Friday, September 10, 2010

Why I Know I'm Going Crazy:

Today the walk home from campus was great. Temperature was just perfect, it's a Friday and the weekend can officially start, I could smell the hints of fall in the air (or maybe that was just Brick Oven...) nothing could stop the day from satisfactioning me.

Or so I thought...

Just when I'm at my peak of enjoyment I realize there's some crazy person walking right behind me even though there's a whole open world within which they don't have to invade my personal space! Now I'm a bit unnerved by this stranger gettin all up in my back bumper, but I know I've been in the same position where two people's paths sort of converge and you're suddenly walking almost arm in arm with a complete stranger. So I try to distance myself by picking up my pace, and what do you know, I hear this person's footsteps match exactly my cadence so they're still right on my tail!

So then I'm all, "K, Alexandra (my inner monologue is always very formal and uses my full name), this person's obviously in a hurry, you need to outsmart them by sloooowing down." Perfect, can do! It's already hard to text and walk at the same time, much less do it all at a faster pace, so I gear down to an absolute crawl and can anyone guess? The person slowed down to an identical crawl, steps matching mine to the very beat.

Well now this stranger's outsmarted even my inner monologue, and I have no idea how to get them off my back. After emitting a few audible huffs I finally make this huge dramatic gesture by stepping all the way off the sidewalk as well as turning to face the perpetrator (kind of like a glisse-half-pirouhette if you will) and what do I see?!!!

(picture added solely for dramatic effect)


There was not a soul there. This whole scenario was all in my head.

So now I'm freaking out and imagining me like Bruce Willis in the Six Sense, and wondering which of my friends are going to believe me when I tell them I have a connection with the "other side," and then I realize my backpack's unzipped. Unzipped so far that every time I take a step the contents slosh back and forth to make it sound like a step on the sidewalk right behind me.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

BYU's Too Awesome

Sometimes I think I'm just too lucky to be able to go to BYU. The cup of hilarious BYU students just runneth over. One little instance of hilarity was revealed to me today when I was introduced to a man in my 322 class named Stetson. Then I was surprised to see the same young man in my 325 class. But, now here's the twist, he introduced himself as Drake!

Now I know what you're all thinking: we're at an accredited University where people are mature enough not to need pseudonyms--he's probably just another white guy (they all look alike). But he's not! And I can prove it.

Reasons why I know he's the same guy:

He's got a ton of visible moles, and I'm very sure the constellations match up.

Same wedding ring (first thing I noticed because Stetson/Drake is about as hot as male editing minors get)

He lays down the same genre of "witty" teacher/student comments.

Then laughs too loudly at all his own "jokes."

He also sits in the most uncool seat in the room in both classes. The one that's closest to the teacher's podium.

But even if it is two different people, this Drake/Stetson situation has reminded me how awesome it is to be in college and get a fresh start with new and different people all the time. Every semester you get new classes, new wards where you can be a new you! Why shouldn't you be able to be a Stetson on MWF and Drake on TTh? And maybe I'll even hit up my American Lit class with what I like to call a British accent?

Monday, March 29, 2010

I Swam Today Where Jesus Walked

Last week we spent eleven days living on a kibbutz on the shores of the Sea of Galilee (so when I say "I swam today where Jesus walked" I use the word "today" very loosely), and it may have been my favorite thing we've done. So far.

Some days we'd go on day trips to places like Capernaum, Nazareth or the Mount of Transfiguration. Other days we'd have New Testament class on the beach; studying the words of our Savior while looking out over the land He loved. But on one of the days we had day trips, we went to the Mount of Beatitudes where the lovely Franciscans have, in typical Roman Catholic fashion, built a beautiful church, while maintaining the pastoral theme with breathtaking, tropical gardens.

After having a lesson about the sermon Jesus gave on this mountain, we were given about an hour for personal study within the garden that overlooks the brilliant blue of the Galilee. During this time I found a little stair that was billowed by some particularly ravishing hibiscuses, and instead of feasting on more of Christ's work that was written down, I just leaned back into the flowers and absorbed all of Christ's physical work in our beautiful world.

Whether I was looking at the bougainvilaeas moseying along the filigreed fence, or at the meticulously placed basalt stones that lined the the multitudes of pansies, whose bright faces translate cheerfulness wherever you are, you could tell that an incredible amount of work has gone into keeping this garden as beautiful as it is. These Franciscan friars have left behind secular lives, most of them very successful lives, and have now taken on humble vows of poverty to devote their services to God. One man in particular had been an international accountant, working mainly in Geneva, he was (and is) fluent in 8 different languages and had amassed millions of dollars in wealth, which he wholeheartedly gave away to do whatever menial task the Lord required of him.

As I was thinking about the selfless service these friars perform to maintain this beautiful garden, I realized how similar their sacrifice is to the role our Redeemer plays. Just like this beautiful garden was started from rocky soil covered in weeds, so are our souls less than desirable real estate. But Christ, as our loving older Brother, acts as a perfect gardener, willing to trim all our hedges, and tend to every dying flower, if we but open our gates to let Him in.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Somewhere Over the Rainbow, You're Watching Me

The last time I saw you was on a Wednesday night six years ago and we were just talking on your bed, about me of course, like we had done so many times before, and I couldn't imagine that we wouldn't do so many times again.

The last time I saw you I was a freshman in high school who only cared about which American Eagle shirt she was going to wear to the stake dance, and whether it would be more awesome to drive or to date when she turned sixteen.

The last time I saw you I wanted to be a veterinarian, with my instinctive and fierce love for all animals. You only fanned the flame by giving me all the James Herriot books, countless beanie babies (still have them) and even my own dog when I made my own collar and asked to eat my meals on the floor and on all fours.

But that was the last time I saw you.

The last time you saw me was at my high school graduation, and I'm sure you were rolling your eyes at all the speakers who were assuring the whole class of 07 that they were going to be world leaders--even the guy picking his nose and wiping it under the seat.

The last time you saw me I was unashamedly licking tzahi sauce from my kebab in Budapest, and walking barefoot on Viennese cobblestones. Even though I kind of hope you weren't, I'm sure you saw me at the discotheque in Prague, or bawling at the Holocaust museum in Berlin. But I know you saw me smelling the blossoms down the Champs Elysees, and gorging myself on baguettes and any fromage that came my way. I bet you smiled as I stopped dead in my tracks in front of la tour eiffel, because you know better than anyone the charm de paris.

The last time you saw me was as the sun was rising on Mount Sinai where you whispered in my ear where my life was supposed to go next. Giving me that extra little push I need so often so that I can fully dive into the Lord's plan for me.

People say that you've passed away, but that doesn't make any sense to me. You've gone away with me! You're there in all my most passionate moments, where I love everyone and everything in this beautiful world God created for us. You're there in all my quietest moments when I can't imagine being any less adequate for this hard world God makes us go through. But I know you're there, because even if I can't see you or feel you, I know you love me because you'd never want to miss a second of my life!

I love you mom, and I'll see you later!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Pray For The Peace Of Jerusalem

Pictures! I hope everyone enjoys this visual stimulus brought to you by the wireless at Hebrew University (the internet at our center is a little too junior to be able to withstand pictures being uploaded).This is the view from the center on our first free day. As you can see, I was pretty excited to have been out on the town.

This is me showing the Dome of the Rock like it's something you can win on Price Is Right.

At the Ethiopian Church where a man of the cloth came up to me, kissed both of my cheeks, hugged me, and then proceeds to spray my entire body (including both of the cameras in my hands) with this Oriental perfume.

This last week we were able to go to the Western Wall for the ushering in of Shabbat (after sundown, which is strictly contraband under regular circumstances) and it was tov to the max! The whole place was packed with old Jewish women who looked like they stepped out of a European cafe in the 50's, even older men who covered their bald spots with kippas, packs of Hebrew school students with scriptures that opened the wrong way, and (my personal favorite) hordes of Israeli soldiers much too beautiful to be enlisted.

From the Ultra-Orthodox Jews down to the observant gentiles, we all had our own way of communicating with God. After standing in front of the wall and just absorbing all the reverence from the wide spectrum of worship, I finally wrote down my prayer and as I pressed it between the prayers of hundreds of others from all over the world I felt so spiritually connected with this little world full of people looking for something to make them happy. Awesome.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Holy Moly, Holy Land!

Forgive me Blogger for I have sinned. It has been four months since my last post and I come to you with a spirit of contrition, ready to repent. Because now, more than ever, I have something to blog about.
Why haven't we met before? For me and Jerusalem, it was love at first sight. Like Romeo and Juliet, Cleopatra and Mark Antony, Bread and Cheese--we were meant to be together! As I stepped off the plane in Tel Aviv, I felt something special about this place. Then when I watched all the old Jewish men in the arrivals gate tenderly embrace and kiss eachother's cheek with their earlocks bobbing around, I knew it was true.
I know that the religious significance of this place has caused thousands of years of war and countless lives shed, but how many people in this world are willing to die for their religion? Most people in our world go to church because it's something to do on an Easter Sunday, or because their parents did it, but they don't feel strongly enough about their convictions they'd lay their mortal lives on the line to protect it.
I'm not trying to endorse self-inflicted martyrdom, but there's something about the devotion of the people here that is so thick you can almost breathe their piety. It's like the severe reverence of the city makes it even more animated. Just walking outside I can tell my body loves this city. Whether it's smelling so deeply the incense-spice-hookah-tea filled air until you feel like you're actually using your skin to absorb the scents through osmosis, or letting the beautiful Arabic call to prayer song echo deep in your soul as it radiates throughout the city.
My spirit loves this city. I have never felt more at one with the Lord as well as the world than when I was kneeling to kiss the monument of His tomb with a creaky and old Greek Orthodox woman one on side of me, and a large and powerful Nigerian man on the other side of me. All brought together by the love of our Savior.
My only hope is that I can remember forever that what happened here changed the world, and I know it has the power to change me.