Friday, October 8, 2010


The flight home was long but pleasant. We arrived on Saturday afternoon. Ben and Courtney did a stellar job of keeping our house and yard in good shape. On Monday we drove to Logan to see my father who has been dealing with melanoma for the past few years. While in Jerusalem we learned that the melanoma had spread to his abdomen and then later to his brain. We consider it a tender mercy that he was still up and about when when we returned. Jake was in town from Illinois so we held a special Family Home Evening Monday night.

Mom and dad with their six children. It has been 18 months since we were all together. After a great dinner, Jake gave mom a priesthood blessing and then I gave a blessing to dad. It was a very tender moment. There was no promise of healing and long life, but rather of peace, comfort and not extended suffering. Afterwards dad expressed his love to all of us--which was almost the entire family. Only a few were not able to attend.

Later that week Marie's sister Jeanne and family came for a visit. Our kids had fun playing with their Tueller cousins for a few days.
Back to school. Sarah started seventh grade at Springville Jr. High.

Joel off to fourth grade

Will starting afternoon kindergarten
On Labor Day we drove to Logan to visit Grandpa and Grandma. In two weeks dad had weakened quite a bit. Each of the children took a few mementos from their year abroad for a special show and tell. Joel showing an alabaster obelisk from Egypt.
Will showing his olive wood cougar from Bethlehem.
Sarah showing her ancient clay pot handle that she discovered at Tel Azekah.
For my birthday we went to the first half of Will's soccer game and then to Joel's pinewood derby.
His car--Lucky 13--got second place. We were all happy that Joel's friend Colin got first place. For the past year he has been battling aplatsic anemia.

September was full of twice weekly soccer games for Will and Joel. Both did very well given the fact that they often played soccer in the gym with the BYU Jerusalem students. Most Thursdays I drove to Logan to visit mom and dad.

On Monday September 27th, I got a call at school that dad was not doing very well and would probably not last long. I canceled the remaining 40 minutes of my political geography class and hurried home while Marie went to get the kids from school. We arrived in Logan in time to see dad and to express our love to him. We sat around visiting and remembering. At one point the children and Marie sing "I know that my Savior loves me" which they had learned in Primary this last year and which Joel and Will had sung the day before in the Primary program. Dad had been unconscious and unresponsive for the past two days and so we were surprised when Bob and Mom noticed tears on his cheeks. He then opened his tear filled eyes and gazed upwards. Then after a few delayed breaths his spirit departed his worn out body. It was a peaceful, tender moment.
On Friday October 1, Dad/Grandpa was buried in the Logan Cemetery. We will miss his regular comments on this blog. He was a wonderful man and a loving father and grandfather. He and mom came to visit me in Jerusalem in 1982 and in Nazareth in 1989. I am grateful for happy memories of many happy times together. All of the grandchildren know the answer to the hard question: "Grandpa Emmet loves me." How grateful we are to know that dad's earthly departure is not a permanent separation. We know that the resurrection of Jesus in Jerusalem two millennia ago blesses all of us with the gift of eternal life and the opportunity to live together as eternal families. We look forward to that happy reunion.

Last Days

Our last week was full of fun activities. Marie's sister Diane (above), her husband Lant Pritchett, their newly released missionary (India Bangalore) son Luke (above), their daughter Hannah and her husband Mike came to visit for a week. On Sunday we took them to play the carillon at the YMCA in West Jerusalem. Diane, who is a high school music teacher, was moved to tears by the experience. We then went to visit Bethlehem. Here in the grotto of the Church of the Nativity is a photo of where the manger was located. Behind me is where the star marking the place of the birth is located. The Pritchett's are an adventuresome lot and so they wanted to go find Bansky art work on the wall. Here our children pretend to help a Palestinian girl frisk an Israeli solider. Behind this portion of the wall is Rachel's tomb. I like the sentiment of unzipping the wall. When then visited some of our LDS friends in Bethlehem. Hannah's (in red) husband Mike (far right) has been growing a bread since their wedding last September. It was touching and humorous when two of the Bethlehem children thought Jesus had come to visit them.
We will miss visiting our Bethlehem friends.
Monday and Tuesday were the last two days of student field trips which follow the steps of the last week of the life of Jesus.
The view from the interior of the tear drop shaped church of Dominus Flevit (Jesus wept) across the Kidron Valley to where the temple was located.
Jesus wept for the iniquity of the inhabitants of Jerusalem which he would have gathered as a hen does her chicks. This mosaic is on the altar of the church.
Brother Manscill finishing up his on-site teaching in the Upper Room. My class of students are waiting to join together for some hymn singing.
That evening we were told that the new play ground was ready for its ribbon cutting. Center director Eran, who made this his personal project, really wanted the playground to be finished in time for the Emmett children to cut the ribbon and try it out. Marie and I like to think that our mostly well behaved children are the reason for this amazing addition to the Jerusalem Center.
There were three ribbons to cut, one each for Sarah, Joel and Will.
There will be 11 children in the center the next academic year so it will be well used.

The playground is located just below the 1st level and is hidden from view from the Arab neighborhood across the street by a new limestone wall.
Next day as we traversed the Old City I enjoyed seeing the Ramadan lights and decorations--very Christmasy.
Marie and the kids took the Prichetts to Hezekiah's Tunnel and then joined us for singing in St. Anne's Church. Another hit with Aunt Diane. Marie with her friend Malak Sharaf. Malak has been the office administrator at the center for over 20 years. I first met her in 1988. She is good friends of my Aunt JoAnn. Her son Nabil has two degrees from BYU. Nabil and I were both authors of essays in BYU Magazine that highlighted Mormon -Muslim similarities.

Last night on the seventh floor balcony.

A favorite end of semester activity is playing in the piles of blankets and pillows placed here by students so the wonderful staff at the center can get them washed and ready for the next group.

For our final day we decided to visit a final few places. First stop- Ammunition Hill the site of a decisive battle in the 1967 battle over Jerusalem. It was a Jordanian fortification on the northern perimeter of the city that was captured by Israeli troops.

We then were successful at finally getting into the Russian Orthodox Church in the heart of the Russian compound. This was a Red Russian Church (Bolshevik backed) while the churches on the Mt. of Olives were White Russian.
I took a few interior photos before a priest reminded me that photos were not allowed. Sarah had also reminded me, but I pretended not to hear her.

Just outside the church is a large pillar that was carved for Herod's Temple. It cracked during the process and was not used. This area was one of the main quarries for the temple.
Walked along Jaffa street where after one year little progress has been made on completing the light rail.
Our last felafel on Ben Yehuda Street. We then returned to the Center to finish packing our bags.
I then slipped out to take some followup photos of the Pisgat Ze'ev area. I have been taking photos of the growth of Jewish settlements in the area northeast of Jerusalem since 1989. It is amazing to see the changes. The latest addition to the geo-political landscape is the wall dividing the Palestinian refugee camp of Anata from the rest of Jerusalem. I'll add photos like this to my geography lecture photos of an Arab family in front of their destroyed homes and a sequence of photos showing the rapid expansion of these controversial Jewish neighborhoods/settlements.

Driving back to the Center I took this photo while stopped at a stop light. We saw this exact view on our drive into Jerusalem 360 days earlier. For unknown reasons we call it the pencil sharpener. Brother and Sister Manscill drove the five of us and all 20 of our bags in the nine seater van to Ben Gurion airport for our 11:30 pm flight. We arrived 3 1/2 hours before our flight. We had hopped that a Friday evening flight might mean a less crowed airport because of the Jewish Sabbath. There may have been fewer flights that night, but security was more backed-up than usual. The initial screening as we got in line resulted in a #2 sticker on our passport which means we were not much of a security risk. Those with high numbers and special blue and yellow stickers (people traveling alone, people who have visited Arab areas, Arabs etc) were pulled out of line behind us and moved forward for luggage x-raying. After 1 1/2 hours of waiting in a line which was not moving for us, the kids' patience started to wear thin and we started to worry about making our flight. Marie finally asked one of the security women if we could move up and have our bags x-rayed. She came back with her superior who asked me the usual questions: why are you here, where did you go, did you pack your bags, did you accept any packages etc. I answered truthfully to every question. Then to our surprise she let us skip the backed up x-ray machine and proceed directly to check-in. Never in my many trips in and out of Israel have I ever experienced such a thing. Hallelujah! I'm sure it helped to be traveling with three children and that we had all been in and out of the country several times before. As we passed the place where many people had to open up their luggage for further inspection we noticed many who were pulled ahead of us still enduring additional security checks. We got to our gate just in time to board. We all slept well and then enjoyed some movies--the kids were happy to watch Diary of a Wimpy Kid--we took this series of books with us to Jerusalem and they were re-read many times during the year. Marie's Parents, sister Rachel and my brother Jake met us at the SLC airport and transported us (in three cars) to Springville. Jake and I arrived first. The Baltes kids were anxiously waiting on their front lawn for their absentee friends to arrive. Soon Rachel pulled up with Sarah, Joel and Will. As they spilled out of her car the street erupted into screams of joy followed by hugs of happiness.