Sunday morning was quite nice. I spent time with my family, and we had a nice morning. Then Alexia and I went out into the Old City. We met some French speaking students and we went together to St. Anne’s. There we met Father Peter, the head of the White Fathers here who is also over that church. We arranged with him to be able to come there on our last field trip and spend time inside the church when it is closed. It goes so much better if you can do that, and he looks forward to our students spending time there. I think we got it all worked out, and I am very happy with it.
Then Alexia and I went Christmas shopping in the Old City. We bought a hanukkiah (the menorah you use for Hanukkah), and several other presents. We had a good time exploring and looking for things. I really enjoyed being with Alexia, and we had fun together. We capped the day off by buying some mint lemonade and eating a lunch together. Alexia had gotten cold, and we were looking for a place where we could be in the sun. So, we went up onto the roof of the Holy Sepulchre and there we basked in the sun and at the little lunch we had packed. We really enjoyed being with each other there.
We did a lot of cleaning at home, and Julianne took the younger kids to a big party out in town. They had a great time, and she shopped a ton. We are spending a lot of time getting ready for the Chappells to come, and we are excited about it. The shoppers got home quite late, but Julianne had done a ton. In the meantime I had really enjoyed spending time with the older kids. We had a lot of fun together.
The next day was a field trip to the Dead Sea area. It was a wonderful field trip. We went first to Qumran, and had a wonderful time there. I think they had a decent feel for the Dead Sea Scrolls by the time we left, and I hope even a greater appreciation for the scriptures.
|Caves at Ein Gedi. Somewhere in a cave in this canyon David cut off part of Saul's cloak|
From there we went to Ein Gedi. I love that place. We went a little ways up and I taught them about David and Saul there in the canyon. Jeff Chadwick taught them about the imagery of Lehi and Nephi leaving Jerusalem and of Lehi’s vision. Then we gave them free time. Julianne and I just sat by the waterfall and enjoyed ourselves. It was so pleasant.
|Jeff Chadwick teaching Book of Mormon imagery at Ein Gedi|
|Jul at the Falls of Ein Gedi|
From there we went to Masada. That is such a huge place. I have a love/hate relationship with it. This time I feel like it went pretty well. I feel like they were able to understand what they were seeing, appreciate it a bit, and experience the wow factor that is always a part of Masada. We also taught about the fulfillment of some of the prophecies in Matthew 24. Then they got lots of free time, and I think they enjoyed it. Julianne and I did too.
|Me at Ein Gedi|
From there we went to swim in the Dead Sea. It was chilly, but still they had a good time. It is always fun to see them all be so surprised about how they float. Of course there were a few who got stuff in their eyes and had some pain as a result. But on the whole, they had a great time!
|Ein Bokek and the Dead Sea|
|Students floating in the Mostly Dead Sea|
We got back a bit late, but not terribly so. Then we went to dinner in the cafeteria, and on the whole had a wonderful evening.
|Students with mud at the Dead Sea|
That night was the beginning of Hanukkah. I had purchased a little Hanukkiah (the kind of menorah used for Hanukkah) yesterday, so tonight we lit the candles and had some doughnuts and started celebrating. Each night we light another candle, sing a little Hanukkah song, and then we have a treat. It is kind of fun!
The next day was my last class with my students. We went through his resurrection, and I felt like things went well. It is always hard to finish a class with these students. They are truly wonderful!
|My beloved New Testament Class|
I spent the rest of the day trying to catch up on things. On Wednesday I spent some time catching up on things as well. Then we went with Phil and Jennifer to celebrate his birthday. We went to Gibeah and showed them around there. It is such a powerful place with so many amazing stories associated with it. I love it there, and I think they really enjoyed it too. We decided that we would ask David to put it back on the schedule for field trips.
|A stone from Saul's palace at Gibeah|
|Julianne and the Allreds at Gibea with the stone from Saul's palace in the foreground|
Then we went to two places that we have heard great things about their crepes. One is called Zads, and the other is the Nutella store. They were both good, though we all agreed that Zads is a bit better.
I spent quite a bit of time in the afternoon getting mostly caught up with everything I got behind on while at Galilee. It felt nice to get there.
When we got home we worked with Kaleb and his friends on a school project they are doing, and we just had a nice night all together. The next day I left fairly early to go on a field trip prep with Phil and David. It is always so much fun to go to these places, and we had a couple of great experiences. We had a great experience with the Franciscan monk who takes care of the Church of St. Lazarus. He gave us some books about the place, he taught us about the place, and we just had a great time with him.
|Depiction of Lazarus being raised in the church at Bethany|
We also met a super friendly, helpful person who is the keeper of Dominus Flevit.
|View of the Temple Mount from Dominus Flevit|
He is also willing to let us stay there past the closing hour to make our field trip a little easier. I am so grateful for that, the field trip is shaping up.
Part way through I realized that David has changed the order of some things. I can understand why he did it. He didn’t realize that we have, for years, worked out a relationship with the church of St. Anne’s so that we weren’t so crunched for time on that day. He saw how crunched for time you are without that, and rearranged things. Now we are more crunched on the first day of the two day field trips, and we lose the chronological continuity of going to places in the same order that they happened on the last week of the Savior’s life. And since I have re-fixed thins with St. Anne’s, we are not so crunched on that second day. I will have to figure out how to make this work as well as possible. I am sure I can make it almost as good.
|Over the ancient Olive Press on the Mount of Olives|
|The stairs that lead from the city through the Kidron. Jesus must have walked these stairs when he went to Gethsemene|
|The church of Saint Peter in Gallicantu, commemorating the Savior's trial before the Sanhedrin and Peter's denial|
|King David's tomb, which we visited|
Julianne has been working so hard to get stuff done and ready around here. She is also working at making it so that we don’t use up many of our allotted miles so that we will have as many as possible for our travels we want to do during the holiday. She has worked her schedule around to go shopping with others, etc., to make it so that we have as many miles as possible left. She is truly amazing.
When we were done with all of that I went to the Albright Institute. We were having pictures of all the different fellows. It was nice to be with people there and visit and enjoy their company. It is especially nice to be there with Jeff. After a while Julianne, David, Kim and Phil came too. We all went in and listened to Jeff’s lecture. He did a great job, and I think he was fairly convincing. It was a very nice time.
|Jeff getting ready for his lecture. Julianne, Kim, Phil and I are in the background|
We left as soon as we could so that we could get back for a dinner that was honoring Jeff, Kim, and Tana. It was a nice dinner and I thought several times about how grateful I am to be here with Jeff and how fortunate I have been to spend so much time with him here. I am a better teacher for it. I look forward to what I will learn from Andy Skinner, and feel quite fortunate to be able to be with both him and Jeff during this year, but I will certainly deeply miss Jeff.
On Friday I gave my final exam. While the students worked on it I worked on revising a paper I have really needed to get to. It took a lot of work, and I stayed there after the students finished for quite a while. I got the thing done, and feel very good about it. This is a paper on the eyewitnesses of the Joseph Smith Papyri and what they say is the source of the Book of Abraham. It is a very important paper, and I am glad to get it done. I feel very happy about it. It was a real monkey to get off my back.
I went to talk to David about putting Gibeah back on the field trip where it has been for thirty years. I have nothing else I want to say about that.
I spent the rest of the day finishing up things I really needed to finish up, including grading the finals. That evening we went to the student’s Christmas concert. It was great! Then Julianne and I watched a little movie, and finally went to bed.
As always, Sabbath has been wonderful so far. Today for Sabbath School, during the marriage and family class, they had Julianne and I and the Allreds be a panel to whom they asked questions about marriage. It was fun, and I enjoyed it. Afterwards there were so many more people who wanted to ask so many more questions that Bro Allred and I missed priesthood as we stood and answered questions. This is important stuff to them.
Afterwards we set Kaleb apart as the Teacher’s Quorum President. He is a good kid and I am proud of him. We played some games and spent time together as a family. I look forward to going to our Upper Room experience tonight, where we teach the students about the Last Supper. It is always a great experience.
It is hard to believe that one semester is almost over. How fast! What an amazing time!