Monday, June 29, 2009

Dining in Jerusalem

We went to a local restaurant near the Old City recently and I thought I would share some pictures....

They had VERY loud, live music.

Joni sampling the fresh mint lemonade.

"Sour!" :)

The kids had a love/hate relationship with the volume of the music. Joni would go back and forth between dancing and being annoyed.

It was a lively restaurant, to say the least. The restaurant supplied big, ornate, Middle Eastern bongs for people to smoke. Appetizers consisted of baskets of pita along with a variety of what they call "salads" to dip them in. It was all so different and so good. There was lots of dancing, lots of clapping, and lots of food. The part of the floor that we were seated on was sand and rocks, so Jackson quickly discovered he could make a huge mess - but it sure kept him busy! There were also live grapevines growing all through the ceiling and walls. Joni thought that was amazing. :)

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Mediterranean Sea

The kids and I went with some friends to the beach in Tel Aviv. It was such a fun day. The kids were a little apprehensive about the waves at first, but they got really used to it and they loved it. We had so much fun!

Joni enjoying the waves.....

Jackson's first time putting his feet in the water.....
(They played with stickers on the drive there)

We discovered a small hole in the sand that the kids could just sit and play......

A couple videos....

(Jackson and his little friend Zoe)

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Father's Day - Joni's thoughts

Dad Survey
1. What is something dad always says to you? I love you.
2. What makes dad happy? If I say sorry when I'm mean to Brother.
3. What makes dad sad? If I don't say sorry to Brother.
4. How does your dad make you laugh? He tells me about funny places and names.
5. What was your dad like as a child? He liked books.
6. How old is your dad? 14
7. How tall is your dad? 15 miles.
8. What is his favorite thing to do? Play and wrestle.
9. What does your dad do when you're not around? He does dishes and homework.
10. If your dad becomes famous, what will it be for? Because he made a good decision.
11. What is your dad really good at? Homework.
12. What is your dad not very good at? Cleaning the floor.
13. What does your dad do for his job? Goes to school.
14. What is your dad's favorite food? Cottage cheese.
15. What makes you proud of your dad? He cleans my room all nice.
16. If your dad were a cartoon character, who would he be? A mermaid.
17. What do you and your dad do together? Oh, I know! We go to the park!
18. How are you and your dad the same? We're not the same. ("Nothing about you is the same?") Okay, okay. We have two hands, two feet, ten fingers, two knees, two eyes, two arms, two ears, and one nose.
19. How are you and your dad different? Because daddy is a boy and I'm a girl.
20. How do you know your dad loves you? Because I just do.
21. What does your dad like most about your mom? When she cleans the dishes.
22. Where is your dad's favorite place to go? The Old City.
23. What is your dad's favorite thing about you? Loving each other.

Grandpa Balderree Survey
1. What do you miss about your Grandpa Balderree? He plays with me.
2. What does Grandpa look like? A dad but a little older.
3. What does Grandpa like about Grandma? She helps him all the time.
4. What makes Grandpa happy? When I make good decisions.
5. What is something Grandpa always says to you? He says oopsie-daisy. Hehe. That's a funny answer I just gave.

Grandpa Sowards Survey
1. What do you miss about "Abba"? Playing.
2. What does Abba look like? Like a dad, but like a grandpa. I don't know.
3. What does Abba like about Omi? Because she helps him do stuff.
4. What makes Abba happy? When I play with Jackson at his house.
5. What is something Abba always says to you? I love you or something like that.


We love you!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

"The Town of Jesus"

*if you're reading this in google reader and can't see all the pics, you should be able to on the blog itself*

was a village that was built near the north shore of the Sea of Galilee and existed back in Christ's time. The scriptures suggest that Jesus went there to start his ministry after leaving Nazareth. This is where he performed miracles. I can't quite describe what it was like to see the ruins of a place where Jesus would have actually walked. I couldn't wipe the smile off of my face.

In the middle of the town is a synagogue that has been restored. For many years it was thought to have been the synagogue in which Jesus would have spoke. But more recently, some scholars have decided that it was probably built on top of the original ruins that were discovered underneath.

Tom reading the inscriptions on the columns....

One in Greek.....

This one in Latin.....

....still reading the inscriptions. I practically had to drag him away. We were melting in the sun.

he next several pictures are of the town itself which surrounded the synagogue. The walls were built from a form of volcanic rock, stone, and mud. They were considered humble dwellings, with many families sharing courtyards.

(That's the Sea of Galilee behind the trees).

There was most likely many villages in this area during Christ's time, so many believe that the reason he would have chosen Capernaum is because it was the home of Simon Peter and Andrew, his first disciples. There is a spot here that is believed to be the very spot that Peter's house would have been. Not much later, Christians built churches on top of it. The ruins of it now are in layers so you can see the different stages.

(a modern day Catholic church is built over top of the layers now, which is what you can see above it)

Beautiful statue of Simon Peter.

It was extremely hot that day and the kids were very good sports. These next two pictures are of Joni desperately seeking shade....

Lastly, here is an ancient olive press and an olive mill. These are authentic artifacts that were passed down for centuries...

Capernaum is officially one of my favorite places in the Holy Land. I was literally giddy with excitement the entire time. It was amazing to be standing in the village where Jesus healed a man of an unclean spirit, healed a woman of a fever, and healed the servant of a Roman Centurion. He would have walked the streets and taught at the synagogue. This amazes me.

But most of all, I am amazed at how real Christ is NOW. He is not just a story passed on through the generations. He is the literal Son of God, our Redeemer. He came to earth just like all of us are here right now. He was tempted. He suffered. He rose triumphant in the end so that as the rest of us went through our mortal existence, we would have a source of hope. We can turn to Him to work miracles in our lives just as the people of Capernaum did.

Friday, June 19, 2009


We spend a lot of time at the playground around here. We have a decent one that's not too far away, which also happens to be pretty clean for East Jerusalem. The kids love to go there every chance they get. Sometimes we go as a whole family, and other times the kids and I go with friends. Here's a compilation of a few different trips to the park....

Jackson and his friend Zoe who is the same age.

Joni, Zoe, and Ellie

He's such a boy.

Joni's favorite thing, by far, is the swings.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Jerusalem Zoo

We had the chance to go to the Jerusalem Zoo thanks to our good friends the Allens. They are a service couple here at the Jerusalem Center who have made us feel welcome from the moment we got here. We had a great day with them and are grateful for their love and friendship. One of these days I'll have to do a post about just them.

It was fun to see animals from a different part of the world. For instance, instead a black bear, they had Syrian brown bears.

We had an unusual view of a lot of the animals because they have a board walk that's up really high. So instead of looking up at the giraffes, we were at eye level with them.

Joni and some adorable little Jewish boys checking out the penguins. I love this picture.

Can't go without cute pictures of the kiddos....

They had a whole section of animals that would have been around during the time of the Old Testament. It was pretty cool. The best part was we came across a Persian fallow deer who had JUST given birth (first picture below).
The last picture of the four is a fig tree - often mentioned in the scriptures.

Family picture. Something we don't get enough of!