Sunday, August 8, 2010

Sister Brown the Creeper

You should all be very grateful for this post.
It required me to sacrifice a great deal of pride to post these pictures.
However, I think documenting this aspect of the JC experience is well worth the sacrifice.

Sister Brown is one of the funniest women I have ever met.
She seems innocent enough, but don't let that fool you.
She gets a kick out of taking the most awkward candid pictures of every JC student-she has a talent for it actually. She is amazingly sneaky-you never see her coming but she always catches you!
She actually went undercover last week and snapped photos of one of the JC couples kissing on the lawn-from multiple angles! Haha I think the National Enquirer  has found their next top paparazzi photographer
After every field trip she emails every student all the pictures she took of them throughout the day. This is quite hilarious because in every single picture, you look awkward, angry, tired, or just completely out of it (haha she really does have a talent for capturing us in our most flattering moments as my lovely display of photos shows) and I am pretty sure no one is ever going to actually use these pictures for anything-except for a crazy blog post that is.

Shepherds Field

So I may be guilty of jumping the gun of my Jordan posts. I realized that I forgot to blog about a few things Pre-Jordan, so here comes my catch-up...

The week before we went to Jordan our class went out to shepherds field, a huge field overlooking the entire city of Bethlehem, and had a live nativity program.
It brought back so many memories of Christmas Eve every year-
Grandpa determined to play the role of the donkey, Dad organizing all the kids behind the scenes, Rob reading the part of Samuel the Lamanite with his usual gusto, and me playing the role of a shepherd or a wiseman (sadly I was fired from my annual part of the angel about ten years ago when I outgrew the costume, which really is a shame because I loved dancing around in that dress. I mean it had gold sparkles, loads of tulle, and a giant bow!) 

I must say though that this nativity program may have topped them all-even the ones when I still fit into the sparkly angel costume.

We played all the usual parts

Mary and Joseph

the shepherds-the Emmett kids made fantastic sheep

The Wise Men-they forgot to bring any gifts to the program, so my gold bangles saved the day and made a great substitute haha
our chorus of angels, but for some reason I don't think the original choir wore aviators 

It was amazing to imagine what it must have been like to be on that field about 2000 years ago on the night when the Savior was born-to see the star appear in the sky, to listen to the chorus of angels sing, and to go up into the city of Bethlehem to find the newborn child. 
We sang all the Christmas hymns, had some beautiful musical numbers, and an incredible lesson from Brother Brown. The spirit was so strong and the whole experience is something that I will never forget.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Jordan Wrap-Up

I really did love Jordan.
It had a different feeling than any other country I have been to in the Middle East (all 3 of them haha).
It was cleaner than Egypt and more peaceful than Israel.
My expectations were far-exceeded. 
I also learned a few things that I was not expecting. 

1) Arranged marriages are still at large and the Jordanian culture is very different than ours. One day on the bus our tour guide told us the story of his arranged marriage. When he decided he wanted to get married his family found a girl from a suitable background (confirmed by weeks of private investigation), they went to visit her family's home. After the girl, fully veiled of course, served him and his father tea they signed the engagement contract and agreement. The wedding was a few months later, and by wedding they mean two separate celebrations taking place in two separate rooms for men and women.
The most shocking part of the story to me was the popular Jordanian custom for the couple's wedding night. Both the groom's mother and the bride's mother accompany the newlyweds back to the apartment and wait on chairs outside of the bedroom until the groom comes out and tells them that 'he made it'. They apparently do this to offer support and make the couple feel more comfortable. 
Haha call me crazy but I am pretty sure having my mom right outside the door would not be  all comforting! Like I said though, very different culture! It was so interesting to hear about an arranged marriage from someone who had actually experienced it! (This story was about his first wife-he is allowed to have four though so is contemplating getting another soon)

2) That wonderful people exist all around the world. During my time at Jordan I met some of the nicest, friendliest people who were so welcoming and sincerely happy to have us in their country. Seriously, everywhere we went the locals smiled and shouted "Welcome to Jordan!". It was awesome.

3) That I am so blessed to be a woman born in America. I take this for granted all the time and being in the Middle East has made me realize that I really am the luckiest girl in the world. One night when we were at the mall in Jordan, I sat there people-watching and got so upset about the way some of the women were being treated. Nothing too dramatic was happening, but as I watched some men yell at, slap, and dominate their wives for doing something as simple as trying to comfort their crying child, I got genuinely angry. I know it is another part of their culture and a social norm, but all I can say is that Heavenly Father knew what he was doing when he sent me to Utah instead of the Middle East. I don't think my nature would have allowed me to be so submissive-I can't handle situations that I believe are unfair. My heart really does go out to all the women living in harsh situations in the Middle East and I am amazed at their patience and kindness despite less than ideal circumstances. 

4) That crossing international borders is not easy! It took us almost three hours to get back across the Israel border-and that was even with us being able to skip a line. 

5) That Jerusalem really does feel like home. Driving up the hill to the center, walking through the beautiful grounds and into the arched front doors was such a relief, even after such a short time away. I remember doing the exact same thing back in April-walking through those arched doors, feeling so overwhelmed, and having no idea what I was getting myself into. I had no idea how much I would come to love this building and this place.

Sorry for the lack of pictures, and overload of feelings on this post! 

Day Four

I cannot believe how fast our time in Jordan flew by. Four days went by in a blink.
Our last day started off with a visit to the New Amman Mosque-the largest in Jordan.
Most mosques we have visited require that women cover their heads with a scarf. This mosque, however, was a tad bit more strict. In order to get in we had to wear a black hooded robe
Yes, we kind of felt like death-eaters. 
It was actually pretty fun though, and luckily we were the first visitors of the day so we got the freshly-laundered robes, which was in and of itself worth waking up at the crack of dawn.

Me, Sister Brown (one of my favorite people here), and Melissa rocking our robes

all of the stylish JC ladies!

Our next stop was the citadel of Amman and National Museum. The citadel was basically another smaller set of roman ruins and the museum was very interesting. They had lots of antiquities, statues, and even some of the Dead Sea Scrolls.

posing at the Temple of Hercules 

Our last stop was Bethbara, the baptismal site of Jesus. This site is more accurate than the site run by the kibbutz in Israel, because bible scholars believe Christ was probably baptized on the Jordan side of the river. They have a beautiful (and air conditioned) church on site and you are actually able to descend into the water. It was too muddy and gross for be to brave totally immersing myself, but I did put my feet in :) All three religion professors here gave us amazing lessons about baptism here and it turned out to be my favorite spot of the day-even if it is not the exact location where Christ was baptized.

The spot where they believe Christ descended into the water-the river has shrunk in size over the last 2000 years so the supposed exact spot is now on dry land

Church of Bethbara

Holy water used for sprinklings

the Jordan River

Day Three-Jerash

We spent day three of Jordan in Jerash. 
Jerash is actually the most complete set of roman ruins outside of Rome.
These ancient roman cities are so much fun to wander around in and explore. I have always had a thing for Greek and Roman culture so I love visiting these types of sites. It is basically the next best thing to a trip to Italy! They even have gelato :)

Hadrians Arch
ampitheater-these awesome Arab men gave us an improntu  bagpipe performance

'The Moving Pillar'- if you put your finger into the crack you can feel it wobbling back and forth-kinda trippy.

The best part of Jerash was the gladiator show in the original stadium. At Jerash they put on a show demonstrating real roman soldier techniques and battle strategies and formations, gladiator battles, and chariot races-recreating the most popular spectator sport of all time. 
Now you may think this is just another gladiator. You would be mistaken though. This is actually our good friend and fellow JC student Ramzi. They saw him walking around with our group beforehand, thought he looked the part and recruited him for the show haha

After the show finished up, Josett and I sweet talked one of the chariot drivers into taking us for a spin around the race track. It was amazing! It is crazy how fast they go-I was barely able to hold on around the bens. I seriously felt like I was Ben Hurr :)

For lunch we stopped at an amazing restaurant that makes their own pita right on site. Now I consider myself quite the conessuir of flat bread after living in the Middle East for over three months-it is definitely the staple of our diet over here. So when I say that this is the best pita I have ever had, that is actually saying something. It was fantastic. 

Before we headed back to the hotel we stopped at the Jabbok River, which is where Jacob wrestled with an angel. It was beautiful.

We spent that night hanging out at the hotel, watching pirated DVDS we picked up at the mall, (a copy of Eclipse for a dollar is a great deal-even if you can see someone stand up and leave the theater half way through) and hanging out. It is amazing how close we are as a group and how much fun we have together. I seriously love these people and cannot believe that in less than a week we won't be living in the same place together anymore!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010


Our second day in Jordan we visited Petra, which was probably the highlight of the entire trip
(it even beat the Turkish bath!)
Petra is one of the seven modern wonders of the world and rightly so. There really are no words to describe how amazing it is. 
As you are hiking through the valley and see the treasury ahead through a slit in the cliff, your heart literally starts to speed up a little bit.
For those of you who don't know what Petra is (Don't worry, I was one of you until very recently)
It is these huge intricate buildings and temples carved into the side of the cliffs.
They were built by the Nabataeans over 2500 years ago and I have absolutely no idea how they did it without modern technology.  

We spent the entire day there hiking up to all the different sites in Petra and still did not see everything-there really is so much! 
We did make it to..

The Monastery-even cooler than the famous treasury in my opinion

The Tombs

The Sacrificial High Place

The View of the End of the World....I am proud to say we made it out of their alive!

Keep in mind that reaching each of these sites required a long, steep hike in the hot sun. Needless to say, our feet were quite tired and dirty at the end of the day! And yes I am wearing Chacos. Don't judge.

It was a long day, but it was one that I will never forget. I felt like Indiana Jones in the Last Crusade as we rode away on horseback. It was epic. I loved it.
Petra rocks.