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Sunday, October 17, 2010

Breathe In, Breathe Out

I don't think anyone understands how exhausting teaching is, besides those who teach. Its a physical (yep that's right), mental and emotional job......and it should be.
I keep asking my other first year teacher friends if they are able to stay awake past 8:30 hoping that I am not the only "lame" one who can't stay awake through one tv show with her husband anymore. Adam has come home several times around 5 and has literally scared the snot out of me as I was unconscious and didn't hear anyone come in the house. This past Sunday I couldn't wake up....I literally slept the entire night, woke up about 10, went back to bed at 10:30 and didn't get back up off the couch until 6 that night....my body refused to get up and when I did try to walk I was very very dizzy ( apparently though this is normal--so says my other teacher friends)
To add to it I have been coaching volleyball for the last 10 weeks, which adds an hour of practice onto 4 days of the week and 3 hours of games ( and traveling) twice a week. Needless to say, the last game was bittersweet. I really did enjoy coaching though, especially watching the girls improve, and I look forward to next year's season.
I have to say right now how thankful I am to be at a Christian school. I have a friend who is teaching in a public school and is miserable. I am not saying that it this norm for all public school teachers but I can definitely see the benefits I am reaping from teaching children who love the same God that I do. I think the biggest difference is in the behavior, but please don't mistake them for angels :).
I have learned that teaching requires you to be on your game for 7 straight hours a day. You can't really "wing it"...and if you do, your students can tell.
Two awesome things that have happened so far ( one taught me something and one was just a great moment period) both happened between myself and a 7th grader.
One day, after 2 hours of volleyball practice and 5 art classes, the bell rang to release the students and one of my 7th grade boys stayed behind. He said " I want to apologize for my whole class today Mrs. Harvell". He almost had tears in his eyes. He said that he could tell how stressed out they made me and that he was sorry that they came to my class so loud and crazy. WOW....talk about a wake up call. I explained to him that I was the one that should be sorry and I should never let any of my students leave thinking about how stressed out I was. It was my attitude that needed to change. So what if they are the last class of the day, or if there are 8 of them who don't know where the paint is, though I show them every day. I should always give every class my best and expect the same from them. I've tried to put a smile on and love on that class a little extra ever since.
Second, on the way from my bible class to art class I was walking with a 7th grade girl and she looked at me with a very red face and pointed to her throat. She had swallowed her cough drop. We were just talking, but I had heard her make a funny sound when she swallowed it. I asked her if she could breathe and she shook her head no. I sent two students to get the nurse and started performing the Heimlich on her. A 6th grade class was watching and saying " is she going to die". I had just attended a CPR class for our adoption and knew that I had to keep her calm so I just ignored them and coached her that we were going to get it out and to keep coughing. I did the heimlich three times before she coughed up enough to make herself gag up the darn coughdrop. The nurse had her after that and gave her some water to help ease her sore throat. Her mom sent me a kind note the next day....but wouldn't you know that I when I saw that sweet little girl later on she was sucking on another cough drop :).
Last, I just received the most wonderful book ever!! My mentor, Mrs. Johnt has finally been able to publish her book with 100 tips for new art teachers. I honestly think it would help any teacher in any discipline. Keep in mind that I credit Mrs. Johnt with leading me to choose Art Education and have continuously reaped the benefits from her experiences and wisdom. In the book, she asks you to think about why you are teaching?, what do you hope that you students will remember about your class 10 years from now?.....those kinds of questions put my day in perspective. This is not a commercial for her book but definitely just a thanks for providing me with tons of invaluable knowledge and for being a sounding board for me.

Adoption update- there's always something huh?
Well Fort Worth City has decided that they are no longer doing fire inspections so now we are on a list for Tarrant County, which means waiting by the phone so that we don't miss our chance for this month and get bumped to next month's list. We thought that this inspection had already been performed on our house....but I guess they forgot about it that day when they came and stayed for 4.5 hours and searched through our entire house and our souls :).

Prayer Request- we are getting desperate to sell our TN home, the mortgage payment we make every month is money needed to buy a kid friendly car so that when all of this necessary evil is over and we have our kids we can actually transport them safely!!!!!!!

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Still here, still waiting!!

Life is good right now.
I have fallen in love with my job. I am teaching 6th and 7th grade art, Introduction to Art and an Advanced Drawing class. My art classroom is beautiful and I'm excited to see what my students are producing. So far I have been blown away with my 6th graders work, maybe my expectations were too low to begin with. My drawing class is small and it allows for large projects and good discussion. I also teach 7th grade girls bible and I must say that I have fallen in love with teaching that age. There are only 15 and we meet 4 times a week. We study and memorize large passages of scripture. In 7th grade we do an old testament survey, which is perfect with all of my travels to Israel. I have incorporated lots of acting and art into that class and the girls love it. We also dance (interpretative movement) to scripture. It allows them to be funny, but it really helps them memorize the verse by visualizing it!!! Its alot of fun!!
I'm also coaching 7th grade girls volleyball ( yes, some of the girls I see three times a day in practice, bible and art). I love love love coaching. After our first win I was very very proud of each girl and it gave me a glimpse of how a parent must feel when their child is successful.
That brings me to our children. We have been told that our license is on the way for about 3 weeks now. We must have prayed for patience because boy are we learning to trust God in his timing. I know that kids are a handful but we started this process last November and I am physically achy to get them. I know that God's timing is perfect and that is what keeps me from calling our agency every 2 hours and asking " is it there yet?".
The good thing is that I know that when we do get them they will have a wonderful Christian school to attend.

Adam is steadily working towards this PhD degree and is now in his 3rd full semester of classes. He really likes his Hebrew teacher this semester which is showing off in his grades. He is almost done with all of his archaeology classes and will them move on to his theology classes and more digs :). The seminary has hired another professor for the program and this guy comes with links to Cyprus.......which means that we could possiblly go to Cyprus for a dig in the future. HELLO, sign me up :)!!!!!!!!

Monday, August 2, 2010

Home Study!!!

We completed our home study for the adoption last Tuesday !!!!!
I haven't had a chance to update our blog though because I have been uber busy getting my classroom organized and writing syllabus and lesson plans for 3 different art classes and one bible class!!!
Anyways, it went good...not great, but good. The lady that was sent to inspect us was not very joyous :) and it made us both a little uneasy. Adam seemed to say all the right things but I couldn't please her.....i think she saw what I see in Adam....a very attractive guy :).
Anyways, she was here for 4 hours and 1/2 of that time was spent interviewing us as a couple and the last 1/2 was looking through our house and interviewing us separately. She asked us very very very personal questions....things we don't talk to our best buds about. I think she wanted to see how stable our relationship was and if we were both on the same page about this adoption. She also asked us questions about how we would handle "teenage problems"....my initial thought was we will handle it when the time comes...but Adam was very good to answer the questions that I wanted to run away and hide when asked.
She was amazed that we graduated high school in 2001 and 2002. She said that we were the youngest couple she had ever interviewed, after she stopped laughing :). She also said that we were also one of the most ready couples she had ever interviewed. We were very deliberate in locking up our medications behind three different locks, as well as all of our cleaning supplies. The two things she wanted us to change were 1) put the cat food somewhere where the kids cant' get to it but the cats can (we are still figuring that one out) and 2) put a lock on the shed in the back yard. This is so sad but we have been sooo busy tearing down wallpaper, repainting and fixing up this house that when she asked us what was in the shed we both said " i dont know?".
She is supposed to have the assessment written up this week and turned into our agency before the 1st-tomorrow. After that our agency will start sending us profiles of sibling groups that we can adopt...if we say "yes" then they will submit our application to the children's case worker and if they say " yes" then we can meet them :). After a few meetings if we still want to proceed with the adoption then they will gradually move in with us. Foster kids often latch on to their foster parents and so at first we will taken them for the night, then for the weekend and then permanently. However, the case may be that the children are soooo ready and excited to be adopted that they won't need that adjustment period and will just move in with us after all paperwork has been completed :).
We are praying for our children, for their current foster family and for CPS. We want our kids to be excited at the permanence we can offer them and the idea of being in our family. We also pray that they will already have a thirst for Christ and that we can provide loving discipline.

More later on just how stinking excited I am to be working at Covenant Christian Academy...everyday I go there I love it more :). And, guess what? our kids are going there too!!! They will get a Classical Christan Education and get to ride to school with their momma everyday ( let's hope they are as excited as I am about this!!!).

Monday, July 12, 2010

Updates that have nothing to do with Israel :)

Update #1-Tomorrow (Tuesday, the 13th) is my last day in the Housing Office at SWBTS. I am very sad to leave such a great work environment but OH SO HAPPY to start my new job!!!
I will be the 7-12th grade Art teacher for a private christian school. I will also be the JV Volleyball coach and 7-8th grade girls bible teacher. I was very excited to accept a secondary position but the other two are icing on the cake. Volleyball practice is the first period of every day so guess what? I get to roll out of bed and go to work!!! For bible, I will have two classes, one of 8th and one of 7th grade girls. Each class will only be 10-11 girls that I will teach but also disciple throughout the year. I am hoping to develop some really deep relationships by having some students as many as three times a day. They may think otherwise :).

Update #2- Our home in TN is back on the market. We ended up asking our renter to leave, which we absolutely hated doing to the family but it had to be done. So, tomorrow night we are leaving to ultimately go to TN to fix it up, clean it up and put it back in our realtors hands!!! Please oh Please pray that it would sell fast and to a family who needs a good home. I'm honestly very excited that we have to go up there because we will get to see our Heritage family who we miss and think about constantly. I will also get to see JERRI, my mentee!!!! I may have gone to Target and gone a little overboard with presents for her :), but I haven't seen her since last July and I love love to spoil her! Also, who doesn't want to escape this Texas weather and trade it in for beautiful mountains and some breathable air. ( texas heat sucks the air out from me)

Update #3- Our adoption is finally progressing at full speed. While we were in Israel they were able to complete our background checks done from TN, TX and AL, get our references in order and give us our last 5 things to do before our last big class on July 24th. We were supposed to take this 8 hour intensive class about two months ago but then ended up having to move that very same weekend so we cancelled. Out of those 5 things Adam and I have completed 4 of them and are working on getting Adam CPR certified!!! ITS SOOOO CLOSE!!!!! So it looks like August and September could be very busy with me starting a new job and very possibly having our kiddos!!!!!! We are so excited about raising a family and this weekend our pastor preached on the importance that discipleship plays in the home. God intended for the home to be the main way we evangelize, start with your family. We are praying that God would remind us daily as we love on, discipline, play with, nurture our kids to always share Christ with them and mentor them to be mature, meat-eating Christians!!!!

That's all for now.

Here are some pictures from my family's trip to Fort Worth for the 4th. I miss them very much and wish we got to see them more. I loved having my brother here for an entire week and showing my parents our house and the kid's rooms!

Pictures

Monday, June 28, 2010

Wrapping Up

Thursday was a very fun day. In the morning, Helen, Dean, Adam and I washed the inside and outside of all three rental vans and got them ready to be returned. Others in the grouped washed pottery or labeled MC's ( material culture). Final touches on the report had to be made and all the equipment had to be gathered. Adam and I also started packing. Later on that day we had a speaker from Khierbet Quialfya ( butchered spelling). It was a great lecture.
The next morning 8 of us woke up early and headed up towards Haifa. We dropped three off at Caeserea Maritima, while the rest of us went to Tel Dor. Tel Dor is on the Med and is an ancient port city. We tried to swim but there were literally tons of jelly fish. We explored some pools and cool rocks before walking up the Tel. The ancient harbor was beautiful and many of the original stones still line the bottom. We found lots of neat pottery and on the way out we saw a mosaic floor in the middle of the path that looks like it needs to be excavated properly. We headed back for pottery reading that started at noon. Sam, Steve and Gary came to help read our pottery from the season and decide which pieces the IAA would want and which we could toss. Its very interesting to watch pottery reading and looks like a poker game. People are trading pieces back and forth and studying what they hold. Finally, they call out what period they believe that piece came from and decide whether its worth keeping. You would be surprised at how much they discard ( which is fine for us because we grab it and bring it home for either Adams study collection or for me to use in ceramics class). Pottery reading lasted a little into the afternoon and after that I did some recreation drawings of broken pottery ( i can show them to you if you want to see them but can't post them online) then Adam and I packed a little more before dinner. After dinner we had an impromptu ice cream party in the Zan's room and had a really good talk with old friends :)
Saturday we woke up early and decided to spend our last day touring. We went to Timnah first, which is where Sampson a) tore a young lion apart with his bare hands, b) met his first wife and c) acted as a judge. Adam found a coin there and we can't wait to get it restored. Next we went to Zora, which is Sampson's birthplace. Both Zora and Timnah are small small villages and there is not much to see.
Next we headed to Sukko, a small city in between Azeka and Bethlehem. Sukko probably served as the Israelite camp as Goliath boasted for 40 days in the Valley of Elah before David killed him. There had been a fire there about three weeks before which made it an awesome hunting ground for neat pottery shards that would have normally been hidden by the brush. There were several deep cistern at Sukko as well. Next we ate lunch at yet another gas station. Adam and I split a snitzel sandwich and then treated ourselves to some ice cream.
From there we headed to Lakhish, which is most famously known for being attacked by the Assyrians under Sanaccehrib. This siege is depicted on ceramic somewhere in Syria. You can still see the siege ramp today and walk through the remains of a temple and palace there. At the entrance to the Tel is a "room of the letters" where several letters were found during excavation.
From Lakhish we went to Tel Es Safi, or as know it as biblical Gath, Goliath's hometown. This was a very neat and large Tel. On top you can look out and see the siege ramp that was dug around the city during an attack. Tel Es Safi is still being excavated so we weren't allowed to walk certain places but you could definitely see some remains started to come up. The excavations aren't allowed in most places on the Tel since its an Arab graveyard. A paid protector greeted us on the Tel and pointed out things to us but wouldn't respond to me when I said "Jerusalem" and pointed in the distant. Only after one of our friends said it in Arab would he acknowledge the city. We went down the pottery dump from the excavation and found some neat philistine glaze ware on our way out.
When we got back to Neve Shalom, Adam and I took showers and finished packing. Everyone went to Latrun, another gas station connected to a restaurant-kinda, close by. Adam and I got grilled spring chicken, chips ( french fries) and some spicy spicy sauce. Then we headed to the airport to catch our flight.
GUESS WHO WAS ON OUR FLIGHT HOME? JARED MORGAN- an old friend from Auburn...we were sooo excited. He and his wife had been in Israel seeing some friends and he was returning early to go back to work.
Our flight was much better going back. hardly any turbulence and I was able to sleep some. We had much better seats and my tv thingy worked.
We got to Atlanta around 4:30 and it took us a good hour to get through passport control and customs. They didn't check anything this year!! Last year they thoroughly checked everything!!
We got on our plane to Pensacola around 7:30 and landed around 8:30. My dad was there to greet us and now we are back home at my parents. Adam can't wake up...he is in a coma. Can't blame him though since I used him as my pillow and stole his blanket on the ride back. I am drifting in and out of naps ( so sorry if there are large typos or if none of this makes sense). Tomorrow we will drive back to Fort Worth with my brother in tow!! He is going to stay the week with us and then my parents will come out to spend the 4th with us and he will go back with them.
Hope you all enjoyed the blog this year. I still have lots of pictures to post so I will put those links up ASAP!!!!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Pictures

Here are pictures of the survey, Jerusalem, City of David and Tel Aviv!!!

Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday

Monday-we found lots and lots of features today, as we were walking in bedrock fields. Ansen Raney gave a lecture tonight on the Armana letters and the geo-political issues of that time between Egypt and Israel.
Tuesday-today we had to finish up processing all the features from the field, and we found something spectacular!!!! Afterward we went to a local dairy farm. The owner saw us working in the fields while he was bike riding and invited us up. He is from Iraq originally and his parents made Iraqi cheese to sale. He says they only made one kind of cheese and it was called cheese :). Then he and his brothers took over and they now make mozzarella!!! He walked us through his factory showing us every step. It smelled like salt and made my mouth water. At the end of the tour he let us try fresh mozzarella that came straight out of the brine. The 18 of us tore that sucker up!!! There was none left so he opened up some mozzarella balls and we went through three tubs. We also ate about 5 tubs of yogurt, strawberry and tart. We were in cheese heaven after not having it for 2.5 weeks. We were very thankful for his tour and he is very supportive of SWBTS efforts at Tel Gezer.
Wednesday- we had to start walking agricultural fields because if we found anything else we wouldn't have time to process it before the report was due in Jerusalem. We only worked half a day and then came back early to shower. Then we went for a tour of Khierbet Qiyafa which is thought to be biblical Ha Sharaim, in the Elah Valley. There is a dig going on there by Yosie Garfinkel and Hebrew University. They showed us what they have uncovered in the last 3 seasons and in the first two days of their fourth season. This Khierbet was important b/c it was at the entrance to the Kingdom of Judah as its the first major city before you get into the mountains where Hebron, Jerusalem and Bethlehem are. One of the professors is coming Thursday night to give a lecture on the findings and conclusions.
Wednesday night we were treated to pizza and ice cream in Tel Aviv. We drove in and hit 5 o'clock traffic. We ate a place called Iceberg Volcano and it was the best food I have had in a while. Adam and I ate Calamari pizza with cherry tomatoes on it, Three cheese pizza ( blue, mozzarella and something else) with basil leaves on top, and Salami pizza that tasted like pepperoni but better!!!!! Then we got ice cream....oh my word!! I got two scoops, one was dark chocolate and tasted like a cake, the other scoop was toffee. Adam got three scoops, one was bananas and honey ( my new fav), one was pistachio and the last was marscapone with berries!!!!! We were stuffed but still managed to walk down the boardwalk and watch the sunset. There is a military base right off the boardwalk and we watched tons of planes take off and land. We drove back, watched a little of "How Stella got her groove back" and fell asleep happy :).
Oh, but Adam also finished off our pistachio and mocha ice cream in the room ( that boy can eat :).

Monday, June 21, 2010

Sunday in Jerusalem

Sunday we woke up late....6:00 :) and left at 6:30. We had a tour for the City of David scheduled from 8-12 by one of Gabi Barkai's students. It was very fascinating. We got to see some different proposed sites of King David's palace, the Jebuzite fortress, David's grave and the cities boundaries. There are several digs and views in place about the City of David and where it was located on Mt. Zion so we had to walk all over the city to see the possible locations. Adam and two others also went back through Hezzakiah's water tunnel which goes through the City of David and down to a natural spring. You can read about the tunnel and Hezzakiah's broad wall in scripture. After the tour we went to our favorite place for lunch....guess? Damascus Gate Swarma Shop!!! Adam had spicy falafel and I had spicy swarma.
Then we went to the Rockefeller Museum....which holds lot of findings from the IAA- Israeli Antiquities Authority. We saw wooden panels from the Al aqsa Mosque-where Jesus overthrew the moneychangers in the temple. We saw lots and lots of pottery, coins, jewelry and parts of buildings from Tels such as Bet Shemesh, Megiddo and Tel Dan. In the courtyard of the Rockefeller is one of the boundary stones found for the city of Gezer.
After that we went to Shabban's to do some last minute shopping....one stop shopping at Shabban's... he gives us the best prices and always invites us in for a cool drink and a seat by the fan. We told Shabban bye and went to Ben Yehuda street for dinner. There we went to Melaka Swarma (Swarma King)...OH YUM!! They do swarma and falafel in pita wraps and they are huge. Adam and I got one and shared it. We put tazaki and spicy mango sauce on it and it was oohhhh soo good!!!
From there we went to H. Stern jewelry to return Old City Maps. If you returned your map they gave you a charm with the Jewish Star on one side and three stars (symbolizing Germany) on the other. H. Stern is a very notable jewelry store and they are all over the world. I am very happy to have that pendant as it will remind me to pray for the Jews and that they may know Christ as their Savior and believe that He is the Son of God.......it reminds me of that feeling I felt last year at the Wailing Wall and how I wanted to cry out for those there idolizing a man made structure.
After that we met the rest of our group..we spent the entire day with two other team leaders, Adam Dodd and Cameron Coyle who both go to SWBTS. We got back to Neve Shalom about 7:30 and we were very tired, however had enough energy to eat a large portion of our mocha and pistachio ice cream! We went to bed, ready for our last week of survey!

Here are pictures from Ein Gedi!!!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

HAPPY FATHERS DAY

I'm hoping that this will reach some very special men tomorrow morning. We will be touring around Israel but Adam and I will both be thinking of them and thanking God for them.

To my dad- WE LOVE YOU!! Thanks for being a great dad and giving me my love for art. Thank you for spending countless nights on the phone with me, talking with me until I fell asleep. Thank you for always reminding me to love, be good to and take care of my husband. Thank you for being kewl- I mean what other dad rides a motorcycle, plays a wicked guitar and sports a handlebar mustache? I hope your Fathers Day is wonderful and full of laughter and good food :) ( even though food is fuel right?) Adam says keep jammin till your fingers bleed!!

To my father in law- WE LOVE YOU!! Thank you for being a father in law that supports us in every way. Thank you for teaching my husband how to follow Christ and to seek Him out. Thank you for teaching him how to be a gentlemen and encouraging him to be romantic :). Thank you for loving travel as much as we do ( can't wait for our Virgin Island trip). I hope your Fathers Day is wonderful and full of laughter and good food. Adam says don't forget your sense of humor and excellent use of puns :).

To my Papa Coleman- WE LOVE YOU!! Thank you for taking me on rides around " our circle". Thank you for letting me taste test your coffee every morning. Thank you for wonderful mornings with Grandma Coleman eating tomatoes and rice and sausage!!! Thank you for nights in the swimming pool and building us a playhouse!!! Thank you for keeping up with me and always wanting me to come live right smack beside you :). I hope you have a wonderful Fathers Day!!! You are sooo special to me !!! Adam says "Hopefully they will find a biblical site in Enon, Florida so we can move closer to you :)"

To Papa Mashburn- WE LOVE YOU!!! Thank you for letting us ( not letting us ) peel out in the go cart. Thank you for letting us explore the wild forests and pastures behind your house. Thank you for all the homegrown goods that gave us stories to tell our friends and future kids. We hope you are feeling better and that your leg/hip is healing right up! Have a wonderful Fathers Day!!! Kinzie says " Thank you for always treating me like family, never as a guest"

To Pop Harvell- WE LOVE YOU!! Thank you for hours and hours of lifelong experiences you told us, even times we didn't want to hear it :). Thank you for taking me flying, even though I am terribly afraid of heights. Thank you for taking pride in our family heritage and putting all of the Harvell history together. We hope you have a wonderful Fathers Day!! Kinzie says " Thanks for putting us up on our last visit there...we hope to come see you soon, but this time do I have to drink the buttermilk? :)

Dead Sea and Ein Gedi

Since tomorrow is a tour day and I just finished helping draw the illustrations of our findings, I have time to post again!

So, after we left Masada we headed to the Dead Sea...even though the Sea is really much larger than you envision there are only a couple of spots that are beach like...meaning they have umbrellas, boardwalks and showers. Anyways, once we got there the rest of the group went into a small cafeteria there for lunch but Adam and I had other plans :). We didn't want to waste our time there eating so we brought food with us, and ran straight to the sea. We got in really fast b/c the rocks will burn your feet. We remembered that instead of trying to gracefully finalge your way in you just walk in until the water is up to your calf and then lay down. The water will carry you out and you won't fall in due to the slippery, oh so slippery rocks!!!! Our friend went down the Mud Spot to get some but a man chased her back. She left me her bag so when no one was looking I put on my tennis shoes and raced down to the mud pit. There were other people down there so I have no idea why he told her not to go. Maybe b/c there was a large fence with barbed wire that said " Warning, Stay Out". I grabbed several handfuls and threw them in the bag and then raced back. As I was getting back in Adam and I both noted that it was 112 degrees outside, 45 degrees Celsius.......talk about HOTTT!!! We stayed in almost an hour and then reluctantly got out. We immediately took showers b/c our skin was on fire :). We changed, bought an ice cream and jumped back in the van to eat our lunch.
After that we headed to Ein Gedi and unlike last year we were able to hike to the waterfalls. It was sooooo nice!!!!! We got to a small waterfall and there was a young family playing with their little girl there. She was laughing so hard everytime they tried to get her to go close to the waterfall. There were tons of people there just coming to swim in the falls. Nothing like swimming in ice cold water on a HOT HOT day!!! We left there and hiked up to three more falls before getting to the big one, David's waterfall. Ein Gedi is the only natural water around, besides the Dead Sea, so this is believed to be the spot where David was hiding out from Saul in the caves. Its so picturesque and we could have stayed there all day!
From there we went to Qumran. Since Adam and I went last year we opted to stay in the air conditioned gift shop. Then we bought some candy to get some sugar in us and drank tons of water!!! Adam ended up not driving on the way back home so we both got about an hour nap from Ein Gedi to Abu Gosh where we ate at a Lebanese Restaurant for dinner. It was okay, we just got some cheap falafel and room temperature water. You would think that the hot hot temp would warrant some ice, but nope. We got back to Neve Shalom about 6:30, checked our email, took showers, ate some of our pistachio and mocha ice cream and fell asleep watching Toy Story on our one English channel.....what a perfect day :).

Pictures from Masada and Dead Sea...I'll get Ein Gedi's up soon!

End of the week

Thursday was full of thick thick weeds, thorns and bedrock. It was very hot but we found a lot and covered a good area. We had bought park passes back during the first week and they were going to run out on Friday so we switched work days and toured on Friday, worked on Saturday. Therefore on Thursday night we had movie night. We watched an episode of The Office and then Get Fit Gezer from last year's talent show.
The next day we left early, very early to get to Masada right when they opened. We were both very excited to get back to Masada as we enjoyed it last year but didn't get to see it all because we had such a large group and our tour guide liked to hear himself talk :). You can get to the top of Masada two different ways....one by cable car and two by snake path. Masada is a huge fortress on top of a large cliff, about 1300 meters up. Adam chose to walk/run the snake path that is two miles long with an elevation of 900 feet. I think maybe 7 people from our group ended up doing that and the rest of us ( I will call us the smart crowd :)) took the cable car!! Adam made it to the top in 36 minutes and his shirt changed color from all the sweat on the way. One of our friends, Boon, made it in 22 minutes and we were all amazed!!!
I'll give a brief history of Masada for those who don't remember from last year or have forgotten.
Masada was occupied by Herod for a while ( though he wasn't first) and during his reign he used it as his winter palace. He built several baths there and two large palaces, one built into the side of the cliff. After that Masada was occupied by Jewish Revolts as their last safe place against the Romans. Eventually the Romans came to Masada to capture the Jewish rebels. They camped out around Masada, and you can still see their encampments their today. They also built a wall around Masada so that if they ran out of supplies and needed to come down their would be an obstacle. Over a three year period the Romans built a siege ramp up to the lowest point of Masada. When they reached the top they busted through the stone walls and the wooden walls that he rebels had layered behind it. Then they went back down to their camp for the night, thinking they would return in the morning to capture the Jews.
However, that night the Jews decided it would be better to kill themselves rather than fall into the Romans hands where they would be mistreated and forced into slavery. So all the men killed their wives and children and then took turns drawing lots to see who would kill who until the last man had to fall on his own sword. They have found those lots at Masada, with men's names written on pottery sherds.
So, with all that history you can see why so many people flock there. You will better understand the topography of it when you look at my pictures. After we toured around we both rode back down on the cable car and got on the bus to head to the Dead Sea :)
I'll post pictures soon but for now here are some from the end of the week and our time at the overlook at Azeka.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Nimrods Fortress and Tel Dan Pictures-finally :)

Pictures of Tel Dan and Nimrod's Fortress!!!! LOVE IT!!!

Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday

This week has been pretty exciting so far. We are finding features left and right. That is really all I can say right now, for the same reasons as last year. However, ask us when we get home and we would love to tell you about our Tel Gezer findings. Our days have been full of walking, finding features, processing them which requires drawing the feature, measuring it and photographing it. That all happens after we clean it up though. Monday and Tuesday we mainly walked orchards which is nice b/c you get partial shade and you get to "sample" Israeli agriculture. Can I just tell you that I have tasted the best grapes ever here? Today we mainly walked through weeds up to our heads, dodging spiders the size of our heads and making sounds so that the snakes would run!!!! At first it was a little overwhelming but then when you make a find its all worth it!! Break time is sooo heavenly too! We find the shade of a large tree, eat our snack and then nap for about 15 mintues. I have fallen asleep on the hard ground with bugs crawling on me, sweat dripping and helicopters flying over. I am pretty sure that Adam owes me a chick flick when we get back home :).
Every afternoon this week Adam and I have gone to the pool for some swimming, laying out and reading. The pool feels sooo good and unlike last year there has only been one or two families there sharing it with us. After the pool we go back to our room and lounge around while we take showers and do some laundry. We get Fox Movies here in English so we have watched Dancing with Wolves and The Skulls so far. Its nice to just rest and cuddle ;). From there we come to the Lobby and write on the blog and check our email. After that is either a lecture or working on locus sheets before dinner. After dinner we normally go straight to bed...a habit that I could easily take back to the states with me.
Hope all our enjoying our blog thus far. The Israel sun that we knew last summer has come out again and we sweat from sunrise to sundown. We are planning some neat things for this weekend and I'm really glad that Adam and I have been able to see new things this year.
The biggest thing we are looking forward to though is swimming in the Dead Sea...last year we said we could have floated in there all day long....this year we hope to at least stay in an hour or so!!!!!!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

and more pictures

Here are even more pictures from our trip to the Galilee this past weekend. Its taken quite a while to upload them all this year, so I am doing it in sections. Enjoy!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Pictures

Here are some pictures from this weekend, not many though b/c the internet is being really slow!!! I will post more as I can!

Old City Jerusalem

Sunday morning we got to sleep in until 7, eat breakfast at Neve Shalom and then head into Jerusalem. It took us a while to get there since sooo many people were heading into work and of course you have tons of tour buses. Adam has been our van driver this year and he did a great job of dodging the 7000 people who cut us off or came into our lane while texting ( did you know that the cell phone was invented in Israel?). Anyways, we parked close to Ben Yehuda street and walked into the city through the Joffa Gate. We went straight to Shabban's and exchanged money. Then we started shopping :). Last year Adam got upset with me b/c I talked to every store owner and looked at everything. I tried really hard not to do the same thing this year b/c if you make eye contact with them or smile then you have to go into the store and most of the time are convinced to buy something. Like I said, I tried :).
We bought some things from Shabban but also went back to our friend from last year who said "Heart of Dixie" when we told him that we were from Alabama. He wasn't too happy to see us this year, probably b/c he knew I was going to practically steal things from him. So then we went and made new friends with two other shop owners. Joseph, our new friend, showed us tons of fabric, jewelry and the deepest well in the Old City. Joseph designs and makes all the jewelry and his uncle and he own the store together. We ended up buying lots of things from them and going to get our friends so they could buy from them too! When we went to leave, he made us all zatar tea with honey in it and ended up giving me a scarf to say thanks for all the business. I think we will continue to use Joesph and Shabban for all of our purchases in the Old City.
We also ate lunch in the Old City and knew without a doubt what we would get...SPICY SWARMA from the Damascus Gate stand......oh my word. I just had some and I am drooling again just thinking about it!!!
After Jerusalem we drove to Bet Shemesh to do our grocery shopping for the week. This year we have to provide our own breakfast and snack. Adam and I already had nutella, some bread, pepsi and some graham crackers so we bought mixed berry jam, croissants, milk (3%, which is 3 more percent than I normally drink) grapes, and pizza flavored cheese puffs. The milk is okay, I have to hold my nose when I drink it b/c it smells like foot flavored coffee creamer but it taste fine. The jam is amazing, especially when you mix it with nutella!!!!
From there we came back to Neve Shalom for dinner and then Boon led us at Vespers out on the veranda overlooking Tel Aviv.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Galilee-Saturday

Today was stinking HOT!

We got up and left Abu gosh at around 5 and drove back to Neve Shalom to meet our group. It was fun being on the highway with just Adam driving through Israel. We picked up our group and headed to the Galilee. Instead of going straight up we went down into the West Bank and drove up the Jordan Valley, which was very very neat. Its dry there and there are fences that border the west bank as well as no mans land between Jordan and Israel. However, we got to see Jericho on the way and the possible site for Sodom.

First stop in the Galilee was the Jesus Boat Museum. The ones who had never been went in and the rest of us went about a mile down the road to Midgala….home to Mary Magedelene. We took pictures and looked around outside the fence not wanting to pay the 25 shekels each to get in. Then we all want to Tagba and Capernaum. Unlike this year there were only 15 of us, instead of 60 so we were able to see lots more, talk about the things we were looking at and spend more time at each site. The Galilee felt good but it was a very foggy day so we couldn’t see into Tiberius or across the sea.

Next we went to Korzim, a city nestled in the hills to the west of the Galilee. There was an old basalt synagogue there and several micfahs. On the way there we passed the Mount of Beattitudes. After Korzim we headed to Hatzor and on the way stopped for lunch. Most of the restaurants in Israel are connected to a gas station, so you have to drive quite a ways to get both gas and food. We ate at a place connected to a gas station and had VERY GOOD falafel. They stuffed it full of friend chick pea balls, veggies, hummus and this yogurt sauce. I couldn’t even finish mine.

From there we went to Hatzor, Adam and I passed on going back in since we went last year and this year we only bought a 6 Tel Pass. We wanted to save our pass for some more Tels that we have never visited. After Hatzor we headed to Tel Dan, my personal favorite from last year. The water there was ice cold and we could have stayed there all day. Several families were at the springs playing in the water and having picnics. We revisited everything from last year but this time had one of our professors giving tours so we got much better information than last year :).

From Tel Dan we went to my new favorite place, Nimrod’s fortress. You can see the fortress for miles, its perched high in the Golan Heights and has three large towers. We only had an hour before the park closed to tour the fortress so we booked up several flights of stairs and uphill pathways to see as much as we could. The fortress was built around 1229 by Al-Aziz Uthma. It was named Qala'at al-Subeiba, "Castle of the Large Cliff" in Arabic. It was further expanded to contain the whole ridge by 1230, and Baibars strengthened it and added larger towers after 1260. The castle was given to Baibars's second-on-command, Bilik. At the end of the 13th century, following the Muslim conquest of the port city of Akko (Acre) and the end of Crusader rule in the Holy Land, the fortress lost strategic value and fell into disrepair.After the Ottoman Turks conquered the land in 1517, they used the fortress as a luxury prison for Ottoman nobles who had been exiled to Palestine. The fortress was abandoned later in the 16th century and only local shepherds and their flocks were temporary guests within its walls.The fortress was ruined by an earthquake in the 18th century.The Jews called it Nimrod Fortress after Nimrod, a biblical figure who according to tradition had lived on the summit:

And Cush begat Nimrod: he began to be a mighty one in the earth. He was a mighty hunter before the Lord: wherefore it is said, Even as Nimrod the mighty hunter before the Lord. (Genesis 10:8-9)

On the way up to the keep one of our professors saw a Viper, the same as the one Adam saw on Tuesday.

We left the Galilee and headed back down to Neve Shalom, through the Jezreel Valley, passing places such as Mt. Tabor, Nazareth and Megiddo on the way. We stopped and ate diner at yet another gas station/restaurant at Latrun. Adam and I had a turkey, cucumber, pepper and hummus sandwich with mango tea J. We are now back and tired as anything. We are spending tomorrow in Jerusalem and I couldn’t be more excited :)

Pictures to come soon!

Friday

Today we surveyed a really large hay wheat field…long enough that it took us the entire morning to transect it. We thought it would never end. We had break in an olive orchard. The orchard was unkept and we thought that is probably how it would have looked in Jesus’s day.

Tonight Adam and I stayed at Yad Hashmona, close to Abu Gosh ( an arab village) which is in between Neve Shalom and Jerusalem. Neve Shalom overbooked and asked if they could put us up over here, along with another couple for the night. Yad Hashmona is considered a biblical village and was established with the assistance of the Swiss Beth Shalom society and the IAA. The name of the village was chosen as a memorial to the eight Jews who were sent by the Finland government to the Germans during World War 2. Several Israeli Messanic Jews joined along with this community to build the guest houses. Its situated in the Judean foothills and was very nice. The dinner was the best part….i’m drooling right now. Actually, the dessert was the best part. During dinner, I kept putting a heaping spoonful of stuff in my mouth( not knowing what it was ) and going “ech”. Adam kept saying “you can’t make that sound here, they know what that means”. Most everything was great, but I did spit three things out. Dessert was a dark dark chocolate deamy torte, coffee mouse on a chocolate crumb crust and a baklava pie cake heavenly thingy!!!!!!!

We are leaving at 5:30 in the morning tomorrow for the Galilee…I’m sure I will have much more to write about then!

More Pictures

Pictures from the end of the first work week

Can someone leave a comment and let me know if these picture links are working correctly? Thanks!!!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Thursday 6/10

Today we covered lots of ground....and I mean lots. We mostly walked orchards, with some hay fields as well. Some of the fields we walked had nets over them to keep out the bugs and the nets actually kept the smells in as well. Just imagine, being engulfed in the smells of fresh figs and nectarines....YUMMM! It reminded me of my grandparents and I kept hoping to find large ripe figs that had fallen so I could eat them without feeling guilty.
Tonight Neve Shalom is treating us to Israeli BBQ on the balcony. I have to say that the food this year has been wonderful, not that it wasn't last year but I think I just really loves all of their veggies!
Tomorrow night Adam and I are going to stay in another hotel a little ways down the road. Neve Shalom overbooked and has offered to put us up in an Arab village close to the Elvis restaurant we ate at last year. We are excited and ready to see another hotel and city. We will also be eating there, which could be good or bad :).
No more snakes, thank ya JESUS!!!, more spiders and a guard dog. Other than that the weather is still pretty nice, warming up just a tad.
Adam and I have been making treks to the pool everyday when we get back and that has been very relaxing.
Trivia for the day. Gezer means "carrot" in modern Hebrew and meant "sword" in biblical Hebrew.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Guess what we found?

Today was a good day...we found three big installations.
First, the weather has been beautiful, unless you run you dont sweat, and this morning I got chill bumps on the Tel!!!
We started by surveying a large pomegranate orchard. We found loads of pottery and the remains of a mosaic floor from Abu shusha, an old Arab village that was on the side of Tel Gezer after ancient times.
Then we headed to a unkept olive orchard and walked through high weeds!!! About two seconds into it Adam saw a VIPER!!!! He is the first one to ever see a snake while surveying..and this is year four for them!! He said it was very thick and had brown diamonds on its back. He also said it moved very fast away from him but not as fast as I moved. I was in weeds up to my elbows and booked it out. The rest of the day I stayed beside my friend Shannon and we moved as a team!
After that excitement we continued into the field and started flagging tons of bedrock that either had quarry marks, drains or other features cut into them. The first thing we found was a weighted olive oil press with a cistern at the bottom. We started cleaning off weeds and brushing everything off so we could process it. Next we found a rolling stone olive press. You could see where the pole would be inserted in the middle with a stone tied to it to roll around on top of the olives.
About 15 feet Northwest of that we found the largest wine press I have ever seen. It was about 6.0 meters long and probaly close to that wide. There were several vats and drains running off of the main basin. We also found a cup hole to hold a vesse. Those three installations took the rest of the day to process. We had to clean several weeds and clean just a little to actually see the edges of the bedrock. All of these features were within 15-20 feet of each other so you can see that we were probably in the industrial part of Tel Gezer.

On a side note, one of our friends flew over to Israel on the same plane as Rihanna. He was bumped to first class and sat on the other side of her bodyguard!!!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Walking through really tall grass!!

Today was our first day to do actual surveying with our teams. It went very smoothly and I think we will accomplish a lot over the next three weeks. The first field we walked was a grape vineyard and it had very easy visibility. We didn't find too much pottery, honestly only one piece. The next field had weeds and thorns up to my head. We all had either big sticks or machetes. I obviously was not trusted with a machete so I found a big stick to a)help break apart spider webs and b) to beat the tar out of anything that might get in my way. We had a local caution us about the vipers here in Israel and how if you get bit , stay put, because getting overwhelmed will allow the poison to get into your bloodstream faster. I had already played out the scenario in my mind of how I was going to handle snakes and that was to be as loud as I could to make sure they knew I was coming. I had heard one professor say they can hear you so right when we entered the first field I started making cattle herding sounds like "hah, yee haw" and then when I got a litle further down I settled for Xena Warrior Princess gutteral sounds of "iyie yie yie" in very shrill tones. Everyone was laughing, but I didn't care, i was not about to get snake bit. Then our director who was about 15 meters away said " Kinzie, what is that all about". I explained to him that I was keeping away snakes and he politely told me that they can really feel the vibrations when I walk, more then hear my voice. I felt ridiculous for my sounds but immediately started stomping and beating the ground with my stick. NO SNAKES :)!! I think wearing gaiters makes me braver too...for some reason?
Anyways, Adam is turning out to be a very good team leader, not that I thought he wouldn't be but he is organized and on top of things. He is keeping everyone entertained in the field and back at Neve Shalom. He is in charge of keeping our line moving, keeping up with found pottery and a majority of the paperwork for our team.
Today after lunch we once again crashed until dinner....a habit we broke last year but have not been able to shake yet this year. The group that is digging the water system is all old familiar faces and its great to have them at the Tel and sharing meals with us this year.
This weekend we are going to the Galilee, hopefully revisiting the Cliffs of Arbell, Baniass, Tel Dan and Capernaum. We have more freedom this year and more a say in what we do so I am super excited.



Pictures

First set of pictures from this years trip!

Enjoy!!!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Day One of Survey

Last night after Dinner we had a "training/informative" meeting about the methodology of survey in archaeology. I'll sum up what we were told at the meeting:
There are two teams, Red and Blue. We will be transversing field surrounding Gezer, mainly to the north and northwest looking for material culture and features. We will be walking in lines, separated by 5 meters. As we walk the field each person will carry 10 flags to stake at features or pottery scatters or something else of interest. Once we have walked our transect the team will go back and draw, measure, collect pottery, identify the different flags. When we get back to Neve Shalom at night we will fill out official paperwork and attach pictures. All of this will then be collected as a huge report and handed over to the IAA ( Israeli Antiquities Authority).
This morning we practiced doing our transects and its not as easy as it sounds. There are huge huge boulders, large nasty weeds and bumpy terrain to get through ( while staying in a straight line). We have to be on the lookout for caves and tombs since sometimes you can't see them due to the overgrown brush. We located several things today such as two big wine vats, an olive press, two tombs, and some pottery.
This afternon we have a team meeting ( Adam and I are on Blue 2) to get our paperwork done, then a lecture on material culture and the findings from last years survey, and then at 6 a lecture from the guy who dug out the water system at Beer Sheva and who is currently working on the water system at Gezer.
I hope to post some pictures soon since I have already taken several dozen ( whats new right?).
Prayer-One of our guys got pretty sick off of Jerusalem Swarma yesterday .
Prayer for the sweet sweet people who run Neve Shalom.
Prayer for our Jewish friend Amos, who helps us in the field, that he would see Christ
for who He is really is.
Everyday safety.
Prayer for the spouses who couldn't come and the husbands who are here missing them like crazy.

To leave you with, Israel is just as breathtaking as I remember and it seems like everything is in bloom here. We took a tea break in the middle of an apricot orchard this morning and picked apricots to eat. There is a breeze here at night and we think it may be cooler than last year.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

We are back!!! 6-5-10

We are back!! We landed here at 4:30 this afternoon, 30 minutes ahead of time. We got bumped to an earlier flight leaving Pensacola to Atlanta because of bad weather. Our flights were less than great. In fact, I couldn't down any food after lunch on Friday. The flight from Atlanta to Tel Aviv was very bumpy and everytime they would sat food in front of us, the plane would shake, I would gag, and the guy sitting beside me would jump up. We got here though and everyone sang and clapped when we landed. I am not sure if it was bad weather or not but I sure did a whole lotta praying :). Also, my TV was the only one not working on the whole plane. They had to restart it twice and it never worked. So I watched one movie on Adam's TV and read/slept the rest of the time. Adam watched Sherlock Holmes, Legion and the Book of Eli...he also ate everything they sat in front of him and me :).He's got a steel stomach.
We were met by Boon and Dr. Mitchell at the airport and got to Neve Shalom about 6:20.We spruced up a little and then went to meet everyone for dinner. It was soooooo good to see familiar faces and my stomach automatically settled. Adam and I's room in down on the hill and we have a beautiful balcony with a gorgeous view of the Judean foothills and in the distance Tel Aviv.
More Later...time for lecture!!!!!!
Thanks for your prayers!!!!

We are back!!! 6-5-10

We are back!! We landed here at 4:30 this afternoon, 30 minutes ahead of time. We got bumped to an earlier flight leaving Pensacola to Atlanta because of bad weather. Our flights were less than great. In fact, I couldn't down any food after lunch on Friday. The flight from Atlanta to Tel Aviv was very bumpy and everytime they would sat food in front of us, the plane would shake, I would gag, and the guy sitting beside me would jump up. We got here though and everyone sang and clapped when we landed. I am not sure if it was bad weather or not but I sure did a whole lotta praying :). Also, my TV was the only one not working on the whole plane. They had to restart it twice and it never worked. So I watched one movie on Adam's TV and read/slept the rest of the time. Adam watched Sherlock Holmes, Legion and the Book of Eli...he also ate everything they sat in front of him and me :).He's got a steel stomach.
We were met by Boon and Dr. Mitchell at the airport and got to Neve Shalom about 6:20.We spruced up a little and then went to meet everyone for dinner. It was soooooo good to see familiar faces and my stomach automatically settled. Adam and I's room in down on the hill and we have a beautiful balcony with a gorgeous view of the Judean foothills and in the distance Tel Aviv.
More Later...time for lecture!!!!!!
Thanks for your prayers!!!!

Monday, May 31, 2010

Leaving in 5 days!!

I wanted to write a little bit more about what we are doing this year that is so different from last year.
This year we will be participating in survey archaeology instead of excavation. We will be attempting to see how past civilizations lived and how they used the land they lived and traveled on. Survey archaeology aims to find what remains on the surface or installations in the land surrounding the city. If you think about it a lot of the industrial processes of the city are normally outside and apart from the residential area. We hope to find cisterns, wine presses, tombs, boundary stones and maybe some trade routes.
The method we will be using to cover the most land resembles that of Search and Rescue. We will cover most of the land by field walking. We are divided into 4 teams of 4 main people with two leaders who are overseeing all four teams. The field is split into transects which each team member will use as a directional line to walk.
There is a lot of documentation and and processing surface finds involved as well. We are going to be trained more when we get there.
Right now my biggest concerns are that we have to wear pants which means it will be really hot, we have to wear gators which means it will be thick brush with lots of snakes I am sure, and we won't be digging in one spot which means we won't be under a shadecloth so we have stocked up on sunscreen!!!!!!!

We fly out on Saturday from Pensacola, then to Atlanta and then straight to Tel Aviv. If you think of us during that time please pray for safety and good sleep on the plane (yeah right). Last year we had a whole weekend to get over our jet lag ( which we neede). This year we get there Sunday at dinner and head out the next day at 4:30!!!!!

Adoption update--looks like we will be certified in July!!! Can't wait to get our kiddos!!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Survey Details

We just got our itinerary for this years trip and it looks like our daily schedule isn't going to change too much from last year, except for meals. Last year we ate breakfast together so we had to book it to put together our peanut butter and jelly sandwich and make it to the bus. Adam and I are super glad that we can just make our breakfast in our room, jump in a van and eat it on the way there. We are going to take and/or buy lots of peanut butter crackers and almonds since last year I had some trouble getting enough protein. We are also going to use our handy coolers that we bought in Carmiyosef for the day, and may look into getting a platypus waterbag thingy.


4:45 Wake-up, breakfast in room
5:30 Vans leave for Tel (upper parking lot)
5:45-8:45 Survey
8:45-9:15 Shade Break – Tea Time?!
9:15-12:15 Survey
12:15 Clean-up/Hike out
12:30 Vans leave for camp
1:00 Lunch (Neve Shalom Dining Hall)
1:30-4:00 Free Time
4:00-5:30 Pottery Washing (Monday-Thursday)
5:30 Lecture (Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday)
6:30 Dinner (Neve Shalom Dining Hall)
7:00 Free Time
9:00 Quiet Time


I'm probably just as excited or even more so for this years trip then I was last year. One, because I will doing a lot more artwork and two, because I know a little more of what to expect and what to take. We won't be allowed to wear shorts on the Tel this year since we will be walking through some high and thick grass. We also will be working in smaller groups of 4 or 5 to cover more space. Adam is a team leader and I don't know if I will be on his team, probably not.

We once again have a certified nurse and an EMT going with us, which is always comforting.


A big change from last year is that we are only taking about 20 people (last year at one point we had about 80) so we don't need a bus. Instead we will have two or three vans...so we can split up on tour days :). A majority of us going have been before so there are several things we either want to revisit and then a couple of us want to venture off and see things we skipped last year.

So far, Adam and I want to revisit the Church of the Holy Sepulcre ( we went three times last year but still not enough). Its in Jerusalem and I think most of the group plans on spending Sundays in Jerusalem and finding a christian service to attend :) :). We also want to go to Ashkelon, on the Mediterrean Sea and Jericho, close to Qumran and the Dead Sea. We are so excited to see some of our friends from last summer who attend different schools.


Last night, while talking about how nice it will be to spend at least two full days in Jerusalem we both started salivating at the thought of spicy phalaffel from the muslim quarter....OH YUM. We hope to bring back some spices this time to recreate some of our favorite Israeli food. Last year, we brought home saffron but found out later that it was infested with bugs.


Last word for today, if you want anything from there now is the time to let us know. We are going to take one empty suitcase so that we can load up on souvenirs. Last year we kinda just got little things that we could afford...but this year we really want some decorations for our home ( like a nice Israeli map) and/or painting of the Holy Sites. We also want to get some things for our kiddo's rooms. Thanks for praying for us as we return to Israel...we leave June 4/5th and get back June 26/27!!

One of our many Isreal reunions from this past year.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Kid Stuff/ Wedding

First of all we have a huge praise!!! A former seminarian (from SWBTS) and a father of two adopted daughters has offered to rent us his 4 bedroom home while we are here in Fort Worth!!!! He is giving us a very affordable rent rate and allowing us to do a month to month lease....and, wait for it, we get to have our cats there :).
Adam and I had been praying that God would work out our adoption situation....b/c at the point we were at, we were in a small house that would only allow us to adopt one child....however, our hearts were being pulled towards a sibling group. Now we will have the space to take in children and still stay within our budget. THANK YOU JESUS!!!
We will be posting before and after pictures of the house, we are painting it and taking down wallpaper for the landlord ( one, in return for such a cheap rent and two, so that he can sell it once we move out). Its in a good neighborhood and right beside a city park.
I honestly wanted to write this post so that I could show you some of the kiddo things I bought at a Womens Conference at our church. Its hard to buy things for our kids, not knowing the age and sex yet. However, we do know that they will be brought in to know God's love and to seek after Him....so here's three things I got!!
What kid doesn't like Silly Songs with Larry?


I fell in love with this beautifully illustrated bible story book!


See?


And I will leave you with some pictures of a wedding we were in for some co-workers of ours here at SWBTS. It was in Van Buren Arkansas.


Love my hubby with his bowtie!

This is me with the bride's daughter....Kenzie....we share a name and I think she is the cutest 2.5 year old ever!!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Survey Trip 2010

Here is another update for our Israel trip this summer.

WE ARE BOTH GOING!!

My boss and his boss both approved my time off ( 3 weeks ) yesterday!! We will be gone from about the 4th of June til about the 27th. As I have said before we will be doing survey of the Tel this year since its a publishing/reporting year for the dig.

We got word yesterday that I will be recieving a $1,000 scholarship to come and draw the artifacts we find and the interior of the tombs. YAY. That means that almost all of my room and board is covered and Adam's is covered since he will be staff. Soo, total our trip will cost us two plane tickets and about 500 more to cover the rest of my room and board!!! We are hoping to find a great price on a ticket unless we are forced to use the group flight ( which may be the case ).

Now on to another subject, the whole idea of me drawing the interior of caves...which means I have to go down into them. First, I am one of the most claustrophobic human beings ever....and its getting worse the older I get. I can't shut my office door at work since I dont have a window...if someone needs to have a confidential meeting with me I gear up to have large sweat stains by the end of it since we shut the door. Last night we watched a show where a kid and his dad crawled under the house to get something and just watching them crawl through a small hole made my uber twitchy and uncomfortable. Second, i have bad dreams where I get stuck in a maze of those egg crate cushions that some people put on top of thier mattress, or in a large discovery zone maze ( remember those??). Anyways, I did surprise myself last year in Israel when I went down in the water system at Tel Beer Sheva so I am going to push myself this year as well. I told Adam that he will have to down first and make sure its not a pit full of vipers. It actually should go smooth, I don't think that every single cave will have a small entrance hole but I am just imagining the worst and pairing it from what I saw last year on the Tel. Who knows, maybe I will come back and be clear of my annoying fear of small spaces.


Adoption Update- You may have already figured this out but since we are leaving for three weeks in June we won't be taking a child until we get back. We are working to make sure that everything is in place and we are ready to get a kid (s) when we get home. We have put in a transfer request to move to townhome, so that we will have more room for a possible sibling group. We have two full days of classes in March and will have our home study in April. They should be done writing up our home study and approving it by the end of April, beginning of May.

Adam built our kiddo(s) an activity table this past weekend out of our old coffee table that was oversized for our living room. Its really cute, I just need to paint it now!!

Funny Story- Our neighbors came over for dinner the other night and brought thier one year old with them. We had lots of fun with her ,chasing her all over the house. Toward the end of the night they made this comment "You guys are ready for a kid, as much as you have to get onto Elvis and constantly tell him NO". It doesn't even phase us anymore as to how bad our sweet little devil cat is. He honestly thinks he is human and I guess that is to our advantage :).

I know our kid will not be anything like our cats, but I thought that was an amusing observation.

Just thought I would leave you with this picture to get you excited about our upcoming trip!!

Question: What do you think I am most looking forward to as we go back to Israel??

( I gave Adam three guesses and he didn't even come close :))

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Adoption classes

SNOW DAY PICTURES---This is when the "other side of the street" neighbors decided to attack us with snowballs...check out my stance ( i am in the green). I think it was a tie b/c we all collapsed in the snow from laughter.

These are the two snowmen we built in our neighborhood.
All of our neighbors who contributed to the snowmen. We are blessed.




Last night was our first adoption class at our new agency. We were supposed to start last Thursday but it was cancelled due to snow. In fact, we went through record snow last week for the Dallas/Fort Worth area...about 9 inches where we live. We were out of school/work for two full days, tag on a weekend and we had a nice looooonnnngg 4 day weekend!! We spent almost all day Thursday throwing snowballs, making a 9 ft snowmen and body sledding. We spent almost all day Friday nursing our bodies back to health since we are getting old and took a beating playing in the snow :). Anyways, back to adoption class.






Last night the topic was on Sexual Abuse and everything that goes with it. Its hard to imagine why anyone would want to hurt a child in that manner but our director told us that almost 60% of the kids that come through thier agency have been sexually abused or sexually exposed.



We talked about things such as; appropriate boundaries, perceptions, warning signs, etc... We even got down to details such as the rules in our household when it comes to changing clothes. Do you allow your child to undress and then run to the shower?, or do you have a hamper in the bathroom? Are they expected to be fully clothed at all times? Are you and your spouse comfortable with a child who may not want to hug at first or even hold your hand? Its a lot to think about but you want your child to feel safe with you and to know that they can have rules about thier own body that you will respect.






We have another class tonight on Grief, Seperation and Loss and then another on Thursday night on Behavior Modification. We are going to aim for having our home study finished by the end of April....which right now seems practical.






*** We have a bed for our kiddo*** . Two of our closest friends here are getting married in March. He is moving into her home and is giving us his bedroom set!!!!! We are excited to begin setting up his/her room. We already have a really fun bright red rug, a bed, a miniature frisbee golf basket (adam is going to start our kid early) and a desk. We are waiting on a dresser and are hoping to create a small activity table for him/her out of our current coffee table.






Please pray for us as we start to narrow down our preferences for adoption...they ask you to be very forward about what you can and can't handle ( disabilities, past experiences, religious preference). At first, I was the one who wanted five children of any age and any race and Adam wanted one baby. However, Adam told me on the way home last night that he thinks we could handle a sibling pair ( and without any persuasion on my part :)). I was just getting used to the fact that we were only going to get one child :). God is working, I know that!!! Now, if only we could agree!!!!!!!



Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Israel 2010

( Green is where K worked last summer, Orange for A)



Can you believe that we are already starting to get things together for another Israel trip this summer? I can't believe how the time has flown and how different our lives are from this time last year.
This years trip will be very different than last summers since they will not be digging at Tel Gezer. Dr. Ortiz is taking a year off to publish some findings and compile everything from the last couple of dig seasons. However, Dr. Mitchell is taking a group over to survey the entire Tel. The survey team last year found some really neat artifacts, such as the BOUNDARY STONES!! I can't remember exactly how many have been found but they say " Here marks the boundary of Gezer". They are large stones and they circle the Tel. The survey team also has found olive presses, tombs, beads and tile floors. The survey is very important in that it tells us how the occupants utilized the surrounding land, how far out thier borders went, how they intereacted with neighboring tribes and specifics as to how they buried thier dead (tombs).
The trip is from June 3-28...so about 25 days, a little over three weeks. Adam and I are hoping to fly out on June 5th and come back on the 26th so that I only miss three weeks of work. I am hoping to get one of those weeks paid (please, oh please!!).
Our expenses won't be quite as much as last year since we will be considered staff this time. Adam as an assistant and me as (insert cool position.....they are still figuring that out). We will more or less just have to pay for our plane tickets.
Thats about all I know right now....of course, this could all just happen for Adam if we get our child before then. We are meeting with our new agency tomorrow to make sure that planning this trip won't hinder our adoption. We want to make sure that they won't look down on our a) being gone for three weeks, without communication (except for the blog) and b) how much money we are spending on the trip...they like to know your income and see how you budget to make sure you can financially take care of and provide for a child. We also will know a better timeline after tomorrow night so if there is any chance that we could be parents by June then you better believe I will kiss Adam at the airport and stay home with our kid!!
We are trying to arrange a layover in Rome this summer, but were given a thumbs down since staff normally go in one big group flight....oh well, i was really hoping to have another "locked in a famous place's bathroom" story :).

We sang this song in Chapel today and I was reminded of the sweetness Christ brings to our life and the satisfacation we have in knowing that He has always been, is and will be victorious!!


Be Thou my Vision, O Lord of my heart;Naught be all else to me, save that Thou art.
Thou my best Thought, by day or by night,Waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light.
Be Thou my Wisdom, and Thou my true Word;I ever with Thee and Thou with me, Lord;

Thou my great Father, I Thy true son;Thou in me dwelling, and I with Thee one.
Be Thou my battle Shield, Sword for the fight;Be Thou my Dignity, Thou my Delight;

Thou my soul’s Shelter, Thou my high Tower:Raise Thou me heavenward, O Power of my power.
Riches I heed not, nor man’s empty praise,Thou mine Inheritance, now and always:

Thou and Thou only, first in my heart,High King of Heaven, my Treasure Thou art.
High King of Heaven, my victory won,May I reach Heaven’s joys, O bright Heaven’s Sun!

Heart of my own heart, whatever befall,Still be my Vision, O Ruler of all.






Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Chugging right along

Just wanted to give an overall update of our lives over the past month.



Adoption- we switched agency location in January. We don't want to be misleading or point out splinters but the classes we attended at this particular location were not Christ-centered. Therefore, we are now going to classes that are offered by our same ageny in Arlington. We felt the need to switch based on the idea that if the people who were leading the classes could be our case workers then we wanted out. We chose this agency based on the fact that they had a christian owner and background, we knew that what drove thier agency was the very same thing that drove us. However, one bad apple can ruin the whole bunch. We know that this was all God's providence though and we are going to be able to pick right back up where we started with the Arlington office.

We have thus far completed three of the eleven required classes; First Interview/Orientation, Child Development and Communication. We have been exposed to quite a lot just in those three meetings. Its a very emotional process as you are shown what young kids go through and how they are taught to view the world. We have left all three classes thinking "what in the world are we doing" and praying that God would renew our strength to go back and listen to the harsh reality of being a foster child or coming from a broken home. We are diligently praying that God would put a wall of protection around our child as they are either already in foster care or will soon become part of it.
There are happy endings for lots of these childrens but it makes me wonder how anyone can adopt a child without having Christ as thier biggest motivator. I constantly revel in the fact that I am going to be able to show a child, who has probably lived without hope, the hope in Jesus. Families without Christ will be able to offer children shelter, food, and consistentcy but Adam and I will show and tell our children that Christ can offer them more. He can offer them a better life and a hope that washes away all past suffering. AWESOME.

We are also gradually cleaning out our entire home. Moving from our 3 bedroom, 2.5 home in Tennessee into our quaint little seminary duplex already required two yardsales. However, we went to work this past Sunday and cleaned out a full closet for little Harvell and also got the second bedroom ready for a new bed and dresser. We already have a desk and we are working on a customized activity table.

On changing homes we have decided to stay put (for now). We realized that while a townhome may offer us more space, I think the idea of having our cats would be more beneficial. If we get our kid and they hate us, hate the food i cook, hate our home....hopefully they will love the cats and love the idea of having thier own pets! We overheard some foster parents saying how much pets and children connect and how most of time its an instant bond. Since Elvis and Priscilla are both very loving I think they give our child insight into the loving environment we hope to create.

Thats all for now....this weekend coming up is a big weekend for Adam and I ...will post more on that after its over.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Adoption Update

We are speeding right along towards the start of our family.

We had hoped to get a lot done over the break but all the traveling and catching up with family and friends was also a priority. However, on the loooonnng drive home we finished all of our paperwork. Now we just have to make some minor adjustments to our profile concerning my job and our insurance ( both of these changed after our initial meeting with the agency).
Tomorrow night we will attend our second class on Communication. From there on out we will take at least one class a week until we are finished with the course. Next Saturday (the 23rd) we will spend 8 hours at the agency learning about psychotrophic medications and the effects they can have on children and behavior.
We also started to look for another home. The seminary has townhomes that would fit a family better and are also farther back from any busy roads. We will need to get our homestudy done there so we are hoping to transfer in March or April. Bad news though...can't have pets in the townhomes. Therefore Elvis and Priscilla will be going to live with my parents...just until we are able to have them again.
We are also official Texas residents!!! We had to get our tags changed and new license made but we did it. Adam took both of our cars to get inspected and once they passed ( toya needed some work done) we got our new tags. Can I just say that Texas takes thier vehicles, tags, inspections seriously and they are pricey!!! It will be worth it though in the long run.
Another item checked off of our list is where to attend church. I am ashamed to say that we have lived here since August and had yet to find a church home. We went to several, both near and far. Two of the churches we went back to hoping to fall in love the second time. Finally,we realized that the most important thing ( to us) was to find a church with a wonderful childrens ministry and a focus on small groups. ( Brother Reggie, if you read this please know when we left Heritage we knew we would never find another pastor like you ....and we haven't yet :))
We prayed about it, talked to older and wiser friends and finally settled on a church. We have actually been to this church about 4 times now, with friends, or to special events but we really felt comfortable there this past Sunday....things just clicked. We are hoping to take a membership class soon and join the church so that we are growing and stable when little Harvell(s) comes along.

** I was talking with Adam on our drive home from Christmas about how no one really brought up our adoption to discuss with us...it was always he or I that mentioned it first. I thought that maybe people just forgot or maybe had a problem with the trans-racial part of it. However, Adam said that people were probably shy to bring it up b/c they might have thought that I am not physically able to have kids and that's why we have decided to adopt. Well, the truth is I have no clue if I can have a kid....and it doesn't matter to me either way. We just know that right now we are being called to adopt children. God may later give us a heart to have our own and if we can, we will.
I know infertility is a very sensitive subject though and in no way do I think it shouldn't be handled with sensitive words. I just wanted friends and family to know that we dont' have a clue as to what the future holds for the structure and the image of our family so please give us parenting advice, tips, strategies, frugal ideas....anything!!!
Also if you know of any good books to read, we have already looked into "Family driven Faith"and "Adopted for Life". We have also read the "Idiots Guide to Adoption"--very helpful (Jessica, if you haven't read this yet I would advise it...good for International and Domestic Adoption).