Saturday, January 28, 2012

Dancing Queen

...Young and sweet, only seventeeeeen Ohooohohohohohohohoooooohhh! Just admit it: you sang along as you read the title. Whit and I have just been dancing our socks off recently. Every Wednesday night, the Provo community center has Country dancing, and it is so fun! Whitney is taking a country-western dance class, so she's been wanting to strut her stuff on the dance floor, and, naturally, I wanted to come along and watch. It also helped that I got a new pair of cowgirl boots for Christmas, so I needed to break them in with a few line dances. We went dancing with two other girls from the JC, Andie and Marianne, and we all had the best time! I was a little worried that there wouldn't be very many guys for us to dance with, but there was a surprising number of available young (and older...) men that were willing to push us around the dance floor. I'm not a super talented dancer, and I don't know a lot of fun country moves, but I got pretty good at following the guys! I did a few turns, a few dips, some cool twisty arms things, and even a back flip. This is serious stuff at the Center. Most of the guys are really nice, but every so often you get an older man who is a little bit on the creepy side and puts his face way to close to yours. I guess it's just the price you have to be willing to pay to go dancing as a single lady haha. Overall, though, Country Dancing Wednesday will probably become a beloved tradition.

Our second dancing occasion this week was the Girls' Choice Winter Ball. I am pretty proud of myself actually, because I have never asked a boy to a Girls' Choice dance before, but I did this time! My whole apartment decided to ask some boys in our ward, so it wasn't as scary or awkward as I imagined it being. I think we all had a fun time! It was a semi-formal/formal dance, so it was a good excuse to dress up and get all fancy :) (Except I completely forgot to take pictures, which almost defeats the point of dressing up, but oh well.) We first cooked dinner for our dates and made them Chicken Alfredo. My roommate Emily also made these awesome little desserts too- mini cheesecakes with a cookie crust and cherry topping. Um, delicious. Then, we were off to the dance! There was a pretty good turnout, and we all just had fun dancing and being goofy. We even got to meet up with some JC friends- Robin, Jeff, Amy, and Eliza. It was so fun to hang out with them. It ended up being a really fun night full of food, good company, and lots of dancing.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Oh Jerusalem, If I Forget You...

So, I've been putting this post off for about a month. This is my final wrap-up of the most amazing semester of my life- my semester abroad at BYU Jerusalem. I haven't been wanting to write this final post because then it would feel like the experience is actually over. But it is. At least, the actual experience is over, but the memories, friends, and influence that the experience had on my life will always remain. As I've said in many other posts, it's impossible to try to recount all of the things I did in Jerusalem and all of the amazing things I saw; so as my final post, I'd like to just write about what I'll take away from the Holy Land. On one of the last nights, I write a pretty long entry in my journal, and I think it just about sums up how I feel. Here are some parts of it:
This past week I've been pretty homesick, but now that we leave this Thursday, I'm really sad to be letting this go. Never again will I be surrounded by such amazing children of God that have the same goals and focuses, where we are all learning about ourselves and our Savior, in the very place that the Bible took place. I know it will never be like this again. But, I can carry this feeling with me, along with all that I have learned and my strengthened testimony... When Elder Holland visited here last April, he said something that I heard a few times, and it's really stuck with me. It was to the effect of: "Shame on you if you are not changed by this experience forever and go right back to the way you were before." That just really struck me, and it has bee the motivating force behind my actions here, that I will be a changed, improved servant of my Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ, my Lord and King. I am determined to be changed. I am resolved to keep progressing and learning and becoming each and everyday a better disciple and true follower of Christ. When He comes again, I will know Him because I will be like Him. I have, over this semester, come to know Jesus as my friend, truly my elder brother and protector, my Savior and comfort. I know that He was born just a few miles away in Bethlehem, in a humble manger, to a young and pure virgin Mary. I know He taught in the temple, raised the dead, fed the multitudes, calmed the storm, and walked on water. I know He entered the Garden of Gethsemane, just on the Mount of Olives, and pleaded with the Father, bled from every pore, suffered all my pains, felt all my loneliness and trial, was comforted by an angel, then submitted His entire will to the Father. I know He then was arrested, falsely accused, mocked, burdened with a cross, and crucified. I know He died for me, and most of all, I know He rose on the third day and now lives for me. I couldn't be more grateful for anything else. I truly stand all amazed at His love, and it is so wonderful and joyous to me. I am so blessed to have had this opportunity to study in Jerusalem and come to know my Savior as a person and friend... I am so richly blesses, I really don't deserve it. But, that just places a responsibility on my shoulders to fully internalize this and incorporate it into my life, so much so that my testimony and light are apparent to all I come in contact with. I want it to be obvious that I am a true believer and follower of Christ. 
 The final two weeks in Jerusalem were probably my favorite. Classes were basically over, all the finals were done, and we just went on field trips and talked about Christ all the time. What could be better, honestly? I loved walking through the last week of Jesus' life and spending time in the Old City and West Jerusalem for the last few times. On my last day, I had a few places that I was determined to visit, and I got to do just what I wanted :) We started off by going to the Church of St. Mary Magdalene (wasn't on my list, but that's ok), then I went to the Garden Tomb. This was the main place I wanted to go. We got there at the perfect time too--usually it is full of tour groups, but for some reason, it was perfectly peaceful and calm. It was just the way I wanted to remember it as my last time. After having lunch back at the JC, we went to the Garden of Gethsemane. I was feeling a little stressed about packing and cleaning and leaving and sticking to a schedule, but as soon as I sat down in the private garden, I felt at peace. My worry melted away, and all I had to think about was Christ. My experience there was definitely one of the highlights of my entire semester.

Leaving the JC was very surreal. I didn't cry, I didn't really say a lot of goodbyes, I didn't really feel like we were leaving at all. Even the plane ride home was calm for me. In fact, I still don't think it's truly hit me, and it's a month after the fact. Maybe because the whole experience just seems like a dream. I mean, I just lived in Jerusalem for three and a half months... Who does that??? The first time it really and truly sunk in was when we had our first JC reunion in Provo and I realized how much I truly missed living on top of everyone and talking about the amazing experiences we had. It's crazy how influential something so short can be on your entire life. But it happens, and it definitely happened to me. And I couldn't be happier about it :)