Saturday, June 4, 2011

Calm but fast week

Wow, it was one year ago today that our adventures started as my parents took us to the airport to fly to Hawaii. It is hard to believe it has been a year. Yet we have done so much in that year. Plus, that means it is my Dad’s birthday. Happy Birthday Dad!

This week, like the past year, has flown by. The highlight of the week was last Sabbath when I was able to set BJ apart as a Teacher, and the Branch President made him the Teacher’s Quorum President (he is the only person in the quorum). I am so proud of him. He is really an outstanding young man. I spent some time looking through some pictures of BJ at this time last year and how he looks today. It has been quite a year for that boy. He has grown, he looks more mature, he needs to shave, his voice cracks, and he has become so much more wise. He spends all his free time hanging out with college students. He holds his own in conversations with them, they genuinely enjoy being with him, and constantly talk to me about how they can’t believe he is only 14 since he talks like he is one of them. If we could just get him to behave that way at home, wow, we’d be set. In all seriousness, I think he will have a bit of a letdown when he gets home and has to hang out with other 14 year olds, who will act like 14 year olds and treat him like a 14 year old. He is not used to that anymore. It will be interesting.

We were able to spend some time last week doing some more filming for our nativity movie. We went to the City of David and filmed Isaiah prophesying about the Savior in some of the places Isaiah would have been. Pretty cool stuff.

Monday was a very interesting day for me. I had been invited to speak at the University of Haifa. Since it is a 2.5 hour drive away I decided that if I was going to take the time to go up there I might as well see some things. On the long drive I listened to a UC Berkeley podcast class on the history of Rome (I got through about 5 lectures). This was a wonderful way to spend the drive, I loved it!

On the way, I stopped by Caesarea on the way up to see some stuff I haven’t had the time to investigate before. That was cool, and I will take my class to some of it.

Site of a temple, then Byzantine church, then mosque at Caesarea

Some cool ruins at Caeserea

Then I went to Tel Dor, a place where Egyptians had docked before. It was tough to find. It turns out you have to go through a gated Kibbutz hotel area to get there. But it is breathtakingly beautiful, really amazing.

Ancient anchors at Tel Dor

Port of Dor with some of the excavations visible on the hillside. My camera battery ran out while I was here, so I didn't get many pics of this, sadly.

Then I consulted my gps and it looked like I had time to go to Montfort Castle. So I ran up there. It is also hard to find, and I got lost a few times because the gps couldn’t find its way. I was just about to give up and head to the U. of Haifa when I thought to myself, “self, take this one last little winding road and see if you can get your bearings.” I couldn’t, and just when I decided I needed to turn back for sure, I pulled into a parking lot to turn around, and discovered it was the scenic overlook parking lot for Mont Fort castle. I could not stay long, but I enjoyed the beautiful view I had.

View of the castle from a bit afar

Montfort Castle closer up

The gps was wrong, it took a lot longer to get back than it thought it would (horrible, horrible traffic, who would have guessed?), and not only did I not get there an hour ahead of time to visit with my friend there and get a bite to eat and get all set up, I got into the lecture room about 3 minutes before it was supposed to start. Not a great beginning. But the lecture went well, they gave me good ideas, I gave them some things to think about, and it all went well. Then my friend, Dan’el Kahn, the Dept. Chair there, spent some time with me giving me ideas for my dissertation. Then I packed up and drove home, getting in very late. It was way too tired, but all in all it was one whale of a day!

Me in front of the tower at the University of Haifa. I lectured inside here.

I was glad to be back in classes. This week we covered the story of David, which is such incredible stuff. I love this material. Probably my favorite teaching moment of the week is when we went outside, on the 7th floor plaza, and looked over the temple mount while we read the description of Solomon building and dedicating his temple, and talked about the theology fo the dedicatory prayer, stressing how it was all about atonement and forgiveness. It was a beautiful moment. We also had our midterm, and I think the students survived.

Tuesday night we took the students on the Kotel tunnel tour, where they can go in the tunnel that was built along the western side of Herod’s wall around the Temple Plaza. It is amazing to see how long it was and the stones that were used. It is an interesting tour to be sure (that rhymes). I love to see the students learning and loving this stuff. It is a thrill for me.

One of the largestn building stones ever used. It is about 15 feet tall, and you can see how long this one block is by looking for Kori Sakahashi, one of my students who is way back there (not the once close that you can see, the little one furthest away). That is a bit stone!

Students at the cistern at the end of the Kotel Tunnel

Of course by the time we got back it was so far past when I normally go to bed, and it was on the heels of not much sleep the night before, that I am pretty sure I was largely incoherent on the van ride returning to the Center. I suspect some students somewhere have some bribery material on me.

Sabrina read her first book ever!

We also had Matthew Kalman as our forum speaker. He is always so good, helping the students see how the media around here really works, and entertaining them with such ironically true stories as he did it. On Friday I was privileged to introduce the movie Raiders of the Lost Ark. BJ helped by dressing up, bursting through a wall we built, cracking his whip, escaping a giant rolling ball/rock, and running away from a blow gun he had invented. It went pretty well I think. Then Julianne and I started watching the mini series “Masada.” Pretty interesting stuff.

BJ crackin' the whip!

Tashara shooting the blow gun at BJ

BJ giving me the idol he had gotten

This Sabbath I had the chance to extend a few more callings and set a few more people apart. That is always so amazing to me. The Lord loves these students, and they are incredible people. Jesus is making them into such wonderful, holy, heavenly creatures. I am glad to just get a glimpse or two into what they are becoming. It is a privilege to be a part of it. That is even more true for my own children. It is humbling to be part of their becoming what they will become. I thank the Lord, and plea for his help in so great a cause.

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