Before I do so, however, I wanted to wish you a Happy Easter. I hope you had a great day yesterday. We did not really celebrate here since my uncle recently died. We spent the day at my uncle's house greeting people who came over to visit them.
It is finally hot here and I spent all night yesterday trying to organize my closet and getting rid of all the sweaters and stuff.
I have been called as the Primary President in our new Branch at church. Since I have never been to primary and never had a calling in primary, I have a lot to learn. But, so far I am enjoying it and feel I am slowly making a difference with the kids.
Anyway, hope you all will have a great week...Here is one of my Sabbath days 7 years ago (this came from my journal)...
November 25, 2007
I will explain below how my Sabbath went.
My Sabbath started with me getting up at 12:20 a.m. with everything shaking, we had a small earthquake. We also had one last week. I could not sleep after that for a while...I was supposed to leave the house at 7 am to go to church, but that did not happen. I did not leave until 7:30. (note that Church is 7 miles away from my house, and it starts at 10 am). [this was back when we only had one branch of the church that met at the Jerusalem Center] For the first time in my life, when I walked out the door, my mom said nothing! [she normally complains each time I got to church] This time she did not say “Don’t go” or “Aren’t you going to leave this stupid thing”...she just said: “See you later”.
I got in a taxi (after waiting 20 minutes) and made it to Abu Deis at 8:30. I got in another taxi and made it to Al-Ram at 9:10. From there I took another taxi to the “Gate”. I got there about 9:20. The gate is a gate in the separation wall around Jerusalem. The gate is closed, but it is about 4 inches from the wall so a skinny person can go through between the wall and the gate. When I got there, the Palestinians there said: “The soldiers just came, they are on the other side of the gate, if you had come half an hour earlier, you would have made it across!” One of the guys said it is better to wait and maybe the soldiers will leave and we can sneak in. I decided to wait, but it was really getting late and I would be really late for church. I started to pray that the soldiers would leave. 5 minutes later people started squeezing through the small entrance, so I followed [apparently the soldiers left]. It was muddy and rocky. I am glad I wore pants, and glad I wore normal shoes. The shoes I was going to wear would have gotten stuck in the mud.
Anyway, as soon as I got in, the young man behind me said: “The soldiers are coming”...I panicked and said: “Well what do I do?” He said: “Nothing, stay where you are” and he ran back towards the gate and left me there! I tried to hide, but there was nothing to hide behind. The soldiers did not come all the way there so I did not get caught.
The young man watched and told me when it was safe to move. We went through the wire fence then up by the wall while hanging on and slipping on the rocks, then we got to where the bus waited for us. The young man with me turned to me and said: “We charge 10 Shekels ($3) for helping you to cross”...I gladly paid him and ran to the bus.
Right before we got to Damascas gate (near the place where Christ was crucified), an Israeli army jeep ordered the bus to stop. The bus driver looked at all of us Palestinians in the bus and said: “you got caught”. But, then our nice bus driver stepped on the gas and kept going. We waited for the soldiers to come after us, but they didn’t. I got off the bus and had to walk to the central bus station and take another bus to church. By then it was 9:55 am. I walked fast and saw the bus just leaving the station. The nice bus driver stopped and let me on. I made it to the bottom of the hill where the Jerusalem center is. I had to run up the hill and then the stairs and walk to the center. I made it there just after the opening hymn. I don’t know how I made it there that fast, time seemed to stop so I can be there for the sacrament. I even had time to stop and clean my muddy shoes!
Church was wonderful. Three BYU students gave wonderful talks. It was so nice to sit and LISTEN for a change [I had spent 3 years in Turkey where I was the translator in the branch there, so not having to do that was nice for a change]. It was so quiet in that chapel which had about 70 people attending as we sat and overlooked the old city. It was so easy to feel the spirit. One of my old friends from the branch just happened to be there, other than her I knew no one in the branch!
The district president invited me and my friend over for lunch after church. After RS we went down to their apartment. Br. Crawford was there too. He works in the visa section at the American Embassy. I told him I would be coming to see him soon!
We talked about many things...they asked me about how I got to church and I explained a bit. Then Br. Crawford asked: “What will they do if they actually catch you?” I said: “I have no idea, I have not been caught yet, I hope I don’t have to find out!”
Br. Crawford drove me to Damascas gate and from there I took a bus to Bethlehem. On the road an Israeli police car and soldier stopped the bus. Everyone on the bus had either an Israeli identity card or a permit except you know who...
Well, the Israeli soldier took my Palestinian identity card in his hand and ordered me to get off the bus. He took me to the police car waiting on the other side of the road. The lady there filled out two forms. She asked me questions in Hebrew. I was only able to answer one of them. The other Israeli police man got so mad that I did not speak his language! She asked why I was in Jerusalem. I said I went to church. She had no idea what that meant. I said: “you know, God, pray, church” She acted like she understood. But, of course did not believe me as Palestinians use that excuse many times when they are caught in Jerusalem. She had me sign two papers. One that says: “I declare that I was found in Jerusalem on the 24th of November at 3:50 pm...etc” and the other paper says: “I declare I was not abused when I was arrested.” Well, at least that is what the soldier said was in the documents. I could not understand them, but I signed both documents. While I waited two more buses were stopped. Only one man was brought to where I stood. He did not have an Identity card at all, but was from Bethlehem. I saw the difference between the way the Israeli soldier treated me and the way he treated this Palestinian man. The soldier immediately started yelling at the man, making him clear his pockets, and searched him and his stuff. The soldier hit him and was really rude to him. The Palestinian man, unlike me, would not sign the documents (because he WAS abused when arrested I guess). The soldier got so upset and said: “You don’t want to sign, well I will make you sign” and went into the police car and reached for his stick. The police woman in the car calmed him down and said he should not hit him. The Israeli soldier then threw the Palestinian man in the police car in the back saying he will arrest him, and he told me to get in too. In the back I could hear the Palestinian man saying he did not care what they did to him and the Israeli soldier would the start to beat him. I closed my eyes and said a prayer that the Palestinian man will not get hurt or arrested. The police car drove us to the Bethlehem checkpoint. They crossed to the gate, gave both of us our identity card and then let us go.
The Palestinian man with me was so happy. He was shocked they did not arrest him. Then he asked me how I got into Jerusalem. I told him. He said he took this long road where he had to walk for 2 hours so he got to sneak in. He asked me if I had to do any walking when I sneaked in, I said not much, but it took me over 2 hours to cross too. He asked how I went and said he was going to turn around and go back to Jerusalem the way I told him to go. He was so thrilled there was another way in and wanted to go and try it right away. By then it was 4:30 pm, but he did not care as long as he made it back into Jerusalem.
That was one of my adventures going to church in 2007...
How was YOUR Sabbath??