So School has pretty much overtaken my life here since we've been on restriction for the last 10 days or so. But good news: The security restriction was lifted yesterday and we can now go back out into the Old City and East Jerusalem!!! YAY!!!! I have been sending my mom the news articles about what was going on here, but maybe she was actually the last person I should've been sending them to. Whoops. haha But basically, there have been tensions during this High Holiday season in Judaism here in Jeruslam because the Israel took control of and shut down the Muslim controlled Temple Mount to prevent any violence during the 8-day long Sukkot. Palestinians were not allowed into the Old City for most of the week, and then it was changed to only men 50+ years and women were allowed in. Of course this meant that the Dome of the Rock and the Al-Aqsa mosques, which are two of the top holy Muslim sites in the world, to pray daily and particularly on Friday. Among MANY other things going on, this outraged the Palestinian Authority and the whole Arab world... which led to a lot of other really scary things happening. Anyway, there is no need for me to really go into detail when most of you aren't really interested. And things are calming down here in Jerusalem, and we all pray that they continue to do so. Psalms 122 tells us to pray for the peace of Jerusalem, and in a visit to the Garden Tomb President Hinckley said that he did so every day. I hope that we all can include this in our prayers along with the Prophet of the World and the residents of the Holy Land.
BUT I did get the once in a lifetime opportunity to visit the Western Wall in the morning on the final day of Sukkot (Feast of Tabernacles in the OT). This last day is known as the Day of Many Hosannas-and as it sounds, it is a joyous day of celebration, as well as continual prayer for the rebuilding of the Temple. It is customary that after the Jews are finished saying their morning prayers on this day that they "whack" their willow branches on the ground. Why do they whack? Well it is a symbolic "final plea" or a pleading "temper tantrum" if you will... noting to God that they have done everything else they know how to do in order to have the Temple rebuilt, and it is the only thing left they can think of to get His attention. From the smallest child to the oldest patriarch there, everyone would whack. It was SO interesting! Not to mention all of their chants and prayers and dancing and singing that we got to observe as well... And another plus was that I got some really fabulous pictures of people that day.
In our Old Testament class, we have now finished as much material as OT 301 covers at BYU in an entire semester. We are in the middle of 1 Kings now and we're just zipping right along! We will be completely done with the OT by the beginning of November- and that includes a 4 day trip to Jordan before then! Then we will have 6 VERY intensive weeks of the New Testament. Gratefully, I've already taken both NT classes at BYU, so that should hopefully ease the intensity for me a bit. But I am so grateful to enhance my knowledge and understanding of the scriptures while I am here!
A complete side note to everything: Elder Holland is coming in less than two weeks. I am SO excited about this opportunity to not only meet an Apostle of Jesus Christ, but also to literally sit at his feet and learn from him. Not to mention, he was always my dad's favorite, and I know he's really jealous. haha But let's just say I'm hoping he gets to come join me in spirit for this incredible experience. :)
And another side note: Logan comes home form his mission in just 48 DAYS. This means that December 1 is only in 48 days. How in the world did THAT happen?!?! Wow time flies, and I'm feeling more than ever that I need to make every minute count here!
I love you all!