another visit with some friends to the Garden Tomb. The weather is a lot warmer so there were a lot more visitors than when I went that very first week I was here. I also went to the Russian Church of the Ascension convent which has a tower that overlooks the city. It is being worked on so we couldn't go up in it.

We have 6 field trips spead out over our last two weeks here. We have already been on three this week! The first one was Sunday to Neot Kedumim, a land preserve dedicated to preserving the land as it would have looked during the time of the Bible. We learned about lots of the plants mentioned in the Bible and gave a lot more meaning in reading those scriptures now! It was a really cool field trip, cooler than everyone expected it to be. We got to herd sheep and goats, make our own zata (a popular spice mix here) and pita too.

The next day was a class day with a free afternoon. I made it a shopping day to get lasts things. I got my nativity set, t-shirts for friends and myself, and other gifts. I think I'll need one more day to get everything I want. Tuesday we had a field trip to Tel Aviv and Jaffa. We learned about ancient history in Jaffa and modern history in Tel Aviv. Jaffa is the port town where the apostle Peter had the vision to take the gospel to the Gentiles. Tel Aviv was the first Hebrew city, established by Jews migrating to the Holy Land in the early 1900s. Yesterday was another class day, but we got confined to the center for the afternoon so I spent it taking a nap and doing homework. Really exciting.

Today was super cool!!! We went to Masada, floated in the Dead Sea, hiked to a waterfall at Ein Gedi, and went to Qumran. It was a really fun day. The Dead Sea was so cool! You just float. No swimming involved. You float so high in the water that people look like they are standing in the water. You can recline and prop your feet up. You can float on your tummy and lift your hands and feet out of the water and still float. Trying doing that in fresh water-- doesn't work! We found a mud pit and slathered Dead Sea mud all over our bodies. It's supposed to be really good for the skin. People pay like $25 an ounce for it. We did it for free! It was a really fun day. Picture from this week were added to the "Second Half of the Middle", album so check 'em out. Only two more weeks before I'm home!

Monday, April 7, 2008


Where to begin? Galilee is AMAZING. If you ever get the opportunity to come to Israel, a few days in Galilee is a must. A few weeks, even better. I spent 11 days and we all wish we could have stayed the whole semester!

We left on Easter Sunday. We were able to attend the sunrise service at the Garden Tomb. It was very evangelical, so it was a lot of fun! We are all still singing "Happy Day". Then we departed to head up north. We stopped first at Megiddo and toured the tel. I saw the famous stables of Solomon and learned that they probably weren't stables after all. The tell overlooks the Jezreel Valley aka the valley of Armageddon. Next we stopped for lunch in Afula which is famous for its falafel. There is one falafel stand where the guy does tricks and throws the falafel balls up in the air and catches them in the pita; it was really cool! Our last stop of the day was Sepphoris, Herod's Pearl of the Galilee. It's near Nazareth, so it is possible that is where Joseph, step-father of Jesus, may have been employed since the city hired lots of artisans as it was being built up. The area around Sepphoris was so beautiful that it reminded me a lot of home and even made me a little homesick. That doesn't happen much-- that tells you how beautiful it really was! We finally arrived at Ein Gev, the place we were staying. We stayed in little bungalows near the Sea of Galilee.

Day 2 was a field trip day for my class. We are divided between the two religion classes. We only kept one bus all week, so the two classes would alternate. When one class was on a field trip with the bus, the other would have a class day. We started off with a boat ride across the lake. It was a beautiful and clear day, something we learned was rare because there is often a haze over the lake. On the other side there is a museum with a fishing boat that was found that dates back to around the time period of Jesus, so it is often called the "Jesus boat". It was found about 13 years ago in the mud around the lake during a drought. Next we made our way to the Mount of Beatitudes were there is a beautiful Italian church that was built by Mussolini actually. His people accused him of not being a good Catholic so he built this church. We had our lecture about the Sermon on the Mount up there. After lunch we toured the Byzantine basilica-style chapel at Tabga which commemorates Jesus feeding of the 5000 with 2 fishes and 5 loaves, then walked over to the Crusader chapel commemorating St. Peter's Primacy, when Jesus told Peter to "feed my sheep". Our last stop was at Capernaum where Jesus based much of his ministry from. Archaeologists are confident that they have actually identified Peter's home because of the many other chapels built over it over time. There is a Franciscan church suspended over it now, but you can see beneath to the ruins.

Day 3 was a class day for us, so we had 3 hours of New Testament class in the morning outside on the lawn overlooking the water underneath the blooming trees. Spring is here in the Holy Land. Roses are already blooming too. Summer isn't here yet though, which means swimming season is not yet, so we weren't allowed to go in the water. Our director begged for us and arranged for each class to get one day of swimming though. This was our day and we got 4 hours to spend in the water. It was great! The temperature was like Hayden Lake in August= perfect! We had lots of fun playing in the sand too, as you can see from pictures!

The next day we had a field trip to Gamla. This is the place where Josephus, the Jewish historian, had command during the first Jewish revolt in the first century. The Jews ended up committing suicide by jumping off the cliffs rather than being brutalized as Roman slaves, so that is what it is known for. You can still see where the wall was breached by Roman battering rams. We climbed up to the very top of the hill. We had not been sufficiently informed about the nature of the field trip that day and many girls wore skirts because of the heat. Bad idea! It was really windy and we had a time trying to not flash everybody! I ended up just tying my skirt around my legs, or as I called it "girding my loins". It was really fun still and really beautiful. If you have seen the new Pride and Prejudice movie it looks like the area of the peaks in the movie. After Gamla we went to Qazrin, a village where the people had lived Talmudically during the period of time when the Talmud was being written, sort of an experimental village where they would see what things worked and what didn't. That night our class got to go to the fish restaurant and eat some St. Peter's fish, an indigenous species that has always lived in the Sea of Galilee. It was pretty yummy. After that we went to Tiberias for ice cream.

Day 5 was another class day. That afternoon many of us went on an optional hike up in the Golan. We hiked among the hills and up to a waterfall. We got to swim in the pool at the base and it was FREEZING. Think Lake Pend Orielle in the spring. When our bus brought us home, our driver favored us with a sample of the Muslim prayer call. Apparently Ata, our driver, is a local celebrity of sorts. He does the prayer call for the mosque next to the Dome of the Rock every weekend and is broadcast to Jordan too. He just spontaneously did part of a prayer call for us on the bus and it was really cool. He is the nicest man and definitely the nicest bus driver we've ever had.

The next day was another field trip day. We first went to Beth She'an. This city was Hellenized so there are a lot of Roman ruins. This is the city where King Saul's body was hung on the gate (after he died in battle nearby) before the Israelites sneaked and took it down to bury it. We climbed all over the ruins. Next we went to the area of the Seven Springs. It's a national part now, but it has been people have been going bathing there for centuries. There are these 7 natural thermal springs that bubble up in one area. The water was clear and beautiful and warm, like a pool in August. There were lots of fish in the water and there was this one that kept biting everybody. It even drew blood a couple times! We went to Bet Alfa to see a cool mosaic floor that has been well preserved, then to Nain to the little chapel that commemorates the miracle of Jesus raising the widow's son from death. We ended the day with a taxi ride up the 17 switchbacks of Mount Tabor, one of the mountains that the Transfiguration may have taken place. Up on top we met Truman G. Madsen, a well known historian.

Saturday was Shabbat and we went to church at the little church building in Tiberias. It is the only chapel for our church in Israel. It used to be a house that was converted into a meeting house; It is beautiful and overlooks the Sea of Galilee. Church was the only thing scheduled, so we got the rest of the day to ourselves. I spent it reading and writing in my journal on the lawn looking out over the lake. Life is tough.

We had class the morning of the eighth day, so in the afternoon lots of us climbed up to Hippos. It was a Hellenized pagan city on a nearby hill. It is speculated that this was the town Jesus was referencing in talking about "a city on a hill cannot be hid". It was a fun adventure. One kid had been up there earlier in the week and accidentally dropped his camera down a hole into a cistern or something like it. This time he brought rope and the boys were able to lower him down into the hole to retrieve the camera. He got it back and it still works too! From the top of Hippos you can overlook the whole lake.

Day nine was a little rainy. We first went to Hazor which is the biggest archaeological site in Israel. Then we went to Tel Dan, which is now a preserve and so has lots of beautiful greenery everywhere. After this we went to Caesarea Philipi and then to our final stop of the day: Nimrod's Castle. It's actually a crusader castle that was then taken over by Muslim conquerors. But it's a real castle! It was a lot of fun to crawl all over it.

Monday we were to go to the world famous Bahai Gardens at the headquarters of the Bahai faith in Haifa because they rescheduled our tour from Monday, but we were still in Ein Gev in Galilee and couldn't make it to Haifa in time for the tour so we missed it. We were all really sad. Instead we went the place that commemorates the miracle of the swine, and Chorazim before heading to Nazareth. In Nazareth we went to the Church of the Annunciation and then had some free time to walk around the city. We also went to Acco and toured the Crusader citadel and the al-Jazaar Mosque. My camera batteries died in Acco, so I didn't get any pictures of it unfortunately. That night we stayed in Haifa on the coast of the Mediterranean.

Tuesday was the last day of the trip. Since we couldn't go to the big gardens, we went to some smaller Bahai gardens instead. They were still very beautiful and incredible manicured. We did do a drive by of the Bahai headquarters to take pictures. We were supposed to go to this cool Templar cemetery, but our bus driver got lost and we ran out of time to stop there, so instead we stopped at a beach by an ancient aqueduct to eat lunch and stick our feet in the water. Our last stop was at Caesarea Mauritania, where Herod had a man-made port constructed. Finally we made it home and have since caught up on our laundry and are back in the usual grind.

As long as this post is, this I barely skimmed over what we did! At least this will give you a dialog to follow as you look at pictures. Now it is very late here and I have another field trip to Tel Aviv in the morning, but I had to finally get caught up with this! Check out the pictures, all the Galilee ones are up.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Catsup, Ketchup, Catch Up.... Whatever...

That last post took half a week to write, so I already have an update on life. Finals are over and it feels good. I'm still coming back to life (I've been a zombie by the way). This week definitely was the "best of times and the worst of times". The "worst": finals and all the studying that profited me nothing. The "best": Palm Sunday and Bethlehem, Easter weekend, and the studying that did pay off in the end. The first final I don't even want to talk about, and the other two were fine. I actually rocked the last one, it was satisfying. Oh, another part of the worst: we lost our last soccer game, so we are out of the tournament. We only lost by one point. It was sad.

This weekend was the Jewish feast of Purim. We had our own little Purim party here. The Jews dress up in costumes for it, similar to Halloween. We have limited resources here at the JC, so we all got creative with our costumes. We had a bonfire, made banana boats, reenacted the story of Esther, and burned the manuals of the classes we just finished. It was fun and definitely a great way to relieve the stress of the week.

Spring is here and trees are budding everywhere and flowers are springing up all over. Even a few roses have bloomed around the center. Today was Easter Sabbath for us. Lots of students went down to the Garden of Gethsemane between church and dinner. It seemed appropriate. We leave for Galilee in the morning, but before we do, our departure was pushed back so we can go to the sunrise service at the Garden Tomb (enough students protested that they were being deprived of Easter in Jerusalem!). The Galilee field trip is our longest one and spans 11 days, so you'll get a break from these updates for a while. We are all really excited, especially since the weather is nice and warm for good now! It may still be winter where you are, but it's not where I am!

I updated my pictures and added another album, so check 'em out. I really crave Mexican food. Just throwing that out there.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Palm Sunday and Bethlehem

Things are winding down. Papers are done, and only one more final to go. We leave for Galilee on Sunday. Unfortunately, we will not get to spend Easter here in Jerusalem because it is a travel day for us.

Despite the mass hysteria that always accompanies high levels of stress in confined spaces, we have been able to do a couple of fun things this last week that gave us a break from the grind. Last Sunday was Palm Sunday and it is my new favorite holiday (as long as I can celebrate it in Jerusalem). Here in Jerusalem pilgrims come from literally all over the world to walk from Bethphage to St. Anne's, a French Catholic church not far inside the walls through Lions Gate, in Jerusalem. We all walked over to the starting point together where there were lots of little boys selling palms and olive branches. The tradition is the pilgrims carry the branches along the walk in commemoration of Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem the week before he was crucified. It was so much fun to be with so many Christians! There were people from all walks of life: tourists, nuns, monks, youth groups, students and locals. There were thousands of people! We all walked along together singing hymns. There were even some mobile musical groups complete with accordions, tambourines, microphones and speakers they carried along. The walk ends at St. Anne's because that is where the Pool of Bethesda is. On the grounds they had more music and we all continued to celebrate together. Some of our students even initiated a conga line at one point. Not all the nuns appreciated it, but what can I say? We have a dance party wherever we go, do we not?

We went to Bethlehem a couple days later. Our Palestinian teacher lives and works there, so he was in charge of the tour. We heard a lecture by the director of an institute that does research about Palestine. He was a former political prisoner so that's cool. He was understandably very passionate. We then went to Bethlehem University where we had a tour of part of campus, then had a question and answer session with 4 students. It was really interesting to ask them questions about what their lives are like in the West Bank. It is good for us to hear the story from both sides, something Americans never get in the states I now know.

Next we went to Manger Square and the Church of the Nativity. It is built over the grotto that Christ was traditionally born in. We got to go down in it and sing Christmas carols. There is nothing like singing "Away in a Manger" in the stable where it happened (maybe)! We had some free time to do some shopping in town and then left for "shepherd's field" for our last stop. We just went out to an open field outside the city to eat our sack dinners and then had a devotional and lecture on the birth of Christ under the stars. It was cool... and by that I mean freezing. We had to huddle for warmth but it was worth it! It was a neat experience.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Odds and Ends

Tuesday they finally let us go out into the city again. Things seemed to have calmed down a bit and we are keeping our fingers crossed that it stays that way. It was a bittersweet privledge because we had to study for our Old Testament final, so we really didn't have much time to go anywhere. Most everyone did anyway and it was great because the weather was beautiful all week. We have three more finals and a 14-page paper due next week in addition to all the regular work for other classes, so we have plenty to keep us busy. We started our New Testament class today, and we'll have only that and our Ancient Near East class the rest of the semester. NT will be intense since we are cramming it into a month, but we are all excited. We are going to spend 11 days in Galilee soon where we will get to travel around and see places like Nazareth and Megiddo (of Armageddon fame).

So, I've instituted an exercise regime for myself so that I ensure that all my clothes will still fit when I get home. As part of it I am participating in the JC soccer tournement. Our team lost the first time, but we won the second. We are tied for 2nd place in our bracket so we have a playoff next Wednesday to see who will play against the 2nd place team of the other bracket. The winner of that game plays the winner between the 1st places for the win over all. That sounds confusing, but that's how it is workis. We play 4 on 4 and my team has 2 boys and 2 girls. Two have played before and two haven't, including me, but we do pretty well. I have found that I have a natural talent as a goalie, and I have the bruises to prove it.

Don't forget to check out my pictures! I have them updated through the Eilat trip and our tour through the Kotel Tunnel (Kotel=Western Wall, they have excavated along it under the Islamic neighborhood).

Monday, March 10, 2008

Eilat of Fun in the Sun!

The Friday after we got back form Jordan was a free day, so our out-of-Jerusalem committee organized a trip down to the resort city of Eilat (pronounced eh-LOT) to go snorkeling in the Gulf of Aqaba. It was a perfect day. The place we snorkeled was part of a preserve, so we had to stay within certain boundaries but it was worth it because the coral has been so well preserved. Of all the places I've been snorkeling this place had the best coral by far. There were tons of fish too, but they were mostly small fish in large schools. The water felt kind of chilly initially and it took me several minutes to convince myself to jump it. Each time I was better though. We had lots of fun swimming and just laying out on the beach and being lazy. Lots of people got badly burned, but not yours truly. I've had lots of practice in how not to. In the evening we went into the town to find dinner before heading back home. The sunshine followed us back and every day since has been warmer and warmer in Jerusalem. I think spring may finally be upon us!

Security Update

I'm sure many of you were curious (and worried) about me and what is going on at this end with regards to the shooting last week. If you didn't know, a Hamas-affiliated man from East Jerusalem walked into a yeshiva Thursday evening and opened fire on the students. Eight young students died and many more were wounded. The incident happened on the west side of the Old City near Jaffa Gate (you can find the area on one of the maps to the left). We had been in Jordan all week but came home on Thursday afternoon so we were in Jerusalem when it happened, but we live in the East City on the outskirts of town and weren't allowed out that evening, so we were nowhere near the action. Most of us found out what happened early the next morning. Most everyone, including me, was gone all day Friday in Eilat in southern Israel, so we weren't around to see the immediate aftermath. Currently we have been on lockdown in the center all weekend through today (Monday) and can only leave for organized, approved group activities like Eilat was. Our security guys are taking the days one at a time as they contact their sources around the city and gauge the tension in the city. The shooting was an isolated incident and seemed to have intentionally occurred during Secretary Rice's visit. We are basically waiting to see if it escalates or blows over. Don't worry- we aren't being sent home. The situation is not as serious as that, it is just tense.

Thursday, March 6, 2008


I'm home! And surprised that so many people have checked this blog even though I was out of town (there is a counter at the bottom of the page if you didn't know). It's validating, knowing people actually come read this.

Jordan was awesome! Definitely one of my favorite field trips thus far. It was only a 4 day trip, but it feels like we have been gone for a long time. The first day we crossed over the boarder and security conditions were such that we first went to the traditional location of Jesus' baptism at Bethany beyond Jordan (as opposed to the Bethany next to Jerusalem). The location is within a military zone, so we have to get clearance when we go. The Jordan is a little, dirty river that meanders through the lowlands. There are some ruins of an old church that used to be over the site (note*= whenever people claimed a place to be a holy site in antiquity, they built a church over it) and some other Byzantine ruins in the area. It was a cool spot.

Next we went to Madaba where we got to see this mosaic map of the Holy Land from the Byzantine era. The church it was in originally was ruined in an earthquake, but a new one has since been built over it to preserve it. The map has been valuable to archaeologists as they piece together the Holy Land as it existed in the Bible. To end the day we made the long drive down to Petra to spend the night. We usually are in rooms of two with one group of three girls and I was in the group of three this time, so we had a bigger room. It was a suite actually and we had private access to the roof. We felt cool and people were jealous.

Day two was all about Petra, one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. Remember that place they go in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade to find the Holy Grail? Yeah, saw that. It was amazing. This whole civilization of the Nabateans carved tons of caves and facades for tombs and temples out of the sandstone in this narrow canyon in the desert. Lots of us took donkeys up to the ''Monastery" up on one of the nearby mountains. It's not really a monastery but the people who found it called it that. It was a temple and the most impressive facade in the valley. I forgot my inhaler on the bus, so I also took a mule while most everyone else hiked up to the High Place, a site where the people performed their animal sacrifices atop a different mountain. That was cool too because the altar was still up there. The whole site was amazing and you can spend all day exploring, but alas we had only until 2pm. People were late though and cost us a visit to the site of Moses' Spring because we had to drive back north to Amman, the capital of Jordan. In our free time that night we all took a trip down the street to a shop that sells cheap pirated DVDs and we cleaned the place out. Don't worry, it's legal over here and the teachers were even endorsing the activity! We even got a few movies that aren't even out on video in the states yet! We are all excited to try them out and make sure they work.

The next day we went first to the Jabbok River where Jacob wrestled with an angel. It really pretty if you didn't look too close at the water (super polluted- we were advised to not even touch it). The site actually kind of reminded me of the St. Joe River back at home. Then we went to Jerash, which is a well-preserved Roman city. There is a beautiful Roman theater where some musicians were playing bagpipes and drums for the tourists. We had another dance party like we usually do each trip. I loved Jerash because there were all these temples and columns and things that I had learned about in art history 201. It was very validating to know and understand the significance what I was looking at. After our tour we got to go to a show they put on in the hippodrome about what the Roman legions were like, how gladiators fought, and a chariot demonstration. It was very instructive. After Jerash we had lunch at this super-good restaurant that had the best humus ever. Next we went to where the local branch of our church meets in Amman. The area president and the branch president talked to us about what it was like living there and the sorts of activities the church is involved in, like humanitarian aid. Outside the building I saw a couple that I met at church in Jerusalem last week. They have been serving a humanitarian aid mission in Lebanon and were touring around Israel and Jordan before heading home to the states. It was fun to see some familiar faces! The rest of the day was free time and I really wanted to go to the art museum, but then none of the taxi drivers knew what we were talking about, so my group ended up getting more DVD's and some ice cream and hanging out around the hotel since we were exhausted anyway.

The last day (today) we went to the citadel of Amman where there are more Roman ruins and a museum of lots of world-class antiquities. We saw some of the Dead Sea Scrolls including the Copper Scroll, some neolithic skeletons, and other really cool things that if I were to list, you would get bored because you don't know why they are so cool. That was our last stop before heading back over the boarder. Now we are back at home and I even unpacked already. It was such a fun trip and if anyone wants to travel to the Middle East, Jordan is the place to go. Clean, organized, good drivers (I mean this comparatively, all drivers in the Mid east are crazy; Jordanians are just less crazy), friendly people, and cool things to see. I'll post pictures in a day or two, so don't forget to come back and check 'em out.

Thursday, February 28, 2008


I haven't posted because I have been doing virtually one thing for a week: homework/studying. We have a LOT to do and it is difficult to keep up and still get sleep. We had our midterm for our Modern Near East- Jewish Perspective class last week. Those of us in Hebrew have a quiz today and everyone has the midterm for our Ancient Near East class tomorrow which involves knowing an insane amount of information. Brother Seely calls the panic before a test "mass hysteia". It can be pretty entertaining to watch. To those of you who wonder what we do here, yes we really go to school, and yes we have to actually study and take tests that will ultimately affect the grades that affect our collegiate GPA's. Some study more than others. Some kids will be graduating in April so it doesn't matter what grades they get this semester. I am not so fortunate.

A nice break in the daily grind was a field trip to the City of David yesterday. This is the part of Jerusalem that constituted the city when King David was ruling back in the day. There is some cool stuff being done archaeologically over there on the Ophel where David's City was. They are finding buildings and walls from the time of the Babylonian destruction in 586 BC when the kingdom of Judah was taken into exile. This is exciting stuff if you didn't know. To end our tour we got to walk, or wade rather, through Hezekiah's Tunnel. King Hezekiah had a tunnel carved out to divert the water supply so that it would come inside the city walls in preparation for an Assyrian attack. It's still there and water still runs through it. The tunnel ended at the Silome Pool which has recently been discovered (currently the tunnel ends short of the place). The pool is associated with a miracle involving the healing of a blind man by Jesus. By the original pool (which is only partially excavated) a guy also let us in to a place that is not open to the public. In it were original Herodian stairs that would have led up the hill toward the temple mount. The current ground level of Jerusalem is 30 feet above the level that Jesus would have actually walked. These stairs are part of the level of Jesus' day, therefore Jesus would have certainly walked on them. I finally got to walk on a place where Jesus walked! It gave me chills. Pictures will be postponed till the madness of this week is over, but I most certainly have pictures.

Today is a beautiful day. And we go to Jordan next week. And tonight there is a big Ramadan dinner complete with folk-dancing lessons. There is happiness here despite the mass hysteria.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Talents and Babies

Our BYUJC Winter 2008 Talent Show was held last night. Who knew what forms talent can take? It was a party. First off they divided everyone who wasn't signed up to be in the show into groups and gave us five minutes to create a quick skit based on a place or event we've had, like Egypt and cleaning checks. To add a fun twist, people had strips of paper in their pockets that they had not looked at beforehand. The papers had random quotes printed on them and you'd have to create situations in the skit where you'd pull out a paper and read it and work it into the act. Needless to say it was hilarious, especially since yours truly was over compiling the quotes. I didn't know what they were for beforehand though. My group did our skit as if we were in the mummy room at the Egyptian Museum, so I was a mummy lying on the ground as others walked around us "mummies" wondering what we would say if we were alive. I was laughing so hard lying there that I was crying. I guess you had to be there. All the other acts were fun and cool; we really do have a lot of talented students here.

A few days a week, two students at a time go to the Red Crescent Hospital down the hill to volunteer in the baby nursery. There they get to help feed the babies that have to spend a little extra time in the hospital for various reasons. I went this afternoon with Lauran Miller. They usually have a lot of babies and really appreciate the help, but this week they have only had a few. There were two babies to help with when we arrived, and then the mother of one came to feed her own, so Lauran fed the other one and I got to feed one of the brand new healthy babies from the post-natal nursery. He was probably only a day or two old. It was a great way to spend an afternoon on Shabbat. It was so peaceful and quiet in there with those brand new little babies. I haven't got to hold a brand new baby for a long time. It was really neat.

I updated my pictures and added an album. Check 'em out.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

It (Was) Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas...

IT SNOWED! Again. The first snow this year was during our trip to Egypt so we missed it, but it snowed again on Tuesday. We got about 1/2 and inch, but it was really wet slushy, nothing like y'all have been getting in the West, but snow nonetheless. When it snows here, the city shuts down. It snows so infrequently that it is not worth the effort and expense to do wide-scale snow removal, so they clear the routes to the hospitals then just sit tight till it melts which is usually by the next day if not that afternoon. Our Palestinian teacher canceled class because he was ill and it would have been difficult for him to drive here from Bethlehem on the slick roads. The Arabic students didn't have Arabic for similar reasons with their teacher, so we got a half-snow day since we still had the classes taught by the teachers that live here with us. It was bittersweet because we had all this free time, but there was a storm raging outside so we all stayed in. Most caught up on homework or vegged around watching movies and enjoying a break. I did a little of both.

Today we had a field trip to Yad Vashem, the Holocaust museum. It is a beautiful and fairly new facility. It's a very sobering place as you may expect, but I liked it and I'd like to go back. We had a 3 hour tour and felt like we hardly saw anything. Some Holocaust museums focus on the brutality of it, some on the graphic stories of individuals, but this one I felt like really memorializes the people, as both group and as individuals. They do outline the brutality and do focus on individuals to illustrate what happened, but the focus felt like it was all in memorial so that people as individuals will never be forgotten. After a sack lunch we toured Mt. Herzl which has a lot of things around it that basically commemorate the Zionist movement. Once again, it was cold. Like every other field trip all semester. (Note: it was 60+ degrees on Sunday) But the field trip was good one regardless, like every other field trip.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Everyday Life

I realized I never posted anything about everyday life here at the JC. The Jerusalem Center is located on Mount Scopus, which the northern extension of the Mount of Olives. Since it sits up on a hill it has one of the best views (if not the best view) of Jerusalem. Since it is on the side of a mountain it is terraced to follow the slope. This allows for picture windows overlooking the city in nearly every room of the building. It also conveniently lets in lots of natural light, thus saving significantly on electricity bills I would wager. Since it is terraced, this also means there are a lot of stairs to get anywhere. Good thing I already have such buff legs from walking up the never-ending stairs to campus for 1 1/2 years... ha. The top (8th) floor has the main entrance, the library, and the big auditorium. The 7th floor has the offices of the teachers, directors, and other staff as well as access to the forum, or the smaller auditorium used mostly for classes. The 6th floor contains the most important room of all: the cafeteria, or the Oasis as it is formally named. All the classrooms, computer lab, and study and student lounge rooms are also on this floor. The remaining 5 levels are dormitory rooms. I live on the 4th floor. The dorm rooms are all open-air access and my room is down at the end of the hall, so it's a project hurrying to and from the main building when it is raining and the marble floors are slick with rain! No spills yet luckily.

There are four students to a room. Each room has the beds and storage area for all of us and room to spare since we couldn't bring much with us anyway. We also have our own bathroom which is convenient. My roommates are Bethany Whittington from Portland, Bethany Romero from San Diego, and Bekah DeMordant from Boise. I'm the oldest which is weird. It doesn't make me feel old, it just makes the other girls seem really young. Our rooms also have a porch and a personal view of the city. I like to peek out the curtains early in the morning right after I get up, to make sure the city is still there, or to remind myself of where I am or something. The city lights are still on, but the buildings are just starting to glow as the sun gets close to rising.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Catch Up

So I'm behind on this, and even more behind in my journal. I'm only through the second day of the Egypt trip! EEK! I have written since on selected days, but it is just taking me a while since I feel like I have to detail everything. Now I finally have some time to catch up on my personal stuff.

The week after we got home from Egypt we had two more field trips. The first one was a half day to Jericho. We got to visit a monastery that is on the side of the Mount of Temptations, the traditional spot of Jesus' fast and subsequent tempting by Satan. It is literally built into the side of a cliff. The other field trip focused on the Judges from the Old Testament, so we went to the five main valleys that connect the coastal plains to the mountain ridge where Jerusalem is located. It was fun to think that we get to just cruise around Israel. Who does that? I've updated my photos from the trips in the Jerusalem #2 album. On Sunday I went to the Rockafeller Museum in east Jerusalem and saw a lot of cool archaeological stuff about things we have been learning about.

My birthday was last Monday and I had a great day. My roommate made my bed for me and I got a card signed by all the students. I spent the morning with friends at the zoo and that was really fun. The weather was beautiful and warm! Then we spent some time in the Jewish market before walking home across town. I took the route through the Old City and got myself a birthday present: leather "Jesus" sandals that I have been eying since before Egypt. When I got back to the center my birthday packages from mom had arrived! I called home while I opened them. I got just what I wanted: eye makeup remover, ranch dressing, gummy bears, a laptop case and a few other wonderful things. I got lucky and we even had cake for dessert at dinner. And by cake I mean "cake", but it was more like cake as I know it than I've had in other places around this part of the world. It actually had sweetness to it! It was a good day and I felt good too.

The rest of the week didn't fare so well. I kinda wore myself out on my birthday and I didn't feel so well the next day. I'm in recovery though and each day I'm feeling better. It helped that it was rainy for a lot of the rest of the week so I didn't have to feel bad that I was missing out on nice weather. I had lots of schoolwork to keep me busy. We had a midterm today in our Jewish studies class and lots of other reading to do for other classes. I did pretty well on the test and spent most of the day getting ahead with other work. That about catches things up on this end. Hope you all had a very happy Valentine's day!

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Another Casualty

So most everybody got sick before or during our Egypt trip. Only one case was because of eating unsafe food (to my knowledge). It's just a nasty cold that is passing around striking the students and teachers alike. I was quite triumphant to not have even so much as a sniffle since arriving in Jerusalem.... until yesterday. I've been struck. Fever, chills, aches, pressure in the head-- the whole bit. I feel like someone who went through the battle without a scratch, then died of disease afterward. It's really bad timing because we get nearly two days of free time between today and tomorrow. I think I'll spend it in bed trying to muster up enough strength to do something fun for my birthday tomorrow. Did I mention the bad timing?

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

“Welcome in Egypt!”

This is how my friend was greeted as he passed through the last checkpoint at the border to Egypt. Yes I am back, and yes it was amazing!

Day 1: We left Jerusalem and headed south to Tel Beersheba. Next we stopped at Ben-Gurion’s grave and the Wilderness of Zin (or Sin) overlook. The Wilderness of Zin is one of the areas the children of Israel wandered during those 40 years. We ended the day with a stop at Kibbutz Yotvata. We had a tour of the place, then continued to the town of Elat where we stayed the night at the Kibbutz Eilot.

Day 2: We left early for the Taba border crossing. There are usually problems at the border, but we were blessed and all went just fine and we got through in record time for this program. They don’t plan anything else this day because the border is so unpredictable. We drove though Sinai to Cairo and as we neared the west side we got our first glimpse of the Pyramids. We stayed in Giza in a really nice hotel.

Day 3: We started the day with a visit to the Pyramids of Giza. They are as cool as you’ve imagined, but bigger. We got to go inside Khufu’s pyramid (the biggest one) down to the burial chamber. They don’t allow pictures inside unfortunately. Then we went up the hill and all got to have a camel ride. Forget any pre-conceived notion you have ever had about Egyptian weather—it can get cold. And windy. I don’t know what it is but we have nasty weather wherever we have gone. It rained while we were at Yotvata, and they only get rain about once a year. I just wanted to let you know why we are bundled up in most of our pictures. We also went to Saqqara and saw the Step Pyramid of Zoser (or Djoser). We visited a papyrus factory and a jewelry bazaar where we were able to purchase cartouche pendants. That night we flew down to Luxor. I unfortunately got a migraine and got pretty nauseous and could not fully appreciate it, but thankfully I was better by morning.

Day 4: We took carriages to Karnak and then to Luxor Temple first thing in the morning. After lunch we took a boat ride out onto the Nile. We were supposed to go out on falukas, boats kind of like sailboats, but it was too windy (at least it wasn’t raining!). We went out on motorized boats instead and it was still fun. In the evenings we'd go bargain for souvenirs at the nearby markets. We're getting pretty good at it too!

Day 5: We crossed over to the west side of the river to visit the Valley of the Kings, Queen Hatshepsut’s temple, and Ramses III’s temple. After lunch we took boats back across to take camel rides though the countryside. That night we took the overnight train back to Cairo.

Day 6: Back in Cairo we first went to Memphis where we saw a giant statue of Rameses II. We also visited one of the oldest mosques in Egypt, then went to the Egyptian museum. The museum was awesome and I go to see King Tut’s gold, mummies of many kings, and other cool stuff I learned about in art history. Next we went to lunch at the Hard Rock Café and it was great to finally sink my teeth into a real American-style hamburger! We rounded up the evening with a drive though Cairo and an excursion to the Khan al-Khalili Bazaar, an open-market that dates back to medieval times.

Day 7: We went to Muhammad Ali’s Mosque which is huge and beautiful! It had the best view of the city of Cairo. Then we left Cairo and headed back to Sinai.

Day 8: Our day started very early at 2 am. All those able (and not sick, which were many) gathered and climbed Mount Sinai. We watched the sunrise from the top. It was pretty cold up there at 7000+ feet above sea level, but I was all right under my 6 layers! I’m still sore, but it was totally worth it and a lot of fun. That was the most beautiful day of the whole trip. After coming down off the mountain we gathered for a lecture on the Ten Commandments. After brunch we took off for the Taba border and then home via the Dead Sea shore. In that one day I saw the Gulfs of Suez and Aqaba, Egypt, Saudi Arabia (across the gulf), Jordan (also across the gulf and Dead Sea), and Israel. Wow!

I've included a link to a map of the areas we traveled. You can find on it most of the towns I've mentioned. For the couple not included: Taba and Yotvata are next to Elat, and we crossed the Suez Canal at Ismailia. Mount Sinai is south-central Sinai Peninsula.

This is a big post, but it was a big trip and I edited details heavily. Look at my pictures and you’ll be able to see and read a lot more of the specifics of where we went. My favorite part of the trip was seeing so many things that I have learned about in school all my life. They really do exist! As much fun as Egypt was, I’m glad to be back home in Jerusalem where I can drink the water, eat the fresh fruits and veggies, use the restroom for free, and flush my toilet paper!

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