Saturday, September 5, 2009


Sabbath is observed on Saturday for most of the people in Jerusalem and when the JC was instituted they received special permission from the church to do the same. Sacrament meeting is held in the most beautiful glass room overlooking the city! We are also blessed with a gorgeous organ and Brother Whipple who plays gorgeous prelude music with it. Speaking of music, it turns out we are one talented group of students. Three-fourths of the eighty kids here came to choir and we sounded great! We are going to have the opportunity to present a Christmas concert to the community before we leave in December! I am so excited! I might get to play the violin for it, too, which would be the icing on the cake! There are four other girls who brought violins and a couple of us played hymns today. What a blessing music is and how keenly I am missing it here! I need to find a balance of filling my thirst but not practicing too much…I must take advantage of all the opportunities that present themselves to me!

About twenty of us frequented the Orson Hyde Monument Park today. It is the site where Orson Hyde dedication the land in 1841 for the gathering of Israel at the request of Joseph Smith. The government owns the land but it is kept up by the church. We had a great view of the city and many of us took time there to ponder and write in out journals. All of the students are amazing! I couldn’t ask for a better group of kids to associate and learn with!

Lizzie writing in her journal at Orson Hyde Park.

Friday, September 4, 2009


What an eventful day! I started off early when I was woken by the call to prayer at 3:00 a.m. I still think it is beautiful (see my post "Joy in the Journey"), but I'll keep you updated on that. Ramadan still has a ways to go and 3:00 is pretty early...

After class we had a free afternoon. I met Malek, the Center secretary, who is very good friends with Nanny. She was so sweet to me and aksed me to come up to the seventh floor and visit her often. Friday is an interesting day to go into the Old City because everyone is getting ready for Sabbath which they hold on Saturday. The center doesn't allow us to enter the city until 3:00 in the afternoon those days because there are lots of preachers in the streets that sometimes cause rioting. The energy is very high. At three o'clock I hiked into the West Wall with friends. Previously called the "Wailing Wall", this is a very sacred place for the Jews since it is the last standing remains of the Jerusalem temple. Jews try to make the pilgrimage to the West Wall at least once in their lives. There is gender separation with the women on one side and the men on the other. The cracks in the stone are all filled with little slips of paper, upon which are written the names of sick loved ones and petitions to the Lord. It was too crowded to get up the front ourselves, so we just watched respectively. I know we will be going back soon and I have plans to slip some prayers in then. The Jewish women covered their heads and read out of prayer books under their breath. They would bow over and over into the wall, or their prayer books, in a mesmerizing, rocking motion. The devotion I witnessed there was truly touching and I did indeed feel the peace of the Spirit in that place where so many have plead with the Lord and sacrificed to obey His words. We retreated from the Wall backwards as to not show disrespect by turning our backs on it.

As we returned North, across the city, we ran into some major crowds. It was not uncomfortable until many of the women began to push past us in a flustered manner, almost frantically scurrying out from the city center. The atmosphere changed and it felt like there was trouble in the air. My first thought was to follow the women and the children: if anything was amiss, they would know it and they would be the first ones to get away from it. We linked arms and followed the crowd of women at a clippy pace. It was a relief when we broke out of the city at Damascus Gate safe and sound! We must have looked turned-about because a kind looking, older man asked us if we were Mormon. We of course affirmed his suspicion and he asked if he could help us find our way. We were planning on visiting Aladdin, the money changer who works with BYU students. The old man began to laugh and exclaimed, "I am he!" We pulled out the cheesy business card that were we had his address, etc. and sure enough, it was his picture on the card. He has a warm composure and light in his eyes. He guided us out to his little store during which he said things like, "You can't help being watched by these bad men. You are all beauties and you are light, " and "I love the Mormons and they love me! You will see." He told us that it was stupid for us to be in East Jerusalem on Sabbath Eve, but he was glad that we went. "You have to have the Spirit of Adventure to gain the good experiences!" He was very excited that I will be learning Arabic and said I could come practice on him anytime. His sons, both of them grown and married, were equally nice. I didn't have my checkbook with me, so I will have to go back, but that is a visit that I am looking forward to!

I am safe and sound back at the center.

A woman walking in the Muslim Quarter.
Notice: two more women reflected in the mirror
in the lower left-hand corner.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Jet Lag

Today I was so tired! This jet lag thing is a beast.

Our director, bless his heart, has the most soothing voice and we were all asleep half of orientation. We were divided up into groups of ten yesterday and taken for a tour of the city. It reminds me a lot of Athens last summer. There is a city-code that requires everything that is built to be covered with white limestone. East Jerusalem is seething with ancient history and merchants of every sort. Lots of foreign smells, lots of Arabic being spoken, quite a few slimy guys, you know, the works. The trippy thing was walking along and our teacher pointing out, “There is the road to ge to the Garden of Gethsemene and here is the Garden Tomb that you can come back and visit. We are walking down the Via Dolorosa..” Excuse me?? It’s unreal. They have these juice stands on the corners where they fresh-squeeze oranges, apples, bananas, plumbs and especially pomegranates. I tried some pomegranite juice and found my new obsession! We also ate bread from off the street. They sell spices by the kilo and you just go get a loaf of bread and a little bag of Thyme (it’s called Zahar, here) and sprinkle it in the bread. It’s is an interesting taste…very raw. It was great to be in East Jerusalem during Ramadan because most of the Muslims are inside fasting and the streets were much less crowded than usual.

Mostly what stuck out to me yesterday is that Jerusalem was a major religious and political hub even before Christ and when He came, healing the people and preaching the Word, I see how he would have met a lot of resistance. It's pretty amazing how the city is divided up! You can feel the atmosphere change as you walk through the different quarters (Arab, Jewish, Christian and Armenian). Even more abrupt was the change from East Jerusalem to West Jerusalem! More on that, later.

I have to go to an internet cafe if I'm going to post pictures because the large files clog up the internet here at the JC, but I do have that on the agenda, so you can expect some soon!

Over and Out.

This is the outdoor wing where are rooms are located.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Joy in the Journey

I'm here in the Holy City! I have met some amazing people on these flights. From D.C. to Vienna I sat next to Leon Ianosh who was on his way to Romania on a mission for the Pentacostal church. Leon is first-generation American and grew up speaking Romanian in his home and I just wished that Jeff had been there to chat with him! That nine hours passed surprisingly quickly but once we landed the jet lag hit me like a semi! Vienna International has practically no sitting area so I ended up sleeping on the floor for the next two's amazing what seems justifiable when I'm sleep deprived. I'm officially a contributor to the European view of pig-headed Americans. I met Mosha from Warsaw, Poland on the flight from Vienna to Tel Aviv and then I wished that BJ was there to talk to her! How cool is it that no matter where I am in the world I have at least one friend that can speak that language because they have served the Lord for two years in that country?

Tel Aviv was so hot when we landed! I am literally in a desert (Mom: wink, wink) but it is still beautiful. There are laws in Jerusalem that require each building to be convered in white limestone and it really makes the city sprakle! We had a wonderful meal in the Center Cafeteria (briased beef, fresh pita, lima beans and rice) and then took an orientation tour of the Center. It is gorgeous! I couldn't have asked for a more asthetically pleasing place to live. After dinner we went out on the terrace and listened to the Call to Prayer. It is especially loud and long lately because Muslims are in the middle of Ramadan and the evening call is permission to eat after the entire day of fasting. The call was blasted over the city through speakers and sung in arabic by one man following a mesmerizing line. The rich, lilting melody was just right to snap me back to reality: I'm in Jerusalem!

Sunset over Jerusalem on our first night here.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Ma Hamazar, Aki?

I’m sitting in the Washington Dulles Airport at gate B45 amongst a bunch of strangers that I already love! This is an interesting phenomenon, where we are all wearing name tags and part of the same organization but none of us know eachother! When I was passing through security in Salt Lake City there was a girl behind me. I struck up conversation thinking that she was one of us only to find out that her name is MorAnne and she is from Tel Aviv! She was so friendly though, and said she was jealous that we are going to her city. She is on her way to school in Vancouver, Canada. I asked her what I should know about Jerusalem and she said, “Dress conservatively.” Good to hear that from a local source. She also taught me the above phrase which means, "What's up, dude?" We exchanged info and I hope we keep in touch. The tender mercies have begun!

Playing cards on one of our long layovers.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Good to be a Musician

Airports may be the last place where the arts are appreciated: I found out today that I am allowed a carry-on
and a purse because my violin is a freebie! This means that my Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia and Hebrew Lexicon can come afterall!! Brother Baron may be the only one who truly understands the gravity of this.

Now I just need to keep myself awake for three hours until I leave for the airport. We have 4:00 (yes...a.m.) check-ins and the flight departs at 6:00. The trippy thing is that I will arrive in Tel Aviv at 3:00 p.m. on
Wednesday. One must only calculate in the time difference to add that up to 27 hours of traveling. Woot woot! The plan is to keep myself awake until the international flight. I can totally crash on that one and then I will wake up all chipper as we are landing in Vienna (the layover right before Israel).

Mmmm won't Austria be the perfect way to start the day?

P.S. the first friend who picks out the three puns masterfully woven into this post gets a shekel!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Mission Accomplised

Thank goodness I played tetrus growing up, because this packing job was a trick! I have all my toiletries, shoes and clothing in my suitcase to check and it is exactly fifty pounds. My computer, camera, scriptures, Collected Works of Oscar Wilde (Annie fit that one in, bless her heart!) and various other school supplies are in a carry-on bag and all the music I am taking will slip in the pocket of my violin case. Whew! It's late, but I figure it's just acclimating me to the time difference (ac-tim-ating?). And besides, everyone knows a good packing job never wraps up before 2 a.m.

Sweet Dreams!

P.S. My violin is my official think that they will consider my duffel (which the size of a small country) to be a purse? Cross your fingers...