Thursday, December 3, 2009

Adoption Process thus far....

This past Tuesday night we went for our first meeting at the agency we have chosen to work with. We didn't know what to expect but we left very excited...and already exhausted just thinking about all the work that this will require.
First-we went there with lots of paperwork already filled out. We left with even more paperwork and added on classes and texas residency to establish.

Classes- we have to take 8 classes (required by CPS) in order to adopt. Some of them are a 3 hour night class and others are 8 hour Saturday classes. The good thing is that we live close to two of the agency offices so if we can't make one class there is a good chance the other office will offer it soon. The classes are on different subjects such as communication, behavior managements, grief/loss, psychotrophic medicines, sexual abuse...the list goes on.

Checklist- Like I said we have to establish TX residency which means changing over drivers license and car tags. We are both blessed to work at the seminary so taking time off to get these things done will be very doable. We also have to get background checks, fingerprinted and current TB tests. I have had all three for teaching so Adam will need to get these things done before we can move along. P.S.- the finger printing is the only cost of this whole adoption for us. Sure there are court costs but they are tax deductible and in some cases the state will reimburse us :).

CPR/ First aid-We both have to be certified and current in these trainings as well. Once again my teaching background will cover this but I may go ahead and take it with Adam to renew mine and that way our renewals will happen at the same time two years from now. Anyone who will be caring for the child for up to 8 hours ( within the first 6 months of the adoption) will also need grandparents and uncles find a class :). (Even though I doubt Adam and I would leave this child's side for that long during the first 6 months in order to build a consistent and stable relationship).

Adam and I have given ourselves a deadline of March 1st to get all of our paperwork done and have residency established. That is pretty reasonable since Adam should be finishing up finals next week and we will have both quit our second job. BTW- I GOT A NEW JOB...same office, but a different position with a bump in pay and Adam keeps his free tuition benefit!!! THANK YOU LORD!! I really do love my job but we were having trouble financially since we still have our home in TN ( someone has leased to own it). So we were cleaning/cooking/landscaping for an elderly couple. However, my new job will more than make up for that income so after finding another seminary couple ( who needed the money) to take over for us we will not be working there anymore after Christmas. Isn't God good? He has spoken to us so much through this process. We have found a church who encourages and models what an adoption should look like. Most of the families there have adopted domestically or internationally. We are excited to start this journey!!

Please pray for our little Harvell(s). Pray that God would put a hedge of protection around them right now as they are either in foster care or in a bad home environment. Pray that he would reveal himself to them and bring them hope of a better home with us. Pray for us that we would be open to where God leads in this journey and that we would develop an unconditional love for this child.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The next chapter...

If I had to map out a timeline of our lives it would go something like this.

Meet 2005, Date 2006, Marry 2007, Kinzie grad school 07-09, Israel 09, Adam grad school 09-??, and now Adoption!!!!

When Adam and I started dating I made sure that he was "okay" towards the thought of adoption. I have always ( ask my mother) leaned towards taking orphans into my family rather than having them biologically. I am not against having my own kids, its just that I see a very real need for those children growing up without any consistent family.

Adam and I had agreed that children would happen (adoptive or biological) after we both got our degrees for many reasons...but all of them selfish. However, God has really been speaking to us lately about extending our family. We are not sure how this will look. We originally thought it would be great to have an older school age child and that way I could still work. We also thought it would be great if it was a boy ( girls are harder to raise I hear and we wanted to start off drama free :)). However, when you submit to God you can't obey with exceptions. Therefore, we are going to let him lead us to one or two or three children at whatever age. We would love to adopt interracially as well. I absolutely know that we are commanded to see past race as children of God. Weren't we all adopted into his family at our salvation anyways? He tells us that every tribe and tongue will be present in Heaven, so why not act as a family here on earth?

I have talked to others who say or have been taught that although scripture does not speak negatively towards interracial families, it may not be wise. The way I look at it is would you rather the child wait out a family of thier own race ( which may or may not happen) or would you rather that child enter into a family now who is ready to love him and show him Christ? In fact, I think we are scripturally commanded to adopt orphans of other races. In Exodus 22 we see that God commands the Israelites to take care of the widows and orphans of Egyptians.

Verse 22-Do not oppress foreigners in any way. Remember, you yourselves were once foreigners in the land of Egypt. Do not exploit widows or orphans.

Think about it this way. We, as christians, do not at all times reflect the image of Christ, and yet Christ has still adopted us and we are now full heirs with Christ.

Romans 8:14 because those who are led by the spirit of God are sons of God.

Therefore, whose to say that our family has to "reflect" our physical likeness?It is our identity as a Christian that we were "adopted" into the family of Christ.
Please pray for us as we start attending orientations and filling out the piles or paperwork. We are praying for our child even now as they are in foster care or another situation that Christ would be shown to them. We are also looking at finances and how we can afford to add children to our family. Once again Christ has promised us that we are His and therefore our money is His to handle. We aren't quite sure how this will all play out and look in the end but we are excited to start the next chapter of our lives.

You may also ask "how does this relate to the Israel-blog?". Well Israel is now going to be a regular part of our lives as Adam (and hopefully I ) go back every year to dig. Adoption absolutely trumps our time in Israel but also affects how we will deal with these trips from here on out. Plus, its my blog and I'll write about it if I want to!! :)

Friday, October 23, 2009


The title of this blog is the title of my all time favorite song from the group Third Day. And speaking of Third Day, guess who got to sit in the front row of thier concert, surrounded by popular Christian artists such as Shane and Shane and Bethany Dillon. Give up? ADAM AND I DID!!!

My co-worker knows the assistant manager for Third Day and so when they were coming to Grand Prairie yesterday they were talking on the phone and my co-worker was offered 6 free AWESOME tickets!!!

I have to say that going to a Third Day concert without my beloved Bay Minette youth group was a first. I have a lot of memories of Winter Jams and youth group concerts that I associate with any of Third Day's music. We had no idea who was opening but we didn't care...ITS THIRD DAY!!

So we get to the theater and we find our seats, that are AMAZING!! Mac (lead singer of Third Day) comes out and says that there are speical guests with us tonight...SHANE AND SHANE. They both walk out onto stage and sing a song. Then they leave the stage and SURPRISE they walk over to where we are sitting and sit in the row behind us!! I mean talk about hyperventilation!! I immediately whipped out my phone and started texting people "guess who i am sitting with?". I never thought about what I would do if I met a famous person but now that I know that my heart skips a beat and I become unable to process words I kinda hope I dont :). So then, Mac introduces Bethany Dillon, another famous christian artist ( who just married one of the Shanes) to sing another song. When she is done she also walks off stage and sits right behind us. By now, I can't concentrate and the only thing I think of is " i need gum"...because when, not if, but when I talk to them I dont want my bad breath to blow them away and for them to always refer to me as the "fan with stinky breath in Texas".

So during intermission I turned around and said "WAR EAGLE", not b/c they went to Auburn but because every time I went to one of thier concerts it was in Auburn and they always said they loved it. However, I didn't get a War Eagle back just a smile and a "we went to A and M". I think I forgot we are in Texas. Anyways, they were super nice and talked to all of us. They even waved to us and shook our hands when they left....yup, my right hand will never be the same.

Of course, the real reason we were there was to watch Third Day ( not to gawk at S and S like I caught myself doing). The concert was amazing and felt like an amped up worship service. God really reminded me of some things that I take to for granted. Like the power of his sacrifice for us, the conversation he had with the thief on the cross beside him and the power that the body of Christ has and could have if we more fully obeyed.

Here are some pictures from our fun night. Apparently Shane and Shane also took pictures because on thier twitter from the concert there is a picture with the back of my head in it....they must have taken it during the 5 seconds I was not turned around gawking at them.

Okay so on the first row from left to right is Adam, Me, Hefty (my co-worker), his wife Sarah, Abby and Chris ( other seminary students).

And right behind us from left to right is Shane Everett's wife best friend, Shane Everett's wife, Shane Everett, Shane Bernard and his new wife Bethany Dillon. AWESOME

And there is me and the hubby!! We needed a night out...too much studying :).

Like our seats? That would be the back of Mac, the lead singer of Third Day.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Harvell Update

Many many things have happened in our lives since we came back from Israel and as we prepare to go again this upcoming summer.
First, I am starting to do some artwork that is both insprired by and reflective of our whole trip. I hope to post pictures soon. I wasn't planning on doing any paintings from memories and our pictures but the artistic bug has now made itself known and Im finding myself constantly sketching out scenes from the Via DoloRosa and the Garden of Gethsemanae.

Next, we have officially sold our home...well sorta :). We are in a lease/purchase agreement with a lady who has two young boys. She is actually moving in on November 1st and has a year to buy our home. We hope that she loves it as much as we did and will buy it sooner rather than later. Until then she is helping us get out from under two house payments and several utility bills. Thank you God!!
On September 28th I had my appendix out!! YAY! That was less than delightful. We had gone to San Angelo,TX for a wedding reception for one of my very best friends. On the way back I was in a lot of pain and couldn't eat anything the entire day. So at 8:00 that night, after being persuaded, Adam took me to the ER. I didn't want to go for two reasons. A) we weren't sure if our new insurance through the seminary had kicked in yet and B) does anyone really ever want to go to the ER?
We got there and they started running all kinds of test....I can't belive some of the gross things they did to me. Adam was a trooper and supported me through my five year old sensitivity to all needles, anything involving blood and my four catscans throughout the night.
Pause...I do remember a very funny conversation between Adam and I even though I was on pain medication.Here goes.
Nurse- Mam you must drink this entire gallon ( just kidding, liter) of contrast ( nasty drink) before your catscan. ( she exits the room)
Kinzie- takes four sips and declares dramatically that she can't drink anymore, its just awful.
Adam- the nurse said you have to!
Kinzie- I can't. I won't. Sets the drink down.
Adam- Kinzie if you dont drink it I will go get the nurse ( while he's forcing the straw into my mouth...once again I resort to a 5 year old mentality when it comes to sickness or pain).
Kinzie- well then go get her.
Adam laughs and puts the drink down.

So anyways, after four horrible catscans ( i was cold and in pain) they decide that they need to admit me because my white cell count was up to 16,000 and a normal count is 10,000, along with other things had occured that I can't say without gagging. There was some kind of infection in my body. So then I started having bad hunger pains because the last meal I had was at 6:30 on Saturday and it was now Monday morning. So then they decided they needed to do an exploratory surgery to see what it was and that while they were in there they would take out my appendix.
So I went into surgery at 5:30 and woke up at 6:15 asking for Adam. He came in and said they did take out my appendix ( even though that was not the problem) and that the doctor had found where some cysts on my ovaries had ruptured. Who knew those tiny little things could cause so much drama?
So now its almost 3.5 weeks later and besides my belly button looking a little alienish I am 100% better. Adam is still cautious about letting me lift heavy things but I dont fact he could stay that way for the rest of our marriage :).

Other than that things are steadily plodding along. Adam is finding seminary to be challenging, especially Hebrew. There are many nights where he stays up til midnight and then wakes up again at 6:30 to finish homework, papers, articles or study for a test.
We are both now employed by the seminary. Me, in housing and He as a carpenter. He is very good at building and demolishing so he loves his job! I am just thankful that he was able to quit his other job which was in retail!! So now he is home by 5 every night and has every weekend off!!!! God is really blessing us..sometimes we lose focus on that and I will wonder aloud why we are in Texas? but I know for sure that God has promised us that He is our source of life and that right now, while we are living in the "mundane" He is preparing us for a wonderful journey.

P.S.- even after he begged and pleaded the doctor would not give Adam my appendix so we could scrapbook it. Funny and grotesque all at the same time.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Israel Paintings

I've decided that since A) I have so many great pictures to work from and B) I dont' have an art outlet in my life right now, that I will be painting some of the sites from Israel.
It's too good of a inspiration to pass up. I hope to start posting some of my paintings on the blog for you to see!!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Thanks for the pictures!

Here are some more fellow Gezerites pictures. I think we all have pictures of each other and are trying to exchange them through facebook and blogs. Exciting news...we may have another digger joining us at Southwestern....Dan Haggerty and his wife are visiting here next semester. I should warn them though...all it takes is one sit down meal with Dr. Ortiz and they will be hooked!!

By the way - for all of you praying for our home to sell here is an update. We got not one, not two, but three different offers within 24 hours. One is too low ( but i am counting it), another is to lease our home and then purchase it and the other offer looks very promising. We have countered twice and now its in her court until tomorrow. We are praying that she is able to purchase our home and that God would bless her with it. PRAISE GOD FROM WHOM ALL BLESSINGS FLOW!!

now for more picturesHere is my husband strutting his stuff...this was only the beginning of a loooonnngg night of dancing. By the way- if any diggers are reading this and have a picture of Adam and I doing the "butt dance " please send them to far none have surfaced!! ( for you readers, dont be concerned...the picture will explain everything)
Adam is a wonderful dancer, and not shy at all. Just put on some music and he can't stay still.
I just had to love on him once I saw those this way this is at our "Faux 4th of July" party!
Then they put on some country music and I tried to teach Katy how to line dance...right before James ran over and started mocking me :)
The talent for that night was "Get Fit Gezer"... a workout series using all of the terms and "moves" you would see out on the dig site everyday. I didn't have any pictures of it b/c I was filming it for them. Here is the may not get it if you dont know dig terms but its still pretty hilarious!! Get fit Gezer video

And finally...remember how I said that Adam would go to sleep almost instantaneously when we got on the bus?...well here is yet another picture to prove it...apparently we were always out so there are many pictures like this of us. Enjoy...more pictures to come!

4th of July on the Sea of Galilee

This video makes me smile so much that it almost breaks my face. It starts with us all standing out on the shore of the Sea of Galilee singing the National Anthem on the 4th of July. Some Israelites heard us and told us how great we were for being so patriotic. The fire ( well lighter) is Willie's attempt to re-create a firework show for us...he lit cardboard on fire that was torn to spell out July 4th...I miss all of my fellow Gezerites!!

I also wanted to post some other pictures from other people...they are slowly being uploaded and shared. This first picture is of the sign for the Tel as we approached it at 5 oclock every morning. It would be dark for the first 20-30 minutes on the Tel and then the sunlight would break through. To be honest, I didn't ever see this sign b/c I almost always got on the bus and fell back asleep!!!Since I didn't go into Hezekiah's tunnel ( i am super claustrophobic), and Adam didn't want to take in our good camera we had not posted any tunnels pics yet. I got these from another digger and apparently this was as high as the water got and it only lasted for a short while....but thank goodness I did not go in....just looking at this picture makes my heart speed up.And here is showing just how tight this tunnel got......and its underground...NO THANKS.

This is from my friend Mariah's stash of pictures. I added this in case any of you ever doubted my supervisor skills ( that would be me in the blue shirt and do rag with my hands on my hips)!!!
More pictures from others cameras coming soon! Thanks again to all who helped us go and who prayed for us while we were there. We are already working on how we are going to get back next year...its hard to take 3-5 weeks off when you have a real adult job :).

Friday, September 4, 2009

Seminary Dont Make No Sense

As you can tell from the title I have been wrestling with the "negative" side effects of coming to seminary. ( don't worry, keep reading, God is good).
When we finally decided to actually move here and be obedient to God's calling in Adam's life, we had a little over 2 weeks to get here, get a place to live and get jobs before his classes started. When we got back from Israel and had still not sold our house we took a week or so to just pray and seek guidance about what we should do. We got mixed answers. Some people said "well stay in your house since you have to pay mortgage and wait til you sell it to move to TX". Others said " Go"...God will work everything else out.
My husband leaned more towards going, I leaned more towards staying b/c it made sense.
One morning during our week of prayer I woke up, went to the bathroom and heard from God. I know....TMI ( too much information). But honestly, God told me "go".I got back in bed with Adam and said " i think we should move to Texas".
So we did and within 3 days we had housing and I had a very promising job offer at the seminary. The drive down to Texas was looonnngg but I was able to feel God's peace and promises the whole way there.
When we got here we moved in and I started working the next day. The work environment in a seminary is very comfortable to work in as we are all believers. However, since I was working in housing I was able to hear people's stories as they signed thier leases only minutes after pulling into Fort Worth with thier UHauls and belongings. The story I kept hearing over and over was that "coming to seminary did not make sense".
This was 100 % re-emphasized at a block party we went to this past Tuesday. One of our neighbors threw it as a way to meet neighbors and hopefully start up a bible study. While talking to people we heard others who had moved here while still paying mortgage on a home, or who had left thier entire family to move 1000s of miles away (some chose to come here instead of a closer seminary).
Then our neighbor who threw the block party was asked where his wife was? Here's what he said : Well, I have been married for 26 years now and we moved here last year as we felt God calling us to full time ministry. He started a degree in the Masters of Divinity program and thought he was heading towards becoming a pastor. Soon, through chapel and others he felt God calling him to full time mission work....overseas. This was apparently too much for his wife and one day as he returned home from class he found that she had packed her stuff and left. She is now sending him divorce papers and each time he refuses to sign them. At first he said " Ill leave seminary, Ill move back home with you". She said No. Then the president of our seminary told him that he had to leave...he had to go fix his marriage. This seemed to be the right move until our neighbor realized that God called him to seminary and until God called him out of it he was staying put. He pleads with his wife and tries to date her but she still sends divorce papers. He tells us that she is a believer, this is just a trying time.
This situation obviously makes no sense. But then again we are told in Luke 9:23 that " he said to them all: "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me."
I would say that many students are moving to seminary as they deny themselves and choose to take up thier cross. I am in no way boasting but am excited that God has revealed himself to us through our frustration with our house not selling. There is hardly anyone here that has come because it just made sense. For that reason God has called us together to bear one another burdens as we are all here to potentially further the Kingdom of Heaven. Our focus is on eternal things as our current situation is not ideal. We long for the day when mortgages, money, jobs with benefits won't matter anymore.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Jared is a Daddy!!

Jared and Meredith Priset had thier baby girl yesterday. Praise God for a healthy child and godly parents to raise her! Congrats guys!!

And a double blessing is having Dwayne for a grandfather. Dwayne was also with us in Israel. He actually spells it Duane but for the longest I called him D' Wayne...its an inside dont have to laugh :).

Saturday, August 29, 2009

More Videos

Slowly but surely I will get all of our videos up here. Its hard to believe that we have been back for over 5 weeks now...which is how long we were in Israel. Adam is enjoying his seminary classes and I am blessed to have the job I have.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

And even more videos ( I love lazy Saturdays)

Once again, I really do apologize for the videos being sideways...anyone know how to fix that?
We have a laptop so we just turn it :)

This is as we were walking up to the Church of the Nativity in in Palestinian Controlled Areas.

Walking up to the Dome of the Rock on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem

Saturday, August 8, 2009

More Videos and Goofa Awards

So here are some more videos and ....THE GOOFA AWARDS that were given out..some of our Israel sidekicks wanted a list of what everyone got...what a good time!!!

Goofa Awards ( in no particular order)

Ryan L-Undercover Tour Guide
Jason- Prepared for Zombie Attack
Savannah-Most Likely to Move to Texas
Jessica- Heal Jason's wounds
Sam-Most Athletic
James Kent-Lifeguard at Neve Shalom
Jared P- Best Abs
James Knight- Sweetest, Polite, Tenderhearted Man
Duane- Best Personality
Heather- Best Vocabulary
Dan W-Most Likely to call you by your T Shirt Color
Paul- Best Tummy Tan
Adam (supervisor) Star in the next Scorpion King
Ghassan- Best Tan
Jared C- Miss Congeniality
Julia- Best Laugh
Ryan D-Cleanest Tel Worker
Jordan- Best Eyebrows
Cameron- Suck your toes
Willie- Best Hair
Jon S-Best Legs
Lynn-Most Likely to put Kellie in time out
Katy- Will fall off stage during her Broadway Debut
Jon- Use underwear as a goofa
Dennis- Open up a T Shirt Kiosk in USA
Leslie- Most Patient
Jim- Most Punctual
Allie- Find the most "pot"
Terri- Wheep a Bedouin child
Marcella- Most likely to be called Leslie by Dan
Steve- 4 year acheivement award
Gary- Make Sarah pee her pants
Jake- Will find his pants on a Bedouin child
Boon- Keep Bullfrog in business
Robin- Make a goofa line in a grocery store
Kerri- to be confused with Kirsten
Ken- Find Iron Age coins in Hellenistic fill
Kirsten- be carded at 80
Gerri- Future Denim Model
Linnea- Best Offer for Marriage
Dave- Find poop in 2 mile radius
Radu- Sweatband ( Best Accessory)
Valerie- Become the next Israeli tour guide
Anthony- Most Dedicated :)
MC- Most Musically Talented
Roy- Most Likely to adopt Dan
Kelley- Best Dressed
Dan- Save your life
Eddy- Best Chef
Adam Harvell- Luckiest Man Alive ( DUH)
Adam B-Will Correct Alex Trebek
Joey- Best Ensemble

Those will only be funny to those who went on the trip.....otherwise not.

Here are a couple more videos...i have to warn you..I didn't know that you had to keep the camera oriented in one direction...but you still get the gist of where we are at.

This is looking towards Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives

This is the stone believe to have been used to prepare Jesus for his burial.

and this is the traditional tomb of Christ

Some Videos!!!

Long Ride Home

That night after the Talent Show we all stayed up pretty late ( knowing we could sleep on the plane the next day) and played games, hung out and spent time saying good bye.
We also were allowed to go through the Dig House and check out everything that we had found over the last 5 weeks. We of course could take pictures of it all but I can't upload them all on to the internet. Our conservator Heather, worked hard to get everything cleaned and laid out for us to see.
The next morning we woke up and went to breakfast which was weird because we ate normal food and it was already light outside. I am sooo used to cramming tons of food in whenever I can that I ate wayyyy too much ( have to nip that in the butt).
We then took showers and finished packing so that we could leave the airport after lunch. Most everyone else was leaving that night on a group flight so they weren't leaving til eight. We ate lunch, went through an Israel security briefing and headed off to the airport. It was sad to tell soo many good friends bye. However, we are quite sure that we will see some of them again either in Israel, the United States or in GLORY!!
We made it through Israeli security pretty fast and they only wanted to search through two of our bags. We had to show them the plate that Neve Shalom gave us as a gift and they also wanted to check out Adam's textbooks.
The flight from Tel Aviv was kinda weird....lots of people standing around and lots of babies crying....we were glad to arrive in Paris.
We were supposed to go into Paris and head to the Eiffel Tower but the weather was pretty bad and we didn't want to get stranded in downtown Paris, soaking wet, with no where to go. So we got a hotel room close to the airport and slept for about 5-6 hours. It was really like a hostel so the bathrooms were not inside of our room.
Our flight from Paris to Atlanta was not that smooth either. Actually, we both watched three videos and ate some wonderful food....but we started our descent into Atlanta we went through some strong turbulence. The plane dipped three times and that was pretty scary. The women beside me started barfing into a bag and then lady in front her pulled out her rosary. I could feel and hear my heart beating. However, we landed safely and were off to meet both sets of parents who had come to get us.
Then we were off to our Hotel to hand out souvenirs, show pictues and eat some good ole NON KOSHER food!!!

As you can guess, Adam and I do plan on returning next year. Adam is going to take part in a survey around Tel Gezer for two weeks which will once again be through Southwest Seminary.
I think I will join him for the second part of his trip which we think may be digging up the old Water System. They want to find the water table and any diagnostic pieces in the system. We will wait and see what we can afford and where the Lord leads.

So now, on August 8th I am sitting in Fort Worth Texas. I have started working at Southwest Seminary ( which allows Adam to go to school for free) in the Housing Department. I like the people I am working with and am thankful for my job. Adam just got hired at Eddie Bauer for a part time job while he starts his Masters Program. We are living in Seminary housing which I have to say I am rather impressed with. Its a 2 bedroom, 1 bath duplex. We have wood floors and the biggest pantry I have ever seen. We only brought what we could fit in both of our cars ( mattress and clothes) and drove 17 hours to get here on Monday. I interviewed Tuesday, and started working Wednesday.
We left everything else in our house back in Johnson City, since it still has not sold. We are hopeful that someone will buy it before long so we can bring the rest of our furniture down and only have one house payment. Until then we are trusting in the Lord to provide for us....He hasn't let us down so far.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Last Days of Digging

First, I AM SOOO SORRY that I haven't finished the trip. As I type, we are in Fort Worth Texas in our new duplex at Southwestern Seminary. We have been looking for jobs, working on getting our home packed up and visiting people since we got back. All of my internet time was spent filling out job applications and looking for us a place to live here in Fort Worth. However, let me talk about all that later.
So, when I left off (two weeks ago) I had just described our last weekend. On Monday we were told that this would be the last day to do actual digging with tools and that we needed to start shutting down and cleaning up squares. This means that people had to to trim bulks, put sandbags on the bulks and smooth out anything that may cause someone to fall into our pits. Mariah and I spent the whole day retaking levels for our drawings and finishing up any paperwork left to do. We also took down shadecloths at the end of the day...which made us all wish for clouds on Tuesday :)
And guess what, God answered our prayers. The one day we worked without clouds was the most overcast, windiest day on the Tel. We spent the whole morning cleaning off the Tel of all debris and footprints. On Wednesday they hired a hot air balloon to fly over the Tel so that they could take aerial photographs. We had to wipe away our footprints as we walked out and pick up anything that had any color to it at all. A conservator from the IAA ( Israel Antiquities Authority) came and 4 people worked with him to preserve the things we found so that nothing would knock them down ( mainly walls). Adam and Boon worked with the Conservator which was great since they are Archeaology majors.
For lunch the Lower Sandage got a big treat. Dan and Paul took us to ELVIS for lunch. Elvis is a diner close to Jerusalem that is owned by Elvis's biggest Israeli fan. The whole diner is decorated with Elvis decor and there were at least 10 Elvis sculptures. They served non kosher guess what we all had? CHEESEBURGERS....they were huge and we stuffed ourselves!!! Afterwards we went back and did the last bit of pottery washing for the season. Adam took his exam that afternoon for the two classes he took while here....he had to write three essasy and fill our a map on the geography of Israel.
Wednesday was a work day, just not at the Tel for everyone. Some people were gazelles- which means they ran around and were used as scales for the aerial photographs. They wore bright color shirts and had to make sure that they were fast but not clumsy enough to knock something over. Another team went out and put up more sandbags. Mariah and I spent 5 hours redoing some drawings, drawing some new stratigraphy plans and backtracking through our top plans..making sure everything was ready to hand over when we left the following day.
After one, everybody was pretty much free to pack, wash clothes and/or get ready for the Talent Show and Goodbye Party.
The Talent Show was wonderful...Adam and I were part of an act that gave out Goofa awards to everyone on the dig. Each person got an award based on either an inside joke from our time in Israel or something that we could poke fun at them for. I colored small goofas full of dirt and CC, Mariah and Sara helped us come up with awards and present them. It went AWESOME....everyone was laughing ( mainly at Adam, who wore one of my skirts and used an accent that I have never heard him was kinda feminine).
Two people left right after the Show...Savannah and Ryan ( thats when it sunk in that the trip was coming to an end).
More on Returning Home and other things I left out later!!!

Pictures of Last week and Talent Show

Monday, July 20, 2009

Last Weekend in Israel

Today we got to sleep in late ...til 6:40!!!! We had to be ready to head to Jerusalem by 8:30..which included eating our breakfast.
We first went to the wailing wall. Since it was Shabbat we couldn't take pictures but we were told we were coming back the next day and could take them then. I have to be honest and say that I was very cautious up close to the wall. This is the closest that the Jews can get to the Holy of Holies and therefore they think its the closest you can get to God's presence. They weep at this wall, tuck in prayer, pray to it and rock to it. They wont turn thier backs on it and they must visit it a certain amount of times per year. I immediately felt broken for these people as I approached the wall....they have allowed it to become an idol. They dont' know that Christ came to break that barrier so that we can be in his presence at all times...I didn't touch the wall...I had no desire to. Adam and I of course were seperated since men and women have to approach the wall on different sides....a man came up to he and others from our group and started chanting with them and waving a plam brach at them....they chanted "shalom, shabbat....something something"...Adam thought that was kinda neat. All the men had thier head covered and most had on thier prayer shawls.
Next we headed to the Broad wall built by Hezekiah...this wall is mentioned several times in the bible. Its mentioned in Isaiah that he built through houses and that it was built in fear of being attacked.....and was later defeated by Nebuchednezzar. A cool thing is that we saw some of the excavations of the wall and right there is a house that it goes through ..awesome.
Next we head to see more remains of the Cardo....from the Roman occupation...several columns are still standing and we are told that this road would have been 6 lanes wide through Jerusalem.
After that we are given are last free time in Jerusalem to buy any souvenirs we may want and to visit anything we didn't get enough time in.
Adam and I head with John Byron and several students to walk the Viladolorsoa in the Muslim quarter. We start at the Lions gate and head up through several stations of the walk.
We pass Mary's birthplace, Anne's birthplace ( mary's mother), the flagallation station ( where christ was whipped), the condemnation station, Ecce Homo ( where Pilot condemned Christ), A stataion where Simon took the cross from Jesus, a station where Veronica wiped the sweat from his face and then we end at the Holy Sepulcre....where the traditional Golgotha is. We go back into the Holy Sulpulcre since we now have better education on why this is probably the best place for Christs tomb and golgotha and not the garden tomb...I will post a whole blog on this arguement soon. We see ancient tombs inside and places where the Crusaders carved their cross into the stones. Next we head down two flights of stairs to see the bedrock of this church where stone was quarried to build it so that it would be around the tomb of christ and golgotha.
For lunch Adam and I head to Shabban ( I dont know if I mentioned him before but he is Dr. Ortiz's close friend and gives us the best prices around). We ask him to get us swarma and we enjoy it a couple of minutes later there in his shop with the fan blowing on us. Then we had 3 WHOLE HOURS TO SHOP!!!! This was a wonderful time for me because I stopped and talked to almost every shop owner who try to convince me that I needed either jewelry or something else for my "pretty eyes". Adam got rather frustrated and stood out in the street tapping his foot. He told me not to talk to everyone and to stop making eye contact.....hahaa. I just wanted to be social. They could all tell I was from the South and many said " you from georgia"..i dont know how they knew about Georgia. We all met at the Joppa gate at 4:30 and headed back to Neve Shalom for dinner.

The next day was Sunday and as promised we went back to the Wailing Wall to take was much less crowded since Sunday is the beginning of thier work week....i still didn't touch the wall though. Our group went through the Western Wall Tunnels which was the part of the wall that was exposed during Jesus's time....its actually the closest you can get to where the Holy of Holies was. I of course, opted out since it was a llooooonng time of being underground in tight spaces. John Byron, took me around, since he had been through before. He used to live in the Old City so we went and saw his old apartment and where he used to buy groceries....deodarant was 8 bucks!!!! We also stopped and got bagels and coffee from a local store....SOOO GOOD...the butter for the bagel cost almost as much as the bagel itself!! Then he took me back through the muslim quarter to the Damascas gate and we revisited the Villa Dolo Rosa and spent some time going through the church of the flagellation and condemnation....WONDERFUL...>THANKS JOHN!!!!!
Adam liked the tunnels...he got to see the largest stone ever quarried, 5000 tons and models of the old Temple Mount.
Afterwards our whole group headed to Yad Va Shem..the Israel Holocaust Musuem. We werent' allowed to take pictures but it was wonderful. Its shaped like a knife that cuts into a hill to symbolize how the holocaust cut into humanity. Many jews living in Israel have survivors in thier family and donate tons of things to the musuem...its very touching and emtional to see Jewish men walk through the musuem with thier children all wearing the head covering. We only had 1.5 hours inside but I could have stayed all day.
Next we headed to the Jewish quarter for lunch and Adam and I headed staright to Shabbans.....we ate SPICY FALAFFEL that day and it was SOOO GOOD!! We were amazed at our self for getting around the Old City without getting lost....we kinda orient everything around the Holy Sepulcre.
Next we head to the Archeaological Park on the Southern tip of the Western Wall where they have been excavating for quite some time. They have found Robinson's arch which was an old arch that come off the western wall and at the base covered several shops. These shops have evidence of being money changing shops and places where people could buy thier sacrifices before entering the Temple Mount. THere is also a micfah where people could bath before going up to offer sacrifices. The corner of the trumpeters tower was also found in the excavations which had an inscription identifiying it as the place where the trumpeter would sound to let the city know that the sabbath had started.
We also visited the Holda gates on the Southern wall where the triple aches ( which are filled in now ) used to be the most used entrance to the Temple Mount and the double arches were the most likely used exit gates. Mary and Joesph more then likely went through these gates as they came to Jerusalem to offer sacrifices about a month after Christ was born. The steps up to the Holda gates were built in a rhythem by Herod ( another way to suck up the Jews ) so that as they walked they could sing the 23rd Psalm.
Finally we headed back to Neve Shalom for dinner and to our last Church service. John Byron spoke on how we don't need to strive to answer all of the biblical questions with will never happen....but we need to have faith that God will answer everything in his own time and we are to obey and believe his WORD!!!!!

Pictures from last week of digging and last weekened

Last Full Dig Week

The next day was the start of our last full week of digging...we were all well rested and ready to go. I started doing some more stratigraphy drawings since they need most of the bulks done before we leave the dig. Adam's supervisor, Ghassan got stuck in Jordan over the weekend and they are holding him at the checkpoint...apparently this happens alot. Alot of the upper sondage squares are closing down and coming down with us as we start yet another new probe and several new squares in hopes of finding more of the revetment wall. We end up finding some layers of plaster..which is great since the pottery underneath will have been sealed in and we can date it without too much confusion. The lecture for the day is given by the guy leading up the Survey team and its very interesting. They have found tons of caves and some burial tombs. They have also found wine presses, olive presses and other installations. The Israeli Antiquities Authority told our director that if everyone did such as a good a job of surveying as our team then they would be pleased. I also start a recreation drawing of parts of the Tel during the Hellenistic period.

Tuesday-Today we open even more square as more and more people are sent down to the lower sondage. Ghassan returns from the Jordan and tells Adam that he was kept because he is "of that age"...we are just glad he is back. Our lecture tonight is from Heather..our conservator...its quite interesting on how she preserves and restores the things we find. Here is a short overview.
Basically she tells us that Conservation is to impede further detoriation of a peice.....Restoration is to reveal or enhance a peice as close to its original state and Curation is to manage a collection of objects while conducting research on them. She is a conservator for this dig so her main focus is to prevent further destruction on the things she finds by controlling light, temperature and humidity. For dinner we have pita pizza and as you know ITS GOOD!!!! We say goobye to two people today..Steve, from Swaziland and Terry- from Ohio...we will miss you both!

Wednesday- I wake up with a migraine and skip the first half of the workday to sleep. I catch a ride with Eddy....a local Israeli who brings 2nd breakfast out to the Tel. On the way he tells me that his main income is as a Poker player and that he will be in the states next year for the World Poker Tournament...which costs 10,000 to enter. When he asks where I am from, I say Alabama and he immediately smiles. His exact words are " When I think of America, I think of Alabama....New York and LA are thier own little worlds....but Alabama, this is what America is about....:).
The last half of the day is very productive on the Tel...Mariah and I get about 2.5 straitgraphy drawings done and Adams square finds 6 MC's today ( Material Cultures)!! We have a lecturer come and talk about modern Israel and the modern Kabbutz. Main points from his lecture are this...
A Kabbutz is for Jewish people to live together, share in each other lives and to rebuild the greatness of Israel. He is very umm....political in his talking and sometimes I think he talks in circles. He lets us know that his kabbutz no longer share their income but they do pay into a fund that takes care of the sick and elderly on the kabbutz and that also covers lawn maintenance and the pool. Thier kids no longer sleep and play apart from the parents and they no longer share its kinda like a glorified Home Owners Association. He also talks about the current situation between the Palestinians and the Jews. He does think they can live together but that there will have to be sacrifices.....i think he wants them to sacrifice a little more though. He says things like "the arabs need to understand that this is our land and even though they have a right to live here its not the right thing to do"......i dont know about all that....God did give this land to the Jews..but I dont think it was so that they could run the Arabs out. Its funny how fast the oppressed become the opperessors huh? Enough about that...its touchy for everyone.
I also finish the recreation drawing today and Dr. Ortiz says he will have some contract work for me in Texas as they begin to publish thier work about Tel Gezer!!

Thursday-Today on the Tel we find yet another plaster floor....there is only about 1.5 feet in between the two floors so everyone is coming down to the square and offering thier opinons. Mariah and I finish two more stratigraphy drawings.....there is alot that goes into these....we have to take levels at several points and then draw it to scale with all the gobbly gook and other layers that we dug through in the right spot. Adam finds a snake in his square today while digging and Boons square finds a large stone that could be part of an installation...not sure yet. During our two hours of free time a big group of us play Empire and Killer Uno.

Friday-today is the last day for the Lancaster group. We dig through the plaster and date the pottery...i can't say to what yet i dont think. We take a loooonnng Tel Tour after fruit break today since there has been so much found over the past week. There is another cobble surface found and they arent sure if its a street or part of a admin building? We have free time after lunch but Adam heads up to do pottery washing and reading since this will be his LIFE :). I do all of my laundry ( well most) and make a card for the life guard at the pool. Then I go hang out with everyone and write some more of the blog :). After dinner a huge bunch of us take over the dig house and watch Princess Bride on the projector screen...great way to end the week and to tell Lancaster bye!!

I will post pictures with the next blog.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Kirsi, Boatride and Jordan River

Next we headed to the Eastern shore of the Galilee to Kirsi where in Mark 5 Jesus cast a legion of demons into swine. This location fits the story as there are steep cliffs here running down to water where the swine would have ran off and died. The Byzantine monastary here at Kirsi was found by mistake when they were widening the roads in the early 1980s.
However, swine is a problem in this story since Jews dont eat pork.....why were Jews herding pigs? The answer....this is probably an early contact that Jesus had with gentiles in that area....probably a Roman city but definitely not Jewish.
In the monastary there is an olive press for income and to also make annointing oil. There is a beautiful mosaic floor here and even though it was a Byzantine church you dont see any images. This is probably because they were defaced when the Muslims conquered the land and carried out the Islamic Law of no images.....or destroyed by the Greek can see where images may have been in the floor but were torn out.
There is also a crypt to the right of the main room where 35 priests who served in this monastary were buried.
Up the hill from the church is a small shrine dedicated to the spot where Christ encountered the demon possessed man. You can see the Sea from the top and its easy to picture how the swine would have run off.

After Kirsi we headed back to the shore of the Galilee to get on a boat and ride around. We went towards the Mt of Beattitudes and Capernaum. As we were out there I thought about Jesus calming the storms and walking on water. It was a gorgeous day and everyone was glad to be together. They raised the American and Israel flag and we sang and listened to both national anthems. Afterwards the captain put on christian music and we all sang familiar songs as we went along.

Back on land we headed to the Jordan River for the last part of our day. Our tour guide told us that we could get baptized here but no swimming. In fact, to enter the water you are supposed to have a white robe on. There were several large groups of people there singing worship songs and lining up to be dunked. Two girls from our group wanted to be baptized to resubmit her life to Christ and also to accompany our friend Savannah as she was being baptized for the first time. Savannah grew up Catholic and had never been baptized by submersion. A pastor in our group, Steve Allen, who is a missionary in Swaziland (spelling) baptized them. It was a very special time and I hope it spoke to the nonbelievers in our group.
By the way, there are huge catfish in the Jordan River and at times it is less than 4 or 5 feet wide. After that we headed back to Neve Shalom and got ready for our last full week of digging.

Pictures from Kirsi, boatride and Jordan River

Monday, July 13, 2009

John 21 and Capernaum

So after the Mount of Beattitudes we walked right across the street to see a church that notes the site where in John 21 Jesus tells Peter and the other fisherman to cast their nets on the other side of the boat and when they do they catch a ton of fish. As we walked up we could hear people having mass outside and singing at the top of their was quite wonderful and made me miss my church family at Heritage.
The town here is called Tagba and means 7 springs...all which come down from the Mount of Beattitudes. Six of these ancient springs have been found.
One of our group members Dan Haggerty mentioned to us that in John 21 we have Peter who has gone back to his old life as a fisherman and he has been out to sea all night long and not caught a single thing. But when Christ comes and tells him to turn around and cast on the other side he is able to catch many fish. It parallels our own lives as we keep returning to our old ways and habits when Christ is asking us to turn and try his way. I was encouraged by that. Thanks Dan.

Next we drove just a little ways down the road to Capernaum were Jesus moved from Nazareth to conduct his ministry. THere were several trade routes throughout Capernaum and it was a very busy place. The white synagogue here is the one where in Mark 2 Jesus would have healed the demonized man in. This place of worship was built by God-fearing centurions who were stationed here with the Roman garrison...simply a customs booth.
St. Peter was from Capernaum and many of the apostles were from around this area. In the remains of Capernaum they found a roman mile marker, several olive presses and St. Peters house!!!!
In the house is pottery that dates back to Jesus's time and graffit looking marks that say something about this being Peters house. THere is also a pilgrim record of Peters house being beside a synagogue and this house is. Of course, the Roman Catholics have come along and built a spaceship looking church right over the top of the house but we could walk into the church and look down into the remains of the house.
That's enough for one blog...if you could please remember to pray for us....we still have not sold our house and I haven't heard from any jobs in Texas...we might have to stay in TN longer to get the house sold. Also, please pray for the unbelievers here....there have been so many discussions and some of them are asking questions.....They have become my dear friends and I want them to know my Lord and experience life with Him.


Sunday, July 12, 2009

Jesus Boat, 4th of July and Mt. of Beattitudes

The last part of our Saturday was to visit the Jesus Boat. In 1986 two brothers who fish for a living went out into the sea while there was a drought looking for things stuck in the bottom. They found a boat...from ancient times. It is big enough for 5 guys to ride in and matched many of the boats found in mosaics dating back to the time of Jesus. It was also built in the style used during that time which was to put planks together and then add the frame ( which is opposite of how we do it now). In order to move the boat out of the mud they had to call in underwater archaeologist to come in and dig it out. However, the wood was so well preserved under the mud that any sudden changes to its atmosphere would cause it to decay. Preservationist were called in and they kept the boat soaked at all times and put special cloths over it. The archeaologist couldn't walk on the boat or around it so they built a frame and had to hang over the boat to work on it. They then wrapped the entire boat in fiberglass and floated it down the river to its new home at the museum built just for it close to Nof Ginossar. It was probably the neatest thing of the they showed us a lenghty video on the whole process of finding it, digging it up, preserving it and getting it to the musuem!!

We went back to the hotel after that and rested a while before heading down to the Sea for some pictures before dinner. There was no way I was going to eat my weight in cheesecake and then slide into a bathing suit. After pictures we ate a LARGE and wonderful dinner.
Next we all headed down the shore for some 4th of July fun. Willie found some cardboard and tore it to spell July 4. Then we borrowed a lighter and lit it on fire while we sang patriotic songs....which was kinda funny. It was a great way to end the day and to celebrate the 4th of July with people from all over the US while on the Sea of Galilee. Plus we got some neat pictures of the Sea at night and how Jesus would have seen it...with no city lights, just the moon.

The next morning we woke up early and headed to the Mt. of Beattitudes where Jesus gave the sermon on the mount found in Matthew 5. There is a church on the summit that was built in the 1930 and was paid for by Italy's Musselini ( spelling?). It was neat to walk down the mount thru banana plants and tall grass and kinda view the area as it would have been during the time of Jesus. There was hardly anything modern in view and we were able to walk it at our own pace. You can see the Sea from there and local farmers were at work.
More from that day later!!!!

Pictures of Boat, 4th and Mount


Here are the pictures from Baniass and Tel Hazor......they are in the same album as those from Tel Dan so scroll through.....ENJOY!!!


Saturday, July 11, 2009

Baniass/Caeserea Phillipi and Tel Hazor

After we left Tel Dan we headed to Ceaeserea Phillipi or modern day Baniass. This spot was a cultic site dedicated to Pan- who is the spirit of caves and is connected to water. Herod built this pagan city on the edge of Israel and made a shrine to pan and a temple beside it dedicated to Caeser. Herod Phillipa, his son, made it his capital city. It is within this region that in Matthew 16, Peter recognizes Jesus as the Messiah.
When Agrippa II comes he builds an even bigger palace here and Josephus tells us that jewish slaves were brought here to be sold after the great revolt. They were also forced into playing gladiator games against one another for sport.
It had been called Paniass ( for pan ) but since the arabs dont have a p sound they called it Baniass.
In the pictures I will point out the ruins of the city of Paniass, the Palace of Agrippa II with Mt. Hermon behind it and the Vaults of the Crusaders.
The very last ruin is the church where the women who was healed from ongoing bleeding ( mark 5) made a statue of Jesus and gave it to them....this is only tradition.

Next we headed to Tel Hazor which was the acropolis during the Caananite period. It is the largest Tel in Israel and some of it has been taken over by agriculture fields. Tel Hazor is mentioned in the Armana letters as part of a trade route . We also know that there were letters between Tel Hazor and King Akhenaton ( spelling?) asking for help from invaders but none arrived.
In Joshua 11, Hazor is captured by Joshua and everyone is killed and its burned to the ground. Another destruction of Hazor found in history is that on the Merneptah stella where the Egyptian pharoah talks of conquering Israel and they assumed Hazor is part of that. After doing some archeaological digs there they have found a destruction layer but aren't sure as to which story it fits.
After being mentioned in 2 Kings 15 Hazor becomes a minor city until the Hellenistic period, and finally the last big mention of Hazor is found in the Book of McAbees.
Just as Gezer, Hazor was fortified by Solomon in 1 Kings 9.
As we walked around the site we notice a very familiar 4 room Israelite house, like the one we have at Gezer and also a stable and storage room.

The internet is being WAY slow tonight so I will let you know when pictures are uploaded!!!!
By the way.... even though I am writing about events that happened on the 4th of July, today is July 11th and its my Grandparents 50TH WEDDING ANNIVERSARY!!!!!
HOW AMAZING IS THAT? I am truely blessed to have so many great examples of marriage to look up to amongst my family and my in-laws. Nana and Papa, I wish you the best day ever and I hope you have fun at the party/reunion. I wish I could be there to celebrate with you!!! BIG HUG AND KISS!!!!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Tel Dan

First of all...this was the 4th of JULY!!!!
We had already celebrated back at Neve Shalom on the 2nd so we had a full day of touring ahead of us!!!
First we went to Tel Dan which is mentioned in both Joshua 19 and Judges 18:27-31. We also know that Abraham pursued Lot to Dan in Genesis 14. Sampson's parents are Dannites but we are not sure why people settled here...were Philistines too powerful?
Tel Dan amazes us because there are running streams and waterfalls and ponds. We have been to several Tels by now and all of them are hot and on top of a mountain. Tel Dan is located in woods and there are several water sources.
The first major thing we see is the Canaanite gate that had an ARCH!!!!! Now you may have been told that the romans invented the arch but that's wrong because the Caananites clearly did way before the Romans thought of it. Its a very impressive mudbrick gate and they are reconstructing it.
Next we go to the Isrealitie gate where in the floor an insrcription was found that mentions the House of David and dated to the mid 9th century BC. They had nothing mentioning the House of David before because the only place we could probably find evidence is on the Temple Mount and you are not allowed to dig there.
Right inside the gate there is a throne looking thing that is modeled after the throne in Jerusalem. In 2nd Samuel 19 we are told that the kings would greet people at the city this fits.
Next we go to the Cultic High Place which was framed out by metal to what they think it would have looked like.....look familiar( looks like horned altar from Beer Sheva). An inscription was found here that mentions the god of obviously there was some pagan worship going on.
The last couple of scenic pictures are actually looking at Mt. Hermon in Israel, then the valley is no man's land and to the left we could see into Lebanon. The Lebanese have been after Mt. Hermon for years and as we leave to head to Caesarea Phillipi we see signs along the road that say " danger, mines". Our tour guide tells us that the road we are on is safe because it follows the road that was previously there...however, the fields surrounding it aren't and occasional hikers will get stranded or farmers will send thier cattle out into the fields to find the leftover mines.

Tel Dan Pictures

Lunch, Zippori, Cliffs of Arbell and Sea of Galilee

Next we headed to Zippori or modern day Sepphoris which dates back to 1st Temple period. It was the main capital during Jesus's time. After King Herod's father appoints Herod as govenor of Galilee his uses Zippori as his seat. Alot of people were not happy about that. We also know that the parents of Mary, Jesus's mother were from this area...there is no historical evidence but more traditional.
The reason they took us to Zippori instead of Nazareth, which was close by is because as a carpenter and artisan Jesus probably would have worked in this city as it was growing during the days before his ministry. It also helps us to see why Jesus formed the opinon he did against riches and the poor. He came from Nazareth which was a poor city and Zippori was a roman city and showed off its power and wealth. It also neat to think about Jesus preaching about the "kingdom of God" and maybe comparing it to the Empire of Rome.
There were over 18 synagogues in Zippori and only one was found not facing Jerusalem....which is odd. There are several mosaic floors in these synagogues and other places and they are beautiful!! ( check out the pictures).
In one synaogue ( ill point it out on the pictures) there is a zodiac, which presents a problem since they were not allowed in Judaism. Josephus even talks about how one of the veils in the temple has sun, moon and stars but specifically left out the zodiac. However, we have 7 synagogues throughout history with the zodiac in them....we aren't sure why.
Next we headed to the Cliffs of Arbell which is an awesome lookout point. However, it was closed....but our tour guide led us under the gates and we went up anyways. It was beautiful and the breeze was blowing rather hard. Adam stayed close to the ground the whole time and yelled at me for walking to the and our phobias :).
After the Cliffs of Arbell we went to our hotel...Nof Ginossar and had the most wonderful dinner buffet ever!!! They had brisket, several salads, stuffed tomatoes, several breads and the best part was the 5 or 6 different cheesecakes, torts and other pies to choose from for dessert. We even had creme brulee!!! I think everyone ate at least 4 plates...i know i did!
Then we all walked down to watch the sun set on the Galilee and swim. Afterwards we all loaded up in Mariah and Kelley's room to watch "Bride and Prejudice".....the Baliwood remake of Pride and Prejudice.

Pictures of all the FUN

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Galilee Tour Part One

This morning ( Friday, July 3) we leave at 7:30 for the Northern part of Israel...the Galilee. Our first stop is Caesarea Maritime which was built by Herod as a Romany city. Herod wanted to build a port city that would rival Rome and Alexandria. As a roman and gentile city he dedicated it to Ceaser ( kinda to suck up to him). There was an outer, middle and inner harbor to protect docked ships. In Acts 12 Herod's grandson, Herod Agrippa arrests James and cuts his head off...he saw that this was pleasing to the Jews so he also arrests Peter and keeps him in prison here in the port city. An angel later appeared to Peter and the chains fell off his wrists. Later on in Acts 12, Herod Agrippa addressed the people in the ampitheater and since he was wearing a bright garment the sun shone on him it made a bright glare and the people started saying " this is the voice of a god, not a man (acta 12: 22). Because he didn't revoke them an angel immediately struck him down and he was eaten by worms.
Down by where Herod's palace would have been an inscription was found that mentions Pilot. This presents a problem, because when Pilot was head of Judea he dedicates a place of worship to Tiberius. Tiberius was not first chioce as emperor and didn't like that Pilot had a place dedicated to him.
There were also ruins of a Hippodrome which is where Herod created 2nd and 3rd place...before that it was 1st or nothing.
Next we had to the Aquaducts that kept water going to Caesarea. There were two seperate lines since they had to add another line as people kept moving to the city.
Next we headed to Tel Meggido where you can see the Valley of Jezreel, where Armeggadon will happen. Two main reasons for this is that this is a junction for invading armies and tons of battles have already been fought here. In Joshua 12:21- we are told that Megiddo is one of the cities that was conquered by the Israelites but not expelled like other Canaanite cities. In 1st Kings 9:15 we are told that this is one the cities that was foritified with gates...just like our Tel Gezer!!!!
More of our weekend on another blog!!!
I wanted to say Hi to Jared's mom, Boon's mom and Kirsten's mom....glad you like the blog!!!
I enjoy your kids!!!

Pictures of these three places!!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

3rd Week of Digging/4th of July party Pictures

Here are the pictures to go along with the last entry.

Our home hasn't sold yet and we haven't heard from any job prospects in Texas so we are getting a little anxious but waiting on God.
People are tired here and more injuries are happening because of it.
People are missing spouses and family.

One girl, who proclaims to be Buddhist has started reading scripture and asked a ton of questions while traveling around the Galilee this weekend.
Cohesion among both groups are great!
Ghassan- traveled to Jordan this weekend and was kept there over night because he is palestinian and as he says "of that age"...he got back today ( on tuesday )

Sunday, July 5, 2009

3rd Week of Digging/4th of July party

Monday June 29
So after our glorious weekend in Jerusalem we arrived back at Neve Shalom to meet 22 new students joining the dig from Lancaster Bible School in Pennsylvania. They are only here 2 weeks and have already spent a week touring. They are divided up among the already established squares and given a very brief introduction to what we are doing..i feel a little bad for them. Its funny because Sunday night they are all up late and all of us who had been here were in bed by 9:00 at the latest....we know how early 4:15 comes. Needless to say, the next night they were all in bed early. We got three new guys and one new girl in the lower sandodge and they are all great workers. Today we moved a lot of dirt off of the revetment wall that is coming up least 5 meters across so far. In other squares whole vessels are coming up and we have to haul those down the Tel every day to keep looters from coming at night. Adam's square didn't get any new people from Lancaster. Today is also Steve Ortiz's birthday and we celebrate with cake and ice cream after dinner. For lecture a famous guy, Anson Rainey, came and spoke to us on the Armana letters, specifically the ones that pertain to Gezer...a real treat.
A treat for the day is that Adam and I got to ride in a car to the Tel and back today since there are too many people to fit on our bus now!!! AIR CONDITION!! and a nice conversation with Steve and another supervisor Byron!!!

Tuesday June 30
Our Lancaster people are proving to be work horses. Today we have a great conversation with Joey on the validity of the bible, church membership and "sacraments" of different donimanations. He has lots of questions and we are glad for it!!! The dig day is same ole, same ole. I sent some mail out to Jerri and Halle and right after 1st breakfast we take group shots a whole and then from all the different colleges. We have a well known archeaologist come and speak from Bet Shemesh.

Wednesday July 1
Today we open up TWO NEW SQUARES. We have uncovered at least 10 meters of the revetment wall and so we are going to do a probe down in front of it to look for the outer wall. Our professors tell us that we are finding some of the same type of structures that were found in the City of David...the milo! We are also told that some other things we are finding in the upper fields will be in text books for years!!!!!! We can't wait to come home and tell you all the details. I know that we have been working for almost 3 weeks now but my back and left ankle are starting to hurt....the Tel is aging me. My square talked about how the presidency ages you, the military ages you and we decide that the Tel ages you just as much.
Adam finds Roman glass in his square today....thats all we can say for now!! We have pictures!
Today we don't have pottery washing but we do go on our grocery run. This week we buy another water cooler, another pepsi and some popsicles!!!!! We get home and finally find some English on the box that says " Diet Lemon and Lime Popsicles"....oh well, its cold and good!!!

Thursday July 2
LAST DAY OF WORK WEEK. They are giving us a 4 day week in honor of July 4th!!!! and we get to go to the Galilee for 3 WHOLE DAYS.
So at the dig today we dug straight down into our probe.....straight thru layers and layers of rocks...back breaking work.
During the Tel Tour we are shown some really neat installations..some in Adam's square.
After we get home we are free until our party so Adam gets some much needed sleep and works on his essays for his final exam. I go to the pool and wash all of my laundry!!!!
The 4th of July part is beautiful. Its held out on the lawn overlooking the hills towards Tel Aviv and they make us Israeli BBQ......beef patties inside of pita bread. We also have french fries, coke and bbq sauce.....all of which we haven't had. For dessert we have several different kinds of baklava and gelato.....3 different flavors. We were stuffed!!!
Then came the fun part...the Gezer's Got Talent Show!!!!! The first act was three of our friends, Katy, Kelley and Boon who did a "Get Fit Gezer" and did a workout routine using all of the equipment and new phrases we have was absolutely hysterical. I filmed it for Kelley so we will share that with you when it gets uploaded. After that Radu, a professor from Romania quoted all of 2nd Timothy. Then we had some songs and some guitar playing. Afterwards they gave us free reign of the stereo system and we hooked it up to an ipod. We all got out there and danced and sang...along with our professors. Adam really showed off his great dance moves and surprised all of his professors!! He did the worm, the robot, the carlton, and really anything else you can think of.....I think Dr. Ortiz was shocked...but he kept everyone laughing.....any of you who know Adam probably aren't surprised at all. Then they put on country music and I did some line dancing. Overall it was a great night and we were all excited about our upcoming weekend.

Pictures will have to come later...with the additional 22 people sharing internet here we hardly get enough signal to do anything online. Once again I will let you know when they are posted.

Pictures from Temple Mount

Sorry these took sooo long to upload. We just got back from a 3 day trip in the watch for tons of more updates!!

Pictures of Temple Mount and Old City Jerusalem

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Temple Mount

On Sunday we left for Jerusalem right after breakfast. We wanted to get there early in order to onto the Temple Mount..where security checks can keep lines backed up. We were instructed not to wear anything that had a cross, a verse or anything that said Jesus. I couldn't even bring my journal since it has a cross on it....oh, and definitely not a bible. We were also told not to bring any sharp items...several times. However, while standing in line to go through security check we hear the (armed) guards start saying " patiche, patiche" which is Hebrew for "hammer". Then our sweet sweet friend Katy comes walking back out of the security check holding her patiche from the dig. Apparently she forgot to empty out her bookbag and was trying to sneak in a hammer onto the Temple Mount. One of our instructors hid it behind a wall while we were up on the mount and then grabbed it when we got off since those cost about $35 bucks. So, from now on Katy is "Patiche".
When we first entered the Temple Mount we saw the Alask a Mosque ( say that how it sounds..i am almost 100% sure I didn't spell it right). This is the most probable site where Jesus would have thrown out the money changers. Right behind this is a a stone where supposedly Jesus was tempted to jump...i think I mentioned it earlier in a blog from our visit to Jerusalem.
The gold dome on top of the Dome of the Rock was a gift from King Hussein. It houses the rock where Mohammod's footprint was found after he ascended....yeah right. I would like to see you leave a footprint in a rock...believe me we walk on 500 rocks a day and there are no footprints. Anyways, one neat thing was that while we were walking around the Dome ( which we can't enter because we are not muslims, and we had to walk up a wooden gate since Muslims are the only one allowed to use the main one) as we are walking around we look over at the Mount of Olives and they are clouds right above...once again unusual for Israel during June and one of our friends reminds us that Jesus ascended into the clouds from the Mount of Olives...awesome( check out that picture.
Next we head to the Wohl Musuem where the excavations of ancient mansions have been perserved and a walk ramp has been put around them. We are not allowed to take pictures inside but its a very neat exhibit and there are conservationists working as we walk through. These mansions are from the Herodian period.
Next we head to the Israel Musuem. First thing we head to see is the Shrine of the Book where the original Dead Sea Scrolls are housed. The musuem is in the shape of the lid of the pots that the scrolls were found in. The inside of the musuem looks like the inside of a thrown pot....very interesting!! We see a 2100-2200 year old copy of Isaiah. You can't take pictures in here either and you have to be very quiet. Adam was shushed by a grumpy old man after he clicked his tongue to see how much it would echo....haha.
Right outside of this musuem is a model of Jerusalem. Afer having gone to Jerusalem 3 times it was really neat to see it all laid out and to see where the 1st and 2nd period temple walls were and how it was added to. We are also able to see Herodian three towers, for his wife, brother and dad and the City of David. It helps put things into perspective.
After that we are given 3 hours of free time in the old city of Jerusalem to shop and eat lunch...AWESOME!! At this point I am tired of being herded and I was looking forward to alone time with my hubby!!!!
We ate at this little hole in the wall restaurant called Old City Restaurant. We both ordered Kebabs.....which are pitas stuffed with cucumbers, tomatoes, ranch dressing like stuff and hopefully lamb ( we aren't sure but it was good). The owner was a cute little guy and when we finished he said " picture" and went and stood in front of his shop with his arms raised ( see picture). He told us to come back and I think we will during our last weekend here. Then we met up with some other friends and shopped til we dropped. Old City Jerusalem is set up like an old market ( well it was one) and you can barter. We got great deals ( especially after dropping that we were from Alabama). At one shop we tried to barter and decided we could get it cheaper elsewhere so we walked away and he started yelling after us " they have no money, they have no money"....haha. We have about 4 more things to get before we leave but we were very happy with our buys and hope that the recipients enjoy them as well. After that we went back to Neve Shalom and met the 22 new people arriving from Lancaster Bible College to dig with us for the next 9 days.

Praise- After asking for prayer for chances to witness, God gave me an awesome one.

Internet is slow today so I will add pictures to this blog tomorrow-hopefully. I will let you know when I do!

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

3rd Weekend Tour Part Two

After we left the Church of the Nativity we headed to Mt. Zion.....well what they think is Mt. Zion. Since the Jerusalem gates have been added onto and revised no one is quite sure where Mt. Zion is. They think thats it location may have been moved during the intertestamental period. However, we know that this is Mt. Mariah and therefore we are headed to visit the traditional upper room. We walk through narrow streets in between several churches and along the Zion gate of Jerusalem. The upper room is very ornate in architecture and our tour guide immediately points out that its Crusader style. There aren't any other "traditional upper rooms" but there is not consistency with this room being it. Also, below it is the traditional tomb of King David. However, that doesnt' fit well either since Mt. Zion is now outside the city gate of Jerusalem and we know he was buried inside. The only reason that this is known as the upper room is because of a Mideval Age tradition that recognized this building as the first church on this mountain. So who knows?
Then we go to an outlook where I got several great panoramic shots of Jerusalem, the Kidron valley, the Mount of Olives, Silwan and some of the northwest part of Jerusalem ( new city)
After that we walk down the mountain to the House of Caiphas. We know that this mountain has always been Mt. Mariah and that means that here Jesus would have been led to Ciaphas's house to be held after Judas betrayed him, that here Abraham would have been instructed to sacrifice Isaac and Peter probably denied Christ three times. Beside Caiphas's house there is a staircase that dates back to the First Temple period and one of very few places where we have access to intact First Temple architecture. Therefore, Jesus very likely walked these steps whether as he was being led to Ciaphas or while walking around Jerusalem...SO AWESOME. They are excavating village remains on either sides of these staircases ( see pictures).
Next we visited the Garden Tomb. Our tour guide starts off by telling us that Golgotha means skull and in this side of a hill is the appearance of a skull. The current bus station right beside this hill used to be a quarry and was right beside a busy Roman road. This would have been an ideal spot to crucify Christ so that everyone would see him as they passed and mock him..which is what the Romans wanted. We are told in scripture that he was mocked and spit on while on the cross.
The spot of land that now houses the Garden Tomb was bought for 2,000 lbs by the British is 1894. It was first discovered by a Greek man in 1867 and he found what he thought was a cistern , but was later found to be a wealthy tomb. He sold it to the british after giving up on the excavation of the cistern.
This spot is right outside the city gates of Jerusalem and in Hebrews we are told that "outside the city He suffered".
What we know from the Bible that leads us to this tomb is that Joseph of Arimethea was rich well known man and had a tomb by a garden. He is the one who asked for Jesus's body and gave up his own tomb for Him.
We also know that criminals in the bible days got massive graves ( the romans tried him as a criminal) however, in Isaiah 53 we are told that "He will be the rich in His death" yet another prophecy was fulfilled when Christ was laid in Joseph of Arimethea's tomb.
The New Testament tells us that the tomb was cut out of rock and had a large stone rolled in front of the entrance...this tomb fits that criteria though no large rock to hide the entrance was ever found.
As we entered the tomb we could hear tons of groups having thier own worship services in the gardens nearby. Talk about getting a taste of HEAVEN....we had some people singing "Thats why we praise him, thats why we sing" another language..i just recognized the tune. Then you had an African American pastor leading a sermon to a group of people yelling "Amen, Hallelujah". There were several of us who couldn't keep it together..and rightfully so.
As you enter the tomb you see a sign on the door that says " He is not here, for He is Risen". In front of you there is a small room where the family could mourn for the body before leaving it in the tomb. Then to the right you have three small sections. To the left would be where they would lay the body. In the middle ( i forget what this is for, sorry) and to the right is another bench.
So the women who came to the Tomb to care for His body would have entered and immediately been able to see his neatly folded linens laying where the body was. Then as the men came back with them they would have had to enter the tomb completely to see the Angel sitting around the corner. AWESOME.
Ill blog later about the arguments for this site and the Church of the Holy Selpechur and why different people believe each one is the true site for Christs tomb.

Pictures of all of this.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Some more prayer requests

I just wanted to ask for your prayer in these areas.

1. More unbelievers are revealed in group...I dont know how they survived the Garden Tomb ( i haven't blogged on that yet) because I was in tears the whole time we were there. Pray that their roommates will have chances to minister to them and we can all show them the power of God in our lives.
2. My square friend Jared has a baby due in September....its almost 31 weeks and weighs a little over 2 lbs..his wife is at home alone.
3. Cohesion in the group....we ( the Southwest Seminary group) have become a family and everyone gets along rather well with everyone we have 22 more being added to our dig and I can already sense tension...pray that God would unite us for the next two weeks.
4. That everyone would stay healthy while on the dig...its getting hot and people are growing tired and SORE!!!
5. That God would speak to us individually while we are here....rather while touring or while digging up buckets up dirt....that we would find time to spend with him and remember why we came.
6. That our home would sell and we would find jobs in Texas..still nothing on both.
7. Some people ( especially those who left behind spouses ) are starting to get homesick and we are just now at the halfway point.
Thank you for your prayers thus far...God is working!!!

1. So far no one has had any serious injuries on the dig or surveying.
2. Some people who had only signed up to stay for two weeks extended it to 5 weeks.

4. Adam and I have friends here who will be waiting for us with open arms when we get to Ft. Worth...two of them have offered us their guest rooms if we get to TX and don't have anywhere to stay.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

3rd Weekend Tour Part One

Our first stop is Herodion, one of the many projects Herod the Great took on during his reign over the Jews. Just to give you some background on Herod he was known to be a little paranoid and ended up killing his wife and some of his children because of it. He was also not in a position to be King of the Jews since his mother was an Arab pagan, this probably added to that paranoia.
You can see Herodion from far far it more of a volcano shaped compared to the rolling hills of the shephelah. Josephus describes it as looking like a women's breast ( when the fortress was at its height). Herod built Herodian as both a living quarter and a burial place. There are four main towers of Herodian and they are all on the 4 points of the compass.
Jesus is compared to Herod a lot in the scriptures. Herod moved tons of sand from a nearby mountain to build up Herodian...Jesus spoke of having faith to move mountains.
Just two years ago archaeologists found what they think is Herod's tomb....right where Josephus said it would be in the side of the mountain. Its still under excavation but a very decorative sarcophagus was found smashed to pieces which is likely showing the bitterness that people felt towards Herod.

Next we headed towards the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, which is now in Palestinian controlled West Bank. We have to drop off our tour guide before we enter thru the walls since he is an Israeli citizen and is not allowed to enter. As we enter we see tons of graffiti on the concrete says " to exist is to resist" and another has a dove wearing a bulletproof vest. We also see a shop called "Obama Pizza" and when we enter a store someone says "Shalom Obama"....hes a pretty popular guy huh?
As we go through the city we pass Rachel's tomb. Rachel was Jacob's wife and she died giving birth to Benjamin. Bethlehem is also known as the City of Kings since both King David and Jesus himself were born there.

The Church of the Nativity was first built by Constantine and had an octagonal shape-a symbolic shape to commemorate an event. However, Justinian came along and thought it was not grand enough so he tore it down and built it bigger and better on the same site.
Let me stop here and explain how crazy some of our Christian traditions are. Not crazy, like we shouldn't believe them but crazy in the fact that we have believed weird things due to tradition. In the gospel of Luke we are told that there is no room in the inn so Mary and Joseph are forced to stay in a stable.
First you have to remember that everyone was coming home for the census at this time. So all of Joseph's family was probably going back to his childhood home and therefore it was crowded. The inn was probably also overflowing so they chose to go back to Joseph's relative home and stay down in the "stable" instead of the upper room. The stable or cave was normally underneath the main house. Israelite's would build their homes on top of caves to add more storage to their home and a place to keep their animals. So yes, they probably were surrounded by animals but they were not out in the wilderness in a cave. Mary probably had the help of her in-laws family. That might ruin a few Christmas cards huh?
So as we enter the church we have to duck through a very low door. You can see three different door shapes though that get smaller. The theory is that the door got smaller and smaller to keep attackers from riding in on horses or to make sure you bow down as you enter. We go in and immediately are herded into a line to go down into the cave where Jesus was born. You are probably thinking " how sure are they that this is the site". We asked that question. Lots of places throughout Israel have a very strong tradition that helps to validate them. To have a strong tradition you need a) no other competing traditions and b) oral tradition that is consistent.
This site is one of the strongest traditions of all of the biblical places. There are NO other competing traditions for where the birthplace of Jesus was.
So then we stand in line for 1.5 hours ( and no there is not air conditioning and no, not everyone had on deodorant). As we descend into the cave our tour guide tells us " we had to put up asbestos on the wall to keep it from catching on fire" least that is what Adam and I hear. The cave is very small and there is tapestry on almost every wall. A fourteen point silver star is underneath what looks like a fireplace mantle and that is the spot where Christ was born .The 14 points represent Jesus' lineage from Abraham to David, David to captivity and captivity to Christ. As you turn to your left there is another area where he was wrapped in swaddling clothes. Actually the whole time you are down there you are underneath the main alter of the church of the nativity....only about 15 people can fit and even then you are tight. Adam and I take a picture touching the star. To be honest I wish I could have stayed down there and prayed or done some reflection but we are moved through very fast...i mean there are at least 1,000 more people behind us so you get 30 seconds to take your picture and you are out. The Church of the Nativity is owned by three different groups....Greek Orthodox, Armenian and Roman Catholic. Kings in the past would have been crowned here where Christ was born instead of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher where he died since they would not want to receive a crown of gold where Christ was crowned with thorns.
Thats enough for one blog.....make sure to check back later on for new and more accurate information on the Church of the Holy Sepulcher.....turns out our Tour guide has been feeding us some Jewish traditions since he is Jewish and lately has been almost mocking the bible. So this weekend one of the bible professors came with us and gave us wonderful HISTORICAL information on the places we went and the places we have been. He showed us scripture and it was wonderful. You can also look up places for yourself and link up the scripture to these locations.

Pictures of Herodion and Church of the Nativity