Friday was classes until afternoon, and I decided not to go out that afternoon. Instead I did some studying out on the terrace, catching up on my Old Testament reading for earlier that day, which I hadn't read a word of. Why? Because my Palestine paper--the one I was so jubilant about finishing early--by Thursday night had disappeared into the depths of the JC Lab hard drive. It's my fault--I was stupid and didn't back it up to my email--but I was still terribly disappointed about it. I had worked really hard to make it good analysis, and although it was an easy paper it would be hard to replicate in one night. Katie came into the bedroom to find me on my laptop in a state of some distress. I soon became the recipent of the Katie Graham Prescription for Less Stress and Happier Living--smiles, encouraging words, a rub on the back, and a chocolate cookie. Mary came in and between the two of them I started feeling better very soon. I have an awesome apartment. We just started a quote wall--I'll have to share a few of the good ones sometime.
Well, I did finish it and turn it in. Friday was a little miserable here and there in such a way that made me very grateful indeed to have a supply of ibuprophen. My mother and aunts will get it, nobody else needs to worry about it. I felt better by later that afternoon, though, and was perfectly well to go to the Friday night movie--"Samson and Delilah," by the same director as did "The Ten Commandments." I stayed for Brother Schade's marvelous introduction (including a synopsis that turned out to be comprised of the chapter headings for Judges 13-16) and the first few minutes. I then bounched back and forth between movies. I watched some of Harry Potter 7 with Carrie Judd and David Schade until it was their bedtime, caught the latter half of Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (which I really want to watch again), then came back to Samson and Delilah in time for Delilah's betrayal and the toppling of the temple, which was all I really wanted to see anyway. It was big and colorful and dramatic, but still amusing by virtue of its being as big and colorful and dramatic as other movies of its day.
Sabbath was wonderful. I didn't touch my homework all day. After church I went with Katie and some others to the Garden Tomb. We walked about as a group for a while, then went off separate to read and pray and think. I sat on a bench beneath a tree and listened to another group singing. I hadn't brought my scriptures or journal, but I did think and ponder some. Nobody knows whether the tomb there is the one Jesus Christ was laid in, but in the end I guess I don't care. I come anyway because it's a wonderful place to think about what was done for me by the Savior--which is the most important thing in the end. After the other group left I decided I ought to sing myself--though whether by prompting or by sponteneigity I'm not sure. I'm inclined to think the former, though, for the notes came easily and I wasn't nervous at all. I sang "I Stand All Amazed" all on my own. I felt very much at peace afterward. I went to see the tomb again and took a couple pictures.
When the group I came with left, I joined another so I could stay a little longer. Some of my best friends were part of it--Sarah and Liz Donakey (a pair of sisters), Aleisha Goff (one of the happiest people I know) and Jacob Crowther (a most wonderful young man and a great friend). When I came up to them Sarah embraced me and asked me how I was and Liz told me that I looked wonderful today--both sisters managing to make my day with in two minutes of each other. Katie joined as well and we all sang another couple hymns--"I Know That My Redeemer Lives" and "In Humility Our Savior" (the latter at my request). Liz and I talked humanities most of the way home--she's a humanities major and I've been to Italy, so we get on well. A beautiful afternoon in one of the most beautiful places I know with some of the most wonderful people I've ever met. I don't see how it could be any better.
Today I went to the Haram esh-shariif--The Dome of the Rock--for the first time. [Note: This post is post-dated because the internet wasn't functioning well when I tried to put this up. I went to the Dome yesterday]. It's far more beautiful close up than far away. We made it past the security checkpoint just in time. They closed the gates at 10am, and we got there at 9:56. We only got to spend about ten minutes on the temple mount, but it was enough (we can't go into the mosque or the shrine, so walking around is about as good as it gets). The outside of the dome is covered in the most beautiful blue and green tiles and the some of the earliest known written passages from the Quran in the script around the sides. I took pictures of the group and of me and of Katie (Katie particularly, as her camera charger is broken and she has been unable to find another as yet among the group--I've been trying to make a concentrated effort to help her get whatever shots she wants in the meantime). We also met a whole heard of beautiful little Arab girls who seemed to really enjoy talking to us and who were very excited to speak Arabic with me and Katie. I also helped a little boy drag a rug up the steps to the main platform with which he was struggling. The temple mount platform is huge--I can hardly imagine the size of the temple that once stood there. I intend to return again before too long--it was a great time.
After that I joined a part of our group that was going to Dormition Abbey--where tradition supposes Mary fell into an eternal sleep and was taken up into Heaven. The traditional upper room of the last supper was there, too. We sang there--"I Stand All Amazed"--and of course after only a few measures a whole huge Asian tour group came in. We kept singing, though, and some of them filmed us on our iPads. A few of them thanked us later. We listened to the tour guide for a few minutes (I translated little bits into ASL just for my own practice) before going to see the chapel of Dormition Abbey and the crypt of Mary. It was all beautiful and covered in stunning mosaics. We did not sing there, as we were unsure whether it would be welcome.
We finished off the day with a stop by a delightful bakery in the Jewish quarter, where I bought some wonderful fresh white bread that served as my lunch. We got home in time to do some homework. I tried to study some Israel history for Ophir's midterm on Tuesday with Mary and Katie, but I ended up feeling stressed about it all the same, which didn't make the study session as pleasant as it might have been for me or for them. Fortunately I have forgiving roommates.
I have continued to put off my homework all evening, even though I really should be doing it. All the girls in the center had a girls night by the shekel shack where we painted nails and braided hair and talked about first kisses and awkward first date stories. I paid a few sheks for a glass of milk and oreos--which was worth every agarot. I've been updating these posts while I watched "The Sound of Music" with those same friends who made my day so pleasant at the Garden Tomb. It's getting late, but we are going to forage ahead and watch the whole thing. I will probably regret it at 6am tomorrow morning, but for now it is worth it. It's always worth it to spend time with such wonderful friends.
More tomorrow--love you all! Keep commenting when you have a minute--I love hearing from you all. :)
PS: Amanda, I have just sent off a letter to you. It may not be to you for a couple weeks, but it is on it will be on its way from Israel via email by tomorrow. Love you!