Happy Sabbath everyone! It seemed a little strange at first to have the Sabbath on Saturday, but it's actually not bad. It still feels like the sabbath. I guess the day of the week doesn't really matter much, as much as what your focus is on that day. It's just when I think about going back to class tomorrow morning (Sunday) that it seems a little off.
Our first experience with the branch was awesome. Our choir met for the first time this morning and we sang a few minutes later during Sacrament Meeting, and since the choir is made up of 74 of the 77 students here, we outnumbered the congregation by quite a bit. There are some great families here. Most of the members of the small branch are Americans here working in the consulate (sp?). And there are more kids than I expected, which is especially significant because I got called to work in the primary!! I'm so excited! I haven't even been to a primary class or sharing time or anything since I myself was a wee primary child 12 years ago, but I now I get to do sharing time once a month. I definitely wasn't expecting this calling but it was a very pleasant surprise. The kids are all adorable. A handful, but adorable.
On a side note, I wish I could post some pictures on here to give you guys a little eye candy, but we're not allowed to download any pictures here, because the band-width is too narrow for that much activity (apparently that's electronic talk for "the computer system can't handle it.") So, unless something changes, I won't be able to post pics. But all of us are trying to see if there's a way we can, so I'll be working on it.
Things at the center are great. We went on a walk through the Old City on Thursday and it was so incredible. We saw the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, and passed by the Garden Tomb (but we're going back there later), and saw the parts of the wall around the old city that are authentic. It was SO neat. There's still a lot we didn't make it to, but the parts we did see were incredible. I don't think you could have wiped the awe-struck look off of my face for anything.
Oh, funny story. So we were walking through the old city with our teacher giving us facts and pointing things out the whole time, when this street vendor from a little pizza place suddenly yelled out to us, "Hey, come in here, this is where Jesus ate pizza!" We've been told that everyone in the city knows who the "Mormon students" are as soon as they see them, but I guess they really do! So when I eat there, I'll let you know how it is.
The only hard part is that we haven't been allowed to go back out of the center in the last few days, until further notice. There's nothing really bad going on, there are just some Palestinian demonstrations in the Old City, so until they're finished we're under lockdown. Okay okay, not really like that, but we will definitely be excited when we're allowed to go exploring. It really doesn't feel dangerous at all. They take extra precautions to make sure we're always taken care of and that security knows where we are and how to get ahold of us anytime. I've really never felt so safe.
Oh wow, this place is beautiful. Our sacrament meeting was held in the auditorium, which is on the top floor of the center, and we faced a window that was the length and height of the entire wall with a view overlooking the whole city. It was breathtaking. I just sat there during the talks, hearing what they were saying about the Savior, looking out that window, and thinking about how lucky we all are to be here.
4 years ago