Being back in the JC has been so nice. It really did feel like coming home after Turkey! On Monday we went to Neot Kedumim, basically a biblical garden/learning center. We did all sorts of fun things like crush hyssop (which looked suspiciously like another crushed herb...), draw water out of a cistern, run (literally) a water wheel, work an olive press, herd sheep and goats, and my personal favorite, make our own pita bread on an outdoor fire/stove! It was the best pita I've ever had in my life. My friend Tyler and I worked really hard on ours and put a lot of love into it, and we actually got a pocket in the middle! Highlight of my life.
Tuesday and today have been full of classes and trying to get our noses back onto the grindstone after our little vacation in Turkey. It's not going so well for some of us (me). But today did have a few highlights worth blogging about! This morning I went to Omar's shop. He is an extremely talented olive wood sculptor. Not only does he do nativities, but he does the most beautiful sculptures of Christ and then Mormon figures such as Joseph Smith, Lehi, the first vision, Mormon, and other popular sculptures usually found in ceramic or scenes in paintings. He is not only an amazingly talented sculptor, but just a quality person. I bought the most beautiful nativity set today! It was definitely an investment, but it was so beautiful and detailed and perfect, I had to get it. My favorite piece is the Mary figure, because, as Omar said, it doesn't have praying hands like the Catholic Mary, it has crossed hands like a Mormon Mary haha. And she is just so beautiful and young. I love it. If anyone goes to Jerusalem, go to Omar (shameless plug). Tonight we also had our Palestinian/Arab culture night! We had a muslim sheik come and recite the Koran and do the call to prayer, then they (he and his son) actually prayed for us so we could see the cycles and motions of the Islamic prayers. It was fascinating, not to mention very enlightening now that we know what they are actually saying at 4:30 am during the call to prayer. We then had a feast of Palestinian food, then an evening of folk dancing! The teachers were some kids from the school at which our Arabic professor is director. They were fun to watch and dance with, even though we were awful students! Oh well, we just had fun. We also all had a lot of fun with dressing up- we all got on our best arabic wear which included A LOT of scarves, genie pants, bangles, headdresses, sandals, and billowing shirts. Some of the guys even got the traditional long white dress-like shirts, robes, and kafiyehs to wear. It was intense. Don't worry, we took a lot of pictures.