Sunday, November 22, 2009

Galilee Week One

Haha, so I just got back from my pilgrimage through Galilee and I have to admit that it was most enlightening. There's just something about walking around where Christ lived and worked so many miracles that really gets to me. Things just seem so much more real when I can see exactly where things happened. Let me just dive in here and see what I'm talking about.

We live on a kibbutz next to the shore of the Sea of Galilee. We live in little three room apartment-like things that we share between four people. Well, normally four but we got lucky and only have to share with three. Both of my roommates are great and I am excited to get to know them both better. The food's good and it really doesn't get better than having the beach right outside. Field trips, bonfires, and some classes take up most of my time here.

On our way up we had two really cool stops. One was Caesarea, where Paul had his showdown with King Agrippa. There they had some cool old ruins with a beachside track for chariot races and some old places to walk through. Voilà un pic


The other really cool place was Nazareth. We saw a couple absolutely beautiful churches to designate where Mary saw Gabriel and other parts where Christ grew up. There was also a well where pilgrams would drink out of, which supposedly was used by Mary and Joseph when they lived there.
-Side note At another site we saw the old water tunnel where James Mitchell's The Source was based off of.

The next day was absolutely amazing. We saw a bunch of parks and such, one of which was Caesarea Philipi where Peter testified to Christ his belief in Him. This day marked the day where I took one of the best pictures I have ever taken. This bad boy looks photoshopped it's so crazy, I took it on top of the ruins of Nimrod's castle. At least I think so, I'll let you all decide for yourselves. I call it-Dookie Almighty!


One of the coolest things here is the ability to read scriptures on site. One that I never thought I'd be able to do though was a couple from the Sea of Galilee. The following day we took a boat ride crossing the sea from our kibbutz to the Mt of Beatitudes. On the sea I had the chance to read stories of Christ walking of the sea and Him calming the sea on another account. It was a powerful experience.

The Mt of Beatitudes was equally breathtaking. We had a wonderful lesson on the hill. They had beautiful gardens on top with a giant church built on top. Afterwards we climbed down the side of the hill. I took a picture walking away, trying to imagine the Savoir at the base talking up to a huge multitude as they stood taken back at the authority Christ spoke with.


Those were the biggest things field trip wise that we saw. Another note worthy issue is that we all got attacked by a terrible plague. Some 12-24 hour bug that causes violent vomiting. The nurses here have no idea what exactly is causing it, but man we're all dropping like flies. I'm glad I haven't gotten it....yet. I figure my stomach has been in such knots lately the last thing it would need is another bug.

Well I am thoroughly exhausted and am ready for bed. But this has been great, it's the first time I wrote something about these huge field trips while still in the middle of it. Woot, go me!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Snorkeling Adventure

I just have to say that this was my first time ever snorkeling, and I have to say that I just loved it. From those that had gone before, they said that this had more types of fish than any other place they had snorkeled at. Some of the coral is better at other places, but by far the variety of fish win here at the Red Sea. Despite recent illnesses, I was able to make the trip and had a great time.

So snorkeling is a little tricky at first. I jumped in and had to practice for awhile to teach myself to trust the snorkel and actually breath through it. It took awhile to get use to, but I got the hang of thing eventually. Next up was getting comfortable diving down a bit. That one was a lot harder. Most people seemed to be able to blow all the water out of their snorkels once they got near the surface again, but I always had to tread water and tip the thing over to make sure it was clear. At least it's a lot easier to float in the ocean than in fresh water. After all this practice, I was able to make the trek from one end of our designated area to the other. It was a triumphant day for the dookster.

The fish we saw were crazy! One of my room mates is a hard core fish guru, and knew everything there is to know about all the fish. He was like an encyclopedia for us all. Unfortunately I forgot almost all that he told me, so I'll describe it all like this. There were a couple flat oval fish with zebra stripes and a little yellow coloring on top. A few fish had a wonderful rainbow coloring to them. Another looked like a huge swimming stick. They all would swim up right next to us, I even had some times where I was swimming right in the middle of a school of fish. It was insane, I definitely need to do it again sometime.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Sickness Sucks

So I don't have a whole lot to say about the past week or so. We've been all studying hard for finals coming up. Most of our classes are ending soon. We will start a New Testament class next week and will continue our Ancient Near East class, but the rest are finishing up now. So besides staying in to read, I'm staying in to sleep and get over whatever I have. Sorry I'm boring, hopefully next post will be more entertaining.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Shawarma Man

I just have to give a quick shout out to my most favorite resturalt in all of Jerusalem, Al-Nasser. This is the place to be if you want a good shawarma. They have this row of condiments that you go past after getting your shawarma, so you can dress it up however you like. The sauces and topping are absolutely amazing. Just check this out

Boom, there it is in all its glory.

The man running the store is pretty awesome too. He's working on his phd in ancient Arabic writings. We talked for a bit about what he does, and all the cool things we saw in Petra. And we were able to debunk of some myths he had about the Mormon University up on the Mount of Olives. Many more visits here are to come.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Study at Gethsemane

So the other day I had the chance to read all the gospel accounts of Christ in Gethsemane, which was an amazing experience. There is a special private section that is closed off from the main tourist, but for whatever reasons all Mormons are allowed in. So we had access to a large quiet area where we could actually walk around the garden at our own leisure. It was a beautiful place, and very inspiring. Some new questions came up in my mind, which were able to be answered throughout the day with more personal study. It's amazing the kinds of things we are learning out here. How fortunate I am to be able to walk out to Gethsemane on the Sabbath to study. I swear, this place feels like a dream.

Thursday, October 29, 2009


To be completely honest, it felt like most of this trip was for fun and because Jordan is awesome and not so much because it had a ton of Biblical sites. We did see the lookout point Moses had when he first saw the promised land, and we saw were Christ was baptized. But besides that our field trips centered around ancient civilizations and all of the cool ruins. There are some cool sites and stories that I want to write about, but I've been playing a lot of catch up lately on my blog and want to write it all when I feel a bit fresher and more enthused about writing. So more to come on my week in Jordan later, expect this same post to be updated rather than me starting a new one.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Holland's fireside

We had Elder Holland here on business, and he did a wonderful fireside for the district here. All our teachers and staff were running around putting stuff together and making sure everything was just the way it should be. My Old Testament teacher gave me two cool assignments. One was to usher and the other was to give the closing prayer.
So not only was I ushering, but I realized a very important lesson today.  Elder Holland is a hard act to follow, even if you are just saying a prayer. After my closing prayer I ran over to shake his hand and his wife's and the seventy that was there too, I thought it might be awkward but I figured it best to beat the crowd.  Elder Holland and his wife thanked me for my beautiful prayer. Although I've live in Utah for a year now and have seen every session of general conference that I've been able too in person, this marks the first time I was able to shake an apostle's hand. Very cool.
Oh and his talk was amazing.  As of officer in the church he would be very disappointed in any of us if we hadn't permenantly been changed for the better during our stay here.  He got all dramatic in the finger pointing Big Boss Elder Holland way.  He also talked about how there seems to be an extra responsibility placed on the Saints who have literally walked in the Lord's foot steps.  I've thought about that a lot lately, wondering what I'll take from my semester here. Things have been really good and spiritual, but not quite as I had expected. Lately I've been thinking this place feels an awful lot like the MTC(the mission training center, or boot camp for LDS missionaries before they get sent out), and that perhaps the change will be felt more once I go back to the States and into the "field." His wife brought up the Isaiah 52 and how it is our duty for the rest of our lives now to bring good tidings and publish peace after walking on the mount of Olives and otheres here.
His talk was on mercy, challenging us to find little ways throughout our day to become merciful, patient, and long-suffering. His closing remarks involved him connecting Christ staying with the Nephites a bit longer to bless their sick with the sermon on the mount (Luke 6:36 Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful. vs Matt 5:48 switching merciful with perfect) and finally with the mercy seat in the old testament.  Wow!