Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Dead Sea

Trying to get caught up! My parents are on the plane at this very minute on their way here to pick me up! I can't believe this semester is over, but I'll talk more about that in another post.

A couple weeks ago we had a fun field trip to the Dead Sea. We started the day out in Qumran where the Dead Sea scrolls were found scattered throughout 11 caves. Then we went to Madaba- one of Herod's many fortresses built on a high hill. We stopped at Ein Gedi next, a place much like where Lehi would have lived. Kaitlin and I found a beautiful little place next to the stream and we just chatted- I am so lucky that I was able to come here with my best friend- I love her to death!

I was so excited to go to the dead sea but a little skeptical that we would actually float. How could that possible even work? The Dead Sea has about 30% salinity- whereas oceans are about 3%. We went to a changing room and then walked a ways out to the Sea- the water line has receded a lot over the years so we had to walk a little while before we could actually see it. I couldn't believe when I looked out and saw everyone walking out into the water, falling backwards, and floating out. Sure enough, as I fell backwards into the water I floated with absolutely no effort. We had so much fun experiencing this crazy phenomenon and I can now check the Dead Sea off my list of one of the coolest things I have ever done.
Just me and the beautiful Kaitlin Marie O'Connor.
I'm going to miss sweet Sabrina- purple team!
Israel has become my home! I love this place so much. Two of my gorgeous roommates at Madaba with the Dead Sea in the background.
Floating on the Dead Sea! Too bad I have my feet in my face- oh well!
Our attempt at a spa with the mud- unfortunately it smelled awful and wasn't as refreshing as we all hoped- all part of the experience! Thanks to Lani who spent so much of her time out of the water taking pictures of everyone-you are wonderful!

On a side note- we had a very special visitor this weekend. Elder Holland came to Israel to dedicate a building in Tel Aviv and he stayed at the center! We were able to hear from him on Saturday night and it was one of the most incredible talks I have ever heard. He spoke so powerfully and with so much passion, it was inspiring. He talked to us about remembering the experiences we had hear and reminded us how fortunate we are to be here. Then we were able to shake his hands. As I shook his hand and said thank you he grabbed my arm and said "Thank you honey, I love you." Cool! The next day we all crowded around him at dinner and had "casual" conversations as he told us about his family, the Jerusalem Center, and gave us some advice. Later when I saw him in the cafeteria getting food, we were able to make the connection that I am a Bassett and he remembered my parents saying that he "Practically raised the Bassett's"- which was so fun for me. I am so amazed at the schedule that the general authorities have and how they are still able to speak with the spirit and make it through each day. I am so grateful for their dedication to the church and to the Lord. I feel so blessed to have heard from and spent time with a special witness of Christ this weekend. Everyone at the center was giddy with excitement to see and hear from him. It was a great way to wrap up the perfect semester!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Stephy Bunny

I have so much to catch up on in Jerusalem, but there are some things that are just more important than that. MY BEST FRIEND IS GETTING MARRIED!! Stephanie Marie Gauger has been my best friend since we were 2. I literally cannot remember a time when we have not been friends. As everyone knows, I have a horrible memory so it's always her who I turn to when I want to reminisce about the good ol days. But one of my fondest memories is if we got in a fight we would block the front door so the other person couldn't leave the house. We spent all of our time together (we lived down the street from each other) and she knew me better than any other person. I moved to Arizona when I was 15, but that didn't stop us from lots of visits and whenever we were able to get together things went back to the way they always were.
I came home today from a great day in the city and had an email from Steph telling me she was engaged. I was down in the lobby around about 20 other people checking email and I literally screamed and yelled MY BEST FRIEND IS GETTING MARRIED!!! I sat there in silence for a couple minutes and then ran up to the computer lab to tell Kaitlin. As I was telling her I literally started bawling! There were a lot of people in the room, so I was slightly embarrassed but as people asked about her and I read her proposal story and looked at the pictures, I couldn't help but be so incredibly happy. Steph and I have been through so much together. I have seen her become the beautiful woman she is today. Her testimony, confidence, courage, love for life, friendliness, beauty, and talent with kids is something that I have never seen in any other person before. I am a constant stalker of her blog, I love staying up to date with her life and pretending like it hasn't been 5 years since I lived near her for more than a month. I love her so much. Austin Hodnett is one lucky guy. Congratulations Steph and Austin! I can't wait to come home and help with wedding plans. I am so unbelievable happy for you. I LOVE YOU!!!

Picture taken a phone from our Spanish 3 class we took together- great memories.
Taylor did a little photo shoot for us out in the front of the church when we were waiting for our parents to get done with endless meetings.
Cultural Celebration!
I think Ruth took this on a trip I took to California after not seeing my best friend for months!
Another trip I took to California- on the left- Sam is another one of my best friends from growing up who is getting married in June- love her so much! Kayla, on the right is so amazing at keeping in touch with people and has been there for me through so much. Love my girls more than anything!
On my trip to visit Steph came with me to my Grandma's house to babysit- my cousins love her so much.
She came to visit me freshman year at BYU and even brought conference tickets so we could go together!!
BYU football game, when she came to visit
She brings out the crazier side in me, one of the million reasons why I love her.

I love you Stephanie soon to be Hodnett! You are absolutely incredible in every way, I can't wait to come home and see you, celebrate, and plan a wedding!

Saturday, April 9, 2011


Jordan was a whirlwind- we arrived on Monday morning and were back to the Jerusalem Center for dinner on Thursday night. We had a lot packed into every day and I was asleep seconds after my head hit the pillow every night. I love going to bed being exhausted from productive, fun days.
Mt. Nebo- commemorating the translation of Elijah and Moses. There is also a brass serpent with a snake to commemorate Moses and his people wandering through the wilderness.
Petra! This was a quick stop we took on our hike that we took up to a monastery that was built into the rock- beautiful stones. Petra was definitely a highlight of the trip. The colors in the mountains are so vivid.
Kait and I in front of the treasury at Petra!
Look at those colors!
Another stop on our hike up a bajillion stairs with a dead 90 degree incline to the monastery.
We snuck up into the entrance of the monastery. I'll have to post pictures later of the entire building- it's absolutely incredible. I have cool friends.
View from the tombs we hiked to at Petra. me and Greg- our friendship may have started a little late but definitely worth it- he's a great guy that always has a story to tell and witty comment.

View from the third castle we have stormed since being in Israel. Some of the coolest people ever. Donovan, Rachel, Chels and I were playing hide and seek and happened upon some people who found a secret room. We ventured into a dark tunnel without a flashlight (we used the flashes on our cameras to guide us) and walked down stairs until we found people at the bottom looking into a deep hole. As we went down we had to sit down and slide for part of the time so we didn't fall. Thus the dirty pants. Some of the coolest people I know right here.
We had the chance to go to a mosque. We were invited to take our shoes off and cover our heads with scarves. I have loved learning about the Islamic faith and have gained so much respect for their dedication. The call to prayer that we hear five times every day is a reminder for them to say their prayers.
Jabbok River- the location of the place Jacob "wrestled" and received the name Israel.
Jerash- my favorite part of this was that every place we went there were little girls who mobbed us. One girl would come up and ask for a picture and suddenly you were surrounded by a mob of girls. I met so many people. They would pinch my cheeks, say "so beautiful", ask for my name, and shove a phone in my face to take a picture which they would then show to me while saying "pretty". Forget going to the Old City for a self esteem boost, I'm going to Jerash!
Best moment when this girl decided to kiss me on the cheek for the picture and held it there for a good ten seconds. Would have been awkward if I wasn't so happy to be there.
Largest theater in Israel- we ran up these stairs to the very top and sang to the people down at the bottom. I met some sweet 11 year old boys here who also wanted a picture.
Green team.
Not only were we matching but we were bus buddies- I can't count how many people told us we were matching throughout the day. Austen secretly loved it.
Last stop of the trip- Jordan River where some believe Christ was baptized (there is this location and one up north in Galilee) It honestly doesn't matter to me which site it is, I just love having a visual of where this sacred event took place and reading the scriptures in such a holy place.
I talked to my parents last night on the phone and dad said "See you next week." Wow. I can't believe there are only 10 days left on this program. I have learned so much. I can't wait for my parents to get here.

Thursday, March 31, 2011


Is this real life?

The weekend started off on Friday when about 30 of us from the center participated in the first Jerusalem Marathon. I wish I could say I ran in the marathon but I'm pretty proud of my 10k. This is definitely the land of hills and valleys. Kaitlin and I made the most of the hills by running down airplane style with our arms stretched out singing "I Believe I Can Fly". It was so surreal to run through the Old City and see the different parts of Jerusalem as we ran. I can't believe this has been my home for the past 3 months. 10,000 people came together to run in this race for cancer and we met people from all over the world. Not only was the race a great experience but we got a sweet neon green shirt, backpack, medal, and lots of free food.
For our free day on Sunday the whole center went to Eilat to go snorkeling in the Red Sea. Being in the water was so relaxing and we soaked up the sun on the beach for as long as we could.
Here are all our wonderful boys here at the Jerusalem Center. How did I get so lucky to meet so many amazing people? I honestly don't know.
Although I was deathly ill (or at least it felt like it) for our field trip on Monday, I loved every minute of it. This is outside the Temple Mount on the steps that Jesus would have often walked on. This could have been the very place he met the man born blind and rubbed his eyes with mud before sending him to the Pool of Siloam just minutes away. I have literally walked where Christ walked.

The pictures are a little out of order- our trip at Eilat: Kaitlin, Cory, Josh, Chelsea, Rachel, me, Donovan

Sweet Galilee

Breathtaking. That is the word that comes to mind when I think of my experience in Galilee. I don't even know where to start in telling about the experiences I had, so I'll just post an overload of pictures.
Casearea- Herod's port city on the Mediterranean Sea. Taylor and I
Overlooking the Mediterranean Sea- Neal and I
Austin and I at
Kaitlin and I
Me, Brock, Rachel, Kaitlin
Me, Josh, Kaitlin
Me, Spence, Cory
Ancient water trough- instead of the wooden manger that everyone pictures Christ being laid in, this is more likely to be the place he was laid after being wrapped in swaddling clothes.
AJ and I at the Jordan River! There were so many people there of different religions being baptized.
Donovan and I
Austin and I- we're hardcore.
Beautiful walk we took to a waterfall.
The view from church in Tiberias
Josh and I
Mark and I
Jess, me, Kaitlin
Our wonderful hometeachers! Michael and Piers
Fish Restaurant at Ein Gev- yes I ate that- including one of the eyeballs- all part of the adventure.
The view of the Sea of Galilee from our hotel rooms- watching the sunset every night overlooking the sea of Galilee with bonfires on the beach a few nights a week- not bad huh?
Sister Muhlestein and I on the most beautiful hike I have ever been on- it was so fun to chat with her while we walked- I love her!
One of the most incredible experiences I had the whole week was on the Mount of Beatitudes as I studied the sermon given by the Savior and looked around at the place he stood when he taught. March is definitely the best time to be in Galilee.
Our boat ride on the Sea- we sang "Master the Tempest is Raging" and read about the miracles the Savior performed on the Sea of Galilee. Rachel, Lani, me
Uncle Peter, you were right- this was definitely a highlight of this whole experience, I learned so much about the miracles the Savior performed and will always treasure the experiences I had studying the scriptures on the shores of Galilee. I got to know my friends here better than ever and spent so much time getting to know the wonderful people I am here with. I love my life!