Sunday, October 10, 2010

Good-bye Post

The real countdown begins! Just one week from tomorrow I will drive to Utah with mom and dad, and then report to the Missionary Training Center that Wednesday. I won't doubt that I am nervous, but mostly I am just incredibly excited!

In case you are interested in writing, my address in the MTC is:

Provo Missionary Training Center
2005 N 900 E (check Facebook for the mailbox number)
Provo, UT 84604
United States

Address in the Mission Field:

Belgium/Netherlands Mission
87, Blvd Brand Whitlock
1200 Brussels

Love you guys!!!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

A Time to Cherish

A girl in my marketing class (a young married mother about age 21) once told me, "Don't ever wish any part of your life away," and I have really taken that comment to heart. That is why, instead of twiddling my thumbs as I count down to the day I move into the MTC, I have been striving to stay productively busy. By

spending time with family

and with the family pets

concocting such delicious desserts as this Dutch apple pie

reading such great books as these

trying to rekindle my talent on the piano

and much more :)

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Galilee-better late than never

I sat down to write this post right after I returned from our field trip to Galilee, but was soon overwhelmed with the energy it would take. So I have procrastinated this post for a month and a half now...

Where to even begin? When I went to Galilee I thought I would be constantly having spiritual experiences. While that was not the case, I did have some profound spiritual experiences at the most unexpected times. My time in Galilee was the most simple, content, fulfilled, relaxed, and closest to Jesus I have ever felt.

This was my life for 10 days: Wake up early, read on the shores of the Sea of Galilee if I had time, eat breakfast, go to 3 hours of New Testament class, then play/read/go swimming/take a nap/write in my journal, watch the sunset over the sea and contemplate the meaning of life, eat dinner, do the required New Testament reading, play, gaze at the stars while lying on the beach, and finally, sleep. Then the next day we would go on a field trip and see all the amazing places where Jesus lived and taught, and other beautiful sights.

My camera broke so I don't have my own pictures, but here are some I got from others:

Caesarea Maritima.
An old stage in Caesarea Maritima.
Our first view of the Sea of Galilee--it was windy!
Crossing the Sea of Galilee in a boat.
Bet She'an--an old Roman city. I know I look bored, but this was actually one of my favorite sites!
In the Golan Heights, near Syria. Watch out for mines!
The Bahai Gardens.
Night in Tiberias.
With Jake on the balcony of the Tiberias Branch House. The view was amazing!
Last sunset...

I can't explain how amazing it was to live such a simple life for 10 days. Without having to worry about how I looked and other daily distractions, such as cooking, money, news, grades, callings, work, technology, driving, planning, and time, it was easy for me to find time to meditate and feel close to my Savior. Even though I strongly wish life could be that way all the time, I think it is one of our most challenging tests in mortality to find our own peace in the midst of all these distractions. Will we put God first, or will we be so concerned about life's little details to even think about Him? Is it more important to us to have expensive clothes than to pay tithing? Is it more important to us to sleep in or blog or surf the web than to read our scriptures? It's a delicate balanace that I've struggled with since being back in the States, and probably will for the rest of my life. But I loved my time in Galilee and hopefully my memory of it will be a constant reminder of the peace that is available to us when we put God first!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Dutch Encounter

During my class's last trip to the Western Wall, I just happened to meet a woman from the Netherlands...and serendipitously ran into the same woman at a church near the BYU Jerusalem Center the next day! Absolutely made my day :). The second time I got her email and home addresses. Maybe I'll run into her while I'm there...

Monday, August 16, 2010

Eye Doctor

My visit to the eye doctor today went something like this:

Doctor: Cover your left eye. What is the lowest line you can read?

(Honestly, I can't really see the bottom line, but I don't want to admit it so I try anyway)

Me: Well, the bottom line says...ummm...A? Then O [or maybe Q?], T, Z.

(It's worth a shot. Maybe if I'm a good guesser and I seem confident enough, she'll believe I'm actually reading it)

Doctor: Ok, now cover your other eye.

(I think I got pretty close, but she didn't applaud my efforts so I'm not sure. I cover my right eye. Apparently my left eye is even worse than my right one!)

Doctor: What is the lowest line you can read?

(I definitely can't read either of the two bottom lines this time, but I can remember what I told her the last line says. Moral dilemma: read to her the line I can actually see, or just repeat what I told her last time?)

Me: A, O, T, Z.

(Do you blame me? I can kind of see it...)

Doctor [does something over at her desk]: Ok, let's try again. Cover your left eye. What is the lowest line you can read?

(The screen looks different this time, but I can't really make out any of the letters. Did she know I lied about being able to see the last one? Maybe she's trying to get back at me...I strain my eyes as much as I can without actually squinting--that's not allowed--but I can't even guess this time. Feeling humbled, I admit defeat.)

Me: I can't read any of them.

Doctor: Not even the top line?

(Inward sigh. This must be fun for her)

Me: Nope.

Doctor: How about now?

(It's slightly clearer, but I still can't quite make it out...)

Me: No.

Doctor: Now?

(It's suddenly much clearer, and I can see a giant E at the top. Feeling even more humbled...)

Me: Oh yeah, there's an E.


Doctor: Ok great...

And THAT is how much I love going to the eye doctor.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Coming Home

Good-bye Jerusalem.

You will always be in my heart.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Mission Call

Ever since my first taste of independent adventure two years ago when I moved to Arizona for the summer, I haven't been able to get enough. Arizona was followed by another year at school in Provo, then DC, Provo again, and now Jerusalem. Those who know me well know that I like to always have another adventure to look forward to when one is about to end. For the past few months I have been wondering where I will go next. Well, my mission call came in the mail last weekend with my answer: Belgium and the Netherlands!

Funny story...I never really thought about the Netherlands until last week when two things happened: 1) Their soccer team played in the World Cup and 2) Our neighbors in Galilee were from Holland, and I couldn't figure out if Holland was IN the Netherlands, or if they were two different places. (What I learned is that north and south Holland are actually two of 12 provinces in the Netherlands, but Holland and the Netherlands are often used synonymously). Maybe I'll run into them while I'm there!

I am SOOO excited to do this! Even though I was surprised at first, I feel more and more confident that this call is divinely inspired. Just three more months exactly!

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Finals Week

The bad news: Finals took over our lives this week. We basically lived in this classroom the first few days, trying to get straight the things we had learned this semester, and trying to teach ourselves things we hadn't learned in class very well.

The good news: Finals are over! And so are some of our tougher classes. Now we can focus our time on our friendships and learning more about our Savior, Jesus Christ.

To celebrate the end of finals, we have been living it up this weekend. Thursday (the day our hardest finals were over) we went to the Old City, where we walked on the roof.

Later that night we went to Ben Yhuda Street in West Jerusalem, and then to the outdoor mall. Apparently there was supposed to be some sort of cultural night, but we missed it if there was.

Instead, we befriended a scout who sold us homemade brownies for a shekel each (although we donated a few extra to help the younger scouts go to summer camp) and explored the bookstore. At the bookstore I found this adorable little bookshelf, complete with an old-fashioned key to unlock the top drawer.
We found a Hebrew version of "The Very Hungry Caterpillar," which Nick "read" to us, and an awesome cookbook. This cookbook was awesome because in each picture of food, there was a random creature nearby--a witch, a goblin, or this sleeping dragon (crocodile?), for example:

Last night we went to our Arabic teacher's house for dinner. It was wonderful! He ordered pizza for us, including one with corn. I never would have thought of putting corn on my pizza, but it was actually pretty good. Then we watched the sunset from his roof. I never tire of watching sunrises and sunsets because each one is beautiful and unique. It's a great opportunity to contemplate the meaning of life, as Tyler said.

Tomorrow we're going to Tel Aviv (the beach!!!!) and then we're having a barbeque/carnival/sparklers to celebrate the Fourth of July. For 10 days after that...I'll be in Galilee!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Eilat sounds a lot like "a lot"

And that has become the running joke among our friends these past couple of weeks. Now I'll never be able to hear the words "a lot" and not think of Eilat. Good thing I associate only wonderful memories with it.

Eilat is a city near the coast in southern Israel, near the Egyptian border, where we went snorkeling in the Red Sea. It was such an amazing experience! The water was impressively clear and blue, and underwater was so colorful! We saw a bunch of fish and coral, and my friend even showed me an octopus. I am obsessed with underwater videos/pictures/swimming, but I've never been snorkeling or anything before. I felt like I was living a dream.

What I loved best about our trip was that I didn't feel pressured to be constantly learning or socializing or even having fun. I could just hang out with friends or do my own thing and it didn't really matter.

Below are some pictures. We took some really cool underwater pictures on my friend Ramzi's camera, but I haven't gotten them from him yet. These will have to do for now:

Me and my roommate, Rachel. Yes, that is Jordan and a little bit of Saudi Arabia in the background.

Some of my very favorite people here: Tyler, Rachel, Me, Michael.

More friends!

Playing in the swimming area--right after they tackled and tried to drown me...

Friday, June 4, 2010

Missing You Today...

(sorry Katie, this was the only picture I had access to)

Friday, May 28, 2010

Birthday in Jeru

After a day full of too much homework and class (and a much-needed nap with Ashley), we spent the evening in West Jerusalem. We got gelato at Max Brenner and my friends sang happy birthday to me outside!
I've never been to Europe, but I imagine that it looks a lot like West Jerusalem. After eating gelato, we walked around the streets and looked in the shops for a little while. We walked past this Jewish guy from Colorado who could play the kazoo, banjo, tambourine, and bells all at the same time (see picture below). Best 22nd birthday ever :)

(Lisa, Tyler, Me, Rachel, Jake)

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Palace in Jerusalem

Let me tell you a little about what it's like to live in a palace.

Last night at 11:30 pm we decided to take a rejuvenating break from our tedious and sleep-inducing reading. Since we couldn't go outside the gate, what else would we do other than take a little jog around the top floor of the Jerusalem Center? Just as we were emerging from the spacious garage we had just discovered, we ran into about four of our security guards, all concerned about our safety. No doubt they had just been watching us on one of their security cameras, wondering why we were running for our lives.

Yes, the security may seem a little extreme at times, but it's sure nice to know we are loved.