Saturday, July 28, 2012

Dear Last Day in Galilee (Day 94),

I think you know a place is wonderful if you:
            A. want more time there
            B. it invokes feelings of goodness in your heart.
Galilee has been a very peaceful place. It feels like too soon that we must leave it behind.

beautiful peaceful and captivating cemetery
 including grave sites of some early Latter-Day Saints
a powerful testimony of dedication to this great faith I believe in

view of haifa
with a glimpse of an adorable j.c. couple
as well as pink flowers, for hannah

 panorama of the Baha'i shrine
beautiful theology
beautiful gardens

my "big brother" & close friend/roommate in galilee: another adorable couple here

elijah...i mean mt. carmel
(see 1 kings 18)

rachel caroline edwards
provo roommate
stunning model
excited and happy about life
ancient aqueduct
glad I know her

this is robert
immersed in the caeseria experience
"literally," as david cramer would say

ice cream endeavors
THE gelato of the holy land according to the harpers

:) I love you, northwestern Israel.
Sincerely yours, Chloe Michelle

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Dear Nature (Day 88),

So far in this trip, I have made it to four counties and two continents. Today was too...technical; I'm not sure what category this adventure falls in. As my roommate put it: "Today we are going into Israel Occupied Syria...but you might not want to tell anyone that. You could start a war." Golan Heights. Not officially annexed by Israel. Currently passing tanks as I write.

Made it to the top most tower of Gamla. It's this awesome city/fortress on the side of a mountain/cliff. As Professor Ludlow would say: a city needs water and defensible land. Other than that, I'm not sure why you would choose such a crazy place to start a city. Let's be honest, it was probably just for the view. The fog was a heavenly barricade against the sun...but not so great for accentuating vivid color for landscape pictures.

Next was Qazrin Village a quaint little village that had a reconstructed home in the style of the Talmudic period. Adorable. I had a little spark of feeling comparable to what it must have felt like to really live there. I was a little jealous, actually. Small religious town, open wilderness, small courtyard. Was life simple there? Remind me why I want an iPhone again?

Kursi. An entire national park centered on the synagogue thought to be the sight of "the miracle of the swine." Honestly, I didn't even go in. I was too distracted with the thoughts Harper left us about parables. There is so much left for me to seek. I know this might just be my perseption of "the way things are," but Harper is brilliant. Something about the way I connect with him makes me feel like he cares about the individual. He never makes you feel guilty of talking or holding up the group...even when I'm sitting in the circle wishing everyone would just stop talking so I could listen to him lecture. Forever. Instead, he makes us think. He leaves me hanging and anxious for more knowledge. Knowledge he won't let me have. Not so easy. Not so fast. Not without some considerable work on my part.

Then we got to go river rafting. They told us not to jump in, so Brianne and I had a peaceful paddle down the river........for the first 5 minutes. Then, complete pirate warfare broke out. I attacked and traded about 10 different rafts, trading teams when convenient...except for Hannah. He fought too valiantly for me to abandon her. Plus, destroyed we the apparatus, so our mission be accomplished, mateys.

I sat on the grassy beach and read my history book. And you know what? I actually enjoyed it. There is something magical about coming across about 10 sites during one reading that I've been to. As I described it to the snack shack cashier: things are a bit more real here. Plus (as the cashier and I also discussed) chocolate is better here.

Sitting next to Luke in class feels...right. I haven't seen him for about two days. I don't feel adequate enough in my writing skills to express to you the significance of that concept. How two days seems strange when you are used to particular companionship. I think: so much has changed, yet the bond feels stable......days seem like months here......and re-remembering why you respect people is a spectacular emotion.

Finished the day off with life-stories and opinions in a hammock. Now, its time to dream. Figuratively and literally. -Chloe'

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Dear I forgot to put a title on this post in my first draft (Day 87),

You know that feeling you get when you are so 'spent,' but your heart longs to keep going? *sigh* Welcome to Galilee. I went with my heart today when I used my precious Israel free-time to journal and hike, instead of study for my test. I don't regret anything...yet.

I love the people in my program. Yesterday, I was so happy just busing all around the sea, spending every minute with another person I like. I did love my half-hour of alone time to ponder on the 'Mount of Beatitudes'...and the two hours I got to steal away with my closest friend here for a wonderful conclusion to a mind-blowing day.

Today, I'm glad to be here. Today, I'm happy to be done with my test. Hiking = totally a new favorite pass time. Ice cream. Photobooth with Abby Harper. Life is good in Galilee.

With love, Chloe'

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Dear Faith (Day 86),

Internet here is dodgey. It works really well and then randomly cuts out. I give up trying to use it.

Today, my life was changed with insights of the stories from the New Testament that happened on and around the Sea of Galilee. Perhaps the stirring of faith is more important than the calming of the tempest. No faith is ever lost to Him who knows you.

I sure love the people in my life. Onward and Upward, Chloe' Michelle

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Dear New Love (Day 85),

You know you are in Galilee when:
-you walk to and from your apartment and the "classroom/cafeteria" building 42.6 times in one day
-you blame the heat for your craziness
-you live 60 steps from the beach
-all you've done today is study and go to class and eat...but it's fun because it's all about GALILEE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! If there is anything I would like to live, breathe, and eat right would be Galilee.
-you ask someone to turn down the AC, and realize it's the first time you've been cold for 3 months
-you then walk outside and get hit with a wave of 110 degree the humidity
-you find a frog in your shower
-you find a new love: the Gospels 

I absolutely love the feeling of reading my scriptures and saying "Hey, look: this happened RIGHT HERE!" This place is so romantic and wonder-ful...but probably boring for any reader to hear about because I literally read my New Testament ALL DAY LONG! You think I'm kidding?

My schedule today:
7:30 wake up and eat breakfast
8-10 NT class
10-11 read NT
11-12 NT class
12-1 lunch
1-4 study session in my room
4-6 study session in the classroom
6-7 dinner
7-9 talk with roomies.....but mostly (you guessed it) STUDY
9-10 bonfire
See what I mean?

Oh well, life is great. Here are a few random-funny-moments of the least....they were funny to us.....
  • "He came to you too?" mistaken for "Think we can youTube?" -Rachel E.
  • When twisting words describes our personalities:    Natalie: "Sheep-herd"  Me: "Sheep-her-dahs"  Hannah: "Aw,  sheepers, man"   
  • "When you said that word, I imagined capital letters and exclamation points in my head." -Me
  • "My computer is about to commit mutiny."    "What?"   "She said her computer is going to a mutany."   "What's a mutany?"
  • Jay hits me on accident after I sass him: "Sorry, uncalled for regression from me"   "Did you just say that was pretty Russian of you?" 
  • "So, when I was writing my stress paper...wait..."

Quotes that could only come after hours of NT studying:
  • When we analyzed Natalie's ice cream joke and then knew that Professor Harper had REALLY gotten into our heads.
  • "Who sings that song?" "Roman Direction" "You mean One Direction?" -Rachel and I

Life is good on the shores of the Sea of Galilee. -Chloe' 

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Dear awe-some (Day iDon'tRemember),

Woke up not tired for the first time in a long time. Figured out how to use my curling iron after 3ish months here. Made it on time enough to church to pick up a program. He was sitting on the stand. "I can't hope," I thought. "It can't be. His presence is enough. I already had a short conversation, including a hand shake. That's enough for me." But then I dared a look at the program. 

"Closing remarks: Elder Holland" 

I had a little spastic moment in my heart. "YYYEEEEESSSSSSS!" I had wanted to believe it all week, since Tuesday's announcement session when our director had informed us that Elder Holland would be living under our same roof. Amazing. 

"When is he coming?"

And so is was. 4.25 days with the presence of an apostle of the Lord in this place I call home. I didn't want to bug him. I didn't want to intrude on his family vacation, but I craved just a few profound words. "He wouldn't leave us without addressing us....right?..........right????" Church today was our last hope because afterward, he leaves.

It makes sense, in my mind, that I wanted to hear him speak. It's one thing, I concluded, to have him living at the JC. It's another to have him grab my hand for a shake and pull it into a power-fist-grab, like we had been friends. It was another thing to have him speak to me directly, to ask me how my day had been. I wanted to be ok with just that. I wanted to be satisfied. . .but I found myself craving the sense of power I feel when I hear apostles speak. I wanted to hear him testify. I wanted a prophetic message for our little tiny corner of the world here.

It was better than I could have imagined. The meeting ran over almost an hour and I was so thankful. He apologized for intruding on our time...but he must know, O he must know how much we were pleading him to stay. 

His message spoke peace to my heart: enjoy your time here. You are blessed. Not to minimize personal challenges, for SURELY there will be hard times ahead, but you MUST stand strong.
He then left us with a blessing.

I had some ponder time in the Garden of Gethsemane and sang and played cards with my close friends, along with our tradition of Sabbath Sundown watching. Wondrous Jerusalem. 

I love God. So so so much. Being in Jerusalem has taught me so much...but honestly: what I've learned most is how little I know. We have a teacher here named Brother Harper. Genius. His tag line is "what do you know and how do you know it?" Super intense question. I feel like everything I have learned in my life-before-Jerusalem has been shaken. I know it may sound strange, but through the many little experiences I've had here, I have learned to question. And I love it.  I feel like my eyes are beginning to open and now I must literally put everything I know back onto my solid foundation: and that is that I know I love God. I know He is real and that He loves me. And everything else is slowly being built on top of that. I'm asking why, and finding strength. I'm asking questions, and striving for answers.  I'm learning how I know things, and that is: most directly from the Spirit, sent to me by my Lord Jesus Christ. That reality (along with the things that are now stemming from it) are the only sure things in my heart. 

O communion sweet. Take my heart. Make me more worthy of thy love. 
Most sincerely and openly, Chloé Michelle Sumsion

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Dear Searching (Day 74),

So Sarah Barlow and I may or may not have had a life epiphany today.


Think about it. It's deep.

Natalie and I studied "the Woman at the Well" story from John 4 today. I cannot get enough of the New Testament.

Went to crepes to celebrate Alicia's birthday...turns out our renowned store is closed...turns out life is great and things work out wonderfully sometimes. The store owner was there, despite the tradition of vacant streets before Sabbat. So he opened his shop just to give us gelato. Coconut and Raspberry. Yup: life is good.
i personally love that i caught the happy couple in the background

Took Sarah to the Shuk for the first time...and my last time. I decided I can't spend all my fridays in open air markets. I was so happy to be in one of my favorite places, yet mixed with a heavy burden of sadness for trying to move on to other things. *Sigh* There is more Israel to explore.

Dilly-dallied home. I don't know where on earth that expression came from, but it perfectly describes my attitude on the way back to the center. I wanted to soak everything in. And you know what I found? BEAUTY! I love the homes here. I love the streets. I love the sound in my heart when Jerusalem is quiet. How can I ever leave this?

"lighter than pillows"....made of concrete.
if you are asking yourself, "what the random?!" you are not alone.

Tonight was girls night. Apparently, when girls live in Jerusalem, they have nothing better to do than paint their nails as they watch chick-flicks. I am morally opposed to lame movies when I have precious and few moments living in this land. Then again, all Luke and I did instead was laugh at things on the I don't know if that's any better...except I think it is. :) I would take laughing with someone who you think is wonderful over unnecessarily pouring your heart out into a love story that isn't even yours ANY DAY. (Although I'm not opposed to good movies at the end of a long day when I have absolutely no homework to do......which has been, like, once in the last 3 months. Just so you think I'm not entirely insane. Also, I did watch for like 20 minutes, just to be somewhat a part of my girls.)
brielle blue!!!! love and miss you, girl!

I love weekends in Jerusalem. Search for beauty and you can find it. Sincerely, Chloé Michelle

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Dear People (Day 73),

Learned a lot today...and not just education wise. Right now I'm a nerd for the New Testament and addicted to antiquity. Having two classes is just perfect.

I had a lot of reflecting moments about why I am here. The answer seems obvious...or at least it did to me before I came. I pictured myself using every single second of this trip to either be seeing sights or learning lessons.

I've kept this view for pretty much the whole time here. I figure I talk to these people enough when we are out or at meals, that I don't feel a strong desire to see them in the evenings. Usually I play all daylight hours and seclude myself after dinner to actually get some studying done.

That's why I was unsettled at a few circumstances that I witnessed today:

#1 There was a blood drive in the center and I was fascinated at the number of people willing to face their fears and would put themselves through an uncomfortable next few months for the well being of complete strangers. I, however, did not donate, owing to the memory of the awful feeling I had for more than 3 months my senior year of high school. My body felt awful and slow and...I just didn't like it at all. I'm struggling for strength as it is, I thought. Which to me, that is understandable. But also kind of selfish in a way.

#2 Bad situation: 8 of us were sitting in the van, waiting for Geoff and Dana in order to leave for the Knesset tour at 2:00. Geoff comes out and says, "Rachel Mesek and Amy just donated blood but they are coming." "Geoff," we respond, "we're late enough as it is and we don't have room for all 4 of you. Call a cab." And we left. Little did we know, Geoff and Dana had been running around for like 15 minutes trying to get the two sickliness all ready for leaving the center. I felt horrible. Why were sites given more importance then helping others? Was there anything I could have done? At the time, it was understandable. But also kind of selfish in a way.

#3 I got all my homework done early because really wanted to go to this concert tonight. It was supposed to be this great cultural experience. And besides, it was free and there is nothing to do at the center at night. People kept bailing out and I started getting really frustrated: I would have just gone by myself if security would have allowed me to. But in a moment of Luke and Rachel Mackay's pleading faces, I took a deep breath and stayed in tonight. We read the actual story of "al-adin" (Aladin) as a bed time story. And you know what? It was kind of wonderful. I remembered how great it was to just be with the people I love, even when we aren't on some grand adventure...or perhaps this is just me justifying my decision. But I think I'm beginning to understand. I guess I was kinda unselfish in a way.

Maybe, just maybe, I'm here for more than just sites and learning. Perhaps I'm here to learn to just be happy with the people I love.

Speaking of which: I LOVE THE PEOPLE HERE! The people I am growing closer to in the center, as well as the local people I now hold close to my heart. Today we went to the legislative government building (the Knesset) and to an exhibition detailing the life of Hasidic Jews (the Israel Museum). I'm sure many people have had experiences like this, but I really want to connect with them. I feel like being here has given me such a better understanding for these people. I love my Israeli life. -Chloé Michelle

The Knesset:

beautiful symbolism on the wall of "heavenly" and "earthy" Jerusalem
picture of the "visionary of the State": Benjamin Ze'ev Herzl
Plenum seats shaped like a menorah

Chagall Hall. that's right, mom. know and love him.
the past, present, and future of Jeru. very personal. very moving.
JERUSALEM! and king david
at the time Chagall did this mosaic, you could not get to the
Western Wall. how beautiful is this symbolism?
photo credit: google images search
7 species of Israel menorah

12 tribes of Israel gold door

the eternal flame

go yis-ry-el!

The Israel Museum:

why don't i have more calligraphy in my life?

old yeshiva

family tree of Ba'al Shem Tov

they are not so different from me, you know.
they teach their kids past rebbes. we teach ours past prophets.

:) Aladin bedtime story time:

Friday, July 6, 2012

Dear Home (Day 72),

Shalom Y'all! Samaech Fourth of July! Here's my little ode to the irony of this day.

Today was my first Independence Day outside the good old U.S.ofA. Quite a different experience for me, although all of the guys were used to it. haha I did miss my family traditions, but being here was actually more special than I thought it would be. Appreciating your country's celebration of nationality more when you leave it? Point #1 for irony.

Thanks to my excellent and thoughtful mother, the center felt festive with a little bit of decoration.

We had class...which was weird... :) but then I headed off to the Rockefeller Museum with my Hannah and my Natalie. Great fun; a pretty tiled courtyard fit for a princess; ancient rocks. Not exactly in the spirit of anything American...but the title of the museum is pretty deceiving, eh? At least we didn't go to the government building like we were contemplating...
          We wondered, as we ventured away from our little mooring, what situation we might be putting ourselves in by wearing outfits of red, white, and blue into a city seeping with politically and socially intense culture. Then, a women passed us and said, "Happy 4th! That is...if you're American.." Hannah's first reaction was: "An esoteric passerby!" I love my life.
          My favorite item there was an ancient 5th century mosiac with a "peace into Israel" blessing from Psalms 125 & 128. O Jerusalem and all your complexity...
         Also: a resurgence of love for Hannah welled inside me today. She's simple: meaning she doesn't need a lot of fluff in her world: she is happy and that's what is important to her. I love what she thinks of when she lets her mind wander, and also the instantaneous happy-thoughts she jumps into in the midst of my sentence. I love her attitude and unselfishness. I love that when I complain/contemplate that artifacts from certain sites are scattered all over the world, her first thought is, "Yeah, so everyone gets to see them even if they can't come all the way here!" Oh how much I still have to learn...

The three of us were going to be so productive in the realm of homework............until we found the Ludlows. (Shout out to Nat for her unselfish-volunteering-example. :) Thanks, girl!) Amazing people. Like always. Today was my second time into their apartment and I loved it because it feels like home.  The pictures of their family and church-things all over the place. Michael Buble playing while we chatted. Hannah harmonizing to "Homeward Bound" as we cooked. I love the Ludlows for their willingness to hangout with us and their welcoming attitude. It's still so cool to me to be so close to my professors and their families. Their two little girls are the cutest things ever. Gotta love my Luds-bonding time.

Next was our very own Fourth-of-July-BBQ! Last time Achman made us burgers, they were.................more like Israeli burgers then American burgers, so we were all a bit nervous. But the kitchen staff pulled through with tasty hamburgers, potatoes, apple pie, and ice cream. :) It was comforting to have our American food again, and picnic-style nonetheless.

:) We couldn't resist the great photo opp...
attempting to spell "USA" on the grass

John entertaining us.
Brianne...well...I'm not exactly sure what she's doing...


...and david being david

 Then it was time for some truly American fun: Minute to Win It game night. :) I loved great, crazy faces and willing, silly actions that game nights bring out. I think that classiness means getting your hands dirty on account of good, clean fun. :) 

To wrap up the night, we ate the cakes that Sister Ludlow made us. We sang the national anthem and for the first, I was hit very powerfully with a sense of awe in relation to that song. Why me? Why am I allowed to be here celebrating with this group of collage-aged kids in this little haven of the world? Why was I born in the land of the free and the home of the brave? Why was my government SO organized and wonderful? Why was my life so peaceful? I walked away with a true sense of gratitude for my homeland. And as much as I love this place, I'm proud to be called an American. It's very interesting that I came all the way here to feel that.

NEVERTHELESS, the most intense irony that weighed upon me today was the thought that this is home. And home is home. And I'm leaving home to come home soon. And I'll miss my home when I do.
Hannah and Alicia and I waited for the usual, nightly fireworks to be heard from the city. We were guessing that of course this would be the one night people didn't light them...but I think I heard one big boom as I made my way to our deep life discussion, before sleep overwhelmed us.

God bless America.......and pray for the people in this ארץ הקודש.   -Chloé