Tuesday, January 27, 2009

A great day indeed!

Brace yourselves, folks. I just had something extraordinary happen to me today and I am so excited I am on the verge of tears. I just got back from the grocery store and I haven't even put the food away yet. I am so anxious to share this with somebody and Tom is at school.

Someone talked to me, and it MADE. MY. DAY. As in, out on the sidewalk, a total stranger, actually talked to me. It was this cute young Jewish mom. She has said shalom to me a time or two, which always makes my day, but today she actually started up a conversation. It made me feel like such a normal person here, instead of an outcast. It's a great day.

A great day indeed.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

The realizations of a 4 year old

Joni: "Hey Mom! When you lift your knee, your bum goes-a-dancin'. I 'learned-ed' it when I was sleepin'. See watch!"

*she then intensely squeezes her bum cheeks together better than Nacho Libre in the white stretchy pants scene*

Joni: "Pretty cool, huh?"

I'm not real sure what her knee has to do with any of it, but I pretended to be impressed. :)

Sunday, January 18, 2009

A few important questions....

Question: What is Jackson attempting to do here?

1) Tell me he doesn't want any more broccoli

2) Signaling he wants a hug or a "love"

3) Trying out to be Anakin in Star Wars III: Revenge of the Sith

Answer: #2 - beggin' for a "love". Don't believe me? Pssh. I'm serious.

Question: What happens shortly after Joni gets done shaking her thang?

1) Tells me her new get-up is not loud enough.

2) Tells me she's glad she's inheriting her dance skills from me instead of dad, because when dad dances it's scary.

3) Complains of a major side-ache and whines about it for hours.

Answer: #3 - she whined and whined. But dang, that girl can move it (then I told her #2 - it's sad but true).

Question: What's weird about this video?

1) We're in a car

2) Jackson's hair is really short

3) I make some unrecognizable noise, all for the sake of a good Jackson giggle.

Answer: All of the above.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

I have to share

Tom's awesome sister Kelli posted this video a while back, and I have since received it in a couple of emails. If you haven't seen it, I encourage you to do so. If you have, I encourage you to watch it again. I have watched it over and over again, and it has given me a lot of strength. It seems that each time I watch it, I notice something new that specifically helps me that day.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Prayer day

As I've mentioned before, Friday is Muslim Prayer Day. Many Muslims flock to the Old City to visit the Dome of the Rock.

Friday is also the day we tend to go to the Garden Tomb. It's an exciting day to go because there are lots of Arabs out and about in that neighborhood. Have I mentioned how much I love them? 'Cause I do. They are always so kind to us. Oftentimes when I'm starting to be bugged by the culture here, I somehow always run into just about the friendliest Arab ever, and he/she ooos-and-aaahs over my kids and smiles at me. I love them. They make me feel good.

ANYway, we went on just such a trip to the tomb today, and as we walked in, it was strangely quiet. We looked around and it seemed that virtually no one was there. It was completely still, void of any tourist groups. It felt very peaceful and personal as we approached the tomb. We had some special family time inside.

Jackson of course started to get restless, so I took him out to the landing just outside the tomb. One of the missionary workers came and started up some chit-chat with me. We talked about where we are from and the like.

I mentioned how quiet it was. Then I found out why. Apparently they were told to turn away any and all tourist groups that morning because of the "rising tensions". He said the police seemed to think something was going to happen. Strangely, they were allowed to tell the tourist groups they could come back in the afternoon. The missionary also told me that it was the first time they have EVER been instructed to turn people away. I think in such a place as this, that says a lot.

So that explained the stillness.

I won't complain about the quiet family time we had in such a special place, which just so happens to be our favorite place in all the world. But it upset me to hear of things being restricted and changed, and that people were turned away. It immediately turned my mind to the people in Gaza. Their whole lives have become restricted and changed - and scary. They are witnessing things that no one should ever have to, largely due to decisions their own people have made.

Then I thought of the people in Southern Israel. Although the rockets from Gaza don't necessarily do heavy damage, it still causes people to live in fear. War, hate, fear...these are realities for many people. It makes my heart turn upside down.

It makes me grateful for the knowledge I have of the Savior. He truly is the Prince of Peace. How His heart must ache right now, to see His brothers and sisters finding it impossible to come to a resolution, over so many years.

I heard a testimony born last Shabbat that I'll never forget. An LDS Palestinian who lives in the West Bank shared with us some of her feelings on the current situation. She talked about how sad and scary it all was for her. She pointed out how seemingly safe it is in the West Bank right now, but that she doesn't doubt that there will come a day where war is outside her own door. She admitted it would be terrifying, but that there was one place she knew she could always find peace - in Jesus Christ. Even if war is raging in her front yard, the Savior of mankind was there to offer her comfort and peace, no matter what.

So as I stood there outside the tomb this morning, I couldn't help but feel that peace myself, even amid thoughts that are so upsetting to me. The Lord is mindful of us all, even those who don't recognize Him as their Savior.

And that, for me, will have to be enough. And it is.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Feeling lucky

Conversation I had with Joni today....

Me: I sure am lucky I have such a sweet girl.

Joni: No, mom, I am lucky.

Me: No, I'm lucky because I have you.

Joni: Whoa, yeah, you're right mom. You ARE lucky.

I rest my case.

Friday, January 2, 2009


I thought I'd give an update on how the Gaza situation is affecting us.

First of all, I have to say how much I haaaaate the fighting going on. The people here already have so many tensions between each other. This does nothing but make it worse. There are no easy answers, and depending on the day, Tom and I find ourselves upset or feeling sorry for one side or the other. All we can do is keep on loving the people of both sides, and pray for the situation to improve.

With that said....

As far as our day to day activities, it's not much different. Most days around here consist of me going to the grocery store, and Tom going to school, and those things are very doable. Besides the fact that there are helicopters flying overhead aaaaaaaall day, and there have been demonstrations at Tom's school, an average day is about the same.

But our normal thing to do when we have extra time is to go somewhere farther away, which usually entails riding a bus, or walking a good distance. We haven't done much of either all week, despite our desire to do so. I'm sure there are plenty of places we could go, but when you have two little ones you're in charge of keeping safe, it's hard not to grow uneasy at the thought of taking them somewhere that there could be demonstrations, rock throwing, gas cans, etc.

For instance, today we really wanted to go to the Old City. It's a good place to go on a Friday because the bus we take there is an Arab bus, so it runs all day and we don't run the risk of not being able to get back (Israeli buses stop running around sun-down on Fridays for the beginning of Shabbat). But we received a text message from the university yesterday telling us to avoid the Old City today because of "increased tensions". We knew this basically meant that there would be lots of Muslims in the Old City because of it being their prayer day, so there was no way to know if that would cause violence or unrest. From what I read in the local online paper today (I check it way too much lately), there were a few things here and there, but it stayed relatively calm.

So the only other place we could think of to go was a nearby Arab store just down the hill from us that's open 24 hours. We went with our good friend Andrew and picked up a few things that are often hard to find at our regular store.

As we headed down the hill, we could hear a bunch of yelling just over the hill in the other direction. We thought it was maybe a soccer game or something because it was A LOT of people doing A LOT of yelling. We kept walking. Then we heard what sounded like gun shots or firing of gas canisters. This went on for a minute or two, sending birds all over the sky above us.

We just went our merry way.

Then there were the couple dozen police and soldiers who were camped out where the university campus turns into the Arab neighborhood we were walking to. They all had their usual machine guns draped across their bodies.

On the way back there was a bunch of smoke coming from that same place up over the hill where we had heard the noises. My guess is that it was a demonstration in the nearby neighborhood of Isawiyya which included gun shots fired into the air, and burning trash cans in the streets.

And that's "a day in the life of us".

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Warning: contains picture of Tom's tush!

The other day, Tom was looking frantically all over the apartment. I was just chillin', minding my own business, and I finally asked,

"What are you looking for?"

His frustrated reply was, "I had a piece of paper around here somewhere and I can't find it!"

So being the good, helpful wife that I am, started looking around to help him (okay, maybe selfish reasons were involved - Tom is CRANKY when he can't find something). And it's a good thing I looked, because I don't think Tom would have ever found it himself.....

The thing that cracks me up the most about this picture is Tom's willingness to strike a pose for it. I can't get him to be in a picture to save my life. I guess I've been shooting at the wrong end :)