Saturday, March 5, 2016

New Things

I don’t know how we can keep up with doing all the amazing things we are doing. We sat down with the kids and looked at the calendar between now and August, and we have something planned every single weekend already. Crazy. The weeks are packed, and this week was no exception.

On Sunday (our version of Saturday here since we do Sabbath on Saturday), I taught for two hours, my last class with my Old Testament class. It was a bit emotional for me. They are a great class and I have had a great time with them. While I will keep seeing them, I will miss them a great deal!
My Old Testament Class

My Old Testament Class on my class balcony
While I was at class my family went with the Young Men and Young Women to explore what is called Zedekiah’s Cave, or Solomon’s Quarry. They had a great time! There are so many things to do around here, there is no way to get them all in, but I am glad my kids are getting in a lot of them.
The group that went to Zedekiah's Cave

The kids playing in Zedekiah's Cave (also known as Solomon's Quarries)
Meanwhile, I was sitting in an announcement session, and an orientation for the students about going to Egypt. Alexia and Julianne, who are going to Egypt with us, got there for the most of that orientation. When the doctor went through the things that can happen to you if you aren’t careful in eating and drinking the students got pretty nervous. Alexia wasn’t sure she wanted to go. Hopefully we got them all feeling okay about things by the end. It is going to be a great trip.
After lunch I did an hour and a half lecture on Egypt. My purpose was both to help them understand what they were going to see, but also to be able to fit it into a larger context of Egyptian history and culture. So I talked about the purpose of pyramids and tombs. As I went through the purpose I tried to touch on each of the sites we will see. In the end I feel very good about it, and I think they were excited to see and do things there, and that they will get some real value out of it. I also taught them just a bit about hieroglyphs, and I think I have them ready to read a few little phrases while we are there.

Finally I was able to spend some time with my kids. We had a lot of fun doing various things.

The next morning we got the kids off to school. Then I packed up and left for my scuba training. I passed a written test I needed to take, we talked about skills and things to do, and then we went to the Mediterranean and we dove. My instructor apparently gets cold easily in the water, so he was in a full suit with gloves and everything. He gave me a full suit with a hood and everything but gloves. That was a mistake. I didn’t figure it out until I was done, but the hood was making it so that my mask did not fit correctly. Sea water was continually leaking in and every two minutes or so I had to drain my mask while underwater. I got pretty good at doing that, but it made it so that I was always a bit slow and so that my eyes were stinging and red by the time we finished. Still, we dove and swam for a long ways, I saw a few fish, and I practiced a few skills, such as sharing air with someone if I was out of air, etc. On the whole it was a very cool experience, even if it wasn’t as good as it could have been without my mask problem.

The beach where we would go diving
Afterwards I got a bite to eat at a place next to some ruins I had never seen. I climbed up the ruins and enjoyed exploring them and the beautiful view. Then I got some good work done on my laptop, and studied my scuba information for the next day and finally went to visit a friend of mine in Haifa. Dan’el is an Egyptologist at the University of Haifa, and a good friend. We have known each other for 12 years now, and have gone to conferences together in France, Rhodes, Israel and Bulgaria. He is a very good guy and I loved our time of visiting together. I was so happy to renew our friendship, and also to talk about Egyptology and everything going on with Egyptology here.

Ruins near Atlit

More ruins near Atlit

The beaches at Atlit. The bay on the far left is where we do our dives
When we were done I drove back to Ein Hod, where I was going to stay the night for the next few nights. I showed up at the place where the tents/huts were that I was going to stay in. Nir, the man I met with last week who runs the place, was there. He told me that his daughter was going to be away and that I should stay in her place. So I read for a while as he finished business, and then he took me to her place. He lives in a gated community that is an artist’s colony, in a gorgeous setting. Next to his house he had a sculpting studio for his mother, which has now been turned into a little cottage for his daughter. It is delightful. There is a little front room and kitchen and a little area for the bed, and then a beautiful little porch. It is quaint and perfect.

The walkway to my little cottage

My cottage balcony

My cottage front room 
I slept hard. I slept in a bit. I got up and studied my scuba and then went out on my little balcony and enjoyed the fresh air, flowers, and birds singing as I worked, studied scuba, ate my breakfast, and just got things done. It was relaxing and wonderful. After a while I gathered my stuff and went to do my dive. I passed another test and off we went. I wore a half wet suit today since I never got a bit cold before, and without the hood the mask fit very well. That was great! I enjoyed the dive a ton! We saw quite a bit of fish, and I passed off more skills, such as emergency ascents helping other divers in trouble, etc. We went out quite a ways to a little island. We got to about 30 feet deep. I enjoyed swimming upside down and all around. I am amazed at how wonderful it is. This was a lot of fun!

Most of my scuba equipment

Oren getting his scuba equipment ready
Afterwards I went back to my little cottage and ate and got a few things done. After working for a while I went for a drive to see some historical sites I had noticed signs for a long the way. The places were beautiful. I ran into a group who was just starting an excavation. The archaeological community is so wonderful. Once you figure out that you are both archaeologists, then you just start sharing information. Everyone is so hungry to learn from each other and to share with each other. They are excavating below a cave where some pre-historic remains were found. They found a dam there long ago. So these guys, from the University of Haifa, are doing some exploration just below the dam, hoping that the water washed some remains there and they can find some good stuff. They were just beginning, so I visited with them as they sifted through some dirt. It was a lot of fun.

Ron Shimelmitz sifting dirt at his excavation

buckets of dirt for the archaeologists to sift through

digging below the prehistoric dam

The cave where they found prehistoric remains

The canyon I walked along
After a little tiny hike there I went back and got more work done. I also got more scuba studying done. Then I went for just a little walk around the artist’s colony. I worked more, enjoying my balcony and some wonderful birds, and then watched an old John Wayne movie and went to bed.

The next morning I wasn’t able to sleep in as much as I had wanted. Ah well. Instead I worked. Then I packed up and left. We were originally hoping that I could stay another day and finish my training, but a storm is coming in, so I will only get in four dives, not five. I talked with my instructor, Oren, who is a very nice guy, about possibly doing my last dive in Caesarea with Tashara. That way we could drive less far, see cool ruins, and enjoy time together. He is going to let us know how much that would cost us, but we started working towards that. So, we decided to do all my skills tests today so the next time could be just a dive. The dive went super well today, I really enjoyed it. We did a ton of skills tests. I did more about helping a diver in distress, I practiced what to do when you run out of air, how to signal in emergencies, I dove without a mask for a while and then put it back on, underwater navigation, and a bunch of other things. It went very well, and I saw some more fish. I had a great time. Afterwards I studied for the last section, and took a test on that section, then I took the final written exam. It went well, and I passed (92% while using a book that covered a few different things than what the exam did). That means I have everything done but one more dive, so when we go with Tashara we can just dive and enjoy! Yea!!!
Then I drove home. It was great to get here with everyone again.

Where we do our dives

Me in my scuba gear
 The kids have done well, but I always miss them when I am not with them. We spent a little time together and then I got ready. Julianne and I joined Andy and Janet Skinner, and we went to the grand opening of an exhibit at the Israel Museum. The exhibit is about Egypt in Canaan. It was super packed and crowded. There were some refreshments, etc. We were able to visit with some nice colleagues, and I met a few new ones. I especially enjoyed meeting Amihai Mazar, who did such excellent excavation work at Bet Sha’an. We also visited with Emmanuel Tov, the chief editor of the Dead Sea Scrolls, for a while. The exhibit itself was incredible! One of the best I have seen.

Thursday I just worked on being ready for my classes and for going to Egypt. Kaleb and I spent some nice time together in the evening. It is so important to get some good time in with each child!

Friday I spent the morning getting things ready for myself and for others to go to Egypt. My job is partially to get everyone all the resources they need to be able to teach while we are there. In the afternoon I taught my New Testament class for the first time. They are a good bunch and I think we will have a good class. Of course I am already behind, I just didn’t get as far as I should have. But what we covered we covered well, and it was fun! After that we spent forever counting out all the money we need for tips in Egypt. Too complicated for me!

When that was over we got the family ready and went with 20 of the students to an orthodox synagogue to be with them while we welcomed in the Sabbath. I love how much they love the Sabbath and how excited they are to celebrate it. There is a lot we can learn there.

Afterwards we had fun together as a family and then Julianne and I enjoyed a little movie together.

Sabbath was wonderful. We had family time in the morning. The testimony meeting was great. For Sabbath School the marriage class had a panel where three couples, including us, were asked questions by all these single folks. It was fun. Julianne put her foot in her mouth, and a few times in my mouth, a couple of times, but it went well and it was fun. She always has so much good wisdom to impart. It was great!

Afterwards we were able to spend a bit of time together as a family. Recently we talked with BJ, who had his dentist appointment. The dentist says he can go on his mission now, but there is a small chance he will have a problem with his dead tooth while there. If they fix it now, he will have to wait six months to go. So BJ has a big decision to make. Now we are praying for him to know what to do. My Dad has had some serious physical complications and is in the hospital. All we can do is pray for these people we love but are not with. I trust that the Lord will take care of them. In the meantime we are sure enjoying those we are with. We are so blessed to be around so many wonderful people!

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