Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Greetings from Galilee P.2

I'm getting a little tired of playing catch up with these blogs, so these last two aren't going to be as exciting. My camera has also decided to no longer function properly as well, so pictures will no longer be as central either. Sad story I know. Anywho, shabbat in Galilee was really awesome. First our group got to stay on the kibbutz until late afternoon, so it was nice to just sit on the beach and bask in nature. In the late afternoon we finally headed out to our church services in Tiberias. On the way we stopped at another 'possible site' of Jesus baptism. The spirit of the place was really peaceful and our group had a good time singing hymns. The best part was Kara reading the baptism account in Hawaiian Pidgin though.

Warning: You may not be able to read this if you're not Hawaiian. Thank goodness Kara could translate it for us.

Moon and I in the Jordan River. If you look closely I am still wearing my Jesus sandals. Woot!
Once we got to the meetinghouse and started church, it finally hit me that I was in Galilee where Christ lived and grew up. It's funny how you can spend so much time in a place before realizing where exactly you are. Maybe I'm weird, but it took a little while for that fact to sink in. Church was amazing, and there was an incredible view overlooking the sea where we took lots of pictures.

Kara and I overlooking the sea of Galilee.
Sunday was spent inthe Jezreel Valley and then swimming at Gan Ha-Shelosha. Mt. Tabor was my favorite stop of the day. This is the mountain that they believe was the mount of transfiguration. They have a beautiful church at the top and some gorgeous grounds. We even got to watch a little part of a ceremony which was fascinating. The taxi ride to the top and then back was pretty intense as well. Try playing jello in the backseat of a van taxi with switchbacks every few yards. You haven't really played jello until you've done it on your way down Mt. Tabor. Swimming at Gan Ha-Shelosha was more of a sunbathing experience for me, but everyone else had fun getting warm in the natural springs.

A view of the church on Mount Tabor.

Some people in my group bathing in the man-made waterfall.

After another day of classes, we began our final days of field trips before heading home. The first day we went to upper Galilee where we saw...yep you guessed it...more ancient ruins! Climbed atop yet another tell, found some more blooming flowers, and finished the night off with a class bonfire where we learned all sorts of unknown facts about eachother. Let's just say secret talents and suppressed childhood memories were exposed. All in good fun though.

Moon and I amongst the flowers.
Miriam and I making sad faces. Maybe it's because Keri wouldn't give us a demonstration of her pole dancing skills. Or we were devastated by another one of Blunck's tragic childhood tales.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Greetings from Galilee

So you'll be getting backlogs from Galilee for the next few days. If these interest you, feel free to continue jumping back as they're posted, otherwise you can just ignore them. :-) Basically the trip was awesome, but as always, it's really good to be back home. No more funny smelling Kibbutz soap or sack lunches with mystery meat, thank goodness. But we'll start from the beginning I suppose...

First, we began our trek north with stops at sites like Casarea Megiddo where we saw some (gasp) mroancient Roman ruins. The excitement over such a thing begins to wear off after the tenth time or so, but bless our teachers for trying to instill some historical appreciation in us. On our way out we got to make a quick stop by the Mediterranean Sea and dip our toes in the water. Those few precious moments in the sand made the day of bus ride worth it.
Kara, me, and Chelsea (now called Rainbow because of her communion with nature) at the Med Sea...literally jumping for joy

After that we went to Nazareth where we got to sit and sing inside the synagogue where it's probable that Christ taught in. There was a really awesome feeling, and all the locals around were so nice. The people here are seriously so amazing. Anyways, after that we finally rolled into our kibbutz at Ein Gev. While there were initial setbacks, like a lack of hammocks, clogged shower drains, and algae green water, we eventually got over it and grew to love the kibbutz life. The room I slept in was probably smaller than the average walk-in closet and I slept in the top bunk, but it made for good memories. Let's be honest, I got to stay on the beach of the sea of Galilee...I'm not really complaining. That night we had a rousing game of kissing rugby (don't worry, we play kiss on the cheek rugby) before retiring to our bungalows. Don't worry...I have videos for later.

A view of just one of the many killer sunsets over Galilee

The next day was our boat ride across the Sea of Galilee, and luckily a nice little tempest whipped up just in time for us. I got to sing Master the Tempest is Raging, on the Sea of Galilee, in the middle of a (albeit small) rainstorm. It was INCREDIBLE! Then we visited the remains of an ancient boat before heading to the Mt. of Beatitudes. The grounds were gorgeous and again, the spirit and peace of the place was spectacular. After lunch we went to St. Peter's Primacy and Capernaum. The weather was beautiful and there were brilliant colors and flowers everywhere. It was one of my favorite field trip days for sure.

Me, Alisha, and Aubri on our boat ride

Moon and I overlooking our "tempest on the sea"

Chelsea, Kara, and I oustide St. Peter's Primacy by the heart shaped rock

By Wednesday it was time to hit the classes, so we spent the whole day on the kibbutz. Of course it's not really a hard life or anything when you get taught on the beach. Not to mention we were fed pretty well too. Pita bread and hummus are quickly becoming a staple food. Worked on my tan, which turned out quite nicely...I am now brown almost beyond recognition with a stylish watch tan-line to boot.

Our next field trip was to Gamla and Qazrin. At Gamla we saw 'the city on a hill' and some of the most striking flower fields I have ever seen. Later at Qazrin we had the enjoyment of a '4-D' movie that was definitely oscar worthy. Mostly I just remember the narrator saying "Scandalous!" and thinking back to the Ashley's from the cartoon 'Recess'. I'm a simple mind I know.

Kara, me, and Miriam rockin our sunglasses outside of the waterfalls at Gamla

A group of us posing GQ on some ancient ruins in Qazrin...as usual

Once we got back from that, spent some more time on the beach playing ultimate frisbee. Oh and at some point I learned that I am not physically capable of throwing a football. So there you have it...at least part of it. More to come later.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Brain Dead

It's official, my brain has stopped working. After two weeks of studying and finals, the state of cerebral activity is sketchy at best. Pouring over notes, quizzing my peers, and attempting to re-read an entire semester's worth of assigned reading put me in such a state. At one point I looked up from my Palestinian final this afternoon and just stared stupidly at the front of the lecture hall for at least 5 minutes. I could not for the life of me bring back into memory the things my teacher had lectured on a mere 24 hours before. The good news is that tests are over, and next week we are headed to Galilee! But first, I need to relate what has kept me sane the past few days.

Yesterday, after taking our ridiculously difficult Judaism final, a group of us headed to Ammunition Hill. This is the site where part of the six day war in 1967 was fought. While we had fun meandering around the hill and playing army with pine cones, it was yet another reminder of just how ugly war really is. So many of those who fought and died were my age. They had letters to family, pictures, and biographies of these young soldiers. Sometimes I think I have a pretty good grasp on reality, and then I go into war memorials. Some things will just never make sense to me.

The Israeli Flag just inside the Ammunition Hill memorial building that was signed by some of the war veterans.

Here's the golden wall with the names inscribed of those who died fighting in the war.

Coming home from that visit, I attempted to study for the last final, but found myself distracted by things like backward somersault competitions...which I apparently have a knack for. Of course just as with all things, the fun ended in injury, this time on my already bruised knee. And I somehow managed to get rug burn on the tops of my feet. Injuries are are just another talent of mine.

Today was simply more failed attempts at studying. After having a rather conflicted internal debate over what my priorities should be, I decided to go to my favorite place in all of Jerusalem instead of stay inside and study: the suq. Thus, while my final grade will definitely suffer from lack of preparation, I have no regrets. Stefanie, Chelsea, and I stuck together and I spent my last few sheks on more dried fruit to get me through Galilee. We sampled tasty fruit, bartered with Jewish merchants, elbowed our way through crowds of people, tried on dresses over our awkwardly chunky clothing, and finished the excursion with a trip to the pita factory. Basically, the suq is better than Costco...which is saying alot because we all know I love Costco.

My beloved dried fruit in the suq that I will certainly miss once we go home.

Stefanie and I at the pita factory enjoying our complimentary pitas. Look at those machines!

The rest of the day was basically a JC-wide celebration over the end of testing...for awhile at least. Activities included around the world ping pong, a Weezer music listening party in the lounge (with Jayne, Heidi, and I singing along rather loudly), and yet another viewing of High School Musical 3 (which is quickly becoming the most popular movie of the center). However, we all know the real partying is going to start once we get to Galilee. Yee haw!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Making Friends with Monks

Here I find myself again, procrastinating study in order to blog. It's really the only time I ever feel like doing it. Essentially, if it weren't for my tests, this blog would not be getting updated. Now there's a sad thought. Anywho, loads of fun to report this week despite tests of death. Last week after round one of tests we had an Israeli Folk Dance activity that was a little less culturally enlightening than planned, but fun anyway. Our energetic instructor definitely kept it real.
Here's the group and our instructor learning some "authentic" Israeli moves.

Following the dance we wound down with a little High School Musical viewing which I sang practically all the songs too. The poor people at this center have to put up with me singing those stupid songs all the time, but I just can't help myself. But the fun doesn't stop there! Once 9pm rolled around, it was time for Capture the Flag: Ninjas vs. Pirates. While the game wasn't quite as organized as most, and J.J. managed to capture our flag within the first 10 minutes of round one, we entertained ourselves anyway. Whizzing around corners like a ninja has awesome written all over it.
Sadly my camera is being retarded as of late, so you get this blurry picture of Sharon, me, and Josh showing off our Ninja moves.

Sunday was more class and test prep, but after lunch I got to go to the Gypsy center and help some of the Gypsy children with their homework. It was so neat to talk to them and learn more about their culture. I loved it. Explaining different words in English as we helped with the homework was also proved educational. Stefanie's charade describing "icy" was definitely a highlight.Here's Emilie, Chris, Anne, Stefanie, and I with the kids.

Chelsea's 20th birthday saved the evening from being totally lost to studying. After dinner we went out for dessert in West Jeru and ate the most delicious crepes I've ever tasted. We even tried to dance with some locals in the street, but they shunned us and turned the music off. Apparently our dancing skills are worse than I thought. The real party however, began on the way home when we were picked up by the most pimp taxi I have ever ridden. This taxi van had neon and strobe lights, extra bass speakers, and a flip down screen to watch music videos. So we basically rocked out the whole ride home and were sad when we finally arrived back.

Here is Chelsea the birthday girl in all her glory.

Monday marked the end of my love affair with.....Arabic. We met for one last time with the charming Mr. Ayman Jebara and took, quite possibly, the easiest final of my life. I will be forever in his debt for teaching me important phrases like Bukra fil mesh mesh (when hell freezes over) and the four different ways to say no (that's right, they need four different ways to tell you no). I will no longer be able to wait for my name to be called on the attendance roll as E-lice. No more falling asleep in the middle of his class and waking up to him muttering some Arabic swear word swiftly under his breath. And so I bid Arabic a fond farewell. Maesalame.

This is our happy little class with Ayman in the middle. He really did like us best I think. Except maybe Eliza haha.

Finally, we get to yesterday, which was our field trip to Bethlehem. We left early in the morning to get across through the separation wall and then proceeded to a lecture where I sat by Lindsey, who fell asleep with her sunglasses on and then woke herself up when she started to snore. Ah, how I love memories. After that we went to Bethlehem University where we watched a really well done film on the Palestinian Refugees. Then there was a panel of students that we got to ask questions. The whole experience on the campus provided me with some serious contemplations, and I left with some new insights on the current conflict. Next was the Church of the Nativity where Christ was supposedly born.

Jessica and I inside the great hall of the Church of the Nativity.

Unfortunately, I had one of my not-so-shining moments right after the above picture. A small group of us were waiting to go further inside the chapel when we began having an intense discussion on a sensitive subject. I recall chuckling softly at one point, but we definitely weren't being raucous or anything. So when the time came to move forward, a rather angry looking monk flew towards me and two other girls, literally forcing out of the hall. He then told us in no uncertain terms to leave the church. So there's one for the kids, I was kicked out of the Church of the Nativity by a real life monk.

Hayley, Kara, and I looking sad and penitent after being cast outside of the church.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Study and Play

This week has been killer. I've spent way more time inside than is ever desirable for any human being. That's the one negative aspect of the Jerusalem Center...you have an entire community inside a building, so unless you force yourself outside you could almost become a cave dweller. Luckily, we started the week off with a field trip around Herodian Jerusalem. We got to walk on streets that Jesus would've walked and sit on the steps where he would've taught. It was pretty much awesome.
Lauren and I in an ancient hallway just inside the city wall of Jerusalem.
Our group on the steps outside where the temple would have been.
The rest of the week has been full of studying, tests, papers, and stress. Trying to squeeze an entire Old Testament class into a brief month and a half has proved rather difficult. However, we still manage to find ways to avoid study. This week was Jewish Purim, which meant everyone dressed up just like Halloween. So we went out on the town and observed some quality Jeru culture. Then we had another field trip to the separation wall on Thursday. Danny Seideman was our lecturer, and the entire experience was incredible. He really opened my eyes to some of the current issues, and the wall basically speaks for itself.
I'm super excited about the juggler behind me. He entertained us on the exciting streets of Jerusalem during Purim.
Here is the separation wall. A great big concrete mass simply dividing people frome eachother.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

The Jordan Journey P.2

Okay so I've been slacking lately, and since that seems to be my motto for everything as of late, this post might not be as entertaining (not that I am under the delusion of being really entertaining), but you can blame mid-terms for that. So for the recap, on our third day in Jordan we visited the Roman ruins of Jerash where we got to put a spoon in a column and watch it shake as we attempted to push it over. Then we proceeded to have a dance party in the roman theater, and finally watch an authentic live-action chariot race. It was some pretty exciting stuff.
Later on that day we made our way to the dvd store where all the crazy american students practically bought out the sad little shop. It was awesome. We also went to the Mecca Mall in Amman where we got a little taste of home in the multi-storied shopping center. We had fun hanging out in the arcade like teenagers and laughing in the bathroom at a rather entertaining butchery of the English language. On the way home we decided to carry on tradition and start up a dance party in the backseat of our taxi. Putting neon lights in the back of a car is ALWAYS a good idea, if you ask me.
Another point of interest was the King Abudllah mosque where all the girls got to dress up in questionable smelling black dress robes before entering. While I wasn't a fan of the robe, I really loved being inside the mosque and listening to the guide explain some of the deeper points of Islamic worship. Plus, all of the mosques here are breathtakingly beautiful.
Somewhere along the way we stopped at more roman ruins and then the Jordan River. Overall, Jordan exceeded all expectations and helped me further appreciate the Arabic culture. The people were awesome, the food was edible, and the sites were gorgeous. Basically, I love Jordan.
Of course the Jordan blog can't be complete without mention of what happened at the border. By now our group is getting pretty efficient at going through borders, but the process always seems to get longer. So this time, just like every other, I emptied my pockets and walked through the metal detector without a second thought. Unlike every other time, it beeped. After assuring them that I had nothing else on me and walking through the detector a few more times, I was sent to the side to await my fate. After waiting around for about 20 minutes and being body searched multiple times, it was finally determined that I did not, in fact, have a bomb on my person...only a very threatening and ominous underwire bra. Good times I tell you...good times.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

The Jordan Journey P.1

Okay so I'm a little behind on the times, but I'll try to hit all the high points of Jordan briefly. We're going to do it picture style though because I can remember better that way. So after pulling out of Jeru our first stop was Mount Nebo where the infamous Brazen Serpent resides. However, it was closed due to renovation or something. Sad huh? But there were some really need mosaics, which I always love, so it was worth it.
One of my favorite mosaics that I saw.
Here's Miriam and I atop the mountain with our matching black eyes. Twinners!
Angie, Valorie, me, and Richelle on the road to the Red Sea.
The next day was our much anticipated visit to Petra where we did lots of hiking, site seeing, and of course picture taking. Our stops included ancient ruins, a sacrificial altar (which we had way too much fun re-enacting), and a view from the end of the world! It was pretty much incredible. This visit brings my world wonder visits to TWO, all in a matter of weeks! I love my life.
Here's Lisa and I with an authentic Petranian (?) man. Kind of resembles a viking I think.
Stefanie and me in front of the treasury at Petra. Just like Indiana Jones...except no Harrison Ford...and it's in black and white because I am camera retarded.
Here's a group of us just outside one of the many Petra sites.

Lisa, Stefanie, Kara, Angie, Suzie, and I making our train in front of the monastery. Chugged all the way to the top of that mountain baby!

Rockin the Jordanian flag and the view of the end of the world!

And of course I can't leave out our signature picture of the visit....Petrified in Petra.

Friday, March 6, 2009

The Incident

Okay so before I launch into my Jordan travels from this week, I need to dedicate a little entry. First I'll recap the day before "the incident", because that was an awesome as well. A group of us decided to again brave the rain and go to the Jewish market (they call it a suq) so we'd have goodies for the trip. The suq is seriously one of my favorite places in the whole city. There is tons of dried fruit, nuts, fish, candy, bread, etc. I was so enthralled I bought $10 worth of dried pinapple, strawberries, kiwis, and nuts. The people are always so friendly and it is really just a cultural experience walking through the streets in this place. I love it.
Moon and I in front of my favorite fruit and nut stand. Yummy.
Here Anne and I are posing in the middle of the suq. Clearly we enjoy making a spectacle of ourselves.
Enjoying ice cream at McDonald's where the kids meals have toy cell phones that play "Barbie girl". This is Nycole, Heidi, Kara, me, and Moon.

Later on that day I found myself in our gym again playing that crazy sport of body ball. Now first of all, I have to admit that just a few hours earlier in the day I looked at my multi-colored fingernails and thought, "Gee, I should really cut those soon." But of course I ignored that still small voice. So, I'm in the gym playing and all is going well until Miriam takes a ball to the face and gets a little hit in the eye. Being the sensitive friend that I am I yell "Suck it up Miriam" and continue playing. Kharma comes back to me later when I take the exact same hit to the face from Bryan. My first thought was that I just got the wind knocked out of me and my eye would only be a little sore, but then the blood started oozing and I knew I was in trouble. So I ran to the bathroom laughing the whole way and Haley helped me mop up the mess. For pure entertainment, here's the pics....
Just pretend like this was actually taken at the moment of impact. Note the terror in my eyes and face.
Me as the battered wife and Bryan as my abusive husband trying to make amends. See that bruise on my arm? Abuse I tell you!
After I forgave him and we decided we could make it work.
*Disclaimer* My black eye was not in any way, shape, or form Bryan's fault. It was pure stupid on my part.