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..."

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