April 20, 2014

A Glimpse of the Book of Mormon Bountiful (Oct '11)


The next leg of our journey was the one that I was most nervous about. The whole group was about to start a 4 day camping trip in isolated Bountiful/Khor Karfot and although I would visit it for a few hours, I was to stay behind ALONE with my 2 babies in Dulkut. Again that's all alone in the  Middle-East, insert sinister voice and maybe a du du dummm for good measure. Granted things had gone pretty smoothly thus far in the trip but I still didn't really know what to expect about being on my own. It seemed dangerous and a bit overwhelming, not to mention I was worried about Varian and the group and how safe they would be.


We decided to have me stay behind for safety for the boys. We thought the camping would just be too hot and dirty and isolated for them. We didn't know if there'd be snakes or other poisonous creatures. Chad and Warren and had seen some type of mountain lion tracks on previous trips. We just decided it would be better to have them stay in the town. The night before I was feeling pretty worried and apprehensive of the whole thing. We weren't entirely sure there'd be somewhere for me to stay in Dulkut or if I'd be driving back the few hours on my own (through armed guard) back to our hotel in Salalah, and be there on my own.


I was also worried about getting our kids to Khor Karfot- as our plan was to get in a little fisherman dingy and boat there. We hauled life jackets in our suitcases for the boys just for this one day- but we are pretty terrible swimmers ourselves. I had prayed and wondered if we shouldn't even take them there at all. It's so hard to know what to do.  We sat on the balcony at night and I had Varian give me a priesthood blessing (We're members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (aka Mormons) click HERE for a larger explanation on preisthood blessings.)

The blessing did fill me with a lot of peace and reassurance. A blessing is something personal and sacred and hence it isn't something we publish, but one part I will share said that Heavenly Father knows the love and concern I have for my family and that by my faith and prayers He would send angels to guard them and keep them safe. It was such a beautiful message and the reassurance I was looking for to know if we'd be safe- safe to get over there, safe apart, safe on my own, Varian safe camping...etc. And believe me I kept up praying the whole 4 days, and really put my faith in the promise of that blessing. I was so grateful for it.


My faith was a bit tested as we boarded the boats in the scorching heat of the mid-day sun, and forced our tired boys into life jackets. They both started screaming and going over those big choppy waves I did think we were a bit crazy. One of the nice fishermen that were helping us gave me this umbrella had for Reid and Kathrine helped hold it over us to give him shade while I sang in his ear and got him to calm down, and I think even fall asleep.


Even though it was just a small boat and a short ride I did feel such an insight into how Sariah must have felt. Loading up her whole family in a boat and sailing towards the unknown. How terrifying in ways. How she must have had faith and prayed for angels to encircle her family for protection.

We didn't know how much time I would have at Khor Karfot, if it would be a few minutes or a few hours. I was going to go back with the fishermen. Obviously it wasn't a lot of time to contribute to the expedition much, so the main plan I had was to use the metal detector on the beach (also on my bucket list of things to do.) As soon as we landed Chad ran it over to me and I began a very fast and desperate attempt to find metal ancient artifacts- sadly my attempts were unsuccessful- but it was crazy hot, and the whole group was unloading and getting ready to haul their things a bit inland, and we were taking photos...it was a lot to get in.


So we left the beach and began the trek inland- probably about 10 ish minutes or so, but it was extremely hot. It was nice to get to the shade and see the fresh water spring. Again look how lush and beautiful it was- especially compared to the dry sandy desert from before. No wonder they called it Bountiful!


Here's a shot of the whole group, and yes that's me holding a machete.


The ground was full of these little prickles that I had to pull out of my skin. Unfortunately I decided to pull off my long baby wrap to cool off and it got covered in the nasty things. I spent over an hour that night pulling them out and washing/clogging up my hotel sink.

Above Kathrine helped shield my as I fed Reid and we rested in the shade. After all I still was in the Middle-East where women cover their ankles- I can only imagine what they think about breastfeeding. I wish I could have stayed longer, but Salim and his friends were waiting to take the boys and me back to Dulkut. So off we trekked back to the beach.

Salim stopped to show us this local fruit that grew there that we could eat.

Life jackets were put back on and then I had to kiss Varian goodbye and get on the boat to leave alone. Just the idea of having both babies on the boat by myself to Dulkut was overwhelming.


I sat Reid on my lap and let Jaren sit/stand right next to me while I held onto his life jacket straps like a leash with a death grip. There was no way he was falling off that boat. So obviously I wasn't completely alone. Our local friends were there to drive the boat and help me if needed. And Actually Salim was my helper- Jaren kept laughing and jumping at ever giant wave wanting to go higher and higher. But then he would drop his binky out into the muddy water of the boat and Salim would hold it over into the salt water to clean it. Jaren became very attached to his binky this trip. I was a bit anti, but it was a bit of comfort away from home in a daily schedule of craziness and unfamiliarity. So we were a bit lenient with his binky time.

Thankfully, we made it back to the town all in one dry and alive piece. (Leah told us on her last expedition one of the boats capsized trying to make it back out. Can you imagine had that happened to me with two little babies (and not as important but still awful- your cameras...) How terrifying/frustrating. Again, I'm so grateful for that blessing!) Later I'll post more on Bountiful itself and Varian's experience there and the requirements listed in the Book of Mormon.

ps: We didn't want to take our nice cameras over on the boats with us and so I'm borrowing lots of other people's photos for this post. The letters next to some pictures indicate which person took them in order of appearance (with links for Felicity and Alana who have their own blog/websites). Thanks guys!
W: Warren
F: Felicity
K: Kathrine
A: Alana
C: Claire

April 9, 2014

On the Road Again... (Oman 2011)

My last few posts have been more infomative, I thought I would make this one more simple. These are just some of the shots from driving around those days in Salalah and on the way to Dulkut.


I didn't get this shot. We were a few cars back. But I love how Claire captured the camel almost mirroring the camel crossing sign. It's probably one of my favorites of the trip. 

We stopped at this lookout and saw dolphins and sea turtles below.


I'm pretty sure this is overlooking Salalah and that the picture below is one of the Sultan's palaces, but that would need to be confirmed. The mosque was just one of many that we saw along our road trips. 5 times a day a Muslim man would sing the call to prayer. It was beautiful really and there was a bit of mysterious, foreign romance to it. Until we stayed across the street from one in Jerusalem and the song would come blaring through our windows at 5 am waking up our travel-weary babies. 

This was a guard tower that I quickly snatched a picture of. There's something a bit ominous about taking a road trip through barriers and giant mounted machine guns!


I was quite struck with how lifeless and depressing the landscape was (see some other shots below), other than right on the water. The ocean will always be breathtaking to me!  That shot above is one Felicity took. I think it's so beautiful!

We stopped at this blow hole which was fun and refreshing for some. :) I like this shot of Jaren walking with his Grandpa. My mom had a thing for taking and/or painting pictures of people's backs. She did a painting of my younger brother walking with my Grandpa that has always been one of my favorites!

I grew up in Utah by the Rocky mountains and so when I would read in the Book of Mormon how Lehi took his family from Jerusalem to journey in the wilderness I always pictured a dense forest full of trees and undergrowth. I never really stopped to think about it or how opposite the geography of that area offers until this trip. But that area is dry and hot and you can't help but sympathize a little with the "murmurings" that took place as they traveled through this with children and giving birth and trying to find food and water. What a trial that journey must have been for Lehi, Sariah and their family!

It also brought a greater appreciation and understanding of how happy they were to then reach the land of Bountiful that was green and full of fruit and honey. After traveling in such a dry barren wasteland I would have rejoiced as well! (More of the greeny-pretty shots in a next post).


Ah, my sweet boys. So good for being cooped up in carseat-less cars :{ for so long. I love both of their faces here and could kiss them forever!

I often find myself noticing people on the street and wondering what their life is like, what are their hopes and dreams and disappointments? Where are they going? Who do they love? I really am intrigued by this photo of these two women walking together down the street. I wish I could know the answers to those questions. 

Stopping for lunch.

Stopping for camels (I love the shot of Jaren and Warren).

Stopping for caves and a bit of impromptu rock climbing.


A frankincense tree- they cut the bark to let the resin seep out and harden into "tears." It can be used as medicine, as incense/perfume, as oils, in religious rituals...etc.

This was Wadi Sayq the riverbed that eventually opens up into the green valley of Karfot and where Lehi's family most likely followed. It was exciting to see. I could picture them with all their camels and supplies and family working their way through to see the beautiful beach and valley below.

# Photos by Claire
* Photos by Felicity