Julianne and I were able to sleep a little bit after we learned that we couldn’t go to the Western Wall. It has ended up being a bad week here in the city. After unrest as a result of the big celebrations both faiths had as a major holiday for each one coincided, some Palestinians took it upon themselves to begin stabbing people. Most of the time those doing the stabbing have been killed, sometimes apprehended, and one has gotten away. Israel has sometimes responded with pretty harsh measures. Riots have followed a few times, including very close to our building. Things have been pretty tense among many, and we have felt it just a bit, though only a bit. We have been restricted from going to the Old City and East Jerusalem, but for the most part it hasn’t affected us and we have not felt much of the tension here. O how I wish they could find the peace we all need.
That morning we met the Fellows family for a field trip to Gibeah. O how I wish we were taking the students there, but current administration doesn’t like to, so we don’t get to. Sad. In any case, we had a great time there. We read through many of the accounts of Saul, David and Johnathan. We were able to get a better feel for geography and how some stories come together. It took us a little while, but we found the large stone that is the remains of Saul’s palace, and we talked about how real the history is. We had a great time.
|The group up in King Hussein's unfinished palace that lies where Saul's palace did anciently|
|The seminary group above the long block from Saul's palace|
Afterwards we made sure people were getting their homework done, cleaned up, and then had a great time playing games together as a family.
Monday morning was a great field trip. My whole family was there early, and most of the students were. We had a great, great field trip. Jeff Chadwick was with me again, and we had so much fun together! I so love working with him. On the bus we taught them about the Shfeylah, or the low hills of Israel, and the five valleys that cut through the hills and thus became entry ways to Israel. We taught them how each valley had a fortified city guarding it, and that we would go to four of the five today.
|Julianne getting a picture of all the students while on the field trip. She taught them about the Shfeylah area|
|Sabrina listening on the field trip|
We first went to Beth Shemesh. There I went through the Samson story, and we had a really good time. Then Jeff took them through the story of the lost ark and how it returned. We talked about the rest of the history of the place. I think they enjoyed it. I know I did. It was great!
|Me teaching at Bet Shemesh, pointing towards Timnah, where Samson first fell for a Philistine woman|
Then we went to Azekah. There we were able to show them the siege ramp they are uncovering, some of the new excavations, and the views of Gath and the Valley of Ehlah there. Jeff took them through some of the story of the place as it was attacked by the Assyrians and Babylonians. He especially told them about the Lachish letter that notes that they were taking care of the beacon fires of Lachish and that the fires of Azekah had gone out. This was during the Babylonian attack, and we know they were the last two cities left standing before Jerusalem was besieged.
|Chadwick teaching at Azekah|
In order to demonstrate that you could see signals from each other, we had set up an exercise. At about this same time Phil Allred and his class were at Lachish. We had a big mirror and they had a big mirror. Jeff Chadwick set ours up, aimed towards Lachish, and started flashing the mirror. I called that group to make sure we were doing it at the same time. I could hear them erupt into cheers when they saw the flash from our mirror. They were able to sight in on where the flash was and start trying to catch the light and flash us back. After a while we saw the bright flash, and we erupted too. We kept signaling each other for a while, and I was amazed at how we could see those bright lights. It really helped us understand how they were watching each other’s watch fires. It was a very cool experience.
|Chadwick lining up the mirrors at Azekah|
|Our mirror caught the light so well!|
|lining up the mirrors|
Then we went to look over the eastern side of the tel and I went over the David and Goliath story with them. It went well, and I was very happy about it. Then we sang Jeff Chadwick’s song, “Shfeylah, Shfeylah, Goliath’s back!” We had a great time doing it. I believe it was a fun, edifying, and memorable experience for all.
|Me and Chadwick, riding together again at Tel Azekah (which it clearly says between us if you read carefully)|
|Jacob and Sabrina listening to Jeff Chadawick teach|
|Jacob listening to me teach while he watches for the mirror flash|
Then we went to Mareshah, in the Guvrin Valley.
We went through an ancient dove cote, teaching about that kind of industry, and an ancient oil press. Then we went through a Hellenistic house and its cistern. We taught about water collection and lime stone plastering.
|Students looking at the live crusher at Mareshah|
|An oil press at Mareshah.|
|Tashara on the field trip|
We visited some Sidonian tombs, and then went to the Bell caves where we taught about limestone mining. We also sang there, which is so much fun because there are such great acoustics. As we were singing my kids were running around and playing and having a great time. Julianne was watching them and standing next Jewish lady. She asked who that group was and what they were singing. She asked if they were singing a prayer and Julianne said yes. She said “Oh, it’s so beautiful.” Julianne was touched by how we bear testimony in so many ways.
|At the Sidonian tombs|
|Alexia in the Sidonian tomb next to a depiction of the three headed dog Cerebos. She called him Fluffy and told me that you don't see a dog like that every day, even if you are in the business.|
From there we went to Lachish, in the Lachish Valley. I love, love, love this site. I showed them the Assyrian siege ramp and talked about the battle that took place between the Israelites and Assyrian, and the Israelites and Babylon there.
|Me teaching at Lachish. The wind was blowing so I tried to block the mic from the wind.|
I read some of the Assyrian account and showed them some of the Assyrian reliefs of the battle. We went up on top of the tel, talking about the Canaanite, Egyptian, and Israelite layers. We talked about how Joshua took the place, how Rehoboam and others built it up, and all sorts of things. Jeff showed them some of the Canaanite ruins. Then we got on the phone and signaled the other group with our mirrors again. It was just as dramatic, and we really had a great time.
|Doing the mirror at Lachish|
Finally I took them over to the Counter-siege ramp, and we talked about what it would be like to be in the city as the Assyrians were trying to take it, and all that was done to try to keep them out. We talked about how these people were scattered as part of the scattering of Israel. We went down to the threshold of the gate and talked about how they would have pressed that door against that threshold as they were fighting for their lives. We spoke of how we need to keep that spiritual door pressed tightly shut against spiritual Assyrians. We talked of how they fell, yet how they were miraculously spared at Jerusalem. Yet the next time, when the Babylonians came, they were not. We went through some great lessons to learn from that. It was a wonderful, powerful time. I truly loved it! I love that place!
|Heading over towards the counter siege ramp|
|Me teaching about the siege of Lachish from near the counter-siege ramp|
From there we stopped by the Elah Valley and went through the story of David and Goliath. It is such a powerful story, and has so many lessons, and carries such a punch when you read it there, at the site. I feel like it was a great moment. Then we gave them slings and taught them how to sling the stones. They spread out and had a lot of fun. It was a great time, and a wonderful ending to a wonderful day!
|Sabrina slings a stone while Jacob gathers some stones from the same brook David did.|
|My windup with the sling|
|Off the stone goes!!!|
The next day school started for the kids. They didn’t want to go, and it was hard to move them along. It is always hard to start back after two weeks off of school. But off they went, and off I went to my class. I felt like class went well. Whenever I had a spare moment I worked on a paper that is past due. I made some good progress, though I was frustrated that I didn’t have some of the notes with me that I thought I did. This is slowing me down a bit.
That evening I helped teach seminary, and went to Branch Presidency meeting. It was a great meeting and we got a lot of good things done. I was very happy with it. Sometimes I stop and think about how lucky we are to be here, and how incredible the experiences we have are. What a blessed life.
|On Tuesday night Jacob made this out of recycled materials in cub scouts|
The next day was mostly taken up with either classes or working on my paper. . Classes are going well, I am really enjoying them, and I feel like they are going exceptionally well. It is always more powerful when you have a group of students you know and love, and they know and love you, and you are all passionate about the subject matter. I love these classes.
As for my paper, I got a lot done. The kids still didn’t want to go to school, but it was a bit easier. That evening was a parent/teacher conference at the Anglican school. Julianne and I went, and then we walked around Ben Yehuda Street and other streets in that fun part of town. It was enjoyable, and it is always nice to spend time together. We could see evidence of some of the tension around here. It isn’t good for anyone.
The next day was midterm time. It is a tough day for the students. They had room checks this morning, then my midterm then another midterm ten minutes later, and a talent show to be ready for tonight. They were worn out.
While I proctored the exam, I also worked on my paper. Afterward I worked hard on my article again. I got as far as I can before I acquire a few more resources. I am glad to have made this kind of real progress.
That evening I went to an event at the Albright Institute. There we all talked about whatever project we are working on and asked each other questions. It was really useful because that allowed me to get to know people and resources in a very valuable way. I very much enjoyed meeting more people and getting to know them and what they are doing. It was a very enjoyable evening.
|Here I am visiting with a post-doctoral resident at the Albright Institute|
After this I went to the talent show. The students did a great job, and I really enjoyed it. My favorite part was Alexia playing the viola. She did a fabulous job, and I was very proud of her. She is really a remarkable girl.
|Alexia playing viola with the city of Jerusalem behind her|
Friday was another fun class. It was covering more reading than ever, and we had a lot to talk about. But we made it through, covering some really important concepts and details. It was a good class. Then I exercised, we went shopping and got some Shabbat bread and Shabbat flowers. The kids got home and we spent some nice time with them. I taught a seminary lesson via skype.
|After the first rainstorm of the year, the city was beautiful. This is the view from my frontroom balcony.|
|I love the sight of Jerusalem from my frontroom window!|
After quite a while we took Sabrina to a friend’s birthday party. This girl, named Laurice, has been a Godsend for Sabrina. She has been such a good friend that it makes going to school worthwhile for Sabrina, and gets her through hard times. We have wanted to meet her parents. For a while Sabrina thought the girl was a Mormon, but she is Anglican. Her father is a reverend at St. George’s and is the dean of the college there. We have wanted to invite him to the Center. So we were happy to go to the party and drop Sabrina off and meet them. They live at St. George’s Cathedral and the party was there. It turns out that they are a Palestinian Christian. They are wonderful people. We also spent time walking around and looking at the guest rooms and college there. There is a wonderful feeling of peace there. I fell in love with it. I want to have my friends stay there when they come.
|St. George's Cathedral. This is right where we parked to go in to the party (we went to the left here)|
|Laurice's dad when he was named dean|
We came back to pick her up and got to visit more. What delightful people. We also met some others and had a great time!
|Where the party was!|
We helped clean up and gave Sabrina’s teacher a ride home. Then we played games as a family, I watched Hogan’s Heroes with Kaleb, and Julianne had a skype meeting with some people who are going to make her app. They are beginning to work on it tonight. I am so happy about that and so excited for her. She and I watched a movie and then I was able to slip into blessed sleep, fully exhausted but overwhelmed with how wonderful our life is.