30 April 2012

Reaching the Isolated

I'm guest posting today at By Common Consent.

End the Destinations, Begin the Recipes

So the destination thing was fun this month.  But there are still at least two months of places I want to live, so maybe I'll do that again someday.

The plan for May is to post a recipe a day, with photos.  I want to focus on Central Asian recipes, but they won't all be that (tomorrow's won't, since it's Beltane).  And there are some Central Asian things I won't make here, like laghman, because they're a lot of work and I can just buy, for example, prepared laghman noodles. 

I hope I can pull this one off.  It would probably be better to do this in June when there's more food available, but I'm not sure if we'll be staying put all the way through June, and I will be in May.

Destination a Day: Halab

There are lots of places I'd love to live in the Middle East, but Halab is way up there (although Istanbul has much cooler summers).  Good food and an interesting history always make a place worth checking into.

29 April 2012

Far From Zion

Overall, I loved this book.  It's the story of an assimilated Jew who spends a year traveling to various, often isolated, Jewish communities around the world, from Arkansas to Burma.  He is conflicted in the right ways and certain in the right ways, at least to me.  I would love to read this for a book group.

It did drag a little in places, in nearly every chapter.  It was about 250 pages and probably could have been a little over 200 pages and a better book for it.  But that was my only quibble.

Destination a Day: Wales

The photos are from Cardiff, but I'd be happy to live anywhere in Wales.  I know people say Scotland is better, but my great-grandmother was Welsh, so I'm partial to that part of the world.

28 April 2012

Destination a Day: Chiang Mai or Chiang Rai

Since I don't have a beach fetish, northern Thailand is the place for me.  The biggest drawback is the nasty air pollution for a couple of months early in the year.  You'd want to be out of town then.

27 April 2012

Destination a Day: Auckland

Really, I just want to live somewhere in New Zealand.  Auckland is nice, but I am not picky.  I could easily be convinced to pick a different city.  Rotorua is appealing, but Auckland isn't far and I'd still be able to see geysers often.  And Auckland is a more interesting city overall.

Did I say I really want to live in New Zealand?

26 April 2012

Giant Bread Stamp

Most of the time when I'm wandering through a bazaar, I see lots of brightly colored plastic things from China.  (This is not all bad; I picked up a little carrot grater that's perfect for carrot salad and it was less than 50 cents.)  But when you see a place that is not overwhelming plastic or colorful, it's time to stop.  I picked up this walnut rolling pin and the giant chekich a couple of weeks ago from a non-colorful place.  He had lots of other cool stuff too.  For a little scale, the rolling pin is about as long as one you'd see in the US.

A chekich is for stamping flatbreads so they don't puff up in the middle.  Usually you see smaller ones like these and I have quite a few of them.  A big one like this is for stamping the entire center of a loaf of bread.  Central Asian naan is really good because there's the stamped center, but also a rim around the edges that rises.  You get two totally different textures in one loaf of bread, and since it's cooked in a tandir, that makes it even better.

Destination a Day: Harare

So Harare's supposed to be the worst city in the world that an expat would live in.  I'd take my chances because I don't always believe the lists.  If I did, I don't think I'd be in Kyrgyzstan. 

Upon further searching, it doesn't look like Bishkek's on that list at all, and it comes in at 209 out of 221 on another one.  I guess we'll get to keep the secret a little longer. 

25 April 2012

Another Chance to Poke Fun at Kyrgyzstan

Apparently the Eternal Flame at Bishkek's Victory Square went out yesterday because the bill for the gas hadn't been paid in several years.  I was surprised to read that since I was there for a long time this afternoon and the flame was burning.

It's ironic that by the time the story hit the newspapers in the West, the flame was lit again.  Maybe one of them will mention that, but I suspect it's easier to make jokes about Kyrgyzstan not being able to pay the gas bill instead.

It's a very nice memorial; there have been many people there recently working on the landscaping. Today they were planting petunias.

Destination a Day: Quito

Our next-door neighbors in Seattle were from Quito.  I'll happily take the food, the weather, the country, and, if they're anything like our neighbors, the people in Ecuador.   

24 April 2012

Destination a Day: Cape Town

I'm at least a little conflicted (or a lot) about this choice but there are also a lot of good reasons to live in Cape Town too.

23 April 2012

Destination a Day: Addis Ababa

There are so many places I want to live in Africa, but I can't quite bring myself to post them here because they're so hot.  But Addis Ababa isn't.  I have no idea if it's easy to get out and about in Ethiopia, but I hope it would be.

22 April 2012

Destination a Day: Seville

There was a breeze and cooler temperatures today, so I can think about living someplace a little warmer than the last few days' choices.  My husband has been to Seville, we've had friends who've lived there, but I've never even been there.  Definitely way up on my list.  When I'm not hot, because it's one of the warmest places to live in Europe.

21 April 2012

Unintentional Ambassadors

Not the diplomatic sort, but the educational sort.

A couple of month ago our family were the foreigners featured in a weekly news article that the main paper in town does about a foreigner/foreign family living in Kyrgyzstan.  The university we're affiliated with arranged the whole thing and all I had to do was show up at the office with my family and smile for a few photos, and then I left with the boys while my husband was interviewed.  They ended up talking a lot about homeschooling- my husband thought that was probably because they were trying to find something that was different about our family since the articles can get a little repetitive.  The other option was to play up the fact that we're here to study Uzbek, but that may not have been the best angle.

I had no idea if very many people read that weekly article, but apparently people do because we keep meeting complete strangers who know who we are.  It doesn't happen that often, mostly since we're not often all out together, and we're not very identifiable on our own.  But unquestionably the thing people remember most from the article is that we homeschool.  The man we talked to today remembered us only after homeschooling came up.

Homeschooling is practically unheard of here; I don't think I've ever met a local who homeschools, and most foreigners don't either, although there are many who do.  It's common for people to ask where the older boys go to school, so homeschooling comes up pretty often, with or without the article.  And the article was pretty good about it, explaining why we do it and that I'm (hopefully) capable of doing it.

I'm certainly not homeschooling here to plant any seeds in anyone's mind about whether they ought to do it, but there have been a few times when we've gotten an unusually positive reaction about it- especially if someone is currently having problems with their local school.  There would be some major obstacles to homeschooling here and I wouldn't want to be the one trying to get past those.  But it's been interesting to talk to so many different people about it.

Destination a Day: Hammerfest

I'm still too hot, so we're staying north again.

20 April 2012

Confederates in the Attic

I've been meaning to read this book forever, but I finally decided to read it when it was sitting on my reader again and I clued in that I'm moving to the South in a few months.  Just like I'd hand Stegner to someone moving from New England to the western US, I figured it's time to read a little about the South.  If I can stomach it, I think Gone with the Wind might be next.  Maybe.

Anyway, I loved this book. Of course it's just one person's perspective on a few specific aspects of the South, but I felt that Horwitz was trying to understand where the people he talked to were coming from.  I'll see what I think after living there myself for a while.

I'm an American going back a long way, but the Civil War isn't part of that.  Even though many of my ancestors were in the US (or its territories) by the Civil War, they had all gone west, and the rest came in the 15 years after the end of the war.  Even though I'm familiar with the Civil War, it's not part of my history in the same way that the history of the western US is mine.  I'm looking forward to learning more.

Destination a Day: Lulea

It got hot here so I'm thinking of cooler places to live.  Lulea is that. 

19 April 2012

Locked In

There's always something to deal with wherever you live in Kyrgyzstan.  In Tokmok it was usually the water, or at least that was the biggest nuisance (still love turning the water on to do the dishes).  The two problems in our current apartment are the wiring and the doorknobs.

We've worked out the wiring (as long as the whole thing doesn't go up in flames- literally), and I thought the doorknobs were under control, but one of the boys locked himself in one of the rooms today.  Fortunately it wasn't the littlest one because there literally was nothing I could do from my side- no hinges, no key (it was locked in the room), no nothing on my side, except all the tools.  So the stuck son leaned out the window and I leaned out my window and threw pliers (for the hinges, but they were stuck), a pocketknife (for the screwdriver and other tools), and finally, a coat hanger (which was successful).

The problem was that the knob thing wasn't working- it didn't turn the part that sticks into the wall, so the door remained closed.  It wasn't technically locked, it just was completely non-functioning.  But we got him out more quickly than the time my husband locked himself and the littlest one in a different room, and when someone else locked themselves into the kitchen.  I think the people on the street wondered why we were throwing hangers and pliers out the windows.

It's also fortunate that everyone thought the whole thing was pretty funny. 

Destination a Day: Tallinn

I think Tallinn is the Baltic city I'd like most to live in, although I'm not terribly picky.  I'd love to be able to spend a lot of time exploring the coasts of the Baltic.

I'd also love to see what it's like to live in a very different post-Soviet capital.

18 April 2012

A Few Photos

I think this will be one of the few photos we have of someone smiling and wearing a kalpak.  Smiles aren't as common here as in the US.


While we were at Osh Bazaar on Saturday I kept seeing cakes with very colorful decorations, which I hadn't seen before.  I don't know if I'm just clueless, or if this is new, or if it's a spring thing, but the spice people all were selling these brightly colored toppings.  You can see the space left for the spices on the left at the back.  That's what I was there for.

Mosque in a village outside Bishkek.  I think it was Chon-Tash.

I think we always see sheep in the mountains.  And other animals.  That's part of what makes finding a spot to picnic difficult.

Looking out over the valley after we came out of the mountains.

This is a new mosque in the southeast part of Bishkek.

Destination a Day: Kunming

I want to live in Kunming mostly because it seems like the most useful place to live in Yunnan.  When we were in China 6 years ago and thought our flight to Urumqi would be cancelled, I was starting a plan to fly to Kunming while we waited (since we would have missed our Urumqi-Bishkek flight, and there wouldn't have been another for several days).  But all the flights came through and we went to Bishkek instead of Kunming.

17 April 2012

Hearing Russian, Hearing Kyrgyz

Ever since we moved to Bishkek last fall, I've noticed that I hear so much more Kyrgyz on the street than I did in 2005/6.  Of course, I live in a different part of town than I did then, and Kyrgyz would be more expected here, but even when I'm in other parts of the city, I hear Kyrgyz all the time.

It's gotten to the point where I realized today that I am getting more listening practice with Kyrgyz/Uzbek/Uyghur than with Russian.  Of course everyone speaks Russian to me, and I speak back in Russian, but if I'm not involved in the conversation or if my husband is speaking with someone, it's Kyrgyz/Uzbek/Uyghur.  I can't really say much in any of those languages but I understand quite a bit, probably similar to what I can do with Spanish.

I have lots of theories why Kyrgyz would be more common here today, but whatever the reason, I do like hearing it when I go out.

Country Driving

Another one about China, this time from an American journalist.  Peter Hessler has written several other books which I haven't read, although I enjoyed this one enough that I might try them again. 

I have a couple of rules for what makes a book about China interesting.  The best thing is if it's written by someone from China, especially if they still live there or recently left.  Foreign authors can be okay if they speak Chinese or if they write about China instead of themselves (although my next book doesn't follow this rule, but we'll see if I survive it). 

There are topics that I always prefer.  Anything about minorities is always a bonus since there's so little written about them except scholarly stuff, and anything about rural life is good because most books are about people living in cities or by Chinese who are not poor (which is why they can get their books published in English for me to read).

This book has three sections.  The first had the author rent a car and do quite a bit of driving around northern China.  Loved this part.  I've changed my plan for taking trains around China someday.  We're going to drive instead because now I think it's possible.  I'll say it again- I loved this section.  There was a lot that was familiar from driving around Kyrgyzstan, down to the way hitchhikers flag down rides (we've been on both ends of that).

The second part was where the author rented a house in a village a couple hours outside Beijing.  This is one of the first books I've read about China where a foreign author actually spends a significant amount of time in a village (I should read his Peace Corps book) and it was completely fascinating to see how the village changed so much in the 6 years the author wrote about.  Again, there was a lot that was familiar from Kyrgyzstan.

The last part was good too, but Chinese factories aren't a major interest for me, and I recently read Factory Girls anyway. 

I kept pestering my husband with interesting things I read in here, especially parts that were interesting because I live in Kyrgyzstan.  I've rarely read a book about Kyrgyzstan that made me feel like the author had been in the Kyrgyzstan I'd been in, but even though this book is about China, I felt like the author "got it," it being what I think of as this part of the world, and I loved that feeling.

Destination a Day: United States

New York City
Star Valley, Wyoming
There are some places where I'd love to spend some time in the US.  In no particular order.  Seattle would be on this list too, but it's already been checked off.

Kenai, Alaska
Somewhere on the Oregon Coast

16 April 2012

Destination a Day: Antarctica

I think I'm going to have to rely on my penguin expert to get me here in about 20 years.  It's probably even more unrealistic than Tierra del Fuego.

15 April 2012

God So Loved the World

My mother left a copy of this book at my house when she visited last year and I saved it for Holy Week this year.  Unfortunately, I forgot about it till Holy Friday.

But that's okay, because I like Orthodox Holy Week and Easter as much as the Western version, so I read it this week and very much liked it.  While there's a lot in here, it's in many ways the sort of book I'd have written if I'd been the author, down to many of the specific song choices. 

It's so nice to read a book about Holy Week from an LDS author.

Destination a Day: Moscow or Христос воскрес!

Воистину воскрес!

I'd like to live in Russia on Easter Sunday. 

14 April 2012

Destination a Day: Denmark

See?  I do want to go to some "normal" places.  Denmark's really high on the list because that's where half my ancetors are from.  But even if they weren't, I'd still love to live there for a while.

13 April 2012

Destination a Day: Kamchatka

This is another place I'm not sure that I'd like to actually live, but I really want to visit the geysers in Kamchatka.  The main reason that it's not really practical to live there to do that is that the geysers are only accessible by helicopter and it's not like living an hour from Yellowstone and driving up every week or two like we did a few years ago.  I'm not sure that visiting the geysers once would make up for spending a year in Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky.

But it isn't hot there.  That's a definite plus.

China in Ten Words

I don't remember where I heard about this one, but wherever it was, I'm glad I did.  This is a very good book about one man's experiences in China from the Cultural Revolution on.  His insight and memories about each of the ten words he chooses is valuable and interesting.  Definitely one of the best books about China that I've read.

I Don't Think That Means What You Think It Means

Hilary Rosen is supposed to have taken a shot at Ann Romney because she was a SAHM and everyone's in an uproar.  But I don't think Rosen was talking about SAHMs or the value of the work they do.  She was talking about Ann Romney's personal economic experience.

It wouldn't have mattered if Ann Romney worked every day of her married life for minimum wage or the highest-paying job ever or anything in between because she didn't *need* to work.  Her husband was making plenty of money once he was finished with school.  She couldn't have had personal experience regarding the difficulties women face in this economy because her family has been wealthy for years.  Rosen is right about that.

But.  That doesn't mean Ann Romney can't be knowledgeable or aware or sensitive about this or any topic she hasn't personally experienced, or that her view is worthless. It would be silly to imply that we can only be an expert on our individual situations.  Ann Romney doesn't only understand wealthy, white, American, Mormon women any more than I only understand people just like me.  If that were the rule, then it would be exceedingly rare for any of us to feel that a politician could truly understand us.  That is an unreasonable expectation.

So I'm mildly annoyed that Rosen is implying that Ann Romney can't understand anyone who's not like her, but I don't think she's slamming SAHMs.

12 April 2012

Toronto Neighborhoods

C's comment on living in a Polish neighborhood in Toronto set me off on a search that resulted in this graphic.  Yeah, I could live there. 

Destination a Day: Tierra del Fuego

I think the only reason I can come up with to legitimately live here would be to visit my middle son someday when he is studying penguins here.  Or maybe I'd have to live farther north in Patagonia and visit lots.

11 April 2012

Destination a Day: Goa

For some of these places I don't have a good reason to give for wanting to go there.  But I do.  Like Goa.

10 April 2012


I finally remembered to write down the price for the utilities for the month before we had to give the paid bills to the landlord.  Most of these prices are about the same through the year, but the hot water includes the heat for the apartment, so it's much lower in the summer.  The summer electric bill would be higher with the A/C running too, of course.  Also, since our apartment used to be two separate apartments, the electric bill comes in two parts.  The lower number has the kitchen and one bedroom (fans, lights, stove, and fridge) and the higher one has all the electronic stuff like the computers and the TV.  The stove is the only place we use gas. All the prices have been changed to dollars.

Cold water- $3.25
Electric- $0.70
Electric- $2.95 ($3.65 total)
Gas- $3.25
Trash- $0.67
Hot water- $32

Can't complain when all the utilities come in at less than $45/month in the middle of a cold winter.

Destination a Day: Toronto

I've wanted to live in Toronto for years now, but I've never even been able to visit.  There's so much to see there, and it has a subway and an interesting, but the best thing is that Toronto has the second-highest percentage of foreign-born resident among world cities and is therefore one of the most diverse cities in the world. The city's 911 service can respond to calls in 150 languages.  I want to cook dinner there- I can only imagine the range of ingredients I could find.

09 April 2012

Destination a Day: Lake Baikal

While I'd love to live near Lake Baikal for a while in theory, I doubt there's actually a town or city there that I'd actually like to live in.  Russia isn't really high on my list of places to live (although, as always, I'd move there without question if I had a chance). 

Female Nomad and Friends

You might think I wouldn't have picked this one up, based on all the things I didn't like about the original Female Nomad.  But the concept was interesting enough, at least the food part, that I thought it was worth a try.  It's a collection of essays and stories from a wide variety of authors, very loosely grouped into a few categories.  In fact, the groupings were so loose that I didn't see the connections till I was nearly finished with the book and was annoyed it wasn't more coherently organized.  I felt like I never knew what I was going to get on the next page.

In the intro, the main authors/editors write a lot about testing the recipes, but then they almost seemed an afterthought in the book.  The stories rarely connected with the recipes.  I'd have preferred better writing to well-tested recipes.  There really wasn't much that I'd want to try, and I'm the kind of person that likes to try new recipes.

And that takes me to the individual stories.  Some were simply awful, many were fine, and a few were good.  They were all quick to read so that it wasn't too hard to keep moving through quickly; if it had been any slower, I'd have quit.  But there were some where I knew exactly what the author was talking about (in particular, the story about mailing the letter in France could have been me), and a few shared amazing experiences.  But overall, I felt like it suffered from the same problem the original did- too much about the writer and not enough about the people and places they were in. 

The thing that will ruin a travel book for me the fastest is when the author is more concerned about what they learn about themselves when they travel instead of what they learn about everyone else and the rest of the world.

08 April 2012

Destination a Day: Kyrgyzstan, or, Happy Easter!

This post is about Easter and Kyrgyzstan, which might seem odd, but today it doesn't.

I love Kyrgyzstan in the spring when you can get out of the city or village you live in and watch the world changing.  Even in Bishkek there are forsythias and blossoms and daffodils, and soon there will be tulips.  The floating row covers are out in the fields so there will be local jusay soon and the fields are getting plowed for all sorts of delicious things.  Today was perfect with rain and sun and a beautiful sunset and even a rainbow, which reminded me of the Turkic words for rainbow.

We were out of the city because we went to church on base again- I guess we're becoming the type that just goes to church on Christmas and Easter.  As before, it was a lovely day, and a nice chance to be able to talk to a few other Mormons.  It's such an interesting experience to go on base for so many different reasons, but for now I'll just enjoy that we were able to go to church for a few minutes.

We didn't have time today to go to the Orthodox Church in town where it's Palm Sunday, but when we drove by their service was ending.  Nice memories.

Christ the Lord is Risen Today

March 27, 2005

There aren't very many Easter hymns in our LDS hymnbook. We sing them so rarely that I have specific memories of singing all three. I love all three. I especially like to sing those Easter songs when I have my little green hymnbook on hand.

I took my hymnbook to Jerusalem with me twice. It went to Bethel, where we sang "Nearer, My God, To Thee." We sang "Redeemer of Israel" on top of Mt. Sinai and "Angels We Have Heard on High" in a field near Bethlehem. We would sing praise hymns while we were returning to Jerusalem. I can still hear "Christ the Lord Is Risen Today" in Bethany in the tomb of Lazarus. Singing "More Holiness Give Me" always takes me back to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

I wrote in my hymnbook the names of the places where we sang those songs, and the names of my dear friends' favorite hymns. I remember one friend saying that "O Savior, Thou Who Wearest a Crown" is her favorite hymn while we were at the Garden Tomb. Another loved "Brightly Beams Our Father's Mercy." And even "Love at Home," which I don't particularly like, takes on special meaning when I remember singing it with an Iraqi family in Jordan who had escaped Iraq and joined the Church in Irbid, Jordan.

I know I've been writing about Jerusalem a lot recently. Easter is the time I think about Jerusalem the most. I miss Jerusalem. I don't think I ever felt more alive than when I was there.

Pray for the peace of Jerusalem:
They shall prosper that love thee.
Peace be within thy walls,
and prosperity within thy palaces

If I forget thee, O Jerusalem,
Let my right hand forget her cunning
If I do not remember thee,
Let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth;
If I do not prefer Jerusalem
Above my chief joy.

Happy Easter. Christ the Lord is risen today.

April 8, 2007

Happy Easter!

Christ, the Lord, is risen today, Alleluia!
Sons of men and angels say, Alleluia!
Raise your joys and triumphs high, Alleluia!
Sing, ye heavens, and earth, reply, Alleluia!

Love’s redeeming work is done, Alleluia!
Fought the fight, the battle won, Alleluia!
Lo! the Sun’s eclipse is over, Alleluia!
Lo! He sets in blood no more, Alleluia!

Vain the stone, the watch, the seal, Alleluia!
Christ hath burst the gates of hell, Alleluia!
Death in vain forbids His rise, Alleluia!
Christ hath opened paradise, Alleluia!

Lives again our glorious King, Alleluia!
Where, O death, is now thy sting? Alleluia!
Once He died our souls to save, Alleluia!
Where thy victory, O grave? Alleluia!

Soar we now where Christ hath led, Alleluia!
Following our exalted Head, Alleluia!
Made like Him, like Him we rise, Alleluia!
Ours the cross, the grave, the skies, Alleluia!

Hail, the Lord of earth and Heaven, Alleluia!
Praise to Thee by both be given, Alleluia!
Thee we greet triumphant now, Alleluia!
Hail, the resurrection, thou, Alleluia!

King of glory, Soul of bliss, Alleluia!
Everlasting life is this, Alleluia!
Thee to know, Thy power to prove, Alleluia!
Thus to sing and thus to love, Alleluia!

Hymns of praise then let us sing, Alleluia!
Unto Christ, our heavenly King, Alleluia!
Who endured the cross and grave, Alleluia!
Sinners to redeem and save. Alleluia!

But the pains that He endured, Alleluia!
Our salvation have procured, Alleluia!
Now above the sky He’s King, Alleluia!
Where the angels ever sing. Alleluia!

Jesus Christ is risen today, Alleluia!
Our triumphant holy day, Alleluia!
Who did once upon the cross, Alleluia!
Suffer to redeem our loss. Alleluia!

And one of my favorite Easter stories. I like to think of the two as being Mary and her husband Cleophas:

That very day two of them were going to a village named Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, and they were talking with each other about all these things that had happened. While they were talking and discussing together, Jesus himself drew near and went with them. But their eyes were kept from recognizing him.

And he said to them, "What is this conversation that you are holding with each other as you walk?"

And they stood still, looking sad. Then one of them, named Cleopas, answered him, "Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?"

And he said to them, "What things?"

And they said to him, "Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, a man who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, and how our chief priests and rulers delivered him up to be condemned to death, and crucified him. But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things happened. Moreover, some women of our company amazed us. They were at the tomb early in the morning, and when they did not find his body, they came back saying that they had even seen a vision of angels, who said that he was alive. Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but him they did not see."

And he said to them, "O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?" And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.

So they drew near to the village to which they were going. He acted as if he were going farther, but they urged him strongly, saying, "Stay with us, for it is toward evening and the day is now far spent." So he went in to stay with them. When he was at table with them, he took the bread and blessed and broke it and gave it to them. And their eyes were opened, and they recognized him. And he vanished from their sight.

They said to each other, "Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scriptures?" And they rose that same hour and returned to Jerusalem. And they found the eleven and those who were with them gathered together, saying, "The Lord has risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!" Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he was known to them in the breaking of the bread.

07 April 2012

Holy Saturday and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre

I've always regretted not going to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre on Orthodox Holy Saturday the spring I was in Jerusalem.  If I'd tried harder I'd probably have been able to go, but with the going-out-with-three-people rule that we had, sometimes you couldn't do everything you wanted to.  As I recall, the only person who was willing to go with me was my future husband which is quite possibly why I married him later.

The Church of the Holy Sepulchre doesn't really have a good reputation among many Christians, especially Protestants and Mormons, although that of course is a generalization.  I've always thought it unfortunate that we so easily dismiss the church because its decoration is so different from ours; or because the people worship differently; or because it's dark and always under construction; or because of political, religious, cultural, and historical reasons, there is often conflict there. It's a complex building that you won't necessarily understand just by going inside once or twice, or if you've already decided it's not for you.  Give it a chance.

The traditional event in the church on Orthodox Holy Saturday is the Holy Fire.  Patriarchs and archbishops of various denominations sing, pray, and lead processions to the tomb of Christ, which the Greek Orthodox Patriarch enters and soon emerges with 33 candles which are said to have been miraculously lit.  The flames from those candles are shared and spread amongst the many people inside the church.

I don't really care where the flame comes from or if it doesn't burn people as some claim, or whatever.  I love the symbolism of that light being spread among so many different Christians from all over the world, a flame which represents the Resurrection.  That's one of the best symbols out there, I think.

Destination a Day: Jerusalem

I figured today would be a good day to post about Jerusalem since Holy Week is one of the times I miss Jerusalem most.  I know it's very different there now than when I was there last in the mid 1990s (stupid wall), but I'd live there with my family in a heartbeat.

06 April 2012

Holy Friday, Mournful Friday

Originally posted March 25, 2005:

I prefer this name for this day. Good Friday has never sounded right to me. We asked a Christian in Jerusalem how they said the name of this day in Arabic, and he said al-Juma al-Haziin, which means Mournful Friday. So I call it that now.

We spent the morning walking along the Via Dolorosa (yes, I know it's far from accurate, but isn't this all symbolic anyway?) to visit the stations of the cross. The first 9 stations are in the city, and the last 5 are in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. This was another day when it felt wonderful to walk along the streets of Jerusalem with such a large number of Christians from all over the world.

Many groups were carrying crosses. Others were led by priests. We didn't spend much time in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre this day, but the various sects all have rituals they perform in the Church this day.

Originally posted April 13, 2006:

And he bearing his cross went forth into a place called the place of a skull, which is called in the Hebrew Golgotha: Where they crucified him... John 19:17-18

And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani? which is, being interpreted, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? Mark 15:34

And when Jesus had cried with a loud voice, he said, Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit: and having said thus, gave up the ghost. Luke 23: 46-47

When the even was come, there came a rich man of Arimathaea, named Joseph, who also himself was Jesus' disciple: He went to Pilate, and begged the body of Jesus. Then Pilate commanded the body to be delivered. And when Joseph had taken the body, he wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, And laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn out in the rock: and he rolled a great stone to the door of the sepulchre, and departed. And there was Mary Magdalene, and the other Mary, sitting over against the sepulchre. Matthew 27:57-60

Arab Christians call this day Mournful Friday or Sad Friday instead of the more common Good Friday that we hear in the West. I prefer Mournful or Holy Friday. This day commemorates the crucifixion of the Lord, and his being laid in the tomb.

I remember the Church of the Holy Sepulchre today. There are many Protestant and LDS Christians who don't like this site (partly because they have no claim on the site like the Roman Catholics and many Eastern Orthodox sects), but I love the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. They call it the Church of the Resurrection in Arabic. Again, I don't care if this church is the actual site of the crucifixion, but there is a lot of historical evidence and a long tradition that makes this site the most likely site in the area.

The history of the building is absolutely fascinating, but I just love to be in the building itself and see the remnants of the faith of so many Christians over almost 2,000 years. One of my favorite places in the church are the stairs leading down to St. Helena's Chapel where countless Christian pilgrims have carved crosses into the stone over many centuries. I love to see this visible symbol of the devotion of those faithful people.

The first time I was in Jerusalem, the dome over the traditional tomb of Christ was being repaired (and had been under construction for decades). The rotunda surrounding the tomb was rather dark. But when I went back a year later, the dome had been completed. The rotunda was filled with light. It's now one of my favorite places in the church.

There are many hymns that are appropriate today. "There Is a Green Hill Far Away" is one of our family's favorites now (the boys like it since it is short), but I'll always remember singing "There Is A Green Hill Near at Hand" instead. We also like "Upon the Cross of Calvary." But it is "O Savior, Thou Who Wearest a Crown" that I remember singing at the Garden Tomb to commemorate this day.

O Savior, thou who wearest
A crown of piercing thorn,
The pain thou meekly bearest,
Weigh'd down by grief and scorn.

The soldiers mock and flail thee;
For drink they give thee gall;
Upon the cross they nail thee
To die, O King of all.

No creature is so lowly,
No sinner so depraved,
But feels thy presence holy,
And thru thy love is saved.

Tho craven friends betray thee,
They feel thy love's embrace;
The very foes who slay thee
Have access to thy grace.

Thy sacrifice transcended
The mortal law's demand;
Thy mercy is extended
To ev'ry time and land.

No more can Satan harm us.
Tho long the fight may be,
Nor fear of death alarm us;
We live, O Lord, thru thee.

What praises can we offer
To think thee, Lord most high?
In our place thou didst suffer;
In our place thou didst die,

By heaven's plan appointed,
To ransom us, our King.
O Jesus, the anointed,
To thee our love we bring.

Destination a Day: Hobart

My middle son has wanted to live in Australia for years and I'd like to too, although I'm not necessarily too picky about the city if we're doing the long-term tourist thing.  He just wants to see penguins.  Often.  If there's another Australian city I should pick, let me know.

05 April 2012

Destination a Day: Montevideo

What's not to like about Montevideo?  Diverse population, good food, an easier language, interesting architecture, a fascinating history, and a decent climate.  Yeah, I'd go there.

Maundy Thursday

From three years ago:

There's so much that you can talk about on Maundy Thursday. The Garden of Gethsemane is so important, but there's something about Jesus washing the feet of the disciples that I love. Here are two old posts about this day:

March 24, 2005

On Thursday morning of Holy Week, we went to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, which happens to be one of my favorite places in Jerusalem. We went to watch the Greek Patriarch performing the Ceremony of the Washing of the Feet. The Church was crowded with people so we climbed up on the roof to get a better view.

It was a fairly long ceremony because the Greek Patriarch had to have his heavily decorated robe removed; he wore a much simpler white robe for the ceremony. He washed the feet of 12 of his clerics while prayers were recited. I can still hear the sound in my mind. Afterwards, he sprayed the crowd with the leftover water from the ceremony.

We didn't see the Latin Patriarch celebrating the washing of the feet, but it is a much simpler process inside the Church (if the weather is decent, the Greeks do it outside). Afterwards, The Latins go to the traditional site of the Upper Room on Mount Zion.

The Armenians don't do their ceremony in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre at all; they use the Cathedral of St. James in the Armenian Quarter of Jerusalem. The Copts use the Church of St. Anthony in the Coptic Patriarchate. The Coptic Archbishop washes the feet of the entire Coptic congregation.

April 12, 2006

And he came out, and went, as he was wont, to the mount of Olives; and his disciples also followed him. And when he was at the place, he said unto them, Pray that ye enter not into temptation. And he was withdrawn from them about a stone’s cast, and knelt down, and prayed, Saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done. And there appeared an angel unto him from heaven, strengthening him. And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground. ~Luke 22:39-44

Out of all the days of Holy Week, Maundy Thursday seems to be the most overlooked, but it is one of the most important days, possibly even more so than Easter Sunday because Thursday night was the time Jesus Christ suffered for our sins in the Garden of Gethsemane. Without that, the Resurrection wouldn't have been worth nearly so much.

I've spent a lot of time in the traditional Garden of Gethsemane. There are two separate sections, both filled with old olive trees. Neither sections are particularly big, and it doesn't really matter to me if the traditional sites are the actual places where Jesus actually stood. There is a large church on the site, the Church of all Nations. It's not my favorite church in Jerusalem (Dominus Flevit on the Mount of Olives is one I like much better), but it is a lovely building.

But my favorite place there is to the garden. Once when I was in the garden on a Saturday morning in October, one of my roommates introduced me to the hymn "Reverently and Meekly Now." These are the first and fourth verses. I also like to remember "How Great the Wisdom and the Love" today.

Rev'rently and meekly now,
Let they head most humbly bow.
Think of me, thou ransomed one;
Think what I for thee have done.

With my blood that dripped like rain,
Sweat in agony of pain,
With my body on the tree
I have ransomed even thee.

At the throne I intercede;
For thee ever do I plead.
I have loved thee as thy friend,
With a love than cannot end.

Be obedient, I implore,
Prayerful, watchful, evermore,
And be constant unto me,
That thy Savior I may be.

04 April 2012

To the Peripheries of Mormondom

I lucked into a chance to review this elsewhere and get the actual book mailed to me (this is one of the first paper books I've read in a year), or I wouldn't have read it yet since it's not available as an ebook from what I can find.  It's basically an expanded scholarly edition of David O. McKay Around the World.  I thought it was very good and it answered many of the questions I had when I first read the book.  This is definitely the edition to read.

Destination a Day: Cairo

I either have to just post one Cairo mosque photo or I'll have to do a thousand (literally).  I've only spent about three weeks in Cairo and that was nowhere near enough to see everything I'd like to see there.  This is Ibn Tulun, my husband's favorite mosque.  My favorite is the Qaytbay Mausoleum.

03 April 2012

Destination a Day: Prague

Yes, there is a place in Europe I really want to live.

Ginger and Ganesh

I browsed into this one at the library and was both intrigued and cautious at the same time about its subtitle: Adventures in Indian Cooking, Culture, and Love.  Unfortunately, the love part of the title took way too much space and I barely made it through the book.

There's a great idea behind the book- the author posted an Craigslist offering to pay people to teach her to cook Indian food. She goes to a variety of homes of women from around India, learning great recipes and meeting good people.  I haven't been able to try any since I can barely manage to find what I need for the Indian recipes I already cook, but I'd be interested in checking this out again later for the recipes.  These aren't just your standard Indian cookbook recipes (although there are plenty of standards).

The cooking part was probably a little less than half the book and the rest was the author lecturing about spirituality, guarding the hearth (really), wishing she weren't divorced but telling us she doesn't want to be married, and agonizing about her current relationship.  If she can cook as well as she can agonize, then these recipes should be amazing.

This would have been a much better article than book, although there are way too many recipes here for a magazine article.  I imagine if Eat, Pray, Love is your thing that you might love this one.

02 April 2012


I can't tell you how interesting I find Burma right now.  After all these years, it's hard to believe that the country's government is actually willing to make some changes; it would be far more believable to see the election results ignored and Aung San Suu Kyi back in prison.  But I can't help hoping that this is the beginning of some real changes in the country.

How refreshing it would be to see a country that was as restrictive as Burma choose to change without significant violence.  It's a dream, but it hasn't been dashed quite yet.

Destination a Day: Xinjiang

Next on the list has to be Xinjiang.  I'd live anywhere in the province given a chance, but would probably rather not live in Urumqi just because it's so huge.  But Urumqi would still do nicely.

I have been to Xinjiang, but I only spent two nights there between flights and saw just a little of Urumqi.  After Uzbekistan, it's definitely next on my list.



01 April 2012

All Glory, Laud, and Honor: Happy Palm Sunday

Originally posted April 9, 2006

And as he went, they spread their clothes in the way. And when he was come nigh, even now at the descent of the mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works they had seen; Saying, Blessed be the King that cometh in the name of the Lord: peace in heaven and glory in the highest. And some of the Pharisees from among the multitude said unto him, Master, rebuke thy disciples. And he answered, and said unto them, I tell you that, if these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out. ~Luke 19:36-40

Palm Sunday is one of my favorite Sundays out of the entire year, and one that is sadly ignored by many members of the [LDS] Church. I started celebrating it [15] years ago when I was in Jerusalem and celebrated all of Holy Week with the Orthodox Christians in Jerusalem. I prefer Orthodox Easter because it is usually less touristy and there are a lot more locals participating.

We met at Bethphage on top of the Mount of Olives then walked down the Mount of Olives through Lion's Gate to the Church of St. Anne where we sang and shouted hosanna. It was a somewhat familiar experience since I had been at the dedication of the Mount Timpanogos Temple the year before.

I always remember that particular Sunday on Palm Sunday now, but I also like to have an official beginning to this Holy Week when the most important event in history took place. So much that was good and bad happened this week, and I like to commemorate the entire week instead of just Easter Sunday. It's nice to begin and end the week with happy events.

And don't forget Saturday, the day before Palm Sunday, when Mary annointed Jesus (John 12:1-9). Unless it was on Tuesday (Mark 14:3-9).

So many of the praise hymns like "Praise to the Lord, the Almighty" and "Come, O Thou King of Kings" are beautiful songs to sing today. "All Glory, Laud and Honor" is one of my favorites:

All glory, laud, and honor
To thee, Redeemer, King
To whom the lips of children
Made sweet hosannas ring

Thou art the King of Israel
Thou David's royal Son
Who in the Lord's name comest
The King and Blessed One

The company of angels
Are praising thee on high
And mortal men and all things
Created make reply

The people of the Hebrews
With palms before thee went
Our praise and love and anthems
Before thee we present

To thee, before thy passion
They sang their hymns of praise
To thee, now high exalted
Our melody we raise

Thou didst accept accept their praises
Accept the love we bring
Who in all good delightest
Thou good and gracious king.

Destination a Day: Uzbekistan

It looks like we'll be back in the US in the fall which is okay, as long as I don't have to stay there forever, which is defined as more than 3 years.  Last month the photos were mostly about Kyrgyzstan and life here, but this month is going to be about places I want to go, especially places I want to live.  I was reading elsewhere that it's supposed to take 5 years for you to really settle into a new place and I guess that could be true.  But I like our system of moving often and sort of being perpetual tourists, but tourists who get to stay in a new place for a year or so.  And if I have 30 days' worth of places yet to live, I think I'd better not plan on 5 years anywhere

So, of course the first day is going to be about Uzbekistan.  I've lived next to Uzbekistan for more than two years and have yet to set foot in it, and I don't think that'll change before we leave, but we'll get there someday to fulfill the mission of this blog.  Not really about that last part.  I just liked the line from the poem.

First is Bukhara.  Even though Samarqand's in the title, I'm at least as interested in going to Bukara.

Here's the Registan in Samarqand.  For the record, I spell is Samarqand because I learned Arabic before I learned Russian or Uzbek.

And here's Khiva.  I wouldn't want to live here quite so much, since it's a little out of the way, but I'd take anything in Uzbekistan.  Here's the source for this photo.