Saturday, December 31, 2011

Disturb us, Lord, when
We are too well pleased with ourselves,
When our dreams have come true
Because we have dreamed too little,
When we arrived safely
Because we sailed too close to the shore.

Disturb us, Lord, when
With the abundance of things we possess
We have lost our thirst
For the waters of life;
Having fallen in love with life,
We have ceased to dream of eternity
And in our efforts to build a new earth,
We have allowed our vision
Of the new Heaven to dim.

Disturb us, Lord, to dare more boldly,
To venture on wider seas
Where storms will show your mastery;
Where losing sight of land,
We shall find the stars.

We ask You to push back
The horizons of our hopes;
And to push into the future
In strength, courage, hope, and love.
attributed - sir francis drake -1577

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Saturday Morning

I have the bad habit of opening netflix first thing Saturday and watching an old classic for the whole morning. Before I know it it's already 2 in the afternoon. Last time it was Gone with the Wind... which is four hours long. Yes, I watched all 4 hours... wishing that if I imagined hard enough Rhett and Scarlett would finally end up happy together. Makes me cry every time. Why do I watch depressing movies like that?

Today I'm turning over a new taro leaf. (Taro leaves are huge. Trying to be profound here.) So no more Saturday morning classics. No, not even if it has Paul Newman or Gregory Peck. NEW LEAF.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Beginning a new semester

Lovely Hawaii and I are finally reunited. This will be my last semester before I leave on my mission (currently awaiting my call:) I'm living 4 miles from campus in a house with 22 people. This is going to be a fun couple months. Really.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

And it penetrated my soul... for eternity.

My travels in the Middle East and especially living in Jerusalem was a time in my life that marked a turning point. It pushed me into an uncharted sphere of living that led to self discovery and wonderment. Now as I move on an undeniable pain of separation has set in, and a question. How can I live in such a way that I truly won't look back with regret? I don’t yet have the answer. Opportunities come and go; people come and go… such beautiful people. I was surrounded by professors who truly cared for each student, no matter how scholastically remarkable, and peers who sought for so much more than the mediocre. The experience was too extensive in its scope of influence to be captured in just a few words... To put it as concisely and simply as possible, it was a combination of people and cultures, lessons and moments of illumination, inspiration, new flavors and melodies, prayers from all religions, development of friendships, and so many other little things brought together in one collective equation that came to equal one of the most sacred and life changing experiences of my twenty years of living.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Neot Kedumin (February 14th, 2011)

Neot means "a beautiful place," or "moving forward." Neot Kedumin is a wilderness preserve at the center of Israel that encompasses 600 acres. We spent the day there learning about the symbolism of plants in the Old Testament, herding sheep and goats (also symbolic in the Old Testament), and just enjoying the beautiful wilderness.

Wild poppies. (Illegal to pick!)
Blossoms of a wild almond tree.

A recontruction of an ancient water irrigation system.

Loved this little guy.

We made pita bread from scratch and baked it over the fire. We put olive oil and hyssop (that we ground up with a mortar and pestle) on it or wild honey. So delicious. I am a big fan of pita!

A cute chameleon Jared found.

It was a beautiful sunny day. :)

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Cairo, Luxor and Giza, Egypt!

Jan. 23rd, 2011
Road trip to Egypt! On the way we stopped at two tels, played in sand dunes, bonfired it up in the dessert/roasted marshmallows, and that night we stayed at a Kibbutz. Had a BBQ there, (Hamburger with Pita) chair-less style.
A tel we stopped at on the way to Egypt. (My good friend Laurel!)
                                         Jan. 24th, 2011
Drove most the day, arrived in Cairo and the African continent(!) Light and sound show at the pyramids. Corny and consequently entertaining dialogue by the Sphinx. Memorable quote (deep dramatic voice): "Man fears time but time fears the pyramids..."

Jan. 25th, 2011 
Pyramid day! (Climbed inside a few.) Also explored other ancient tombs with hieroglyphics carved into every inch of wall and ceiling. Toured an overpriced (non-bargaining/caters to rich tourists) papyrus factory (overstaffed, resulting in sales people following our every step and offering mostly unwanted commentary. "GOOD Price, good quality!") Went to the step pyramid just when they were about to close, so we had 13 minutes to see it all! Our group of 40 dramatically ran through area, snapping pictures every second we could. Meanwhile the security guards were blowing their whistles hollering "hurry hurry!" One followed us around taking pictures of our group with our cameras, after he asked for "a little something something?" -rubbing his fingers together to indicate $$$. It was a fun time. And our professors joined. At one point Chadwick grabbed the whistle of one of the guards and yelled "hurry hurry!" (as dramatically as possible. We all got a laugh out of it, including the guard.) You had to be there. While touring the ancient temple (near the sphinx) a local merchant (in an effort to get my attention) pointed behind me and said "you dropped something." I turned around and asked what? "My heart," was his sly reply. There's a taste of the local humor for ya. That night we flew to Luxor.

 Jan. 26th, 2011
Valley of the Kings! Quick history lesson: The valley includes 63 discovered tombs of kings from the 18th, 19th, and 20th Dynasties. They gave up the idea of building pyramids by that point in Egyptian history due to the tomb robberies. So they found mountains shaped like pyramids (which symbolize eternity) to build their tombs in. Who built these tombs? Well, there was a secluded village built for the workpeople to live in as part of an effort to keep the tombs completely secret. Sounds like a good idea, except the tombs ended up becoming victim to the much feared tomb robberies anyway. Can you guess who the culprits were? Yep, the workpeople who lived in the secret village.
Tombs we visited: Rameses III, Rameses VIIII, Merenptah, and  King Tutankhamen (Tut) 

Something interesting about Merenptah: It is believed that his forces discovered the Israelites in the land of Canaan after their exodus from Egypt (according to an interpretation of his records.)
Later that day we went to the Palace of Rameses the Great. It was a stunning site. Then we went back to the hotel for lunch, then took a faluka ride along the Nile to the spot where we started our camel "safari." 
Palace of Rameses the Great
Sailing on the Nile
We rode the camels through the Luxor country side for a bout an hour and half. (Toward the end of the ride I was feeling pretty sore.) We rode by sugar cane fields where farmers were harvesting the sugar cane by hand and loading it onto the backs of donkeys. They gave us some sugar cane to suck on. It was a beautiful time. I talked with the guy leading my camel about his life. He graduated from a university and the best job he could get was leading a camel. I asked him what his dream job would be and he told me he wanted to drive his own car and give people tours of his city.
Did you know: Egypt has a free education system, all the way to the university level. If you graduate with a university degree you are automatically "guaranteed" by the government to have a job. But as one of our tour guides pointed out, "that does not necessarily mean a paying job." The established a free educational system in an effort to encourage families to send their children to school. But the system has turned out to be unsuccessful because most families (especially the lower class) don't send their kids to school anyway because they don't see the benefit as it obviously doesn't help them get a job. Instead they teach their kids how to sell to tourists and even beg. The experience opened my eyes to the harsh reality that exists outside of the comfort of five star hotels/ the Jerusalem Center/ and America. (More to say about that later.)
 Following the camel ride we went back to the falukas to sail back to our hotel. At one point my sunglasses (my beloved prescription sunglasses) fell into the Nile. It was one of those moments where you freeze thought, movement and breath and try to use all mental faculty to turn back time --imagining a different scenario in which my reflexes where fast enough to catch them. But alas, reality was still there no matter how hard I tried to imagine it away. (This may sound overly dramatic, but you would understand if you knew how much those darn things cost.) I noted the exact spot where I watched them depressingly sink to the murky bottom. I then put every effort towards composing myself proceeded to look for a solution to my predicament. One man offered to jump in and get them for $60. Since I wasn't carrying any money on me that wasn't a feasible option. I told my professor I was ready to jump in myself but he wouldn't let me, reasoning that the water was way too polluted and there would be glass at the bottom. I was on the verge of tears. Then a local guy (part of the group that operated the faluka) offered to jump in and get it for me. He stripped down to the basics and hopped in. Turned out it was only waist deep! I immediately regained hope and pointed to the exact spot where I thought they were and after 10 seconds of his looking around, I could finally breath again as he handed them to me. I thanked him profusely. On the way back I talked with him on the boat (also snapped a photo for personal documentation and blogging of course) and I told him how impressed I was that there are good people in this world who will do a good deed without asking for money. He just smiled and told me he was so happy to help. I slept well that night. 

The guy who saved my day!

                                          Jan. 27th, 2011
First adventure of the day included another boat ride on the Nile. This time we were heading toward the Karnack Temple. Did you know: It was built over several dynasties and over thousands of years. It includes a wonder of the world! (More)

Karnak Temple

Following our Karnak Temple adventure we took a carriage ride to the Luxor Temple. 
Luxor Temple

Carriage ride in Luxor.

 Later in the day we had free time to explore Luxor. My group ended up taking another carriage ride through the city. Our carriage driver was an interesting character. Initially he told us he'd take us to the Suk and back for 10 pounds (TOTAL), so we consented. While on the way he told us the Suk was closed (which turned out to be a... fib) and instead took us on a roundabout route to a market we didn't ask to go to. We then had him take us back. At one point a little boy jumped onto the side of our carriage and begged us for money or food, not letting go until he got something. He was probably about 7 or 8 years old. On the way the carriage driver started renegotiating the price and told us it would be 10 pounds per person, each way, which equals 100 pounds. We had him stop the carriage and let us off and we walked to the Suk, which was open, and then caught a taxi back to the hotel. That night we rode an overnight train back to Cairo. 

Jan. 28th, 2011 
Back in Cairo. By this point the riots were becoming a problem so we had to re-plan our itinerary. We ended up going to the Red Pyramid and Bent Pyramid (outside of Cairo) and spent some time taking pictures in the Sahara Desert and explored an ancient temple!
Jan. 29th, 2011 
We were supposed to go to the Cairo Museum but we couldn't due to riots. :( Hopefully one day I can go back there! Since the riots were causing so much turmoil in Egypt and especially in Cairo we vetoed all plans for that day and started our drive to Sinai earlier than previously planned. (And we got to sleep in... 8 O'clock!!!) On our way out of Cairo we drove by a few minor protests and also passed the burned cars from the day before (including a police vedicle.) It was almost eery to watch outside the widow at the city and realize that Egypt was on the verge of major changes and transformations. Since that time Egypt is now ruled by the military and the president fled the country.

Jan. 30th, 2011  
We got up at 2:30 AM to climb Mount Sinai and then drove back to Israel (stopping at a few biblical sites.)
Mount Sinai: It was extremely cold at the top. (I wore a longsleeve shirt, a sweatshirt, a jacket, a windbreaker, a scarf, gloves, leggings under my pants, think socks... you get the picture.) But it was a
                                                                                                               wonderful experience. We sang hymns at the top while we watched the sunrise, and then had an Old Testament lesson (in a warmer spot.) On the way up dozens of Bedouins were sprawled along the side of the trail offering camels rides for "good price!" or "for free!" (Not really.) I was so tempted as I was not feeling up to climbing a cold steep mountain in the dark. While hiking I thought about the principle of endurance and imagined making it to the top as symbolic of achieving eternal life. And it can't be attained through short cuts (i.e. a camel.) While at the top I found a rock of a fossilized plant. My favorite souvenir from Egypt!
My roommate Synthia Smoot!

A stop on the way back to Israel. General place where historians believe events in Exodus 17 occured. (Aaron and Hur assisting Moses as he held up his hands during the fight between Joshua and Amalek.)

In conclusion, it was an action packed week and an experience I'll never forget! But it is nice to be back "home" in Jerusalem. :)

(Photo taken from the 7th level of the Jerusalem Center)