Saturday, August 29, 2009

Mount of Olives

The kids get out of school early on Fridays so we took advantage of some free time in the afternoon to explore the Mount of Olives. We started out at the over-look in front of the Seven Arches Hotel (where G & G Emmett have stayed before back when it was the inter-continental hotel). Souvenir salesman Ibrahim (who knows Carol Mikita from KSL TV and other LDS luminaries) tried to get us to buy a large panoramic photo of Jerusalem but we are not yet in a souvenir buying mood so we declined. He then gave it to us for free, I think hoping we would then give him some money. I tried to give back the poster, but he refused, so if any of you visit Jerusalem and if you want one of the nice posters, please buy it from Ibrahim on the Mount of Olives. Tell him Chad sent you.

I was intrigued with some Arab workmen preparing a new Jewish sepulcher for a burial.
From the Seven Arches viewpoint we could look down on new construction in the Ras al-Amud neighborhood. This settlement has been in the news lately. It is an expansion of a small cluster of Jewish apartments that were established a few years ago. It is in the midst of an Arab neighborhood. Opponents of the settlement/neighborhood see it as strengthening the Jewish presence in Arab East Jerusalem, while Jews see it as a great location close to the Jewish Cemetery on the Mount of Olives and with a great view across the Kidron Valley to the Temple Mount.
The many "whitened sepulchers' on the Mount of Olives descending down the slope toward the Kidron Valley. The crane for the new construction in Ras al-Amud can be see just beyond the cemetery and the mosque at the upper left of the photo.
The onion domes of the Russian Orthodox Church of Mary Magdalene. It sits just up the hill from the Basilica of Agony in Gethsemane. This church is only open on Tuesday and Thursday mornings from 10-12. I have never been in it so it is now on my list of places to visit.
Gethsemane. Some of the trees allegedly date back 2,000 years. One of Joel's goals is to touch old things while we are here. So far he says that the oldest thing he has touched is from 1922, one of Grandpa Emmett's National Geographics. He wanted to touch these trees but they are off limits. He's hoping to touch the Pyramids when we visit Uncle Matt.
The happy pilgrims.
This photo is for Grandma Tueller who Marie remembers as always liking Bougainvillea.
Gethsemane was nearly empty so we had a pleasant visit. We then went over to view the Tomb of Mary Church but it was packed with a bus group--we'll keep that on our list to visit for another day. We then climbed the Mount (Sarah calls it a hill) of Olives via the Orson Hyde Garden back to the Center. As we walked from Orson Hyde Garden to the Jerusalem Center we passed through the Arab neighborhood located just to the south of the Center. This home was commemorating one of its family members having made the pilgrimage to Mecca. Our balcony looks across to the homes in this neighborhood. Muslims are just finishing the first week of Ramadan so every evening we look out on homes decorated with Ramadan lights (just like Christmas lights) and we get to hear firecrackers, kids playing and extra sermons from the call to prayer speakers.

What an amazing city.

Today after church services (I was one of three speakers-my assigned topic was how my studies in the Holy Land have increased my faith in Jesus Christ) we enjoyed a branch pot luck linger longer. Branch members come from such diverse places as the Philippines, Bolivia, Venezuela, Armenia, Italy, and the United States. For our combined fifth Sunday lesson we discussed ways to best fellowship and help members of the branch who have difficulties getting to church meetings from their homes in the West Bank. We came up with many good ideas, but peace would be the best help.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

This and that

Joel and Sarah in front of our apartment door ready to leave for their first day of school.

Down the hall and up the many stairs to the school van.

Dad cooked a dinner of stir fry vegetables with fresh ginger and Thai sweet soy sauce (purchased at an Arab market in Beit Hanina). We have also enjoyed spaghetti, french toast and tonight Marie's excellent homemade pizza.

Tonight Joel noted that he is using his jar of vitamins as a countdown for when our time in Jerusalem is up. Each of the kids started out with 360 vitamins.

A vital link on Joel's Keens broke the second day we were here. These are his main school and water shoes. Marie e-mailed REI and Keen. REI (which requested this photo) is working on sending us a replacement part--but we don't think the severed link can be replaced. In the meantime a caribener that was a good-bye present from Aunt Diane is now holding the strap in place.

Every day so far, Will has kept his mother entertained by taking her to the gym for a game of kick volleyball. Marie and Will stand on opposite sides of the net and kick the ball back and forth under the net. Will made up the rules and keeps score so for some reason he is always the winner. Marie may get a rest when Will starts school on Monday.

Marie, Will and I ventured forth to the crowded Jerusalem Mall yesterday to buy her a replacement blow direr for the one she blew out on the first day. She was happy to report that her new purchase worked quite nicely this morning.

Chad finished writing his Old Testament syllabus today. Now he needs to get to work on lectures before the students arrive next week.

For her homework, Sarah has made flash cards for the various writing forms of the first six Arabic letters. She is picking it up quite nicely. It helps that she really likes her Arabic teacher.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Good Sabbaths

On Saturday we attended 10:00 Sabbath services of the Jerusalem branch. The branch is made up of Jerusalem center faculty (four), JC service couples (three), the BYU students (they all left last week, but instead the branch welcomed 40 or so BYU intensive Arabic students who have spent the summer in Amman Jordan--they were recruited to give the talks, sing in the choir and provide a special musical number), four US consulate families, some Filipina domestics, a few graduate students at Hebrew University, and a few locals. There are about 15 children in the primary. Sarah, Joel and Will all commented afterward that they met some new friends in Primary. After church we walked over to Augusta Victoria to see where Will will go to pre-school and to climb the tower. It closed at 1:00, but one of the staff at the hospital pointed us to another entry that led us to the tower stairs. We climbed to the top for a great view down to the Dead Sea and out across Jerusalem. We enjoyed a good Turkey dinner in the Oasis. New faculty were allowed to eat in the Oasis for the first few days while we got our feet on the ground and while the intensive Arabic students were here using the cafeteria. The students left last night so the Oasis is now closed for a week and so now we will be cooking all of our meals.

For our Sunday adventure the Emmetts and the Manscills (the other religion professor here with his wife and youngest son age 15) went to Aladdin the money changer on Saladin street to get some shekels. We used this money changer back in 1982 when I was a BYU Jerusalem student. He will cash any check written by BYU faculty and students because he knows it will be good. As we walked in the door he knew us as somebody from BYU. We then drove down the bab al-wad to the coast. Half way there we stopped to fill up the BYU van with gas. In Israel cars can be equipped with an automatic credit card charger so all you need to do is fill up the gas and go, the charge is then automatically deducted from a JC account. The gas attendant asked me how I wanted to pay. I didn't know how to explain this automatic payment thing. I did my best and soon he said "oh, paz-o-matic"--Paz being the name of the gas station chain. When I confirmed that that must be how we were paying he then asked if I was Mormon. I guess a lot of other Mormon University personal have stopped at this Paz station and used the paz-o-matic. We then proceeded to Nitsanim Beach on the Mediterranean Sea half way between Ashdod and Ashkelon. It was a great outing. The water was a perfect temperature and the sand soft and fine (great for making sand drip towers). It was also much less crowed than the beaches of Tel Aviv. I forgot my swim suit and improvised by swimming in my pants. I remembered this beach from 1982. Then and today I loved standing shoulder deep just beyond the breaking point of the waves and bobbing up and down with the waves. The kids loved jumping over the waves and building sand castles. There were large awnings spread along the beach which provided a nice respite from the sun and a good place to eat our lunch. After four hours of fun we headed home via a stop at McDonald's for an ice cream cone.

After a spaghetti dinner, I gave each of the children a father's blessing prior to beginning school tomorrow. Among other things I blessed Sarah that she would be able to find her classes. The Anglican school meets in an old hospital with five separate two-story buildings. As a sixth grader Sarah is in Middle School and so has to go from class to class. After the blessing she thanked me for the part about not getting lost since that was one of her main worries. Today was a nice day.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Belated pictures of "Off to Jerusalem" et al.

It took me a couple of extra days to get the pictures downloaded - now, if I can only remember how to do a posting. Wish me luck.

So far, so good. The first pictures were taken Saturday while waiting for everyone to gather for a farewell dinner.

Joel, Will, and Alex overlooking their masterpiece.
Clark helping with some last minute repairs.

Head Honcho's of the traveling party at the Salt Lake Airport 8-19-09

Katie, Sarah, and Mac waiting for the time to pass.
Joel, Katie, Sarah, Mac, and Will still waiting.

Everyone but me at the airport.
Will and Joel having a last minute chess game.

Sarah smiling.

Mac smiling too.

Katie ditto.

TThe Springville Emmett's on their way to go through security.

At home in Jerusalem

After staying up until 4:30 AM to pack and ready the house, hefting twenty bags through airports (thanks to sky caps at one end and BYU intensive Arabic students at the other end for helping) and a little over 24 hours in transit and we are here at home in Jerusalem. The flight--SLC--Atlanta--Tel Aviv--was mostly uneventful. The flight from Atlanta was packed with many young Israeli families returning from summer vacations in the US--lots of children. Our kids were real troopers on the flight. The lack of sleep was only manifest later when we went to eat dinner at the oasis in the center. Joel looked at the heaping plate of unknown food they had kept for us and burst in to tears. Not to worry he was soon pacified with some plain pita bread, mashed potatoes and lemonade. After a quick dinner we put the kids to bed only to return and find them all hiding in Joel's top bunk. One minute they were playing on the beds and the next they were all sound asleep. But not for long. At about 3:30 AM Will woke up hungry and jet lagged. Then at 4:30 we were all up with the call to prayer. Will finally fell back asleep at about 5:30. We then were all up again at 7:00 so by 8:00 we could be at the Anglican School for new student orientation. My goal was to not let the children take a nap (so we could get over jet lag in time for school on Monday) so after an encouraging school experience we walked from the school--which borders the ultra-orthodox Jewish neighborhood of Mea Sherim--through the Russian compound with its prison and Russian Orthodox Church to the Old City. Our plan was to walk the walls from Jaffa gate to Damascus gate, but first we needed to rest from our hot walk so we stopped just inside Jaffa gate for some fresh sesame bread and zatar and sprite or cold water. Once rejuvenated we found out that our chosen portion of the wall is closed on Fridays during Muslim prayers so we called the center to have a van come and pick us up. The best meeting point was at the New Gate--while waiting for the van we watched a big dump truck back in and dump a load of sand for a new light rail being installed. As the truck was pulling out Joel started to walk across the road as it comes through the gate just as a car that had been waiting on the dump truck started to exit out through the gate. A short, elderly Arab man (our guardian angel for the day) grabbed Joel and stopped him just in time to prevent a most likely pedestrian fender bender. After a hodge podge lunch in our apartment the kids went exploring via the rose gardens surrounding our terrace balcony around the corner to the window to the boy's room. Sarah wanted to look in the window and thought for sure that her feet were fat enough to walk on the grate below the window that was covering some sort of vent but they weren't and so her left foot slipped through the grate until her calf became wedged tightly between the flat two inch wide white grate bars. Joel came a running. Marie and I then came running through the rose bushes to find Sarah crying more out of fear than hurt. I could not pull her leg out, but then Marie brought some water for lubrication and once we wet her leg and I pulled hard enough it came out with no lasting damage and only a few scrapes. Marie and I then left the kids in Sarah's care (do we dare do this) for an orientation meeting for the two new faculty members and their wives. There was no more exploring and the kids were fine. It is sure nice to be able to leave the kids in our apartment watching a movie and know that if there is a problem they can come up two flights and find us. It is also nice to know that there is a very nice security system watching over us. We then explored the center (anything to keep the kids awake) and found some books and DVDS to entertain us over the weekend. Then we checked a car out of the motor pool and drove a short distance to an 24/7 Arab market in Wadi Joz. The Manscills followed us in another center car so they could learn the route. When we pulled in to park Bro. Manscill point out that we had a flat tire. We called to the Center (with the required-for-security-purposes cell phone we had just been issued--Marie and I each get our own phone--a first for both of us) to report the problem. Meanwhile Craig and I started to change the tire. An Arab employee of the store saw two gringos attempting to change the tire. He came to check it out and decided the jack would need something under it to enable it to raise the tire high enough. We thought he went off to find a board of some sort to put under the jack when all of a sudden out of the store warehouse he came driving a fork lift! Up went the car, off and on went the tires and before we knew it we were in the fresh produce side of the store buying pomegranates, mangoes, plums and apples. Across the street in the other part of the store it was a bit more difficult trying to figure out what was butter, tomato paste, 1 % milk etc--many of the items are only labeled in Hebrew. Back at the center we had a delicious dinner at the oasis and then by 7:30 the kids were all ready for bed. I started to read a story to Will, but half way through it we both fell asleep. Marie woke me up an hour later and I took this picture of two sleeping boys after an eventful first day in Jerusalem.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Sea preparations

In anticipation of swimming in the Mediterranean Sea, Red Sea, Dead Sea (floating actually) and the Sea of Galilee, Will has been learning to swim.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009


From a primary pioneer day activity. (see beitemmett for a different version)

trek preparations

We are deep in the midst of getting everything ready for our trek east to the western bank of the River Jordan. Luckily we don't have to pull a handcart. The photo is from a fun Primary pioneer day activity on July 25th.