Saturday, October 24, 2015

A Bear of a week

Sabbath was great, as always. I did some of the things I need to do for my calling in the branch, and spent nice time with my family. The next day Kaleb, Tashara and Alexia went with the students and me to Yad Vashem, the Jerusalem Holocaust Museum. It is a tough place to go. It starts out with a lecture from our wonderful Judaism teacher, Ophir Yarden. He is an engaging lecturer and did a wonderful job of introducing different ways Israel has regarded the Holocaust. Then we went through the museum. That is always so difficult for me. Tashara went through with a bunch of others. I kept Kaleb and Alexia with me the whole time. It was crowded, but we wound our way through to the things that we wanted to spend most of our time on. We watched a lot of videos of interviews with Holocaust survivors. It was touching and heartrending. There were a few things that Kaleb and Alexia hated seeing. It is good for them to have gone through, but it is hard. I have grown to dread going there, it is too difficult for me.

from inside the children's museum

Kaleb and Alexia as we exited the museum

At lunch time the kids went back with the van that delivered lunch, and I stayed with the students to go up on Mount Hertzl for the rest of the lecture by Ophir. He is a great lecturer and really helps everyone understand some things well. At the same time, it is just after lunch, sitting outside, and it is hard for people to stay awake. I feel bad when students fall asleep while he is talking, but I did too, despite how hard I tried to stay awake. Still, it is great information and a great learning experience for everyone.

Ophir teaching
Students sleeping on Mt. Herzl
The kids went to school on Monday, but I didn’t have to. Instead I got a ton done. It was an enjoyable and productive day. I also got word from Kessy, our Phillipino friend, that she had her baby. Exciting!

On Tuesday I taught class. Then I worked and worked, and got a ton done. Tashara and Alexia had a soccer game tonight, so they brought a friend home with them who hung out with us until it was time for the game. We took them to the school, and then Julianne and I went to visit Kessy in the hospital. Her baby is a big, healthy boy, and they are both doing well. She hasn’t really been able to get in touch with her parents, so really her husband and we are the only ones who really know or who have celebrated the birth of the baby. We stayed for quite a while visiting with her and holding the baby. I am glad to give her some support.

Kessy and her 10 pound baby

holding the baby (making Jul a bit baby hungry)
We rushed from there to get me back in time for Branch Presidency meeting. I love serving with these brethren, and I feel like we accomplished good things.

Today I kept track of how many times I went up and down the stairs in the Center. We live on the bottom floor, and it is 8 flights up to the top. I went up a few more times today than normal, but not much. In the end I did 112 flights today, 56 up and 56 down. I am a stair machine, whether I want to be or not.

Wednesday we did a field trip to the City of David. I went with Jeff Chadwick, and we had a great time together. I always love working with him. We got down there and watched the movie, then went up on top of the small theater roof to get a bird’s eye look at the valleys, mounts, and city and its walls. 

Jeff Chadwick teaching on top of the roof

Then we went below and showed them the large stone structure that I am fairly convinced is David’s palace. From there we went down to look at the Kirdron Valley and talk about what it would have been like to be surrounded by the Assyrian and Babylonian armies, and had a spiritual lesson about why they were delivered one time, but not the other. We also looked at the homes you can see there that bear evidence of the Babylonian destruction.

Students listening to Chadwick teach about the houses on the side of the City of David

From there we went below to see the Middle Bronze wall, the one that David would have had to deal with, and then that he used. It was built by Canaanites, perhaps even by Melchizedek. We had some great conversations about that as well. Jeff Chadwick is such a gifted teacher. 

My class at the MB wall
Jeff Chadwick hugging a replica of a square pillar that he loves so much. In honor of Oct. 21 2015 (and Marty McFly), he wore his pockets outside his pants all day
From there we went to the part of the excavations that allow you to see the Canaanite tower that protected the spring and on which Solomon, and probably others, was anointed king. Then we went through Hezekiah’s tunnel, and had a great time with that. 

In the middle of Hezekiah's tunnel

When we got out, we went down to the Pool of Siloam and had a lesson about Jesus healing the man born blind. I felt like that went really well, and afterwards we had a beautiful duet of “Amazing Grace.” It was a wonderful moment.
From there we went up the sewer tunnel, which really isn’t all that exciting, and then we went out to see some new excavations, which also aren’t all that exciting. As we sat there for a moment, I realized it was my last field trip with this group, and I was overcome with a bit of sadness. I love them, and I will miss them. I wish I had more field trips that I could do with them. They are wonderful, and it is hard to let them go.

last time on the bus with these students I love so much

I met the kids as they came in from school and threw a Frisbee with them. It was a lot of fun.

Julianne spent all Monday, yesterday, and today, working on her app. She has a phone meeting tonight with the people helping her develop it, and she is supposed to have everything detailed out and finished by then so that they can just move forward. She has spent so, so, so much time on it. She got it done, and I think she had great stuff! This is a miracle, and she has worked hard, and I am confident that great things will come from it. I am also glad she can be done with it for a while.

That evening we had a lecture from a holocaust survivor who turned 98 a few hours after being with us. What an amazing story and what an amazing guy. It is incredible that he survived. He should have died many times. He is still healthy and happy and has a great sense of humor. He also talked about forgiving the Nazis because it is important to move on, there is no sense in dwelling in the past and ruining your future, so he just wanted to move on. It was a great perspective, and it moved everyone quite a bit.

Listening to Holocaust stories
Thursday was a good class, I so enjoy meeting with and working with these students. I got a few things done that day, and before I knew it, it was evening. Julianne took the younger two kids to a movie night for their grades at the school. I went with the older three to celebrate Seder (Passover) here at the Center. It isn’t time for it, but we do it each semester so that each student can learn what it is like. It is so much fun, even though it takes a while. I sat by Kaleb. He and I have so much fun together, and it was a great evening.

The head table at the Seder (Passover) meal

The Seder setting

Students at Seder (Passover Meal)
The hand washing station at Seder
Kaleb at Seder
The next day was a great day in a lot of ways. As I prepared for my lesson on the second half of Ezekiel, I had an idea of how to do it. When class started I took the students outside where we could look over the city, and especially the Temple Mount. We read the passages about the vision of the temple, the glory of the Lord departing from the temple, and the destruction of the temple while we looked out on the places it happened. The weather was perfect, and it was beautiful. Then we read about the vision of the rebuilding of the temple, and of the return of the glory of the Lord to the temple, and drew many lessons from that. We were able to point out where all of these things would have been/will be. In the end, it was a great experience, I feel like it went really, really well.

Half of my class sitting outside as we did much of Ezekiel
The other half

Then we went back inside and had some great discussions about Daniel. It is hard to believe that we only meet one more time together. Thank goodness it is for a few hours. But I loved the class, and I love being with this class.
My class posing for a picture on this second to last day together in my classroom

What my class is really like most of the time
From there I left for the Anglican school. It has been a special week for the younger kids there. It is a week about reading. They call it BEAR (Be Excited About Reading). All week they have had fun activities, and Julianne has gone to their school to read to them. Today they were supposed to go dressed as a character from a book. Julianne has worked so hard to make them costumes as Thing 1 and Thing 2 from the Cat in the Hat. She outdid herself, and came up with amazing costumes. It was incredible. 

Jacob and Sabrina aka Thing 1 and Thing 2
Here those things get crazy
Julianne has also worked hard for the last few weeks for a play she and a few other parents are doing for the kids. They are acting out a book, a pretty fun book. She has the lead (in the play she’s not my wife, she’s a witch). So I went right to school and watched her perform it. In the end, she performed it three times, and I saw all three. She, and the others, were fabulous. It really was good.

Julianne the witch

The cast of the play
Sabrina watched the play inently
Julianne stirring her cauldron (I see this many a night)
flying on the broom
Julianne pulls her hat on
We got a bite to eat, then I went to a meeting about getting ready for Jordan. There they announced that for sure we are going to Egypt in January. This is good news. Immediately we started making decisions about who will go there and who will go to Turkey, and how it will all work out. It is exciting news, and I think things will be great!

From there we had some fun with the kids, went shopping, had dinner, the kids did Israeli folk dancing with the students, and Julianne and I watched a movie together. She fell asleep so I went up to watch the Last Crusade with some students (in preparation for our trip to Petra). We had problems getting the movie to work, so we ended up staying up until 1 am. It was crazy, but quite fun!

Today church was nice. Then I spent a lot of time with the kids, playing games and visiting. Then I visited with Julianne. I hope to have some great gospel discussions with the kids after this and to play some more games. It should all be dandy!
Tashara folk dancing

Sabrina and Alexia folk dancing

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