Monday, June 18, 2007

an experience

hey everyone. jordan is awesome. i love the people. i love the places. aka. petra. and how awesome it was. we were just there for four days, but it was absolutely sweetness. the people there struck me as so genuinely friendly and accomodating. we made it back, we've got a couple days back here in jerusalem and then it is over. i am pretty dang sad about that to tell you the truth. it is killing me. this is such a great life to live...traveling and studying. i feel like i am just getting to know a lot of the people here, that i could be really good friends with, so i am sad about that. but with that said, we have done so much incredible stuff over the last 7 weeks, it is just amazing. i was looking through a jerusalem/holy land tour book and pretty much every place i was able to be like "yep, been there". pretty sweet if you ask me. i will put some pics up tomorrow if i can crunch in the time. tomorrow we are going on a trip through the last days of Christ's life. I can't wait. this is one of the things i have been looking forward to most.
speaking of Christ. the other day we were taking tour of some of the excavation sites around the wall of the old city. Brother Whitchurch (charity's teacher from when she was here) was talking about Christ and places he would have spent time. We were there on the steps that led to the temple where the Savior spent a lot of time. Bro. Whitchurch talked about the fact that the Savior would have walked on those steps time and time again. it was a quick moment, but an overpowering feeling of the spirit hit me hard. there i was... in jerusalem...standing on the steps where the Savior stood. Right where he was. I wrote on my application to come here about my desire to walk where the Savior walked, and I have only dreamed of doing that my whole life. And all of the sudden I was there, right where he was. I have been close many times over the course of this trip. But many of the places were only general areas. This time I was right there. It was just an awesome experience. One of those experiences you never forget. It was simple and sweet, but powerful. I wrote a prayer and put it in the wall there at the top of those steps... a prayer that I can come to better know the man who stood on the steps so many times. Just thought I would share that with you. I love you all a whole lot.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Some thoughts...

This started out as a letter to mom and dad, but I think I will send it on to the whole fam.
Mom and Dad, it was so awesome to talk to you guys a little bit today. especially considering i was doing it from a little olive wood carvers shop in the middle of jerusalem. i tell you what the people of jerusalem are awesome. they really love and TRUST the BYU students here. For example. In order to buy that nativity, (which is beauty by the way, i really like it) I had to go to the money changers to exchange some money, usually you do that with checks, but all i had was a credit card. I asked the guy, Aladdin, who is the money changer that has dealt with BYU students for ages, if he could work as an ATM and give me some cash by charging my credit card. He told me that he would have to apply a 5 percent service charge, after a bit of negotiating, he just pulled out a paper and told me to write my name on it, how much i needed and he then gave me the $200 to buy the set as I told him I would bring him a check next time I come to town. What a guy huh? These people, regardless of their faith are all so full of light and love. I really do love these people. There are some many great faces in town, I love talking with merchants, getting to know them, (and then bargaining) ha. I really appreciate them and their "light" that they have.
In church on Sunday I had a personal epiphany regarding the Savior and key to happiness in life. The two words that I feel best describe the Savior are "light" and "love" I know those may be common, but think about it for a second. He had those, he does all he can to instill those qualities in us. We are all blessed with the "light of Christ." As we accept that light, our own personal light within us goes stronger, as does our desire to love more. To be more Christlike. All the people here have that light within them, and there will come a day when they will be able to stronger associate that light with the Savior and his love... and ultimately his atonement. It may be a while, but one day these blessed Israelis will come around and have a chance to explore and accept the gospel. But it all starts with that light of Christ.
I am sure Charity remembers this, as do you all from the time that you were here, but one of the most interesting comments that we receive, I guess I should say compliments that students here receive from virtually everyone in town, is that there is a certain light that the students here have. They tell me that they can pick a mormon out of any crowd of people. That is quite a compliment. They say our faces are full of light and happiness. I think that is the reason why they love having BYU students here, and why they have anxiously awaited a return for so long.
I really love this place, and the people that are here... everyone from the shopkeepers to bus drivers to the other students in the group to the kids. I just thought I would share some of my thoughts about this with all of you. It all comes back to the Savior and the light that he blesses all of us with. I guess that is what they mean when they call Him the light of the world.
I love you guys. Let's all try to have more Light and Love in our lives.

Friday, June 08, 2007

an experience i won't forget

You like that music don't you. A great song about Jerusalem sung by a Rabbi who is actually a famous rapper/reggae singer in America, reciting from Psalms. We spent a little over a week in Galilee and I won't forget it any time soon. Actually, I will never forget it. Many of you have been there and you remember what I am saying when I say that the sound of the waves crashing, the colors in the sky as the sun sets, the moon reflecting off the lake, the rolling hills. As if all of this isn't enough, then you think about the fact that Christ walked on those waters...he calmed the storm when the tempest was raging, he lived in Capernaum, he taught on the Mount of Beatitudes, He called Peter and Andrew to follow him. All of that happened in that one Magical area. It was so relaxing to have some time to sit on the beach and relax, to have fun, to contemplate, to read, to pray.
I hope to spend more time at Galilee in my lifetime...definately a place I will be taking my wife someday. My testimony of the Savior has been invigorated and my desire to study His words and teachings more in depth has increased greatly.
We stayed at a nice little Kibutz holiday/hotel right there on the beach. Probably the same as where many of you stayed when you came here. We had classes, New Testament, and Archaeology of the Near East at random times and split the rest of the time between great field trips all over the area, and relaxing on the beach.
I think these pictures can tell the story almost as well as words can, so read on down the page about Galilee, and also the trip we went on today to Bethlehem. Crossing into the West Bank was awesome. How many of you know that there is actually a separation wall between Jerusalem and the West Bank? I didn't. I wish those guys could just work out the probs and peacefully co exist. Make sure you go to the picture link at the top of the page too, there are a bunch of new pics on there. Galilee 1 and 2 and then the Bethehem one. Click on slideshow once you are on the page and you'll be able to see the pics full screen with captions that I wrote.
We'll be here in Jerusalem for the next week finishing up classes, and then next week we are taking off for Jordan!! The only downside being I don't have a camera, so I will be bugging a lot of people to use their cameras. I love Jerusalem. I hope you are enjoying Matisyahu (the guy singing). I love you all. Jesus in the Christ. Christmas took on a whole new meaning for me today. I was there... where it all happened.
Posted by Picasa

Laughing and Bethlehem

Here we are at Shepherd's Field. Overlooking Bethlehem, in a spot that very likely could be where 2000 years ago Shepherds were amazed as they saw the star over Bethlehem and followed it to the baby Jesus, the Savior. We ate sack lunch/dinners, had a great Christmas program with music, the spirit and all. The reason we are all laughing here is that we were throwing tomatoes at Anthony (hilarious kid here) and he was running around trying to catch them.

The church of the Nativity. All built on top of the traditional site of the birth of the Savior. It is the oldest standing church in Israel, dating back to the 6th century. It had an interesting feeling there. It was packed with tourists/Christian pilgrims. It was awesome to be there, but I think I liked the feeling in Shepherd's field more. But how about the colors and the stained glass.

The 14 pointed star/symbol of the Birth of Christ. In the grotto where they suppose the actual birth of Christ took place. It was crazy in there and our tour guide was having some problems with English, so I didn't totally catch the significance of it. I love it when people speak English and mix up the plurals and singulars, it just makes life more fun.

The view from Shepherd's Field overlooking Bethlehem. A boy even came up to us carrying a little lamb and let us hold it.
Posted by Picasa


it doesn't get any better than this. the sunsets every single night... I loved just sitting out there on the shores and contemplating and enjoying God's creation. I know why Christ spent so much time there.

Mosaics are another new favorite of mine. These were all over in the Church of the Transfiguration on Mt. Tabor.

The Church of the Transfiguration

I like vegetables too. These are at the Bazaar in the Accre on the coast of the Mediterranean.
Posted by Picasa

the galilee

these cliffs were huge. 200 foot drops probably. unfortunately it was a little bit misty so we didn't have a perfect view of the sea, but we were up there pretty high.

the mount of beatitudes. there was a really special feeling up there I am telling you what. one of the most beatiful spots I have been. There is a powerful presence up there, that is still strong after 2.000 years. It was fun to sit up there and read the sermon on the mount, right in the spot where it took place!

these flowers were pretty amazing. we had a guy, eric, a kibbutz man who has live on kibutz' for about 30 years took us on a hike up in the golan heights to some beautiful waterfalls. he is the same guy that took Charity and her group.

me, jeff, lisa, and lyndsi on top of the waterfall. about 50 feet, i wanted to jump off, but my conscience intervened.
Posted by Picasa