Saturday, January 30, 2016

Different than planned, but great as can be

Late last night we got word that we weren’t going to Jordan this week, due to weather. That’s okay, I would rather go during good weather.

It turned out to be a good call. Sunday (or Saturday here) was a rainy, rainy day. We originally thought that maybe we would go to the Israel museum, which seemed like it would be a good rainy day activity. But it was raining so hard, and even a bit of kind of snow/slushing, we didn’t even feel like doing that. 

Slush falling on Jerusalem
So we cleaned up the house and went up to the gym. We exercised, playing revenge and a cool basketball game Julianne invented. We gathered over 100 pieces of paper from the recycling bins and wadded them up and turned them into snowballs. We built some forts, and then had some snowball fights. It was a lot of fun. After that we made hot chocolate and popped popcorn and watched the movie Jumanji, which our kids had never seen before. We had a wonderful time together as a family.

The next day we got the kids off to school, I taught a class that I felt like went very well, and we exercised a bit more. Then we went with the faculty couples to the Bible Lands Museum. They have a great display on the Babylonian Exile there, which I thought was really well done and had some things that could really help you visualize the Babylonian Exile. 

Arrowheads found in Jerusalem from the Babylonian Siege

slinging stones found in Jerusalem from the Babylonian Siege

I had a great time at the museum. On the way home we found our way to a big grocery store (Julianne is an expert navigator), and then we came home and helped the kids work on homework. We are trying to institute a new program at home of having dinner and immediately afterwards having scripture study and then everyone spending time on homework. If they finish homework they work on some kind of self improvement project. We have been having absolutely wonderful, fantastic family scripture study here as we have been working our way through the Old Testament. But we have struggled with homework. I felt like tonight went pretty well and hope we can keep it up.

That night Jacob and Kaleb were goofing around on their beds. Kaleb accidentally pulled Jacob off the top bunk, and he landed on his head and then back. He was in great pain all last night. It made me nervous, and I spent a lot of time wondering if maybe he had ruptured a disc or something.
Tuesday was more in the way of really fun classes. These students are so, so, so inquisitive. They want to learn and explore. It is just so much fun to do that with them. Afterwards I got a lot of work done on some articles, one of my most productive days ever. Julianne had a fantastic day working with a woman who doesn’t really love to have church members over. She is a Jewish woman who was baptized years ago, and is so fascinating and interesting to talk to. She has written a very interesting book on Jews and the Messiah, and gave Julianne and me a copy. I am enjoying reading it and look forward to being able to meet her myself. Julianne is so good with people and I am so glad we can make this acquaintance because of Julianne’s gift. That evening church things went well. The weather was still so very cold and rainy. Three days of almost straight rain, and quite cold.

In the meantime, Jacob staid home from school because of his pain. I spent most of the day with him, and he was doing pretty well, but his head and back were killing him. It made me worried. By the end of the day we took him to the doctor, who gave him a good examination, and told us he felt he was fine. The pain started to get better soon after that. We are blessed.
Wednesday was more fun in class. It is so much fun to explore things with these students, and I think we are really coming to understand the Old Testament together. I am happy with how things are progressing for my class. I got more good things done for work, and as a family we had a really nice day together. It rained a bit, but is beginning to clear up.

Thursday we went on my favorite field trip. Julianne was able to come with me, and we had a great time. 

Students getting on the bus during the field trip
We first drove down to Lachish. On the way we taught them about what the Shfeylah is (the low hills of Judah), how to remember the various valleys and cities, the Shfeylah song that Jeff Chadwick wrote, and the history of Lachish. The weather was fantastic. I had so many layers on, and had to take most of them off. It was beautiful, green, a the poppies are beginning to bloom, the sun was out, and it was fantastic. Lachish is such a great site. We went over how it was a Canaanite and Egyptian stronghold, and how Joshua conquered it, and then the Egyptians came back, and then the Israelites really took it. We taught a lesson about how, even though the Israelites were so concerned about the big walls of the Canaanites, and even though the walls around Lachish were huge, that with God, it wasn’t a problem. Then we went up on the citadel (after looking at the Canaanite temple area), and we went over the general story of the Assyrian and the Babylonian conquest of Lachish. We talked about the letters found in the gate, and how they spoke of the watch fires of Azekah going out. Then we told them that their classmates were on Azekah. We got out our mirror, they got out theirs, and we signaled each other. It is amazing how well you can see those mirror flashes. It really makes it all come alive for you, and you get a feel for the geography of things.

Then we went down to the gate. They are excavating the other half of the gate that has never been excavated. I spent a while there helping them to be able to picture what it was like to be an Israelite inside of Lachish when the Assyrians assaulted it. I think it worked, that it made the city and story really come alive for them. Later in the day when I heard them talk I could tell that at least for many of them it had been a powerful moment that made the story powerful for them. That is just what I hope for, it is how that place is for me.

beautiful flowers of the Judean countryside in January

Poppies growing wildly in the Judean hills during January

It was such a clear day, with as good visibility as I have ever seen. We could see Hebron clearly from there. It was the best view I have ever had from there.

After we finished things at Lachish we went to Mareshah. The Bell Caves were closed for security reasons. I assume it has to do with all the rain that has been coming lately. So we went to the tombs, a greek house with a cistern (where we sang since we couldn’t in the Bell Caves), an olive press, and a dove cote. David Whitchurch did a good job of teaching at all these sites. It was very nice.
From there we went to the Valley of Elah. I had spent an hour or so repairing some slings last night so that we would have enough. I went over some of the story of David there, and I think it went well. I hope it was meaningful for them. Then we gave them slings and they did some stone slinging. I think they had a lot of fun. It went well, even though it was a little muddy.

Students slinging stones in the Valley of Elah to commemorate David killing Goliath

More students slinging stones in the Valley of Ehlah

I got this shirt just for the field trip to the Valley of Elah. 

Then we went up to Azekah. David taught them a number of things there, and I think it went well. He put the whole David and Goliath story more into context. 

View of the Valley of Elah from Azekah. Bethlehem is in the background, the valley is where David killed Goliath
He also went over the siege of Azekah by the Babylonians. We again signaled the other class, who signaled us from Lachish. David did a good job of teaching them about how Hezekiah put his trust in God and even though Azekah and Lachish were destroyed, Jerusalem was not. It went very well, and I think they enjoyed it.

My class after signaling Lachish from Azekah

The ruins of what is probably Sha'araim, where the camp of Saul probably was as they looked down on Goliath in the Valley of Elah
Then we went to Bet Shemesh. By now, after such beauty everywhere, and it was still beautiful there, but it was finally getting a bit cold. 

Flowers at Bet Shemesh
On the way there I went over quite a bit of the Samson story with them on the bus. I was glad I did so that we could move through it quickly on site, since it was chilly and was getting late. They got a good feel for where the Samson story took place while we were there. Then we went through the story of the ark being lost, its cursing the Philistines, and how it was returned to Israel at Bet Shemesh. I did the story pretty quickly, but I think they still got a bit out of it.

Me pointing out Tsorah (Zorah) and the forest of Eshta'ol, where the Samson story took place

Me teaching the students about the story of the return of the ark

Me teaching students with the Sorek Valley, where Samson grew up, behind me. The large buildings behind me are close to ancient Tsora (Zorah), where Samson grew up

On the way home we hit terrible traffic, but Julianne and I told them our story of how we met and got engaged. It went pretty well, they seemed to enjoy it, and hopefully a lesson or two was learned along the way.

Our family had dinner with the students. We met the new music couple who finally got in (their flight was delayed 16 hours or something because of all the storms in NYC). They are very nice. Their names are Garth and Kathleen Holyoaks. I am sure we will enjoy being with them.

The next day we got the kids off, and I taught. They had so many questions we got way behind, but had a great time answering questions with a tremendous amount of real learning taking place. It was a great time. Afterwards I exercised, and then took a short nap. I had not slept well last night because BJ had texted us about getting his picture for his mission papers. We weren’t able to text back and forth more than that, but it kept me from going back to sleep, as I thought about what all of that might mean.

After a while Phil called, wondering if we would like to go with them and the Skinners to Castel. We were excited to go. It is a pretty cool place where some serious battles were fought during the 1948 war. It was quite chilly, but the views are amazing. We had a great time!

Julianne and Phil in the trenches atop Castel

The Judean hills as seen from Castel

When we got home we visited as a family, and did some cleaning. Then we made pizzas together and watched a movie. All in all we had a nice night together as a family. Julianne and I stayed up a bit late watching a movie. Then we called BJ. He has definitely decided to turn in his mission papers and has started filling them out. We talked through a lot of issues with him, and sent him info on doctors and dentists. It is a bit hard. It is hard to think of not being with him when he opens his call, of not being able to stay up late at night with him celebrating the fact that he got his call, and learning about the place he is going. It means I won’t be with him when he goes through the temple for the first time. We will fly Julianne home to help him get ready and to go through the temple with him and see him off, but most of us won’t see him again for a long time. It is a good thing, I am happy for him, but it is hard to miss out on that stuff. I am glad and sad at the same time. Mostly glad.

The next morning I really enjoyed church. I really, really enjoyed it. Everything about it was great. Jacob was supposed to read a scripture. Without any help at all he chose the scripture, decided what to say about it, and got all ready for it. Then, on the spot, he changed what he was doing a little to incorporate something he had heard in Sacrament Meeting. It has been a while since we really had to help our kids with a talk or anything like that. They seem to be able to just do it themselves. That is good, wonderful, makes me so happy, and also makes me just a bit sad. Our kids are growing up. Wonderfully, they are growing up into great people.

I hope our time together here will help us grow closer and closer as a family. We are so blessed, and so happy to have each other. The Lord is good to us.

No comments:

Post a Comment