Wow, just when I thought I couldn’t get any more squeezed into a week, we did! On Sunday we spent some time getting ready for Galilee, took kids around to do things with their friends, and then we all led the students to the Palm Sunday walk. No one had really told the students what it was about, how it worked, where or when to go, or much of anything. A couple of little things were said, but the night before they still had so many questions and didn’t know what was going on. So we just told them they could come with our family. And it ended up being great! We had a great experience. We talked about the Triumphal Entry, and about accepting Christ as our king. We sat outside the church of Bethpage, where it all starts, and saw the procession begin, and fell in behind not too far after the beginning. It was great to feel like we were such an integral part of the community of Christians. There is something powerful and wonderful about being with so many different denominations of Christians from all over the world (we were by a group from the Philippines and a group from Italy, but mixed with people from everywhere). To have such a group celebrate Christ and testify of Christ together is an important and powerful thing. We all loved it! And this time our kids were old enough to get it and to enjoy it.
|On the Palm Sunday march|
|With other Christians on Palm Sunday|
|The family on Palm Sunday|
|The family on Palm Sunday|
The next morning we left at 6 am for Galilee. On the drive I tried to teach them about some various things, and some even stayed awake for it.
Our first stop was Bet She’an, where Saul and Johnathan’s bodies were hung
for ridicule after they were slain. We talked about Saul, Johnathan, David, and
the strategic importance of the place in general. We also talked about how the
huge Roman ruins were the remains of Scythopolis, a Decapolis city. The Savior
preached in the areas of Decapolis, and people from Decapolis followed him. We
gave them a bit of free time, and then we moved on.
I tried to teach them about where we were traveling, and
ancient trade routes, as we went. We went past so many places with such famous
stories. We went past Ein Harod, where Gideon had his men drink from a spring
before he thinned out his army and went to defeat the Midianites just across
the valley. We went past Shunem, where Elisha raised a child from the Dead. We
went past Mount Tabor, a possible site for the Mount of Transfiguration and the
place where Deborah and Barak began their battle against the Canaanites. And
the list goes on. I tried to help the students (and my kids, who were all with
me) to get a feel for how much this place is the Land of the Bible. I love
having my kids with me on these trips, they listen to me in a different way
than they do when it is just our family.
|The students were so tired on the bus|
|Beit She'an from above, looking from the Old Testament site down on the Roman period site|
|Alexia in the Roman Theater of Beit She'an|
We finally got to Nazareth. We went in and taught about the annunciation, and how much Mary was like her son in her willingness to do God’s will no matter what. Tashara helped translate the Latin on the church, and it was quite fun. We enjoyed our time inside, we prayed and sang and contemplated.
Then we went outside and talked more about the Savior growing up. We went to
St. Joseph’s and thought about Joseph. We went to the traditional site of the
synagogue in which Jesus taught, and Andy Skinner taught about Jesus there. It
was all wonderful. I am so grateful my kids get this good education and hear
from all these great people.
As we drove from there, on the bus I talked to the students
about Motherhood. I talked to them about how that is the most important role in
the world, but how that is not what the world teaches about it. We spent a lot
of time talking about how to filter through the world’s ideas about motherhood
and instead accept God’s ideas, and the problems that come when we try to
believe both the world and God. I felt like the discussion went very well, and
a lot of people were touched and a lot of people were thinking through things
differently. I was very happy with it.
|The Basilica of the Annunciation in Nazareth|
|Julianne and Sabrina in the upper part of the Basilica of the Annunciation|
|The women of our program in front of the statue of Mary|
|Our students in the church built to commemorate the synagogue of Nazareth, being taught by Andrew Skinner|
Afterwards we got to Mount Arbel, where we were able to look over the Sea of Galilee and help everyone get a feel for the geography and where we would all stay and how it all fit together. It is beautiful, and I think everyone enjoyed it. When we finished there we came to En Gev. It is good to be back. I have lived there for over two months of my life now. It is a great place, and I love it. There is such a sweet, peaceful feeling there. We got all moved in, had dinner, and got ready for the next day.
On Tuesday I taught three hours of classes. I felt like it
went really well. We began by going outside where we looked at the place where
the swine ran into the lake and the city that was probably part of that story.
We ended by going out to the shore and talking about multiplying the loaves and
fishes. We had a lot of time where we could answer questions and talk about
things they really wanted to know and that helped them understand the
scriptures better. It is fun to sometimes have enough time to cover something
well. I think everyone enjoyed class today.
|The northern part of the Sea of Galilee|
|My students on Mount Arbel|
|Flowers on Mount Arbel|
Afterwards we went to the beach. It was a bit chilly, but the kids had a lot of fun, and I had fun with them and visiting with Julianne. It is nice to every now and then just be able to relax, and we did it and it was wonderful.
On Wednesday we went on one of my favorite field trips. We started out by going to the Bay of Parables. Then we went to Capernaum. Andrew Skinner did a fabulous job teaching them about the Bread of Life Sermon. Then I taught them about how Capernaum was the place where Jesus spent so much time. We talked about the miracles that happened there and likened them to our lives. I wish I could capture the feeling that Capernaum gives, but I just can’t. It is such an amazing place. I can feel and see and sense the Savior everywhere there. It almost makes me feel like I was there with Him. I love it, and I think the students did too. I also made sure I got them a lot of time to think and ponder there.
|Students pondering at Capernaum|
|Learning in the Synagogue at Capernaum|
Then we went to the Mount of Beatitudes. There we heard from the Nun who runs the place, Sister Mary Rose. She does such a beautiful job there. Then Andy taught them. It all went very well.
We hiked down to Tabgha, and Andy taught them a bit there.
Then we went to St. Peter’s Primacy, where I taught them about how the Savior
helped Peter see that he needed to leave his old life behind and do all he
could to build up the kingdom. I think we had a very nice moment there. I hope
we all committed to following Christ more fully.
|Sister Mary Rose teaching our students at the Mount of Beatitudes|
|Andrew Skinner teaching the students at the Mount of Beatitudes|
|Alexia in front of her favorite Mosaic of the Loaves and Fishes at Tabgha|
|My class on the hike from the Mount of Beatitudes to Tabgha|
|My kids at Saint Peter's Primacy|
We had a brief time at Nof Ginosaur, where we saw an ancient boat. Then we got on a boat that took us across the lake. While there we read the account of Jesus stilling the storm and of Peter walking on water. I felt like there were some wonderful moments as we talked about each one.
On the whole it was a great, wonderful field trip. Yet it
was not as good as the last few times I have done it. Andy Skinner was
wonderful to work with, and taught some great things. Yet when I do the field
trip on my own, as I have a few times lately, it is just better. It is
impossible for two people to do a field trip as well as one can do it. You just
can’t control the timing, tempo, themes, etc., as well. This field trip was
great. I wish the situation were such that I could make it better.
|Students on the boat on the Sea of Galilee|
|Earth's sun in the calm lake mirrored at Galilee|
|The ancient boat at Nof Ginosaur|
The next day was class again. I felt like it went really well. The students love to talk about this stuff, and I could not ask for it to go better. When it was over Tashara and I drove out to Caesarea and I did my last scuba dive in order to certify. It was really fun to do it with Tashara. We saw some fish, some ruined hulls of ships that I suspect were from the time of Napoleon’s invasion, and some huge blocks that were part of how Herod built his harbor. It was great, easy, and now I am scuba certified. I loved it. I can’t believe I was able to do this. I can’t believe my wife pulled this off for me. I am so grateful!
|Tashara scuba diving at Caesarea|
|Me scuba diving at Caesarea|
|Coral at Caesarea|
A little bit of traffic problems caused me to get back just a little late. Julianne took my class to the fish restaurant and Tashara and I joined them just a bit late. Then I took them to Tiberias to see the city at night. Tashara came with me. It was just a bit boring, but we did it.
|Half the class eating at the Fish Restaurant|
|Tashara and the gang at Tiberias|
The next morning we did another field trip. We were tired, because the time changed last night, so our 7:30 field trip felt like it was 6:30. We went to Gamla, where David Whitchurch taught them about the Jewish Revolt and the destruction of Gamla. We gave them some free time, and then I taught them about Jesus in the synagogue there. It went well.
|Students pondering at the synagogue at Gamla|
From there we went to Bethsaida, or a place many think is Bethsaida. I taught for a while there, and then Whitchurch did.
|Students at Bethsaida|
We had just a few minutes to spend at Kursi, where we went over the story of the devils being cast into swine.
When we finished that we had a quick lunch, and then my family and I went to Hamat Gader. It is a pretty cool place. We saw their whole bunch of pools that have a whole bunch of different kinds of alligators and crocodiles. Some were really cool, some were kind of freaky, and we had a great time. Then we saw a really cool parrot show. Who knew parrots were so smart or could do so many things? Then we went to a petting zoo, which was way fun. We saw baboons, and other kinds of creatures. We saw all sorts of fun stuff, and went swimming in a mineral hot springs. We got back just in time for dinner. On the whole we just had wonderful time.
|Jacob, Sabrina, Alexia and Kaleb at the petting zoo|
The next day we slept in just a bit. Then we had a nice breakfast, and a cool Easter egg hunt that Julianne set up for the kids. She had found some really great stuff for them, and they had a great time. Then we went to the Mount of Beatitudes and talked about the characteristics of Christ just a bit. We went to Capernaum and talked about how Christ lived in a way to teach us about the Father, and then died and lived again so that we could be with the Father. It was a nice time.
We had lunch and then we all went to Church. Church was nice. We got home and visited and had dinner and visited and on the whole had a very nice day together.
It has been a great week to think about how much the Savior has done for us. We tried to spend a little time each day talking about what Christ has done for us. We have gone to so many places where we could talk and think about Christ. It has been so wonderful to come to better understand the most wonderful thing that ever happened.