Monday, February 26, 2018

Celebrating Lent

Growing up I didn’t know very much about Lent, and it wasn’t part of my religious practice. But a few weeks ago, while talking with Father Fergus, currently a Franciscan Friar at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, he said that one of his favorite celebrations at the church takes place on the first Saturday of Lent. That got me thinking more about Lent and whether it was something that I should participate in.

After hours of research consulting a few websites and asking my friends on Facebook, I decided that it would be great to participate. One trusted friend told me that he has found his Easter to be much more meaningful as a result of Lent. A friend that I haven’t talked with in years shared that recently she has begun “doing a new good thing” for Lent instead of “stopping a bad thing.” I chose to go in this direction for Lent and have been having a good experience so far.

I also made arrangements to go with many other people, including Lani, five of our children, Scott and Karen Smith, and many BYU students. It was great to participate in the event, and much sweeter to be participating with so many people that I love and enjoy being with.

This was one of the first times I’ve heard the organ music playing. It was beautiful! The ceremony began with an entrance of the Bishop, who went into the holy sepulcher, and then into the chapel. Afterwards, there was a procession around the church where we essentially did the stations of the cross. Everybody received candles, and although the service was in Latin I was able to grasp bits and pieces. Altogether it was nearly two hours and our kids did great! Afterwards we all got to visit with Father Fergus and enjoyed doing that.

I think practicing Lent will become an ongoing part of my discipleship in the future!

Here's a video link to the procession if you're interested in watch more. The first couple minutes is of the initial entrance of the Bishop, towards the end is part of the stations of the cross while in chapel of Helena (I'd never seen it so bright), and the final part as we all walked around the aedicule. 

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Egypt Highlights

Egypt was incredible! We'll let pictures tell most of the story:

Inside one of the tombs at the Valley of the Kings.

Driving in a horse-drawn carriage to see the Luxor temple at night. Too bad Levi is allergic to horses, that put a damper on the magic.

Sailing on the Nile heading to our camel ride. Spending time with these amazing students was an incredible highlight of the whole trip.

Annemarie riding a camel in Egypt!

Magnificent overlook of the Giza pyramid.

Same overlook!

At Sakkara in front of the step pyramid.

This is the big one! Feel the majesty of the Giza pyramid...the only of the ancient seven wonders of the world that still exists!

One of my favorite pictures -- Sphinx + pyramids + great kids == awesomeness.

There were some very interesting mummies at the Egypt Museum. Most could not be photographed, but this one was an exception.

The Karnak temple was truly incredible!

More Karnak Temple!

Enjoying good times at the Luxor temple evening tour

Incredible sites were everywhere to be seen! This is the Colossae of Memnon.

At the temple of Queen Hapshepsut.

After a joyful camel ride in Luxor.

Did I mention that we loved hanging out the amazing BYU students?

One highlight of our time in Cairo was visiting a mosque.

Thanks for the amazing memories Egypt!

Monday, February 12, 2018

Great Field Trip!

Joseph and Katrina listening to Ellie explaining how the Almond Tree is the first tree to blossom in the winter. Thinking about Numbers 17:8 ​“And it came to pass, that on the morrow Moses went into the tabernacle of witness; and, behold, the rod of Aaron for the house of Levi was budded, and brought forth buds, and bloomed blossoms, and yielded almonds.”

“Moreover the word of the Lord came unto me, saying, Jeremiah, what seest thou? And I said, I see a rod of an almond tree. Then said the Lord unto me, Thou hast well seen: for I will hasten my word to perform it.” (Jeremiah 1:11-12).

Ellie points out a play on words in Hebrew between “hasten” and “almond.” Just like the almond tree is the quickest to bloom, so too will the Lord quickly fulfill his words.

Katrina and Rebekah help reenact a scene of biblical Rebekah drawing water from the well for Abraham’s servant.

Ellie shared about the importance of water in modern and ancient Israel:

“And it shall come to pass, if ye shall hearken diligently unto my commandments which I command you this day, to love the Lord your God, and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul, That I will give you the rain of your land in his due season, the first rain and the latter rain, that thou mayest gather in thy corn, and thy wine, and thine oil” (Deut. 11:13-14).



We practiced shepherding. There were many shepherds in the Bible — Abel, Moses, Abraham, David and many others. We can learn leadership lessons from shepherding.

We next talked about the seven species in Deut. 8:8 — “A land of wheat, and barley, and vines, and fig trees, and pomegranates; a land of oil olive, and honey.”

Ellie talks about how in the verse “honey” refers to date honey...delicious!

Rebekah and Kate crush some hyssop together. This is one of my favorite parts of this field trip. Why hyssop? As this site explains,

When the Israelites marked their doorposts with lamb’s blood in order for the angel of death to pass over them, God instructed them to use a bunch of hyssop as a “paintbrush” (Exodus 12:22).

David also mentions hyssop in Psalm 51:7: “Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.” David does not refer to physical cleansing—rather, he is asking God to cleanse him spiritually as he confesses his sin.

Hyssop also appears at Jesus’ crucifixion, when the Roman soldiers offered Jesus a drink of wine vinegar on a sponge at the end of a stalk of hyssop (John 19:28–30). This was, in fact, Jesus’ last act before He declared His work on earth finished and gave up His spirit. While the hyssop stalk may have been used for purely practical purposes (i.e., it was long enough to reach to Jesus’ mouth as He hung on the cross), it is interesting that that particular plant was chosen. It is possible that God meant this as a picture of purification, as Jesus bought our forgiveness with His sacrifice. Just as in the Old Testament blood and hyssop were part of the Passover, Christ is the true Passover lamb.


We enjoyed seeing several succoth and talking about what makes them kosher or not kosher. The kids loved the idea of eating and sleeping inside them. We will have to build one in our backyard next fall.