Tuesday, April 30, 2013

For Future Jerusalem Center Students

I had some things that I wish I had known before I came to Jerusalem. I don't know if this is going to be read by a lot of people, but for the sake of remembering....

1. School was really hard... I thought that going to Jerusalem would be a breeze and that it would bring my GPA up. Surprise! Not only am I a Biology major, I freaking hate writing papers, and doing long reading assignments. What a slap in the face by reality. Of course, if you are not really worried about your grades, or you have a knack for writing papers, or you already know everything, or like some, you just don't give bip bi dee, then good for you :)

2. Bring flip flops. I guess most people will not make this mistake, but I forgot to pack them and there were so many times (like at the beach, or in sketchy showers in Jordan) that I would really have loved to have them.

3. You don't have to bring crappy tennis shoes for the Hezekiah tunnel - unless you are not into sharing, but if this is the case, shame on you. There are tons of water shoes that you can borrow from the Jerusalem center. And this is also the case with beach towels.

4. Don't bring multi-vitamins. Let's be honest, you are not going to use them anyway.

5. For girls - don't bring scarves, you can get so many here, its ridiculous

6. For boys - don't bring so many dang ties, you can pick up some really nice ones in Turkey at the silk market.

7. Don't buy souvenirs in the beginning of the semester, you will end up getting ripped off. For wood carvings, go to Omar's or Jimmy's. They will give you good prices. For me, I thought that the quality of work was a little better at Omar's, but the prices were more reasonable at Jimmy's. Some of the cool things that kids got: scarves, earrings, necklaces/bracelets/couplings (with roman glass or widow's mites), shofar, olive wood carvings (nativities, oil containers, Jesus' bust, etc) rings with Arabic or Hebrew written on it (shop across from Shaban's), baby blankets from Bethlehem, ties from Turkey, tiles from Turkey, Keffiyeh, and Kipas. I am sure that I am missing some, but budget wisely!

8. Prices - Don't pay more than 20 sheks for a scarf, or 5 sheks for a pair of earrings. Shaban has some great things for really good prices, and on the way from his store to Damascus gate, there is a jewelery store by Lina's that has really cheap things if you're into that kind of things.

9. Food- there is a sharmaritto place by Jimmy's that is to die for. There is a good shawarma place right when you enter in through Damascus gate at the fork. The best place to get a variety of chocolate is El Dorado on the same street as Aladdin's money exchange, but if you want bulk candy, just get it from Arab costco in the Kidron valley on your way to the old city. Lina's has the best hummus and pita. Also, don't forget to try the stretchy ice cream in Turkey. Magnum bars are good, but they sell them in the states, so try the knockout bars :)

10. Even if you bring a laptop for class, make sure that you bring a little journal so that you can write things down at devotionals and such.

11. Most importantly, don't forget to have fun, and enjoy your experience. It will be over before you know it.

Things change from semester to semester, but I think that most of the things that I wrote will be still applicable to you. Have a great time!

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Tel Aviv/Jaffa

 I went to Tel Aviv this last Sunday, and it was so fun! I have quite the story to tell as well. The part of the beach that we went to, it was the section dedicated for surfers and swimming was not allowed. The waves were huge! We were not swimming per say, our feet were on the ground at all times, but we still went out pretty far. I had my glasses on because I am blind with out them. Million bucks to the person that can guess what happened to me... I was facing the beach with my back toward the waves and I suddenly found myself under water. When I got back out, my glasses weren't on my face. I was blind for rest of the day... :) Everyone helped look for my glasses, but the Mediterranean had claimed them to never return them. We have midterms and finals this next week, and I consider my glasses an offering to the Canaanite sea god, Yam so that I can do well. :)
This dog was really cool. Skylar and I played soccer with her. 
We went to the flea market at Tel Aviv as well. This was before I lost my glasses. See? they are still on my face. 

 The flea market seemed like a huge garage sale. Some of the stuff that we saw there were super sketch. If you ever go there with your kids, make sure you shield their eyes! I liked the flea market in Portland a lot more.

I was still happy by the end of the day. Note, the glasses are not on my face in this picture. Till next time

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Yad Vashem

Warsaw Ghetto Square

This last Monday we got to go to Yad Vashem and it was an experience that I will not forget. For those of you that do not know what Yad Vashem is, it is a site to commemorate the holocaust and it includes a museum and there are trees everywhere that commemorate the people that have had significant and meaningful actions during the holocaust to help out the Jews.

To the left is the Hall of Remembrance. We didn't actually go in there, but it was on the way to the museum.

Pillar of Heroism

Our teacher, Mr. Yardin, talked a lot about the different and ever changing viewpoints that the Jews have on the Holocaust survivors. It was surprising to me to find that even a few decades ago, there was a lot of negative judgment on the Holocaust survivors. On the minds of the Jews that were in Israel during the time of WWII, they thought for a long time that the ones that survived were weak (very anti intuitive right?). The heroes at Warsaw that fought against the Nazi's were heroes and they had died. Why did the survivors live? This was the thought that was prevalent for a  long time in the minds of the Jews in Israel after the Holocaust. The Holocaust survivors did not talk about their experience and the other Jews did not want to hear about their experience. When Yad Vashem was created, it was used to commemorate the heroes that had dies in the Holocaust and the idea of commemorating the survivors was not part of the agenda.
The Heroes of the Warsaw Ghetto Revolt
The Jews that are being led like "sheeps to the slaughter."

Children Memorial

These stone obelisks were on top of the entrance to the children memorial. One and a half million children had died because of the effect of the Holocaust. When we first walked into the memorial, it was a room full of mirrors in the dark that was illuminated by specks of light that formed a starry night like appearance. There was a woman on recording that read each of the names of the children that had died. Their name, their birth place, and their age at the time of death. Ten seconds in total were given to remember the life of a child - ten seconds. A teacher that was leading a different group of students said that it takes half a year to read the one and a half million names.

After the field trip, there was a lot of students that expressed their feelings as being heavy. In adding to their feelings, I thought that the whole experience left me feeling sad, depressed, and empty at the same time. How could humanity do such a thing? It was just mind blowing for me. There are a lot of people that will not allow themselves to dwell on the thoughts of the Holocaust, or not even touch on the subject, feeling it to be too violent or depressing. I think that it is disrespectful to do that - in my mind it is like pretending that the Holocaust did not ever exist. We need to understand the bad to fully appreciate the good. Learn from the mistakes and become better! There is always going to be a ray of hope that keeps us moving forward and however awful an experience might be, there will always be something to learn from that experience.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

The Marble Theory

Being here in the Jerusalem Center I think that it is important that I talk about this. This has helped me a lot in my life in helping me decide what I actually want in my life :) 

To put it simply everyone that you meet in your life becomes a jar that you keep in your cabinet called your heart. However fleeting the first encounter might be, each person that we meet  gets a jar. 

In theory, we each get hundred marbles that we can distribute to each of the jars that we have made for everyone that we have met that we are attracted to. As we spend more and more time with people, we find ourselves putting more and more marbles in the jar with their name on it. Because of the limited quantity of the marbles, they have to be taken from other jars. This means that as we move on with our lives and make new romantic interests, we take the marbles from the old romantic interest's jar and put them in the new jar. 

In some special cases, we deliberately make it hard on ourselves to take marbles out of a particular jar: first love, or perhaps even a lover that we shared big dreams and aspirations with. In these cases, the jars have lids on them and they we can not take marbles in or out of these jars.

For us to completely move on, we need to let go and open these jars so that we can take the marbles out of them and put them in the new relationships that we make.

This is the reason why I hate it when people ask me who I like because there might be a lot of people that I might be interested in. Better question might be to ask me where my marbles are and how many.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Unleavened Bread for Thought

I am way too lazy to create a new blog for my trip in Jerusalem and its not like a lot of people read my blog anyway, so it's whatever. Greetings from Jerusalem! It's the holiest city on the earth, no big deal. I have wanted to come here for a very long time, and I guess I got my wish. I am doing a study abroad with BYU and it has already been 4 weeks since I've been here.
Like a missionary photo at the MTC.
So, in the past few weeks, we had one out of the country field trip and we got to go to Jordan! We visited Petra which was pretty cool and we watched Indian Jones after we got back. People were screaming so loudly at the movie that I heard it two floors down from where I was finishing up my site report that was due that night. I hate going to movies anyway, you don't really get to talk to anyone and so I prefer to skip them and study a little more so that I can have time to do other things later on.
Kicking the pillars down at Amman

At Jordan we got to visit a lot of cool places and we learned a lot of cool things like how each site related to the bible and things, but by the end of the day, it seemed like we were just getting off the bus to take cool pictures to put on Facebook when we got home from Jerusalem. But this place in Amman was really cool. It was apparently the most well preserved Roman city in the Near East although a lot of the pillars were reconstructed/repillafied (?) ... to show how they would have looked in the ancient time. You can kind of tell in the picture above that the lower pillar section is smooth and how the upper pillars seem a little more weathered. It's because the lower section was buried in sand and the upper section was weathered through out the years.

At the theater
It was raining the third day in Jordan, but we still had to visit some sites. I think this place was at the theater at the base of the city in Amman. People were telling me that I was going to catch a cold because of the rain, and that I needed a coat, but I threw on my Keffiyeh on my head and I was fine. I threw the cold on the ground like a boss...

River Jordan
On the last day of the Jordan trip, we got to visit the River Jordan. It was a really good experience for me. Something really cool that happened was that as we sung hymns and listened to Brother Schade talk, there were splotches of sunlight that would break through the clouds as if the earth itself were bearing testimony of the truthfulness of the messages that were being shared. It was a great spiritual experience.

Garden Tomb
When we got back, we went to the Garden Tomb on the Sabbath (on Saturday) and I had a vision of what my trip here has to be about. The door to the tomb says, "He is not here, for He is risen." I know that He is not there, I know that He is risen and is the Savior of Mankind.

I'll write more later!

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Skyrim and School

It is one of those days when I have to write down everything that is running through my mind so that I don't go insane. School is putting up a real fight, usually it is no match for me, but I guess that changes when you take Biology, Chemistry, and Physics all in the same semester. My counselor advised against it, but whatever. Even though I enjoy school, and I tend to get good grades, it wasn't always the case. In my freshmen year, when I first enjoyed autonomy, I played a lot of video games. I always thought that it wouldn't hurt my schooling because I had always been a good student in high school as well. Needless to say, with out studying, I didn't do very well. I almost fell in the same trap this semester. I started playing an addictive video game called Skyrim and all that mattered was getting to the next level. I sometimes would skip class to play it as well. It was only chemistry class which is currently my easiest class... Two days ago, when I came home from school, I asked my roommate how he was doing in the game because he was starting a new character in Skyrim as well. He told me that something weird had happened and that the saved files and that it had deleted itself. I was upset at first, but in the end, I found comfort in thinking that it was a blessing from Heavenly Father. I had prayed earlier that week that He would help me do better in school and help me become more spiritual. Now I feel like I have so much time where I can improve myself spiritually and academically.

Sunday, August 12, 2012


I don't have many regrets in my life. In fact, I don't know if I am able to call this a regret at all... This past summer, I worked a lot of hours at my job at Nu Skin and in the computer labs on BYU campus. I guess for a college student, I was able to make a decent amount of money this summer. What I do regret is that I wasn't able to spend as much time as I wanted to with my friends. Working from 4-10pm almost everyday and working 10-3pm most weekdays led me to miss out on a lot of things that my friends did.

Seeing that I am not a Saint, one word comes to mind as I try to describe my feeling: jealousy. As I saw my friends get closer and closer, I saw myself get further and further away. It was a feeling that I hated feeling through out the semester. I never want to feel like that again. It wasn't due to the lack of effort on my friends though, I always felt welcome when I was with them. I feel that I get so caught up in working hard for things that seem to be important in the moment will lead to losing something that is important in the long run. If taking in to account that there is a life after this, there are only two things that matters: Our relationships that we build, and the knowledge that we gain.

I learned that it is important to not get caught up in the things that influence our lives temporarily and that I should focus more on the things that will bring me true joy.