HELLO!! I hope everyone is having a super wonderful week!!
I haven’t written in a while because of many reasons, so I apologize. A few big things have happened within the past few weeks. Among many, some are:
- I donated blood FOR THE FIRST TIME EVER!!! I was feeling pretty nauseous the whole time, and definitely shed a tear (yes, only one) …but it was so worth it! I’m not sure if I would do it again…but I felt good after donating.
- I had finals and midterms and came out of it still emotionally stable. Some of our classes, like Arab & Muslim studies, Jewish studies, and Arabic ended this last week (so sad!!). So we had finals for those and midterms for our other two classes. I was so sad to be done with my Arabic class…but it’ll be okay 😥
- I went to the Jerusalem Biblical Zoo!! IT WAS SO FUN AND BEAUTIFUL!!! I’m working on a video which will be posted soon.
Unfortunately, that’s pretty much it for the highlights because I have already forgotten a lot of what I’ve done…whoops. Does anyone have advice on how to keep up on my journal while still having a busy life? I used to be so good about it…
Anyway, I am so, so grateful for life, light and truth and that we have a God who is intimately involved in our lives!
Within the past few weeks I have learned more about how Christ should be a bigger part of our being every day. I feel comfortable saying that I strive to emulate Christ’s attributes each day by treating others kindly. However, it is not enough to just live a life being good to others, and I think I have gotten caught up in this perspective.
I teach an 8-year-old to 12-year-old class at church about Jesus Christ’s Gospel and it’s helped me recognize where my testimony is at. It’s one thing to feel the Spirit and know something is true, and it’s another to pair that feeling up with knowledge and be able to teach it in a clear way. This experience has reminded me that if we are not moving forward, learning more from the scriptures each day, then we are going backwards.
The Lord teaches us that we must love God as well as everyone around us. However, He also teaches us to act on our beliefs and modern-day prophets have taught us of the importance of continually learning in this life.
This week I took some time to ask myself how knitted Jesus Christ is into my being. I feel Him, I know He’s real, and I strive to be like Him. However, if I am not putting in the effort each day to learn of Him through the scriptures, then I begin to forget the simple truths and life lessons that I once knew so well.
The Lord’s Atonement is both infinite and intimate!! He knows us SO WELL, and we must put in the effort to get to know Him better so we can become more like Him as well as recognize Him when He comes again.
Being in Egypt was such an eye-opening experience for me. I felt God’s love and saw His hand so obviously prominent everywhere I went; I saw how SMART He was in building the Nile in a way that the wind could take boats south and the current could take boats north—and how every year it would flood at a predictable time in order for agriculture to flourish!! Or how people were living in such humble circumstances and seemed to be some of the happiest people I’ve met; people who didn’t let stereotypes, politics, or race keep them from smiling, lending a hand, or communicating with strangers. Or how golden sunrises sparkled over the Nile each morning and shimmered reds, oranges, and yellows at sunset. Or how the breeze blew my hair gently as the sun beat harshly down on me. Or how the spongey bread melted into my mouth after craving a good, filling lunch.
Joseph found refuge here when he needed to protect the Saviour of the World. He felt safe there, and so did I. I felt a greater connection with those of ancient times. Those great leaders of the ancient world truly did magnificent things and I feel honored to have witnessed both their accomplishments and their failures.
These great leaders created legacies that lived on for hundreds of years, and structures that have lasted for thousands! They created languages, government, sciences, and art! They conquered other kingdoms and kept theirs fortified and strong! And even with all of these historic accomplishments…you are still worth JUST AS MUCH to God as they are. He still loves you the same and sees the same potential and worth in YOU. YES, YOU!
(sidenote: I made a class video about our trip to EGYPT! Check it out: https://youtu.be/PQH8JdAg6QA )
That was something that stood out to me these past few weeks. Tomorrow, I’ll be in Jordan. JORDAN, PEOPLE!!! I WILL SEE PETRA!!! It has been my DREAM for SO MANY YEARS to go to Jordan and see Petra as well as its culture, archaeological finds, religious buildings, and everything in between. I was reviewing our trip schedule for while we’re over there and it brought me to tears thinking that I will actually be there!! Now, I am not saying this to brag in any way. I am just documenting my excitement!!!
I hope to cherish every moment while I’m over there and soak in enough of the experience to last me a lifetime.
I think the countries on this side of the world are so beautiful and so unique compared to the American and Latin culture I’m so familiar with. It’s very comforting seeing how people and cultures seriously differ in MANY WAYS unique to each country, yet somehow we all have SO MUCH IN COMMON it’s ridiculous!!
These past few weeks I learned more in-depth about the Israel-Palestine conflict and it was very enlightening. I won’t go into detail about what I learned on this platform, however, I have to say that my paradigm has changed thanks to this program. I have a Jewish professor who teaches Jewish studies and a Muslim professor who teaches Arab/Islamic studies. Learning about this conflict from both perspectives taught me so much more than news channels or websites have been able to teach me regarding this conflict. There is something unique about learning from people actually involved in the conflict.
I feel that this is crucial in order to fully understand conflicts nowadays. We cannot trust the news because who knows where those sources come from, and who knows how much these people actually even know what they’re talking about. Understanding situations from first-hand sources allow us to see into the true feelings associated with conflict as well as what is actually happening compared to what the media assumes is happening.
I feel so much love for both the Israelis and Palestinians because I understand where each group is coming from. I’ve talked to people from both sides of the spectrum, and just like any other good human being, their desires are usually genuine and peaceful.
There is a good quote I read once that says:
People say “I want peace”.
Take away “I” (ego)
Take away “want” (desire)
And you are left with “Peace”.
– Satya Sai Baba
I think this is true. We want peace? We must give our best effort to understand those around us; especially those who seem to oppose us in belief or action. Peace comes when we are loving, understanding, and genuine with others.
We are advised not to talk to people on the streets here, but this week I noticed this woman across the street from me looking at me and smiling. So, I yelled “Marjaba!” (hello) to her and she yelled it back, still smiling! I asked how she was doing and she replied that she was doing well! She ended up crossing the street later and actually talking to me and the people I was with. She was SO KIND and SO excited to talk with us. She spoke very little English and I speak very little Arabic, but with the little we both know we were able to have a conversation about where we’re from, where I study, where she lives, and what we did that day. I felt God’s love for her and I felt the kindest intentions from her as well.
I sometimes get frustrated because I wish I could speak every language in the world so I could learn from everyone and understand their lives and perspectives better. I think there is a lot of beauty and wisdom in learning from people different from you. God’s love and Plan of Salvation becomes even more real to me as I learn from those different from me.
WHAT A GLORIOUS GOD WE HAVE!! One who loves all! One who takes care of all! One who is all-knowing and ever-willing to share that knowledge with us!!
I hope I could strengthen someone this week with this post. If there is anything you want to know about my experience here, let me know! Go talk to a stranger this week and learn about their life! It’s amazing the effect that will have on your week, and even possibly your life!