Thursday, September 3, 2015


I was excited when I found out a few months ago that one of my friends from BYU Jerusalem was coming to Israel in August on vacation with her family. Here are a few highlights of being friends with Kaitlyn during the BYU program:
  1. Her enjoying laughing at my unpractical field trip outfits, and me enjoying laughing at her too-practical field trip outfits.
  2. Our friendship surviving the fact that sandwich day was my favorite day of the week and her least favorite.
  3. Kaitlyn giving passionate and detailed tours of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, her favorite place on earth.
  4. Enjoying the secret moment when we realized that we did better than everyone else on the Islam exam, a class I loved so much.
  5. Kaitlyn being one of the few people at the JC that understood sarcasm (see above, about me loving the Islam class).
And the best Kaitlyn moment of all...

6. When we decided not to sit with the group in the hot sun outside of the Garden of Gethsemane, but instead to SCALE A WALL (by the way, with me wearing a skirt and heels, see above about my unpractical field trip outfits) and hike down the Mount of Olives to go sit inside the Church of All Nations instead. That was also the historic day we took a selfie.

After my German final exam on Sunday, I took the bus to Jerusalem to meet up with Kaitlyn and her parents. I wasn’t planning on commemorating this short outing to Jerusalem in blog form... not because it wasn’t fun, but because it was so short and sweet. However, as I was saying goodbye to Kaitlyn... she said she looked forward to reading this, so I really had no choice.

We met up in the Jewish Quarter to do a tour of the Temple Institute. But wait, first I saw these Matrix priests.

So, the Temple Institute. It’s an interesting place. Basically, it’s run by a group of Jews who are very very passionate about getting ready to build the Third Temple (the former temples: Temple of Solomon, Temple of Herod). 

The people at the institute are working on recreating the things that used to be used in the temple- the clothes the priests wore, the golden menorah, and lots of other things.  Here’s 2 years-ago-Marissa with the 2 million dollar menorah. It’s currently covered up for maintenance.

If you do a tour at the Temple Institute, they’ve recreated what the layout was in the original temples was like with pictures, models, and the things that they’ve been making.

The cool part about the tour is that it helps you visualize all of those long descriptions in the Old Testament of how the temple should be built. You know those long chapters that put you to sleep because they keep talking about cubits? I’m guessing now they would make more sense to me. 

The awkward part about the tour is that there have been other (Muslim) buildings on the Temple Mount for centuries. And I’m pretty sure it would start WWIII if for some reason the Dome of the Rock and al-Aqsa Mosque were demolished. Arabs are already pretty paranoid about that happening. In 2000, the Second Intifada (the Arab uprising, the suicide bomber-palooza where thousands of people died) began when Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon decided to visit the Temple Mount. That might have just been an excuse people were waiting for to start the violence, but still.

The last part of the tour is a video that says “DARE TO DREAM, DARE TO BUILD.” So they are very excited about the potential next Jewish temple. Not that they're actively advocating to destroy anything, but t’s a little ominous. Fingers crossed that I’m not in Israel if these people ever “dare to build.” 

The tour we did on this day was less controversial than the ones me and Kaitlyn did during our BYU days. On mine, the tour guide told us that the Arabs had the Ark of the Covenant and were hiding it underneath the Dome of the Rock. On Kaitlyn’s, the guide said that the Vatican was hiding it in their archives (who would dare insult the Vatican in front of their loyal ambassador Kaitlyn Ayers??). On this day, the tour guide took no position on who was hiding the Ark of the Covenant from the Jews haha.

Pictures aren’t allowed inside, but here’s a glimpse of the clothes that the temple priests wore/ will wear.

The Old City streets are slightly (really) confusing, so I helped navigate to stop at Shabban’s (a favorite BYU Jerusalem shop), back out through Jaffa Gate, and to Ben-Yehuda St. in West Jerusalem to walk around a little.

I should document that while walking down Christian Quarter Rd., some weird man asked me he could keep my hair flower “as a memory” of having seen me. #oldcityprobs

Unfortunately, Kaitlyn’s family had already done the official Kaitlyn tour of the Holy Sepulchre, so I didn’t have the opportunity to be enlightened again. Whenever I’ve given someone a tour of that church this year, I’ve used the information that she taught me.

We took a picture as we were leaving the Old City (unfortunately not a selfie, but this will have to do), and also watched her parents ride a camel. I’m a little jealous, I wish that I’d gotten a picture of my parents on a camel when they were here.

So anyways, it was fun to get to hang out in Jerusalem and relive our study abroad days. Thanks for letting me crash your family vacation!

Oh, and one more thing... I’m back in America! I’m writing this now on the couch with Daisy at 5 in the morning. Because jet lag. But it’s so good to be home! I’ll be here for about 6 weeks. And don't worry, I've already had a pumpkin shake from Culver's.

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