Monday, December 19, 2011

A Semester in the Holiest City on Earth...

BYU Jerusalem Center

If you had asked me a year ago where I thought I'd be in January through April of 2012, I probably would have answered Provo, UT. Maybe even Dillon, MT. But I can promise you that I wouldn't have said Jerusalem, Israel. 

However, nine months ago or so, I realized that I needed a change. More than a change. I needed a coming of age, a life-changer, something to set me on track.  In any case, I knew that I needed to get out of my daily routine and explore myself. And the world.

I've always had a passion for travelling, since my first real trip, when we went to Sweden to do genealogy while I was in the second grade. The travel bug bit me then and has yet to let go. I've found that there is so much to be learned from the world, and if we never leave our familiar zone of comfort, we'll never find some of these things out. There are so many experiences to be had, and I don't want to miss out on them. Moreover, God took the time to create a beautiful world for us. We should take every opportunity we get to explore the wondrous scenes He so lovingly made.

So, nine months ago, I was sitting in my Honors 201 (Civilizations) class when the professor said that he would be teaching in the BYU Jerusalem Center the next year. I had considered the possibility of a semester at the Jerusalem Center when I first entered BYU, but I had forgotten it a midst all of the craziness of a freshman year in college.  When Dr. Huntsman mentioned it, I immediately realized that perhaps that was the release I had been looking for.

I played with the idea for months, and weighed my options. The application date drew nearer and nearer, and the more research I did, the more I realized how much I wanted to go. So I sent in my application and waited... and waited... In reality, it was only a month or so of waiting, but it seemed like an eternity. Then, on the day I moved into my apartment in Provo, my brother Morgan called me to say that a letter had come in from the BYU Jerusalem Center office. I had him open it and read to me that I had been accepted! 

The waiting the second time around was even harder. When you know you'll soon be residing in the land where Jesus one taught and preached, things such as writing a book report seem fairly menial. But I did wait. Fairly patiently, too, if I do say so myself. And in fact, I had a lovely semester. 

But now- now the waiting is finally over. I will (very soon) be leaving for Jerusalem. I will be making many new friends and seeing sights I've only ever read about in books... the book- The Bible.

While I'm in Jerusalem I will be taking many classes at the center, including New Testament, Old Testament, Jewish Civilization, Arab and Islamic Civilization, Ancient Near Eastern Studies, and Intro to Arabic. Oh, and, of course, Field Trip Class! We'll take field trips to the locations we're learning about in class, including:   the Western Wall, Herod's palace, the City of David, Bethlehem, Church of the Holy Sepulcher, Garden of Gethsemane... and many more that I can't wait for. In addition to that, we'll be spending a week in Turkey and another week in Galilee. 

This trip is a lot about the classes and the sights. It's about making new friends and experiencing a culture. But more than anything, this trip will hopefully be a redefining time for me. I have so many questions that I've been pondering prayerfully. If there's anywhere on Earth where I'd be most likely to find the answers to these questions, it would have to be Jerusalem. I hope to not only find these answers, but to find out who I really am. 

And so the adventure begins.


Claire Rose