Saturday, May 29, 2010

Something New

I love visiting mosques. Taking off my shoes when I enter reminds me of the temple, and helps me think of how sacred each mosque is to a religion I'm trying hard to learn about.
The is the Muhammad Ali mosque, our last stop in Egypt.

This was a mosque we visited in Cairo. We had two hours of free time, and I'd already stimulated the Egyptian economy more than enough that instead, a few of us grabbed a scarf and spent our free time in a mosque. It was one of my favorite experiences of the trip -- we were immediately welcomed and surrounded by women who wanted to know our names and ages and where we were from. The little girls loved touching our faces and looking at the pictures we took with our cameras.
Nadia, in the middle, wouldn't let us speak English after a few minutes and patiently taught us Arabic words. Then one by one she showed us how to wrap our head scarves the right way and how to pin them. She was so sad to find out we didn't have cell phones, and we were sad to find out she doesn't have an e-mail address. They were all so welcoming and kind to us. It was really cool to be inside during the 4th prayer of the day. Do I look like I could fit in? Just wondering.....

Friday, May 28, 2010


We spent the night at the border between Israel and Egypt at a Kibbutz -- they even threw a barbecue for us and a pool party (yes, our hamburgers and hot dogs were in pitas). That day we went out to sand dunes by the Kibbutz and, after lots of playing, had the chance to each find a spot where we couldn't see anyone else. Once we found our secluded spots we were able to sit alone for the first time in a long time, and reflect on the importance of deserts in the scriptures. I hadn't realized how little time I spend alone these days until that moment, and it was extremely refreshing. So was playing :)

Thursday, May 27, 2010


Disclaimer: This post has way too many pictures. My life has way too many pictures.

Our first night in Cairo was extremely entertaining, thanks to karaoke and a nearly fatal taxi ride. Driving there is insane, and insanely fun. The roads were full of people, camels, donkeys, cars, and lanes that mean nothing. Our taxi driver, Sahid, was hilarious. I asked him if he had ever hit anybody and he just laughed mysteriously. He took us to look at the pyramids (they light them up at night), then to a shop to see how papyrus is made. The driving was the best part though.
We drove from Luxor Temple to the Temple of Ramses in a carriage, which was also an experience. Scott and I had an interesting carriage driver with great photography skills. There were other pictures I considered posting, but I figured I should do one with our heads in it.

I love following Brother Manscill around at all our sites because he just knows so much about everything. He's my Old Testament teacher for the first half of the summer, and he relates church history to everything we learn. This is at Luxor Temple, where he taught us a lot about similarities between the Egyptian people and temple ceremonies. I need to go back there someday.

We stoped at Tel Beersheba and went on a really fun hike on the way down to Egypt.

Chrissy and I at the top of the mountain! Ladders, caves, was a nice break from the bus.

Lisa, Chrissy and me at Hatshepsut. It was insanely hot, but I got a personal tour from a funny worker there for a minute. I couldn't really understand him, but he was telling me a lot about the hieroglyphics and something about giraffes.

Shopping at the Luxor Souks was too much fun, I don't know why I loved it so much. Nothing distracted me from the heat more effectively than shopping. I heard a lot of horror stories about Egypt before going, but all of them about shopping weren't true for me at all. It was a blast!

Memphis! Massive, yeah?
Saqqara was really cool until a (seemingly) cute old Egyptian man tricked me into giving him too much money. That story won't be publicly posted because I'm still ashamed. And I'm not posting the picture I took with him either because I'm still a little bitter. But the pyramid, still cool.

This guy just looked legit.

I think this bird is an 'M'. But I'm not positive. I do know if the arms are crossed on a person it means they're dead, so I'm at least a little more skilled in interpreting hieroglyphics.

Last of the random highlights: the Temple of Ramses III. Luxor Temple was my favorite, but this place was really impressive. I wonder if the Egyptian people knew how timeless all their work would be. Another place we went to was the Valley of the Kings, but they don't let you take pictures there in order to get people in and out faster. We went at 6:30 am so that we could just get back to the hotel during the heat of the day, which was fantastic. The Valley has a lot of tombs of Pharoahs, they haven't even discovered them all -- including King Tut's tomb, which I loved. We also saw Pit Tomb 33, where mummies were discovered that Joseph Smith bought...but that picture is MIA right now. Like I said, I've taken over 1,000. That might be a problem.

Monday, May 24, 2010

The Real Deal

The great pyramids of Giza! I liked staring at them, but if you do it too long the desire to climb them becomes really hard to resist. Dang rules. We did go IN them though, which was an accomplishment for Amanda and I. Dang claustrophobia. We discovered, as we were waiting for our group to go into the tomb ahead of us so we could go in quickly without waiting in line, that we are both claustrophobic from being stuck in sleeping bags at a young age. Dang brothers.

The Sphinx! Smaller than I thought, but cooler too. We came home and watched Aladdin because that movie explains why the nose isn't there anymore. It's completely factual.
Morgan & me! We took this picture so that we could give a shout out to Emily. She's engaged and we miss her!!
Everyone broke the PDA rule for the day. I didn't want to, but everyone else was doing it. Peer pressure at the JC is insane.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

And then Egypt happened...

Back in Jeru! Egypt was much so that it won't all fit in one post. But I will put up a few as fast as I can so that my family will love me again. To start it all off...

Meet King Farouk! My camel. He smelled about as good as he looks, but he didn't spit. To the right is Muhammad, my camel driver. He would feed me entertaining lies about his life to boost his tip, but the camel drivers around us didn't let him get away with it.

I met King Farouk by trying to kiss him, but he totally denied me with a Chewbacca-like noise. Muhammad interpreted that as a sign that he should be my camel for the night. I didn't agree with the logic, but he wouldn't let me pick another one.

So here's our caravan! I was at the very end (good view, huh?) of our long line of camel riders. I liked that because Muhammad would stop for a couple minutes every once in a while then make King Farouk run (trot?) to catch up with the rest of the group. I loved it.

We rode along the Nile in Luxor, and it was seriously beautiful. Despite the 122 degree weather, I completely loved that place. The Nile is nasty. We used bottled water for literally everything the whole week, I turned into nothing short of a germaphobe for the week. Worth it.
Our felucca ride on the Nile that night was one of my favorite things I did the whole trip. It was incredibly beautiful, I wish pictures did it justice. It's so hard to choose which pictures to post, so I hope somebody back home loves me enough to look at all my pictures when I get back :) Except I've already taken over 1,000, so.....
Isn't it so pretty?? Just don't touch it, that beautiful river holds every disease known to man. The moon is kind of hiding, but look for it -- perfect moment.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Gone to Egypt..

Off to see the pyramids! And ride camels :) And ride a bus for a long time, which I'm more excited about then I should be.


Tuesday, May 11, 2010

When in Jerusalem...

This week's field trip was to Jericho, a lookout point over the Judean Wilderness, and a monastery that somebody built too high up on a mountain. The Rock of Temptation was inside, which was cool. Some people rode a tram to the monastery while our group went up suicide steps, which was not cool.
We had to cover our hair inside the monastery -- that felt really good to do after climbing a mountain in hot and humid weather. Don't take my sarcasm too seriously though, it actually did add to the experience. It also kind of made me miss playing dress up at my grandma's house with my cousins. Those were good days...

Monday, May 10, 2010

How I Spent My Summer Vacation

Sundays (not church days, remember) are usually free days, so this week we decided to have a beach day in Tel Aviv. It was so much fun, I haven't had a warm sunny day at the beach in a while! Boston beaches were fun, don't get me wrong, but there's something about actually getting in the water that really adds to the experience.

After swimming, then laying on the beach, then swimming, then laying on the beach, then swimming...we decided to explore. Tel Aviv has awesome playgrounds that totally put America's to shame. Their awesomeness was somewhere between city parks and Lagoon. The swing I took this picture from was basically a banana chair in motion. I didn't want to get out of it.

This was my favorite attraction at the park, which is saying something. You can get that rope swinging from side to side pretty good after a while. We were really impressed with ourselves until we looked at the next playground over and saw a man going higher than we were, all by himself... Most of the park equipment was just glorified versions of exercise machines -- I think America would stop getting fatter if we just put more fun stuff outside.

And this is where we spent 84% of the day. I already miss it. We definitely stood out a little--a huge group of twenty-somethings all in one-piece swimming suits, and laughing harder than anyone else on the beach. We kept making new friends with people that would stop and ask us what we were laughing at. An old man randomly joined in some of our water games out in the ocean, which had us laughing even more.

I waited all day to watch the sunset, but then I accidentally missed it. I was distracted by my delicious shawarma. Next time, next time. It was a wonderfully relaxing day overall, and I'm already excited to go back. Plus it was fun to show my knees all day, they don't understand why I'm not wearing my shorts. I don't have the heart to tell them I won't be wearing them all summer...

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Shabbat Shalom!

I love Sundays! Well, Saturdays. I love the Sabbath. We have choir at 9:00 on Saturdays, then Church from 10:00 to 1:00 (perfect). Last Saturday four of us woke up early to go to the Garden of Gethsemane before church. I loved being there before Jerusalem woke up, it was so peaceful. We're not allowed to go without a guy in our group because a few people have been robbed on the walk over in the past few weeks. That sort of adds to the peaceful feeling of the Garden, since there's such a different feeling once you're finally inside compared to the trail through the valley we take to get there. We sang hymns and read scriptures together, and just tried to wrap our minds around where we were. Out of everywhere we've been, that site is the hardest for me to grasp. There's just no way to comprehend all that happened there.

We saw a man crash his scooter on a busy road on our walk back to the center -- that was a harsh snap back to reality. Traffic here is crazy...sidewalks are not limited to pedestrians and honking does not mean someone is waving at you because they know you. Cedar has given me interesting habits. After church our entire group took a tour of the Garden Tomb. I didn't worry about taking too many pictures because I know I'll be back plenty of times, but I loved seeing this sign in person. We sang hymns together for a while after our tour, and Elder Pieper spoke to us there. He spoke at a fireside that night for us, too. It was definitely a memorable Sabbath. I'm sure dancing with happy Jewish people the night before had something to do with that.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Sharing a Sacred Spot

The Western Wall has always been on top of my (growing) list of things I'm excited to see in Jerusalem. Our entire group is going tomorrow at sundown to welcome in Shabbat, but we won't be allowed to take pictures on the Sabbath. I took these pictures earlier this week. Ever since Boston I've felt a constant desire to understand Judaism more, and its people. One visit to the Wall taught me more about their passionate dedication than an entire past semester in my Judaism and the Gospel class.

Men on the left, and women on the right, are tucking their prayers into the lonely remains of their conquered temple. They sway back and forth, a physical symbol of their desire to love the Lord "with all thine heart, and all thine soul, and with all thy might." Watching these people pray so sincerely to what is left of their temple brought me back to all those nights and Sunday afternoons I spent parked up the hill overlooking the Provo temple. Whenever I felt more than I wanted to feel by myself, whether it was sadness or frustration or gratitude, I drove my car to the place I feel closest to the One who I know has felt exactly the same way.

I watched these fellow peculiar people pray to a God they have so often felt forgotten by, and admired their faith and patience. They walk backwards away from the Wall that is overflowing with their handwritten prayers. I know now more than ever that God hears all His children's prayers; I think He reads them, too.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010


Apartment 309!

Left to Right:
Jillian from Washington state, Karlee from Orem, and Allison from Washington D.C.

I'm excited to have a roommate named Allison. It'll help with my separation anxiety from the sister (who, by the way, makes me laugh every day with her e-mails). Love you girl! :)

Monday, May 3, 2010

If Walls Could Talk

Sunday was our first full free day. I thought I would feel weird going out on Sundays and having Sabbath on Saturdays, but I didn't even think twice about it. I'm not sure if that means I'm flexible, or if I'm just still unaware of what day it is because of jet lag. We're gonna go with both.

No one knows what they're doing yet, so we go out in huge groups -- that sort of feeds the "what are we doing" problem, but hey, it's a good time. Almost everybody went on the Ramparts Walk early that morning, a walk around the walls surrounding the Old City. This place is old.
There are lots of things to play with here, like chains in walls and staircases that lead to dark nothingness. Lisa and I tried to do something cool with this chain but it stopped being fun. Right before the picture I decided I didn't want my (huge and ignored) water bottle in the photo, so I tossed it a few feet away. It went down through the hole of a staircase and nailed three people. Oops. Good thing I knew them all. After that I made people help me drink my water so that it would be 1. easier to carry and 2. not as dangerous to others.

I just really like these people.