Thursday, July 24, 2008

Day 34

Okay, this is my last blog entry. Day 34 has been pretty slow. All I've done today is wash my clothes from yesterday, pack my suitcases, and play chess.

Day 35 will be spent in the air and at the airport in New York, so no blogging on the last day (no internet access there unless I pay $$ . . . I'm too cheap!).

So, I said that I would post my best/worst moments; what I will miss the most/least; things that there are too much of/too little of here in Israel or Neve Shalom or tel Gezer. So here goes . . .

Too much of . . .
pita bread

Too little of . . .
meat in food (except chicken)
dairy with meat (non-existent)
Dr. Pepper (non-existent)
ice (non-existent)
air conditioning
clean bathroom
rain (non-existent until Oct.-Mar.)
people wearing deodorant

What I'll miss the most . . .
ice cream (way better, something about USA pasteurizing 3x and Europe/Middle East only 2x . . . I don't know)
excitement of seeing biblical cities for the first time
excitement of uncovering a new item or a wall in our square
some of my new friends
fruit break
the call to fruit break
store day
cake at dinner (sort of)

What I'll miss the least . . .
wheelbarrow runs
walking up tel Gezer
4:00 am
some of my new friends (just kidding . . . mostly)
pottery washing
the rush of being on tour
other tour groups
doing my laundry in the shower
having to find my electrical adapter before I plug anything in
being told I'm doing my archaeology techniques wrong
thin bed mattress that wants to slide off the bed every night
thin cushions on every seat at Neve Shalom
smelly bus
ride on smelly bus
long winded under-grad who has apparently already lived the life of 5 adults in his brief life time

Worst moments . . .
spraining ankle!
too long of a plane ride (not really in Israel, but it's part of the trip)
fruit break over
long walk
bus driver not driving to the tel to pick us up and making us walk to him (after a really long hot hard day's work)
same bus driver did not stop at store for Store Day!!!!!!!!!!!!! :(

Best moments . . .
discovering Knock-Out ice cream bars
discovering a plethora of loom weights
discovering whole storage jar
worship at Arabic believer's church
end of season talent show . . . way funny!
fruit break!
Heading home to my family

Thanks for all of you who have been reading and responding to my blogs! It's been an a lot of fun blogging. I look forward to seeing all of you soon and sharing with you my stories and pictures. Thanks, Tara, for setting up a time at the BBQ restaurant for us all to get together and share my stories and videos and photos! Please be praying for a safe flight home!

For the last time in the Holy Land . . . Shalom!


Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Day 31-33

Well it's just about over! Here is what we have done the last 3 days . . .

Monday . . . last day of digging! We finished up the work in our squares and got them ready to shut down for the season. Any exposed pottery had to be quickly excavated. Anything left exposed will disappear before next dig season. Treasure hunters and looters come and take anything they think they can sell. I uncovered an entire storage vessel with less than an hour to go. We had to quickly expose it, excavate it and pull it out of the ground. It was pretty cool looking. It was shattered into very large pieces, but still quite cool looking. It had mudbrick and a large rock on top of it from when the walls fell during the destruction 2700 years ago. The square next to us uncovered a VERY cool, bulbous looking storage vessel. It was filled with dirt and thus the shape was preserved in situ (in place). It, too, was broken, but since it was full of dirt, it looked way cooler than mine! They found a lot more stuff in the last 2 days. I am confident that whoever digs our square next year will find some pretty neat stuff. So, we finished digging and leveled out our squares and got ready for our last day Tuesday.

Tuesday . . . This was basically clean and sweep day. We brushed and swept our floors of our squares, making sure to remove loose dirt and rocks, and brush away ANY and ALL footprints. We also had to brush our balks (sweep any loose dirt off and trim any roots growing in the walls). We polished any large rocks or mudbrick surfaces (use a brush to sweep ANY dirt off and make sure they will POP on the aerial photos). I polished our stone pillar in our square. We had to sweep back 1 meter on all sides of our square. And then the ENTIRE dig site had to be brushed to remove any footprints. Of course, we removed the shade cloths and equipment first. After all equipment was brought back down the hill, we emptied the storage container (one of those storage containers you see on trains) and inventoried all equipment and then repacked it. We took down the base camp shade cloth and stored it with all the other equipment. That concluded our work at the dig site!

Wednesday . . . only about 8 of the smallest/shortest people were taken back to the site for photos. A dirigible balloon that is equipped with a camera and controlled by a remote control on the ground was rented and used to take aerial photos of the entire dig site. The people that went were used to scale the photos. The rest of us slept in until 6:30 am and then did some work around the dig house, tearing down equipment and doing the last of the pottery washing. I played lots and lots of chess. I lost once more today, but I'm 30-5 (or something like that).

Wednesday night we had a going away party. The Neve Shalom folks put on a big feast for us with lots of . . . PIZZA! They have some very unique ideas about what topping combos go together . . . my personal favorite . . . green olive with red bell pepper and corn (sounds weird, but pretty good!). Then we had a talent show put on by the staff and volunteers. I won't try and recount what occurred b/c it won't be funny to you . . . but I assure you . . . it was funny! It was a good way to wrap everything up.

Tomorrow (Thursday) . . . we will sleep in until 7:00 am and then just hang out all day. Our flight leaves Tel Aviv around 12:30 am, so we won't leave Neve Shalom until 6:00 or 7:00 pm. I may try and blog one last time tomorrow. I will get back home around 6:23 pm on Friday after a connecting flight on Continental Airlines out of New York's JFK. (Thanks, Dave for picking me up!)

I failed to mention something from Sunday that was probably one of the best experiences of my trip . . . we had met an Arabic shop keeper on Saturday (our last shopping stop for the day) and discovered that he is a believer and attends an Arabic, evangelical, believer's church. We asked if we could attend Sunday's service. So, Sunday, we headed back to Jerusalem for one final day of (on our own) site seeing and shopping, and about 10 of us went to the church service at 10:00 am. The church was located in a small little building down a back alley. The service was held in an upper room (no, I'm not kidding). They had a section for people who needed translating (headsets were made available), and a little old Arabic lady sat in front of us and translated into a cheap Radio Shack microphone! It was great! The service was amazing . . . I felt like I was living Acts 2 . . . when the Holy Spirit descended on the believers in the upper room! The disciples were able to speak in the languages of other nations and the sound of many languages praising God and proclaiming the Gospel filled the air! That's what it sounded like when he asked everyone to pray in little groups . . . I heard Arabic, Hebrew, English, Korean, German . . . it was amazing. Most people couldn't understand anybody other than their own language, but all were united in and by the spirit of Christ . . . the great reconciler . . . the great unifier . . . as Paul said, "there is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, but you (we) are all one in Christ Jesus" (Gal. 3.28). I cannot describe to you the feeling, the experience of praising God with brothers and sisters from a different country, a different race, a different culture, a different language, a different denomination . . . yet ONE IN CHRIST! It was the most intense worship experience that I have had for a long time. This is what had been missing in my trip. This is what I was longing for. In God's providence we ran into this Arabic shop keeper and were able to experience the blessing of worshiping in a very unique way in this land of Israel, the home of our Lord and Savior, Jesus the Christ!

It has been a long, long trip. It has been far more arduous than I had planned! But, I have learned much, including the immortal lesson learned by our very own Kansas native Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz . . . "there's no place like home!" I can't wait to be home!

Tomorrow, I will post some of my best, worst moments . . . some lists of too much of/not enough of . . . what I will miss the most/won't miss at all . . . what I'm looking forward to when I get home!

So stay tuned for tomorrow's final broadcast from the Holy Land!

It's 10:05 pm and time for bed!



Sunday, July 20, 2008

Day 27-30

Okay, here's the latest . . .

I stayed back from the tel on Thursday and Friday, nursing that busted up ankle. I still got up (relatively) early (just not at 4:00 am) and did some work around the dig house. I washed pottery for several hours (boy that was fun) and bagged and tagged MCs (material culture items) for an hour or so each day. I took the opportunity to go to the swimming pool and Neve Shalom and relax and do a little amateur water therapy on the ankle for about 30 minutes each day. I haven't been swimming the entire time I've been here. Seems like there's been very little "down" time, always working at the dig site, or pottery washing, or lecture, or meals, or blogging, or doing laundry in the shower, or cleaning up, or working on my archaeology course (power point, curriculum, etc), or trying to learn something from the staff. Each day I have been getting about 30 minutes of "free time" in the afternoon and about 30 minutes to one hour after dinner, depending on how long I feel like staying up. I've tried to go to bed around 9:00 - 9:30 so I can get a decent amount of sleep.

So, no swimming thus far until Thursday/Friday . . . and boy was it nice! They have a very nice swimming pool with about 1/2 of it covered with these canopies, so it's nice and shaded and cool. No one was there the first day, so I had it all to my self! Which is really nice b/c the tan line on my arms and neck is much more defined these days and I might have scared small children and animals! Friday was the preparation for Sabbath, so more families were out and enjoying the day together, but it wasn't too bad.

That brings up another random thought that I haven't mentioned, yet . . . When we have traveled on the weekends to the Negev and to the Galilee area we stayed at hotels. We arrived at the hotels on the Sabbath and something that I learned 12 years ago from my Hebrew professor, Dr. Harry Hunt, was confirmed . . . the elevators automatically stop on every floor on the Sabbath so that you do not have to violate the Sabbath laws on working by pushing the buttons! I have always repeated his story in my classes, but wasn't exactly sure about it. Now I know!

I am counting down the days til I leave! Tomorrow is probably the last official "dig" day. Tuesday will be clean up and get ready for final aerial photos on Wednesday. That means lots of sweeping dirt off of dirt. Straightening the balk lines. Removing grass and weeds from the areas in our fields that have not been dug this year. This means running into lots of scorpions. My square has been fortunate that we have only had two the entire time. Most squares have about 10-15 each day! I hate scorpions.

Wednesday will be photo day. They will only take some people up to the site to give size contrast to the site. Really tall and really short people won't go . . . I'm one of those . . . I do believe.

Wednesday night is a talent show of some kind. Some of the guys are putting together a video where they interview Macallister . . . the guy who dug here back in the early 1900's who did a poor job of excavating and recording stuff. It's his junk that we spent 2-3 weeks digging through in order to get to the real stuff! Also, I think some guys are going to do impersonations of the dig leaders. It should entertaining.

Well, guess I'd better go. Time for bed!



Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Day 24-26

Okay, its been 3 days since my last blog. Monday and Tuesday absolutely wiped me out. I went to bed each night right after dinner at about 7:00 pm. For some reason those two days were more exhausting that usual. So here's the high-lights . . .

Monday, found about 15 more loom weights in my square! One was a monster compared to the others. Most are about the size of a baseball. This one was the size of a grapefruit. We also found one about the size of a ping pong ball. It's loom weight-palooza!

Tuesday . . . we found one more. Today . . . none.

We are processing layer by layer through our destruction debris. Our field archaeologists believe that we have been processing the material from a roof top that fell down when the walls collapsed. We should be finding MC (material culture) from the second floor tomorrow. We have two stone pillars in our square that we have been slowly excavating. They are about 18" square and we have exposed about 4'. They are probably 6-8' high.

Another interesting note about the archaeology process . . . When we excavate we only take about 10 centimeters down at a time across the surface of the entire square (5 m x 5 m). However, since we are on a slope, we have to create a flat/level surface as we go. Not sure if that makes since. Any way, we stop when we notice change in soil color or texture or density. These changes are noted and then elevations are often taken and pottery baskets (buckets) might be changed so that pottery coming out of the new area will be in different baskets (since they are in a different matrix). Differences in soil color, texture, density, etc. can be caused by several factors . . . rubble (like what we were digging through the first 10 days in parts of our square), destruction (charred mudbrick, mudbrick that has disintegrated, etc.), a pit that has been dug years (or centuries) later that the original home and it has intruded upon the space of the home and then filled with junk (rocks, pottery scraps, animal remains, etc. This puts later material on the same level as earlier material, and thus has to be discerned and noted. Otherwise it looks like a person living at the time of the Iron Age (13th-6th century BC) had pottery and items that belongs in the future (for example Persian era 538 BC-332 BC or Greek era 332-143 BC).

Also, frequently we have to sweep our dirt. I kid you not. We have to sweep our dirt and remove loose dirt. Do you know how hard it is to sweep dirt off of dirt? It's pretty funny. Also, I never knew dirt could have so many different colors. We have had blacks, grays, yellows, oranges, tans, etc. One guy from another square told me they had green. They have something called the Munsel Charts (sp?) which is basically a book with color charts. Looks like it was put together at the paint department at Sherwin Williams (superior products at amazing prices; there's a distributor near you! (how's that for a shameless plug for you Jeff!)

I've been skipping 2nd breakfast since Day 11. It just isn't worth the hassle of walking back down and then up the hill, plus . . . it's too weird to be eating sandwiches for breakfast. It has provided me, however, with about 30 minutes to myself up on the hill. The scenery is amazing . . . looking down the hillside to the beautiful groves of olive trees and other orchards . . . the kibbutz lined with amazing beaugonvillas in a rainbow of colors, the sun peaking through the early morning clouds, the breeze gently blowing across the hillside . . . it's quite relaxing. I fell asleep again this morning during this breakfast break!

Which brings me to today's fun event . . . it was bound to happen . . . I was just surprised that it didn't happen earlier. I rolled my ankle. It happened just before fruit break (11:00 am) so I got to work most of the day (only missed the last hour). I had just taken a wheelbarrow run and was stepping down into my square on the sandbags that we use as steps . . . I'm not sure what happened . . . missed the edge of the sandbag? . . . the sandbag gave way? . . . not sure, but the end result is that I went down hard. I've severely sprained the ligaments in both ankles years ago in highschool and college (running, basketball, volleyball, walleyball . . . look it up) so my ankles have a propensity to roll easily. They say these hurt worse than breaks. Not sure if that's true or not. I only had to have my ankles put in cast twice. I'm pretty sure I won't require that for this one.

Talk about a dilemma . . . up on a hillside about a 1/4 of a mile up a pretty good steep pathway and having a sprained ankle. Some of my colleagues who were looking after my best interests had some good ideas . . . put me in a wheelbarrow and push me down the pathway (thanks!) . . . put me in a wheelbarrow and push me to the dump and then dump me over so that I'll slide all the way down the hill in soft (yet rocky) dirt (thanks!). I ended up hobbling over to the upper parking lot and having a car come pick me up about 30 minutes later.

I have had it elevated for most of the afternoon and watched movies on my laptop (Transformers . . . thanks Stockwell for leaving it in my car back in April when we BBQ-ed all night; and Young Guns . . . an '80s classic . . . Charlie Sheen, Emelio Estevez, Keifer Sutherland).

So, we'll see about tomorrow. My square supervisor is encouraging me not to come tomorrow. I sure want to come . . . hate to miss anything, you know. At the same time, I wouldn't mind sleeping a bit late and I sure won't miss hiking up the hill with my assigned 60 lbs. of gear on my back. On the other hand, that means someone else has to do my job. On the other hand, I don't want to be in the way and more of a liability than an asset . . . hmmmmm?

I know right now my mom is typing out an email to me giving me her opinion! Thanks, mom!

We've only got 3 dig days left (tomorrow, Friday, and Monday). It's make or break time for us if we're going to find some interesting things.

Well, I'd better close things down. I know I haven't posted pics from this last weekend. If I don't go to the tel tomorrow, I'll get that done.

I surely miss all you guys back home. I miss all you guys in our Bible study groups (thanks for taking care of Steph these last few weeks . . . getting the dryer fixed, mowing the yard, etc.), I miss you guys at school . . . ready to see y'all pretty soon, and of course, I miss my family . . . Steph and Madisynn . . . only 9 more days! (Of course y'all will be out of town at Kids Camp when I get back), but I'll be ready to see y'all when y'all get in!)

That reminds me . . . anybody from HNW available to pick me up at the airport Friday, July 25th? :)



Sunday, July 13, 2008

Day 21-23

Another great (and too short) weekend has passed! We went to Jerusalem both yesterday and today (Saturday and Sunday). But, before I blog about the weekend, let's talk about Friday.

Friday completed our 3rd week of digging. It has been tough all week. The temperature has been rising all week . . . seems like our wheelbarrow runs have been getting longer (actually they are, as we dump debris and dirt over the hillside, we are slowly changing the topography of tel gezer; we have extended the original dump path by 15-20 feet!). Nothing sounds better than when our beloved Gary (director of Field A) bellows in his melodic voice, "Secoooondddddd Brrrreeaakkkkfaaaaast!" or, "Fruuuuuiiiiiittttt Breeeaaakkkkkk!" or, "Thiiiiirrrtyyyyyy Minnnuuuuutessssss!" All of which indicate that either a much needed and celebrated break has arrived or the end of our toil for the day.

Gary is a pretty interesting guy. I do not know him very well since he is directer of Field A and I work in Field B, but I have visited with him a few times. He is a professor at Golden Gate Seminary (but doesn't not look the part). He gave a lecture last week on the Iron Age and it was amazing. He has a great, energetic teaching personality.

My director is Elliot. He is an Israeli citizen and an expert in the field of archaeology. It has been interesting to learn from him and listen to his explanations. He has a big whiskbroom of a mustache that obscures most of his lower face. He has this funny expression that we have begun impersonating and randomly saying. If someone gets in his way when he is trying to take elevations (someone is standing between him and the laser that reads the stadia/meter stick) he will say (in a heavy Jewish accent), "Is your father a glassier?" Phonetically it sounds like this, "Is your faaatheeerrrr a glaaaasieerrrr?" It is very funny in person, but not so funny on a blog. Nonetheless, it is kind of a slogan that gets passed around all day long. Someone will randomly say it about every 10 minutes and then 4 or 5 people feel compelled to repeat it immediately, it's just a spontaneous.

Our square uncovered another 4 loom weights on Friday, all in pristine condition. That brings our total to 8 or 10. Since we have found so many we apparently have the fruit of the loom! (I am hysterically funny!) We have removed the mudbrick wall that had collapsed as a result of being torched by the Assyrians and now we are ready to see what's underneath! Tomorrow should be pretty exciting. There just has to be material culture items within our square! We'll see!

Another comment about food over here. I haven't talked much about the kosher laws, but it is very much prevalent. One kosher law is that dairy and meat cannot be eaten at the same time. Let me repeat that . . . DAIRY AND MEAT CANNOT BE EATEN AT THE SAME TIME!!!!!. This goes back to God's command to Moses regarding not cooking the meat of a goat in its mother's milk. Here is an except from a website on the issue for those who are interested . . .

On three separate occasions, the Torah tells us not to "boil a kid in its mother's milk." (Ex. 23:19; Ex. 34:26; Deut. 14:21). The Oral Torah explains that this passage prohibits eating meat and dairy together. The rabbis extended this prohibition to include not eating milk and poultry together. It is, however, permissible to eat fish and dairy together, and it is quite common. It is also permissible to eat dairy and eggs together. According to some views, it is not permissible to eat meat and fish together, but I am not certain of the reason for that restriction.

This separation includes not only the foods themselves, but the utensils, pots and pans with which they are cooked, the plates and flatware from which they are eaten, the dishwashers or dishpans in which they are cleaned, and the towels on which they are dried. A kosher household will have at least two sets of pots, pans and dishes: one for meat and one for dairy. See Utensils below for more details.

One must wait a significant amount of time between eating meat and dairy. Opinions differ, and vary from three to six hours. This is because fatty residues and meat particles tend to cling to the mouth. From dairy to meat, however, one need only rinse one's mouth and eat a neutral solid like bread, unless the dairy product in question is also of a type that tends to stick in the mouth.

Think about this for a second . . . fajitas (beef or chicken with grated cheese and sour cream!), pizza (pepperoni and cheese; Canadian bacon and cheese; Supreme!), sandwich (turkey and swiss, ham and provolone, smoked chicken and gouda, etc.), bacon and eggs!; beef fajita nachos!; spaghetti and meatballs with Parmesan cheese! . . . are you kidding me! It's a culinary/dining nightmare! We went to the Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem today and ate lunch in their cafeteria. Actually, they have two kitchens/cafeterias: one dairy, one meat. We had to decide which line we wanted to go in. And, no, before you even ask, you cannot go through one line and then go get in the other and get food from both. You can't bring food from one area into the other. I went through the meat line and then after our tour I went and got chocolate ice cream from the dairy line!

Well, it's about time to get ready for bed. It's 9:37 pm and 4:00 am comes pretty quickly. I haven't downloaded my pics from this weekend, so I'll save my comments about the tours until tomorrow when I get them downloaded.



Thursday, July 10, 2008

Day 19-20

Hey there. Skipped blogging yesterday. Decided I'd better get it together and blog tonight. Another hard week on the dig site. It has been pretty hot. If it weren't for the shade clothes, it would be unbearable.

Found several loom weights in our square this week, two today. Loom weights were used by women to hang their loom ropes straight (almost like a plumb bob for you carpenters). They would have several weights maybe 8-10 hanging on a loom. It's about the size of a baseball or softball and made of either clay/pottery or stone. We have found the clay ones. We have finally excavated past all the "fill" or "debris" and have gotten down to the Assyrian destruction layer. We will break through it tomorrow. Our square is part of a domestic area with destruction debris on top. "What is destruction debris?" Thanks for asking! When mud-brick is heated to high temperatures it turns very hard like glazed pottery. There are signs of a mud brick wall that has fallen over. We also find charred mud bricks that have burned and basically turned into ash. There is burned pottery shards, burned shells, etc. So, whatever is under this layer has not been seen for about 2700 years. If you can imagine our country being invaded and your house being set on fire as the invaders advanced. Some of your stuff would burn, but as your house collapsed (remember the house is not made of wood and sheetrock, but mudbrick and/or stone) everything in your house is simply buried beneath the rubble. Your make up and jewelry . . . your plates and silverware . . . your books . . . your food . . . your games . . . your jigsaw puzzle that you were working on when the invaders attacked . . . maybe even your pet cat or dog . . . hopefully you get your family out safely! Well, that's basically what we have . . . the possibility of finding any . . . all household items that a Israelite would normally use . . . maybe even the Israelite himself (but probably not, he probably escaped, but you never know).

I may have already blogged on this, I don't remember. If I have, then you're getting a repeat . . . but this is very awe-full experience . . . Not awful, awe-full . . . it fills me with a sense of awe and reference for where I dig . . . where I walk . . . and for what I uncover. I would hope that whoever goes through your/my house after it has been destroyed by some tragedy (invaders, natural disaster) would do so with respect for those you had lived there and not treat it as an opportunity to simply loot someone's home! Hopefully what we do will add to the rich, and sometimes incomplete, knowledge and understanding of the inhabitants of this land.

Okay, some side notes . . . last night was amazing. It was rumored early during the day, that dinner might have a special treat. Rumors were running thick throughout the day. Yesterday was store day, so I made sure to pick out some large 1.5 liter bottles of Coke (no Dr P) in anticipation of the fabled fodder! I carefully put the large coke container in the small freezer area in our micro-fridge as soon as we got back to Neve Shalom, hoping that by the time dinner rolled around 4 1/2 hours later, the coke would be the sublime consistency of a coke slushy! I made sure not to eat too much lunch and I watched the clock like a schoolboy on the last day of school! Lunch . . . free time . . . pottery washing . . . lecture . . . dinner! The time had finally come. There was a palpable excitement running through the group as we hurriedly herded ourselves from the lecture hall to the dining room. Grown adults were giddy with excitement! I quickly ran back to my room, opened the fridge/freezer and retrieved my frigid, carbonated nectar . . . perfect . . . icy, slushy, but not frozen. I quickly ran back to the dining room and joined the rest of anxious group. We arrived in the dining hall . . . necks strained to see around those in line hoping to get a glimpse of that which would put all of us in a culinary-induced coma of pleasure and delight . . . but . . . the buffet line was set with all the usual fare of Israeli salads (cucumbers and tomatoes, olives, etc.), but there was a disappointing void in the space where the main dish should be. It was almost like getting kicked in the stomach and getting the wind knocked out of you. The possibility of disappointment was beginning to creep in. Had this been a cruel joke, perpetrated by staff members? Had we been misinformed by malevolent malcontents, duped by destructive derelicts? But . . . then . . . the kitchen doors opened . . . here came the servers . . . with circular trays of golden-brown, cheesy, spheres of pure delight . . . American . . . PIZZA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Yes, food I can get behind!!!!! It wasn't fancy. It wasn't particularly good by American standards. Yet, it was amazing. With every bite I was elevated to an ever-ascending plane of culinary ecstasy! I took a bite and let the cheese pull from my lips, bridging the chasm between my mouth and the freshly munched plateau of pizza. It was glorious! I chugged a macho portion of my caffeinated, carbonated elixir and let it burn all the way down! I continued my feasting until I could feast no more! I was in heaven. I was energized to finish my tour of duty as a tel Gezer slave, I mean volunteer!

Okay, maybe I went overboard here, but I actually exaggerated very little here . . . maybe a bit verbose . . . loquacious (wordy for those of you who need help here), but not an exaggeration!

Now, that was a culinary high . . . now for the low! I came in from work today and immediately showered as I always do. Everyone else heads for the dining hall. I shower. My roommates returned as I was about to head out and told me that they had served . . . are you ready for this . . . tongue! Who's tongue? What tongue? Were they kidding? I, of course, did not believe them. This obviously was a cruel joke. And it was . . . but not one perpetrated by my fellow slaves/volunteers, but a joke perpetrated by the chef of Neve Shalom . . . sure enough . . . there was tongue! I'm not sure if this was done to let us know who was really in charge of the kitchen, him, not us spoiled Americans, or if this was simply the meal scheduled for today. (Apparently the chef had to be talked into making pizzas for us. It's not sophisticated enough for him, too simple, too American?) Anyway, I skipped lunch. I opted for Peanut M&M's and some pretzel-like chips that I had bought from the store.

Well, that's about enough for tonight. I hope you were on the edge of your seat as I told my tale!



Tuesday, July 8, 2008


I have added some pics from this weekend. I have taken a total of about 1600 photos so far. About 600 this last weekend. It is very difficult to decide which pics to post. I'll show you most of them when I return. I have included a map that I threw together with our tours and what cities we stopped at. If you click on the photos or map they will be enlarged and you'll get a clearer picture.