Mount of Olives panorama

Mount of Olives panorama
A panoramic view of the Mount of Olives

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Arriving Home at Last

I will not try to recount any of the details of our long flight home or the lines and immigration in New York City.

Samuel as we landed in New York City

About to land!

My girls could not believe that they were back in the United States
Gathering all our luggage in U.S. Customs in NYC
 Paul and Denise picked us up at the airport: Paul in a truck to take me and the luggage home, Denise in a van to take Elaine and kids to the County Health Department before they got to see our house at last.  Andy and Ryan met us there to help wrangle my luggage but mostly just to welcome me home.  Eric had worked all morning cleaning up our yard for our arrival.

Some of the JC students had decorated our door for our return
Cousins reunited: Lindsay and Rachel

Elaine was happy to see her car again!
Click this link to see a video of our arrival at our home.

My family with Mother

Samuel ran in to see his "stuff."  Here the rest of us are with Lindsay and Mother

After settling in a bit, we went to Los Hermanos for dinner.  We had not had Mexican food for over a year!

We were pretty wiped out from 25 hours of traveling.  Here Elaine tries to keep her eyes open!

Is that meat, cheese, and sour cream together?!?
The next few days were a whirlwind, but I soon was settled back into my office on campus.  Thursday night I attended the Tabernacle Choir's dress rehearsal for their Deer Valley concert, seeing many great friends again.  I sang the broadcast that Sunday.  The next week I taught Education Week and resumed my Thursday temple shift.

It's a little place, but it is ours and it is home!

All together for our first Sunday dinner in our own home!
Elaine's roast beef, mashed potatoes and gravy, and fresh corn on the cob!

My office and all my books were waiting for me

Malak, Nino, and Mona . . . the office is different than the JC but the music playing is the same!
 Everything is back to its old patterns, but nothing is completely the same.  Today after church, I talked to Elaine and Rachel, who agreed with me that we never sing a sacrament hymn or take the sacrament now without thinking of the places where our Lord lived, walked, suffered, died and rose again.  That is the greatest gift we took from the Holy Land.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Goodbye to the City and the Center

The sun sets on Jerusalem for the final time that I saw it there
We left the Jerusalem Center, and our Holy Land Adventure, the evening of Tuesday, August 7, 2012, directly from the students' "Memory Meeting."  While they started it, I slipped out onto the seventh floor terrace for a final goodbye to the city that I have grown to love so much.

On the northwest side of the Center property is a favorite place of mine, which became a sacred spot to me.  Here almost daily, encouraged by our Muslim friends' call to prayer, I would go out on my own to think, to mediate, and pray.  On this last evening in Jerusalem, I went there to say goodbye to the city I love and to pray there one last time.

"My spot"

The view of the Old City from my favorite place on the Center grounds

Looking towards Mount Scopus and Hebrew University

"Jerusalem, if I forget thee!"

The historical models of Jerusalem
My heart was rent as I took this picture of the center in the the light of our last sunset

In the middle of the students' Memories Meeting, we stood to take our leave (the other faculty families left the next day with the students, so we were leaving early).  They gave us a tribute and sang "God Be with You Till We Meet Again."

Many saw us off in the center garage, including our security chief (and gym trainer!) Tarek.  He is one of the many I will miss.

With Tarek Safedi

Samuel loading his luggage in the van so that our trusty Hassan could drive us one last time

There is no reason to recount the time and inconvenience that accompanied our check in at the Tel Aviv Airport.  We were in line for hours, had 5 of our 12 bags unpacked, and then still had personal security and immigration.  We then had a little time left for a snack before we boarded our plane.  Snack of choice: our favorite Magnum bars!

Rachel loved the double chocolate

But it will always be a white Magnum for me!
And the, rather anticlimactically, it was over.  We boarded early to get Samuel settled, but when the crowds of other passengers started pouring into the plane, I got distracted.  Suddenly we were taking off, and I caught a glimpse of Tel Aviv and the lights along the shore falling behind us.

And our Holy Land Adventure was over . . . but it was always be part of my memory and my heart.

Last Days Walk 2

All right folks, departure is literally hours away . . . so there may not be much captioning until later.  But I wanted to document this wonderful day, which was such as special way for our students to end their semester and for us to end our year here.

Gethsemane: Jesus’ Experience in Gethsemane—the Beginning of the Atonement
  • Brooke Ellis (Luke 22:39–44; see GSLW, 62–63, including intro to “Reverently and Meekly”); Hymn 185, “Reverently and Meekly Now”
  • Jamie Wheeler (Mark 14:43–50; see GSLW, 63–65, 66, esp. “Jesus’ Lonely Atoning Journey”)

Students spread out in the Private Garden for solo pondering time

The trees of the "Old Garden" outside the Basilica of the Agony


A quiet moment by the Stone of the Agony

Walking the Qidron Valley

Following the path taken by Jesus after his arrest, we stopped at the Pillar of Absalom, where I read Psalm 23 and applied it to the experience of Jesus that night: "Yea, thou I walk through the valley of the shadow of death . . ."


St. Peter in Gallicantu: Jesus before the Jewish Authorities The Denial of Peter
  • Blake Risenmay (Mark 14:54, 66–72; see GSLW, 68–69 on “Peter’s Denial”); Hymn 130, “Be Thou Humble”

"The Sacred Stairs," a first century staircase climbing from the Qidron Valley by which Jesus may very well have climbed to his "trial" before Caiaphas


Just a few pictures from my favorite model of Byzantine Jerusalem!

The original St. Peter church with the Holy Stairs
The original Holy Sepulchre complex

Close-up of spot of the original Rock of Golgotha under a colonnade but otherwise open

Original church at the Pools of Bethesda (now next to St. Anne's; see below)

Class Pic at Zion's Gate

Walk through the Armenian Quarter and then Picture at the Citadel of David

I agree with many scholars that the probable site of Jesus' trial before Pilate would have been here in the former Palace of Herod, which was used by Roman governors as their residence when they were in the city.

That said, the "traditional site" is near the site of the old Antonia Fortress, where their were Roman barracks.  Hence we continued our Last Week walk with visits to churches along the Via Dolorosa.

Church of the Condemnation: Jesus Falsely Judged
  • Sarah Mader (Mark 15:1–14; see GSLW, 77, esp. on “The Problem of Culpability”)

Church of the Flagellation: Jesus Scourged
  • Deverey Amundsen (Matthew 27:26–31; GSLW, 78 and 76, “Man of Sorrows” and background of “O Savior, Thou Who Wearest”; Hymn 197, “O Savior, Thou Who Wearest a Crown”

Some Ramadan pictures from Via Dolorosa


St. Anne’s: Waiting for the Moving of the Waters at Betheseda (the healing power of the atonement)
  • Huntsman on John 5:1–9; Hymn 117, “Come unto Jesus”

Garden Tomb: Crucifixion and Resurrection—the Apogee and Completion of the Atonement
  • Dwight “Stripes” Bellingham (John 19:17–30; see GSLW, 84–85); Hymn 184, “Upon the Cross of Calvary”; Hymn 191, “Behold the Great Redeemer Die”
  • Lauren Barden (John 20:1–2, 11–18; see GSLW, 111, 114, on witnesses of the Resurrection and esp. Mary Magdalene as a model witness); Hymn 199, “He Is Risen,” maybe Hymn 200, “Christ the Lord Is Risen Today”

That way to end my time in Israel: recalling Jesus' death on the cross and his resurrection!  He is Risen!