Saturday, November 6, 2010
Shepherds and Halloween
Another great week! Things are getting really intense, so many things going on at the same time, it is getting a bit brutal to try to keep up. We had a very nice Sabbath. In the evening we watched the Nativity Story, which was pretty good at getting you to think about the way these large events played out in the day-to-day life of Mary and Joseph and others. What an incredible thing.
Watching it was in preparation for the Sunday field trip. The whole family got to come since it was on Sunday. I especially enjoyed that. It was my first field trip with this new group. It was good, but they wandered a bit more and were a bit harder to keep together. I am going to have to work on that with them. We have so much to do in the next while we will really need to all work together.
We went to the Herodian, and talked about Herod. What a crazy life, and what a negative impact he had on so many people. He did build some cool stuff, and we went through some of the grandest today. It was fun to see some bits and pieces of history come together for my family and the students. And my family had a great time with these guys.
When we were done there we went to Shepherd’s Fields for a program of talking about the birth of the Savior. They are great fields still used by shepherds today, and just on the other side of the hill from Bethlehem. We had some great musical numbers, some journal time, many wonderful testimonies, and we sang together. Incredibly, a herd of sheep went through while we were writing in our journals. We also loved hearing the bells from the Church of the Nativity ring while we were writing. I think everyone there was touched by the gift God gave us in sending his Only Begotten to the earth, right there within our eyesight. So many testimonies were about the reality of the and the great love of God in sending his Son. My family was really touched, they were truly edified. And I believe it was one of the best experiences the students have had.
The next day was a day of trying to get a lot of things done. In the next two weeks, before we leave for Galilee, I have to get ready for 8 field trips (these usually take me about half a day or more each), as well as teach my classes, make a midterm and a study guide, and take the students on 4 different field trips on that same time. I hope I can get it all in. Plus I have some guests coming this week and next that I will entertain a little. And on each of my days that are largely clear for working I am ending up meeting with individual students for fairly long periods of time. I love that, and it is the real reason I am here, and is more important than getting the field trips ready (and a lot more fun), but it all adds up to a pretty hectic schedule. Yikes! But we will get it all done somehow.
Tuesday was a great day. That evening the students hosted our families for trick-or-treating. They all bought candy, and all came up with the most creative costumes you can imagine. With hardly any time and hardly any resources they were so good. Our kids loved going around to their homes and had a ton of fun with them. Then we all had a chili and corn bread dinner together, and then a Halloween party that they put together, with so many fun and creative games. Our kids had so very much fun. And they got the best face-painting jobs I have ever, ever seen. You would not believe how good the butterflies the girls received were. Wow!
Other highlights included taking the students, and my oldest two, on a late night tour of the Kotel tunnel, where we could see the full length of the wall that surrounded Herod’s temple, and walk where the Savior very well may have walked. It was very cool. We also went on a field trip along the separation wall with a guide, and talked about some if its politics. Very informative, and somewhat emotionally exhausting. Such a complex issue, and I hope we are helping the students understand how complex it is.
I tried a new experiment this week. The bread here really isn't good, and we don't eat it much. Can't get any without a rye flavor (well you can, but its difficult), and none of us like the rye flavor much. So, instead of French Toast, I made French pita. Same way of cooking, just pita. It may be even better than French toast. Its harder to cut, but more filling, and was a hit. See, we can adapt.
We also went as a family (except for Jacob), along with many students, to a synagogue service. How wonderful, to see so many people worshipping God so joyously. The congregation called themselves conservative, but they seem more liberal than that. They have a female rabbi, the men and women sit together, and they were not the least bit solemn. The rabbi danced with her children during the songs, we all clapped and sang along, the kids wandered around a bit during the service, went downstairs for a little kid time, then came up and sang to us. While it was all joyful, it was also easy to see the real worship in the singing and chanting. We had a great sermon by a congregation member, who gave a wonderful talk about the three religions there getting along and being their very best. It was quite profound. My younger kids could have behaved a little bit better, but all in all it was a very nice experience.
I am also really enjoying my New Testament class. I am getting insights as I study personally that I have never gotten before, and I am enjoying going through these scriptures with the students. This is a great group. I am coming to understand the Savior’s life and love and teachings, and especially his love for his Father, more than I have ever before. Things are really incredible.