Monday, June 23, 2008

Quinceanera


A week ago we went to a Quinceanera. A Quinceanera is a birthday party for a 15-year-old Mexican girl. It symbolizes her change from a girl to a woman. I was invited by a previous coworker because it was her daughter Bianca's Quinceanera. It was a ton of fun, but REALLY intense!







We started out with some delicious food which Aaron ate with style. He served his mission in Mexico so he felt quite at home! We were entertained for a couple hours by the Mariachi band and just soaked up old Mexico! There were 100's of people there, about 3/4 of them Mexican. Aaron was my translator.







The decorations were so fun and really made me want to go to Mexico! Below is the table Bianca and her "line" sat at. A Quinceanera is very similar to a wedding reception, minus a groom! See those pink frilly things on the table? Those are tortilla holders! Who knew!?


Below are her cakes. They were so beautiful and tasted dang good. By the end of the night every piece was gone!! Those Mexicans know how to eat!!

After dinner was over, there was a huge presentation. Professional Mexican dancers came in their gorgeous dresses and danced. Some men came and did the traditional hat dance too. I was very impressed. (Sorry for the dark pictures, but it was dark in there!)



After the dancers came the official presentation of the Quinceanera. It starts out with her parents walking around with a baby...

Then a young girl...

And then the daddy and daughter dance...

Once that finished, there was a small ceremony with the presentation of a doll from her Godparents and a change of shoes symbolizing her growing up.

After that, Bianca took her favorite doll from her childhood and tossed it to any of the girls there who were under 15.


After that, Bianca's "line" (about 20 girls and 10 guys her age) performed a dance that they have been working on for months. I loved to see the guys in the black suits with the white trim!



After that the loud music and dancing started. The music was SO loud, but everyone had a great time. We danced a few songs and then went outside so we could hear ourselves think. :)




I had so much fun watching these two kids. They started out having never met before and ended up as dancing partners all night long! The video is sideways, but it's SO cute to watch him put his arms around her waist!


video

We went in and out of the dance for a couple hours. It was fantastic to be there; I was thrilled to be invited!

GaLOOOOON! (It's what fun is!)

In an earlier post I shared the exciting news that I planned on going to Lagoon with my economic stimulus. Well, it happened. And oh it was magical!

Aaron and I both took off work on my birthday and headed up there. We spent the first part of the day riding the White Roller Coaster, the Spider, Mighty Mouse, the Colossus, and Wicked. It took A LOT of convincing to get me to go on Wicked, but after the first time I loved it and made him get right back in line to do it again! :) We actually chose a fantastic day to go and never spent more than a few minutes in any line!

After hitting all of the coasters we decided to do the Swings to take some pictures. First time around, I took pics of Aaron...



















Well, after finishing it, I was SO sick! I got off the ride and crumpled up in a corner in the shade and just prayed I wouldn't throw up! But we HAD to go again to get pictures of me so a few minutes later we went again... it was such a dumb idea... oh the things we do for the sake of pictures!























If you can't tell, I'm making a barfing look in the third one. After it ended the second time I seriously was WAY sick. I sat in a huddled ball for quite awhile and then we decided to go across the Sky Tram thing.

We hit up the JetStar and after that one I seriously thought I was going to die. I had Aaron go get food for us and we just ate and chilled for a bit. I finally felt better and we hit up the Bumper Cars!















After that we headed to Lagoon-A-Beach and hung out there for a few hours to cool off. We raced on the kiddie slides and had a good ol' time. The water felt great! After that we indulged in some Dippin' Dots. I was ready to try out a few rides again so we went on Tidal Wave. I'd never been on it before and really liked it! Yes, it made me way sick, but a good sick. :) I took this picture without Aaron knowing and it makes me laff!





We spent the last hourish riding all the coasters we had loved again. I made him go on Wicked like four more times. :) On the last time we finally dared to record it. I included the video. I was really intrigued with the electromagnetics of this coaster and how you can be going so slow and then the magnets flip and you go 55 mph! I hope you enjoy it! :) I LOVED going upside down... it's a sweet rush.


video


I felt way cool when the teenage boys next to me were like, "YOU GUYS RECORDED THAT??? Dude you're SOOOOO brave!" If only they knew we'd gone on it like five other times. :)


One of the last activities of the day consisted of Aaron winning me a stuffed animal. (You know, what all manly boyfriends do for their girlfriends!) I was very impressed that he won on his second time! I now own a wonderful white tiger named Zebra. :) Aaron was a good pal to him and buckled him up on the drive home. :) This picture makes me laff... it looks so awkward!


So yeah, Lagoon IS what fun is. :)



The End

I had planned on posting over the weekend, but it didn't happen...! So this last post about my trip will cover three days. I do apologize, but hope you'll enjoy it anyway.

The 21st...












We started our day with a ride across the Sea of Galilee. It was so relaxing and quiet and I really enjoyed reading about the Master calming the sea. From there we went to Capernum and saw the ruins there and then off to the Mount of Beatitudes. I think that the church that was built atop it is so beautiful!

The picture below is one of my favorites from the trip. This is an Israeli Burger King menu. The kosher law will not allow any dairy product and meat to be served together. That means no butter on your bread if you are also having meat for dinner, but it also means no cheeseburgers. So here is the menu. Which would you like? A hamburger?, hamburger?, double hamburger?, double hamburger?, or maybe you'd like just a hamburger?? :)


After lunch we travelled farther north to the border of Lebanon. We were able to walk through the old war trenches and also saw the Banias Waterfall which is one of the sources of the Jordan River.












After that we went to the traditional baptismal spot of Christ and watched a bunch of people baptizing themselves. They asked us if any of us would like to be baptized. We all politely declined as we had that taken care of back when we were 8. :) That night we ate dinner next to the Sea of Galilee at St. Peter's Fish Restaurant. (snazzy name, eh!) They bring you out an entire fish and you gnaw everything off of it. I was disgusted and got a pizza instead and it was the worst pizza I've ever eaten. :) Gotta love win-win situations. :)











The 22nd...

Today started on Mount Tabor aka the Mount of Transfiguration. From there we went to Nazareth and from there we went to different spots spending quite a bit of time overlooking the Valley of Armageddon. It's an incredible view and it will be interesting to see what happens there in the future. I came to love this country and the people and was overwhelmed with the thoughts of what will happen.


I really liked the road signs there. You can see the Hebrew, Arabic, and English.


Then we headed back to Jerusalem for our last night and day. It was Friday night so we went and watched the Jews bring the Sabbath to the Wailing Wall (their Sabbath is on Saturday). It was a cool experience, for sure.













Jen and I decided to join the festivities and stick our prayers in the wall along with them. (FYI-- that is not my head! I haven't done my hair like that since like elementary school, thank goodness!) We did have to wear shawls since they could tell we weren't Jewish. The wall is pretty crazy. Everyone reads the Torah while moving their bodies back and forth in the craziest positions and there is a lot of jumping and chanting. The men's side of the wall was much more intense than the women's, but there were some pretty crazy ladies there too. I found it amusing to find that there are 'wall hogs' there. :)


The 23rd, the last day...

Of course, this day was the last the best of all the game. We started our day in the Orson Hyde Gardens that the church owns on the Mount of Olives and then made our way over to the Garden of Gethsemane. It was a very sacred place.


We made our way over to the BYU Jerusalem Center where we attended church. (In Jerusalem, the church even has church on Saturday since everyone else does it then!) This is Jen and I standing in the main hallway. It's the same place that President Hinckley walks down in "Special Witnesses of Christ." The shirt I'm wearing is one that I bought at the Suez Canal for $9! I thought I would give it a try in the heat, but the main reason I wore it was because I was out of clean clothes by that time! Even though it is long-sleeved, it is very light fabric so it felt great to not have the sun beating directly on your skin. I guess those Egyptians know what they're doing! Also, I'm wearing my J.C.'s if you look closely!


After church, we walked down the Mount of Olives through the Jewish graves. The rocks on top of the graves are their version of flowers. From there we visited the Church of the Holy Sepulchre where some believe Christ was crucified and buried. I didn't like the place. After that we went to the Garden Tomb where many of the prophets have expressed their belief that this is the place where he was crucified and lain. The differences in feelings between the two places was night and day. I loved this place and it was definitely the best way to end the trip.

Here is Golgotha-- the place of the skull.


And the Garden Tomb.

On the door (inside the tomb in this picture) is a wooden plaque that said, "He is not here; He is risen!" What a great knowledge that is to know that our Savior is risen! He lives today and we can know Him and have Him as our friend. I am so grateful that the gospel of Jesus Christ has been restored to the earth and that I was privileged enough to be born to a family who is members of the church. All the blessings in my life have come because of it.

We then left for the airport and spent the next day getting home. Because of a delayed flight we missed our connecting flights and spent many hours trying to find other flights and hanging out in various airports as we were flown all over the country! Good times. :)


If you've survived; thanks for reading these! I've loved remembering what I did and saw and I love to share it with others.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Off to the North


We spent the morning doing whatever we wanted around Jerusalem which consisted of shopping! My most exciting purchases were a wrap-around skirt and some "J.C.'s." (Jerusalem Cruisers) or Jesus Sandals. You'll see them in a later picture. I love to wear them and think of how dang cool I am... or something like that. :)

Those of us who wanted to walked through Hezekiah's Tunnel. This tunnel is so old it's not even funny! It's in the bible and everything... who knew!? King Hezekiah built it to get fresh water into the city. Jerusalem has no water source of its own and he recognized that if Jerusalem was attacked and the enemy were to do something to the water supply they would be in trouble... so he had peeps did a tunnel underground from the Pool of Siloam. We walked through the whole thing in ankle deep to knee deep water. The picture of me is in the tall part, but half of it is so short you have to crouch the whole way. It was dark and very cool.

And then we took off towards the north. We stopped in Jericho, the land flowing with milk and honey! See how green it is??!!



Also, you'll have to notice my hair for the rest of the trip (and actually a couple days previous). While using our electricity transformers on our hair driers on our first day in Jerusalem we practically exploded the hotel... as in smoke was coming out of the sockets and everything! It ruined all our appliances and we had to go with wet hair for the rest of the trip. Good times.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Bethlehem

We started our day overlooking the shepherd's fields in Bethlehem. It was really peaceful. We did have a few visitors who know that Americans love trite things like little lambs. :) This family came over and let us pet their lambs and then demanded money. Ugh. :) Our next step was the Church of the Nativity that is built over the spot Christ was supposedly born. In the picture on the right, I'm touching the Star of Bethlehem which is 'exactly' where he was born. You have to realize I'm being quite conservative in this picture... everyone else was kissing it and all sorts of stuff. Wowzers.






After the churches, we spent time at an Olive Wood Factory where I was able to purchase my nativity set... the one thing I absolutely was going to buy! We also learned about Bethlehem and the oppression it is under. Seeing the wall around it made me really sad, but the suicide bombs have gone down by like 90% since it was built. It's a problem without an easy answer.


The part of today that meant the most to me though was the people I met. Below is a picture of Baghdadi (said Bag-Daddy... freaking sweet name, huh?!). Jen and I went on a walk that night to go meet him (we had heard about him the day before) and we just had a blast at his shop. We both purchased stuff and he threw in few gifts because we 'were so pretty' and because he 'loves Mormons' and etc. He was seriously SO genuine and we loved to purchase from him because of how humble and loving he was. Is it weird that I miss him?



On our way home from Baghdadi's, we stopped at a park to record 'the call to prayer'. All of the sudden we were attacked by like 8 to 10 Palestinian kids who wanted to play soccer with us. We sat there trying to talk back and forth and the kids tried to teach us Arabic and it was just so dang cute. We gave them some of our candy and shekels and just loved that they loved us and didn't even know us! I really wish I could have spent more time living and loving these people, but I am so grateful for the small, yet incredibly meaningful experiences I did get.