Greeks learn in order to comprehend.
Hebrews learn in order to revere.

~ Abraham Joshua Heschel

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Merry Christmas!

Hello everyone! We just wanted to say Merry Christmas to all of you! We will be celebrating here with some friends and just enjoying being here in Jerusalem during this special time. We will greatly miss our family and friends back home. This week we are preparing for our trip to Greece and also just relaxing a bit. Perhaps we'll do some sightseeing around the Old City and maybe even the zoo. Once we return from all of our travels, we'll give you the full update. Brad also plans on sharing his Egypt trip with you. Until then, have a wonderful Christmas and Happy New Year!

Brad, Shallon, and Denyon

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Our Semester Break Begins!

Another semester is complete and now it's six weeks break before the next semester starts! Brad is currently in Egypt for a week to conclude his class on the History of Ancient Egypt. He is going all over the country to see various temples, pryamids, and museums and also has enjoyed floating down the Nile several times on boats to star gaze! Perhaps he'll write more about his adventures in Egypt.

This particular absence of Brad has been harder on Denyon and me because our good friends Erica and Lylah have now gone back to the states. We miss them very much already. Fortunately, I have made some other friends so that helps. One friend, Winona, has two children and they live just a couple blocks away. We had a park playdate and also had dinner at their house while Brad was away. We're also a part of the same playgroup that meets on Tuesday mornings at a local park. A large portion of the group is a singing time which Denyon just loves. It's so fun to see him interact with the music and the props associated with the songs. It's good for both him and me to socialize with other kids and moms so we've really enjoyed this Tuesday morning adventure.

Today Denyon and I spent the morning at the zoo! He just loves it and it's good for me too. It is a great way to get out of the city and enjoy nature. The zoo is beautiful and so well kept. Today the tigers were especially entertaining. There were two right up by the glass for proabably ten or so minutes. Denyon just smiled and giggled as he watched them. He also again enjoyed the petting zoo and tried to tackle the goats. He's definitely not afraid. Given the opportunity I think he would have tacked the tigers too. The penguins were quite enjoyable again. Denyon is becoming more and more vocal now so after every animal exhibit we viewed, as we were leaving he's say "bye bye!" As if to say good-bye to the animals. It was so cute!

Speaking of being more vocal--it's amazing what Denyon is learning. He can now say, "mama", "dada", "book", "bye-bye", "ball", "Lylah",and "bonk!" As if he's "bonking" his head! We have also been doing signs with him for quite some time and they are really starting to catch on. He can sign the following words: milk, more, help, please, hat, all done, and has good attempts at thank you and play. It is so helpful for us in our communication and so much better than whining for something! And he is enjoying making animals sounds including a lion, sheep, cat, dog, and pig. It is just so amazing what his little brain knows.

As mentioned above, we have about six weeks before our next semester begins. During that time we are planning to spend a week in Greece. We will travel to Thessaloniki, Philippi, Mt. Olympus, Corinth, and Athens. We are also hoping to go to Eliat--the southern city in Isr

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Park & Zoo

After a whole semester of enjoying days at the park, we finally have some proof to show how much fun Denyon has when we go. Whenever Denyon and I go somewhere (like the park), for one of three reasons we usually don’t have the camera: one—Brad has it on a field study; two—I forget to bring it; three—it was broken and we were waiting for our replacement camera to arrive! So, this past week Brad and I went together to the park (only a block from our apartment) and Denyon played around on the equipment for at least an hour. He loves to crawl along the bridges and through the tunnels. He loves to climb up the stairs and peek down the slide, although he’s not brave enough to go down by himself yet. He has to know that mommy or daddy is there to catch him at the bottom, which is actually comforting to me. I’m sure it won’t be long before he whizzes down by himself when I’m not expecting it. The park is so close that we usually make it there every day, even if it’s only for a short while. It’s so nice to be outside here still and Denyon loves to play. Unlike at home where most of the parks are covered with grass, here, the playground sits upon sand. So the sand adds another fun aspect of play to the park.

In addition to time at the park this week, Brad and I, along with our friends Erica and Larry took the kids to the zoo. I mentioned it in an earlier blog but the zoo here is great. Last time we were there Denyon had so much fun watching the penguins, although this time the penguins didn’t put on quite the same show. They weren’t swimming like they were last time. Denyon is getting into making some animal sounds including a lion, cat, dog, and sheep. So, when he saw the lion—he roared, and he “baaaaed” when he saw the sheep at the zoo petting zoo. He tried to hug a goat while his friend Lylah gripped onto her daddy’s leg because she was a little timid. He cracks us up! He also tried to climb up the fence to get into the cage with the bears! He was a long way from success but he still thought he’d try. There was also an exhibit of molekats (sort of like groundhogs) where there were tunnels you could crawl through and then pop your head through clear plastic bubbles right inside the exhibit. It was quite entertaining for the kids and they had fun crawling through the tunnels. Overall, Denyon had a great time exploring the world of animals, much of it riding on top of his dad’s shoulders. I remember riding on my dad like that and loving it…Denyon does too. And both times we’ve gone to the zoo, the next morning the first thing Denyon pulls out to play with are his little stuffed animals. I think there’s definitely a connection!

This is Brad’s last week of school before his trip to Egypt so he’s preparing for finals. We’re already grieving the fact that our friends Erica, Larry, and Lylah will be leaving on Sunday. Denyon has had so much fun playing with Lylah and often says her name with so much excitement! We bless God for these wonderful friends and will be so sad to see them go.

Until next time, seasons greetings!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

A short recap

Despite the typical rain Jerusalem usually receives this time of year, the past several weeks have been beautiful. I know back home many of you are experiencing the winter wonderland of the Midwest already so it’s difficult to say that here the sun is shining and it’s currently 74 degrees! That has been pretty typical lately and it’s been great. This morning did feel a bit like fall though with a cool, crisp breeze. We definitely missed the beautiful colors of fall and we will miss seeing the land blanketed white, but we are enjoying this break from the harsh cold and winter for a season.

To take advantage of this beautiful weather, Denyon and I have been getting outside a lot. Brad spent four days in Jordan recently so we had to keep busy. One of Brad’s classmates, Larry, has an amazing wife (Erica) and daughter (Lylah) who we love to get together with when the guys are gone. Lylah is one month younger than Denyon, although much bigger, and she and Denyon just love playing together. During Brad’s time in Jordan, we had lunch at a couple different parks, dinner at our house, walked and shopped in the old city, played in a fountain in the new city, and enjoyed Shabbat meal together. The time passes much quicker when we all get together and play. Another friend, Winona, and her two children Samuel (3) and Elyanah (1) join us often for play as well. Her husband attends Hebrew University—another university here located on Mt. Scopus.

Awhile back, when the guys were in Galilee, we spent the day at the zoo and the kids loved it. Jerusalem has a great zoo with elephants, lions, tigers, camels, giraffes, zebras, monkeys, bears, rhinoceros, and many other animals. They even have a petting zoo for kids and one exhibit with kangaroos where you can literally walk right next to them in the yard where the frolic. It’s great. Denyon especially loved the penguins. It was one of the exhibits where you could see above and below the water. Denyon loved standing right along the glass to watch the penguins swim by and do tricks and flips. It reminded me of how much I used to love the otters when I was a kid for the very same reason! We got a membership to the zoo so we’ll be going many more times.

Brad only has two more weeks of school left for the semester so it’s rapidly coming to an end. He is busy finishing up papers and studying for exams. The beauty of this semester though is that he is loving everything that he is learning and benefitting so much from all of the assignments. I have tremendously enjoyed my two classes as well and because I’m auditing the classes I don’t have the pressure of final exams and papers. After the semester ends we have six weeks before semester two. During that time we plan on traveling to Greece for one week to do a Biblical study tour of that land. We are also hoping to visit Galilee again, Eliat—located on the southern tip of Israel and the Red Sea, the zoo, and the old city. Brad will spend four days with an Israeli guide (one of the best in the country) and friend that will personally show him places and sites he will need to know about for his future of leading trips here in Israel. And finally, Brad’s family is planning to visit in January so I’m sure we’ll be heading to many great sites to give them the grand tour! It will be amazing having six weeks together to travel, rest, explore, and enjoy being together as a family.

The sad part about our semester ending is that our great friends Erica, Larry, and Lylah will be heading back home to continue their education. We will miss them so much and it won’t be the same without them. They will be living in Chicago so they won’t be too far when we get back home. They have really made a difference in our time here and we’ve developed a lasting friendship with them in only a few months. What a blessing they have been to us!

There are some things to be praying for as well. We have some friends who recently miscarried twins so please think of them. Also, a friend’s dad is battling cancer. Denyon has been a little under the weather this week as well so please pray for his recovery. Otherwise, we have felt very safe, healthy, and well taken care of during our time here. Thank you for your continued prayer and support. Until next time!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Lachish Field Study

Brad and I have enjoyed taking two classes together this semester: The Gospel of Matthew and Biblical Archaeology. This past Sunday, we were able to enjoy a field study together for our Archaeology class to the ancient site of Lachish. Our professor is world renown archaeologist—Gaby Barkay. He spent nearly fifteen years of his career excavating at Lachish so he basically told us everything he knew. Well, actually, it seemed like he told us everything he knew, but in reality, it was probably only about 20 percent—if that! He has so much knowledge stored away in his brain about the subject it is amazing! I don’t know how he keeps all of the information straight. Anyways, the city dates back all the way to the Calcholithic period through the time when the Babylonians conquered the city in the 605 BC. Although the site is quite overgrown, we saw impressive excavations and structures. Having someone there who knew what seemed like every stone on the site was such a great experience.

My purpose for writing this short bit isn’t to give you all the details, but just to say what a blessing it is to be learning from the best. We both feel very fortunate to have the experiences here that we have and this was no exception. It was also nice to spend the day together just the two of us (well, us and a bunch of other classmates…but no baby). Denyon enjoyed his day very much with his beloved babysitter, Miss Laura. She loves him dearly and they had a great day together! Who wouldn’t love a day with someone as cute as Denyon! Have a great day!

Off to the Desert!

Well, this weekend lent itself to yet another outstanding week of travel. This time, it was off to the desert to the locations of En Gedi and Masada. Again, we rented a car on Friday afternoon after our archaeology class and headed down to En Gedi.

En Gedi is a desert oasis located near the southern part of present day Dead Sea. I say present day because in antiquity and even just 50 years ago, there was a whole other southern basin of the Dead Sea that is completely dried up today because of lack of rainfall. We stayed at a youth hostel right near the park…pretty much the only place to stay there other than a campground. On Friday, by the time we arrived at En Gedi, we only had a little over an hour because of darkness, but we made the most of our time by playing in the waterfalls and small pools in the oasis. It was a wonderful way to cool off and as my dad would say, “…very refreshing!”

The oasis is home to a number of wildlife species including the Nubian ibex and little rock badgers (aka conies). These two species we saw in abundance. The ibex are amazing in their ability to climb the cliffs and mountains with grace and ease. The badgers scurry around on the paths, trees, and cliffs and are quite cute. The plant life is beautiful as well and the oasis is visible from quite a distance away because it’s the only green you can see for miles and miles within the desert. The En Gedi spring is what feeds this oasis and it runs off into a series of large waterfalls which are beautiful!

Unlike some of our other trips, this one was more relaxing and low key. Because we were in the middle of the desert, when the parks closed, that was it for the night pretty much. We enjoyed relaxing in our room as a family, watching the sunset and seeing the beautiful colors painted by the sunset on the mountains across the Dead Sea in Jordan. The meals at the hostel were delicious and I especially enjoyed them because it gave me a break from cooking!

One of the challenges of staying in a one-room hotel room is getting Denyon to go to sleep at his bedtime when we’re not going to sleep. It doesn’t work if he can see us. Typically we have to come up with some sort of contraption made of chairs and blankets/sheets to make a wall so that he can’t see us. Even then, he can hear us and we don’t like to turn out all the lights either, so it’s definitely a challenge. He just wants to know exactly what’s going on. So Friday night, he actually found a way to reach the sheet that we had put up and pull it back and play peekaboo! He thought it was hilarious and we actually couldn’t help but laugh either. He was just so happy that he’d finally found us! What a silly little guy! We made some modifications to the contraption and he did eventually go to sleep!

On Saturday, we headed south about 17 km to Masada…Herod’s large desert palace and city in the middle of the desert. The city was taken by the Romans in 74 AD after the Romans were able to build a siege ramp into the city. As Josephus tells it, to the Romans surprise, all of the people of the city were already dead by way of suicide once they entered the city. This Zealous group of Jews believed it was better to commit suicide than to die at the hands of the enemy. What remains today is one of the most impressive sites of antiquity and some say the most impressive site in Israel. Herod built two palaces here with a large bathhouse, including pipes and underground heating systems to create what we would call a sauna room. The palaces also included large storehouses, guest rooms, meeting rooms, and watchtowers. Many of the walls and floors were plastered and elaborately painted, some of which still remain in tact even today. Also, some of the floors were decorated with tile pictures. The tiles were tiny pieces of colored stone (maybe one square centimeter each) that were arranged in a way to make whatever picture desired. They are incredible and Herod was the first person to bring this type of art to Israel. In addition to this, Herod built enormous cisterns for water (one large enough to hold one million gallons of water) and was able to channel rain water to flow directly into the cisterns. Adequate water supply is obviously the biggest challenge to surviving in the desert and Herod was able to sufficiently supply water for the whole city (and even had enough left over to have a swimming pool that was 550 cubic meters)!

We spent the majority of our day at Masada before heading back to En Gedi. Again, we didn’t have too long at En Gedi, but enough to play again a little bit in the water, enjoy the beautiful cliffs and landscape around us, watch the animals, and just enjoy ourselves. After the park closed, we headed back to our hotel to rest (Denyon definitely was ready for a nap…we always seem to really mess his nap times up when we travel but luckily he just goes with the flow and does pretty well with adjusting), shower, watch the sunset, and eat. It was another relaxing night for us in our room.

Sunday, we got up and out the door as soon as we could to spend several hours hiking through En Gedi. We explored some areas that took a little more time and hiking to get to. We discovered one area that we remembered from being here two years ago. We looked for it the previous two days but didn’t really have time to explore well enough. One thing that Brad does when we go to places is scout out areas that would be good for teaching, hiking, and leading trips when he (Lord willing) gets to do so in the coming years. This is definitely one of those locations and the place we went to was a beautiful area in the cliffs with small pools and a cave tucked back under a waterfall. The place is absolutely gorgeous. We did some other hiking and happened upon a temple from the Calcolithic period (4th & 5th century BC), a tel that we weren’t sure about it origin (tel is a man-made mound made up of city upon city remains), and an ancient synagogue from 3rd-6th century BC. We are continually amazed at how these structures can still remain after all this time.

We left En Gedi at about noon to head back to Jerusalem. Brad had a short field study at a local museum that we had to get back for. The weekend was ever so enjoyable and quite relaxing. We were grateful to spend time at such a beautiful location as a family. I’m sure we’ll be back!
Until next time…Shallon

Monday, November 3, 2008

So What Have I Been Doing?

Over the last couple of months, Shallon has been doing a wonderful job of keeping you all updated on what’s going on. We kind of joke around saying that she is responsible for the written updates and I am responsible for all of the pictures (and their captions). For those of you who have been following the blog, you are aware that I have made a couple of “written update” contributions, but it has been some time since my last contribution. So I wanted to give you all an update on what’s been going on … and I am going to focus in on my Physical Settings of the Bible class. My other classes have been going exceptionally well, but it has been my Physical Settings class that has ushered me all around the country throughout this semester, and the class you may find the most interesting.

So what’s the class like? Well, we generally have two classroom periods in the course of the week. In these classes, we look at a particular area of the country and discuss all the various aspects of the area – such as history, archaeological evidence, climate (seasonal patterns), geological composition (rock type, associated soils, etc.), physical layout (mountains, valleys, wadis, water sources, natural passes, etc.), ancient routes, ancient and modern cities, and pertinent biblical stories. After we have become oriented to the particular region, we spend a couple of field study days in that particular region. We do these fields studies on the weekends. Thus far, we have had thirteen days of field studies and we have four days left for this class (in the country of Jordan). [I also have a total of thirteen additional field study days with my other classes, including an eight-day field study to Egypt at the end of the semester.] We average about four to five sites per field study day. So I have been to roughly 60 sites thus far with this class. As you can imagine, we (my class and I) have been all over the country! Nearly every major site or location you can think of, we have been there. Needless to say, I am gaining a good working knowledge of the biblical landscape here in Israel. It has been an incredible journey thus far. The Bible becomes more and more alive every day … and it is making so much more sense. I am daily reminded of the necessity of understanding the geography of the Bible in order to better understand the stories of the Bible … not to mention the brilliance of the writers and God’s intentionality with placing Israel in this land.

Anyhow, I just put together a picture slideshow entitled, “Brad’s Field Studies (Pics)” that captures a lot of the places I have been to this semester. I will be frequently adding more pics to the slideshow, so keep checking back. Enjoy!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Happy Birthday Denyon!

Happy Birthday Denyon! Our little buster bunny turned one on October 18 and what a special day. Since we were out of town on his actual birthday, we celebrated a few days later on October 23. We hosted a party at our apartment. I made white chicken chili and potato soup for the main meal and everyone else brought sides. For desert I made chocolate chip cookies and brownies. The food was all delicious and our guests were even better. We planned it so that family could call in from skype during the time to wish Denyon a Happy Birthday. What a blessing skype is! Denyon was able to chat with his Nana (Cindi…Brad’s mom), JimPapa and Gramma (Jim and Carol…Shallon’s parents), Great Grandma and Great Grandpa Gray (Brad’s dad’s parents), Uncle Blair (Shallon’s youngest brother), and GPa (Gary…Brad’s dad) and Uncle Doug (Brad’s brother) and the whole GIFT community (GIFT is a post-graduate program Gary administers which includes three onsite seminars in Adrian…the final seminar of the year took place during Denyon’s party so as part of the program, they called in on skype and all (nearly 100) sang Happy Birthday to Denyon…they also watched him devour a small piece of his brownie!). We felt so loved with all of our newly acquired and special friends here (including Denyon’s special babysitters Laura and Melissa whom he loves…not to replace any of our special sitters at home) and the privilege of speaking with and video chatting with family from back home.

We had been awaiting a birthday package from both of our parents and they finally arrived on the day of our party. Due to all the holidays in the month of October, the mail was slowed down. Denyon was enamored with all his new books and balls and is loving playing with all of his new goodies. He is definitely one loved little child! He not only charms everyone back home, but he has made his way into the hearts of many here too. It was such a special celebration for Brad and I to see our little Denyon be the life of the party. He loves life thoroughly and is a social bug. We couldn’t have felt more blessed on this special day. Denyon has been such a blessing to us and fills our hearts with so much joy. We just can’t believe how fast the year has gone and how much he has grown and changed. Thank you all for making this day special by keeping us in your hearts. We love you all!

October...a month of Celebration!

Well, the past month has been quite festive because of the many Jewish holidays. The month of October started with Rosh Hashanah—the Jewish New Year. This is basically two days of celebration, time with family and friends, and reflection of what God has done over the last year. It also commences the high holy days leading up to Yom Kippur. For the first ten days of the month, every Jew analyzes and searches their heart to see if they have wronged anyone and still need to ask for forgiveness. It is also a time of great repentance for any personal sins. It is also a time to forgive others that have wronged you.

These ten days are the window of time that each Jew has to make all right in their own heart. For a very righteous person, it is believed that God grants entry into the book of life on the New Year. Likewise, for the very wicked person, God rejects one from the book of life. For everyone in between, it depends on what is done during the ten days before Yom Kippur. On that day, God will judge everyone on what they have done for the year and either grant or reject entry into God’s book of life. (As most of you know, we believe Jesus is the key to entry into God’s kingdom. No matter how righteous or wicked, we all need Christ. What I admire about this season is how seriously the Jews take making amends during this period. Just think of what a better place the world would be if we could all sincerely seek out forgiveness in ourselves and extend it graciously to others. That would be beautiful!)

Literally everything in Israel is closed on Yom Kippur (even the airport) and absolutely no one drives, works, etc. The children love it because they do not yet have to recognize and participate in the rituals so they all love to ride their bikes, scooters, skateboards, etc. right in the middle of the street. It really is a big treat! We all went to a Jewish synagogue service the night of Yom Kippur and overheard this conversation: “(mom)…The kids just can’t wait to get home because they all brought their bikes to ride…(daughter)….Yeah! In the middle of the street!” And as we walked home, there were children of all ages all over the streets! It was cool. We’ve also heard that it’s one of the worst days for children’s accidents and injuries which also makes sense. We saw a young girl crash on her bike just outside our apartment and her friends were consoling her.

After Yom Kippur, another celebration begins. For five days, everyone prepares for the festival of Sukkoth by building sukkoth…aka temporary dwellings outside of their homes. If you read Leviticus 23 and Numbers 29, you will read all about this festival. For the most part, the traditions and sacraments are pretty much the same. It is very interesting for me to read these sections of the Bible and experience people practicing exactly what is commanded. The animal sacrifices are not so much practiced anymore, but most other things are. Many of our neighbors built sukkoth outside and wherever we walked, it was neat to see the various types. All were built from natural elements and outside but the shapes, colors, décor was all different.

After the five days of preparation, the festival of Sukkoth began. For eight days, the city celebrated how God was with the Israelites in the desert. It is a time of remembrance that God brought the Israelites out of Egypt into the promiseland. So, during this time, all sorts of things are happening. People celebrate with family by visiting, talking, and dwelling outside in their sukkoth. Brad and I enjoyed sitting on our balcony and listening to our neighbors visit. There was the parade of nations where people from all around the world marched in a parade through the streets of Jerusalem. The Bible speaks of all the nations coming to Jerusalem for this festival and the parade is a representation of that. There were also concerts, singing and dancing, and even a circus—which we attended.

The circus was more like a big fair with street performers, clowns, acrobats, and of course—cotton candy! We went to a show that was one of the coolest things we’ve ever seen. I’m not going to do it justice by describing it but I’ll try. It was dark outside and performed in a small outdoor theater. There was one male and one female dancer and they used a combination of neon lights, neon ropes, balls, and just each other. They performed a sort of contemporary dance style but used the things I mentioned above as part of the routine. In one section of the dance, the two remained attached almost entirely but went through a series of different lifts, motions, and maneuvers that almost made it seem as though they were a machine with all the pieces churning and working together. At another section, it was as if they were fighting through a wall of ropes and twisting and turning to get free, and as they did, the neon ropes would form different shapes such as a flower, tree, etc. At another section, they danced with the balls in a ways that made them seem as if they were floating. Still another section, the man moved and positioned the woman as if she was robotic or statue-like and she just assumed whatever position he put her in. Like I said, I didn’t do it justice but we all loved it! Denyon was glued in the whole time and it was so cool to watch him watch the dancers. It’s amazing how even at such a young age our minds can be so fascinated.

The festival concluded on the eight day with lots of celebrating, dancing, and reciting Torah at the Western Wall as well as at a park in town. We decided to go to the park conclusion and ended up getting to hear both the president of Israel and the Chief Rabbi of Israel speak briefly. I regret that I don’t remember either of their names, but it was neat to be a part of it. There was lots of loud music and dancing in between the speech sections and it was a great experience for us.

Sounds like quite a month, huh? It was and I’ve definitely never been a part of nearly a month long holiday. There were more days when businesses were closed than open it seemed. We feel blessed to be a part of such a great celebration and thankful to experience this culture firsthand. Like they say, it’s all part of the experience!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Just up the mountain!

So after visiting the location where the prophet Elijah confronts the prophets of Baal and Ashera on Mt. Carmel in northern Israel (I Kings 18), watching a beautiful sunset on top of the mountain overlooking the Jezreel Valley, and telling Denyon the story about how and why we chose the name Elijah (which was indeed an extremely special and cherished moment), we called our hotel to get directions. We knew the address and the general area but neither really helped much. It seems that here in Israel, it is more common for roads to be unmarked and very atypical to have street signs of major road numbers. So, the receptionist's response to our inquiry about how to get to the hotel was, “Just get up the mountain, near Moriah, and go right at the fountain!” After further pressing for better instructions, that’s all we were left with. She didn’t even know what the main road was called to get up the mountain. By some miracle, we did find the hotel (after calling a couple more times), and sure enough we did get “up the mountain and turn right at a fountain!” So for the rest of the weekend the joke when we couldn’t find some place was, “Just get up the mountain!” If any of you have seen the movie Blood Diamond, you’ll understand the phrase that we’ve adopted and modified slightly—TII—this is Israel!

We rented a car and spent two nights in Haifa this past weekend. Haifa is the main industrial port city located along the northern coastal tip of Israel. This central location allowed us to visit Mt. Carmel (much of Haifa is actually located on the Carmel Mountain range); Akko—another city along the coast and known as the most well-preserved crusader city in the world; Caesarea—a large port city built by King Herod along the Mediterranean; Tel Aviv—another large city on the Mediterranean Coast.

Friday night we watched the sunset on Mt. Carmel as I mentioned above. It was a very special moment for us because this is the location that inspired us to use the name Elijah for Denyon’s middle name. We learned the story and experienced it here two years ago and the passion of Elijah stuck with us. It was very cool to tell Denyon the story too, although he just wanted to cruise around on the rocks. He’s already wanting to rock climb!

Saturday was Denyon’s first birthday! He was so excited to celebrate that he woke up early 6 a.m.! He briefly fell back asleep then and some books and toys were able to hold him off until about 7 a.m. until we got him up to sing Happy Birthday! It’s hard to believe that it’s been a year already and yet it also seems that it was so long ago the day I gave birth. Funny how time works, isn’t it? He is doing great and growing strong. He has eight teeth now and is moving fast all over the place. He’s not walking yet but cruising, climbing, and crawling freely. He loves to play chase with his dad (he will get into crawling position, look back in anticipation, then take off panting with excitement as he tries to escape his dad’s reach…it’s great fun!). So, he enjoyed some playtime with dad before getting the day started.

We spent most of the day in the present day city of Akko (Acre). The city is now an Arab port city but was once a thriving port crusader city. At one point it was the most important port city in the country. In the city are the impressive remains of the crusader citadel with numerous great halls, courtyards, underground tunnel systems, palaces, city walls, moats, and more. It is so amazing that people could build these structures hundreds of years ago. Napoleon and his army tried to conquer the city in the 1700s I believe (don’t quote me on my history, dad) and the city changed leadership often. Its decline was much a result of the great city of Caesarea flourishing (the city we visited on Sunday).

We ended our day at the beach in Haifa watching the sunset. It was beautiful and so peaceful. You can never get tired of beach sunsets, can you? We ate at a delicious pub in downtown Haifa and indulged in one of the best crème brulees that we’ve ever had. We figured it was Denyon’s birthday so we should have some dessert! Denyon will have his special dessert when we have a small party next week!

Sunday morning we drove down the coast about an hour to Caesarea. This city was built by King Herod as the main harbor of the day. The stones used to build the city were brought from all over including southern Egypt, Syria, Greece, Rome, and beyond. Many of the structures were inlayed with a scintillating white marble which made the city sparkle in the sun from a distance. Even today, you can find pieces of the stone that washes up onto the shores as you walk along the site. Brad and I found and kept several pieces of the sparkly stone. Herod built the harbor out into the sea and under the water. Today, it is possible to scuba dive at the harbor and see much of the remains of the harbor (we of course did not do that but Brad would really like to some day if he ever gets certified to scuba dive). The city includes a large amphitheater where all sorts of athletic events and competitions took place, a performance theater, palaces, an extensive Roman bathhouse where people would just relax or even conduct meetings and business, and a fresh water swimming pool built right in the middle of the sea (that is no longer standing). Also at the site, is a large aqueduct that brought fresh water to the city that came all the way from Mt. Carmel. Herod’s building projects were always extraordinary and this is no exception.

To end the day, we headed down to Tel Aviv for one last indulgence. When we were here two years ago, we stayed at a hotel in Tel Aviv for a couple nights in between the two study trips that we participated in. During that short stay, we found an amazing restaurant called the Manta Ray where we had the most delicious fried calamari we’d ever had. The restaurant sat right on the beach and was amazing. So, we took our chances in finding the place on the way home and we actually succeeded. It took longer than we’d expected, but nevertheless, we made it. We arrived just in time to enjoy another sunset on the beach and even did a little swimming this time. Denyon loves to swim and splash so he had a blast. After drying off and changing, we enjoyed our delicious calamari and one of the best salads we’ve ever had. Yum!

The only downfall of the evening was a big scare from the little guy…he dropped his cup and we looked down to get it…before we knew it he had pushed his feet against the table and flipped his chair completely back. The booster seat attached to the chair stayed completely in tact and he stayed attached to the chair, but it was so scary. He cried and cried but eventually was okay. I think we were more scared than anything and he recovered quickly. I can’t believe he was strong enough to push himself back. Bless God he was okay!

So that’s our weekend. It was a wonderful time and we are so grateful for all of the places we’re getting to see and all of the things we’re able to do. It’s been a great adventure!
The Gray’s

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Three days of Travel

The last three days have been full of adventure. Brad had only one morning class Thursday, we had a class together Friday morning, and then nothing all day on Saturday; so, we decided to rent a car for the three days and do some day trips. Thursday, we started out into the Judea wilderness to Wadi Qilt. The landscape is amazing and can only be done justice through pictures (so hopefully we’ll get some up from the weekend soon). It’s endless desert hills that are astounding. From the lookout point where we were, you could see the Dead Sea and Jordan to Jericho to Jerusalem. It’s amazing the viewpoints you can get here.
From there we went on to Jericho, and after driving around for what seemed like hours, asking for help that turned out to be no help at all, and having lunch in our car on the side of the road because we couldn’t wait any longer to find a picnic spot, we finally found the New Testament King Herod palace that sat along the edge of Wadi Qilt. The ruins are not well marked and we actually drove by them three times before Brad was able to get a hold of his professor for more clarification on where they were. We had to park our car and walk down into the wadi, then back up to get to the site. It was not the most impressive Herod building we’ve seen, but it was impressive. Typical to Herod, there were numerous baths and pools and it was in the desert. Brad had a sketch of the location in his study manual for class so that helped us to get a layout of the site.
After Jericho we headed to Qumran—the site known as the dwelling place of the group called the Essenes. These were devout followers of God in Biblical times who believed there was no better place to remain focused in their devotion to God than out in the middle of the desert. It is amazing what they were able to build including cisterns and an aqueduct system that brought water from springs in the surrounding hills. The place is just on the western border of the Dead Sea, about 40 kilometers north of the desert oasis “En Gedi.” Most famously, Qumran is the location of the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls in the 1950s. The cave where they were found is clearly marked and visible, although not accessible. Brad and I were here together two summers ago and did an incredible climb to the top of the mountain range where Qumran is located. There was not enough time and too difficult to do with Denyon on our back to do that climb this time.
On Friday, we started with several lookout points from the top of Mt. Scopus. Mt. Scopus is the location of the main hospital here in Jerusalem and the Hebrew University. From here, you can see nearly the whole city of Jerusalem (old and new), the Kidron Valley, the city of David, the Dead Sea, Jericho, the mountains of Moab, the Herodian, the foothills of Jerusalem, and the Judea wilderness. It’s amazing what you can see.
We then headed out to Maresha. This is a location about half way between Jerusalem and the coast in an area called the “shepela.” The location comprises the ancient biblical city of Maresha, but most importantly an ancient city where numerous caves and dwellings were dug underground. The caves were extensive with water cisterns, olive presses, hiding places, columbariums (storehouses for pigeons), and common dwelling areas. The caves were carved out of the soft limestone that is common to that geographical area. Some of the cisterns were nearly 70 feet high! We are continually amazed at what people were able to build without the conveniences of modern technology.
After Maresha, we wondered around trying to find Tel Yarmut…a location we discussed extensively earlier that day in class. It was not marked again and this time we were unsuccessful at finding it. Maybe another day.
We ended our day at the Western Wall. This is the holiday season for the Jews and just last Monday was the Jewish New Year. From then until Yom Kippur, which is Thursday October 9, is considered the high holy days. So going to the wall this night was particularly crowded because it was the evening of Sabbath and the holiday. The area was filled with men and women worshipping, praising, singing, and dancing at or near the wall. To look upon is astounding and everyone is dressed their best…the men in black suits and top hats and the women in long dresses and scarves. It truly is a remarkable site to see and makes us reflect on our own faith. These Jews are so faithful and devout to the same God we serve although they do not accept Jesus as their Messiah. And sometimes we don’t even have time or make the time to pray! It is easy to learn a lesson of commitment from them.
To end our weekend we spent Saturday at the beach. We went to a beach called Nizzanim Beach just south of Tel Aviv about 40 kilometers on the Mediterranean Sea. It was beautiful and very much needed. Denyon loved playing in the sand as usual and enjoyed the water very much. The salt water didn’t seem to bother him at all. It was so nice not having to get brave enough to go into the water like we do when we’re at the beach in Holland entering Lake Michigan. The temperature was perfect and the air was just right with the breeze from the sea. The beach offered a nice umbrella for shade and beach chairs as well. We couldn’t have imagined a better way to finish off a wonderful weekend of travel.
Until next time…shalom!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Let the Rains Begin!

Hello everyone. Well, the weather here is beginning to change and the raining has begun. It seems it’s actually a bit earlier than usual but the last couple days we’ve had several short bouts of rain. Typically in Jerusalem there is a completely dry season from about mid-April to mid-October, and then a very wet and rainy season from mid-October to mid-April. During the wet season, Jerusalem averages 24 inches of rain! We have already noticed some things that may be a bit challenging during these next months of rain. One is drying clothes. We’ve had Denyon’s diapers on the line now for about 24 hours and they’ve been rained on about four times…maybe they’ll dry eventually. Also, we’ve got our umbrellas and backpack rain covers ready for our numerous walks in the rain to and from school and elsewhere. Fortunately, Denyon’s stroller has a rain cover too so hopefully he’ll make it through the season without getting drenched. Also, the Jerusalem limestone (practically all the sidewalks are composed of this) gets extremely slippery when wet so hopefully we’ll make it through without any nasty falls. Lastly, when it rains, it stirs up even more dust and some sort of white chalky particles that easily make their way onto everything! Today, while eating lunch, a large breeze came through our apartment and left us with a table full of what looked like white ashes. Delicious! At home, it’s easy to avoid inclement weather by just staying inside, staying in your car, using the dryer, etc. However here we either have to face the elements or just wear dirty clothes…or both! Until next time!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

A Bit of Culture

So I have noticed one stark diffrence between American culture and Israeli culture. Now don't get me wrong when I say this, but Israelis really love their children well. It is not uncommon in America for new moms and young ladies to gaulk over beautiful babies and talk about their bundle of joys. However, here, even the men (and women) do the same. There have been numerous occasions since we've been here where men have been so enamoured with Denyon, talking to him in Hebrew "goo-goo, ga-ga" talk, motioning for high fives, etc. We noticed this right away when we arrived at even the airport. Also, it is not uncommon for men to own and run the local "gans" aka preschools/daycare centers. That is something that is extremely rare in the U.S...even for men to work with young children. There are plenty of men I know that love their children and grandchildren very well, but on the whole American culture is not that way with small children and babies. It is really cool to see that here and something that we did not expect. Just a few nights ago when we were eating out for dinner, one waitress said she wanted to wait 20 years for Denyon's phone number and the manager gave us free sorbet for Denyon for dessert. He sure did love it! The moral of the story is...when we have Denyon around, things go much smoother! That's all for now.
Shabbat shalom,

Friday, September 19, 2008

The First "Incident"

For nearly the last week, I have been debating as to whether I would include this story on our blog. The one phrase I heard over and over again before we left for Israel was “be safe.” I understand that came out of the mouths of all of the people who love us dearly and truly want us kept from any harm. However, there is only so much you can do to “be safe.” We live each day in the hands of God, trusting that whatever happens, God is ultimately in control. I have hesitated putting this on the blog because we didn’t want you to worry about us (as I know many of you are), but I wanted to honor the fact that you are on this journey with us and I want you to know what our experiences are. Thus, I feel as though I need to share with you an incident that happened last Saturday (September 13 – our 5 year anniversary day) on one my field trips ~ Shallon and Denyon were not on this trip as this was a fieldtrip for one of my classes that Shallon is not taking. Essentially, we (my class and I) were on a field trip that went through the West Bank. We were about two miles from our destination site when two Palestinian boys (ages 13-15) threw two rocks at our bus. Not many of us saw the rocks coming our way. I certainly didn’t as I was looking the other direction. Then all of a sudden it sounded like a gun shot went off. I felt a spray of glass across the back of my neck. It took me a few seconds to gather what had happened. I turned to the two ladies who were sitting next to me and both of them were bleeding. Essentially, one of the rocks went through the glass window of the row I was sitting in. The rock ricocheted off the foreheads of the two women sitting next to me. Both of them suffered significant cuts on their foreheads. Furthermore, the woman immediately next to me saw the rock coming at the bus ... hence, when the window shattered, glass went into her eye. For 40 minutes, I kept pressure on her wounds and she kept her eyes closed, while another classmate kept pressure on the other woman’s wounds. It took the IDF (Israeli Defense Force) about 30 minutes to show up. The ambulance came 10 minutes after that. Both of the women were taken to the best hospital here in Jerusalem. They were treated and released seven hours later. Bless God … both of them are going to be fine and were back in the classroom on Monday. The doctors were able to get all the glass out of the one woman’s eye – she is going to recover just fine. Both of them also received a number of stitches. But needless to say, we were glad it wasn't any worse. Again, these things do happen and they are unforeseen … but they are rare. We do feel very safe most of the time here in Israel. It is an amazing place to be and we are loving every minute of it.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Yehudiya Hike (Golan Heights)

Well, to celebrate our anniversary and just because, Brad and I enjoyed a day hiking in the Golan Heights through Wadi Yehudia this past Sunday. The trip was hosted by JUC as a student activity day and we took full advantage. A wonderful young lady named Melissa spent the day with Denyon and had a great time. He really enjoys her and was very excited to see her the next morning as well when I headed off to my Gospel of Matthew class.
The hike was amazing. We started at the top of the canyon, hiked to the bottom, and then climbed back up. Down below we hiked from waterfall to waterfall, canyon pool to canyon pool. A couple of the pools we actually had to swim across in order to continue on the trail. It was a bit of a challenge swimming with a bag over your head so as not to ruin your cell phones, passports, camera, and lunches. We managed the first swim with no casualties, but the second we weren’t so lucky. We ended up with a broken, waterlogged flashlight and soggy sandwiches. Luckily we’d already eaten the main portion of our lunches so it wasn’t too bad. For a select few this will remind you of the blue river canoe trip where we enjoyed peanut butter and water sandwiches when I was a kid. That’s the first thing I thought of when pulling out the soppy pita bread and draining the water from the bag! The water in the pools was absolutely refreshing because of the extreme heat. Another fun part was jumping off the cliff rocks into the water. One of those things that they tell you not to do, but everyone does it anyways. The water is very deep actually. That was the thrill for the day. Part of the hike through the base of the water was very dense with all sorts of greenery. There were even some bamboo trees I think. At times we felt like we needed a machete to cut through the brush. The climb back up was nearly straight up and completely black basalt stone. It was a challenge for sure but right up our alley. We came home completely exhausted and very satisfied for going. And Denyon didn’t seem to miss us at all!
Speaking of Denyon, he has made some major progress since we’ve arrived. He’s gotten his two front teeth, and is now working on three more! I can feel two of them and just see the third coming in. Needless to say he’s been a little fussy because of the pain I’m sure. Poor little guy. He’s also gotten much more mobile. He still prefers to army crawl but is getting very efficient at it. I must have looked away for about 30 seconds while I was cleaning up in the kitchen and he was playing around the corner. I looked over to check on him and didn’t see him but heard him…he had actually crawled under the couch! Also, before coming here he didn’t transition well from position to position so if he was sitting he stayed sitting, if he was lying down he stayed lying down, etc. Well now it’s no problem and I had to laugh last week when after putting him down for a nap, then checking on him to see why he was still fussing after several minutes, he was sitting up crying his eyes out snuggling with his little green frog. I’ve never been able to sleep sitting up so I figured he couldn’t either. I assume he was protesting the nap, but he did eventually take one. His first real word and his favorite thing to say is “book.” What a great word! He also says what resembles “please” which again is a great word to be saying. He still loves books and prefers them to most toys. We’re proud of that!
Our internet is still not officially set up in our apartment so we haven’t been able to upload many pictures to the blogsite. We will do that as soon as we can. Right now we’re lucky to be able to be online long enough to post and check an email. It’s the only “business” that we haven’t been able to take care of since we’ve gotten here. The company definitely does not get any awards for its customer service and the fact that we don’t speak Hebrew makes working out the kinks doubly difficult. We’re hoping that we can get it settled this week but you never know. We’ve learned that nothing happens fast here in Israel!
We are enjoying ourselves thoroughly and Brad and I both absolutely love our classes and are learning so much already. It’s a blessing and a privilege to be here. Until next time!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

A Trip to Galilee

Hello everyone! It’s hard to believe we’ve been here nearly three weeks already. School is well underway and Brad and I both are loving classes. I am fortunate enough to now take two classes—Archaeology and The Gospel of Matthew. Brad is taking these two classes as well so it’s fun to have them together. We were fortunate enough to find people to watch Denyon for the six hours we’re in class which is such a blessing. It gives us some time away and keeps Denyon used to being with others. It’s working out great.
This past weekend we spent three days in the Galilee region. We stayed at a very nice inn on the northwestern shore of the Sea of Galilee (aka Kinneret as the Israelis call it). We had extremely hot weather (nearly 110 most days) so we had to be mindful of Denyon of course. Despite that, we were able to visit the ancient ruins of Bethsaida (a small fishing town in the bible where at least Peter, James, and Andrew were from), Capernaum (another fishing town where Jesus regularly visited and preached in the synagogue), Tabgha (the site of the church of the multiplication of bread and wine), Susita (in the Decapolis on the eastern side of the sea…near where supposedly the pigs from the demon-possessed man ran into the water), and Hazor (an ancient city built by King Solomon’s men). Hazor was the only new site for us and we had the whole park to ourselves for three hours. The ruins were extensive and included a large Solomonic Gate to the city with six chambers and an outstanding water system with a shaft that went underground to a tunnel of a pool of water. It’s amazing what these early builders could do without the conveniences of modern day.
In addition to these ruins, we visited a place in the Golan Heights called Hexagons Pool. It was in the Yehudia Valley Reserve and we hiked down (about 25 minutes) to a beautiful natural waterfall and springs and pool among beautiful rock walls and trees. The water was so refreshing and the whole family enjoyed a swim…well Denyon mainly splashed water everywhere. It was lifegiving water in the extreme heat. Brad and I are actually headed back to the same area next week with JUC for a more extensive all-day hike. We’re looking forward to it very much.
We briefly visited the Jordan River park, saw the ancient Galilee boat in the museum located in our hotel, went down to the area where seven natural springs flow into the sea, and climbed a small mountainside for a beautiful view of the entire sea. We arrived too late to explore the ancient ruins of Gamla (we were there two summers ago but wanted to go again…maybe next time). And it wouldn’t have been a complete trip without some family swim time in the Sea of Galilee. Again, the water was refreshing although not near as cool as the water at Hexagons Pool. Overall it was an amazing trip and we were grateful for our time as a family there.
On another note, everyday life is going well. I’m figuring out how to grocery shop here and it is a little different. If I go alone, I typically must take the stroller, lock it outside the store, put Denyon in the cart while I shop, and make sure I don’t get too much that I can’t carry it home in the bags I bring and the stroller. We have been told that most stores deliver if you like but we haven’t ventured to do that quite yet. If Brad goes along it’s a little easier and we’ve actually taken a suitcase to fill up with groceries. As Brad likes to say, “Here comes the carnie act!”
Denyon cracked me up on the last shopping trip. I was going to buy some cucumbers and went to grab a produce bag to put them in. I probably looked away from him for maybe 5 seconds and when I looked back, he had grabbed a cucumber and was eating it whole! I suppose he wanted some cucumbers as well! He’s been doing much better sleeping and is getting back to his normal 8 a.m. wake up time. We are so grateful for that!
I suppose that’s it for now but we’ll keep you posted! Until next time…shalom!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

The Classes Have Begun

So many of you are probably wondering how my classes are going and what exactly I am taking. So here's the skinny ... I am really enjoying my classes thus far. I am thrilled with the passions of my professors and the content is right up my alley. This should be an outstanding semester. So here are the classes I am taking:
1. The Gospel of Matthew in its Jewish Setting - this class is taught by a Messianic Jew who was born in South Africa, lived in Switzerland, moved to the States where he has lived for the majority of his life and then made "Aliyah" (a Jew moving to Israel) about 15 years ago. He just completed his PhD and did his dissertation on the subject of the class. Essentially, the class is him walking us through the book of Matthew and sharing with us what he learned doing his dissertation. Oh yeh, and our reader for the class (a reader is spiral notebook of articles the professor has collected for us to read) is 875 pages long - I have never seen such an enormous reader!!!
2. Rabbinical Thought & Literature - this class is taught by a Jewish Rabbi who is wicked smart. He is not only an ordained Rabbi but also a full-time professor at Hebrew Union College (he is an adjunct at JUC). He is open to dialoguing about Christianity but this guy is as Jewish as it gets. And he is a great guy ... I can't wait to see what all I learn from him this semester.
3. Archaeology 1 - this class is taught by Gaby Barkay, a legendary Archaeologist who has done extensive digging around the temple mount, among many other places. This is the only class I haven't had thus far ... but will have the opportunity to "dig in" next Friday.
4. Ancient Egypt and the Biblical World - so this class is obviously about Egypt. Essentially, we spend the entire semester learning about Egyptian history and how it has influenced the Biblical story, and then we have an 8 day field study trip to Egypt at the end of the semester. Yeh, it sounds like a ton of fun, doesn't it? I can't wait.
5. Physical Settings of the Bible - this is the bread and butter class of this university. This class is the biggest reason why I chose to study in Israel and at JUC (Jerusalem University College for the initiated - and I have no idea how you get University and College in the same title - I am going to ask the director about this sooner or later). Essentially, this class is structured in such a way that you spend the class sessions during the week looking at a particular region, and then you spend a day or two in that region on the weekend. Thus, in addition to our 19 class sessions scheduled for the semester, we spend an additional 16 full days of study in the field. And we make it to every part of Israel in the course of the semester. Now this is the kind of learning that I love!
So there you have it for now. Grace and Peace!

Monday, September 1, 2008

Our First Week!

Hello everyone. Here we are in Jerusalem just after a week and starting to feel a little at home. We've already done so much and yet there is still so much to do. Here's an update thus far. I've mentioned a little about our apartment but here's a little more...we're on the fourth and highest floor of our building, which definitely made moving in a little tricky. Fortunately we can lock up our stroller at the bottom staircase because otherwise that would be a pain to drag up and down. The chariot stroller is working so well here. We wouldn't want anything else because there really is no such thing as a smooth road. The apartment is a two bedroom, one bath (although the toilet is in a separate room by itself), living room/dining room together, and good sized kitchen with a bar countertop. Our favorite feature is probably the two off the living room and one off of our bedroom. At about 4/5 p.m. we can open both up and let the breeze from the Mediterranean fill the apartment. It sounds dreamy...and in a way is...but that breeze just cools the apartment off to about 80 degrees instead of 90 or so. It's been 100+ all of the days we've been here thus far. We're adjusting to the heat pretty well.
Denyon has done pretty well despite all of the changes. Just as we landed though he started getting his front two teeth which has not helped. They're now peeking through but he hasn't slept well since we've been here. There are a lot of noises in the mornings too that probably wake him up early. I tried to tell him this morning that I don't do 6:30 a.m. but he didn't seem to understand. We're hoping he'll get back to his 8 a.m. wakeup before too long. Otherwise, he seems to love the new adventure.
So far, we've explored our neighborhood of Baka which is very nice. It's south (slightly southwest) of the old city and JUC. It takes us about 25 minutes to walk to campus and about 35-40 to walk to the old city...depending on which gate we enter. There is a nice park a block away from our neighborhood, and about a 15-minute walk is a beautiful promenade that has an amazing outlook where you can see the whole city of Jerusalem from Mt. Scopus to the Old City to the Mt. of Olives. It's amazing! There are lots of nice shops, supermarkets, and restaurants nearby and all within 15-20 minutes of walking distance.
We have explored the old city both on our own and with a class at JUC. Denyon and I were allowed to join Brad and his class on a walking tour of the old city which was very nice. Denyon did great and soaked it all up. During that trip, we visited the supposed room of the Last Supper, the Church of the Resurrection, the four various quarters of the city (Jewish, Muslim, Armenian, Christian) and were introduced to the man who will become our primary money changer. His name is Shaban and he has a great relationship with JUC. Most of the students use him to change their money from dollars to shekels and we will do the same. He is the fairest rate which is currently about 3.5 shekels/dollar.
I have already made three friends who all have children so that's a great connection. I met up with them at a park and it was great. One lives just a block away.
Also, Brad and I are planning on going on a day long hike in the Golan Heights sponsored by JUC. We were able to find someone to watch Denyon...a wife of one of Brad's classmates. We've heard the hike is one of the best you can do in Israel and that's next weekend.
As for this weekend, we're heading up to Galilee. We will leave Thursday and return on Saturday. We're looking forward to getting our feet in the same soil where Jesus taught again. Brad was there this past June but it's been two summers since I've been and obviously Denyon has never been. We can't wait!
Another bonus is that I am able to audit one class per semester for free! I have decided to take Biblical Archaeology with Gaby Barkay (one the the best archaeologists). Brad is also taking this class so we found a student who is studying abroad from Wheaton College that offered to babysit during the three hour block on Friday mornings. I have not met her yet but Brad tells me she's a lot like our regular babysitter at home--Erica. If that's the case we're in great hands. I am very excited about the opportunity to take the class and will very much enjoy the two day-long field trips associated with it.
Brad is busy now doing some homework but he is planning on tomorrow posting about his classes and how he thinks his experience will be. He came home today loving his first three classes and I know he's very excited about the semester.
Well, I can't think of much else for now. We'll keep you posted and Brad will post some pictures tomorrow as well. We love you all. Have a great night!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

We're Here!

Hello everyone! We made it here and are adjusting well. We had some major cleaning to do, plenty of household things to purchase, groceries to buy all the while hoping that we were getting what we thought we were (we don't read Hebrew well so pictures are really handy!). We're still getting things settled and figuring out our internet so just a short update for now. We'll keep you posted!