Jericho/Sunday Funday

Last week’s field trip was Jericho. We got to see some of the oldest structures and locations of civilizations we can still see today. It was a fascinating trip. We even attempted (key word: attempted) to sing “Battle of Jericho” on the bus ride home, but turns out we aren’t quite at the level of MoTab . . . still fun.

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Dates on a date palm in Jericho!

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Me & Allie
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Overlooking Jericho
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Overlooking the other side of Jericho
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One of the oldest man-made structures still standing
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Forgot my sunnies. NEVER AGAIN
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Probably part of the wall that fell down when the Israelites walked around it
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Too bad we couldn’t ride in this. . .  We always just walk around 🙂

 

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The spring that sprang forth in the desert when Jesse smote the rod or whatever that story is! What! Pretty much the only spring around so they’re fairly sure it’s this one.

And a few more from the field trip that day.

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WOW.
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WOW again!
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A monastery meant to be secluded from the world and subsequently closer to God.

Then when we had free time one day I went out, just with 2 friends, into the city to explore a little bit. We went to Caiaphas’s palace and the church built around it. It is probably one of my favorite places so far, because it’s one of the places where we know pretty much exactly what happened there and it’s beautifully taken care of. Here are photos from that and other random happenings.

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First falafel in the city! Can’t believe it took me this long . . .
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Got a huge thorny weed stuck in my skirt. R u kiddimg meh
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Aubs & Aubs

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I love how there are just ruins everywhere from some ancient society and they are just commonplace here. Crazy.
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HELLO!

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The church I was talking about

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Peter denied Christ here, and he’s been remembered for it ever since. I hope I leave behind good memories of a strong testimony that couldn’t be shaken, denied, or compromised for anything. “I’ll never, no never, no never forsake.”

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Then, you may have noticed that the title included “Sunday Funday” because WOW, this Sunday was fantastic! Since Saturday is the Sabbath here, we spent Sunday in Eilat, where there is incredible snorkeling in the Red Sea. I’ll admit, this one wasn’t much of a spiritual excursion reflecting about Moses parting the Red Sea. It was mostly just a really fun time! And many thanks to Allie who brought her waterproof camera!

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SPOILER ALERT: THE RED SEA IS NOT RED. I REPEAT, THE RED SEA IS NOT RED.

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Working really hard on that Chaco tanline
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Schools of Mormons
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“My skin hasn’t seen the sun in months, so hopefully this doesn’t blind anyone” -all of us were thinking this, probably

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It’s harder than I thought to take cool underwater pictures . . .

And then, today’s field trip!!! (If you are still awake/stuck it out this far, I salute you. This was a long one).

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I was too distracted by this guy to pay much attention at one of our sites today . . .
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Descending into an ancient dovecote . . .
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Doves were cultivated and would live in here. It’s very holey . . . oh you thought I forgot about that pun, didn’t you? Haha! Never!

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We can see the Greek influence here . . . lol who am I kidding I remember nothing
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Slinging stones like David!
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Basically a pro! . . . at looking awkward in photos
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Overlooking the valley where we slung the stones. I mean, WHERE DAVID BEAT GOLIATH

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Check it out, kids, I got to use a sling JUST LIKE DAVID and I totally protected this valley from a giant Philistine and saved my family and civilization!

So maybe I didn’t do all of that, but it was really fun to actively see what it would have been like to be David, be where he was, and remember that God helps us slay our own personal Goliaths. It wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be to use the sling. Of course I should qualify this, because David flinging a large stone with perfect accuracy and enough speed to take out an enormous man is a different story than what we did. But everyone had made it seem like it was impossibly hard to even use the sling at all. And I know that David had God’s help, so he was able to do what was asked. Just like sometimes doing what the Lord prompts us to do sounds impossible but ends up being perfectly achievable.  And with this highly professional video, I leave you for now.

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Melt Like an Egyptian

Have you ever walked around with your mouth wide open in awe for 6 straight days? Well now I have. Our trip to Egypt was too short, too hot, too rushed, and too sleep-depriving (seriously, I don’t think I’ve ever been so exhausted). We walked around in full sun and 100-degree-plus weather the whole time (hence the title. Even if we didn’t literally melt, we were so soaked with sweat the whole time that it sure felt like it).

And yet, it was one of the happiest, most amazing experiences of my life. It was like the equivalent of a brain-freeze of my emotions. It was too much excitement for my over-exhausted body and mind to handle at once and I couldn’t take it all in. BUT I LOVED IT.

I’ll let the pictures tell the tale. I’ll do a follow-up post with the rest but this is what I’ve got for now. 🙂

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Temple of Hatshepsut only a few minutes away from the Valley of the Kings. I got photobombed in a big way but it’s almost better that way?
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Mohammed Ali Mosque
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Shhhhh don’t tell anyone I accidentally took a little nappy while I was supposed to be listening
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So if we aren’t allowed to climb on the antiquities can we sit on them?

Photo cred for those first ones: my new pal Kathryn. That’s why they’re out of order.

 

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FLIPPING OUT AS WE LAND in EGYPTTTT
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Psyched that we got to walk down one of these things
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Our first meal in Egypt was at T.G.I. Friday’s on the Nile. WHAT?!

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Scenes from Cairo 1.0
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Scenes from Cairo 1.1
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Scenes from Cairo 1.2
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Scenes from Cairo 1.3
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Scenes from Cairo 1.4
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Shopping in the street market in the old city of Cairo
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Giant Rameses statue!!!
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Scenes from Saqqara 1.0
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Rameses is not dancing he does not dance at the partieees

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The oldest pyramid!!!
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Aaaand cue cheesy pyramid stance
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Children of Israel wandering in the vast Sahara
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Ahhh I’m so exhausted I can’t even think

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Scenes from Saqqara 1.1
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We weren’t allowed to take photos inside but this was a crazy cool place. Google it if you get a chance. It was where the ancient Egyptians buried mummies of sacrificial bulls in enormous granite sarcofagi.

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Scenes from Giza 1.0
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Not today, Sphinx. No kisses for you
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Hehe
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Is this really my life?!
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We got to see how papyrus paper was made. SO COOL!
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I made the mistake of climbing a little ways up the pyramid of Cheops (the biggest pyramid) and ripped my pants. Hopefully no one noticed . . . also I look very uncomfortable in all my pictures so it wasn’t really worth it hahaha
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Scenes from Cairo 3.0

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Mohammed Ali Mosque. Enormous and ornate. Crazy.

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Mohammed Ali Mosque from the outside.
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Dinner on a boat on the Nile! We got such great treatment on this trip.
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We got a Whirling Dervish show at dinner!
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The nicest bathroom we had all day was on the boat . . . ? Just goes to show

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More boat rides on the Nile 🙂

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Karnak Temple, Luxor. It’s a complex of a bunch of ancient temples and took over 1,000 years to complete. It’s all MASSIVE and covered with colorful inscriptions.
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One of the few statues showing the Pharaoh and his wife.

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The ancient Egyptians loved Washington too, huzzah! JK they’re called obelisks and they’re probably one of the most impressive things I’ve seen.
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I can’t remember if it’s this one or the other one . . . but the tallest one is 97 feet tall, one solid piece of granite. CAN YOU BELIEVE THAT? How did they cut it perfectly? How did they stand it up? How . . . everything?
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Sacred lake at the Karnak temple, anciently used for cleansing.
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Mary, Me, Allie, Becca
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A tomb with a small box cut out in the top, letting one beam of light through

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We got to ride in one of these feluccas and it was so great. I sail. I’m a sailor. I sail now.
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My new trusty steed!

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Face of unbelief at what I’m seeing

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More Photos, Hooray! And an Excellent Week!

I’ve taken way too many photos this past week and today and I figure SOMEONE out there must want to see them, so here you go.

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My twin (on the right, she’s one of the two other Aubreys here in our group!!!)
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Drinking this herbal tea in a Bedouin hand-woven camel hair tent, not a big deal (Bedouins are Islamic desert nomads who sell woven rugs etc. to maintain their cultural heritage and be self-sustaining).
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Whaddup, just hangin out in the Negev where Abraham probably lived or something.

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The loooong descent into an ancient water cistern. SO COOL.

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Children of Israel wandering in the desert

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Zedekiah’s cave. It’s all carved out right under the Old City, where they got the stone to build the temple under King Zedekiah.
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You can see where they quarried out the stone.
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Look how huge it is! And this is all right under the city!

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Za’atar PYRAMID!

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YMCA Tower
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View from the top of the bell tower
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We got to play these bells 🙂
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Inside the YMCA. One of the nicest lobbies ever?
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Mosaics on the wall in West Jerusalem
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The Waffle Bar. Biggest, sugary-est, creamiest, fruitiest, chocolatiest waffle ever. Instant sugar-coma. These ones are DEFINITELY for sharing.
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Cute!
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Secret door in the Old City!
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We had a formal talent show and it was great. We have a very musical group and it is SO MUCH FUN.
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Selfies with Brittany’s GoPro (we went all around the city on an adventure searching for a selfie stick and we finally found it and then she needed something else to secure it so we found some random guy who put a screw in it and didn’t charge us probably because we’re nice Mormons or something)
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Love them group selfies

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I’ll try to sum up what’s been going down. First things first, on Sunday a group of us got to play the bells in the Jerusalem YMCA tower! It was a lot of fun. It’s kind of like playing a really big, awkward organ.

On Sunday we also wandered around the city. Then Monday we had an incredible field trip all around the Negev desert. Later in the week we went to an impressive Russian Orthodox church, then later, the pool of Bethesda. There’s a beautiful chapel at Bethesda as well, and we got to sing inside. The acoustics were AMAZING and it sounded so cool. I hope to go back there soon and get some photos because it was awesome.

Now, for the upcoming week: we are headed off to Egypt tomorrow! I am EXTREMELY excited. I’ve been fascinated by ancient Egypt since 6th grade when we learned about it (for my project I made a “cartouche” out of wood with my name on it in Egyptian hieroglyphs but don’t ask me to write that now cause I would have no idea how). And now, I’m actually going. I was always like “yeah, that would be cool, for someone who has cash to burn and personal security guards and knows what the heck they are doing (in other words: not me).” Turns out, that’s not necessary, because even though I don’t have that much cash to burn, we will have security and there are some professors and people with us who do know what the heck they’re doing. In fact, they know quite a lot what the heck they’re doing because they’ve been to Egypt more than 20 times (at least one of them has). Bottom line: I feel very lucky/blessed/psyched.

Two days, one million sites. Not exaggerating

OK so maybe I’m exaggerating a LITTLE bit . . .

But! Sunday and Monday last week were both fabulous, busy, walk-all-over-the-place-and-try-to-avoid-getting-sunburned type days. Because we have the Sabbath on Saturday here, Sunday is a free day to go exploring, shopping, sight-seeing, etc. (strange, huh? It’s weird how easy it was to get used to, though). Then, Mondays are field trip days with the class so they cart us all around the land in buses and fire-hose a bunch of information and stories into our brains without ever skipping a beat. Needless to say, after this week, I have a lot of pictures. Especially because I’m still in the fresh tourist phase where it seems important to take photos of everything that looks marginally nice, cool, or interesting. And one final note before you see all the pics: please comment if you have any additional comments about a place we went (because I still feel as if I know nothing about what I’m doing) or if you want to know what something is.

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HOLEY WALL!

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A super-white tourist seeks shelter from the sun.

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This bird hissed at me right before this sooo yeah.

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Work hard, play hard, then collapse on the floor because your legs literally won’t move anymore and be grateful it’s not like the mission where you come home feeling like that and still need to do a planning session

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I forgot the memory card for my camera on field trip day, so I just have this lovely low-quality phone photo. However, you can still get a sense of this amazing church.

 

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Holey wall!

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The rest of the week was great, too. I did a little bit of studying (not too much) and got to know the people here better. We got to go to the Western Wall and welcome in the Sabbath along with thousands (personal rough estimate, I have no idea how many people were actually there) of Jewish people. They love to sing and dance and pray at the wall to welcome in the “Shabbat” on Friday night, and we got to participate! Luckily, we had learned one song in our Hebrew class so we could sing along at a few parts. We must have seemed to know what we were doing, because at one point, a girl walking by stopped and whispered something to me in Hebrew. It was so shocking that I kind of jumped and looked at her like “WHAT? I DON’T KNOW WHAT’S HAPPENING” and she said “oh, sorry, I didn’t realize you didn’t speak Hebrew. What time is it?” Hopefully that will be the next thing we learn in Hebrew class . . .

No-Negativity May

I know I just barely started talking about Jerusalem, but I have to address something really quick. No-elevator April went really well, guys! I rode a lot of escalators going through the airport, but it’s not the same thing . . . so I was successful in my goal! Ha! It’s been fun going up and down the stairs of the Jerusalem Center here (honestly it’s not that bad, it’s usually only a couple of floors at a time) and hopefully it will stay a habit. That should keep me healthy.

Now you’re all wondering what I’m going to do for May. Will I keep going with the goals even though I’m on a study abroad? Is there something I can give up even though I’m all the way over here in a foreign country and I basically have no idea what’s going on? Yes! Of course! In fact, I thought of something that I hope will help me get the most out of the experience: no negativity.

The plan is to stop myself before I say anything negative—anything at all. I know in March the thing was to avoid speaking poorly of anyone behind their back, but this is even more. Yes, it includes not saying anything unkind about my fellow students on the program, the people of Israel, or even people back home. But it also includes complaining about the weather (you should have seen how sweaty I was today . . . iiieccchhh), my level of tiredness, my homework, being forced to play basketball (yes, that happened, and no, I don’t want to talk about it), etc. Hopefully it will help me to enjoy every moment more and savor this once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Hurrah for Israel! (Is that being appropriately used? No idea. Anyway you get the idea of how I feel about this place and the fact that I get to spend a whole summer here   !!!)