Saturday, August 29, 2015

First week of school and more

We had a great beginning of the week. We had wanted to go to the zoo but couldn’t get it worked out, so we went to the really cool Sorek cave instead. They have some of the coolest stalactites and stalagmites and columns and other wild formations of any cave I have ever seen. It really feels like you are walking in a different world. 

Inside the Sorek Cave
 We had a great time. Then we came out and looked down on the valley and I showed the kids where Samson grew up and had some of his battles.

Looking down on the Sorek Valley where Samson's stories played out

Then we went down to that very valley and went grocery shopping. Great place, great selection, great prices. It was a good day.

We spent that night making sure that everyone had everything they needed for school. Everyone seemed excited and a little nervous.
The first day of school went well. We got everyone up, had a great breakfast, and an outstanding scripture study. Everyone got ready quickly and we were ahead of schedule. I tried to enjoy it, knowing it was probably the last time that would happen. They caught the taxi with no problem, and from what we heard, everyone got where they needed to go without problem. Everyone but Sabrina seemed to have a great day at school. Sabrina felt like her teacher was a bit strict and harsh (I thought the same thing after meeting her at the orientation). But she largely felt good about it. 

The kids on the long haul up 7 flights as they go to school

The kids getting in the taxi on their way to school
Meanwhile we got together with all the new folks here (Tana Hunter, the nursing teacher, and Phil and Jennifer Allred, the other couple here to teach Old Testament and New Testament), and the Heiners, and we all went shopping and had lunch. We had a very pleasant time, and I was again impressed with what wonderful people we are here with. Later that night we all got together at the Heiners, who made dinner for all of us and put together a very nice Family Home Evening. The camaraderie is high.
Early the next day, even before the kids left for school, I left with David Whitchurch and Phil Allred for the Galilee so that we could get Phil ready to do field trips there. We had a great time together. The first day we did Akko (a crusader site), Nazareth, Mt Arbel (an incredible overlook for the Sea of Galilee), and passed by a few other sites. 

The Church of the Annunciation at Nazareth
We went to the new excavations of a First Century synagogue at Magdala. Because I am an archaeologist the team working there stopped their work and came over and showed us around what they have been excavating and told us all sorts of great stuff about it. This is a really great site because it is hard to imagine that the Savior would not have gone to a synagogue right next to the waters of Galilee. We learned a lot and had a nice time together. 

The synagogue at Magdala

Fresco from the Synagogue at Magdala

We checked into our rooms at Ein Gev, the wonderful little place right on the shores of Galilee that I love so much. I calculate I have lived almost two months of my life there so far, and I love it! 

The Sea of Galilee

We went to bed fairly early, got up early the next morning and headed off to Hatzor, Tel Dan, Caesarea Phillipi (going to some parts of that we haven’t gone to before), Har Bin Tal, and Hippos. 

A watchtower at Hatzor from which a watchman would have seen the Assyrian army coming to scatter Israel

The high place at Tel Dan where Jereboam built a golden calf

the walls of Tel Dan

The falls at Caesarea Phillip (also known as Banias)

The headwaters of the Jordan at Tel Dan

We had lunch in a little Druze village where people spoke little English, and I felt very happy that I was able to help us get around with my broken Hebrew. We again went to bed tired and got up early.

On the way home we went to Capernaum, Sepphoris, Mount Tabor, and Bet Sha’an. All of these are impressive and important sites, and we had a good and informative time there. I really enjoyed it.

A mosaic at Sepphoris, known as the Mona Lisa of the Galilee

Mt. Tabor

I did get home in time to have dinner with my family. I hated being gone during such a crucial time for school. I had made time each day talk with them about how their classes were going, etc. Sabrina seems to have gotten to the point where she feels pretty good about her teacher. On the whole I feel like things are going pretty well for them. This evening I played soccer with Sabrina and some games with Jacob.

While I was gone, Julianne has been getting all the ladies together and doing all sorts of fun stuff. She seems to be really enjoying herself and to be really helpful for the new ladies here. We have been really enjoying our time with all of them.
Finally I had a day with no meetings and no trips. I finished my syllabus, worked on stuff for my field trip committee, worked on the power point for my first evening with the students, and got a few articles proof read. It was a great, productive day! The kids got home early since they only go for half a day on Fridays (this is because most of Israel shuts down half way through Friday so that everyone can be ready for Sabbath at sundown). So, in the later afternoon I quit working and played with my kids. I ended up largely playing with Sabrina. She was a nurse who saved my life, and then we played star wars and saved a few planets.

Sabbath (Saturday) has been great. This morning Julianne, Tashara and I all gave talks in Sacrament Meeting. I felt like they all went pretty well. We only had Sacrament Meeting today, and then the members got together for a little pot-luck lunch. It was a great time. We had so much fun visiting with people, catching up with the few old members and getting to know some new ones. A new little family moved in just this week. They have three girls, ages 8, 5, and 3. The eight year old is in Jacob’s class at school, and it is wonderful that they can all make some friends together. All in all I think we all had a marvelous time getting to know each other better. Then we had some great family time together also.

During this next week the students will arrive, and things will kick into high gear. How busy it all can get. Every now and then I have to pinch myself, and remember how rare it is to really get to be where we are and do what we are doing. I hope my kids can enjoy these memories for the rest of their lives. How blessed we are!

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