Monday, June 8, 2009
The last two weeks have been busy with getting settled back into our condo in Holland, visiting with Brad's family briefly, and visiting friends. It's been a pretty smooth transition although we are definitely adjusting to American life. Now, we are just seeking what God has next for us and we hope to take the next couple of months to discern that. We will keep you posted on our future plans and thank you for all of your support throughout this year. You are all a blessing!
Brad, Shallon, Denyon, and Little G2
Thursday, May 7, 2009
Saturday, May 2, 2009
Thursday, April 23, 2009
Well, after nearly nine months of living here in Jerusalem and my mommy always getting to write on the blog, she finally let me do my first entry. I have some exciting news (I think!) to share with you. My mommy and daddy tell me that I’m going to be a big brother! I’m not exactly sure what that means but they seem very excited about it. They keep asking me if I want a brother or a sister and I just tell them whichever one they say last to me. I don’t want them to really know what I want. They showed me these cool pictures of the baby in my mommy’s tummy so I thought I would share one of them with you too (see below). This little baby already has arms and legs…just like me! I bet I can kick and throw a ball better though! I am excited to meet my little brother or sister around November 11. My mommy seems to be the same to me except sometimes she is tired and sometimes daddy says I have to leave her alone in the bathroom because she is feeling sick. I don’t like it when mommy gets sick but she says it’s okay and not to worry. I’ll keep you posted and in the meantime, if you have any tips for how to be a good big brother, please let me know! Have a great day!
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
The drive was about 3 ½ hours long, so once we arrived, we checked into our cozy villa about a mile from the coast, ate lunch, and headed to the beach. We went to a less crowded, but no less beautiful, beach called Coral Reserve Beach. There, you could rent snorkeling equipment and snorkel right off the beach. This was great since obviously one of us had to stay with Denyon. He’s pretty advanced but he’s not quite ready to snorkel. The Red Sea has some of the best visibility for snorkeling of all the salt bodies of water in the world due to three things: 1. Higher salt content than most (3.9% versus 3.1% in other major salt bodies). 2. Slightly cooler temperatures. 3. When the fish die, instead of floating to the top and contaminating the water, they sink to the bottom so the visibility is not impaired. So because of the great visibility, the snorkeling is amazing! It was one of those times I’d wish I’d had one of the cheap underwater disposable cameras. There were so many beautiful fish, colors, and coral. We were able to snorkel there both on Wednesday and Friday and both days were spectacular.
On Thursday, we crossed the Jordanian border and headed to the site of Petra. It’s hard to describe this phenomenal place but it’s a Nabataean city that originated over 2000 years ago. The Nabataeans were ancient Arab tribes that came from the Arabian Peninsula. The city was taken over by the Roman Empire in 106 AD, but the Nabataeans left impressive structures behind. The rock there is sandstone in what seems as though all colors of the rainbow. The light of the sun also changes the colors throughout the day. The buildings are carved out of the sandstone, so basically the builders start with a huge slab of natural rock structure, and cut away to make whatever building they are trying to construct. It is so impressive and really pictures don’t even do it justice. Although in southern Jordan and usually very hot this time of year, it was ironically very cold. We were not dressed prepared for that so we bought a couple scarves/blankets in order to keep Denyon and myself warm. Brad just had to tough it out (it did eventually warm up a bit)!
We arrived back in Eilat in ample time to have a delicious dinner at a place highly recommended by the owner of our villa. It was called the Gulf Restaurant and we had delicious fried calamari. Even Denyon liked it! It’s always so fun having new foods from different places when you travel.
Friday was another day in Eilat enjoying the Red Sea. This time, the bulk of our day was spent at the Underwater Observatory and Aquarium Park. It was fascinating and Denyon was beside himself at knowing which exhibit he wanted to see. He wanted to go in and out of exhibits and up and down ramps and stairs. We couldn’t keep up! The park included a couple different aquarium exhibits with rare marine species, all types of fish, and coral. It also housed a shark and sting ray pool, turtle pool, children’s play area, small snorkel area, and the coolest underwater observatory. This was a large building built right in the middle of the sea that you could go down underwater and see the fish live! There are some amazing coral reefs where the structure is located so the marine life was incredible. Here Brad was able to get some pictures so it does capture some of the Red Sea’s beauty.
Of note at the shark tank is a funny story. The sharks were going to be fed so dozens of people were packed in to see. There was a bridge over the tank that you could stand on and look down below to see the sharks being fed. We were standing there and Denyon was in the backpack on Brad's back. He then requested a snack, so I handed him his cheerios container. It has a flip lid that he can open and close, which I had opened. He closed it then and got frustrated so I opened it again. He closed it again, got frustrated, and this time threw it down and the container spilled open and a large portion of the contents went into the tank! There were signs in numerous places in the park that read, "Do not feed us. Your food is not digestible for us!" Brad told me to quickly put the container away so that we didn't get kicked out for not following the rules! Denyon just thought the sharks needed a little snack!
We then went to the beach again, and surprisingly ran into some friends from the school. They have three children so Denyon enjoyed playing with them, and it gave both of us couples a little bit more room to relax because the kids kept each other entertained. They are the same family that we ran into at the Garden Tomb Easter service. Katie and I had said we’d wanted to organize a play date…God orchestrated two! We had a wonderful time on the beach with them, and then had another amazing dinner. This time at a place known for its steaks and we both had one of the best we’d ever had. Yum!
Saturday, we left Eilat and visited two spots on the way home. First, we stopped at Timna, which is a reserve in the desert in the southern part of Israel which houses ancient copper mines. The climbing was incredible and we found some great rocks. Another place of interest there is a replica of the Tabernacle of Moses’ time. The guide there was so nice and actually knows some of the people we know from West Michigan that lead trips there. It was great to talk with her and remember how small the world is.
Second, we went to Mizpe Ramon and saw (as well as drove thru) the largest natural geological depression in the world, called "Mahktesh Ramon." Many are probably thinking of the Grand Canyon but that is a canyon and not a depression formed from years of earth silting away. We basically drove through the depression, and then made our way to the top where we could look out into the depression from above. It was beautiful and well worth the stop. The drive home was lengthy but these two stops helped pass the time and allowed us to enjoy some areas we hadn’t driven through previously. Hopefully the pictures captured the beauty!
We were all very tired upon our return and enjoyed long naps the next day. The trip was very relaxing and a great break for Brad before the big push of the last two weeks of the semester. It’s hard to believe we’ve only got another month here. The time has flown and we feel so blessed to have experienced so many wonderful trips including this one. We have created a lifetime of memories!
Have a blessed day!
Brad, Shallon, and Denyon
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
Although we were quite exhausted after a wonderful week with my parents, we couldn't miss out on celebrating Easter at the Garden Tomb...one of two possible locations for the burial and resurrection of Christ in Jerusalem. The day was beautiful with bright sun, a light breeze, and warm air. The service was held outside in the beautiful garden and nearly 1000 people were in attendance. The celebration consisted of almost all singing with a small message near the end. It was amazing to worship and celebrate the resurrection with so many other Christians in the place where perhaps the first Easter was celebrated! Denyon even enjoyed the morning seeing as though the floor was a bed of rocks! We also sat with some friends from the school who have three children so they all kept each other occupied. It was well worth waking up for and probably our favorite Easter celebration yet. We feel blessed to have been part of such an incredible experience. We hope that you all had a wonderful Easter celebration as well!
Happy Easter with love,
Brad, Shallon and Denyon