Friday was exciting, as you will soon see--but it didn't start that way. It started with me feeling great relief as I took my New Testament midterm and did well (though it took me two hours to finish, seeing as Brother Schade’s tests are all short answer and essay). We all got through at about 10, hung around for two hours (in which time I worked on my site report and Katie performed on her harp for a service benefit), then after lunch I and a sizable group hired up a bus to take us to Ein Karem. Ein Karem is a cute little village area about twenty miles from the center where Mary’s cousin Elizabeth was said to have lived. It has many churches, a few art galleries, a couple ice cream places, and a great view of the green hills it sits in. We visited the churches, crawled through a tiny tunnel in which “Mary’s spring” ran (and I got very wet and muddy indeed, while Katie remained miraculously flawless and dry), got some gelato, and visited an artist’s workshop. As we were walking back to the main street, the missile sirens went off.
We didn’t know what they were at first. I thought they sounded like WWII air raid sirens, but at the time didn’t think of it as a real possibility. They stopped as we went on our way, so I didn’t think on it much. Others in our group heard a boom as the missile hit some miles away, but I didn’t—or maybe just didn’t register the sound for what it was. It wasn’t until we stepped into an art gallery and asked a lady there about the sounds, who responded that the sirens mean “take cover.”
We hurried to where the bus was waiting and started to get on—but then Sophie got a call from security on her cell phone telling us all to exit the vehicle, find a building, and stay low. We got out again and meandered in the direction of a nearby wall, none of us feeling all that worried. After another minute or so, another call came giving us the all-clear to come back. We loaded up again, picked up a few other wayward students from their shelter at the American Consulate and beat a path for the center.
We were given a quick security briefing in the forum the minute we got back. Turns out a couple missiles were sent from Gaza aiming at Jerusalem. They landed in an open field south of Bethlehem, missing by a long shot their supposedly intended target, the Knesset (Israeli senate). The students and faculty at the center had been evacuated to the bomb shelters for about half an hour, then were let out again. Turns out we’re the first student group EVER to use the bomb shelters in the history of the Center. Andrew wanted to know if we would get to sign a picture or something to be put up in the bomb shelter (Brother Kerl seemed to find this remark only semi-amusing). However, there was plenty of good news. The missiles were far away, our security team was awesome, the Galilee trip was still going to happen (in fact, Brother Kerl expressed great eagerness to get us up north where it was calmer). Oh--and of course....
Prom was still on!
Yes, Jerusalem Center prom. That's right. We didn't have the means for a full-blown formal dance, but if Halloween taught me anything it's that this group can get creative in a pinch. The girls all dressed out in Sunday dress (most of us making ourselves feel a little nicer by borrowing somebody else's clothes) and the guys did suits. Oh, and the best part--since we have severely uneaven numbers of boys and girls, we spent the evening practicing "polyga-dating." My date was Alex Larson and my sister date was Laurann Beard, my roommate in Jordan. All the groups were assigned to keep things even, but some of the boys went all out with it anyway. The invitations varied from a simple question in the Oasis (as it was for me) to a full-out Phantom of the Opera setup in the Auditorium with Brother Squires playing one of the themes on the organ. We ladies got creative, too, though. Laurann managed to find a flower to be a boutonniere for Alex, for example. One group came dressed as the nerdy prom date (Annie included, which was very funny). A couple of girls managed to find a jackpot under the counter in the Shekel Shack--wedding dresses. Don't ask me what they were doing there--I don't know--but they wore them and it was great. There were more down there, I found out afterwards, and I wish I could have worn one myself--but I looked nice anyway, so no complaints.
Alex picked me and Laurann up from our next-door apartments and took us upstairs to dinner in the Oasis. He did everything for us, from handing us our trays to pulling out our chairs to refilling our water glasses. Andrew had gone the extra mile with his table by placing a reservation card and candles on it ahead of time. Paul came to his group and serenaded them on his guitar. Every now and then we saw one group (Jay, Rachel, Ashley, etc.) running in and out pretending to be an FBI extraction team, arresting the people McKenzie (who was in charge of the dance) needed to talk to.
Alex escorted us to the gym, where the three of us did pictures and danced. Laurann and I took turns on the slow songs, but some groups decided to jump from mere polygadating to all-out polygadancing. Everyone looked great and had a fantastic time. Best part of the night? When they announced the prom royalty, I was shocked to hear my own name read! I was Prom Duchess (under Princess but above Joker and Jokeress). I was so thrilled that my peers had voted for me I could hardly stand it. When I went over to Katie wearing my brown paper sash, she took one look at my face, happily declared "you're excited!" and gave me a hug. Brother and Sister Bench were chosen as Prom King and Queen, which made everyone happy. I got to dance with the Prom Duke (McKay) and, later on, the Prom King (Brother Bench is a surprisingly good dancer). I got to do some swing with Neil and Stephen as well (the later flipped me over my head).
I left the dance a touch early to call my parents and assure them that I was safe and well. Mom hadn't heard about the missiles in Bethlehem yet, so I gave her details and told her to tell dad that I truly was safe (I love my dad--he worries about me). Then I went up to the Shekel Shack, where I was on duty for Paul's post-Prom performance. While I sat back there I straightened and cleaned everything, as well as tying the three-hole-punched tab sheets together and putting in alphabetical sticky note tabs. Tom (Shekel Shack general manager) was very impressed. He said the Shack probably hadn't looked that good.... ever. I was pleased.
I got to bed in time to feel good for Sabbath the next day. I got to go down to St. Anne's at Bethesda with Mary and Hannah, where we sang for a long time--much to the delight of the passing by tour groups, which pleased me very much. As we sang "I'll Go Where You Want Me To Go," we noticed that a man in the back was singing with us. We talked to him afterward and discovered that he had once been a Methodist minister and that that hymn was the one that was playing when he "came to Jesus" and was saved. He listened with his wife for a while and gave us twenty dollars before he left (which he refused to take back). We donated it to the church for upkeep, feeling we ought to put it to a good cause.
Sunday I got up early and booked it through two pages of my three-page site report, then went out with a group to play the Carillon bells at the YMCA tower. Brother and Sister Squires have taken groups there to play all semester. I played "Frere Jaque" with Holly and "Reverently, Quietly" with Lo (Sister Squires: "Well, they don't know they're primary songs"). It was an amazing experience. Here I am, with no carillon experience, playing for thousands of people in Jerusalem! I stayed out in the city thereafter with Ellen and Lo and Erin. We did a picnic lunch, looked at the names of famous people on the floor of the King David Hotel, got delicious treats from Sam Booki bakery in West Jerusalem (the others got donuts, while I tried Israel's version of warm chocolate cake. AMAZING.) We went by the post office to see if Erin's mission call had arrived (it hadn't--Sister Judd is going to bring it to Galilee when she comes with the girls in a day or two). We also went by Omars, where I found a nice little Nativity for Grandma and Grandpa Pullan (Grandpa told me to look for one a while back, so there you have it--mission accomplished). I still haven't figured out my own nativity, but I think I know which one I want. I will get it when we get back.
We got back in good time and I was able to finish my site report before dinner (Hallelujah! Hallelujah!). I spent the evening telling a story to the Judd girls, as I do every week (Lydia: I did Maria Wood this time), taking presents to me and Staisha's visiting teaching girls, doing my laundry, and packing for Galilee.
It was a great weekend--I guess that's the short version. I will write more about Galilee ASAP. Shalom!