Saturday, September 18, 2010

Mural Painting

Each semester the BYU students get involved in a number of good service projects (I keep hoping they will reinstate past projects that were more people oriented like visiting orphanages or volunteering in schools). When possible the Emmetts like to join in--most often helping with assembling hygiene kits. One afternoon we joined in and helped paint murals on the wall of the kindergarten classroom at the Princess Basma Center for Disabled Children on the Mt of Olives.
The hallways are lined with murals created and painted by students from past semesters.
The fall 2009 semester mural.
The winter 2010 mural (showing two of four panels depicting the various landscapes of the USA).
Amy and Blake did a great job at designing the mural and painting the base of each animal.
Our kids each teamed up with a student to decorate one animal.
Joel worked with Mike (who is also a talented organist).

Will did dots with Scott.
And Sarah worked with Gretta--who is a great cellist. She is one of the reasons Sarah is now paying cello in the seventh grade orchestra.
The monkey artists at play.
The mural after the first cohort of animal decorators.
We returned a week later to see the completed work of the other groups.
The mural starts with a child at a desk drawing. He obviously has quite an imagination.
The names of all of the student participants and Emmett children are included in the mural on the spines of the books at the bottom.
Very impressive.

Monastery of the Cross

The Monastery of the Cross is located in West Jerusalem near the Knesset and Israel Museum. Once upon a time it was far from the city of Jerusalem and its protective walls so it necessarily is very fortress like. Its claim to fame is the site where the tree was cut for the cross of Christ. The monastery was at first Byzantine (destroyed by the Persians) and then Georgian (as in the Caucasus Mountains not SE USA) but as the Georgian Christians lost power and influence the Greeks then took over control.
It was once bustling with many more monks than the few who inhabit it today as evidenced by this once-used large dinning hall.
The entrance to the church within the monastery.
The open doorway to the left of the iconostasis leads to a tiny chapel.
It is on this location that the tree grew. The commemorative murals tell an interesting story.
When the three heavenly visitors came with good tidings for Abraham and Sarah (hiding behind the tree) they left their three staffs. Abraham then gave the three staffs to a fleeing Lot (with two daughters) with the command that if he wanted to find favor with God he should take the three holy staffs to Jerusalem and plant them.
Lot did as he was told by uncle Abe. The three staffs were make from cedar, cypress and olive wood. They were watered with water from the Jordan River. The three staffs grew into a single tree.
That tree became the cross. Believe it or not.

Jaffa/Tel Aviv

We started out our year in the Holy Land with a trip to the beach so we decided to end our stay with a second trip. Our first stop was the ancient port of Jaffa. The Catholic Church is dedicated to Peter.

It was here in Jaffa that Peter has his vision of unclean (not kosher) foods descending from heaven. He was told to eat the food as a heavenly way of teaching him that the gospel was now to go forth to the gentiles, starting first with Roman Cornelius in Caesarea.

The narrow walkways of the old city of Jaffa descend from the church down to the harbor.

I wonder if the whale that swallowed Jonah smiled when he swallowed Jonah.
After a lunch of hot dogs or shwarma we headed north to adjacent Tel Aviv for a fun few hours at the beach. Jaffa is in the distance.
The beginning of our majestic sand drop castle.
The Mediterranean Sea was a perfect temperature. After so many great days in the fresh water afternoon waves of the Sea of Galilee we were all some what troubled by salty waves.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Oh We're from Nairobi

Each semester the BYU students would hold a formal talent show in the upper auditorium and then an informal talent show in the forum. Our formal talents are few and so we opted to always participate in the informal talent show. This is a video of our winter semester performance (we did the same thing all three semesters). Notice Will's peace sign at the end. We choreographed our number during a Family Home Evening fall semester. Everyone helped with ideas. During our first run through when it came time to lift Will up on my shoulders, I accidentally stepped on the back of his pants so that as I lifted him up, his pants stayed down! Will's initial reaction was that it was no fun to be up in the air pant-less, but it wasn't long before he, along with the rest of us, could laugh as his costuming mishap.

Monday, September 13, 2010


Bethany is the first stop of the last two days of field trips that re-trace the events of the final week of Christ's life. The Arabic name for Bethany is al-Azariyah which is the Arabic derivative of Lazarus. The Roman Catholic Church pays tribute to Bethany's most famous residents: Mary, Martha and Lazarus. I really liked the interior of the dome with its golden mosaics of birds in flight. The church also had great mosaics of Bethany events:
Jesus telling Martha that Mary, who chose to listen to Jesus rather than busy herself with household duties, had chosen the better part.
Martha learned her lesson. Next time Jesus came to town it was she who hustled out to meet him. At that meeting Jesus told Martha that he was the resurrection and the life. Jesus then raised Lazarus after four days in the tomb (Jews believed that the spirit lingered near the body for three days, so Jesus waiting to raise Lazarus on the fourth day showed that Lazarus was most sincerely dead).

Sandwiched between the Catholic and Greek Orthodox churches is a mosque. It sits atop the tomb of Lazarus. Anciently the entrance to the tomb was from the east near the church, but that entrance was blocked with the building of the mosque so now the entrance to the tomb (by the orange sign) is from the north and down a long uneven flight of stairs. Jerusalem Center colleague Kent Brown always tells the students that he feels that this really is the tomb!
Descending into the tomb Inside the tomb. The small entrance leads out to another chamber and then up the stairs.
"Sarah, come forth!"
"Joel, come forth!"

"Will, come forth!"
During winter semester a baby bird fell out of its nest and into the courtyard of the student apartments one level below us. The students tried to feed the bird and keep it warm. They named it Bucket. Our children went to visit the bird. Then after a few days it died. A few days later I accidentally left my anti-melanoma wide-brimmed hat in the church at Bethany on the field trip. Later that day I return to the church in a hired van along with Will to retrieve my hat. While there we took a few minutes to visit the tomb of Lazarus. I was trying to explain to five year old Will about Jesus bringing Lazarus back to life. I wasn't sure if he was understanding that through Jesus we all can live again. I told him how Jesus had called to dead Lazarus to come forth. Will has not experienced the death of anyone he knows and so I latched on to the recent death of Bucket the bird to explain that Jesus could make Bucket live again. I knew that Will understood it all when a few minutes later from the depths of the tomb he exclaimed: "Bucket, come forth!"

The care taker of the tomb owns a souvenir shop that sells wonderful David slings. He always demonstrates how to sling a sling by sending two stones flying off into the distance. He then says with a smile that he sent the two stones flying in that direction because that is where his wife and mother-in-law live.
The correct hand position. The one string stays attached to the middle finger while the thumb and pointer finger let go.
The street running in front of the tomb, the two churches and the mosque has been repaved and upgraded thanks to a USAID program to improve the tourist infrastructure in Palestine. It is a nice good-will out-reach program. Too bad more tourists don't make it to Bethany. Once upon a time many tourists/pilgrims and all of the BYU students would come to Bethany and then climb up and over the Mt of Olives to Jerusalem just as Jesus so often did. Unfortunately, the wall now prevents that walk. Less than a 100 yards from the tomb the wall separates Bethany from Bethpage and Jerusalem. To reconnect with the path Jesus walked now necessitates a 30 minute circuitous drive that includes going through the relatively new tunnel under the Mt. of Olives. When the wall was being built, a vigilant congressman familiar with the pilgrim route coerced the Israeli government to put a gate in the wall for the pilgrims to use, but as far as I know tourists have never been able to use the gate (seen above).
The gardens of the Catholic church are very well cared for. We always sit under this grape arbor to remember the Biblical accounts associated with Bethany. The arbor is also a great reminder of the allegory of the True Vine. "I am the vine, ye are the branches"