Saturday, September 11, 2010

Wow! Sept. 6-11

This week was even better than last week. On Sunday we took the kids into the Old City and showed them the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. We taught them about it ahead of time, and about respecting different ways of worshiping and of how they can learn from what others do and become deeper spiritually. We had a very nice walk into the city, running into students from the Center everywhere we went (you have to be careful now that they are here, one group came up as I thought I had lost Tashara in the city and was looking frantically for her, another as I was getting after my kids).

When we got to the Holy Sepulchre, we told them about the rock that is immediately inside on which many thought the Savior's body was anointed. Several people were there kneeling before it, touching it, and praying. I told the children they could pray there if they liked, only if they wanted to, and however they liked. Kaleb knelt down by the rock to pray, and soon everyone was, even Jacob who didn't know why. But I could see that most of them were amazed to be in a place where maybe the Savior's dead body had lain, and were deeply touched and started to spontaneously kneel and pray. As they prayed, for quite a while, both Julianne and I were overwhelmed by the feeling that they were, at that moment, having their testimony of the reality of the death and resurrection of the Savior deepened. It was becoming more real and more powerful to them. Just that moment was enough to make the whole trip here worth it, it is that for which we had hoped as we planned to come here. I was overwhelmed with how wonderful it was to have our children's testimonies strengthened so vividly. I cannot express the bliss of those few moments.

They had many powerful and profound moments in the Church that day. It was a glorious day.

The next morning I led the students on the first field trip I would do with all 40 of them on a bus. It was thrilling. They ate it up, and it went incredibly well. I remember being here as a student, and on that first day looking at the valley where Joshua made the sun stand still, and thinking, "wow, I can't believe I'm really looking at that place". It was so exciting to see the students have that experience, as time after time I showed them where a real, yet miraculous and almost legendary event had taken place. This is the most fun kind of teaching in the world, and the field trip was great!

On Tuesday we had a great class, I got a lot done, and the children seemed to again have a good day at school. It seems like it was the right thing to take the kids out. BJ and I went to scouts tonight with some various people in the city. It is an interesting and intense group of Lone Scouts, and I think this will be great for BJ and me. We were proud of ourselves for having figured out how to navigate through the city a bit.

On Wednesday I taught, Julianne and I took Sabrina and Jacob into the Old City in strollers to get Sabrina some birthday presents. We sprinted there and back, working up a good sweat with all the steep climbs pushing strollers. As soon as we got back I joined the other faculty members as we went to a field trip prep to Jericho and the surrounding environs. I really, really enjoy going over those places with my colleagues, I learn a lot. They have done some great excavations at Jericho, it is a better site than ever before.

I got home in time to spend a little time with the kids, and then Julianne and I went to have dinner with our guest speaker for the evening, and go to her presentation.

Overall I have been able to spend more time with the kids than normal. I am working mostly in our home. It is a smaller walk from my home to my classroom than it is from my office to my classroom in Provo, and my office is just a bit further than that. I can involve the family in much of what I do. I am very busy, but much of that business can be done with my kids, and even more with my wife.

The kids got out of school early today (Wed.) and will be out the rest of the week, because it is Rosh HaShanna.

On Thursday we went with the Judd's to a great beach south of Tel Aviv. Our first time to really swim in the very, very warm Mediterranean Sea. We met there the family of one of Kaleb's friends from school. It was a lot of fun, a great beach. On the way home we tried to stop at a few places to get some stuff for Sabrina. It turns out that really no where, nothing at all, is open on Rosh HaShanna. We couldn't buy food or go find an open McDonald's The whole country is pretty much shut down. Oh well, we had a good day.

On Friday we celebrated Sabrina's birthday (after I taught class). We did presents and had a small party. Sabrina was having the time of her life. Then we went with all the students to the Western Wall. Our kids had so much fun walking with the students, who took such special interest in them and made them feel so good. Especially Sabrina, who was wished happy birthday by everyone and sung to a few times. She felt like she was on top of the world. The kids had a great experience seeing everyone worship, and going up to touch the wall. They asked a lot of good questions, and seemed to learn a lot. Our scripture study has been incredible, they are really getting into this and learning a lot.

This was a nice Sabbath, other than my being made the second counselor in the Branch Presidency. I taught the lesson in Young Men's today, which was interesting because not only did we Skype with the people in the Galilee branch (this is typical, they have only one young man, so we band together), but today they had an extra individual who only spoke Hebrew, so we did some with translation. Fun but complicated.

After church the whole family went with all the students to the Garden Tomb. Again the students were incredible to our family, and the kids are enjoying being with them. They had a very good experience there, and again the kids asked a lot of questions. They seem to really be learning a lot. It is such a lucky thing to be here with them.

A few other interesting things this week. We figured out that with some schedule changes, if the older kids went to Egypt with us in a week, they would not have to miss much school to do so. So we tried to get them onto the trip at this late of notice, hoping there was hotel space, train and plane space still to be had. It turns out that there is, so the older three will come with Julianne and I to Egypt in a week! The younger three will stay with Jill Judd and her younger children. She will have her work cut out for her. Wow! This will be very cool. Also, Ramadan ended this week, and there has been a lot of intense celebration. Rosh Hashanna has also been a fun learning experience for us. We are getting a good education. We are grateful to be here!


  1. I'm really enjoying your updates. Your kids are definitely getting a lot better Biblical education than the Veggietales one my kids are getting...
    Sounds like great times.

  2. I get so confused. Your Sabbath is on Saturday. Our's is on Sunday. Right now I am almost done with Sunday and you are already half way through Monday. I guess that means that on Saturday evening (for me) we are both enjoying our non-Sabbath weekend day. Okay ... now I am less confused.

    Nice to read up on your adventures. It does sound like your lives are an "adventure".