Sunday, September 22, 2013

Summer, Part 2: Little Princess

Finally--the next installment. Sorry, folks--if I'm not procrastinating school work, I'm procrastinating everything else. Like this blog, for instance. Anyway--summer. My first summer job was with the bell staff and company at Zermatt. My second summer job was a little different.

I was a nanny. Yes, like Marry Poppins--"Hurry, nanny, many thanks! Sincerely, Jane and Michael Banks." Well, sort of like that. It's not Britain and I didn't wear a great dress and hat or make chalk drawings and carousel's come to life. I did take care of a child, though, and I did try to bring a little magic to her life--a spoonful of sugar, if you will.

The girl's name is Trinity, she is two and a half, and she is a princess. Her mommy and daddy, the hard-working king and queen, work in marketing and needed someone to keep their little girl well and happy for a few hours in the afternoon so they could get to business for a while. That would be me--the royal lady-in-waiting.

Trinity loves princess life. She wore a gown nearly every day--generally pink or purple, usually sparkly, and always beautiful--and she usually changed clothes at least once before I left. The few times I actually saw her wear pants it was a shocker. She has a beautiful bedchamber upstairs, where she can play with her little friends--her stuffed animals and babies and dolls--to her heart's content. She also has a real companion--a big black and white dog called Lucy, who loves and protects her like a personal bodyguard. She loves playing outside, watching movies, and playing at anything she can come up with.

At first, it was a little difficult to get her to relax with me. She wanted her mommy, and when mommy had to go downstairs to get some work done she made no secret of the fact that I just wasn't the same thing. It didn't take too long, though, for her to realize that I was there to make her happy and that she could trust me. The first couple of weeks, she would wake up from her nap, see me there, and start to wail for mom. At the by the time I left for Hawaii with my family, that was starting to get better. I worried that when I came back after a week's absence she would be back at it again--but when I went up to her room to wake her my first day back, she didn't cry at all. Instead, she looked up at me, gave a gasp of surprise, smiled, and whispered, "I'm so glad!"

After that, we were friends. Every day I would arrive at her house mid-afternoon with my bag of tricks (either a small carpet bag-type suitcase or my Molen Magic tote). If she was asleep, I would read or watch a movie until she woke up (it took me two weeks to finish "The Hobbit" in fifteen or twenty minute segments on the sleeping days). If she was awake,, we got right to it. She would rifle through my bag, trying to find what I had brought today--usually just some new books or a puzzle she hadn't done. She always wanted to do the puzzles first thing. Once it was puppets, and we built a puppet theater with a sheet from her bed and tried them out (correction: I tried them out--she played with them, but I don't think she ever quite got the idea). Another day it was plastic plates and cups, and we had afternoon tea at the kitchen table. Sometimes we played with her things, too--playing in her room, creating pictures with stickers and pipe cleaners on paper, and making endless babies and cradles out of play dough.

We almost always went outside for a while, too. We made chalk drawings (she loved being traced), played ball, and had picnics. The day I taught her to play hide and seek was a fantastic one--she was occupied with that for the next half hour (she always hid in the exact same place, behind the bush near the sidewalk, but somehow I managed to forget about that every time). We had our usual walk/bike route up around the neighborhood on the days when she wanted a bike ride. There was a park up the way we visited now and then, where we played on the play set and made birthday cakes in the sand (if Rachel wasn't being boring and enjoying sitting down under a tree instead). From time to time we would go somewhere else--out to my house (Trinity always wanted to play with my siblings) or out to the carousel at Zermatt (though sadly the animals had to stay firmly attached for this nanny).

We were inside and dinner was ready by six or so, then time for pajamas and a movie if she wanted one (99% of the time, she did). Mommy came upstairs around 8 o'clock. Trinity would stand up and cry, "you done?" and, receiving a yes, turn promptly back to me and say "Good bye." And that was that.

It wasn't always easy. Princess Trinity didn't always like Nanny telling her what to do. There were plenty of tired, dramatic, sobbing, whining, exhausting days. Trinity was also undergoing "Princess Potty Training," which was not all that bad an experience for her but that was rather aggravating for Nanny at the beginning when we were weaning off the diapers.

It was worth it, though.

The little Princess and the Nanny grew to love each other. They spent their days together playing great games and having wonderful adventures. When asked who the Nanny was, the Princess would always answer, "This my friend!" The king and queen completely trusted the Nanny with their most precious possession, which made Nanny feel good, and the Princess was happy in Nanny's company, which was even better. It was a wonderful summer--just Princess and Nanny, turning the world upside down with spoonfuls of sugar and imaginations let loose.

Princess Trinity is still living in her palace on the lake--Trinity's lake, which she finally learned (from Nanny's repetition) is really called Jordanelle. She is attending her preschool academy and learning to dance. Nanny is going to her own school, working hard, surrounded by students her own age and learning to play like a grown up again.

It was hard to say goodbye at summer's end, but it was a happily ever after kind of ending. The Princess's life continues, hopefully a little better for having Nanny in it. I might not have been able to make her toys dance or fly on umbrellas, but maybe I taught her a little that life is happy, that the world is good, and that there are people in it outside her palace that love her.

She certainly taught me plenty--like how to be patient, how to get creative, and how to live in the world of a two year old. I think her teaching will make me a good Queen someday--when I have a princess of my own.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Summer, Part 1: Bell Hoppin' at Zermatt

You may notice that the blog has some new colors (you might not have noticed the last change because it was only there for one post--but there it is, it's new now). It happens that these are the colors Everyday Magic wore back when I first started this blog three years ago. I can hardly believe how much has happened since! School, work, joy, tears, BYU, Israel, love, life... it has been a challenging but ultimately beautiful time. Here's to a happy third anniversary for Everyday Magic--and here's thanks to you for reading it for so long.

Confession: I pretty much didn't journal (or blog, as you know) for the last two months of the summer. Shame, shame, shame... I wanted so much to have some consistency in my journal writing. Darn it! A whole two months of my life missing from the record! I guess I shouldn't complain--it's not that long (confession #2: I've gone without writing much longer before now). My solution for the two month gap is this little blog. I want to have an idea of my summer on record, so I am going to write a little about my summertime in the next couple of posts. Pardon our dust and bear with me!

I had two jobs this summer. That's right--two! I can just picture my mother with a pair of pom-poms cheering over my shoulder, "Full time work! Full time work! Woohoo!!!" Yes, two jobs, in total amounting to something like 35 to 40 hours a week. I will tell about them both, but for this post just the first. I was hired at the end of may to be a bellman at Zermatt resort in Midway.

Yes, Bellman... though in my case, Bell Attendant (we are not gender discriminatory here in the hospitality industry). I didn't actually realize that I was hiring myself into a man's profession until I showed up and found that my coworkers were, in fact... men. And that all of the uniforms were about five sizes too big. However, our Bell Captain, Lee, told me that they have had female bell staff in the past, so it's not too far off the beaten track. As far as the uniform went, my mother worked another one of her miracles and by the next shift my vest fit me just right (sans about four or five inches from the sides).

I spent the first two days getting the grand tour of the whole property (which was far more extensive than I thought) from Lee. Lee and Brian (another of the bellmen) challenged me to memorize the name and location of every conference room in the Matterhorn Conference Center--and to their surprise, I actually did it. I learned how to greet and assist guests, how to valet park cars (backing them into their spaces so they are easy to identify), how to drive a large thirteen to sixteen seater van to shuttle people or pick up laundry, and how to run the carousel. Before long I was all set to go.

It was a great job--probably the best I've ever had. The thing that really made it was the work environment. The other bellmen were wonderful. Brian, always with a smile on his face and a joke at hand in spite of the arthritis in his ankles. Ricardo, the epitome of professionalism and so cheerful and helpful to everyone. Caro, always a tease and commander of the fifteen minute parking spaces. Bruce, always happy and always ready to put a smile on your face. Lee, example for us all, leading us with gentle guidance and complete trust. There were a couple other bellmen as well, but they had specific time requirements that conflicted with mine, so I saw them only on rare occasions. I also got to know the front desk staff as well, and loved them all. Belle was probably my favorite--we spent a lot of time on quiet days chatting about anything that came to mind--from kids to music to schools to chocolate.

Much of the summer past remarkably--the hotel had its ups and downs, its fasts and slows, and I worked hard pushing bell carts and running errands and just enjoying my job. There were a few incidents of particular note that I will mention. Enjoy.

Experience #1: There were always conferences going on at Zermatt. The Utah Teachers Association came once, and DoTerra oils (the conference center smelled very sweet and herb-like when they were there). Procter and Gamble--a huge manufacturer--came once, too. When they were there we had to memorize the names and faces of their VIPs so we could call them by name, and every so often we had to spray the lobby and vans with Febreeze. My favorite conference, however, was the International Rhet Syndrome Foundation conference. Rhet syndrome is an extremely rare debilitating genetic disorder on the X chromosome (so only girls can grow up with it)--a genetic lighting strike. The conference was for parents, but many girls with Rhet syndrome were there, too. Lee started preparing us weeks in advance--all of the bellmen had to read about the disorder, paying particular attention to the needs the girls might have. None of the girls I met could speak, the majority could not walk, and many had different habitual behaviors (ringing hands, etc.). However, we knew from our reading that the girls were not mentally disabled and could understand whatever we said. We were able to be friendly to them, smile and say hello and call them by name when we saw them. We were also able to help with transport wherever needed--wheelchairs, the vans, etc. It was a joy to have them around and a joy to be able to make things easier for them and for their parents. On the last day the group was there, all of the bellmen wore the Rhet Syndrome Foundation shirts they had given us as a thank you gift, showing our support for the group and their effort. One of the parents, Matt Heinburger, is a friend of our family in Heber. After the conference he expressed fervent appreciation for our service. He said that most people don't know how to act around his daughter or any of the other girls, which often makes things uncomfortable. He said it was wonderful to be in a place where there didn't need to be any worry or discomfort for the well-being of the girls. It made me so happy to hear that--it made the work worthwhile.

Experience #2: One day later in the summer a guest came up to us and asked us to bring his car around. Bruce pulled the key from our cabinet, took one look at it, and said,  "Mustang. It's mine!" And ran off to the valet lot. When he drove the car into the pull-around, the guest was inside getting coffee. Bruce beckoned me over to the window, pointing to his phone, and asked me to take his picutre. He smiled in the driver seat while I took his picture in the beautiful cherry red Mustang. I had to laugh--if only the guests knew what we were doing with their valet cars sometimes...

Experience #3: This one is a general occurrence. In the lobby was a great big glass water jug. One of the bellmen's job was to refill it every day. The thing weighed as much as a small child. I could carry it, but it was very heavy--especially when full of water. Brian tole me early on that I was not allowed to touch it while he was on duty. All through the summer that's how it was--Brian took care of the water jug every day, in spite of his arthritis-pained feet, because he didn't want me to worry about it. I was always touched by that. 

Experience #4: In July, my Grandma and Grandpa Pullan went on vacation. They had great intentions about not telling anybody were they were going. When my dad talked to Grandpa that night and asked where they were, Grandpa would only say, "I'm on the porch." The next morning at work, Bruce sauntered over to the bell stand asked, "Rachel P-U-L-L-A-N?" "Yes...," I replied. "I think your grandparents are staying at the Homestead." "What? I--oh, of course they are." I called to their room that very morning to make sure they were going to come see me. They were going to surprise me, and found it wildly funny that I had beaten them to the punch. I saw them every day for the rest of the week.
Later in the summer, I was working late into the afternoon and was there when Lee printed a list of guests who were coming in that evening. Bruce, looking over the list, suddenly looked up and asked me, "Do you know somebody named Grant?" I snatched the list, and lo and behold, there was Grant Pullan, right there. The moment I saw it, I remembered--that day was Grandma and Grandpa's anniversary. Before I left, I had a box of chocolate covered strawberries and a card sent to the room they were staying in--much to the delight of the desk staff and the other bellmen. I was scheduled to work the next day, and I spent the morning anxiously waiting to see a familiar face in the lobby. Finally, at nearly 11 in the morning, the desk attendant called me--and I turned around to see my Grandma. She laughed as I ran to her and called out, "you little stink!" I had spoiled their surprise plans again. We laughed about it the rest of the day.

Experience #5: On a dreary, rainy, cold afternoon, I went to visit the bakery out of a lack of something to do. I chatted with the bakery girls for a while, as they were unoccupied, too. I caught myself glancing at their gelato display. Without thinking about it, I sighed, "Oh, that looks so good--it reminds me of Italy." The girl nearest me smiled and asked, "Do you want to try it?" I said I would love to and asked for the chocolate hazlenut, expecting a spoonful. Oh, no--she filled a whole cup for me. It tasted just like Italian gelato. I stood behind the bell stand, out of the rain, and made it last as long as I could all morning. It was like heaven.

Well, I guess I should probably stop talking now. That's a little sampler for you of my brief career as a bellman (woman--whatever). It was the best job I've ever held and created so many memories. I loved every minute--from the carousel rides to the funny uniform to the Swiss/German music in the pull-around to the late nights watching the moon rise.

Thanks, Zermatt--I had a blast.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

I Know That My Redeemer Lives

This is a little late for Easter, I know. The days have come and gone without a thought for my writings heree--the days get filled up with school and exams and all the rest, and then here we are. Even though Easter is past, however, I wanted to bear my testimony here of my Savior and Redeemer, Jesus Christ.

I know my Savior lives. I know that He loves me with a love that cannot begin to fully understand, but that I feel and rely on every day. I know that He suffered and died so that I would not have to do so, but could live with Him again free of punishment or blame. I know that He rose from the grave on the third day, shattering forever death's hold upon the children of men. I know that He lives today--"the great king Immanuel, who stands... at the right hand of the Father." I know He will come to earth again and finish the great work that He and the Father began--the salvation of mankind. I know that work will succeed.

Some might ask how I know these things. I guess on some level I don't--not in the world's sense of knowing. I haven't seen the Savior. I have not felt the prints of the nails in His hands and feet. I was not there to hear the angels at the empty tomb announcing His resurrection on that first Easter Sunday. I don't have the sort of physical evidence that would prove the case in a courtroom--photographs, nails from the cross and the like.

Don't get me wrong--I have come as close to having that kind of evidence as most people ever get. I have stood in the Church of the Holy Seplechure, kneeling in the upstairs shrine and touching the place where the cross is believed by the Catholic faith to have stood. I have sat among the rocks and brush in the fields overlooking the hillside of Bethlehem, in a place where shepherds still "watch over their flocks by night." I have walked beneath the ancient olive trees of Gethsemane, the place where Jesus Christ took upon Himself the sins and pains of the world, and have marveled anew at the thought of such a great and infinite Atonement. I have sat on the shores of Galilee and watched the morning sun come up over the clear blue water whereon a band of fishermen-turned-apostles once toiled in a fishing boat. I have stood on the steps to the temple mount and in one of the most ancient synagogues in all the Holy Land--places where the Savior Himself stood. I have pondered and sung hymns in the places where He lived and healed--Bethesda, Capernaum, Nain, Jerusalem, and more. I have prayed  at the Western Wall for a new temple to be built. I have sat among the flowers and trees and gazed upon an empty tomb that may have been His, remembering those beautiful words, "Why seek ye the living among the dead? He is not here, but is risen."

All of these were incredible experiences. I felt the spirit and was taught of God as I sojourned in the Holy Land and "walked the roads of Palestine" as Jesus did. But I did not need to go to Israel to know "the reality of His matchless life and the infinite virtue of His great Atoning sacrifice." I got to know those things better in Jerusalem--but I knew them before. I knew my Savior before.

The dictionary defines "knowing"something as "to perceive or understand as fact or truth; to be acquainted with, as by sight, experience, or report." I think this defines very well the way I know Jesus Christ. I know Him by understanding. I know Him by acquaintance--by associating with Him. The Greek "know" has two meanings--to know something in a factual sense, or to know by association. The latter is used in this sense: "And this is life eternal, that they might know thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent." I know Jesus Christ in that way--by association, by being with Him. I know Him perhaps not by physical sight, but by "experience" and by "report." I know Him because He has been with me and because I have felt His presence.

I know Him by faith.Faith is "to hope for things which are not seen, which are true." It is "the assurance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." It is to walk by complete trust, relying on more than sight alone. It is to act without knowing the end from the beginning, but knowing just enough. The Bible Dictionary says that "faith is a principle of action." That is very true, and I know the Savior that way, too--because my actions center so much around my belief that He lives and has a plan for me beyond what I could ever hope for myself.

I have felt the hand of Jesus Christ in my life. I have felt the Spirit testify to me of Him. I have felt with complete certainty the truth of His words as I have studied them in the scriptures. I have felt His comfort in times when I felt nothing could heal me--when my heart was broken, when I felt entirely alone, or when I felt I would never be enough to measure up in this world. In the times when I feel most worthless, He is there to tell me that I was worth everything. When I have been in the throes of pain and despair, He has provided healing and promises of happiness right around the corner. I  have felt His presence in the holy Temple--the House of the Lord. I know that He can bring "peace in this life," and I have great assurance and hope that He can bring all of us "eternal life in the world to come."

I know that my Redeemer lives--that "Jesus is the living Christ, the immortal Son of God." I know He loves me. I know He loves you, too. Because He loves you, He has blessed you and will continue to bless you, even when you aren't looking--now and always.

I write these words in His holy name--even the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

My Valentine

This last week, it happened. That holiday. The one and only. The day that either gives you an excuse to share love with those around you (and maybe some individual in particular) or reminds you that you are painfully still single, depending on how you take it. The day of chocolates and bouquets and yummy little conversation hearts that flash such witty and romantic comments as "Dare Ya" and "Yes Dear" and "Marry Me" (how many people have been proposed to with these hearts, I wonder?). The day of pink and red hearts and chic flicks and dinner dates. The day of love.

Valentines Day.

I remember it being really fun in elementary school. Back then, we were all required to bring a valentine for everyone in the class. We all made boxes to hold them, some creative, some not. I remember being assisted by my parents in making a cardboard mailbox one year. Other years they were just cereal or shoe boxes covered in pink paper and cut out hearts or magic marker drawings with a slot cut in the stop. We would have a party in class, in which we would decorate valentines for our parents and play games and decorate heart shaped sugar cookies, all supervised by generous adult volunteers. Then we would collect our valentines and drop one into each person's delivery box, set out in anticipation on his or her desk. Generally they were just the little paper kind from the store, Disney princess, Power Rangers, super heroes, or otherwise. Sometimes they involved candy. Almost all were individually addressed to each person in big-lettered, grade school handwriting. Nothing real romantic or personal, but a valentine all the same.

When I went into sixth grade, my first year of middle school, I didn't realize how different things would be. There was no plan for a party in home room. We didn't make cutsie delivery boxes or decorate cookies. I think I wore something pink or otherwise holiday appropriate to school the day of, but that was about it as far as I can remember. Our homeroom teacher may have given us a little something, but I don't recall. Only one fact sticks out in my mind. I did not receive a single valentine.

I was so disappointed. I hadn't received anything. Perhaps my memory is amiss--perhaps I did get something from Hannah or Leann--but I didn't have a very tight circle of friends at the time and no boy was interested enough in my little sixth-grader-pencil-line-bangs self to do anything for me. I guess I really shouldn't have been expecting much in middle school, but I didn't know that at the time. I was crushed.

That night, however, I did receive a valentine. Someone left a bottle of orange-scented lotion on the front step, rang the doorbell, and ran. I answered it, found no one there, bent to pick up the bottle--and was both shocked and enthralled to see that my name was on the tag. My mother at first thought the gift was for her, until I showed her the paper--it most certainly said "To: Rachel." It was the first bottle of lotion I had ever owned. It was also the first of many gifts I would receive on February 14th over the years, all from the same person--my one and only Valentine.

It was from my dad.

As the years passed, Valentine's Day continued to be a disappointment as far as the boys in my life were concerned. Most were uninterested in dating, let alone bringing around flowers on the so-called "singles awareness day." I still passed out cards and conversations hearts to my friends every year, figuring it was as good an excuse as any to let them know I cared about them. Every year got a card apiece from my Grandma Pullan and Grandma Molen, sometimes with a couple dollars tucked inside. I must give my mother credit where credit is due as well. Every year she came up with ways to celebrate, from heart shaped pancakes in the morning to a beautiful Valentine's dinner that night. One year in junior high she bought a rose for me from the val-o-gram fundraiser the library was doing so that I could have a flower delivered to me on Valentine's day. I think I have the best mom in the world. She understands me more than I ever gave her credit for--especially where love is concerned.

The best valentines, though, were the ones I looked forward to from my father. One year it was a long-sleeved, v-neck purple shirt that I loved at once and wore for a long time afterwards. Another year he brought home a little heart shaped box of chocolates for each of the kids--red with Peanuts characters on the front. Another year it was a simple construction paper heart with a message written on the front which I now keep treasured in my doll cabinet, always reminding me that my father is proud of me and loves me dearly. Every year there was something. Every year, after yet another less-than-stellar Valentines Day at school, I would wait eagerly for my father to come home that evening, knowing that by the end of the day I would have at least one valentine. 

In recent years I have gotten pretty skilled at celebrating Valentine's Day on my own. I make sugar cookies, I invite friends over, I give my roommates and friends valentines, I do a nice dinner, I wear pink. This year I even went to the temple on Valentine's Day because it fell on a Thursday and thus coincided with my weekly Temple Night. These college years, I have seem my father at least once a week when he has work with the Provo courts--more some semesters when he taught at the law school. Every year I could count on a valentine and a beautiful, uplifting "I love you" and "I'm so proud of you, honey," though those are not Valentine's exclusive words--he says that almost every time he sees me. This year dad was in New Zealand with my brother Daniel for Daniel's graduation trip. But even though my dad was clear on the other side of the world, I still received my valentine.

"Just thought I would send you flowers and let you know how much I love you. Love, Dad."

I love you, too, Daddy. Thank you for always being my valentine.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

There And Back Again

Hello again, friends! Yes, I am still here, still alive, still well, and still blogging. The delay was for many reasons--Christmas, homework, teaching, and so on--but the chiefest and simplest one is that I am no longer in Jerusalem and life has caught up with me again.

I am adjusting. I have moved into a new apartment with four other girls. The one who was going to be my roommate up and decided all at once to serve a mission, so she is now preparing to labor in London and I have the room to myself. The extra space is nice, but the truth is that I miss having someone else to live with. The other girls are fantastic and I have been grateful for their friendship. Right away they welcomed me into their lives and made me feel right at home. I am starting my teaching program, which has been an extremely overwhelming process. Few days go by when I don't say to myself "I don't know if I can do this..." I have also been taking Writings of Isaiah from Sister Ann Madsen (who, as it happens, taught my mother religion when she was in Jerusalem), contemporary dance, basic vocal technique, ASL 201, and harp (yes! I am finally learning to play!). My teaching course is only first block, so in a couple weeks I will start taking adolescent development and multicultural education classes in its place.

My favorite of all so far is probably harp. I've wanted to learn to play for so long--I still can hardly believe my eyes when I sit down behind one of the school harps to practice. I have played for Katie a couple times, and across the board the experience was both terrifying (which she doesn't seem to understand some how--"What? It's just me!") and very helpful. She's been doing this a long time--both playing and teaching--and I have benefited from her guidance. I have also had the opportunity this last week to sit and listen to her practicing. I didn't realize 'til then how much I had missed hearing her play.

I have seen some of my Jerusalem friends--the J-ru Crew, as we've started to call it. We've had a couple parties for different occasions. Not everyone can make it, of course--some are in Hawaii, Idaho, or are graduated--but we've had some good numbers, as many as forty or fifty at a time at the most. I've hung out with small groups as well from time to time (think balloon volleyball with a piece of waxed dental floss for a net with Andrew and McKenzi and Mary and Michael--it's a blast). It's good to know that I have so many good friends to call on whenever I want support or friendly company.

The J-ru crew has now received a sum total of seven mission calls, with more in process or on the way (including Katie). We'll have Jerusalem folks all over the world by summer's end--from Russia to Japan to Guatemala to New York to Texas and beyond. I would love to join their number, but I am not sure whether that is where Heavenly Father wants me to go right now. I always wanted to be a missionary, so I expected the choice would be plain and simple. I have been surprised at how how hard it has been. I am trying to be patient, though. As a friend of mine said, it seems that all these BYU girls feel like they need to decide whether to serve before next period. That is not the case, though--there is time. I have started some of my paperwork so that either way I will be ready.

I heard from so many people who went to Jerusalem before me that they thought about it every day thereafter. They were right. I think about it always. Any time someone even mentions Israel, Jerusalem, Arabic, Galilee, or anything within a hundred mile radius of the Center I perk up. As I told my JC peers, it's probably a good thing the Gospel Doctrine rotation is on D&C this year, otherwise we would all be completely impossible (Teacher: Alright class, we're going to talk about Jericho today... / Me: Excuse me, I've been there, and...) The news I hear about Israel, Gaza, the West Bank, Egypt, and Syria is suddenly personal. Every time I read my scriptures there is something that brings back a memory from the Holy Land. The first time I went to the temple to do baptisms back in January, my first thought was that the painting of Galilee was about spot on while the one of the River Jordan looked nothing like it at all (though the image is still lovely, don't get me wrong). Every time I think of the resurrection or atonement, a small part of me goes back to the Garden Tomb or the olive trees of the Garden of Gethsemane. I think a part of my heart is always there, walking the city streets and the Mount of Olives.

"Oh, Jerusalem, if I forget thee..."