Sunday, December 28, 2014

Last Sabbath

During my last few week in Jerusalem I wasn't as faithful of a blogger. I guess I just wanted to relish. To sit and talk with the people I had come to love and go out and experience everything left to experience in Jerusalem. Now that it's over I've realized that the greatest experiences I had while in the Holy Land weren't at the sites or in the cities of historical and religious significance. They were sitting alone on the seventh floor lawn of the center and reflecting, talking on a long bus ride with a dear friend about how to be your most authentic self, or listening intently to Sister Strathearn teach about forgiveness in our Jerusalem Center classroom.

Throughout the semester I made it a point to write down my thoughts in my blog, journal, or study notebook. We can have many life altering thoughts or realizations, which will be promptly forgotten unless we write them down. I'm sure I'll return to read my blogposts about this experience and be so grateful I took the time to write down what I did and how I felt. I want to take the opportunity now to write down some experiences from my last Sabbath in Jerusalem that I don't want to forget.

My last Sabbath in Jerusalem was the most memorable. We had district conference and I was asked to sing "I Stand All Amazed" with Austin Sisneros a capella. We had sung it before at our Thanksgiving dinner but this time it was different. One of my favorite things to do when I sing for an audience is smile and sing to individuals. I looked out into the congregation and sang to Sister Strathearn, to Lauren, to Christeen, to Brother Anderson, to Sister Whitchurch, to Kasdyn. I smiled and sang "Oh it is wonderful that he should care for me enough to die for me." They smiled back, some of them with tears in their eyes as if to say "Yes Trevor, it is wonderful." 

That afternoon we walked a few minutes to the Augusta Victoria Church. We usually go to the Garden Tomb or the Garden of Gethsemane but a group decided to go to this church because we hadn't been there since the beginning of the semester and it has great acoustics. I sat in the back of the chapel and would start humming a familiar hymn. I'd hum an entire verse alone and then more would join in on the remaining verses in unison or with a harmony part. I loved how the quiet, wordless hum would fill the entire room with such resonance and warmth and allow us to hear the words in our minds and hearts. I could have sat there humming forever.

After humming hymns a small group of us went outside and walked over to an olive garden right there on the mount of olives. They were young trees but it seemed like a place similar to the place Christ would have performed the atonement. It was so green and beautiful there! We stopped and took pictures and talked about how we wished we would have visited this place all semester.

In the olive garden on the Mount of Olives

Candid laugh shot with Adam, Michael, and Jordan :)

With Lauren

Quick stop on the way home (Lauren, Dru, Sadie, Clarah, Hannah, Christeen, Amber, Adam, Jordan, and Christina)

With Michael :)

That night we gathered in the auditorium for a program on the Last Supper. There was a triclinium (three-sided) sitting table setup, similar to the one Jesus would have sat at with his 12 disciples. 

Brother Chadwick explained to us the historical context of the last supper and it was cool to learn about how the table was so low that the men present must have laid down on their sides, propped up by one arm, and used their free arm to eat. We read through Christ's last sermon to his disciples, listened to a couple musical numbers (I was in one with Brother Anderson, Danielle, and Mackenzie), and then afterwards they gave us time to just sit and enjoy the view and reflect. Lauren came down and sat by me and we talked about a few questions that Brother Whitchurch had asked us in his closing remarks. He asked "Why did to come to Jerusalem? Did you accomplish what you came here to accomplish?" 

I realized as I whispered my thoughts quietly to Lauren that I came hoping to have a spiritual experience that would change me. I hoped all my questions would be answered and that I would leave Jerusalem with a newfound resolve to live the gospel and follow Jesus Christ. That didn't happen. Instead, I came to realize that there are few concrete answers, that there will always be questions and doubts, and that's ok. My friend Thomas said at dinner once in the Oasis this semester, "Knowledge easily gained is easily forgotten." I've learned this semester that I'll be seeking truth my whole life and as I do I'll experience discomfort and feel at times frustrated with the lack of clarity. But the truths that I do discover along the way, through diligent study and deep and prolonged reflection, will stay with me forever and help me to live the truths I know authentically. 

I changed this semester as much as I hoped but in ways I didn't expect. I became more accepting of others' differences. I became more patient with my and others' imperfections. I came to know Jesus better as a man. I was able to see myself more clearly and the potential I have to do good in the world. As I sat in that sacred auditorium, looking out over that night lit city on a hill, I realized that I still didn't know much, but for the first time in my life I was ok with that. 

Saturday, December 20, 2014

A Day Of Lasts

The last day in Jerusalem was perfect.

After the group picture we went out to the Old City to say goodbye!

Last time at the Western Wall...


With the guys at the Wall

With Emily, Spencer, Micah, Austin, and Jessica

Last time at the Dome of the Rock

With my good friend Spencer. 

Al-aqsa mosque

I spotted some friends walking down below the Temple Mount!

Last time at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre 

The stone where they laid Christ's body to prepare Him for burial

Many Christians believe Christ's tomb is inside this structure

Last Old City selfie with friends!

Last time through Damascus Gate

Last taxi ride to the center (with Christeen, Jessica, and Emily)

Last time in my room with my roomies Bryce and Sam!

Weighing checked baggage

Last time eating in the Oasis

Last time walking up those stairs

All ready to go

Loading the buses

Flight from Tel Aviv to New York. We totally had an ADP (airplane dance party) where we all played the same Taylor Swift song from our seat screens and jammed out with our headphones in!

First and last selfie of my Jerusalem Study Abroad was on a plane with these two (Kylee and Dru)

After landing in Salt Lake City I went straight to Provo where some friends and family surprised me at Guru's for dinner! It was the best surprise ever and it felt so good to be back!!
Magical reunion with my sister Polly!

So happy to see all of these wonderful people. I couldn't believe I had finally made it back home.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Picture Potpourri II

Ok, here's to a wonderful second half of the semester!

Caught in the selfie act on our Bosporus strait cruise... Kasdyn isn't amused haha.

Inside the Trojan horse!

Walking through the cemetery at Ansac

I actually don't know where this is, I just know my hair is a hot mess. 

Games night with the visiting BYU students from the Jordan study abroad!

Lunch on the Dardonelles shore!

Sister Strathearn - professor, bus guide, anchor?

After church in Tiberias - it was too foggy to see the Sea of Galilee :/

These hooligans in the back of the bus broke the window!!

We were looking for Ordon Hyde Park and ran into this guy who somehow convinced us to get a picture with him...

Business as usual at a resort on the Sea of Galilee

Apparently I'm not really into wilderness survival in the Negev Desert
The water was sooo cold so that herbal tea really hit the spot!
Garden of Gethsemane

Ferry ride in Turkey

Drew and I LOVE Sadie, along with every other boy...

Medusa's head in the underground cistern in Instanbul!

Rockin the fanny pack no shame getting off the plane. (Try reading that sentence like a rapper...)

Had to include another bus nap pic!

Sister Strathearn underestimated Michael's ability to stay upright on one foot for her object lesson

Who knew my grandpa cardigan could also double as a head scarf? Lookin good Grace!

Michael and I were trying to get a cool jumping picture in the Negev and I snapped this gem right when his camera flashed. 

What do you think? Could I be a hand model?

Celebrity selfie! It's just cuz I'm tall and white...

Red shirt club with Christeen and Michael

I could not get enough of Kasdyn's Turkey hat. Neither could Matt...

I didn't even flinch. Ecuador served me well. 
Can't say the same for Marianna...

Model shot on the Sea of Galilee! 

Bring it.

Trying to be artsy with my Jesus sandals on the Sea of Galilee. I thought this could be a cool image for the title of my blog!

Do you see my alfalfa hair? Also, it was FREEZING in the water! But I'm glad I got to swim where Jesus walked ;)

Name one thing you'd rather look at while on the pot than a majestic white stallion.

Kasdyn and I just had to get one last engagement pic on top of Gamla.

Trying to keep that fanny pack under control...

What a wonderful semester at the BYU Jerusalem Center