Hey Everyone! Sorry it has taken me a while to get some info out here, but I haven't really even had time to think since I have gotten here. I am having problems getting my laptop to get on the wireless network, so for now no pictures, but I will get them going as soon as I can. Jerusalem is a photographers dream, every corner there is another incredible something or other to capture.
I love this place. I know why Charity is dripping with passion about it. This city is absolutely fantastic. Everything about it; the sights, the smells, the people, the culture, the really obnoxious call to prayer that goes off like 34 times a day. I just love it all. I love waking up every morning and remembering that I am here...in Jerusalem...at the Jerusalem Center. I didn't think I would ever actually get this chance, and now, here I am. Oh baby.
Well, we've spent the first couple of days acclimatizing, getting to know the city a bit better, and having all sorts of classes. I am surprised at the number of classes and the amount of reading they expect us to do. How does the old testament in 3 weeks sound. Yikes. I am trying my best to keep up, but I must say that the fact that Jerusalem is right there is a bit of a distraction. The teachers and faculty all seem great. They seem as though they have the whole process pretty well worked out. There are 88 students here, so we are split up into two classes for Old Testament and New Testament. I am in Brother Merrill's class, he is new this term here but has spent time here in the past. He is a different teacher than Charity had, but it will be good, we'll both have alternative perspectives then we can compare and contrast when we see each other.
We went to the Western Wall last Friday to bring in the Sabbath. Those Jews sure are dedicated. And the fact that they are wearing full on overcoats and fur hats in the midst of 95 degrees is pretty impressive. It is fascinating to learn more about their culture and to see how diverse they are. Today we went to the Temple Mount, to the Dome of the Rock. That is a sight. We weren't there at the right time so we didn't get to go in, but we spent some time in awe of the incredible building and thinking about its significance. I love spending time wandering the streets, getting lost, and slowly figuring out where everything is, and how it all fits together. It is amazing that even after six years of absence, the people still totally remember "the mormons" and everyone loves us. The center and students have built up a great deal of respect over the years, and it shows in walking around the city.
On Sunday we also went to the Garden of Gethsemane for the first time. There was a very strong spirit there that was so thick you could feel it as you walked in. The acts performed there will resonate forever in that area. It was so powerful to sit there quietly and contemplate the events that had taken place there. We sang some hymns, prayed, and reflected. I plan on spending a lot of time there in the next couple of months. The next stop on the list in the Garden Tomb, can't wait to go there as well.
On Wednesday we are off to Egypt. To Cairo and Luxor. It was 107 in Luxor today so I am really excited about that. We'll be going to all the good sites there, riding the overnight train from Cairo to Luxor and back, snorkeling in the Red Sea and riding some camels. Hopefully I will find my way up to the top of one of the pyramids, somehow. So pictures and details to come about that awesome trip.
The group here is awesome. Lots of great people, as well as cute girls, and people who just want to have fun. It is weird that even though we've just met 5 days ago, everyone is already really good friends. The Jerusalem Center is just amazing. It is a little piece of heaven if you ask me.
I love this place, what an experience I am having. Love you all, hope all is well. And you better believe there were about 8 of us up at 5 in the morning listening to Hot Rod via the internet the other day when the Jazz won. You gotta love it baby.
My love to you all from the Holy Land.