Saturday, June 25, 2016

Endings, Beginnings, Adventures

What an amazing week! So many good things, such great stuff. Saturday was an enjoyable Sabbath. That morning I was released from being the 2nd counselor in the Branch Presidency, only to be put back in as the 2nd counselor in the Branch Presidency a few minutes later. President Fellows is moving, so he was released and the presidency was dissolved. Andrew Lily was called as the new Branch President, and he asked me to resume my same position. He asked David Heiner to also remain in his position.

President David Heiner, President James Fellows, and me

I will miss President Fellows, he is a great man and I have truly enjoyed him and had a great time with him. I will really miss him. President Lily is also going to be wonderful to work with. After the block of meetings we were set apart, and then we had his family down to our apartment where we gave them some food. My kids took care of his kids and our wives visited while we went upstairs and had a meeting. This is going to be a great presidency, I look forward to it.

Brother David Beesley, President David Heiner, President Andrew Lily, and me

The next morning was Sunday, my day off, but it wasn’t a day off this week. Instead I taught my last session of Old Testament. This is the last one ever at Jerusalem, or at least for a decade I would guess. Class went very well, but it was sad. I love these students so much, and will truly, truly miss being with them.
The nice thing was that it was Father’s Day. Part way through class, at the class break, Tashara came and gave me a Father’s Day gift. She had gotten a really nice water bottle, that can stay cool and everything, and had cut out vinyl letters that said “tears of my students” on it. Since they are about to take my final, it was somehow fitting. But it also worked as we all cried together when class was over. It is sad to see it end.

Some of my gifts on Father's Day
My Old Testament Class. I love them!
The rest of the day was wonderful. I got home and found a wonderful breakfast waiting for me. They spoiled me, giving me an incredible breakfast. Then they gave me wonderful gifts. We spent the day relaxing a bit. We played games together several different times. I can’t think of a better Father’s Day than to just spend the whole day having fun with my family. It was a day of peace, harmony, and fun, and was one of the best Father’s days I could imagine.
My Father's Day Breakfast

The day ended with the Center talent show. Skinner, Allred and I did the Mule Skinner Blues again, and it went over pretty well. I think everyone enjoyed it. Our family did a spoof we found on Bieber’s “Never say Never,” but we did “Nebuchadnezzar”. Jacob did beat box, I did a bass talk-along, Kaleb did the rap, and Julianne and the girls did the singing and dancing. It went really well, I think it was a big hit. Alexia played her viola and Kaleb played the guitar. He forgot some of the words (to “Let it Be”), but he made it funny and pulled it off well.

Mule Skinner Blues
Alexia on Viola
The next morning I got up at three am and met with a bunch of people to watch the last game of the NBA finals. It was an amazing match-up between the Cavs and Warriors. This was one of the best games I have watched. With just a few minutes left the game was tied and the entire series was tied, each team had scored 699 points for the series. It was a nail biter, but Lebron and the Cavs pulled it off. It was worth getting up for.

Then I came home, got breakfast ready, got the kids off to school, and took a little nap. The rest of the day was pleasant. I got some stuff done and enjoyed time with my family. That afternoon Tashara’s friend Eliana came over and the two of them got ready for Prom together. Several of the girls in the Center came and helped them do hair, nails and makeup. It became quite a big thing. Tashara had borrowed a dress from her cousin, Aspen, which Julianne had brought over from Utah a few weeks ago. It was fun to see Tashara and Eliana all dressed up. They both looked beautiful, and they got paraded around the Center a bit so that everyone could see them look so nice. Then off they went. They had a nice time at the Prom. This is not a Prom where people take dates. Instead they just all ate and danced and visited. Julianne and I picked her up much later that evening. Everyone else was leaving to go to clubs and drink, but Tashara just came home. She is a father’s dream. And I think she had a great time. She looked like a billion bucks, but was even more beautiful inside than she was out.

Everyone in the beauty parlor
Pedicure ahoy!
Tashara and Eliana
Beautiful Tashara
The next morning we got the kids ready and went up with them when it was time to leave for school. We met the other teachers and spouses there and together we all went to Galilee. We went to Huqoq, where Matt Grey is excavating along with the UNC team. We have several students there this year. They showed us the site, which was quite enjoyable. They found some more really cool stuff this year. I wish I could write what it is, but they have asked us not to say anything about it until they announce it, and I am happy to respect that. But it was cool, and I loved seeing it and being there. It was a great time.

From there we went to the Horns of Hattin. This is where the great battle was fought by the crusaders and the Muslims under Salah ed-din (Saladin), where the crusaders were beaten and much of their control of the Holy Land was truly lost. We explored where it happened and how it worked. It happened on a July 3rd/4th, so only about two weeks later than we were there. It was over 100 degrees when we were there, and everything had turned very brown. Part of the reason the battle happened the way it did is because the crusaders got dehydrated in the heat, and then a fire was lit that burned all the brown grass so quickly that it dried them out and heated them up even more. We could very much picture all of that happening. It was a cool place, and I could really understand the whole story better as a result. After this we had a nice dinner, and finally got home. I sure enjoy the other faculty families. What great people to spend time with, I really love it!

Hiking up the Horns of Hattin
The area where the battle (and the fires) started
The Sea of Galilee from the Horns of Hattin

Sadly I had to deal with some silly problems with work back home. The emails kept me up too late.

The next morning I gave my exam to my Old Testament students. I spent a little time finishing up business emails, and then worked on my commentary while they took the test. After I had most of the tests in, I started to think to myself about how I would handle the fact that some people would be disappointed with their grades since the policies here force us to make the tests ridiculously hard. It is important for my students to know that I am satisfied with what they have learned regardless of their exams. So I looked at the name on each exam. As I looked at the first few names I could think of specific things about them that let me know what they were learning and becoming. So I took the time to write something about each person on their test. When they came back so that we could correct it together they were able to see the comments that I had made. After we finished correcting it, I talked to them about how I knew each one of them, and I knew what they had learned and what they were becoming and who they are and something about who they will be. I told them that I am so very, very pleased with all they have done and become. I meant it. I told them, with full feeling, how much it has been a pleasure to be with them and to do what we have done together. I meant it, and they could feel it. I think most of us teared up a bit. It was a hard, but wonderful, ending. 

The rest of the day was nice. Jacob had some friends over, and that was a bit crazy.

That evening we went to the Anglican Schools graduation. Tashara and Alexia were given awards of academic excellence. It was fun to see the good aspects of the school, the camaraderie and friendship. In many ways my kids really don’t like that school, but in many ways it has been good for them and they seem to have gotten a lot out of it.

Alexia getting her award
Tashara getting her award
Alexia and her award at the Anglican School
Tashara and her award at the Anglican School
Nick Fellows playing bass at the Anglican School
The next morning we got the kids off to their last day of school. It is hard to believe that this day has arrived. When they left Julianne and I had a long, long discussion. It didn’t start out as a warm and fuzzy discussion, I think we were both a bit frustrated. But it became a wonderful, uniting, uplifting discussion that brought us both together. We talked about ways we can improve our relationship, and ways we can improve as parents. We also talked about some things we can do differently to change some of the problems we see our children have. And we made plans for how to make this a good summer for the family, how to encourage our children to become better and get along well during the summer. It started rough, but because my wife is so genuinely good, and because she makes me want to be so good, we both moved to a place where we were guided by love and the Spirit and we by the end I felt closer to her than ever. That was a nice experience.

When the kids got home from school we celebrated a bit. They were so glad to be done, yet a bit sad because they would never see most of their friends ever again. In particular it was hard for them as they said goodbye to Nick and Louisa Fellows. They have been great friends, and we will all miss them. There were some tears about parting with them. They also had a bit of fun after school gathering all their school stuff and throwing it away.

I spent a lot of time getting handouts and other things ready for going to Jordan. It is not long before we go, and it will be a lot of fun. I found out that the Skinners aren’t going, and they were the ones who were going to be with me. I sure love being with them, and learn so much from them. But at the same time, sometimes I really enjoy just doing it on my own, we can have a lot of fun that way! Then, in the evening, we got together with the Allreds. We have spent the year slowly working our way through the tv series called White Collar. We also got the Allreds into it. And so we watched the last two episodes together. It was fun. I sure enjoy them.

During that time we got some emails from BJ. They were great emails. I got it right when he sent it, so I responded, and then he responded, and we had a nice time. He is doing really, really, really well. I could not be more thrilled! He has opened himself up to getting as much out of it as he can. He has put aside anything that could be a problem and is just rockin’! I am so excited and proud of him. I also got some emails about a conference in Oxford, that it looks like I will now speak at, and then more good news about it came in, and some other good emails. On the whole it made for a great night that ended with a great feeling. It is nice to have that after a rough night last night.

The next morning we let everyone sleep in. First day with no school! Fortunately I didn’t have to teach early either! We made a special breakfast. We found a waffle iron, and it was the first time we have had waffles since we got here. They were great waffles. Julianne made a strawberry sauce, and found a condensed cream thing that was tasty. We had a great breakfast together, and just played with each other. It was a really fun morning.

Then I got ready for my New Testament class. Just after lunch I taught my first New Testament class. It is weird to begin my last class here. They seem like great students (I already know most of them quite well). I feel like it went pretty well, but it was not spectacular. Hopefully I can make it even better in the future. I have no doubt we will have a great class together. This was pretty good, but it wasn’t my best. I’m not sure why.
My New Testament class
We had a nice orientation for going to Jordan. Kaleb and Alexia came with us, since they are going to Jordan with us. I am getting excited, I think we are going to have a great trip. We went with the Skinners and Allreds to look over at the Temple Mount and watch people as they did their prayers at the end of the day and broke their fast as part of Ramadan. It was a nice experience. There was a couple there who were breaking their fast. They insisted that we eat some of their food. It was nice of them. I have so much fun with the Skinners and Allreds. I really, really enjoy them.

Throngs of people at the Dome of the Rock for Ramadan
People eating at the Dome of the Rock just after sundown at Ramadan
Then Julianne and I watched a movie together. It did a great job of really getting you to think about how difficult things are between the Palestinians and Jews. What a difficult place to live. I am so glad that we find a measure of peace in this war-torn land. Fortunately, despite the many things that swirl around us in so many ways, because of my family’s relationship with each other and our relationship with God, we can always find islands of peace. I am grateful for that.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

The Return of Julianne (and King David)

Last Sabbath was nice. We heard from Elder Price, and that was nice. In Sabbath school I was reminded how much family tensions arise from selfishness, and it was a good reminder for me.

After church I even got a bit of a nap. We played some games together, tidied up a bit for Julianne, and had a nice dinner I made in the crock pot. All in all it was a nice day.

I got up at a little before 5 the next day, and went to the airport to get Julianne. It was so nice to see her again. She was clearly worn out and tired, but we were so glad to have her back. On the way home we found a nice place to pull over, and I brought out a little breakfast I had made, and we ate it and enjoyed a nice little view and morning ambiance in the Abu Gosh area.

When we got home the kids were so excited to see her. It was a sweet reunion. She had brought back all sorts of food treats, such as tortillas, cheese sticks, macaroni and cheese, etc., so that the kids could enjoy some of the food they liked but missed. We spent the day having fun together. It was a nice day.

The next day was a field trip at Neot Kedumim. On the way there and back Julianne and I told the story of our getting married. Everyone always seems to enjoy that. It was a day where I didn’t have another faculty member with me, so it was just Julianne and I and our guide, and it went well. The students always love herding sheep and tasting plants and coming to understand more of how the land interacts with the Bible. I set up a contest between two groups for the cooking, which meant that they served me the whole time, and I was given some fantastic food. It was a fun day.
Students drawing water from a cistern

Students baking at Neot Kedumiim
Students making dough for pita
Julianne grinding hyssop
One great thing that consistently happens is that when the students are given some tasks of herding  the sheep and goats with specific goals, they do incredibly well. The guides always tell us that our students are better and faster than any other groups. They believe it is because our students are already a group, they know how to work together as a group. Additionally, there isn't anyone who is trying to be in charge or prove themselves or act like they are better than others. I guess usually you get some people like this, and it disrupts the ability to work as a group. But our students work as one, and as a true group they accomplish great things quickly. 

Julianne and students herding sheep

students herding sheep
That night we saw BYU’s Academic Vice President, Brent Webb, and his wife Amy, at dinner. When we finished visiting with students we went over and visited with them for a while. He is so pleasant, and it was good to be able to see them.

After a day of classes and business Brent Webb took the faculty and our wives to dinner. It was a very nice dinner, and we had a very nice time together, but it went very, very late.

The next day we did the City of David field trip. Brent Webb came with us, and he seemed to have a really nice time. Andy Skinner was on this field trip with us, and he was a delight. I always learn something new, and a new way of presenting things, when he is with us. We taught them about why the city was built where it was, about the sacredness of the temple site, about David’s palace, about stories associated with David, Isaiah, Jeremiah, etc., that happened there. 

We went over the miraculous deliverance of Jerusalem from the Assyrians as we looked over into the Kidron Valley. It is an interesting image to think of Assyrian soldiers arrayed behind Sennacherib’s Assyrian officials, standing in the Kidron Valley, in the very place where Hezekiah and his people had thrown out their idols. Because the idols had been destroyed in that valley, so too would the army that stood in that valley be destroyed. In a way their defeat had been brought about before they had even come as Hezekiah’s people had stripped themselves of idolatry. By not trusting in the power of the world, but instead casting it into the Kidron Valley, Judah had protected themselves from the power of the world, that army which stood in the Kidron Valley. Fortunately for Judah they had repented on their own, and thus in their day of need, the Lord heard them. We contrasted this with what happened when the Babylonian army arrayed itself in that same spot. This time Judah had not repented, and thus they were not spared. There is a lesson for us to learn here.

Kidron Valley from the City of David

Kidron Valley from the City of David
We went down to see the Middle Bronze era wall. I believe that Melchizedek built this wall, so it is a special place to me.

My class, and Brent Webb, in front of the Middle Bronze wall at the City of David
From there we went into the tunnels that lead to the Gihon Spring. These are massive walls that led to an even more massive gate that protected the spring. There we spoke of Solomon being anointed king, and even reenacted it a bit. We compared that to Christ coming to that area and being accepted as king. It was a nice moment. Then we had a ton of fun going through the tunnel, and eventually we had a little spiritual thought at the Pool of Siloam, where Andy talked about the healing of the man who had been born blind. It was cut short because of our need to get to the pickup spot, so it wasn’t as nice as it could have been, but it worked out okay. On the whole it was a nice day.

The corner of the tower over the Gihon Spring

Hezekiah's Tunnel
That afternoon I got some good work done on my Old Testament commentary, and then I spent time with the kids, and then I went to a lecture given by Brent Webb. It was a nice day.

On Thursday I had a nice class, and then the faculty and our wives went to Jaffa. We went to the house of Simon the Tanner, which is locked, but is a nice place to talk about the vision of Peter and how the gospel was extended to the Gentiles. We ended up having a very nice gospel discussion there. It wouldn’t have happened if David had been there, but it wasn’t, so everyone was relaxed, and we just had a good time. We saw some of the ancient ruins, and we had a nice lunch. Then we went to Apollonia, which was a beautiful place. It has some Roman ruins, but its most spectacular stuff is the ruins of a crusader castle. It is picturesque, and I loved it. I so enjoy the Skinners and Allreds and had a delightful, wonderful, enjoyable day with them.
Julianne in front of Simon the Tanner's house in Jaffa/Joppa
Julianne in front of the harbor at Jaffa/Joppa

The castle at Apollonia

The shoreline at Apollonia
Looking out of the Keep of the castle at Apollonia
The next day I had a very nice class. Then I got some work done, and Julianne and I visited and planned for a while. The kids got home and we worked on our skit for the talent show. Then we went to a branch picnic. By that same time next week the Fellows and Bransons would be gone, so this was a farewell as we all are about to part ways. Jeff Chadwick was in town, and it was so nice to see him. We visited and talked and had a great time. This is a good bunch of people, and I love being with them. We just had a lot of fun together. When we got back we had Phil over to watch a movie with, but I fell asleep before it was over.

The best part of the week happened on Thursday. We had been waiting anxiously to hear from BJ all week. We had sent him lots of letters and emails and had heard from several people who had seen him at the MTC that he was doing well, and had even gotten a picture of him sent to us. We have been praying for him every prayer any of us say, and even some of my students have been praying for him. On Thursday we got some great emails. He sounds so much like a missionary. In an email to the children he challenged them to pray for charity and to look for ways to serve each other. We had been working on having less bickering and problems, and I had been praying to know how to teach them about charity, and BJ’s email was an answer to prayer. It was amazing how much he sounded like a seasoned missionary in his emails. Clearly he is enjoying his companion, roommates’, and is getting a lot out of the experience. I am so glad. He is being blessed, and we are being blessed by him. What a wonderful thing!

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Goodbye to friends and family

I am glad this week is almost over. Not because it has been a bad week, but because it means Julianne is almost home. We have done just fine, all has gone very well, but I miss her a lot.

Sabbath was very nice. The testimonies were very sweet, and several students talked about epiphanies they had in my class. That is always nice, it is good to know that class is actually making a difference in their lives. After church we had a nice meal with the Trees, and then we went out to see some things. We went to Gibeah and talked about the Saul, Johnathan, and David stories. These are such incredible stories. To begin with Sabrina had a pretty bad attitude about going, but soon she and Teagan Tree started to really hit it off, and then she was happy she came. It was nice for Teagan too, who had not been enjoying things so far.
Then we went over to Nebi Samwil. I feel like they appreciated the stories about the Crusaders that we went over there, but they really resonated with the stories about Gibeon. I think they were able to really picture and feel the story about the battle with Joshua and the sun and the moon standing still. And I think they could picture God coming to Solomon and granting him wisdom. While we were there a huge asp went past. Crazy. We also enjoyed going inside the synagogue. It was strangely empty, especially for a Sabbath. But it was nice.

Then we had another nice dinner and visited for quite a while, and finally everyone got to bed.
Alexia, Sabrina, and Teagan Tree having fun with biblical Gibeon behind them
The next morning we had breakfast with the Trees at their hotel, and then we were off on an adventure. We went first to the City of David. It was fun to hear my kids tell their kids about things they were going to see, it helped me know that they are listening and learning about these places. Kaleb went with them in their car, and taught them things as they drove along. That made me happy to. We learned about all sorts of cool things at the City of David, and then we went through Hezekiah’s tunnel. The kids always, always love that. I think they had a great time.
From there we went to Bet Shemesh. We had a little picnic there, and went over the Samson story, and also the story of the Ark of the Covenant being returned to Israel. I think everyone had fun.

From there we went to the Valley of Elah. I quickly showed them where Shocoh was, and then we went off-road to go to some of the new places we have figured out about the Valley of Elah. My kids have never been to that part before, and I think they enjoyed going there. I showed them where I think the most likely place is for David to have come down the hill, which also gives us a most likely place for his collecting stones from the brook. Of course I can’t know, but the more I looked at it, looked at the story, the geography, the archaeology, etc., the more I felt like there was a very, very good chance that this was the right spot, this is where David came through. It was fun. Then we drove to a different part of the brook and got stones and slings and had a great time slinging. I think everyone really enjoyed it.
When that was over we parted ways. The Trees went to the Dead Sea while we came home and got ready for school the next day, doing homework, etc. They got home too late to do stuff with them, so we just saw them the next day.

Jacob slinging stones in the Valley of Elah
Sabrina slinging stones in the Valley of Elah
Alexia slinging stones in the Valley of Elah
Tashara slinging stones in the Valley of Elah, with Britton Tree behind her
The group in the Book of Elah, slinging stones
Kaleb slinging stones in the Valley of Elah with Tim Tree nearby
I got my kids off to school, and then I joined the Tree family. We went to the Dome of the Rock and the Western Wall. It was the first time I had been up next to the wall during some Bar Mitzvahs. It was nice to see the young boys reading scriptures and praying there, and how excited the families were. It is a great family experience and tradition.
A booy reading from the Torah at his Bar Mitzvah a the Western Wall
The Tree family at the Dome of the Rock
Another family celebrating a bar mitzvah at the Western Wall
From there we to the Garden of Gethsemane and the Pool of Bethesda. There we ran into some of my students who were singing in the church and we were able to enjoy their singing there. We also had some nice moments going through the story of the healing of the lame man at the Pool of Bethesda. From there we walked to the Garden Tomb and had some nice time there. Then we walked back through the city, hitting lots of little highlights that Tim wanted to see. We finally ended up at the Upper Room and Dormition Abbey and Tomb of David. From there we went to St. Peter in Gallicantu. We ended the whole thing by looking at the steps that I think were probably the steps the Savior took as he went to and from Gethsemane. It proved to be a very nice note to end on. I feel like it was a good tour for the Trees, and that they were able to have a good experience.

the Tree family at the Garden Tomb
We came home and had a fun dinner of Mac and Cheese with them. They had brought some boxes over so that we could eat it with them. It was great fun. The kids played together for a while longer, and then they left. Our kids all had a lot of fun together, it was really wonderful to be with them again, and I think the whole thing went very well. Afterwards we just made sure the kids were ready for school the next day, and finally got ready for bed.

I have been talking with BJ and Julianne a little bit. It has been a bit hard, they have so much going on. But the moments I have been able to talk with them have been wonderful.

The next day the kids went to school, and I had a nice class. This group is really good at asking questions that get us into meaningful discussions, and I feel like we have an almost unending string of deep explorations of what the gospel means in our lives. After class I was able to start working on my Old Testament commentary. This is going to be a time intensive, but fun project. It is taking longer than I thought it would. But I am enjoying it. My time working on it was interrupted by going to school to get Tashara, but I really enjoy that bit of just Tashara/Dad time that we get to have together. She is a remarkable girl, and so enjoyable. Later the kids got home, we cleaned like crazy, had dinner in the Oasis, kids went to scouts, etc., the Young Women came to our home to make cookies (hence our cleaning so much), I had Branch Presidency Meeting, and then we all went to bed.

I went to bed very early, knowing I was going to have to get up very early. But I got texts and phone calls a few hours after I went to sleep, and it woke me up enough that I just couldn’t go back to sleep for a long time. I finally did about an hour before I had to get up. So I got three hours of sleep total. But it was worth it. I woke everyone up (it was 4 am), and we got on skype, and were able to be part of BJ being set apart as a missionary. I was able to say the opening prayer, and the setting apart was beautiful. I think BJ is a little nervous, but the setting apart was powerful and I am sure he is going to be a great missionary. After about 45 minutes, after the kids had fallen back asleep, I was able to talk with BJ and Julianne for a long time. It was fun, I really enjoyed it. I will miss BJ. He will be a great missionary.

Soon it was time to get everyone ready for school. We are all fasting today for BJ’s entry into the MTC to go well. The kids are doing great to go to school and do PE, etc., while fasting. My lesson went okay, though I was extremely tired. I took a long nap afterwards. I tried to work on my book a bit, but wasn’t able to do very well, I was so tired. When the kids got home there was lots of bickering, etc. Everyone was tired and hungry. But we had a nice dinner and I think soon people were feeling better. We had a nice night together.

Well after I would have normally gone to bed I got back on the phone/face-time with BJ and Julianne. I was with them as they took pictures outside the temple, and then stayed with them as they drove over to the MTC. I said goodbye to BJ and watched as Julianne did too, and as he entered into the MTC. I will never forget being able to be part of these moments, the farewell talk, the setting apart, and his going into the MTC. He was nervous, but he is going to be great. I am excited for him, and very, very proud of him.

Then I chatted with Julianne for quite a while. I got to start chatting as she came back to the room where they had been staying. She looked around at all the stuff he loved so much and had left behind, and she started crying. It was good I could “be” with her then. We talked for a long time, and it was comforting for both of us. We got an email from BJ right while we were chatting. It was to give us his email address and let us know he was doing okay in the MTC. He had been there about an hour. It was nice to hear from him already. I wrote an email for him and sent him a letter on Then I bid my bride goodnight as she went out to lunch with her friends, and finally went to sleep. She was blessed to have friends that took her to lunch and talked about their own experiences of taking sons to the MTC, and just supported her during a time she needed the support.
We haven’t heard from BJ since, but we have both sent him a few emails and letters. We have also heard from a few people we know who work in the MTC who have seen him, and they say he is happy, having fun, and doing well. That is a great comfort. We miss him. It is hard to imagine that we won’t see him for two years. But I am so very confident that the Lord will bless him.

In the meantime, I taught more and the classes went very well. Some of these classes have been really great as we talk together about how to make sure we are truly worshipping God, and God only, with all our heart. I have gotten quite a bit done on my commentary, but it really is going more slowly than I thought it would. Part of this is because I am doing some of the more difficult sections first. I have had some fun with the kids, and they are doing well. I have also finally been able to visit extensively with Julianne. I sure miss her a lot. I have especially been able to spend some nice time with Tashara. I have been blessed with extraordinary kids. I stayed up really late again on Thursday night, trying to get Julianne the best seats possible on her flights. She is coming home soon!

Friday afternoon I was able to travel up to Tel Aviv for some Priesthood Leadership Training with Elder Gary Price. I drove up with some students, and it was a nice time to visit. The meeting was very nice. It was more business than anything, but there were some nice moments, and the Spirit taught me some things about ordinances and the place of the Holy Ghost. It is interesting to note how baptism and confirmation, washings and anointings, and the parts of the sacrament, all parallel each other and what that can teach us. It was a very nice time. I had another very enjoyable ride back with our students. Then I spent just a bit of time with the kids before I had to make us all do some cleaning, and put Jacob and Sabrina to bed. Then I watched a show with my other kids, visited with Julianne as she was in the airport, and finally drifted off to sleep. I am so glad my sweetheart is on her way home. We have gotten by just fine here without her. I can run the household just fine on my own, I can take care of the kids just fine, but I can’t run or take care of my heart very well without her. I have not been sad, but I have missed her and am glad she is on her way home.

I am so very grateful that she was willing and able to go take care of BJ. I am glad he had some time with her, and that through her he could know how much we all love him, support him, and want to take care of him. I hope that through her he could feel like we were all with him, for we all were. I am so grateful she is an inspired mom and was able to be for him what he needed. She is an answer to so many prayers. In this way she truly is an angel of God.