Saturday, September 12, 2015

From Augusta Victoria to the Garden Tomb

Another great week! I have to keep pinching myself that we really get to do all these cool things and that we really get to enjoy ourselves so much. We regularly do things that people dream of doing their whole lives. We are so blessed.
Last Sunday we were planning a big outing in the Old City of Jerusalem. But Jacob woke up pretty sick, so we waited quite a while and he seemed to get feeling better. After he felt like eating a bit we thought maybe we could venture out. Instead of walking, we drove, and found a place to park fairly near the Garden Tomb. 

The ride down made Jacob feel sick, and he got out of the car and vomited. But then he got feeling better and said he wanted to still go, so we slowly walked to the Old City. We didn’t do a whole lot, but we did look for some presents for Sabrina’s birthday, and we found a few for her. We had a nice visit with Shaban, who gave us all a nice drink and made the kids laugh. The kids had a lot of deja-vu moments as they recognized places. We went to a favorite place for mint-lemonade and the drink made Jacob feel better. We eventually just came home, after having gotten a few surprises for Sabrina.

The next day was our first field trip. What a great time we had. 

On the bus on our first field trip!

We went to the Augusta Victoria Church, which commemorates the Ascension of Christ after his 40 day post resurrection ministry. We had a great time there learning about churches, about the Ascension, and then we climbed the couple hundred stairs to the tower and got a good view of the land all around so we could develop a bit of a layout of the land. 

Students in Augusta Victoria Church on the Mt. of Olives

Students taking photos in Augusta Victoria Church on the Mount of Olives
Then we went to another overlook of the Old City so that folks could get a good idea of the geography and topography of the city. 

Dr. Jeff Chadwick pointing out the valleys around Jerusalem and the City of David

The students at the overlook at the 7 arches hotel after we showed them the geography and topography of Jerusalem

Then we went to Nebi Samwill, which is one of my favorite sites ever. We were able to go up on the roof, which we did long ago but have not been able to do for a few years. It was a great view!

There we talked about the crusades, Samuel, Saul, David, Joshua, Solomon, Jacob, etc.

Dr. Chadwick showing the students some of the Hellenistic architecture at Nebi Samwill

Showing the students the various visible sites from the roof at Nebi Samwill
Me teaching my class on the roof at Nebi Samwill

From that site you are looking down at Gibeon, where the Israelites fought the Canaanites under Joshua, and then the sun and moon stood still. Also, there Solomon was granted wisdom by the lord. From there you can see Bethel, which is a site of real Biblical significance. Also from there you can see Gibeah, where Saul’s palace was and where David lived for a time. The place is so full of stories and it is wonderful to see how real they become for the students. It was powerful, and I think they really enjoyed it. We also let them go to the synagogue underneath.

From there we went to another overlook of Jerusalem, and then to a monastery from which we could look over to Bethlehem. 

Showing the students Jerusalem and its valleys from the south

I love being with Dr. Jeff Chadwick again on these trips!

We spent some time talking about all the great events that happened at Bethlehem. We could also see Rachel’s tomb, and spent some time talking about Rachel, using the phrase from her tomb, “Rachel our Mother” which led to some powerful moments of teaching. On the whole it was a really great field trip, and a great way to begin it all.

Walking through the olive orchard at Mar Elyas to look over at Bethlehem

Showing a sheepfold at Mar Elyas

Teachings about olive trees at Mar Elyas

Afterwards we had a nice dinner with the students, and then got the kids all ready for school.

The next day we could not see even fifty yards. The city had been swept over by a sandstorm coming off the eastern desert. You could taste the sand in the air and we couldn’t see anywhere. It was crazy.

The view of Jerusalem we had before the sandstorm

NASA's view of the sandstorm

The view from our building during the sandstorm

 Class went really well, I felt really good about it, and think we have a great group and will have a wonderful semester. I really look forward to it. Julianne spent much of the day shopping, and I helped her for some of it. We also had a very nice event at the Anglican School where we got to know some of the teachers better and we got to know some of the other parents. It was quite nice. We left from there so I could attend Branch Presidency meeting, where we figured out what positions many of the students could serve in in the branch. It was a great day!

Wednesday was another day I really enjoyed teaching, and we got all sorts of other little things done. I was also able to extend callings to several people. These are such delightful students, I love working with them.

Thursday was a big day. It was Sabrina’s birthday. Part of the reason we had done all that shopping was to get everything we needed to give Sabrina the meals and cake, etc., that she would like. We had a great morning with her. Then I enjoyed class, and immediately afterwards Jeff, Phil, David and I left for the Negev. We tried to find a place we have often gone to teach the students about weaving and Bedouins, but they had moved and we couldn’t find them. We then went to tel Arad, which is a great site. We enjoyed talking about the temple there, the settlements, the Canaanites, etc. It was a very nice time. 

Tel Arad

Dr. Jeff Chadwick and Dr. Phil Allred at the fortress at tel Arad

Dr. Chadwick measuring for his cubits at Arad

the temple at Arad
The Holy of Holies at Arad
Then we went to modern Beer Sheva and found the traditional Abraham’s well. They have made it into quite the tourist place, but we got them to do a quick tour for us. They have it set up very nicely, and it is great to see the old well. I enjoyed that. 

Traditional Abraham's Well

Looking in Abraham's Well

Then we went to tel Beer Sheva, where we also talked about wells, walls, and a bunch of other events. I quite enjoyed the time with everyone. It was a long, full day and though I felt I understood these sites fairly well, I understand them even better now.

Wadi Beer Sheva

Tel Beer Sheva

the replica of the four horned altar at tel Beer Sheva

When we got home we did cake, presents, etc. for Sabrina. The students had already done a few nice things for her, and then others came and sang and spoiled her. I think she had a great day. I am very happy for her!

Sabrina blowing out the cake as she turns 10

Friday we had a good class, then I got some work done while Julianne went to classes (she tries to attend most of the classes here). We went to lunch with Jeff Chadwick and bought Shabbat flowers. Then we had a meeting about our Turkey trip, which seems like it will be great, and I was able to play with the kids a bit. Jacob has found out that a little shop down the street has a parakeet they keep outside. It has been nicknamed Stu, and he likes to go visit it as often as possible. So he, Kaleb and I walked down to see Stu, bought Pringles from the store, and made a nice afternoon of it. 

In the evening we had a big party for Sabrina, that all the students came to. We played lots of fun games, including Sabrina doing Simon Says, and she was pretty clever and got a bunch of them out. Afterwards we had cookies for everyone, and they had the grand opening of the snack stand, which they have named Lehi’s Pantry.

Playing games at Sabrina's party

More games at Sabrina's party

Sabrina doing Simon Says at her party

Cake after the party

Date nights are tough in Jerusalem. The whole city shuts down on Friday nights, so it is pretty hard to have any kind of activity out of the center on Fridays. Saturday night is our Sabbath, so no going out on that night. And on Sunday night you don’t want to stay out late, school is the next day. So Julianne and I often just watch a movie in our apartment. Last time we were here we worked through a season or more of the series “Monk,” and we loved it. This time we are working through “White Collar”, which we like, but so far not quite as much. In any case, we are having a good time doing it together.

Sabbath has been great. I slept in a bit, which was very nice. The little tiny mosque next door has started having a war with a little Jewish school above us. The form of the war is that they broadcast louder than everyone else, earlier than everyone else, and more things than everyone else. So they do the call to prayer and a whole bunch of different Quranic readings and all sorts of other things. They do it soooo loud. It starts at about 4:30. This has been waking me up, and mostly I am not able to go back to sleep. Today I did. Very nice.

Julianne worked on seminary. She has been putting a lot of time into this calling, and I think has set it up so that these two kids will have a great seminary experience. She is so dedicated and so wonderful.

Church was great! Sabrina gave a talk in primary that she wrote all by herself, and it was great. I set apart six people after church and was amazed at how much the Lord loves these good people. What a wonderful experience.

Afterwards the whole center went together to the Garden Tomb. We had a delightful time there, and I think my children very much enjoyed themselves. It was too hard to set up having a time of teaching for my kids, but it set the stage for our coming back later and having a great time.

Sabrina, Alexia, and students at the Garden Tomb

When we got home we skyped with Julianne’s parents, made a falafel dinner together, and had a very nice evening together. It was the perfect capping to a wonderful week!

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