This week has gone by so quickly. Sabbath was very nice. We spent a lot of nice time together as a family, and I especially helped Julianne get ready for her trip. Early, early Sunday morning (at 3:30 am) I took Julianne to the airport. I hated saying goodbye, but this is a good thing for her to do. I drove home and went back to sleep for a little while. For the rest of that day we all just lazed around. I never got out of my pajamas the whole day. I worked a lot on a document designed to help other teachers while they are in Egypt. I watched some movies with the kids, they worked on homework, and we had a nice day. I kept tracking Julianne’s flights throughout the day. I hope she is doing well. Kaleb made dinner. Julianne has had the kids get all ready to each cook a meal, and they will do it twice while she is gone, so that all the meals for two of the three weeks are taken care of. Nice.
The next morning I got the kids off to school, and I went on the field trip to Jericho. We went straight to tel Jericho. I took the group up on the tower so they could picture what the whole place looked like. I have never done that before, but it seemed to work pretty well. Then we went up on top and talked about how the Lord had Israel do something that must have made no sense to them, but still, with the Lord on their side, it overcame the obstacles that they could not figure out how to overcome on their own. I think we had a nice moment or two. Then we went around and saw various parts of the city. We ended where I showed them evidence of a wall that fell down, and in falling down, formed a kind of ramp that allowed them to run up into the city. We talked about how the Lord can take obstacles and make them aids for us.
Then we went across the street to Elisha’s spring and went through the story of how Elisha took salt to heal the spring, and how it is still running pure today. I spoke of how Christ can take even that which is bitter and would normally poison things and turn it into a healing agent that gives us life, and that more abundantly. Again I feel like we had a very nice moment.
|My students touching the water that comes from Elisha's Spring|
Then we went to Herod’s place. David taught there, and it went fine. From there we went to Wadi Qelt, where David taught about the road to Jericho and the parable of the Good Samaritan and the temptations of Christ. Overall it went fine.
I got home before the kids did, but had meetings about Egypt that made it so I didn’t see them until they had been home for a while. They had a good day, Jacob made a nice dinner, and we enjoyed our evening together, even playing some card games.
BJ went through the temple today. I wish I had been there with him. I am trying to communicate with them as much as possible. He called later with some questions about the temple that showed he was really thinking. Julianne is working so hard to help him out. I hope all goes well for them.
The next morning they got off to school okay again. I did my class, and I felt like it went very well. Then I exercised, and got work done, went to more meetings, picked up Tashara from school, and worked just a bit before all the kids got home. Sabrina made a nice dinner, and soon I was off to meetings for church, while they all went to church activities as well. The days go by quickly.
The next day, after some very enjoyable classes, I worked for a bit and then Andy, Phil and I went to lunch and talked about what worked well in Egypt and what could be done differently and what teaching ideas worked best. This was in order to help me finish creating the document about teaching in Egypt that future teachers can use. It ended up being super fun to talk about gospel and teaching with these guys. It was very, very enjoyable. I loved it!
Again that night we had a nice night together. Alexia made a very nice meal and we all enjoyed each other. We keep talking with BJ and Julianne, who are working so hard and doing so much to get him all ready.
Thursday I woke up very early and made Jacob’s special birthday breakfast. We had a great morning together, and he talked with Julianne and my mom who wished him a happy birthday. Then they got off to school okay, I gave a test in class, and then we all went out together to get ready for next week’s field trip. We drove to the Elah valley, and were going to get off the road in a spot Julianne had told us about. We missed it, and the first place we found to turn around ended up being the trail head for the hike to Shocoh. So we hiked up there and looked all around and really enjoyed it. There are some very significant ruins there, it must have been quite the site. Someone needs to do some real excavations there. I also got to where I had a great outlook on where the story of David and Goliath happened. From that vantage point I came to understand it all the better.
|Looking up at She'araim (probably site of Saul's camp) from Shocoh|
|Looking down at the Elah Valley from Shocoh|
Then we found the place Julianne was talking about. We drove for a ways, and I learned more about how the Elah brook works its way along, which narrowed down the places where the David and Goliath story could have happened. Phil and I looked at the area where Saul’s camp likely was, and saw the only place from the valley that was a reasonable path to it, and hiked up. It was not a bad little hike, and I think it is quite likely the route David took as he came down to fight Goliath. It was really fun to explore that with Phil, and I feel like we really got it mapped out well. Then we explored the settlement/fort at the top of that place while the others drove around to meet us. We had lots of fun exploring, and then we hurried home, but we couldn’t hurry much because of traffic.
|Looking up at She'araim (the probably place of Saul's camp) from the Valley of Elah, at the point that one could most easily climb up or down|
|The Valley of Elah from She'araim at the point where you can climb down|
Last night was a celebration here in Israel that has people out in the countryside building bonfires. Today there were wild fires all over the place, with planes dropping fire retardant and smoke all over the place. It was crazy to see, and made traffic a bit crazy as well.
|my friend Phil Allred at one of the gates of She'araim|
I got home about 45 minutes after the kids. Tina Whitchurch, bless her heart, brought by a beautiful cake, and we had cake and ice cream and sang to Jacob. We opened presents, and I feel like he was having a great birthday time. Then it was time for the Arab night dinner. We got dressed, and went up to the dinner. Matt Grey was there, and he and I ended up just visiting the whole time. I was so glad to see him again, and so, so enjoyed being with him. He is a good guy, and I am glad to rekindle our friendship.
|Jacob and Tina Whitchurch with the cake she made for his birthday|
|Jacob blowing out the candles on his cake|
When it was all over, I spent just a bit more time with Jaker and put him to bed.
The next morning everyone went to school just fine. I taught class, and felt like it went exceptionally well. This is a good group, and the Spirit led us into some great discussions. So much fun! Then I had a long break in which I got a lot of good work done. When the kids got home they played for a while. Then we went and picked up Tashara and Alexia from an activity at school, and we all went to Jacob’s pizza together to celebrate Jacob’s birthday, since we had an Oasis meal last night rather than his birthday dinner. We had a lot of fun together. When we got back most of the kids went and did various social things. Tashara and Alexia found fun stuff to do with the students.
I ended up talking with BJ for quite a while. He is having a bit of a struggle. Just a few days ago he and Julianne finally got the packet from his mission president. After reading it they figured out that the two suits BJ already bought and had tailored won’t work for him. In fact a lot of stuff he got won’t work for him. It sounds like there are more rules and restrictions than BJ was anticipating. Being a rather independent soul he is struggling with the idea of how he can feel happy and free while having so many rules. I remember well wondering that myself. We had a long talk, and I feel like it went pretty well. We all started praying for him. I am sure that sometimes this will be a struggle. BJ doesn’t do well with rules. But I believe that if he will truly give them a try, to be honestly obedient, that he will find himself feeling very free and very happy. I remember very well how much joy there is in knowing you are really doing what God wants you to do. I think BJ will find that joy as well.
I had a hard time going to sleep, thinking a lot about our conversation. I prayed for my boy. I know Julianne is exhausted, and I pray for both of them. They are doing the Lord’s work, and often that is so tiring. But they will find great happiness in it as well.