Sunday, January 29, 2012

Jordan- my 3rd favorite country.

 Ok so I’m caught up now. We got back from Jordan last night! It was AMAZING. I hate saying stuff like that- "It was so amazing! I loved it! It was so fun!" Because people don’t comprehend how fantastic it actually was. So I’ll explain it to you. We departed the JC (it really has become home) and headed to the Jordanian border crossing. It’s only about an hour drive but with the check points and border crossing, it took 3 hours. We went ot Mt. Nebo, where Moses viewed the promised land that he would never set foot on. There's also a sculpture of the serpent on the staff, because that story happened somewhere near where we were.
It’s a super dramatic story: King Antipas made an alliance with the Nabateans and married the daughter of their king. But then he fell in love with Herodias, his niece AND his sister in law. Struggles. He convinced Herodias (the niece) to divorce her husband and marry him. Herod Antipas respected John the Baptist and listened to him often. But, he condemned the marriage because it was against the Law of Moses for a man to marry his brother’s wife while he was still living. This made Herodias (the niece) mad and during a birthday party for Antipas (in the palace where I stood) the daughter of Herodias danced before the group and Antipas promised her anything she wanted. After consulting with her mother, she asked for the head of John the Baptist. So he ordered him to be executed, and he was immediately beheaded and presented to Herodias and the daughter.
Anyway, then that night we had an amazing welcome to a hotel. We drove up to La Maison Hotel Petra and there were men outside in long white robes with their headdresses on aiting for us with two horses, juice, and bread with oil and spices. I felt so fancy, let’s be honest.

            Tuesday we did PETRA. Most amazing thing ever. Nabateans know how to make cool things. I rode a camel. We had an exquisite lunch. 

Can you see the remnants of the carvings? It's a man with his camel. The feet and skirts are there.
from inside the Siq- our first view of the treasury!

The TREASURY! And my camel friend, I named him Abu (from Aladdin)

me on a cliff in Petra
Marcie and I with our matching jackets and scarves. Chilly day!
We love Indiana. Not sure who this is. Credit to SJC.
Nabatean soldiers- they did a cool dance for us. 

super flattering picture of an Muslim man putting my headdress on the Bedouin way "Gehl come here you need Bedouin headdress. Free." Then he almost forced me to do the eye makeup because it would look good on my brown eyes with the scarf. But I was freaked out and said no. But I learned something new! 

      Wednesday we went to King Abdullah Mosque. So the kingdom of Jordan has a King who is married to a Palestinian woman he met when he was a prince. His dad was the king before him, King Hussein, who had like 4 wives (at different times) and King Abdullah’s mom was a British woman, so he doesn’t look very Arab. His wife is beautiful, they have 5 young children, and the people love them. We had two Jordanian army guys and a tour guide the whole week who came everywhere with us. The tour guide was Muhammad. We love Muhammad. 

Muhammad and I at the Jordan River. When I came up to take the pic, he said "You are so beauteeful. But I have veddy beauteeful wife as well." Hahaha
He is a Muslim and is very religious, very kind, and very fun to be with. He has 3 kids and one of them came with us on the last day (Odee who is an engineer student finishing up college and loves Coldplay). So when we went to the Mosque, we covered up, took our shoes off, and went inside. 

Muhammad explained a lot about Islam to us and I never realized how similar it was to our gospel. It really is so similar in many ways- our belief in God, in prophets, in modesty, the restoration, the split of Sunni and Shi'i (LDS/RLDS concerning the succession of prophets), chastity, fasting, prayer, etc. I gained so much respect for Muslims just from knowing Muhammad personally. He called us “tigers” whenever he got on the headset and he sang for us when we were in an ancient Roman theater on Thursday. We sang as well....

Yes we sang "What Dreams Are Made Of" from the Lizzie McGuire movie in  an ancient Roman theater and choreographed and video recorded it. Yes. We did. 
Citadel of Amman- the tall columns are the remnants of the Temple of Hercules (yes we sang "Won't Say I'm In Love" from Hercules. 
Then we did the Citadel of Amman, Museum, went to the Jabbok River (where Jacob wrestled with the angel), and headed to Jerash. Jerash is home ot the best preserved Roman cities and it was SO FUN. That night we had free time so we took a taxi and went to a Safe Way and got American snacks. We had a taxi driver on the way home who couldn’t speak a lick of English, but we somehow got to know him and he taught us some Arabic. He loved us so much that he only charged us 1 dinar for the ride, but we forced money on him because he has 4 kids. He was so nice.  I love Jordanians.
Marcie, Meredith, and I at the Citadel of Amman

      Thursday we went through down town Amman and got a driving tour of the city. It’s so pretty. In the rich area, it reminds me of the rich area of Houston or California. Palm trees, nice cars, limestone mansions. We did another museum, the King’s car collection, ancient Roman theaters (we sang- the soldiers everywhere we go and sing always stop and take pictures of us and listen to us sing). 
Then, my favorite thing: the Jordan River, where Christ's Baptism site is. We sang primary baptism songs and Come Follow Me, and a devotional. Then we went down and got in, Carrie fell in (best line of the day: FREAK I just got baptized.). So Israel and Jordan meet on the banks of the Jordan River. We were 15 feet from Israel! There was an Israeli flag right across the river! But if I had crossed and set foot on the other bank, the soldier watching us would have blasted me to pieces. So after an amazing day, some serious hymn singing, maybe some Disney singing, and endless laughs, we headed home to the JC! 
~home sweet home~

the Jordan River
the actual believed site of the Baptism- scholars have measured distances and studied descriptions and this is the exact spot! unfortunately, there's no water left after all this time, but it's still cool. 
my FAVORITE person, Carrie. She's an RM and the nicest, funniest person. She took a little swim in the river. On accident.
"The Holy Ghost descended as gently as a Dove" Yes there were doves on a cathedral bell tower on the banks of the Jordan River. 
a little bit of an awkward photo. But I'm standing in the Jordan River so who cares.

xoxo M

Western Wall and Garden Tomb

On Friday we had a regular day (unable to go out to the city because it’s the Muslim’s special prayer day and the kind of crowd the streets until 3pm) and went to the Western Wall at 4:30. Judaism has their Shabbat (Sabbath) from sundown on Friday night to sundown on Saturday night. They usher in the Shabbat every Friday with a celebration of joyful praises, dancing, and singing at the Western Wall, a piece of wall that dates back to Christ’s time. We got there right as the sun was going down. We don’t have any pictures of that night because it’s disrespectful to take pictures of them having this celebration, but I’ll try to describe it with my imperfect words. There is the wall, and a big open area in front of it. 

A picture of the Wall, obviously not the night we were there- it's empty here. Imagine it with a pool of people praying and dancing at night!
There is a mens side and womens side, and they were completely full. We went in and we were shoulder to shoulder with Jewish women who were so happy. Some women were in groups singing and dancing, some were praying on chairs. Some were old and orthodox, some were young college girls from New York City. Some were in short skirts with tights and cute coats, some were completely covered in black fabric. But they were all ushering their favorite day of the week: the Shabbat. We made our way in and I felt so much joy! I knew that we were all worshipping the same God, just in a different way. The atmosphere was electric and I was completely caught off guard how much spirit and happiness I felt. Then we left the fenced area and went back to look over at the men, which was very interesting. I saw the same amazing thing: some were young secular 14 year old Jews, and some were old orthodox men with long beards, ringlets, large fur hats, and black robes. We could see our boys with their borrowed kippas dancing around in the circles with the Jewish men. I just have so much respect for them and I realize that they are so devoted so their religion in ways that I know I couldn’t handle. I know that a lot of Mormons probably wouldn’t and don’t have the devotion that some of these people have, and it makes me want to be better. It was one of my favorite experiences I’ve ever had here.

  Saturday we went to the Garden Tomb right after church. I had already been, and I’m glad I went before then so I could have my own time there and be alone and feel the spirit, but I am so glad we went together. We got a little tour of the garden, went through the tomb, and then sat and sang hymns. 

Brother Huntsman said that they (the British Christians that work there) love for us to come because we always sing so beautifully. Brother Huntsman was leading us, and he gave us instructions on what we were singing, which key we were in, etc and right before we started he quietly said “this is a great time to bear your testimony, guys.” I don’t know if he realized how insightful this was, but it hit me and I realized that even though we signed an important document, on which my life depends, that we wouldn’t proselytize, we could bear our testimonies in other ways.

 We sang Jesus Once of Humble Birth, I Know That My Redeemer Lives, I Believe In Christ, I Stand All Amazed, He Is Risen, and Christ the Lord Is Risen Today. 

Pretty much one of the most amazing experiences ever: Singing those hymns manifesting my belief in Christ and my belief that He conquered death and was risen again while I’m looking at the doorway of the tomb in which He rose from death. 


On Thursday the 19th we went to Negev, which is a desert area in the south of Israel. This area is where Canaan was, which is where Abraham lived. We went to Beersheba, which in Hebrew means “well of seven” and it is where Abraham dug his well. We also went to Tel Arad, which is the site of an ancient Canaanite city of Arad. It is one of the cities in the Bible where the inhabitants prevented Israelites from entering the Promised Land. We also went to a Bedouin women's weaving demonstration. It was so amazing! We sat on hand made wool pillows in their wool tent and had tea and little middle-eastern delicacies (delicious). 

Holy of Holies in Ancient Israelite Temple

Me at the Ancient Israelite Temple


Brother Harper with his sweet field trip hat

Ancient Canaanite City

Marissa, Marcie, Me, Meredith, Sarah, Sam, and Erin in the Bedouin Tent!

Dyed wool


Finished product!


Marhaba! I haven’t blogged for quite some time now, and I feel a little overwhelmed because we’ve done so much! I’m probably going to split up the posts to each thing we did so it’s not a big long confusing blur. I’ve done so much since I've had contact with this blog and everyone reading (all 22 followers....). So Monday the 16th we went to Jericho: the lowest city on the earth.
 It was a one day field trip focused on the biblical aspects of Jericho. We went to the Tel Es-Sultan, a tel (mound of land that is layered with different cities) there is a tower in the ruins that we saw that is believed to be the oldest man-made structure in the world. 
It has evidence of Canaanite habitation and was the starting of the Neolithic period (interesting…nerd?). We studied the scriptures, especially Joshua 2 and it made it real to be sitting where the walls possibly fell. 
            Then we traveled through the Judean Wilderness and went to the Quruntul Monastary. It is on the Mount of Temptation, where the devil tempted Jesus following His 40-day fast. Monastaries were built here during the Byzantine period to commemorate the event, along with other events like the Good Samaritan story. We came from Jerusalem, which is up in the mountains down to Jericho which is far below sea level. This gives new meaning to when we read that people go “down” to Jericho. It is completely dry, baren, and empty, but beautifully vast and expansive. This is also the area in which the story of the Good Samaritan happened. The barenness and dry lack of….anything…makes me appreciate the story so much more. Not only that the man would have been in so much pain, but what a sacrifice it was for the Samaritan to stop. I know that he would have already been worn out himself, barely making it through the land without the burden of someone else. I hope that I would have stopped to help someone if I was in that situation, but I wouldn’t put it past myself if I wouldn’t have. It’s a rough place. 

            Then we went to Herod’s Winter palace. This guy was pretty evil, considering he lived extravagantly, ordered the death of all baby boys, and killed quite a few family members including his wife. It was a pretty sweet palace, though. He had baptism fonts, a pool, and a huge palace. It looks like this right now:

there were little kids there showing us their baby goats!

xoxo more posts soon!