Monday, October 31, 2011

Olive trees and Eilot

The center is home to 60 olive trees!  These trees produce the olives, that make the oil, that feeds about 100 people 3 times a day, for an entire year!  That’s a lot of oil!  The trees are extremely beautiful and unique.  They are gnarled and dusty.  The leaves are a sage color on the side that faces the sun and more silvery on the underside.  Some people describe the leaves as sparkling when they move in the wind.  Harvesting them was extremely fun, but difficult too.  The tree that cute Lindsay and I were picking from is 1200 years old!  The olives on that tree were pretty small because they had just grafted “good fruit” branches and were trying to tap into it’s roots.
The group picked what felt like millions of olives, but I have no idea how many were actually harvested.  We placed them in a huge vat of water and let them soak for a couple of days.  Then we placed them in a stone container with a huge grindstone and started the crushing process.  After you mash them up they are a pretty sickly green-brown color, that is not appetizing at all.  Then you put the mush into baskets that have the shape of a chinese lantern.  Then, we moved the baskets and stacked about 5 of them on a pressing machine.  A substance then pours from the baskets and it looks really gross.  The substance then separates into oil and some mystery substances.  
I loved this experience!  It was one of the neatest things that I have participated in while being here.  Oil was the substance of life to the ancient world and it was a really romantic experience to take part in.
Just like everything else, there are some misconceptions about olives.  One thing that I had heard in like a million sunday school lessons is how olives turn a bright red right before they are crushed.  I watched thousands of olives be crushed and I didn’t see them turn red.  They turned a smooshed color, but I couldn’t say red.  (Don’t worry, the church is still true!)  Another thing about olives, olives are only edible if they have been pickled or pressed and refined into oil.  There is literally nothing more vile than a fresh, right off the branch olive.  I can’t even describe the bitterness of an unprocessed olive.  Also, there is no such thing as a black olive tree or a green olive tree.  A green olive is picked before the olive is ripe and then processed into a delectable food.  A black olive is picked after the olive turns ripe and then becomes a delicious food that you can stick on your fingertips.
One of my favorite places that I’ve been to while her is Eliot (E-lot).  It is a town located on the red sea and is where Israel, Egypt, Jordan meet.  You can also see Saudi Arabia in the distance.  Ya, really cool.  We went snorkeling there and it was so beautiful.  I had never experienced how peaceful snorkeling is.  It was amazing to see all of the fish and coral existing so peacefully in an area that is anything but that.  We then went to the boardwalk area and it was just charming.  I think I’m a sucker for charm.  I ate the best thing while there.  A crepe that has nutella smeared on it before it is done, and the heat caramelizes the chocolate.  Amazing. 
Something that I wasn’t expecting is how great middle eastern fashion is!  The women over hear always look incredible!  Most women wear a long trench coat for modesty, but they go to town with their scarves, shoes and bags.  I love how creative they are.  Every piece of their outfit is carefully selected and just looks so great!  Right next to the money changer, Aladdin’s, there is the best shop ever!  They always have 10 nis (new israeli shekel) tops that are adorable!  This is about $2.50.  Great thing to have found?  Yes.

Thursday, October 27, 2011


I just got back from Jordan and had the time of my life!  Jordan is probably my favorite country that I have been to while studying in the Middle East for a couple of different reasons. (Some,  more biased than others)  Jordanians are so happy!  The first day we were there it was like we walked into a cheesy movie because all of the people litterally ran out of their homes to wave at us as we drove by.  People are so much happier there than they are in Jerusalem.
Petra?  Amazing. Literally, incredible.  The park looked just like southern Utah, minus the incredible treasury and monestary.  I'm thinking of writing a letter to Govenor Herbert and suggesting to commision an artist to do carve a treasury in the Narrows. 

I thought I'd save the best for last....Jesse was there.  And he was there with me.  It may or may not have been a highly emotional experience for the entire group.  He was at our hotel in Ammon waiting for me and I was on the second bus to get there.  All of my friends were just lined up waiting to see our reunion and brother huntsman was playing a lot of sappy love songs on the bus.  When I saw Jesse standing there, I started to cry and ran off the bus and we had the sweetest kiss I think we've ever had.  We were together walking, talking, and laughing all that evening in Ammon and the only way to describe the date was beautiful.  I haven't felt that happy and elated since the day we got engaged.  The evening was wonderful as well and I loved every moment being with him.  Everyone has asked if it was hard to say goodbye.  Ya, it was.  It was hard to walk away from the love of my life, knowing that it was just as hard for him to be separated.  But today I have felt peaceful, knowing that we love each other and are trying our hardest to be there for each other and become better people as we are away.  I love him so much and can hardly wait to be married to him for eternity!

I have 2 weeks in Jerusalem, and then 2 weeks in Galilee, and then 2 weeks back in Jerusalem, and then we are getting married in the next 2 weeks.  I couldn't be more blessed. :)

Monday, October 10, 2011

bah mitzvah, Zak, and I can't drink this :)

Lindsay, Loran and I went into the city today and went over to the wailing wall and saw a couple of bar mitzvahs taking place.  My grandma Gerber phrased it perfectly when she said that Jews know how to party!  

Everyone was so happy and it totally reminded me of my brother Owen, who is also 13.  I think Mormons should do something like this, because it would be another excuse to celebrate!
There are two rival olive wood stores:  Jimmy's and Omars.  They share a monopoly on Mormon tourists.  Personally, I think I like Jimmy's better (mostly because the subject of the carvings make me laugh a little bit, like the Adam and Eve statue...I don't think a typical Mormon would put that one on display).  Today, we chatted with an older gentleman named Zacharias or Zak and he was extremely talkative.  Fotunately, his english was flawless and he was very open minded, yet proud to be a palistinian.  He was the guide for the Glen Beck tour and thought that the mormons that were in the group were fantastic, delightful people, but it made him sad that they were being led astray.  I hope to run into him again.  I had mentioned in our conversation that my fiance was studying in Amman.  I also may or may not have bragged about him being on the Volleyball team... :)  Jimmy's nephew was working at the store and mentioned that he had recently graduated from the Jordan University in accounting and was trying to get a scholarship to a gradschool in America.  Please pray for all of the students in the middle east that they can find work and that their economies will improve.

My favorite part of the day was when we went and visited a woman named Samah (Sam), whom we had met last week.  She is great!  We sat and talked with her for a long time and she just told us story after story and made us feel right at home.  She poured us tea and it we didn't know exactly what to do, so we just held it for a while and then finally told her that we don't drink tea, because of our religion.  She thought it was weird that we couldn't explain our relgion to her because then there would be no way for us to bring people into our relgion.  We explained that was the reason we can't talk about it in Jerusalem.  She was cool about it, but she told us that she had a lot of mormon cousins in the states and that she thinks that our religons are basically the same.  I had the best time talking with her and am happy to be making friends over here.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

bada bing bada bedouin

Apparently, I’m a strugglin tuna with this blog.  I’ll try and do better. 
Have you ever thought about bedouins before?  They are the people portrayed in What a Girl Wants for like 2 minutes and also in the scriptures.  The bedouins live a nomadic lifestyle and it is the lifestyle that Abraham lived thousands of years ago.  Because the middle east has developed into defined countries, this has forced them to become less nomadic.  This week we had the honor of visiting both a recognized (Lakiya) and non-recognized village.  At the first village, we talked with the women at Lakiya Weaving, an organization focused on empowering women.  I loved this!  The little seamstress in me was stoked when they demonstrated their spinning and weaving techniques.  
The fireball of Lakiya and me
yarn yarn yarn

We visited the Israelite Temple!
On top of Erod
At the non-recognized bedouin village...good old huntsman told us that if a war were to break out in Jerusalem, we would have been right in the middle of it.