Friday, January 21, 2011

Jericho and more Jericho

Sabbath was great. We sustained 49 people in church. I only missed three names the first time around, and had a chance to sustain them later in the meeting. The meetings were great. Though I was feeling a lot better, I still got worn out, so President Ohman told me to go home for the last half hour. I did, and got in a half hour nap, which was just what I needed.
After church we took the students down to the Garden Tomb. There we had a little tour of the place, and then a short spiritual meeting. I thought it was a great experience.

Dad's Class and our family at the Garden Tomb

There is nothing like testifying of the Savior in such an important place. Whether it is the right place or not (and I suspect the tomb is not, but he hill just might be), it is a place that makes it all come to life. What a privilege to witness of Him there, and to see them respond. The songs were great, they wrote in their journal afterwards, and all was wonderful.
We got home and had a very quick dinner before I ran upstairs to spend a little over an hour setting people apart. What a great experience. These are amazing people, and the Lord loves them so much. Several times I had experiences where I know the Lord was speaking so directly to these people, and they were told things that only God could tell them. I believe each of us was touched deeply, and I will remember it for a long time. What a great bunch!
The next day we decided to go as a family on the field trip I was about to take the students on. We did stop quickly at the Good Samaritan Inn. Then we had a wonderful time going all over the Herod’s palace.

Family at Herod's Winter Palace near Jericho

Kids enjoying Herod's Winter Palace (after taking the picture I told them to get down and not climb on the antiquities)

The kids thought it was a wonderful place, and enjoyed having some freedom there.

We didn’t fully do tel Jericho because we will do that with them more fully later.

Family at tel Jericho

So we saw a few things in Jericho, and then drove out to the site where Alexia will be baptized (we checked that out as faculty too).

Family at the Qasr al Yahud baptismal site, where we will baptize Alexia in April

It looks perfect, and we are excited to take her there. Jacob slipped into the Jordan river once, and we found out just how amazingly muddy it is. I don’t think our clothes will be very white when we come out. But it will be great. Our family had one of those amazing, magical days. Sometimes there was some bickering, but it was one for the memory books. What great kids!
Fortunately I am feeling a lot better, so I could do all this stuff. My voice is largely back, but not quite. I also think I know all my students’ names by now. Not bad, after just a week and a half with them.
The next day the kids headed off to school, BJ and Tashara ready for their big exams. Julianne went with me as we took the students on the field trip. We went first to Herod’s palace.

Looking down on Herod's Palace

Jeff Chadwick was with me, and he is always so good to work with. He brings things to life in so many ways. We had a great time at the palace, seeing all three phases, and reading both from the scriptures about Herod’s death and from Josephus about both his death and the way he murdered his brother-in-law there. I think the students had a great time.

Dad teaching at Herod's Winter Palace near Jericho

From there we went to a big sycamore and talked about Zachaeus and some other scriptural stories.

Mom and Dad at Zachaeus Tree

Again they came to life. Then we did Jericho. Jeff led them through that, and did a magnificent job, really incredible. We read the story there, and talked about a few other things. Then we went to the spring that Elisha healed, and again had some wonderful moments. I had bought a little cruse to bring with us as a visual aid when I read about him pouring a cruse of salt into the water. But of course I forgot and left it home. So I borrowed one from the shop and it went very well. Finally we went up Wadi Qelt, did an overlook, hiked along to another overlook, and did some more.

Students hiking along Wadi Qelt

Between the two overlooks and the hike we talked about the parable of the Good Samaritan, the temptation of Christ, the feeding of Elijah by the ravens, and sang some songs. At one point we could see both Jerusalem and Jericho, and were able to seriously talk about how the Savior went from Jericho to Jerusalem for the last week of his life.

Dad teaching the students from above Wadi Qelt

We also could point out Amman, Gilead, the Dead Sea, and remind them of the places we spoke about last week when we were telling them how Joshua came from Jericho to Gibeon, etc. I think the geography is coming to life for them. Overall, it was an incredible field trip, I think we had a great day!
Later that day we had a group of students over for Family Home Evening. Our children so love to show off and share with them. It was great fun, and nice that the younger ones could have their confidence boosted and the older ones could hear that someone that Dad’s stories about the scriptures were interesting!
The week was full of great classes (I love teaching the students here, they so want to learn and the setting is so good for teaching), lots and lots and lots of church work, preparations for Egypt, and helping various students and children with various things. It is tiring, but fun to serve such great kids, especially my own, who certainly need a lot of service. They are starting to make some good friends among the students. A few have even befriended Jacob, and have taken him to play in the bomb shelter/nursery, where his walls start to melt and he lets himself feel like they are his friends, thanks to Megan from last semester. The students dance with our kids, have princess parties, and do all sorts of other fun things with them. Of course we also have some stress living here. We break lights that don’t belong to us, we have lights burn holes in recliners that don’t belong to us, etc. etc. Sometimes it does feel a bit like a fishbowl. But at least it is a beautiful fishbowl with a lot of nice fish in it.

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