Saturday, October 31, 2015

A Press-ing Week

We did indeed have some great gospel discussions last Sabbath. One of the nice things about being here is that there are fewer things to pull the kids away or to pull our family in different directions after church, so we spend more time with each other and have great gospel topics that we talk about and we spend time doing games, etc. as a family. It makes for wonderful Sabbath evenings.

Even with all of that, it was a busy, pressured week for both the students and us. We had Jordan to get ready for, tons of school activities to deal with, finals, and a new class to start. Those are just some of the ways it was "press"ing.

Because finals, etc. start right away, Phil and Jennifer Allred had the greatest of ideas. Jennifer spent much of the day baking, and then Phil asked me if I would like to go up with him and give them to the students as a kind of “good luck” thing for finals week. He wanted me to be part of it so that it didn’t seem like one teacher was doing something for them that another was not. It was super nice of them. I tried to give him the credit, but he wouldn’t let me. The students seemed to really enjoy it. Jacob and Sabrina also came up and hung out with the students for a while. As they left everyone stopped what they were doing and said goodbye. As we walked down the stairs Sabrina said that when they all stopped and said bye in such loving ways that she knew she and Jacob were really something special. Jacob said, “yeah, I knew we must really stand out to them.” That is the value of being here for my kids, the students make them feel so special. It is wonderful!

The next day we had our last Old Testament class together. It was a great class, but it is always hard to make the transition. I love my Old Testament students, and will miss them. I am excited for my next class, but I will miss this group. They are wonderful!

My class on the last day of class

It rained hard much of the day. We spent time going over how things will work in Jordan when we go there next week. We had a lecture on Olive Pressing, and were going to go out and press the olives, but it was raining too hard, so we postponed it. Instead I just hung out with my family and we had a nice day. 

It rained very hard!

The next morning the air was clear and crisp and beautiful. I can’t tell you how many times I look out of our windows at the city and am overcome with how lucky I am to be here. I love this place, I love this city, and I am blessed to be here.

The view from our balcony. This place is incredible!

The Dome of the Rock on the left, and the grey domes of the Holy Sepulchre on the right

A view of the Dome of the Rock, the Hurva Synagogue (white dome) and the Dormition Abbey, representing the three great faiths here.
Monday was a day of writing and getting my final ready. The older kids are having spirit week at school, and today was “mature Monday”, a day to dress as professionals or something like that. I did get some good writing done, and got my syllabus for my New Testament class finalized. Then Julianne and I went out to the Old City (things have calmed down enough for doing that in most parts of the city). We just enjoyed being with each other and looking around and found a nice place to have falafels. It was a wonderful time together.

Tuesday was “twin Tuesday” and Kaleb and Alexia were Thing One and Thing Two together. Tashara was a cowboy with one of her friends from school. 

Kaleb and Alexia as Thing 1 and Thing 2
 For me it was a day of writing and taking care of various bits of business. Then I went to a lecture at the Albright Institute. I went early and visited with one of the students there about areas where our work overlaps. It was very useful and enjoyable. The lecture was on the most recent excavations at Tel Jezreel. I enjoyed the whole thing. I came right home and Kaleb and I went home teaching, and then it was time for Branch Presidency meeting, etc. Today I did over 80 flights of stairs, so it was a bit easier than last week.

Listening to the lecture
Wednesday morning was a very cool morning. We (Julianne and I) met at the Albright with other scholars and went to the Holy Sepulchre together. There we had some specialists in Crusader architecture and history and in Early Christian history took us through the church and neighboring area, teaching us all sorts of cool things. Much of it I knew, but there was a lot that I didn’t know, and I came to understand the whole thing much better as a result. It was a great experience and time.

The Holy Sepulchre from our balcony (with zoom)

Julianne at the Sepulchre
Me taking pictures at the Sepulchre

The Albright group at the Holy Sepulchre

While there we were able to see a procession for a big ritual for the Orthodox Church. They rang the bells for a long time, and then the fathers came in a formal procession. It was cool to witness. 

Orthodox Priest who works the bells at the Holy Sepulchre

The Orthodox procession

More of the Orthodox procession heading to the Holy Sepulchre
The Orthodox Procession entering the Holy Sepulchre
Also, Morgan Freeman was there filming for a documentary. I accidentally bumped into him as he was being filmed making his entrance to the church, and they had to film it again. It was pretty cool.

Sarah from the Albright at the Holy Sepulchre with Morgan Freeman behind

Morgan Freeman getting ready to go inside

I got back just in time to meet with my class, who had already taken my final, administered by David Whitchurch (who kindly did it so I could go to the Holy Sepulchre). We graded it together, and it went okay.

That afternoon we finally had a clear enough day to do olive pressing. When the kids got home from school we all went out with the students and began. We used the olives we had harvested and soaked. We put them in the crusher and just kept crushing and crushing. You do this by moving the mill stone around while some folks with shovels keep pushing the crushed mash back into the path of the stone so that it gets crushed more and more.

Kaleb and Sabrina pouring olives we harvested into the olive crusher

The olive crusher filled with olives and ready to go

my family moving the millstone to crush the olives

Here we go!
partially crushed olives

the Smiths crushing the olives

the olives mostly crushed

the mash created by crushing the olives
 When that is finished, you get the mash and put it in baskets.

Alexia and Sabrina putting olive mash in the baskets
Alexia and Lauren putting mash in the basket

Your hands get covered in olive oil when you do this!

You take the baskets and put them under the press. We first used the kind of press they had in the Savior’s day. The press consists of a big beam that acts as a lever, and the baskets of olive mash are the fulcrum. 

olive mash in baskets arranged for pressing on the beam and lever oil press

arranging the press on top of the baskets of olive mash

Large stones are hung on the end, and you use ropes and rods to wind the stone closer and closer to the beam, so that the beam has to take more and more of the weight of the stone until all of the weight is being supported by the baskets of mash.

Jacob thought he was heavy enough to press the olives by himself
The beam and lever oil press loaded and ready to go

cranking up the weights to press the olives

My kids adding a little extra weight to the beam and lever oil press

This forces the water/juice and the oil out of the smashed olives. It runs into some small holes, where you let it sit for hours. The heavier water/juice falls to the bottom and remaining at the top is the beautiful, golden oil. It is a great process. 

oil and juice coming out of the beam and lever oil press

After we did that we also used the Byzantine era press, which uses the same idea but it is a screw press (which consists of a giant screw that can be cranked down to apply pressure) rather than a beam and lever press. It is quite efficient. This is a great learning experience for everyone.

baskets with mash being put on the screw olive press

Arranging the screw press

oil and juice starting to run out of the screw press
Thursday was tv Thursday for the kids. Tashara went as Pikachu, Alexia as Cindy Loo Who, and Kaleb as a crew worker for a sitcom that tells the audience when to clap, etc. I think it went pretty well for them.

Tashara getting ready to be Pikachu

Kaleb ready for helping with the action
Alexi Loo Who
Tashara, finally ready as Pikachu (with a purse?)
I had a pretty free day. Julianne has been very busy helping lots of other people here with things they need, and doing stuff with the school. She needed a break, and so did I. So we got together with the Allreds and went to Ein Kerem. Ein Kerem is a beautiful part of Jerusalem, and so peaceful. We went to churches there that celebrate Zacharias, Elizabeth and John. We also walked around and enjoyed the beautiful countryside. And we had a wonderful lunch there at one of the many quaint cafes. It was relaxing and wonderful. I so enjoy the company of the Allreds and we had a great time together. What a wonderful day!

From the Church of the Visitation, depicting Christ as creator

Beautiful altar and mosaic from the same church

The Russian Orthodox Church at Ein Kerem

The beautiful hillsides of Ein Kerem
That evening we skyped with BJ and helped him figure out what classes he should register for. It was good to talk with him again. I hope he is doing well, it seems like he is.

Friday was super busy but great. The older kids went in costumes, which worked out well. 

Hermoine Alexia Granger ready for school
Captain Jack Tashara Sparrow setting sail

Kaleb knows the kinds of costumes I like best!
I worked on all the things I need to have ready for our trip to Jordan next week. Then I administered Dr. Whitchurch’s exam to the students. When that was done I had time to have lunch with Julianne and some students, and then it was my first time with my New Testament class. It went pretty well, but I mismanaged the time and didn’t get to a lot of the things I was planning on talking about. To begin with it seemed like we had a lot of time and I would have no problem, but in the end I was pretty far behind. Not a very good beginning. I hope the students will be patient and give me another chance.

When that was over the family got ready and we went to a little Halloween party that some people from the kids’ school were throwing at Augusta Victoria. There were a lot of fun costumes and a lot of fun people, and we all had a good time. 

Kaleb the mummy may have scared little kids at the party
The four kids having fun at the Halloween party at Augusta Victoria

Julianne gets a little too in to these kid parties
Fortunately the kids had fun too
We got done with that and hurried back to the Center for the Halloween party being thrown there. There were a lot of very creative costumes. We had a costume judging contest and then played games and had a great time! I went as Jeff Chadwick. His wife helped me by bringing me one of his shirts, his hat, and a coke bottle. I pulled it off pretty well, and everyone seemed to enjoy it. I think he also liked it. I know my kids had a great time.

Chef Ahmed and the pumpkins he carved

Me and Indy

Jeff Chadwick as a professor of the dark arts, Alexia as Hermoine Granger, and Claire Lewis as Professor Trelawney

Jeff Chadwick and Jeff Chadwich

Johnathan and David (our students were soooo creative)

A polygamist family

Jacob and Sabrina had so much fun!

Sabrina dancing with Cinderalla

They had a lot of fun at the dance afterwards
I feel like we are having so many wonderful opportunities that it is hard to take advantage of them all. We are so lucky, and so blessed. I can’t believe we are here and that we are having such wonderful experiences. I feel we receive inspiration all the time and are blessed beyond measure. The Lord loves us!

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