five years ago this week i embarked on the most fantastic, sumptuous adventure of my life (rivaled only by the mission). since all of my siblings went, one by one, to study abroad in the holy land, i dreamed of going to the byu jerusalem center from when i was itty bitty. my junior year of college came, and the center was closed (and had been for an extended amount of time) for security reasons. i prayed literally every day for two years that it would re-open and i would have the opportunity to live my passionate dream. just in the nick of time, the center again opened its doors to students and i was selected to be in the first group back (after 6 years). i can’t think of anything in my life that has been more completely “dream come true” than my experience in jerusalem.
because of all this lead-up, i had super high expectations when i took off for the holy land that january five years ago. and honest to goodness, my expectations were exceeded an hundred fold. i loved every single second of my time at the jerusalem center, and it was so, so, so much more wonderful than i could have ever imagined, or could ever explain! anyone who has talked to me about that semester abroad knows that i can get pretty zealous in recounting any part of my time in the holy land. holy smokes, it was awesome. i’m stopping myself here…trying not to gush endlessly…
one of the best blessings of my time in jerusalem was the people i met, lived with, adventured with, and grew with those glorious, sacred four months. we got very close that semester, and have since gone so many different ways! i decided six months ago to plan a reunion to commemorate the 5-year anniversary of our departure, and to reconnect, and to remember. we settled on january 1 in utah as the best time and place to get together, and so i invited everyone up to my parents’ house and man oh man! it was great.
we caught up with dear friends:
met new spouses:
and new children!:
ate a middle-eastern food feast on my jerusalem china:
watched a slideshow of pictures downstairs:
and of course took a group photo:
and attempted a jumping photo, since we took hundreds in the holy land
(and matt was clearly the only one who really caught the vision):
as we went around the room and gave a report on our last five years to update all these beloved friends, i sat back astounded at what rad people i lived with in the middle east. this group was so amazing. we shared such incredible experiences. no one really understands it but us – they just can’t.
those four months in jerusalem was the absolutely happiest time of my life, and i just can’t imagine it getting any better. i was so grateful for the opportunity to reflect on that time this holiday season.