Monthly Archives: July 2008

Jerusalem school

I have been waiting to meet the new principal of the Christian school here in Jerusalem (he has been on vacation for 2 weeks in England). So, this morning was the time.

Scott dropped me off at the apartment of Colin Ross. We sat for about an hour over coffee and cookies and talked about children and education. I found this man to be very soft-spoken, humble and a real “kindred spirit”. We talked at length about how God gifts children differently and about the extreme difference in approach to children between the institutional school mindset (of treating all children as generic human beings) and the child-gifted-directed form of raising children that homeschoolers understand. This excited him. He was interested in hearing all the things I say when I give my homeschooling seminars and immediately understood what I was talking about. I think it helped that he has three children of his own. We discussed how this kind of worldview might be integrated into an institutional setting such as his school.

I will give you a little of this man’s background.

He is a native of England whose ancestors were Jewish. His grandparents escaped to England during the holocaust. They were so determined to assimilate into British society that they actually became anti-Semitic to the point of serving ham for their Sunday meals. Colin attended public schools and gave his live to Jesus during his first year of college. Eventually he visited his Jewish extended family all of whom had moved to Israel. Colin’s wife is not Jewish but has had a heart for the Jewish people all her adult life and she waited for 10 years for the Lord to put it on her husband’s heart to move the family to Israel. Several years ago, Colin did just this and worked as a volunteer for the first few years until he was able to find work in the Christian school here in Jerusalem.

For decades, there has been a school in downtown Jerusalem called AISJ, which stands for Anglican International School of Jerusalem. This school was begun as an outreach of Church Ministries to the Jews which is in England.

There is a growing number of Christians in Israel who want their children to be educated outside the Israeli public school system. Many of them are turning to homeschooling while others want to send their children to Christian schools since both parents work. There are only 2 Christian schools in the whole country and AISJ is one of them.

However, because AISJ is an International school, its student body is made up not only of Christians, but also of Jews (including Orthodox Jews) and Arabs (now called Palestinians). In fact, the Palestinian Prime Minister’s own children attend this school and the Prime Minister was the keynote speaker at the recent graduation ceremonies. What this means is that, though AISJ began as a Christian school, it is no longer exclusively so and it’s mission now is expressed as one of being “tolerant” of all faiths.

The little school (about 100 students from K-8th grade) to which Colin is the new principal is on the same grounds as AISJ and is considered a “satellite” campus of AISJ. It’s name is Mekor Hatikva School and calls itself “A Messianic School in Jerusalem”. All its families are Christian (some former Jews who have become Christians). Unlike AISJ (whose instruction is all in English), all the instruction in Colin’s school is in Hebrew, but they do have teachers who teach English to the Hebrew-speaking students. AISJ actually has a vision of setting up small, Christian-only, schools throughout the country wherever Christian communities feel the need for schools to be established.

Colin and I took the bus to his school and we looked at the school rooms, all of which are very old, with some of the walls looking as if they were going to fall in on us. The plaster on the walls are cracked and the rooms are so small that I couldn’t believe they were able to get 10 desks into them. The AISJ part of the campus is also very old, but AISJ seems to have more money and the ability to give its part of the campus more physical attention.

After talking more, it was obvious it was time for me to return home. How were things left? I asked Colin if he had any thoughts as to what I should do next. He said he didn’t, but that he very much wanted me to be part of the work/ministry in some capacity. His school has little money and their English teachers work only part time. He suggested that, before I leave, we visit the newly-hired new principal of AISJ to see if his school had any openings. But, when we walked to the man’s house, he was not at home.

So, Colin and I prayed together for some time and then he said he would see what he could do to bring my name to the new AISJ principal. I made it clear to Colin that I wasn’t anxious about work. I am intrigued to see where the Lord will eventually place me, but I am not concerned about it. If I have reached my age and have not learned to trust Him by now, there’s something really wrong with my relationship with Him. He has been, and will always remain, faithful.

So, there is my day.

It is now evening on this Thursday. I am at peace. Danny called me a little while ago to ask if I really wanted to work in Israel. I told him that I am no longer personally invested in where I go and what I do. I didn’t expect him to understand this, of course; but that’s OK. Some of you who read this may not understand it, either. That’s OK, too. However, I know some of you who will understand…

Trip over

Last night we drove some happy travelers to the airport and said “goodbye”. I can’t say enough about this group. The teenage boys all got along and the 12 year old did just fine as the only girl. The adults were a hoot, laughing and crying as we visited sites they had only dreamed about for years. It was a great time for all!

On the last day of the tour, while we were riding somewhere on the bus, I had the strongest impression that I would return to the apartment in Jerusalem and check my emails and I would have an email from the school in Cairo saying that they were rescinding the contract they had sent me two weeks ago.

Well, as soon as I returned to Jerusalem, I checked my emails and there was an email from the Administrator of the school in Cairo. She said the owners of the school had told her she could not make any new hires for the next school year. She was embarrassed and very sorry since she had already sent me a contract. I wrote her and said that I was not really surprised and thanked her for her concern. I also told her that I was still prepared to accept the contract, and would consider it if things changed before school began in three weeks.

Tomorrow I will be interviewing with the principal of a small Christian school here in Jerusalem. It will be interesting to see what the Lord ultimately has in mind for me.

Here are some pictures from the tour. Place your cursor over the brown letters and left click to see the picture.

The spring where Gideon reduced his army to 300

The water tunnel King Hezekiah dug under Jerusalem

View from our motel at the Sea of Galilee

Visiting the Western Wall at night

A friendly critter at the Sea of Galilee

The synagogue where Jesus gave his “Unless you eat my body…” sermon

The group on the Temple Mount

The group sifting through Temple Mount debris

This last picture is particularly interesting because the Palestinians (who have control of the Temple Mount) are digging out hundreds of truckloads of dirt from under the Temple Mount to build an underground mosque that will seat thousands of “worshipers”. In the process, they are destroying the history of the Temple Mount, which is one of the richest archaeological sites in the world. They are grinding up anything they find that relates to Jewish history and are dumping the rest in a local Arab landfill. Some young archaeologists are taking the dirt and slowly going through it, bucket by bucket. Our group was allowed to help them. They say it will take 10 years to complete the task. Our group found ancient artifacts, including a coin.

To the Wall

In a few minutes I will go downtown to meet the tour group which is coming up from their time in the south of the land. After they check into the hotel and have dinner I will walk them the couple of miles to the gates of the Old City and then we will go directly to the Western Wall. This will be their first time seeing the Wall and it is always best seen after dark for the first time. Before I take them from the hotel, we will read from the prophet Zechariah (8:4-5). For 2,000 years people must have wondered if this prophecy would ever come true. Well, now it has:

“Old men and old women will again sit in the squares of Jerusalem, each man with his staff in his hand because of age. And the streets of the city will be filled with boys and girls playing in its streets.”

As we walk through the city and to the Wall, we will hear the sound of children playing and calling to one another and calling to their fathers: “Abba! Abba!” The old ones will be sitting in every square and on every bench just as this scripture says they will.

Tomorrow I begin leading the group in Jerusalem for 2-1/2 days. Then we leave Jerusalem to head north into the Galilee which is the main area of Jesus’ life and ministry. After a few days there we will go to the coast to say “goodbye” and see them off to the U.S.

I will not be adding more to this blog until the tour is over since I won’t have internet access until then. So, Shalom to everyone for about the next week. Expect a long post when I write again, complete with pictures.

I am feeling great! Thanks for all the prayers. I carry everyone with me in my heart. You know who you are…

Back to the “land of the living”

So, I’ve been here a week now and here’s a quick run-down of my first 7 or 8 days:

Landed at the airport in Israel after what should have been a 24 hour trip but ended up taking 3 days. I kept missing my connecting flights because every plane I got on was either flying into a storm (delay in taking off) or the plane had mechanical problems (delay in taking off). This was true even of the very last leg from Germany to Israel.

Speaking of Germany, I wound up having 12 hours in the airport and should have taken a tour of the countryside. But, I was so zonked, I couldn’t make it happen. No airport is worth staying in for 12 hours, but at least the Frankfort airport is a jam-packed shopping mall for the rich traveler with lots to see.

Frankfort airport 1

Frankfort airport 1

I tried to find something to eat but don’t read German.
Frankfort airport 3

Frankfort airport 3

There was one car I liked
Frankfort airport 4

Frankfort airport 4

but they said I would have to arrange to have it delivered to my house. So, I didn’t pick up one of them.

I finally arrived at 4AM in Israel

Tel Aviv airport

Tel Aviv airport

on Sunday morning but my luggage decided to play it safe and stay in Chicago. No problem. For my trouble, the airline gave me 400 shekels (about $125.00) and a nice little pouch containing a toothbrush, toothpaste, comb and a white t-shirt that could have fit Hulk Hogan. They also said my luggage would arrive within 2 days and they would deliver it to Jerusalem.

Took the van to Jerusalem and arrived as the Johnsons were drinking their morning coffee. I tried to be friendly but was so tired I just crashed. Then I spent all day Sunday and Monday trying to gather my body together, most of which had also stayed in Chicago.

The Johnsons have a soldier staying with them and they usually fix a large supper on Monday and Friday nights for other soldiers. So, on Monday night, they fixed a huge Mexican dinner. It was delicious and I ate a lot of it. That was a big mistake.

All night and all day Tuesday I stayed in the bathroom. As I’ve said, it’s been years since I’ve been that sick. Tuesday my luggage arrived and I couldn’t take it upstairs. I couldn’t take myself upstairs.
But, I gathered all the energy I could to repack my small case for traveling with the tour group to their first stop in the Orthodox community where Danny lives, north of Jerusalem.

Wednesday Danny picked me up and we drove to the airport to meet the last family arriving from the US. We took them to the hotel in Tel Aviv where Danny and I relaxed in the lobby until everyone gathered for me to share the itinerary for the next few days and answer questions. Everyone in the group was tired but happy. There are 3 dads, 2 moms, and 5 teenagers in all.

We told them we would meet them the next morning and Danny drove me to his house on the other side of the country. The tour guide also met us at Danny’s house where he would spend the night. I couldn’t eat anything and went to bed.

Next morning was Thursday and we drove back to the hotel in Tel Aviv and put the group on the chartered bus and we all begin our drive back across the country. We stopped at the very first place in Israel mentioned in the Bible where Abraham stopped when he entered the land.

Shechem 1

Shechem 1

We went up Mt. Gerizim, which is called the Mount of Blessings (as in Joshua calling out the curses and blessings from the two mountains). From here we could see the location of Jacob’s well and Joseph’s tomb.
Shechem 2

Shechem 2

This mountain is also where the descendants of the Samaritans live and we saw the place where they do their annual animal sacrifices. Then we went to Danny’s settlement and got everyone settled into their various homes.

Danny had bought lots of food and began a big bar-b-que.

Danny cooking

Danny cooking

I couldn’t eat anything which was too bad because it smelled really good. But my stomach was still in rebellion. After dinner we went to the edge of the settlement overlooking the Arab village and made a big bonfire where we discussed some historical things that happened after the Jews returned from Babylonian captivity. Then off to bed.

Friday morning everyone ate at Danny’s and we loaded up the bus and went across the valley to Shiloh where the wilderness Tabernacle rested for 369 years after Joshua’s conquest of the land.

Tel Shiloh

Tel Shiloh

This is usually one of everyone’s top 3 favorite places and we stayed there a couple of hours. Then, the boys swam and the ladies took a little tour of their own with Danny.

I realize there is far too much to tell and I’m betting bored with writing this. The rest of the weekend was Sabbath meals and relaxing and walking around the community and lots of talk, meeting the Jews of the Yeshuv (community), etc.

Yesterday (Sunday), the group boarded the bus and we left the wonderful hospitality of the Orthodox community and its amazing food that never stopped coming (which I didn’t eat). We stopped at Bethel and read scriptures relating to Bethel and then came to Jerusalem where everyone saw Mt. Moriah from the place Abraham first saw it. Then I was dropped off at the Johnsons and the rest of the group went south without me to visit the Dead Sea, Ein Gedi, Arad, Masada, Beersheva, Hebron and the valley where David fought Goliath. Sunday night I felt better enough to eat a real meal for the first time and get a good night’s sleep.

Today is Monday and I’m writing this blog. Tomorrow I will meet the group as they return to Jerusalem and stay for 3 days before heading north with me as the guide. I will not have access to the internet, so will have to wait until I return at the end of the month to fill you in on the rest of the tour.

Thanks for the prayers. My stomach keeps trying to remind me who’s boss, but I’ve decided I need to eat, so I’m ignoring the grumblings and complainings.

I thought the weather here would be way too hot in July, but it’s not at all. Evenings are nice and cool and days are hot, but not too hot for a tour. I’m feeling lots better and looking forward to the next two weeks and whatever comes after that.

Let me hear from you. Shalom…

PS. Seth, if you read this you will see that I must have left out a step in the process of picture capturing so I can’t seem to figure out how to imbed pictures as links in the words. DAD

Yuck!

It’s Tuesday evening, 6PM and I’m finally able to sit in a chair and write. Last night Theresa made a huge Mexican dinner for all of us: Scott, herself, me and 3 “lone soldiers”. It was great. But, a couple of hours later I headed for the bathroom where I stayed most of the night and today. Scott even got sick, but went to work this morning, anyway. I haven’t moved most of the day. Fever, headache, cramps. Maybe I’m pregnant!

I don’t remember being this sick or this weak in recent memory. When my suitcases arrived this afternoon, I couldn’t take them upstairs. I couldn’t even take myself upstairs.

I am trying to unpack my suitcases and repack into a small duffel bag for the next 4 days. Danny is picking me up to meet the tour group tomorrow and then taking me to Ma’ale Levona for Wed night through Sunday.

I have pictures to upload on this blog, but just don’t have the energy to do it. You will have to wait.

All will be well.

Here

At 6:30AM this morning I finally walked out of the Tel Aviv airport and got into a sherrut (a van that serves as a taxi) and headed for Jerusalem.

I was supposed to leave Knoxville at 5PM Thursday for the first leg of the journey, but every airplane I got on was delayed for one reason or another so that I kept missing connecting flights. It took me over 3 days to get to Israel. I was able to take a shower after wearing the same clothes for 4 days. I’m exhausted but happy to finally be here.

The biggest problem is that my suitcases (which contain everything I need to live over here for up to 2 years) never made it. I can only hope they arrive soon.

The “silver lining” in the cloud is that the airline gave me a little bag with toothbrush, toothpaste, a razor and soap and a new, white t-shirt. They also gave me $100.00 to make up for my luggage not having arrived.

Weather in Jerusalem is hot and dry–just the way I like it. However, as the evening approaches, a cool breeze is coming in over the city.

I am too sleepy to write more. Can barely keep my eyes open…

I can’t talk to any of you on Skype until my suitcases arrive with my headphones or camera.

zzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Trying to leave the US

Noon, 7/11. My plane was supposed to leave Knoxville yesterday at 5PM, but the weather in Chicago kept the plane in Knoxville for hours. On the plane and to the runway. Back to the gate and off the plane. Then, onto the plane again. The pilots even tried to cancel the flight, but the gate attendants wouldn’t allow it. What a night!

I finally made it to Chicago at midnight, missing my flight to Germany. By 2AM this morning I made it to the front of the customer service line and got a ticket to Washington, DC leaving at 8:00AM. So I caught several 10 minute naps anywhere in the Chicago terminal I could find to lie down. By the time Starbucks opened at 5AM I was pretty hungry and got some coffee and a snack.

Slept on and off as I flew to Washington, DC where I now sit waiting for my 5PM flight to Germany. It turns out I will be exactly 12 hours late to Tel Aviv. Not too bad. Instead of landing in Israel at 3AM, I’ll land at 3PM tomorrow afternoon (unless something else happens).

I would love to take a bus to downtown DC and walk around the Mall (one of my favorite places), but, I’m just too tired.

Blake and Charles: I tried to call you to say “goodbye” (and to see if you, Charles, could pick me back up at the airport in Knoxville so I could leave the next day), but lots of airports have taken away their wall phones since nearly everyone has cell phones nowadays. And, Blake, I realized that I don’t have you phone number at all.

Oh, well. Only 4 hours to go before my flight leaves for Germany. I’m doing fine and looking forward to the next few days.

One day to go

Last night I spent the evening with a fellow homeschool family, the Logans. What a great family and amazing kids! Thanks to you for good food and fellowship. We will stay in touch in the months to come and you can visit me any time…

Later on last night James and Blake drove to Knoxville and we ended up spending a late evening at Waffle House kidding around and watching James eat a double order of hash browns smothered in a double order of chili covered with hot sauce. This was at midnight. Iron-stomach man.

Goodbyes were long and hard. I may not see them for awhile.

James flies to New York in a few hours to begin his career in the Big Apple. Go James!!!!!!!

Blake is still considering his next move but should be making a decision soon. I know all will be well with him. I love you, son.

I just hung up with the Administrator of the school in Cairo. She couldn’t give me a firm answer because she has decided to create a new position at the school which she wants to offer me, but she needs an “OK” from the Board of Directors first. I told her I was not in any hurry because it looked as if other offers were coming to me and I needed time to sort through everything before I could give her an answer. She said she was fine with this…

The American University in Beirut has sent out emails asking people to send back letters of recommendation. I will send them my Teaching Philosophy sometime later today.

So, all is pretty much done and I’m ready to leave tomorrow.

It’s been great staying with the Newbolds. Some people have a gift for hospitality and the Newbolds are one of those couples.

Today is Tuesday, July 8. Two days to go before leaving the States.

My interview with the Administrator of the Hayah International School in Cairo went great. We talked over Skype for almost two hours. The lady is a delightful person who moved to Cairo with her husband a year ago. She answered all my questions and even told me the salary she could pay. She has one more interview today and will let me know tomorrow the person she chooses to work at the school.

If I am offered a position in Cairo I will have to ask her to wait for a decision from me. I had another email from the American University of Beirut this morning asking for people who could give me a recommendation. I have not yet written the “philosophy of education” they asked me to send them. I will try to do that tomorrow and send it off.

I have also sent my personal information to the Lebanese American University. Both these universities are in Beirut with the American University of Beirut being the most prestigious university in the Middle East.

The tour I set up in Israel begins 4 days after I arrive. I will join the tour off and on. I will guide Christian Jerusalem and all the north (the ministry areas of Jesus). Sometime at the end of the month, when the principal of the Christian school in Jerusalem returns from vacation, I will interview with him for a position in his school. Of course, I would prefer living in Jerusalem, but the school in Cairo pays well, with a free apartment, and lots of good people to work with. But, I want to wait to see what happens with the others schools.

James and Blake are driving to Knoxville as I write this. We will spend about an hour together, saying our “goodbyes”, before they go to a party here. James leaves for New York tomorrow (thanks a bunch to the Bennetts). Blake may move soon to Nashville???

Hope all is well with whomever is reading this blog.

Happy 4th of July!

Tomorrow evening I interview with the Director of the Hayah International Academy of Cairo, Egypt.

Today I received an email asking me if I wanted to be considered for a position at the American University of Beirut, Lebanon. I think this might be fun so I told them “sure”.

I have turned down the job at Siyuan University in Xi’an, China, and told the recruiter that I wanted to work in a public university, not a private one.

Also, I turned down an interview with the College of Micronesia. There was a day when I would have jumped at the possibility of living on an island in the South Pacific so I could sail and swim in the blue waters of the ocean. Not now.

Happy 4th of July to everyone!