Yesterday was my first full day in Jerusalem. It’s been great! So last night, all my roomies, Stella, Elissa, Becca, and I all got unpacked, showered and went to bed. We were exhausted! At about 3 though, I woke up freezing my butt off! Our room was icy cold! Anyways, I basically jumped out of bed when my alarm went off! As for today, first thing, we went on a walk through old Jerusalem and West Jerusalem. There was so much to see! As we walked through the city, one thing I’ve really noticed is how religious and dedicated the people are to their beliefs. I have so much respect for them and their devotion. It makes me want to be more dedicated personally in my own religious beliefs. One stop we made was at the Austria Hospice. As we climbed up the million flights of stairs, or as it felt, we had an amazing view of old Jerusalem from the top. It was cool to see all the many buildings and winding roads. Then when we got back down to the bottom, we went into the chapel of the hospice. Brother Allen talked to us about how what was so great about the hospice is that it provides everything a person needs when they are making a pilgrimage. It provides housing, food, a doctor, and a place to worship. He then told us that as we are here in Jerusalem, we shouldn’t think of ourselves as tourists, but as people making pilgrimages as well. He told us that we should try and focus on the spiritual things we can learn and grow from as we are here and treat our visit here as those that make pilgrimages. As he said this, I felt a strong desire to do as he said. I am not just a student here, but someone making a pilgrimage to the holy land. I want to make the most of these next four months and try and learn as much as I can about my Savior and try and experience all that Jerusalem has to offer.
First day of classes = today! And… they were surprisingly not too bad! I can tell I am really going to love my New Testament class. As for my Near Eastern Studies class, it will take a lil more patience!
So we were all split up into committees AND I’m on the Birthday committee!!!! Yay!!!! It is going to be soooo good!
We went out into the city today for the first time without the security guards. At first I felt like the biggest American tourist ever! We were all together and so loud and I kept on thinking, can we be any more American?!! Luckily we then split up into groups of 4 when we got into old Jerusalem. Much better! As we walked through the city I just absorbed everything. I really enjoyed just walking around and see how all these people live but I will say going into the city sure makes me feel overwhelmed of everything I have to learn about the people here and the history of Jerusalem. I just feel so ignorant sometimes… I most definitely want to try and take advantage of these next four months to learn everything I can! After roaming around for a couple hours, we came back to the center. Man were we tired! Then for our first Friday we watched some Oceans 13, played some Dalmuti, did some yoga, worked out, and played a lil Mafia. Tomorrow is the Sabbath, I know a lil weird! It will take some getting used to on Saturday! I really do look forward to seeing what church is like here!
After two days of flying, I'm finally here in Jerusalem!! Things have gone great! First we flew to the JFK airport in NY. Then we had a 4 hour lay over til 9 pm. During all this, the 18 of us all together got to know each other pretty well! Then we flew to Tel Aviv and didn't get in til 3 pm the time here. Man all of us are so tired! We were all falling asleep in our lectures that we had tonight... Anyways, when we landed, it still hadn't hit me. My mind just kept on thinking "I'm just going on Vaca, no big deal!" Anyways, once we landed in Tel Aviv, then came the customs part... So This guy in my group, Gage, was just a person ahead of me. When talking with the customs guy, he got flagged and they made him wait on the side. When I got up, the guy asked me where I came from (being all attitudy with me) and then asked me what I was doing. When he understood I was doing the same thing as Gage, he sent me over with him. Then they told us to go with some lady and then wait to talk with someone. Both of us sat outside an office all nervous of what was going to happen! There's no freakin way they can't let us through! Plus EVERYONE else in our group made it through! Anywho, after waiting for about 10 minutes, they finally said we were actually ok and gave us our passports back and sent us on our way.
Our drive to the center is when it started to hit me that I was actually here. It was beautiful! It has rolling hills with beautiful homes and buildings. In some ways it actually reminds me of home, just how it is more deserty here. As we pulled up to the center, being the first group to arrive, all the workers and service couples were there waiting to greet us. I'll be honest, I got me a lil choked up. It was so amazing to see how excited these people were excited to greet us to our new home when they didn't even know us! They all are so friendly and extremely inviting. As you walk in, there is a huge arch and a huge window overlooking old Jerusalem. It is quite the view! It was breath taking as the sun was setting. Once inside, they gave us a grand tour of the center, and let me tell you, it is a gorgeous building!! After seeing the entire center, we had dinner and a couple short lectures. Tomorrow we go on a walk throughout Jerusalem!
Just being here today, I feel so extremely lucky to be here. I keep on thinking over and over, man I am one lucky girl to get to be here in this amazing country and with this group. I can tell we are going to have some real good times together. Well, the real adventure starts tomorrow! So far though, I completely am loving it here.