Saturday, December 5, 2015

Galilee 2, so much!!!!!!!

Wow, what an incredibly packed and busy week! Sunday was a great day, one I will long remember. We went on a field trip. My whole family came. We went first to Mount Tabor. There we spent some time in the little chapels dedicated to Moses and Elijah. We spent just a bit of time in the larger chapel dedicated to the Savior, but there was a mass going on there so we couldn’t spend a lot of time there. Eventually we went out to the platform from which you can see the Jezreel Valley. I have spent a lot of time as we drive around having the students look at maps and try to get a feel for all of the places and geography. When we first got out there we had limited visibility because of clouds. But we chatted for a while and the clouds started to lift. Jeff Chadwick, the most gifted biblical geographer I have ever met, did a fabulous job of pointing stuff out to us. They got a real feel for the story of Deborah and Barak and the fight against the Canaanites. It was great. Then we went over to a little meadow and we sat in that beautiful spot and we talked about the Mount of Transfiguration. We talked about the majesty of God, and how we can change through the power of the Atonement. We had a great time, and I let them have some time to think and write. I feel like it went really well.

Jacob in the meadow where we spoke 
The church at Mount Tabor

The Elijah chapel at Mount Tabor

My students pondering on Mount Tabor
Mount Tabor
My kids were all with me, and they were great, and it went very, very well. Kaleb got a little sick, I felt quite bad for him. But my kids seemed to get stuff out of it, and they behaved really well. I love being in these places with them.
Next we went to Megiddo. It is a huge and important place. Chadwick and I talked about all sorts of stuff with them. It was a thorough, and perhaps too long, explanation of the place. We did Canaanites, Thutmosis III, Solomon, Ahab, etc. We went out and taught about the fortifications, the Canaanite installations, and did geography as we looked around and saw the important mountains and valleys all around us. We also talked about Armageddon, and they had a lot of questions, and we went for a while. We were at the site forever. It went really well, but we probably took too long.

The Jezreel Valley from Megiddo
Chadwick in front of the Solomonic gate at Megiddo

Sadly, from there my family went home. I am sad to see them go, but they had to leave so they could be home in time for school tomorrow.
We went to Tel Jezreel. There really isn’t much to see there, but there are some important stories that took place there. It wasn’t long before a student came and told me that she thought we were going home, and that she was disappointed when went to another site. She was certainly not alone in feeling that way. Both Dr. Chadwick and I could tell we needed to do something to change things. We needed to kick it up a notch. We went to where you can see Mount Gilboa and Mount Moreh and the valley between really well. Chadwick started telling the story of Gideon, and tried to make it pretty fun. He was surprised that there were a few things they should have known that they didn’t (I was also surprised because I had just told them a week before). So he told them some of the story in a fun way, and I started tooting a make believe horn and getting them to yell “The sword of the Lord and of Gideon!” This seemed to introduce and element of fun.

My class at Tel Jezreel
Looking from Tel Jezreel at the area of Ein Harod, from the Gideon story. Mount Gilboa is on the right 
Chadwick teaching at Jezreel

Then I started reading some of the stories that took place at Jezreel, and tried to make it funny. Every now and then Chadwick jumped in by acting out some of the things I said in a very funny way in a very funny voice. We started to feed off of each other. A kind of magic filled the air, we just got a feel for what the other was going to do, got a feel for what the students would laugh at, we got a feel for how to get them to remember the stories and enjoy them. Students started to whip out their phones and record us. We were hitting on all cylinders, even more cylinders than we knew we had, and the students were really into it. We went for a while, and they were rapt. As we finished we just kept goofing around as we walked to the bus, and even while we were on the bus. It is probably the most fun I have ever had teaching or on a field trip. It was one of those times that you felt you were operating beyond yourself. Chadwick was the master of the moment, but I was glad to have participated. There isn’t another person in the world that I could have done that with. We were a true team. It was all that was spoken of for that whole evening. I will always remember that feeling.

I was just sad my family wasn’t there to be part of it. The apartment felt so empty tonight, I hated being in there without any of them. I had such fun with Jacob and Sabrina, I missed them. I will always treasure the time I had with them.

Tiberias at night from across Galilee
The next day we had class. It went pretty well. We went over the atonement, and I felt like it went very well. The class was a bit magical also. That afternoon I spent a lot of time with one of my students who is a recent convert and is trying to understand how the Godhead works. We had a great conversation for about an hour. I think it was helpful for her, I sure hope so. Then we had our last hour of class at Galilee. We had it outside on the shore, and we did a bit of teaching about the trials of Christ, and then we spent some time going over the miracle of feeding the five thousand, which took place on the shores of Galilee. It was a wonderful and powerful moment.

From there I took off as fast as I could to meet the folks from the Albright at Akko. They were being taught by the head conservator of the place about the Hospitalar Halls and complex through which we take our students. I was able to join them just as they got there, and spent a little over two hours with them. It was very, very useful for me to have someone point out the various places. I came to understand it even better. With all that I have learned, I feel like I am finally ready to really teach about Akko the way it should be done. I am excited.

The next day we took the students north. We went to Hazor, and I feel like it went really well. Having Jeff Chadwick with us made it just right. We sang his song about Hazor, we learned about idolatry and the scattering of Israel. We learned about the destruction of the place by Joshua. All in all, I think we had an incredible time. I really enjoyed it.

Both classes at Hazor as we prepared to sing the Hazor song
My class at the Hazor Watchtower (shouting "the sword of the Lord and Gideon")

Elise and Chari on their birthday in Hazor

From there we went up to Tel Dan. Of course, as we went we taught them about geography. I think they are getting it down. I love Tel Dan, and I think they did too. It is so beautiful.

The beautiful stream at Tel Dan
We had a great time, and everything about how to do it came back to me. We had great times learning about the Jordan headwaters. We sat in a beautiful place and talked about the waters of life.

Where the water springs forth to start the Jordan at tel Dan

My class on the other side of the spring
We moved up to the high place, and taught about how it was a kind of temple. We also spent some time talking about modern day idolatry, and how what happened at that place led to the scattering of Israel. I feel like it went very, very well. Then we did a little teaching about modern day borders, etc., showing them the borders with Syria and Lebanon.

The altar at the high place at Tel Dan
My class at the high place at Tel Dan, where Jeroboam set up the golden calf

From there we went to teach them about Abraham arriving at Laish/Dan. The gate from his time period is covered right now, but we still taught it. Then we went to the gates. We saw the high place there.

A high place at the gates of Tel Dan
We also saw the place of judgment there. I taught about gates and lepers and Ruth, and tied all of that into Christ being the one who kept the gate. I think we had a good time. We also saw the place of the Tel Dan inscription. I think that on the whole we loved Tel Dan!

part of the gate system of tel Dan

We did a short hike to a waterfall.

The group at the Banias waterfall

the Banias waterfall
Then we went to Caesarea Phillipi. There we waited for a second for the rain to stop. Then we went out and talked about Peter’s testimony of Christ that was delivered there. I was going to just teach a bit about testimony, but as I finished I felt very inspired to talk about the importance of revelation as a source of knowledge and the strength of testimony if we will just remember the validity of revelation from the Holy Ghost. I was quite moved there, and I hope a few others were. We had two people bear their testimony, and then I let everyone have some time to think and pray and write. I did the same thing myself. I ended up with some wonderful moments there by myself. I loved it.

Pondering at Banias, or Caesarea Phillipi

headwaters of the Jordan at Banias
From there we went to Nimrod’s castle. We taught a little geography and I gave a stirring speech from Lord of the Rings. Then they stormed the castle. I had some nice time to myself. I called my kids and talked to them while in the castle because I love being there with them, and was quite sad that they weren’t with me. I got some beautiful pictures, showed some people around a little, and had some quite moments. It was very pleasant. I was very happy with myself for having found a way to give them a full hour to explore the place. They loved it.

The view from Nimrod's Castle

Mary Beth in the castle
Looking from one part of Nimrod's Castle to another

more of the castle
From there we went to Har Bental, and looked down onto Syria. We talked about the modern conflict, then we did a lesson on Paul on the road to Damascus. It was another nice moment. On the whole it was a great day, I can’t imagine it having gone better. Of course, it would have been better if my family had been with me.

Looking down on Syria
The furthest set of lights is the outskirts of Damascus, as seen from Har Bental with my telephoto lense

The birthday girls at Har Bental
The next day we started out by going to Chorazin. There Phil taught us, and it was a great time. I hardly ever get to hear him teach, and I enjoyed hearing him. He is a good teacher, and I think we had some good moments there.

Dr. Allred teaching in the synagogue of Chorazin
Trace has a beam in his eye
This is where beams should be
Then we went to Sepphoris. This is a huge, important, complex site. Chadwick took us through, and did a masterful job. It was so much fun. I think the students enjoyed it and got a lot out of it. It was a wonderful time.

Mary next to a manger at Sepphoris

Chadwick teaching at Sepphoris

Sepphoris in the foreground, Nazareth on the hills in the background
From there we went to Akko. I was excited to take everyone through it, but a bit nervous about not doing too much. By now I have too much material, and want to teach them way too much. I knew that I needed to cut down what I had by about ¾. It is always a bit tough to figure out what to cut and what to leave out. I also had to figure out what to teach where. I think that if you just have everyone sit in one place and teach them stuff that they get bored and tired of it. The key is to do little bits here and there, and to do it in places that are associated with it as much as possible. I was hoping I had a good idea of how to do it.

I started out by gathering them around the fountain. I had them divide into groups so that we could act out a bit of the retaking of Akko by Richard Lion Heart. I think they kind of got what was going on. So we went to the model and taught, to the museum and taught, to the church, the crypt, etc., etc. I just taught them bits and pieces here and there. We learned about the crusades, about military orders, about pilgrimages, and about Akko. I think the teaching in the refectory went pretty well, and we went to the courtyard and taught a bit. Then I had some fencing matches. I challenged three students. The matches were fun, and I think we had a great time. I think everyone enjoyed it. Then the students wanted me to fence Chadwick. We hammed it up, and we had a good time doing it.

Fencing at Akko

More fencing at Akko

I taught a bit more, and finally we made it out to the Sea Wall, where we talked about building up the port and about Paul stopping there at the end of his third journey. It was a nice time. We finally finished and went home. It was a good day, I couldn’t ask for it to be better. I feel very satisfied.

the Mediterranean from Akko's sea wall

It is hard to believe it is the last night here. Time has gone by so quickly. We had a nice evening where they bore testimony. It was a great night. I packed up and felt pretty ready for the next day. It will be nice to be with my family, but it is always hard to leave this place.

It rained hard all night. Just as I walked out to load my luggage, it stopped. It turned out to be a beautiful day. Our first stop was Mount Carmel. We walked off to a little meadow, and had one of the most wonderful times I have ever had there. It is so wonderful to do some of these thoughts out in nature. I think it was a really meaningful time as I walked them through the story of Elijah and the priests of Ba’al. It was a great time. When we got up on top of the church we had an incredible view of the valley and were able to see all sorts of stuff. It was beautiful.
My students pondering on Mount Carmel

The area around us at Mount Carmel

From atop Mount Carmel

Students at the Elijah statue at Mount Carmel
We went to Haifa and looked down on the B’hai center. We enjoyed that. Then we went to the Templar cemetery and found the graves of the early missionaries and converts there. We had some nice moments there. Then we went to Caesarea, and I feel like it went pretty well there. David worked with us there, and it was a bit rough, but it worked out. I think they learned and I am satisfied with it.

Dr. Whitchurch teaching in the theater at Caesarea

My class at the aqueducts of Caesarea

The Mediterranean through the aqueduct of Caesarea

The aqueduct of Caesarea

Students jumping on the beach 
On the way home I talked with them all about the Book of Abraham. I hope I did it so that they could understand. We had terrible traffic, and I was able to teach them for a long time. Students kept asking questions, and after a while I had a small group that just kept asking more and more. For three hours of bad traffic I taught them. I think it went well. I hope I didn’t bore them too much.

It was wonderful to be home. My kids greeted us, and everyone was so happy to see them. We had a nice dinner, and then we had a great evening together. It is always nice to be home.

The next day I taught about the crucifixion of Christ. It was a lesson that touched me and was powerful for me. I really enjoyed it. Then I exercised, and got some other things done. Then we went to a Christmas carnival at the kids’ school. It was for charity. We had fun, we worked as part of it, we donated stuff, and all in all it was a great time. Tashara even used her tickets to have a camel ride with me. That is a good day!

Afterwards we just did a few things together, I worked a bit, and then Julianne and I went to a parent/teacher social. It was a bit awkward, but enjoyable enough. I was glad we went, and am glad to meet so many great people.

Finally we came home and I could spend some time having fun with my kids. I was also able to enjoy a little time watching a short video with Julianne, but I fell asleep during that. I am exhausted, but happy.

Me, Tashara and Sabrina on the camel

Jacob, Alexia and Kaleb on the camel
Sabbath was wonderful. I slept in a bit. I had a nice set of meetings, and then spent nice time with the kids. We did some family pictures, spent time with each other, and on the whole had a wonderful evening. It is turning a bit chilly. We are getting ready for Christmas and we are so happy!

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