Settled

20110904

We are finally settled down in Amman--classes start tomorrow and I am so excited to get going. I'm going to start using this blog as a language journal sorts. I'll write down my frustrations, my anxieties, my successes, and weekly goals. But FIRST! I believe I have some updating to do :)

Sunday, August 28: 11:58pm take-off from Denver International Airport.

Monday, August 29: 5am touchdown in Dulles. THIRTEEN HOUR LAYOVER. Kill me. Actually, don't. I still need to learn Arabic. 6pm takeoff for Heathrow.

Tuesday, August 30th: 5am touchdown in Heathrow. Six-hour layover. 2:00pm takeoff for Amman. Flew on BMI (British Midland Airways)--BALLER! The Europeans know how to make an airline. Comfy leather seats for everyone, lots of legroom, ambient music as your board, and a pretty legit dinner as far as airplane food goes: Lasagna, tabbouleh salad, cheese and crackers, mineral water, strawberry creme mousse.

Touchdown 8:30pm. Saw the exchange rate and realized we'd gotten screwed in London (1 dollar = 0.61 dinars in Heathrow, 0.70 at Queen Alia Airport. We exchanged$1400. For those of you who aren't math majors: Bye-bye, $200). Learned that our apartment wasn't ready (somebody was still living in it --legitimate problem). Drove to our interim apartment that we shared with another couple, Jason and Kimberly. Interim apartment spacious and beautiful, but nasty. Dirty sheets, dirty floors, dirty bathrooms, dirty kitchen. But we were so exhausted that we didn't care. Shared a "twin-and-a-half"-sized bed with Brock and slept like a baby.

Wednesday, September 1st: Spent the day cruising around a little and getting to know the area. Ate shwerma for the first time at the Mukhtar Mall--delicious! Spent a good part of the day back at our interim apartment chatting away with Jason, Kimberly, and our other friends Raage and Nicole. While walking to our apartment, we came across a group of kids playing around in the streets. Our hearts stopped when we saw what they were playing with: guns! Thankfully, they were just toy guns--Jordan must not have the same toy requirements that the United States does (i.e. a toy gun must look like a toy), because these things looked freaking real.

It was so interesting these kids play together. There were two distinct groups, and they both ran around trying to shoot each other and shouting "Allahu akbar!" You can't judge their culture for this or condemn their parents for allowing such violent play because that's just the way it is. My friend Stacy was telling me about a new toy that a little boy was opening on the bus in front of her the other day--a fancy 3-in-1 package with a fake gun, grenade, and knife. American boys play with Hot Wheels, Jordanian boys with weaponry. Tomato, tomahto.

Thursday, September 2nd: Busiest day to speak of thus far! We visited a small town right outside of Amman called Madaba, which is famous for its mosaics. There, in an old Greek Orthodox church, lies a 1,400 year old mosaic of the Holy Land--it was absolutely incredible. After Madaba we went to Mt. Nebo,which is spoken of in Deuteronomy. It's where Moses looked out over the Promised Land, and later died. It was surreal to stand there and look out over areas that I've read about in the Bible since I was a little girl: Jericho, Jerusalem, the Dead Sea, Jordan River, etc. I lagged behind the group a little bit and had the lookout area all to myself. It was perfectly quiet on top of Mt. Nebo, and the view really hasn't changed since Moses was there. To stand there and think that I was standing where Moses stood, looking at what Moses had looked at, was a very special experience.

After Mt. Nebo we drove down to the site where Jesus was baptized along the Jordan River. The actual area itself was completely dry--kind of an"Oh, this is it?" moment because you're expecting to see a flowing river like in all the paintings. But that still didn't take away from the experience. It's still hard for me to wrap my mind around the idea of Jesus was here. Not that I don't believe He was a real person, but that just makes him very real to me . . . almost incomprehensibly so. I know"incomprehensibly real" makes no sense. But I'm the girl who stumbled over her words when she met Chris Heimerdinger in the BYU Bookstore (Tennis Shoes Among the Nephites books, anyone? Anyone?).

I didn't have these feelings on Mt. Nebo--Moses is one thing, Jesus is another. To live in the land where the Savior lived, standing in front of the place where He was baptized . . . I almost feel like my testimony of the church isn't ready for something like that. My testimony is based almost purely on faith, not on knowledge. But physically standing where Jesus stood and feeling that overpowering sense of Oh my gosh, it was all real almost removes faith from the equation, replacing it with knowledge. I know 2+2 is 4 and that the capital of Somalia is Mozambique and that Jesus stood here. All of a sudden my testimony is based on something tangible--an experience that I had--which is so different from faith alone. I was surprised at this reaction, and think I'll need to go back a second time to soak it all in now that I've processed it.

Next on the list was the Dead Sea--yep, it's as weird and other-worldly as it looks. And it freakin' HURTS! You instantly become painfully aware of every scratch on your body. Definitely a one-and-done kind of experience. You need to be care not to get a single drop of water in your eye (unless you're ready to b be blind for a few minutes) and at 93°F the water isn't refreshing in the least. Brock and I coated ourselves in the black Dead Sea tar mud and baked in the sun for a few minutes. It's a great exfoliant that gives you baby-soft skin. I can't believe Brock made it through the day sans sunburns and only minor dehydration. DC prepared us well! :)

Friday, September 3rd: Friday is the Sabbath day here in Jordan, so we went off to church at 10am. Speaking of religion, can I just say how much I love hearing the Islamic call to prayer? To hear allahu akbar ("God is great") literally being sung from the hilltops five times per day is very special--Islam is such a beautiful religion.

The branch here is tiny and our group of 60+ BYU kids was no short of an inundation. Good thing, too, because it sounds like this branch is really struggling. The Church isn't recognized in Jordan, and it probably won't be until its members here learn to get along. My first Sunday School lesson in Arabic was cool, but kind of demoralizing. I could hardly understand a thing! At the conclusion of the lesson, however, the teacher bore his testimony, and I did understand the brunt of that--the Spirit speaks in every language :)

Friday was also the day we moved into our actual apartment--yaaaay! It was so nice to finally unpack and live in a clean place. Our neighbors Will and Tasha (Will is the study abroad's TA) showed us around the neighborhood a little and helped us grab some basic food supplies at . . . Safeway. Yes, Safeway. In Amman. (Ah, globalization!) Did I mention it was right next door to a KFC?

Saturday, September 4th: Free day. Grabbed some more groceries with our friends Weston and Kami, got some laundry done, and went to bed early.

Sunday, September 5th: I've been taking tests all day today. Speaking tests, listening test, reading tests, you name it. Again, I'm overwhelmed with how much have to learn! Baby steps, right?

3 COMMENTS:

  1. I like, wanted to cry reading this. Madaba? Nebo? Dead sea? I love your life. I love those places. I love that you are there. Did you taste the Dead Sea? I probably wouldn't recommend it, but I would do it again.

    Live it up, it'll be over before you know it!

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  2. WAIT WAIT WAIT, Moses died????

    This sounds great. Love the updates.

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  3. I am feeling really in awe right now - my husband's already been to all those places, now you have, and I would like to go too. Maybe I'll get a chance? In the meantime - you treasure every minute =)

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