Thursday, April 14, 2011

Christmas 2010 - Egypt

I think for this post I will share some thoughts from my journal and post some pictures at the end.

Cairo, what a sight! The Pyramids, camel rides, the Sphinx, the Nile; they are all incredible. I'm not sure seeing is believing though. It was slightly surreal. The Pyramids inspired awe simply by the engineering, but the reason for building them inspires thought. What of gods and the afterlife? There is so much in every culture that leads me to wonder if the gospel was fashioned by man from pieces of other cultures and religions, but then I have to stop myself because the boy prophet Joseph Smith did not have access to the knowledge we have now, and although I can't answer every question, the gospel just fits all of the pieces together so perfectly that there is no other explanation. The gospel is true!

People are beautiful. How can you not look at them and just know, as C.S. Lewis reminds us, that we would be in awe if we really understood that we were seeing divine beings.

So I am seeing wonders of the world, but the real majestic wonders aren't seen. They are felt. That is why we can't see proof the truth of the gospel. If we did it might be surreal and hard to fathom, but we can feel it and through feeling we know.

I'm reminded of the play I saw at the beginning of the summer, To Kill A Mockingbird. I know the story, but the play yanked my heart all over the place and I had a good friend who also saw it remind me of how we should be treating one another - human kindness. Our tour guide mentioned how in school he learned that there are all kinds of people. That is why there is tourism. If we were all the same there would be nothing interesting to go see because we would have already seen it or we would already know it. Then he said how we not one better than the other, just one different from the other and my heart sank. We wouldn't have to teach that if we really believed it and lived it. I often ask myself why we are so hard on each other and sometimes even cruel, but that is not the question I should ask. My question should be, where in my life do I treat others in an unkind manner and what can I do to change it? I want to change the world, but I need to remember my heart has to be changed first and always focusing on love. Love is Christ, after all.

I love that this trip has me asking life changing questions and that I didn't just enjoy the sights. Though, I did do that as well. :)

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Christmas 2010 - Paris

Paris smells wonderful. I've been told this is not actually true and in the summertime I might agree, but my nose had a wonderful winter experience in the city of love. I think everyone there uses the same detergent because I really noticed the wonderful fragrance in my bed sheets, but it's the same scent I smelled everywhere we went from the airport shuttle to the people in the Louvre. I miss that smell!

After our visit to the Eiffel Tower we thought it might be fun to find our way back to the hotel on foot. It was fun to wander through Paris, but we did get lost. We knew the general direction we wanted to go and at one point when we were quite close to our destination we pulled out the map again. An older French gentleman saw us looking at our map and stopped to help. He didn't speak any English, but he talked and talked and talked. He figured out where we wanted to go and drew us a map with street names. It's a good thing our hotel was near the Pantheon so we could at least communicate that's where we were trying to go.

The Louvre was awesome! I would definitely go back! I could spend months in there. I was so impressed with all of the paintings that depicted either the Savior's birth or crucifixion. I love that so many artists have portrayed Christ in some fashion.

The Mona Lisa was pretty incredible to see in person. I don't really understand her fame, but she is beautiful, and it was just fun to be a part of something so famous.

Paris is COLD in the wintertime, but I loved to experience all of the traditional touristy things as well as some of the culture and I especially loved the food.