Monday, March 26, 2012


boat rides across the sea of galilee, visiting ancient synagogues, and reading the new testament as we sit where jesus taught--i am blessed. one of my favorite things so far was sitting down on at the mount of beatitudes and hearing every single group of people say "please open to matthew five" and repeating the same set of scriptures.  no wonder jesus chose this land. galilee is one of the most peaceful places i have ever been in.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

i have the greatest family in the world.

my mom, dad, kelli, and kristan all came to visit me last week! i have the greatest family in the whole entire world! (and no, not just because they brought me an entire suitcase full of goldfish, girl scout cookies, cookie dough ingredients, and darla's homemade sugar cookies. although, it definitely sways my opinion.) i honestly felt like a child on christmas morning. (which also could have been because i was in bethlehem two days before.) as i was sitting on my bed waiting for them to come, i told erin, my roomie, that it felt like it was 4 am and my parents had told me i couldn't wake them up until 7 to go downstairs and open presents.

once they finally made it, i dragged them all around jeru. we started out not getting lost and not complaining about how freezing cold it was. (now everyone in the jc knows where i get it from) we went to as many churches and ate as much falafel and hummus as i could squeeze in our short couple days together.

we went to the city of david, and i think i might forever be condemned for bringing them through hezekiah's tunnel. i swear i only remember the water coming up just past my ankles last time. i didn't realize that meant to kristan's waist. oh, and sorry about your head dad. but hey, it was fun and i was laughing the entire time.
it was such an exciting weekend. they even kidnapped me and took me to their hotel one night. (note to self: room service on shabbat is a nightmare.) i got to walk around the city with my family, show them all my favorite places, and introduce them to all my jc and old city friends.

it could not have been a better weekend. our group was leaving for galilee on monday, so sadly, i had to say goodbye after three short days. but no worries, because i ran into them on my field trip the very next morning! such a pleasant surprise. a little something i like to call a jru miracle.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

hagia sophia.

okay, i take it back. this was my favorite building. an ancient church, converted into a mosque, converted into a museum--the hagia sophia. we were in a rush to get there in time, and since we only had about an hour before it closed, as soon as we arrived, bailey and i ran inside and started snapping away. i'm pretty sure brother ludlow spent the entire time trying to move me along. (not to mention i was the last person out of the upper room and the guards were not very happy with me...oops. turns out, they still push you out if you smile and say please. foolish.) i loved seeing the difference in times--the ancient christian mosaic and the modern arabic quran verses. i loved the colors and the design and the spaciousness. i would have loved to spend more time there. oh well, i guess i'll just have to go back. oh istanbul, how i love you.


ephesus was quite possibly my favorite site in turkey. the city was still so put together that i actually felt like i was a part of it. we sang and acted out scripture ("great is diana of the ephesians!") in the theater, acted like lions coming into the arena, saw the place where the picture was taken that is in our bible, mimicked statues, and posed or modeled on just about every column in the place. but i'm pretty sure i could have just sat and stared at the library of celsus all day. 

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

did ruined or ruins come first?

oh hey look, ancient roman ruins. i've never seen those before. assume model position.okay, but really. all of these sites are so amazing and beautiful, but sometimes the temples and theaters and columns kinda just blend together. it doesn't make the time we spend there any less enjoyable though. this one is assos. and it looked out to the island of lesbos. (the names still get me everytime.)

then we went to the ancient city of pergamon. we rode a cable car to the top and saw a dam on the journey (and the jokes kept coming).
we saw the temple of trajan, the steepest amphitheater of all time, and the "seat of satan," or where the throne of zeus would be if the berlin museum hadn't hijacked it.

that night, we arrived at our "cruise ship" hotel. it literally looked like a cruise ship, and it was on the beach. i experienced my first turkish disco. that's right. we clubbed to our hearts content. don't worry mom and dad--it was in the basement of our hotel and there were only two turkish men there who wouldn't have been interested in me anyways, but bryson needed to be looked out for. check that off the bucket list.   

Monday, March 12, 2012

flat? just as god made me.

there was lots of driving and boat riding on this trip. the next day, we spent all morning driving and then took a ferry boat across the dardenelles. i'm pretty sure the first thing i said was "ah meredith and derek!" and then we proceeded to run from one end of the boat to the other like in pirates of the caribbean 3. let's just say our director wasn't too happy with the ruckus we were making. (we weren't the only people on the boat? strange.) the next time around, bailey and i ran around the boat cah-ing at the birds and shouting "say i'm a bird. say it!" sometimes we have a little too much fun.
troy. the city of the trojan war. the story of my high school mascot. the idea behind the epic bonfire in the o.c. the name of veronica's boyfriend at the beginning of season one. obviously, i am not obsessed with tv. and i was not excited at all about going to the city of troy. jokes. (not gonna lie, the horse was probably the best part, but it was still worth it.)
we showed up at the hotel to find out that it was directly on the beach. there were squeals of joy all over.i thought i couldn't be happier. until, i found out that our tour guide had organized a bonfire/dance party for us on the beach that night. i don't know that any dance party will top that one. ever. i was surrounded by 82 of my best friends, jamming to the excellent dj-ing of mr. wesley, and dancing on the beach. two most accurate songs of the night-- "dancing in the moonlight" and "the good life."


we spent the first day in istanbul! we saw the ancient roman hippodrome, the blue mosque, the topkapi palace (including the 82k diamond...nbd), an underground basilica cistern (ali from the bachelorette anyone?), shopped around the grand bazaar, and then took a ride across the bosphorus. i fell in love with the city. i think i could've spent the whole week there.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

gobble gobble.

turkey! the hidden gem of the world.

i am the luckiest. we finished finals around here and packed up our bags to head off to turkey! i fell in love with the city, the culture, and the art. i seriously loved it. (and 1,187 pictures later..)

it all started lying to the passport security in the airport in israel. one of the security ladies walked up to me and said, "i need you two to switch passports. i want to make sure my employees are doing there job. i'll be right there watching in case anything goes wrong" (ooh so fun. how very veronica mars/mary-kate and ashley witness protection program) so my friend emilie and i switch. right before emilie is about to go up she says, "oh hey you might wanna know my birthdate too." "oo smart. okay got it." so here i am standing in line having an internal debate. am i supposed to lie? is he supposed to just know? am i supposed to be pretending like i actually am her? how am i supposed to answer questions--like myself or like her? is it still considered lying if i'm doing it for a good cause? (clearly i'm having some ethical issues with this sitch) i get to the front of the line. "what is your name?" "emilie elmont." "how do you pronounce your last name?" "el-mont." "do you have any other identification?" "no." "when did you get this passport?" "just a few months ago before i came here." she keeps flipping through the passport. my heart is racing. i feel sick. it's like a test i'm not gonna pass, but i don't know which way is passing and which way is failing. don't i wanna be caught? but then again, i'm not supposed to be. this was clearly a very stressful five minutes of my life. "when is your birthday?" score. i've got this one. "november 19th." she seemed satisfied enough. i thought i'd passed. but then..."where were you born?" oh no. i have no idea. where is she from? idaho? utah? was she born there? do i just pick a place and be wrong? "......i, uh, i. um. i don't remember." caught. 

the fun began before we even got to turkey. have you ever been on a plane with 82 of your best friends? let me tell you, it's a party. and on turkish airlines where they bring you a full course meal for a two hour flight--best flight ever. i got off the plane and ran through the turkish airport like a turkey, gobbling and flapping my arms. (i tell ya, i make a dang good loud american. sometimes i'm amazed i'm 20 years old. and that my professors don't hate me.) it was such a fun experience from beginning to end.

the country is overpoweringly beautiful. i fell in love. with the history, art, and culture. there are mosques everywhere. istanbul alone has over 2,000. (and only about 300 churches and 20 synagogues) it was a fabulous week with friends and adventures and dance parties galore. i love my life. i am so grateful for all of the fabulous opportunities that are coming my way. i love traveling and exploring and seeing the world, and turkey gave me a little taste of european history that makes me ready to go and see and do more.

(more pictures and stories to come.)