Saturday, May 14, 2016

Negev and more

Last Sabbath was nice. We extended a lot of callings and set apart a lot of people. Then we took them to the Garden Tomb. Kaleb and Jacob came with me, and it was quite nice. We had a very nice experience, it was a great time. The weather has been so cool.

That evening we had my friends from BYU over for ice cream and popcorn. We visited for a long time and really enjoyed it. 

Sunday was Mother’s Day. We made a big breakfast for Julianne. I think she enjoyed it. Then we went to the zoo together. We had a really fun time at the zoo. Jacob was our guide, and he loved showing us around and teaching about animals. We had a great time together. Then we went out for shwarmas as a family. It really isn’t often that you can go out to eat on Mother’s Day, since it usually falls on a Sabbath for us. But here it doesn’t, so we took advantage of it and went out to eat. I think Julianne felt special and had a great day. We also were able to speak with our mothers. They seemed to enjoy the flowers and chocolate we sent them. On the whole it was a good day.

The next day was a field trip to the Negev. We first stopped at a weaving factory, which was okay. Then we went to Beer Sheva. David taught at that site, and did a nice job. I felt like he really taught well. 

David Whitchurch teaching the students outside the gates of Beer Sheva

David Whitchurch teaching inside the gates of Beer Sheva
Then I taught at Arad. I felt like it went well. I especially spent time in the temple there, teaching about temples in general. Then I taught them about how it seems that in that spot they had begun to worship more than one god at a time, and spent some time trying to get them to think about how they do that same thing. I think it went pretty well, I believe they really started to ask themselves some good questions. We continued that conversation throughout the week in class.

The students looking down at me as I walked around inside the Arad Temple teaching them about it
Throughout the week we kept working on getting things squared away with BJ. The doctors would just never get his appointment made. We weren’t allowed to make it ourselves, for some very odd reason our normal doctor had to set it up. We ended up having to hound them to get it taken care of, and on Friday it finally happened. It turns out that he has one very small hole, they don’t think it is problematic nor do they think it causes any of his migraine symptoms. They do not want to operate. We stayed up through the middle of the night a bunch of times, including until 3 am on Friday, to get to this point. I am glad he is healthy, that nothing will be interfering with his mission, and that he can move forward. He also bought his mission clothes this week, and got a lot of other good things done in preparation for his mission. It is coming up soon. Only 3 and a half weeks away.
I feel like class is going very well. I am happy about what they are learning and the degree that they are willing to engage the material in a thoughtful way. I am having a good time with these students. I am finally getting to know them.

During the week we took a small faculty field trip to the monastery of the cross. This is a really cool building that has a lot of medieval aspects to it still. While we were there a group of Georgian (the country, not the state) Orthodox priests came. They could sing like I couldn’t believe. I stayed for quite a while just to hear them sing. It was incredible.

The spot where grew the tree from which the cross was supposed to have been made 

From inside the Monastery of the Cross
I did a little workshop for the students to help them get ready for Egypt. I think it was useful for them. I felt like it went well. I spent quite a bit of time this week getting ready for our trip to Egypt. It is forecast to be well over 110 degrees for much of the time we are there. That may be a bit warm.

We set apart a lot of students during the week. That is always a great experience. I am amazed at how much the Lord loves these students and how much he knows them and knows their needs and their potential. I love doing that. I always have to be careful, I admit that there is a part of me that wants them to be impressed with the blessings I give. I know that is ridiculous, the blessings are not from me and I must avoid such self-centeredness and pride. Each time I have to make sure I am doing what I am doing for the right reason. I do love the feelings I feel as I get small glimpses into how God feels about these people. It is also exhausting.

I have been trying to focus on spending real and quality time with the kids. We had a few nights where we played some games. We made sure we visited together at meals. We tried to have some teaching moments. I gave the children blessings to help them get through the rest of the school year. I have worried that sometimes we are together in the same house but so into whatever each person is doing that we aren’t really together. I hope we made some strides towards rectifying this. It was a nice week together.

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