I hope you all appreciate these little posts. It's not easy to get them out there--especially when all of my blogger tabs are in Hebrew.
I realized (thanks to my Aunite) that I posted about the district conference but not about the rest of my weekend--and much has happened since district conference as well. So here goes!
Friday night was our first Jerusalem Center movie night. This week's film--Indiana Jones: Raiders of the Lost Ark. We had a lovely introduction by movie critic Dr. Professor Indiana Henry Jones Stratford (aka my Ancient Near East teacher Professor Stratford--also known as Invictus--wearing a brown suit and bow tie with the "dry boring lecture" light turned on over the podium). He told us all the must-knows of the movie. The following were some of my favorites:
1) Harrison Ford shoots the guy with the big sword because he was too sick to care about doing the whip slinging thing any more.
2) The only member of the cast who did not get sick was the director, Steven Spielberg, allegedly because he ate only the food he brought with him--namely, canned spaghetti-os.
3) There was glass between Harrison and the spitting cobra.
4) A fly does crawl into the German commander's mouth--it's not a film flaw.
So yes. We watched the whole movie in the forum, laughing even when we weren't supposed to and trying with mixed success to get comfortable in the not-so-cushy auditorium style seats. It was great.
I skip over the Sabbath because you heard enough about that in the last two posts. It was amazing--that's all there is to say.
Sunday--our free day--was a real adventure. Sixty or so of us paid 80 skeks--about 20 American dollars--to hire up some busses and go spend a day on the beach at Tel Aviv. It was wonderful. The sun was shining, the water was pleasantly cool... Everyone was doing something different. A few frisbee games started up throughout the day (some of which I took part in). A few people did some creative people burying (we had a mermaid and a munchkin happen, and I was halfway to becoming an octopus before other things got in the way--like the tide). In the sand sculpture department, a few girls even built a sand-castle model of the Jerusalem Center. The boys and the girls took turns making human pyramids (the boys' was taller and cooler by far). We got some great pictures, one of which was the first roommate shot we've had since Orientation--though we definitely want to do another one when our hair is less salty. There was a lot of swimming and wave jumping, and even a little surfing. My whole system got a little clogged with saltwater--but hey, it's the Mediterranean, I'm not complaining. When we got tired of the beach we went walking around the open air market near the beach. I bartered for a skirt, myself--I worked the guy down to twenty shekels from the original forty. More aptly he worked himself down while I just acted reluctant--but it was very effective all the same. We ended the day with gelato and one last go in the sea. It was a marvelous day.
Today was Field Trip day once again. Our first stop was a facility where Bedouin women create income for themselves by weaving. They showed us how the process works, from carding and spinning to the actually weaving. During the demonstration, a sweet girl no older than any of us passed out glass cups of something warm and pleasant. I think it was real Chai tea, in which case I accidentally broke the word of wisdom--but I know that none of us were going to turn down their hospitality. Making tea for eighty people on not much budget is nothing to turn up your nose at. Besides, the tea was sweet and refreshing, so it did us some good--I think we were all tired. It really is a great project. The goal is to empower these women who otherwise don't have much place in the household or the working world and to educate the women and their children. The way Fahima, our guide, said it was that the women here were working to give something better to their daughters. That's a worthy cause if ever I heard one. I bought a little woven ornament (I didn't have many shekels on me). It's not much, and it only cost about six dollars--but it will be a reminder to me about those amazing women and how hard they work to give their daughters a life worth living.
Stop number two was our first ever tel--Tel Sheva. A tell is a mound where cities and communities have built on top of each other for a long time. It makes a hill, which is great for defensibility and is generally a prime spot for future cities. Tell Sheva is the place where Beer Sheba used to be. We walked around the place and saw a text book "Better Homes and Gardens" example of an Israeli living compound, a satelite temple complex (possibly apostate), a huge storage chamber, and an underground water system. Granted, most of it (except the water system) was just the remains of walls--but it was cool none the same. Most of what we saw had been replicated for the sake of educated tourists like us who wanted to see what it was like--right down to the filled-in casemate wall. Even if some of the walls weren't part of the original dig, it was nice to have our first tel be one where we could easily imagine where the ancient city once stood.
We went to one other Tell--Tell Arad. It was less distinct, but we did see some more houses and even a twin temple complex. It was hotter than hades out there, but we got by--mostly thanks to shady hats, lots of sunscreen (some of us had burned at the beach already), and by drinking water like camels. I think the neatest part was the see the wilderness of the Negev having so recently read about Hagar's banishment from Abraham's home. I can't imagine what that would have felt like--wandering with next to no water and a small child to care for. God sent her the blessing of a well--and I don't think I ever realized what a great blessing that was until today.
Today was also my first look at the Dead Sea. We will come back here in a few months to swim, but today was a first glance. We sang "Under the Sea" as we descended below sea level. I love Brother Judd--every field trip he gives us papers with song lyrics on them so we can have a sing-along. We are the "Lucky Judd Bus"--and it is definitely the place to be.
The menu for dinner today said only two words: American dinner. I've been curious all day about what that might mean. The answer--Israeli attempts at hamburgers and french fries and chicken nuggets (shaped like stars and hearts and flowers, no less). My assesment is that the cooks made a valiant attempt and I love them for being willing to go all-out USA for us for a night--but nothing can take the place of a good In-N-Out burger in my heart.
That's all for today! Ma'assalama!