Monday, May 30, 2011

Paul's Missions in Turkey

I think the best part of all of Turkey was studying how hard Paul worked to share the gospel with a really stubborn people that were worshipping pagan gods.
One of my favorite stories rom Acts is the very end of Acts in chapter 20, verses 17-38. He is meeting with the Elders from the church and he gives a powerful sermon. He shares with the leaders, that he feels no remorse or guilt because he has preached all he could. He says, “I am pure from the blood of all men.” He encourages them to keep going in their service and to watch out for the “wolves” that will tear apart the church from the inside out. It is also a touching moment because he tells them that he will never see them again and they fall down and kiss his feet. We can see in this moment the service that Paul was to these people. He had worked tirelessly to help the church grow in that area and they were sad to see him go.

I think what I learned from being in Turkey was from seeing the landscape and also the huge cities and theatres that they built. First of all that it is no small chore to get from place to place. Paul traveled all over Turkey and did most of it by foot or by boat. We were on the bus for many hours just trying to get to the cities that he visited, and he took the same routes but it took much longer. Secondly, I noticed what a hard chore it must have been to get these people that had been worshipping Greek Gods and statues to put away their foolish traditions. They had to change their whole lifestyle and learn what God is and that he is our father. So many of them were so worldly and loved the large statues and Gods that they thought gave them success and money. It would have been really hard to get them to change their worldly lifestyles. But he did it because of his faith and dedication to the Savior. “Neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God.”

Some spiritual principles that I learned is how to seriously turn everything over to the Lord and make your whole life dedicated to his work and his will. He is such a great example of a true missionary that gave everything to do what the Lord commanded him to do – Preach the gospel to all, Jew and Gentile alike.

A scripture that helped me understand this story and gave me additional insight is found in Moroni 9:6. “And now, my beloved son, notwithstanding their hardness, let us labor diligently; for if we should cease to labor, we should be brought under condemnation; for we have a labor to perform whilst in this tabernacle of clay, that we may conquer the enemy of all righteousness and rest our souls in the kingdom of God.” I love this scripture because it is between a father and his son that were separated but both watching their people get destroyed by wickedness. They probably thought there was nothing they could do to help. But even when it is hard, like Mormon said, we can’t stop working. We can never give up, even if we feel like no one is benefiting from our words. There will always be a greater reward for those who never give up.

My younger brother Danner and I had overlapping missions. I remember when he started the mission and was struggling with being a new missionary I was also struggling with the transition I was going to have to make when I went home. We made a motto for ourselves. It was Never Ever Give Up!! This scripture in Moroni was our motto scripture and it helped us those days that we thought we would never find someone who wanted to listen. The Lord’s work is not always easy and smooth and the people don’t always want to listen to our wonderful message of happiness. But I know that if we do what Paul did and work so that we can say, “I am pure from the blood of all men,” we will be blessed and have our reward in the end. Even though we may feel that we are not doing much or not affecting too many lives. We will see the repercussions later, maybe not until we are with God. I have learned much from the faith and hard work that Paul showed, his whole life was make sure that everyone knew wherever he went that Christ is our Savior. I hope to be like him someday.

Beach Day!!!

We had a couple free days two weeks in a row so we spent a couple of days - a week apart at the beach in Tel Aviv. It was perfect weather both days. It was heaven, all the things I love to do - play sports, people watch and be outdoors with people I love. All we did was play sand volleyball, play soccer, swim, and get to know each other better. Afterwards we were exhausted and burnt, but it was so worth it!! We had so much fun!!
It was really weird, almost all of us girls had black swimsuits so we had to take a pic. I'm sure all the people were wondering if that was part of our religion or something, because everyone else was wearing bikinis.
This is some of the amazing people watching we were able to do. This yoga was man was amazing, he was out there all day and did crazy moves on his head. He was super flexible!
We decided to recreate Hagia Sofia in the Sand, I think we did a pretty good job. We didn't really think wisely though because after we finished making this mosque we realized that we were on a beach of Israeli/Jewish people. Good thing we left soon after! I'm surprised we made it out alive:) oops

Arab Night

We had a night dedicated to Arab culture. We had some Arab come and sing the call to prayer and sing the Koran like they do in the mosque. They were really good and it was beautiful. We also dressed up like Arabs, most people dressed up like skanky Arabs with little belly dancing outfits on but I decided to go the modern route. I seriously looked like they picked up an Arab woman up off the streets of Jerusalem. It was so fun. The food was also incredible. All kinds of Arab delights!!

There were some Arab dancers that came to teach us how to dance. It was so fun!!


Turkish Rug Factory

Turkey is known for their beautiful rugs. We visited a rug factory in Turkey and also one in Beersheba when we got back to Israel. Here are some pics of the steps that they go through to make the rugs. They are super complex and super expensive too!! They make two different kinds of rugs - wool and silk. The silk was my favorite, so soft!! I loved watching them spin the silk thread from the silk worm cocoons. It is a crazy process and the cocoons come apart like strings of a spider web. The whole process that we learned was so hands on. We were able to touch everything and they even taught us how to do the double knot that they use on the turkish rugs. It takes about 4-6 months for one person to do each carpet. What a labor of love!!

All the threads are dyed with natural dyes.

These are the silk worm cocoons that they boil to make the silk thread

This video is my favorite because in the show room the guy in charge was ordering his little flingers around. They were basically flinging this rugs all sorts of ways and we agreed that it is officially a new sport. WE were laughing so hard!! Check it out!!

Some of my favorite things about Turkey

Besos and little old ladies - We were able to spend a few nights walking the bay and experiencing the night life. It was so pretty. A couple of our hotels were located right on the coast. This little old lady we met on the dock and I just smiled and said hi to her. The next thing I know she had me cheeks in her hand and she was kissing me, like they do in Argentina. She kept saying things in Turkish and she seemed so excited. You can see how happy I am in the picture. She was so sweet and we bonded in that 5 minutes, even though we couldn't understand each other. I really love those besos!!

This was sunset on the bay!!

We saw shepherds herding their sheep in the plains of Turkey. It was beautiful. One day we stopped to talk to a shepherd and he let us pet some of his sheep, it was so fun to live the Bedouin life for 10 minutes. It really brings to life the reason behind why they call Christ the shepherd. Each shepherd knows there sheep and the sheep only respond to his voice.

Best Baklava EVER!!! Our guide to us to a shop in Istanbul that was simply amazing! All they make is baklava and they specialize in Pistachio baklava. It was so good!

And yes, they had to show us their pan of baklava that they made into Obama. We all were pretty impressed.

We ate at some pretty good seafood places right on the coast. This is the fish that we ate, eyeballs and all! It was good and a great adventure.

The grand Bazaar is the biggest shopping place in the world, dedicated to mostly tourists. There is over 4000 shops there and it is almost too overwhelming because a lot of them sell the same thing. It has been there for years, so it is pretty famous. And of course, I did find some pretty sweet souvenirs there.
This awesome picture I took was of a huge underground cisterne that held water for all of Istanbul for a long time. It was so pretty inside.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

So Picturesque!!!

While in Turkey we were able to take quite a few ferry boats. We even got on a ferry that we loaded while still on the bus, that was cool!! But because of that, we were able to get some really cool photos from the water, and it was the first time I had been on a boat for about 2 years, maybe longer. I really enjoyed it!
Turkey is almost completely surrounded by water so it is so pretty!! Here are some pictures of our ferry adventures.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Mosques and Arab Women

While we were in Turkey we visited many mosques. You could spend a year in turkey and visit mosques all day, everyday and still not see all of them. About 90 percent of Turkey is Muslim, so they need a lot so all the people can worship. They are asked to go to the mosque 5 times a day to pray, so they are always going to the mosque. In Istanbul alone there are 3,000 mosques.
You have to take off your shoes before you go in and the woman have to cover their head and wear long sleeves. The Muslim people wash their hands, feet and faces every time they go into the mosque. They are very devoted worshippers.
One thing that I love about he mosques is that there are no idols or statues. They do not worship any kind of statue.
Two of the main mosques we went to were in Istanbul and they are the "blue mosque" and the Aya Sophia. They were both so pretty. We took some good pictures of us as Arab women. It was really fun and adventurous.

I am back!!!

How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. . . so I will be posting little by little my adventures in Turkey. There is so much I can say about the amazing adventures we had.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Gobble, Gobble! Turkey here we come!!

This morning we are packing up to go to Turkey for a week! We are going to study a lot about Pauls missions to the people there and also some history stuff. I have heard so many amazing things about this wonderful place. It is beautiful! I don't know much about anything, but here are some pictures of some of the sights we are going to visit, they make me so excited!

Topkapi Palace

Ancient Outdoor Theatre in Ephesus

Celsus Library in Ephesus

Largest Shopping center in the world with close to 4000 shops - The Bazaar in Istanbul

Hagia Sophia in Istanbul

My Birthday in Jerusalem

This is David and his harp. Mom and Dad, can I get a harp like that for my birthday?

Who can say that they celebrated their birthday in Jerusalem? I CAN!! It was such a good day, really chill, and filled with emails and letters from those I love. The day was pretty normal except everyone in the center knew it was my birthday, so I don't think I have ever heard that many birthday wishes in one day. All 80 of them made sure to wish me happy birthday at least 7 1/2 times each. haha, that is a bit of an exaggeration. But really, way to many times!!
After lunch I went out with a couple friends, Scott and Jason, and we explored the city. We found some awesome places and our favorite was the dormition abbey. A huge christian church, but downstairs is a round stone room. People came down to sing and pay their respects to Mary, the sound was incredible and we loved sitting and listening to the beautiful sounds.
We also went to 2 places where they claim the last supper took place, that was really interesting.
And before dinner we grabbed a few of the delicious Israeli pastries that remind me so much of Argentina. It was so Fun!!
The students wrote me notes and taped them on my door and my young women also made me a big poster. I also received a few gifts from other students. It was such a fun day!! I can't believe I am another year older. Doesn't 23 sound old to you?

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Shout to to my sister Mandy - she is famous!!

Here is a little shout out to my older sister Mandy! She had a whole thing done on her experience with her little Bennett passing away. Here is the link to her blog and her video.
Check it out!!

Some faces of Jerusalem

These are just a few random pics that I took, I hope you enjoy.
A cool picture of some castle, sorry for some reason it wouldn't rotate

We all had matching hymnbooks and we had to take pictures.

This is me pointing up at the Jerusalem center on the hill (the one with the arches)

Jerusalem has some awesome gummy stores, all kinds of gummies.

This is a picture inside one of the Jewish synagogues, they have all kinds of prayer books.

This is a very normal sight in Jerusalem, soldiers with big guns, and Jews and Arabs walking by all dressed up.

I thought these obama T-Shirts were pretty swell

This guy was super shy, but was willing take a picture with me. I didn't really get what he was trying to say with his signs. But, it was funny.

This is the Cardo, or what the old city streets looked like before. And my friend Jennifer tried to fit into the mural. Can you see her?

So I saw this and had to take a picture. This is a family inside joke, the paper says Challah covers. My little brother used to always call me Chulla, and it kind of stuck. They started calling mm Jewish bakery roll because they said challah, or chulla meant Jewish bakery roll. Apparently it means some kind of pillow too. But it was covering me, so it is officially a Chulla cover in more ways than one.

This place is so beautiful and is a light to the whole city. Too bad we can't see inside.

I like to sneakily take pictures of people like this to show some real culture.