Most people seem to have a lot of the same questions. So here is an attempt at answering some of them:
Q: "Are you taking your kids?"
A: Um, yeah.
Q: "So is it safe over there?"
A: Just like any other place, there are scary areas. Some of the other places we thought about going to grad school were in Chicago and Baltimore. Tom's boss who has spent a lot of time in Jerusalem assured us that we will be safer in Jerusalem than in one of those big cities. And yes, we know there are some dangers there that we just don't experience here.
Q: "When do you leave?"
A: Tom is leaving August 3rd to begin his Summer Ulpan, and me and the kids will be joining him the first week of October. (We will be staying with my parents through the months of August and September). His fall semester starts November 2nd.
Q: "What will he be studying?"
A: It's a Master's program called The Bible and It's World. Here is a brief description of it from the school's website. He will be on track #2.
Q: "Will you be anywhere near BYU-Jerusalem?"
A: Yes. His school is located on the same hill-top as BYU-J.
Q: "Is there a ward/branch there?"
A: Yes. It consists of a handful of locals, a lot of tourists, and the students/staff of BYU-J that rotate in and out of there every four months. The branch meets in one of the auditoriums of BYU-J (which is apparently one of the most expensive "chapels" our church has in all the world).
Q: "Where will you live?"
A: Uh, good question. That's part of the reason Tom is going ahead of me and the kids. He will live in the school dorms for his two-month Summer Ulpan, and from there we will rely a lot on advice from other people, particularly church members. As soon as he gets there he will start asking around to find out where other people have lived that come in our same situation. He will also obviously pay special attention to where it would be the safest and most convenient. We know it is going to be quite pricey, but we will just follow where the Spirit tells us is right.
Q: "Are you shipping your furniture over there?"
A: No-way-Jose! We don't have anything worth shipping, for one thing. Plus, it is most likely cheaper to just buy things there. We oh-so hope for a furnished apartment, so maybe everyone could just start praying right now in that regard! :)
Q: "Will you have a car?"
A: We're not sure on that one yet. Public transportation is relatively safe these days, but that can change, and there's just no way to know for sure. My preference would be to sell our current car and buy a new one over there. But we'll probably wait to see how we feel about it once we're there.
Q: "How long will you be there?"
A: Two years.
Q: "If Tom is going over there ahead of you, are you flying over there by yourself with two kids?"
A: Yes-a-roonie! I know, I must be completely insane. I'll be relying heavily on priesthood blessings and benadryl for that one!
Q: "How much does it cost to fly over there?"
A: My right arm and nine toes :) Actually, the prices are going up all the time because of gas prices. Tom's one-way ticket for August cost about $1100. A round-trip is about $2000 right now.
Q: "What is the health care system like over there?"
A: We have no idea.
Q: "What school will he be going to?"
A: It is Hebrew University, but the division of the school he will be attending is called Rothberg International, which is for international students and the classes are taught in English
Q: "Do people speak English?"
A: Yes and no. People definitely speak it, but you can't just assume everybody you come across to know it well. In the more touristy parts it is much more likely. And obviously people going to school with Tom will know English. And we're hoping that the kids and I will be able to pick up some modern Hebrew.
Well, I guess there have been more than just a few questions. In fact, I will probably think of more once I'm done with this post. And just to be clear, we definitely don't mind people asking. I just figured that if some people are asking questions, there are probably some people who are wondering a lot of the same things but don't dare ask. And if anyone has anymore than what I've put here, feel free to ask away!!!
When all is said and done, we are really just going by faith every step of the way. Tom and I were just talking today about Nephi trying to get the plates from Laban, and how terrifying that would have been. He basically said, "I don't know what the heck I'm doing or how it's going to work, but I'm going to do it anyway because I know I'm supposed to." Well, that's us at this point. We don't know how some of it is going to pan-out in the end, but we KNOW that the Lord wants us there and that He will take care of us somehow. Not that I'm saying I think it will be easy. I'm pretty much planning on it rocking my world. But I also think it is the chance of a lifetime and one that I would never pass up.
Elder Wirthlin said, "We make the journey by taking each day step by step and then repeating it again and again until we reach our destination." So that's how we're approaching this journey ahead of us - step by step, until we get there. And from there, we'll just keep going, try our best to do what the Lord asks of us, and plan to reach our destination (both physically and spiritually) with the help of a loving Heavenly Father.
1 Nephy 4:6 And I was led by the Spirit, not knowing beforehand the things which I should do.