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Saturday, May 6, 2017

Shabbat Shalom!

Shabbat Shalom from the Holy Land! Wow I've only been here for like 3 days and it's incredible! I wish I was absorbing everything faster than I am, but there is so much to learn and so much to do! The center has really been beating into our heads the rules to follow to keep us safe and how to best be respectful to the various cultures here. I can't tell you how many times we've been lectured on groom and dressing standards haha.  It's probably for the best though, seeing how we want to be respectful and good representatives of not only BYU but also the LDS church.  In Israel the center is known as the "Mormon University," which I think is hilarious.
The first full day here we were able to walk through the old city.  I loved all the sights, sounds, and most of the smells ha.  I loved seeing all the cool shops and all the different foods and spices.  It is like nothing I've ever experienced before.  I wasn't able to take any pictures that day but next time I go to the old city I will. And I for sure have some good shopping to do there in the future.
Yesterday was one of my favorite days so far. Mostly because we started our classes! My professors are amazing. I think my favorite class is going to be my Old Testament class. I got teary eyed at some of the things we learned about. One thing that really resonated with me is that the Lord will ALWAYS keep His covenants to us so long as we do our part. Then in the evening we went to the Western Wall to welcome in the Shabbat with all the Jews.  It was so inspiring and awesome to see the devotion of these brothers and sisters of ours. I loved seeing the people go to the wall and place their hands upon it and give it kisses as they rocked back in forth in prayer.  The wall is covered with hundreds of papers of individual prayers of people from all over the world, and of various beliefs.  Then in the back a couple yards from the wall there were young Jewish girls singing and dancing together in celebration of the Lord's Day. It really struck me how joyful and sacred their sabbath day is to them. It put me to shame knowing that I have a lot to work on in my own sabbath day observance.  Today is Saturday but it is the day that we celebrate the Sabbath here in the Holy Land.  For Sacrament Meeting we sat in the auditorium room that has these huge windows that overlook the JC gardens and the city.  The spirit was so strong as we listened to the testimony of the saints who are here visiting from all over the world, with the city in the background.  One cool thing is that I was able to see one of my dearest friends dad and brother who are here on a tour group trip, Perry and Gannon Montoya. It was so cool to see such familiar faces in a foreign land. After church I took time to be by myself and to write in my journal.  I also took a cat nap in the gardens which was so nice.  There is just so much peace to be found here at the center.  The city of Jerusalem itself is crazy! The cultures here are so fun but it is busy like any other major city. There are cars with their horns blaring (people here are horn crazy!), tons of shops, vast amounts of people, and lots and lots of tourists. I loved going to the Church of the Holy Seplechre and seeing all the different Christian faiths gather.  It touched my heart to see these christians kneel and kiss this stone slab that some believe Christ's body was laid upon and prepared for burial after being taken from the cross.
There is still so much to see, experience, and learn and I am so grateful that I am able to take part in it.
Also the food is amazing here, and the people I am with are great.  I'm still trying to find my way here and find where I fit in but overall it has been a great adventure! I love you all and hope you are well!

Love,
Ashley

2 comments:

  1. So neat to hear about the culture and city. Thanks for letting us feel like we are there with you. Love you and can't wait to read more♡

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  2. Sounds awesome mate!!!! I'm looking forward to reading about your adventures! Love you loads!! xx

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