Sunday, January 17, 2010

Who are we and what are we doing here?

Occasionally I get questions from people wondering why on earth we are living in the Middle East, what Tom is studying, where we are going next, and what Tom is planning on doing when he "grows up" (which I'm pretty sure is code for, "What the crap are you doing over there? Are you crazy?").  When I write on this blog I assume that people who are reading it know our situation.  But I've realized there are a number of readers who I've never met, and even those who I do know personally may not know the details of why we're doing all this.  So for those of you who are curious to know the extended version of our story, read on....

Tom knew from the time he was on his mission that he wanted to study the Bible, possibly along with some languages.  So when he started back up at BYU after returning home, he started taking both Modern and Biblical Hebrew classes.  He was hoping to major in Ancient Near Eastern Studies, but BYU was taking way too long making it an official major.  So feeling the pressure to declare a major, he finally decided to major in Classics, eventually finishing both the Greek emphasis and the Latin.  He was also working hard on two minors, Hebrew and Arabic.  Finally, BYU officially brought back the Ancient Near Eastern Studies major, so he convinced his adviser to let him have a double major.  I have to admit, as Tom kept adding more and more layers to his undergraduate degree, I was not always the happiest wife in the world.  I felt like we were going to be in Provo for FOR-E-VER (6 years total, but he always went full-time in the summer, so it was really like 9 years. Seriously people, that's a long time).  But each time he felt the Spirit tell him to add another layer (and I would consequently throw a fit), he would tell me to pray about it.  Each time I did, I usually knew the answer before I was done praying - which sometimes just added to my anger.  Is that bad?  

He eventually added on more languages - Ugaritic, Akkadian, Sumerian, and German.  And yes, I fought him on each one.  But despite my overwhelming desire to throw a tantrum, the Lord was guiding him and I couldn't deny that.

Finally, he had to wave the white flag because BYU sent him a letter saying he had a holy boat load of credits, and he needed to finish things up.  So as his graduation approached he started applying to grad schools.  A few months later, he started getting rejection letters.  It was pretty heartbreaking and stressful. We didn't understand why, and neither did his advisers and professors.  They all thought he would get in.  In the middle of all of that, I started having a very strong feeling that it was happening for a reason and it was because we were supposed to go to Israel.  So he sent in the application and we waited.  I KNEW we were going, but I don't think he was so sure.  Finally, the letter came, he received a partial scholarship, and we started making plans to move overseas!

Here at the Hebrew University of Jersualem his major is Bible in the Ancient Near East.  He will receive his master's this June, which seems so strange to me that you can get a degree in two years.  His first one took FOR-E-VER, remember?  I really thought I would die an old lady there.  But not this time - two years and we're outta here.

He is currently applying to PhD programs, which has been a frustrating task from overseas.  Our parents have helped us get fees in, and forms sent.  We have absolutely no idea where we'll be this fall.  I kind of feel like we're characters in the Roadrunner cartoon running straight off a cliff.  But we have faith (well, most days) that we will land wherever it is we're supposed to be.

As far as what Tom wants to do long-term, he plans on being a professor.  He loves languages... although that doesn't seem to state it strongly enough.  HE REEEEALLY LOVES LANGUAGES - especially those of the ancient variety.  He gets excited about ancient cuneiform the way a child gets excited for ice cream.  He gets giddy, and drools, and jumps up and down squealing like a little girl.

Okay, maybe not, but pretty close.  He has so much info bouncing around that brain of his, I'm not sure how he keeps it all straight.  Maybe I shouldn't get on his case so much when he continually leaves the pita bag open.  I suppose he has other things on his mind.

I'm grateful to be married to a man who is passionate about what he does.  I'm proud that he has the courage to go out on a limb and conquer the unknown.  I'm also very grateful that he works very hard to keep his faith alive.  This field of study can be really hard on believers at times.  But he sticks close to the Lord and asks Him where to go next every step of the way.  

So I guess we'll just wait and see where He takes us next!  Maybe we need some prayers?  Yeah, I'm pretty sure we do.


Brooke said...

Several Things:

That picture of Cuneiform looks like a puffed up bread loaf with knife marks in it. Awesome.

I totally get the "leaving the pita bag left open" - is anything worse. Well, maybe the fact that I mostly do that at our house...

And hooray for Tom. To love what you do (REALLY love) is the best thing in the world. As wonderful as it is to be married to someone so passionate about what he is doing, I think that having the world's bestest, most supportive wife might be right up there with "best things ever".

You are great.

Diamond said...

I thought I had pieced together your story, but thank you for sharing these specifics and your life with us online. I think it is amazing to witness the passion, devotion and faith that you and your husband have displayed.

Mike, Elisabeth & Brian Balderree said...

What a fantastic story! You guys are awesome! We look forward to seeing you in a few months.

Kristine said...

I really think you should write a book about your adventures. Even if its something that is just for your family. But you guys have experienced so many wonderful places and are living solely on faith that everything will work out and you will be safe where ever you go. If you write one, I will be first in line to buy it. Your awesome, Baldee.

Megan G said...

Man you guys are awesome.

ssowards said...

Thanks for writing this. So many people have asked me the same questions about how and why you guys ended up in Jerusalem, and where you will be headed for your next adventure. I will just direct them to this entry! I agree that Tom is pretty amazing, and I will add that he also has a most amazing wife. Thank you for being so supportive. You are the best.