On Wednesday it was a rainy day. We were hoping for good weather for our planned excursion, and it cleared into a beautiful day for the few hours we were doing things. We went out to do some horse riding as a family. We went to a place called Yad Hashmona, just past Kiryat Jearim. It was beautiful country, and the two men we worked with were delightful gentlemen. Everyone got their own horse, and we rode along a beautiful path through the Judean hillside. Everyone had a delightful time, it couldn’t have been better. It rained as we got back to our building.
|Jacob on the horse ride|
|Sabrina on the horse ride|
|The Judean Hills through which we rode|
|Finishing the horse ride|
We played basketball together as a family, and BJ packed. We played games and watched a movie and had a great time. It is hard to believe that his time with us is winding down. Because he is traveling on New Year’s Eve, we celebrated New Year’s Eve one night early.
The next day we left it up to BJ to decide what we would do. He really wanted to see the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. It was raining off and on, but we largely avoided the rain. We had a great time together as a family in the Holy Sepulchre. It was touching to see how much everyone remembered the time over five years ago when we went there and they prayed by the anointing stone. It was clear that everyone still remembers that time with great fondness and emotion, and they all wanted to do it again. It was a good experience.
While we were there we saw a ritual of cleansing and sanctifying the tomb for the new year. I have never seen that before. The Catholics played the organ and had a song, and then their priests went in with their incense censers swinging and did some kind of thing inside the tomb. When they left the Orthodox priests did it, then the Armenian, then the Coptic priest. He went around and did the same thing at each of the holy sites of the church. It was fascinating to watch.
|the Catholic procession at the tomb|
|The Coptic Priest at the anointing stone|
From there we went to a place called Jacob’s Pizza, where Jacob got a free piece of pizza for being named Jacob. This is the best pizza in Jerusalem, and it was fun. Then we went to Zads and had crepes. It was a New Year celebration I think they will always remember.
When we got home we played basketball again, and played more games. We played until it was time for BJ to go. It has been a pleasure to have him around and to see how he has grown and matured. I will miss having him here.
The next day we just cleaned and got settled in around here. It rained hard all day. We played basketball and some games. We tracked BJ’s flight. We had a pleasant, relaxing day. In the evening we had a little party and finally went to bed.
I slept in well on Sabbath, which never happens. Today we had two general authorities, and a lot of visitors. It was a little bit crazy making sure it all worked out, but it did. It ended up being a very nice day. Then we spent time together as a family. We played some games, and we visited about each child’s spiritual progress and about how to get ready for school for themselves and how to interact with the new students. The students will come in just a few days.
We have had quite an amazing year. It is hard to believe how fast it has gone, and how much we have been blessed. We are so grateful!