Wednesday, May 9, 2012

a reflection

Bags are packed, apartment cleaned out, and mind is home bound. It's hard to believe that nearly four months have come and gone so quickly; but yet, so much has happened in this period of time. People ask whether or not we are excited to go home, but really there isn't an easy answer. The best thing I can say is that it is bitter-sweet. Of course we miss our home and all of its familiarities and are excited to return (sweet), but the life experienced here was so valuable that it's hard to see it come to an end (bitter). 

This trip was more than just going to study abroad about Israel, the Bible or the culture. What it brought me was the study of my self. Of course I have obtained much knowledge about the Word of God, the history of His people, the land, the past and current cultures, and much more. But I would be lying if I were to say that the knowledge stops there. When one is pulled away from their comfort zone, from familiarity, and the usual pace of things, you can't help but notice weaknesses and at the same time, obtain new strengths. That is what I have been taught here. One lesson that resounds more than others is the lesson of priority. Before coming to Israel we were so busy with school, work, and just life. I kept thinking and waiting for Israel in order for things to slow down and for me to "catch up" on things. But the truth is that you can be just as unproductive when things slow down as when you are hectic and busy. It's all about prioritizing and doing and not being lazy. You won't be more productive after the vacation or after the fishing trip or after you get your nails done. You have to want to get it done for it to get done. And being busy doesn't mean productive either, as C.J Mahaney said, "Busyness doesn't mean you are diligent, busyness does not mean you are faithful, busyness does not mean you are fruitful." That has been one of my most prized lessons here and one that I hope to never forget. 

Some other things I'll miss:
-Being within a walk from the Old City of Jerusalem
-The beautiful weather
-Dr.Wright and all the field studies that we have had with the class
-Walking everywhere, great exercise!
-Studying and getting to know the Bible more
-Friends that we have obtained while here

This is what I am looking forward in Minnesota
-Friends and family (of course!)
-Thunderstorms (Minnesota has the best ones)
-Ability to tell apart sour cream from cream cheese and yogurt
-Pizza Luce and Chipotle
-Work (I miss working!)
-Our condo


The day after Vadim finished his finals we, along with parents, took off to Egypt for a little rest and relaxation by the Red Sea. It was about a three and a half hour drive (this was my nap time) to the border of Israel and Egypt and then just 20 more minutes to the resort. Our resort was on the Sinai Peninsula so we had the sea in the back yard of the resort and the mountains in the front yard.  We enjoyed five days of rest, sun, water, volleyball, and even some snorkeling. 

The Red Sea is considered to be the home of one of the most beautiful coral reefs, fish and the over all sea life in the world. In fact, it is one of the Seven Wonders of the Underwater World. So of course, the snorkeling and scuba diving is superb! We took the advantage to see the underwater world by taking a lunch cruise on a beautiful yacht which took us around to three different places on the Red Sea where we could snorkel. It was so beautiful! It was also amazing to sink in the truth of the fact that there really is a completely different world underwater. Yes, you here it all the time but once you see it, then it seems to finally hit home. 

However, we were not able to make it to Cairo and see the pyramids due to 1)some extra visas we had to get, 2) untrustworthy travel agent, and 3) because of the political uprising and protesting in Cairo. But are spirits weren't crushed, it just means we will be going back to Egypt one day:) 

While heading to Egypt, we stopped by the Underwater Observatory in Eilat.

The view from our balcony. Across the sea you can see the hills of Saudi Arabia and Jordan.

Friday, April 27, 2012

a day-cation

Vadim's parents have come into town so we decided to take a vacation to the "mineral beach" on the Dead Sea for the day, making it a day-cation! And oh, was it a wonderful day!

I realized that the Dead Sea is a beach bums haven. Why you may ask? Oh, I'll gladly share. The weather is perfect there, it barely ever rains and it stays warm not just dry. Also, the water is cold enough to cool you down but warm enough to make you stay in and soak. The best part though is that it is effortless, you simply float atop of the water and enjoy the feel of it all. Even though the water dehydrates you like crazy (it consists of 33% salt, compared to the ocean which is like 5%), I couldn't stay away. Also, the sea is DEAD. You don't have to worry about creepy, slimy things invading your space. You can simply relax.
Apart from the beach bum in me who was entranced, the girl in me indulged in the mineral mud. Such a great day with the husband and parents. 

With parents being here, we have quite the itinerary planned for the next two weeks before we head home. We plan to visit Haifa (it has some sort of hanging gardens?) the Mediterranean Sea, Sea of Galilee, Capernaum, Tiberias, Tel-Aviv, maybe the Dead Sea again (fingers crossed). But one that I am most happy to announce is that we are going to Egypt! We didn't think we would pull it off, but we are! Well, that is if we can cross the border, there seem to be issues with that. Nonetheless, we are going. We plan to stay by the Red Sea and hope to make it into Cairo to see some sort of pyramids.. Oh, the fun that awaits!

 Isn't this the best place to study? I think so!
 The mud is stored in these big jugs
The husband had no desire to partake in the bathing of mud, so I doubled the dose on myself.  

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

jordan: petra

We had the opportunity to visit the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, aka, country of Jordan. Did you know that it was a "kingdom?" -I sure didn't until we came here. 
The four days that we were in Jordan, we pretty much traveled the entire country. But the highlight of the trip was our visit to Petra. 

Petra is one of the Seven Wonders of the World. And let me tell you, it sure is a must see! Some of you might recognize it from the Indiana Jones movie, but it's much more than that. The city has been around since the 6th century BC and was a center for the Nabataeans and their trade routes. They would have camel caravans loaded with spices and other native goods ready to be traded and sold. Later the city was influenced by the Romans and their Hellinistic ways, you can see the footprint of that in the detail of the architecture in Petra. What I mean by architecture is that, the city has these massive and elaborate carvings of castle-like structures imbedded into the mountain sides. The mountains themselves are compiled of beautiful colorful striations of purples, browns, yellows and reds. It is really a beautiful and raw place to visit.

The site is also very big. The five hours we had to spend there were simply not enough. Let me explain it this way, after you get your ticket and walk through the canyons, which by the way is the only way in and out, it will take you roughly 45-minutes to get to the beginning of Petra which is the site of the "Treasury."  From the Treasury to the Monastery (which is a must see!) it is about a two hour hike up the mountain. And all this is just a fraction of Petra. 

The "Treasury" -which is most associated with Petra.

Half of a carved out camel caravan. Before the city was excavated, red sand filled the canyons to about the top of Vadim's head. Everything that was covered with the sand was preserved and is seen below.


 Inside one of the carved out structures, the colors are so amazing!

The Monastary