Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Dear Erika (Day 36),

I figured since I now know that you actually read this blog, then I could write directly to you. So hi. :) I love you. So much.

Today was kinda boring as far as writing home goes. (But exciting for me because 6 hours of class IN Jerusalem and then studying ABOUT Jerusalem until I fall asleep is my idea of a good day.) Since you asked me in your email about the people here, I think today I'll switch it up and do a dedicatory post to the people here that matter most.
(p.s. I'll try to catchup on some of my missed days, so look back through the timeline of my blog.)

Over the past few months, I've been pondering the idea that everyone has a story. An INTERESTING story. I've become fascinated with people and their many different lives. I love getting to know them. So the following people kinda have a theme in my life right now:
#1 I only met them a month ago.
#2 They probably don't know it yet, but they have altered my experience here...for the good. I know that sounds dramatic...but seriously: I am constantly learning something just by their presence. Intense stuff. That's what you get when you spend all-day-every-day with the same people in a very confined space, emotionally and physically. They are becoming like home to me. And that has GOT to be enough to justify them completely changing the way I think.
#3 I very much enjoy their company. You'd think from the above mentioned closeness that you'd get sick of people...but I actually crave more time with these people.
#4 I love my life. Especially with these people in it this past month. And perhaps things will change as time goes on. I mean, it's only been a month...but...for now, here goes my list of awesome people:

Meet Hannah. (Why, yes. This picture does very much describe her.) She is WONDERFUL! Hannah is 4 years old at the inner 4 year old in me is never ever embarrassed to come out. She makes me feel so completely and utterly comfortable. I enjoy all moments I spend with her.

Natalie. AMAZING. Her personality is just my favorite thing ever. Happy. Enthusiastic. Unselfish. Sweet. Even incredibly musical. I love that she is redefining my idea of accomplishments. #nofilter. Isn't she gorgeous?

Luke. Aka Spencer Lucas. Aka Spluke. Luke describes himself as "idiocentric." I describe him as "intriguing." I like our conversations.  I love the perception I have that he is brilliant beyond reason. Perfect face, don't you think?

Alicia. (On the left.) I could listen to her voice all day long. Literally. Alicia has reminded me of my love for music, people, and sound advice. Alicia keeps me sane.

Andy. I love history. Andy loves history. We can geek out together. It's GREAT!

Alvin. The boy who inspires unselfishness just by being in the same room. This, by the way, is his REAL smile.

Ashley. (On the left.) Calm. So incredibly calm. I love being around her happy and willing smile. She leads me in the right directions...obviously. :)

Pam. My roommate and hero. She is so REAL. She says it like it is, and I always want to hear it. She takes action on the things she wants to do. I want to be like her.

Sarah. My other roommate. I love Sarah's attitude. I love that she is always happy. I love that she stays up late with me to cram for our midterm. I love being around her. She makes me happy.

So there you have it. The people who make me better. The people I adore. The people who make me happy. The people I enjoy my time with...all the time.

Love you, Er. Wish you were here too. -Clo

Monday, May 28, 2012

Dear Jerusalem Day 35,

There is a psychological phenomenon...which I can't think of the name of right now...that basically says that your current mood effects the way you perceive your memories. So when you are happy, painful past experiences seem less harsh. And when you are sad, happy memories are tainted with your bias attitude.

So as I sit here in the JC, showered, filled with french fries and saffron rice, nibbling on chocolate...our field trip today seems like a breeze. However, my happy mood is TOTALLY making me forget everyones uncomfortableness.

Some sources said 90, some said somewhere in that range is the temperature in which we melted in today.Welcome to summer in the Middle East.

Conversations today included one of the following:
#1--"When I get back to Provo, 70 degrees is going to feel like freezing compared to this."
#2--"It's ok that I'm sweating through my clothes because we all are, right?.....RIGHT? A little social justification here people!!!!"
#3--"Well this is cool."
#4--"Let's take a picture."
#5--........."Can we sing here?"

So basically today was hot and awesome. If you wanted a summary of my day, you can stop reading here. For details that probably only my mother cares about, read on.

Today was Shephelah Field Trip. Basically the desert South of Jerusalem. Who knew there was SO much to see there! 9 hours of ancientness.

Ok. Here we go. Hold out your right hand in front of you with your palm facing you and all your fingers pointing to the left, fingers spread. Got it? Jerusalem is your knuckle on your pointer finger. Your fingers are now mountainous-hilly-land, and in between each finger is a valley. In between pointer finger and middle finger is where Samson was born/where his first wife was from. In between your middle finger and your ring finger is where David fought Goliath. At those are just 2 of the 6 or so places we went today. All in about an hour's drive from one another. Crazy. You would not believe how many things happen in the Holy Land. I brought a yellow crayon with me and I highlight my Bible every time a city appears that I've been to. It's AWESOME!

So #1 and #2 make sense now that you know I've been in the desert all day.
#3 is obvious now that you know at least two famous bible stories that happened here.
#4 happens all day every day, so that's not new.
But #5 makes sense if you know Dr. Huntsman. (Also called Huntsy, Papa Hunts, Hunter, etc). For those who don't know him: here is a brief intro. Imagine a studly-macho-man that can pull of an Indiana Jones hat, sang a few years in mo-tab, hyperness, enthusiasm for all things Roman&Byzantine&Christian, a nerd for all things Jesus, and overwhelming love for his family all wrapped into one personality. He's SO legit. I love listening to him talk. Never ever a dull moment on his adventures, I swear...
So basically we sing all the time. Like every site. Because he loves it. And we love it. And if I do say so myself: we're pretty dang good at it too. The harmonies that we can produce still amaze me. So then we love it even more. We went to these underground caves in the limestone that had awesome acoustics, so I sang like 10 songs between breakfast and dinner. Including the quintet that my friends friends so graciously invited me to sing in for the talent show on Thursday. I LOVE MUSIC SO MUCH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Music. Heat. Ruins. Jerusalem.            -CMS

David-and-Goliath valley

David (Nate) slays Goliath (Alvin). Note Alvin's scriptures. hahaha We were serious about this role-play thing.

David and I (plus Ryan). Holy of Holiness, temple, Lachish, Israel.

The reason I love Jerusalem: green and desert side by side.

:) cave

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Dear Jerusalem: One Month!

Wow. I can't even believe I've been here for one month exactly. Part of me feels like I've lived here my whole life; part of me can't believe how fast time is slipping away.

For example: there is this one church down the street from us called "St. Mary Magdalene Russian Orthodox Church." It has a super mysterious glow about it because: #1 it's golden roof shines brighter than the DOTR (Dome of the Rock according to David Cramer) and #2 It's only open from 10am to noon on Tuesdays and Thursdays (when we have class). So we've all be very curious to get inside that dang gate!

Well today we got out of class at 10:50. We were all debating weather to book it over there and back to the Center for noon lunch and a TON of homework, or to just stay here and soak it in when we had more time to not "feel so rushed." I went through the debate in my head, weighing the pros and cons. Again: part of me said I'd been living here forever and that I wanted to just relax today and that there would be other days to see it later in the semester.................but there was the part of my head (that is probably the voice of SJ and Brielle) that told me to go. To live every moment I had here, even if I didn't understand why yet. Even if I was tired or bored, to just do it.

So I did. :) Gotta love life in Jerusalem.
see the arched building behind it? that's the center!

mary pleading. BEAUTIFUL!

serbian russian nun lady: "church takes some style from orthodox, some style from cathedral"
she was cute. i like this place.

in worship, there is a place for everyone

I think I am just starting to figure out how to live here. Finally figuring out that I just have to do what I WANT to do, not what I feel like I need to do. Because sometimes, you need to ditch everything and do your homework. Sometimes, the city just calls. Sometimes I choose wrong......but I'm learning to be ok with that. I'm learning to love it no matter what.

So so so so so legit. But I think the most important lesson I learned tonight was that I am inspired by the unselfishness of my friend Alvin. Long story short: we couldn't all go in (see how many of us there were?) so a bunch of people sacrificed for me and three others to go listen. 
Alvin told me it was ok. 
Alvin to me that I should go because he knew how much I wanted to be there. 
Alvin was tired, I could tell. And everyone waited for us to go get dinner super late. 
The words spoken at that meeting will quickly fade, but I have a feeling that the caring actions and examples of my friends will stay with me for a long time. LOVE YOU GUYS!

Also: finally found my way back to the shwerma place I've been craving for three weeks now. I was #1 proud of our group that we could navigate the streets of West Jerusalem that well #2 happy that I live here and can find/return to the good shwerma place. 
looks clean, huh mom?

Sincerely, Chloé

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Dear Jerusalem Day 30,

Hey ya’ll! This is your truly comin’ at you from the JC 3-10.

If you can’t tell, it was Arab Night tonight. :) hahaha If you knew my friend AJ, you’d understand. He’s probably the most gangster white kid I’ve ever met. He turns any dance party into the night of your life. Sometimes, I like to pretend to speak his language. Hahahaha just roll with it, ok?

Today started and ended great…and let’s face it, it was great in the-in-between too. :) I think I’m going to make an album in my iPhoto called “The Regulars of Jerusalem” because I realize there is a bunch of daily-routine stuff that has become so second nature that I don’t even think about it anymore. If I’m anything like Brielle, I’ll probably miss all that kind of stuff once I’m home. For example: breakfast of sliced citrus, deep fried French toast, hot chocolate, yogurt-frosted-flake-healthy-cereal-banana parfait. Pretty much what I eat whenever I can. And I still enjoy it…haha…it’s just not as exciting as it was the first day I was here. I’ll make sure to post the album once it’s complete. :) I like my daily loves of Jerusalem. Especially the walk to the city. Same route, different every time.

Had a roomie reuniting day in the Old City w/ Madelyne and Rach. It was kinda fun to just have us again. It feels like forever since winter semester…

Anyway, we mainly just went shopping for our dinner festivity tonight. I went to the city with 100 NIS (New Israeli Shekels) and came back with -5. Hehe opps. (Don’t worry mom and dad, that’s only like 40 USD.)

15 NIS = shwerma
15 NIS = dried fruit
30 NIS = Arab shirt
5 NIS = earrings
25 NIS = scarf
15 NIS = another scarf

Then, it was time for “Arab Culture Night.” It has been talked up forever in my world, so I was excited to experience it.

Call to prayer. (Real Call-To-Prayer-Ers or Pray-Call-Ers as Sarah and I would say, from the al-Aqsa Mosque. Aka they are SUPER legit and their voices are beautiful.)
Arab food buffet. (Complete with Achman-style baklava, meat pastries, rice, and tomato sauce. Yum.)
Dancing. (Started out as Arabic dance instructions and ended with previously stated D.J. AJ dance party.)

Every time I walk away from an experience and say to myself, “That was so awesome I don’t even know what to do with myself right now,” I am reminded of why I am here.  It’s because I love those precious moments. Sometimes they happen in our day-to-day lives, but I think it’s safe to say they happen a lot more frequently in foreign countries. I think I’ll start looking for more of those.

Sorry. No pictures tonight. I tired. Goodnight/it’s only 1:00pm for all those in the States but no matter. Bed time for me. –Chloé

Dear Hannah, Natalie, Rachel, and Brianne,

THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR ORGANIZING A STUDY GROUP LAST NIGHT! I would have failed that dang Old Testament Midterm without that.....and I would have gone insane without YOU!

Seriously, you guys are lifesavers.


Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Dear Jerusalem Day 29,

Today, I took a nap "for the first time in a long time." And you know what? "I feel alive." (If you have no idea what I'm talking about right now, listen to "Barlights" by Fun. Normally, I'd post a link...but seeing how my internet compatibility is NOT high'll have to go find it yourself. hehe And please do. The song is really a piece of art. It's been stuck in my head for the last, like, 3 weeks.)

I feel alive because I can think again. This morning was pretty lame. It was nice to wake up a second time and try to face this day with a new start. I don't mean to complain, but this morning was.....well....lame is still the best word I have to describe it. I have a poorly written, long, irritated rant that I typed this morning, but I will spare you.

this is my contemplative face. and my attempt to be as
classy as maddie m, stephgraff, audge, emily, and cyth.
i miss you, chicas. p.s. someone said the word "pinteresting"
today and I about died. major catch-up party with
the loft when i am home? i think so.
Basically: I'm a bit overwhelmed with our school work here. Coming back from a blissful and perfect week in Turkey to more homework than I could possibly swallow made me a bit discouraged. So taking a nap made me wake up with the attitude that maybe I CAN'T do everything. Maybe I need to accept that fact. I've been thinking about taking Fall semester off, now, for about a month. Today rekindled that option a bit. Maybe I need a break? Maybe I need to take a semester to chill out? Maybe I could go part time and get a job? *sigh* I dunno. I'll figure it out eventually. Not today. Today I'm going to be happy that I'm living in Jerusalem.

* * *

As it so happens, my school curriculum was perfectly coordinated today. Across my three subjects of the day, I learned about the core laws of the children of Israel, the historical happenings of the Jews, and the foundations of the faith of Islam. (p.s. I think I just alliterated that sentence w/o even realizing. woa.) I may or may not deny this later: but I'm a totally nerd for history. I love this so much.

Other than that, today has consisted of fairly routine-like activities: food, class, announcements, linen exchange, food, class, attempt to study/blogging instead, food, homework, sleep. If you were hoping for something more exciting, I guess my advice to you (and to myself) is: get used to it. :) This is life in the Center. Sure it would be different if I were traveling, but the fact of the matter is: I'm not. I'm here to learn, not to mess around all the time. But don't worry, I'll get the hang of this eventually. I guess in the end it's not so mundane...but then again: after Turkey, EVERYTHING seems mundane. Oh well. I'm not too worried about it now (thanks to said nap-time). Welcome back to school!

And so, my dearest Jerusalem: here we are. Everyone tells me that you are heaven. You are happiness. You are home. . . . . . . It just doesn't quite seem real to me yet.

Hope all is well in the States. If you are in school right now as well: Kol Tuv. I ♥ you, Chloe' Michelle

Monday, May 21, 2012

Dear Jerusalem Day 28,

My idea of a good day:
Drive to the middle of the Judean Wilderness. Hike in the Arab heat to the top of a mountain with absolutely NOTHING around you. Read the account of Jesus' fast in Mark chapter 2. Sing "More Holiness Give Me." Ponder on your OWN purpose as a child of God, just as Jesus did. 
Needless to say, it was cool.

wilderness. really. (p.s. this is my first view of the Dead Sea)

However, it quite a wake up call back to my life in Jerusalem. :( Goodbye forever, green fields of Turkey. . . . . actually. . . . . probably not. I'll probably move there some day. Alvin and I already planned this out. :)

Looking forward to 7 hours of catch-up homework before class tomorrow. Sometimes, I love having nothing else to do in the world than read, talk, think, and live in the Holy Land.

Love, Chloe'

Click to Enlarge and ENJOY:
That's right: donkey. Chillin' in my life in the Middle East.

Ok this one is for my family: You know how we always quote Cuzco from Emperor's New Groove when he's planning to build himself another palace? "It's my birthday gift to ME! I'm so happy." Yeah, well this is legitimately Herod's Winter Palace. NBD.

Zacchaeus' tree (Luke 19)

This one is for Austen: Here's my first shot at advertising :) haha and yes, this shot was taken IN JERICHO!!!! It helps that Rachel is gorgeous.

Behind Rach and I pretending to be models in the direction the Israelites came from to conquer Jericho. Family: remember that dumb song we always sing? The one that starts and ends with "Joshua fought the battle of Jericho" because we don't know the rest of the words? Yeah that one. Well, we sang that IN Jericho today. :) Funny huh?

Elias' spring near Jericho (unknown scripture reference)

Ok this one goes out to Austen, Erika and Chris Walker: POMELOS! Hahaha they are all over Jerusalem. :) good times.

Crossing the border from Israeli land to Palestinian controlled land. The tension you feel here is UNREAL.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Dear Jerusalem Day 27,

Today was marvelous. I should have taken pictures of us getting in from Turkey at 4:30 AM. We were SO out of it. We all slept in until like 11:00 at rolled into brunch in a daze.

The table I sat at was stoked off pitas. I enjoyed trying new Turkish food and consuming a total of, like, 5 loaves of bread in one week.....but I must say I missed our toasted-chocolate-and-peanut-butter-pitas. People here eat them should I say mealy.

Although, I already miss the Turkish Delight, baklava, way-better-than-normal fruit, and other interesting foods of Turkey. Ah well. At least I still have you, Jerusalem. I still love you.....but Turkey may or may not have just replaced you. :)

The rest of the day I blogged and went to church and went to this AMAZING concert. It was a simple trio, which if you know me, you know how stoked I was to go. I LOVE TRIOS! Especially classical violin...and especially classical violin in Israel. So worth ditching my homework.

(video to come)

I promise I'll catch up on my blogging soon! You need to meet Turkey. He's my favorite country ever!!!!! (Sorry, Jeru.)

Sincerely, Chloé

Dear Connections,

Today, I need your advice.

Recently, I've been thinking about tolerance and integrity. About instances where you should allow people to do what they want, as well as moments where you should stand for something.

So tonight I had a seemly bland, but surprising meaningful conversation to add to my thoughts. It went a little something like this:

Me: "Hello [Friendly Jewish Man Who Will Be Attending The Concert I Am Ushering For]. Welcome to the Center."
Him: "Shalom. Were you just reading the Guest Registry comments? You're not supposed to do that."
Me: " *nervous giggle* Yes I was. The couple in charge told me to."
The conversation then turned nice and he asked me how long I had been here and where he lived and so forth.

After our conversation finished, I was a bit concerned. I was surprised at how blunt he was to tell me off so authoritatively. I felt so intimidated by him. I wasn't reading them because i had to, I was reading them because i wanted to. Because i was interested in what people had to say.

I started feeling guilty. Maybe reading those registry books are NOT ok. Maybe i was the one here breaking social norms. Maybe I should listen to this man with his authoritative attitude.

But maybe not. Maybe he just gave his opinion and i wasn't confident enough to stick up for myself.

What do you think? Was I right to be intimidated by him? Or should I have been more confident in my response and said what I ACTUALLY felt? I'd love to hear!

Sincerely, Chloe' Michelle

Dear John Alvin Green the Third,

you inspired me with our talk yesterday. Because it remind me of things I had forgotten:

#1-- I love blogging. I'm going to do it more. If people want to listen, they can...but if not, that's ok. Because I want to do it anyway. Simply because I enjoy it.

#2-- I love friendships. They bring me joy.

#3-- I want to be a better person. Partly because you are so awesome. Partly because you reminded me that I can work harder than I have been.

So here is to not being lazy. Here is to love and affection. Here is to a LOT more blogging. Here is to Jerusalem Summer 2012! Thanks for a good day, Alvin. I enjoyed our long bus ride through the backroads of Turkey.
-Chloe' Michelle

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Dear Connections,

Meet my mother. She's freaking amazing.

So you know when you have those Sunday church meetings when you just get overwhelmed with one specific emotion? Yeah well today was gratitude for my mother.

My mother puts up with way too much from me. I would know. I'm so very much like her.

Like when she takes me shopping for two days straight before heading off to Jerusalem. So I didn't have to stress about cloying until after finals week.

It was a long weekend. But I hope it was worth it. Because my mother has also taught me to be obedient. And now I wake up every morning feeling confident about my conservative strict Jerusalem center rules. I love her for sacrificing when I have emergencies and so that I can feel comfortable.

My mom is my hero. I love her more than the sky and the earth.

GNLYS. Happy Mother's Day!!!!!

-Chloe' Michelle