Sunday, January 30, 2011

"Home" & Safe

A big update on all of our Egypt adventures is coming soon, with some photographic evidence.

But I know that Cairo has been in the news rather a lot lately, so I wanted to write a quick note before I crash for the night (hiking to the top of Mt. Sinai to watch the sun rise can really wear you out). All of us BYU students are safely back at the Jerusalem Center, sick of buses, a bit sun kissed, exhausted, but so happy to be "home."

Truly, it was fascinating to be in Egypt while all of the recent events have been developing; it's given me such a deeper interest & understanding of these motivations behind the protests. We were blessed to be able to have an incredible trip, despite the unrest in downtown Cairo (which we avoided). We were even able to visit some pyramids that NO other BYU students have visited. All in all, it was a rather unforgetable trip. Thanks for your prayers & concern--it means so much to me to hear from you in the homeland.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

[Skip] Like an Egyptian

I'm not sure if the Ancient Egyptians skipped... but I really don't think I'll be able to help myself when I'm face to face with the sphinx.  Those of you who know me well may be aware that when I am really excited and/or blissful, I tend to sort of... skip-gallop rather than walking like a normal adult person. I've done this basically since forever. And I don't plan on ever stopping, because it's really fun.  Recently, I've been skipping quite a bit, not only because I've been wearing a lot of swishy skirts, but also because I'm leaving tomorrow (at 6:30 a.m.) for Egypt.

Yes, Egypt, as in where there are pyramids & mummies & such. We'll also be visiting the Luxor Temple, the Valley of the Kings, taking an over-night train (which I've always wanted to do), staying in a kibbutz, & hiking Mt. Sinai during our week-long adventure.

I'm having a bit of trouble wrapping my mind around all of the incredible experiences I'm having right now.  At the moment, all I can really think about (besides worrying if I have enough clean t-shirts & pepto) is this lyric from one of my favorite songs that's been running through my head, "I've still got a mountain to climb on my own..."

Maybe Sinai will be my mountain.

Stay tuned--I'll be posting pictures in about a week!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Two Simple Observations

1- Listening to The Postal Service on earbuds makes my brain feel bouncy.

2- Wearing long skirts greatly increases my inclination to walk swishily. Especially when the skirt is a new green silk patterned with cherry blossoms from a shop in the Old City of Jerusalem. Much happy swishing. & twirling.

Also, I will be unable to alter the playlist on this blog for the next 4 months. So... if you get sick of it (I don't even know what song is first...), let me know, & I'll just disable it. Deal?

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Kels H (is)...

living at the BYU Jerusalem Center & pondering the informative nature of status updates & photo journals... hmm...

loving that January = a sun-kissed face when in the Holy Land.

 traveled the Road to Jericho & thought about the parable of the Good Samaritan from a different perspective. Perhaps the priest & the Levite weren't ignoring the dire condition of their fellow traveller; maybe they were just so dedicated to their duties elsewhere that they hardly noticed his plight. I think another moral we can learn from the Good Samaritan is that we shouldn't become so focused on our callings, duties, and work that we become incapable of recognizing the needs of those around us.

As you can see, this isn't a place you'd want to wander for long...

falling in love...with fresh, warm pita topped with sesame butter & cinnamon. Swoon. Worthy.

wishing "boker tov" to all my friends back in the US. (That's how you say "good morning" in Hebrew.)

thinks the Jerusalem Center was built of of stone, glass, air, wood, and light.
A typical view of the Old City from one of the many arched windows throughout the Center.

has never been to a place that felt like home so quickly.

had a major geek moment in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre a few days ago--but really, people, how can you not be astounded by the appearance of an Late Roman column, a Corinthian column, and a more Gothic style all in a row?
The Church of the Holy Sepulchre is a conglomerate of religions & architectural styles. It is built on the site most Christians believe to be the tomb of Jesus, & as most Christians revere this site as the most holy place in the world, most churches want to build there. So, over the years denomination upon denomination have built, quite literally, right on top of each other. I could spend days exploring all the niches, nooks, tiny chapels, & twisted staircases, each belonging to a different faith.

climbed to the top of the very tall Jerusalem YMCA tower; I don't think there's another YMCA in the world that's even close to as gorgeous as this building, which was dedicated in 1933.

And, of course, did the YMCA dance with her JC roommates upon reaching the top of the Jerusalem YMCA tower.
Kels, Michelle, Lindsey, & Synthia.
spent the afternoon studying Exodus & the history of Palestine on a rooftop in the Old City (perhaps more acurately... gazing out at the beautiful city around me whilst my books sat in my lap...)

We were next to an Armenian Orthodox church; apparently, it was Christmas Eve for this denomination, so we were able to get a glimpes of their Christmas Eve procession down the Via Dolorosa to the church.

has discovered a new love for playing with shadows...
Cory (on the right) & I have pretty sassy shadows. On the left side of the picture, you can see a round tower, which is the oldest man-made structure in the world. Archeologists date it to 8000 BC.

...and needs to work on forming intelligible letters.
We were going for "JC" for Jerusalem Center... this may take some practice.

has to get back to writing a paper about Islam now...

parting shot

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Photo of the Day

I took this shot of one of the many minarets here in Jerusalem from the back courtyard of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, which is actually on top of part of the church. They build in layers here in the Holy Land. 

Sunday, January 16, 2011

The Augusta Victoria

One of my favorite Sara Bareilles songs has a lyric about "see[ing] the doorways of a thousand churches." I'm beginning to think that by the end of these four months in the Holy Land, I'll break 1,000. No sweat.

Here are a couple of my favorite photos from one fot the first churches we visited. This is the Agusta Victoria, a beautiful Lutheran edifice built on top of the Mount of Olives to commemorate Jesus' ascension into heaven. It was built by the German Kaiser Wilhelm II & completed in 1910. It is truly a beautiful building and the acoustics in the chapel are truly awe-inspiring.

Random fact: the flights of stairs to the top of the bell tower are comprised of 222 steps. I counted. 

The view from the top.
View of the top. The ceiling was a combination of mosaic & painting.
You can read more about the beautiful Augusta Victoria here, via Wiki.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

I Found You

Some of you may know that my most beloved Carrie VDAkinakanakanakankaannananana came here to the Jerusalem Center just one year ago. Since then, much has changed in her life--her name, her hair color, and, perhaps most significantly, her roommate situation. Last year, I was the one left in the US, pining for my partner in grammatical crime. But this year, I decided to make the trek to the other side of the world, helped greatly by her advice, wisdom, and well-loved guidebook. And despite being surrounded by incredible people & absolutely stunning scenery, I'm definitely missing my Curr'face.

We think we're really fun. & we like mustaches. But not on guys. 
But today, something happened that brought my Carrie a bit closer to me. As we went for a tour underneath the Jerusalem Center, we came to a place where students from past semester had written their names on the walls. Hundreds upon hundreds of names were scrawled in chalk & sharpie, but I was still hoping my some miracle that I could find Carrie's name. 

This is a place of miracles. I found her! The inscription now reads, "Kels Holloway <3s Carrie V." 
Luff ju all the way around the world.

I also got to wear a green hardhat. It was pretty exciting.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Old City Tour

Here in Jerusalem (I still really like saying that), we celebrate the Sabbath on Saturday. So this past Sunday, I went out to explore the Old City. We decided to go on the Ramparts Walk, which takes you along the tops of the walls of Jerusalem. Come along with me on this latest Journey, via photos. 
These are my stalwart comrades, Cory & Spencer, posing dramatically on the top of the ancient wall.

For those of you who aren't fluent in Latin, translation: Holy Land.

Churches and Barbed Rather: Both rather common sights here. 

Spencer's Ascension. They'll build a church here, too, in about 200 years.

First FALAFEL! I don't know how to say "delicious" in Hebrew yet, but when I do...

Toward the end of our day, we made it to the Davidson Archeological Park, which includes part of the Western Wall of Herod's Temple. Here you can see pieces of paper that people have written prayers on  tucked into the cracks in the walls. 

Carrying on my tradition of supporting the ancient ruins. This pose is now 17 years strong.  

Shot of the Day:
White dove flying from the ancient southern arch of the temple. 

Friday, January 7, 2011

Sweet New Digs

uI now live here:

This, my friends, is what you call an upgrade. (I did not take this picture.)

This is the view from my balcony:
This is what you call incredible.

This is another shot of the Jerusalem Center from the road to the Old City:

This is what I now call home.

Dawn from 40,000 Feet

There are few sights in this world that fill me with more joy than watching the sun rise while I'm on an airplane. Although I've seen the sunrise quite often, there's something different, ethereal, and entirely mesmerizing about watching from above the clouds. It truly is awe inspiring. And my now-traditional soundtrack only heightens that sense of awe at the splendor of creation. Someday, when you're on a red-eye flight, forfeit the sleep and wake up to watch the dawning of a new day. It's far more energizing than a few minutes of uncomfortable sleep. And when you do witness this dawn, you must listen to the 5th and then the final movements of Stravinsky's Firebird Suite for the full effect. The combination invigorates the soul.

About to touchdown at JFK.
I can't begin to describe the pure joy I felt when I had the chance to see a new day dawning from over 40,000 feet a few days ago while on a 10.5 hour flight from JFK in New York to Tel Aviv, Israel. And here I am! In the Holy Land!