Hey everyone! Here is my latest update. Enjoy!
Last Sunday, June 13 was our free day for the week. A large group of us got together and went to the Biblical Lands zoo! Oh man it was so fun because I felt like a little kid again! There were lions, tigers, bears (which were my favorite because they were so interactive), elephants, zebras, rhinos, deer, penguins, snakes, birds, etc. They also had a great kids park with tons of fun sculptures, which we took awesome pictures on, and there was also a petting zoo. It seriously was so much fun to spend that morning at the zoo seeing those amazing animals.
The rest of that day was just a study day because we had a lot to study for this coming week. That night I was able to host a concert and then attend the concert as well. It was an overall great day!
Monday June 14 was our field trip to Bethlehem! This was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity because we are not allowed to go to Bethlehem on our own. Bethlehem is part of the West Bank, and we are strictly forbidden to go into the West Bank at all due to security reasons. I mean, just to get into/out of the city you have to pass through about 3 checkpoints. And the entire city is surrounded by a wall so that terrorists can't get in/out of the city without going through the checkpoint. It's really sad because it really hinders the lives of the Palestinians who live there, but Israel considers it necessary. Anyways, we were able to go to the Church of the Nativity which is supposedly where Christ was born. Under the Church there are some caves that could possibly be the sight of where Christ was born.
The caves are all adorned with amulets and such now, but it was still cool to think that regardless of whether Christ was born in that specific cave or not, I was within about a quarter of a mile of where it did occur. It was so weird to think about. We also had a great authentic Palestinian lunch. Let's just say that I was thoroughly full afterwords, and I will definitely miss the pitas here. :)
Tuesday June 15 was all study and class. That night we had a forum, but other than that I just stayed in the Center and prepared for my midterms. Oh joy.
Wednesday June 16 we had class and studying all day again. I took one of my midterms that morning and I did quite well, so I was thoroughly pleased with my efforts. But that night was the formal talent show! I sang "All I Ask of You" from the Broadway play "Phantom of the Opera" as a duet with a kid who is here studying with me. I got all dressed up before the show - makeup, hair, new clothes, jewelry, etc. - and that was honestly one of the funnest things about the entire night. Ricki and I did such a great job!
I have really come to love singing again since being here. I am very lucky to be blessed with that talent, and hopefully I can share it more once I get home .And my best friend, Jane, even got me a flower after the show! She is so thoughtful. Anyways, the entire night was so great. I am going to try to send the video of it sometime later this week, so be looking for that in an email (if I can get it to work)
Thursday June 17 was one of the longest days that I've had here at the Center. We had 7 hours of class... Oh man I barely survived, but I did! The awesome thing was that I said a little prayer before I went into my 4-hour Palestinian Historical Discourse class just praying that I could stay awake and enjoy the material that I learned, and I did! I really had a great day in that class. So ya, prayers are answered, even if they are seemingly insignificant. :)
Friday June 18 was one of the funnest days that I've had here thus far I think! That morning I had another Old Testament midterm which I did well on again, so at least I did well and got it out of the way. That afternoon I was able to help with making the humanitarian aid kits again which is always fun. I am the box girl, so all I do is make boxes and tape up the ones that are filled with the kits.
I do that every week. I seriously have no idea how to do anything else in the assembly line, but that's okay because I enjoy it. After that I went out into the city with a couple of my friends to buy some challah bread. Challah bread is what the Jews make every Friday for their shabbat dinner that night. So this bread is only available once a week which makes it that much better! Haha. It really was delicious though... So fresh and so soft! Definitely worth the 30 minute hike to get it! After that we went into the Old City and got me some money and some essentials that I needed. We actually ran into some of Jane's friends who live in the Tel Aviv branch, and they invited the three of us to go to dinner with them! So we got a free meal from a restaurant in the Old City which was great! The food was delicious, and it was fun to get to know those people. After dinner we came back to the Center and had a night of Israeli folk dancing! Oh my gosh this was such a blast! I thought that Arab folk dancing was fun. No. Not in comparison to this! We seriously danced for like 2 hours straight, and after we were done we were all so sweaty! It was disgusting, but totally worth the fun we had in doing that together. That night we had a girls night watching 'She's the Man', painting our nails, and just talking about everything until about 2 am. :) Loved that day!
Today, Saturday June 19, has been great too. I slept in this morning (due to my lack of going to bed last night) and had a wonderful church service. This afternoon we have a fireside from an area general authority so that will be great. One thing I want to note is that today is my half-way point! Can you believe that?! I am half-way done with my adventures here in the Holy Land! I feel like I have done so much and have learned and grown so much, and yet there is so much I still want to do! And guaranteed the time is going to go by super fast after this, especially after my finals are over in two weeks. Woah, time is just flyin by!