I have gotten behind again, but things have gone so quickly and have been so full, especially emotionally, that it has been difficult to keep up. We had a wonderful time each night of Hanukkah celebrating it by lighting candles, having treats, etc. I was busy out-of-my-mind trying to get field trip preparations in, make exams, grade exams, etc. Here are a few of the more fateful experiences.
On Tuesday, Dec. 7, we went as a family to the Western Wall to see them celebrate Hanukkah there. Dear Sister Judd dropped us off so that we could make it in time. We missed the lighting of one large menorah/hanukkiah, but were able to see very well the blessing pronounced on the one down by the wall and then see it lit. Then we were able to go right up to it. It was very cool. I think our family enjoyed seeing that. Then we had scouts that night, and our Jewish leader went through Hanukkah traditions for us, and then we lit another Hanukkiah, and then we did it again as a family. Three lightings in one night, pretty good.
The next night I gave my lecture at Hebrew University on the pyramids of Snefru. It was not too well attended, which is not surprising since it was the last night of Hanukkah, but it went well and there were great questions. I enjoyed it very much.
The next day Frank and I, and later Kent, walked through about half of the places we would take the students on the field trip at the beginning of next week. This is incredible stuff we will do with them. That night we went to see the school Christmas pageant. It was so wonderful to be able to go to a school where they were not afraid of doing something about the Savior. It was a little pop-rockish for me, and I spent at least half my time chasing Jacob and Sabrina around outside, losing them for a panicked little while, and then herding everyone around. But it was a great night, and the kids were so good. I do have great kids.
The very next night was the students’ Christmas concert. It was great, I loved the numbers they put on. They are so talented and it really got me in the Christmas spirit.
But before the concert we had our own horrible misadventure as a family. On the field trip earlier in the week I had left the little cards that get everyone into the National Parks for free at our last stop. So today we went as a family down to get them (they were at Ein Gedi, down by the Dead Sea). As we were leaving, one student, Brandt, asked if he could come. We had room for one more, so he came with us, for which I am grateful. We got to Ein Gedi and it was closed. So we went to the next door canyon to check it out. It was also closed. BJ asked if he could hike up and look around. There was a little trail right there I thought he meant to go on, so I said okay. I did not realize he meant to go up a cliff. Tashara went with them, and Brandt waited below. As they went up BJ dislodged a very large rock, which rolled down and hit Tashara, knocking her backwards off a cliff. She fell about 10 to 12 feet backwards, landing on her head and shoulders. She then slid and somersaulted another 15 feet or so. Brandt was then able to catch her and keep her from going further. We heard her scream, and to begin with I thought it was just her being upset again. But as she screamed some more I figured out something else was wrong. I turned around and saw her lying there with Brandt holding next to her, and ran as fast as I could up to her. It took a long while (or at least it seemed a long while) before we could get her to move her toes on one foot, then another, then her fingers. But soon she could move it all. She was in shock a bit, but really doing very well. She was very brave. We slowly worked her into being able to move since the National Parks people were wanting her to stay still and wait for an ambulance, something I didn’t want to do. She eventually was able to move, and Julianne walked her to the bathroom to scrub her a bit. She had huge road rash all over her lower back and on the front of one shin. They cleaned her as best they could, and we started for home.
The cliff Tashara fell from
On the way home we called Dr. John at the Center. He wanted us to scrub her some more. So we drove a bit further, and let the kids play around by some of the Dead Sea Scrolls caves, while Julianne and I scrubbed poor Tashara’s wounds. She was so brave and so tough. She really did well. We prayed and thanked our Father in Heaven for how he had blessed us. This could have been so, so, so much worse. In the end she was sore for quite a while, but no other injuries that we can find. We were blessed.
Sabbath was wonderful but busy. It was the last Sabbath here for the students, and that made me cry quite often as I looked out at them. I cannot believe they will be gone soon. It is too much for me. Julianne spent all day getting a triclinium set up in the auditorium in a way that was authentic. It looked amazingly spectacular by the time they were done. Then we spent an evening with the students as they heard about the Last Supper, read portions of it together, and overall had an incredible experience learning about what the Savior taught about the Last Supper. This was the right way to end all their Sabbath experiences.
On Sunday we went to Bethlehem to help the group there hold their Church services. These good people are unable to come through the separation wall to meet with us here in Jerusalem. So they meet on their own. It is our job to teach them the right way to do things so that they can eventually handle their own services. For now President Ohman oversees everything for them. We need to do lots of training to help them along. They are good people, and I loved being able to worship with them and feel of their spirit and righteous desires. It was a crazy weather day. It was quite cold, with a blistering wind that was whipping sand around so that we really were in the middle of a huge sandstorm. It was pretty miserable stuff.