Great week, again! Sabbath was wonderful. We were able to get to know the students much better today. As our new Young Men’s teacher taught, Taylor Henderson, I was thrilled. He will be great with these youth. I was able to have a short nap as I tried to continue to get better. Later that night we met as a Branch Presidency for about three hours and I feel we received some good direction as to whom the Lord would have serve where. I think that we decided on about 45 callings or so. Later that week I went to the line where the students were exchanging laundry and grabbed almost all those I was supposed to issue callings to and made appointments with them. I just had two come every five minutes, and after almost two hours I had issued all but one of the callings I needed to. I am amazed at the quality people we have, and their willingness to serve. It is a wonderful service-oriented culture we are part of, and the Lord blesses all these people who are so willing to serve.
Family and friends on the ramparts of the walls around the Old City of Jerusalem
The next day, besides cleaning house, we decided to walk the ramparts with the Lewis family. As I went out to get ready to go, I found one student in the Center. He had thought a group was leaving at noon, and studied until then, only to learn that he was the only student left in the Center. That meant he couldn’t go out anywhere, because you always have to be in a group. Poor Donovan, I felt badly for him. So we invited him to come with us, and he seemed happy to do it. We walked around the ramparts, and had a great time. There are a lot of cool views, and the kids always have fun together, and they seemed to have fun with Donovan. We ended up in the Jewish quarter, where we saw just a few things, treating Donovan and our kids to some little local pastries. Then we also took him to the pita factory, and we got some good, warm pita, which is always a hit. It was a bit chilly, but was nice to see some aspects of the Old City we haven’t seen before.
Our and Lewis' kids on the rampart above Zion Gate
The next day was a great field trip. We did it a little differently than before. The first stop was Gibeah. It was eye-opening for the students to get a geographical feel for all the sites around us. We spoke of coming up from Jericho to Ai (within eye-shot), and of Samuel’s circuit, and of the tribe of Benjamin, etc. We also looked around us and read some of the many stories that took place there, like Jonathan going out from there to storm a Philistine garrison, Saul trying to kill David there, David escaping with the help of Michal, and David and Jonathan’s friendship, including when they parted after Jonathan shot arrows out into the field. It was a great introduction to how real the Biblical stories in these Biblical places are, and also the real human element of these stories. The people in those particular stories seem so real, that when you are in the real place, everything becomes very real.
View from Gibeah towards Ai and Michmash
From there we went to Nebi Samwill, where we could look down on the place where Solomon had his famous vision and received wisdom from God, and where Joshua beat the conglomeration of armies and chased them into the valley, asking for the sun and moon to stand still. These are less the human stories and more of the miraculous kind. Between the two sites it is a pretty good one-two punch that makes the students say “wow, I’m really here, this is really the place of the Bible and its amazing events!” I think they loved it. We also went to a few overlooks and through Hebrew U, where there is another great overlook. It was a really fun field trip, and a great eye-opener for the students. They seemed to really enjoy it, and we had a lot of fun together.
We finally really got into classes this week. We cover the most amazing stuff here in the first few weeks. Between Abraham, Isaac, all that happens to Jacob and all he does, and then the incredible Joseph and Moses stories, you have the best material in the world. It is so fun to help bring the scriptures to life for these students. They seem to really be getting into the groove.
The faculty members went on a field trip prep. We went to a few new places, or explored old places a little more fully, trying to figure out if we were doing things the best way possible. We decided to make a few changes. We spent more time at Herod’s palace, after having explored it more. They have also opened the road that takes you down further into Wadi Qelt, so we decided to utilize that. In order to have time, we decided to cut out the Good Samaritan Inn, which is a cool place, but we gain more than we lose with these changes. We also went to see a mosque that is the supposed burial place for Moses (odd to bury a man who did not die), and the site of Herod’s theater and hippodrome.
Me at the mosque of Moses' tomb.
It was great to see these incredible places.
We decided not to go to Moses’ tomb, and we won’t go to the theater, but now I know where it is and can point it out from one of our other sites. Since Herod had decided to kill a bunch of people there at his death it is a part of the story I usually tell, and it is great to be able to point it out and talk about what it is like.
Frank on the backside of the theater. You can see the bricks if you look carefully.
As the week went on I got more and more sick. Finally, on Friday, I was dragging and achy as could be, sometimes having a hard time moving. So the docs put me on antibiotics, and by the end of the evening I was feeling quite a bit better. Thank goodness, we have a lot ahead of us in the next while. I was too sick to go to the Western Wall with them. I hated to miss it, but I really needed it.
These students are great. There is just one bad habit they have which could ruin everything. I have already been talking to them about it, but if things don’t change we will really have to do something drastic. They just keep talking to each other when they should be listening to others. So many of them do it that it can be hard to teach. I can handle it in my classroom, but it is turning out to be a problem for other teachers and especially guest teachers. It will ruin field trips, guest lectures, spiritual moments, and a host of other things. We will really have to work on it, or what should be a great semester will turn out problematic. Other than that, we are having the time of our lives!