Oh, you’re a teacher?

Last year, around this time of year, I was feeling pretty discouraged about my daily life. I had just finished working a long-term sub job that had me reconsidering whether or not I wanted to be a teacher at all. I was still working for an after school program that really didn’t fit my ideals and while many of the students seemed to benefit from going through the program, I couldn’t help feel like it wasn’t the right place for me. I was also getting ready to compete in a CrossFit competition (that was still one of the highlights of that year…) and then I was going to go to Israel. Last year was definitely full of awesome experiences, but also some pretty challenging ones as well. I said a lot of goodbyes and put a lot of things on hold so that I could accomplish some of the things that I needed to do for work. And there were times where the stressful factors in my life actually had nothing to do with work.

If  you had told me then that I would be teaching Theatre at a high school a year later I would have laughed at you. I would probably be really curious too, but I would have been laughing. I had already considered that for the school year that was quickly coming to an end and then, when it was evident that I was not going to get the job, I dismissed the possibility. If you had told me that I would love and hate my job all at once, I would shrug my shoulders and probably thought you were crazy. But it is a year later and I’m no longer working as a sub in two school districts or working for an after school program. I am a full-time Theatre teacher. I teach 6 class periods out of a 7 period day (including 3 sections of MYP and IB focus courses), I am the Drama Club adviser, and I am in charge of the after school productions.

Never would I have believed that, in my first year as a teacher, I would get to do so many challenging and unique things. Never would I have believed that it was as hard as it is. Never would I have believed all the craziness! But I would also never have believed that I would love it as much as I do. Now, even though I love it I’m not going to say I’ve never wanted to tear my hair out. Like I said, a lot of things happened to me in my personal life that had nothing to do with work, but found a way to infiltrate behind enemy lines so to speak and cause problems. I think that will always have a tendency to happen, but eventually I will get better at checking the issues in the car and picking them up later.

Anyway, I’m  going to create a list here…. things I didn’t know about being a teacher – specifically being a Theatre teacher and sometimes about being a White teacher/person:

  1. Directing/Producing a play is really difficult.

    I need like 5 more of me during the weeks leading up to show nights.

    You have to coordinate multiple teenagers, you have to run many tabs in your brain at once (acting, technical, and financial) while assigning teens to do things you’re not even sure how you would do if you were their age.

  2. Acting can be really difficult.

    I never thought about how hard acting might be. I think it was always something I thought I wanted to do and when I did have opportunities to do it, I did kind of love it. But now, as an adult, I’ve a lot of inhibitions that keep me from jumping into the subject matter. I’ve lost a little of the “reserved” nature, but I’m still reluctant to do certain things….life memorize lines for a production.
  3. There are some kids who don’t want to be there.

    These kids are pretty good despite not wanting to be in class. They’ll do their work quietly and do whatever it takes to get a passing grade.
  4. There are more kids who really don’t want to be there.

    They will make your life a miserable mess. They don’t do work, they don’t even pretend to pay attention in class, sometimes they don’t even come to class for several days or even weeks simply because they don’t want to be there. And most of them are so addicted to their phones, they can’t be bothered to pay attention.
  5. There are a lot of kids who do not understand when certain activities or topics are not appropriate for the classroom…

    Even if it’s “medicinal” you shouldn’t be using it at school….

  6. Politics around arts in education is bipolar
  7. Some of them don’t know what it feels like to be sunburned.
  8. Your students will probably not understand any of your figurative language.

    Or… “You make a better door than window…”

    They won’t get it…. and even when you explain…they still won’t get it.

  9. But they will expect you to understand their weird slang
    1. “on point” is way cooler than “on fleek” and describes how awesome something is… shoes, eyebrows, selfies…
    2. “af” is an acceptable description of how much of something you or something else is; how tired you are, how majestic you are…
    3. “squaring up” is not something you want to have done in your classroom
    4. you don’t ever want to be a “thought” and if you call someone “a thought” you better “square up.”
    5. “Come at me” is not an invitation you should take lightly
    6. You gotta keep it “one hun-erd” with them
    7. “Throwin’ shade” may lead to the invitation to “come at” someone while you are “squared up”

      Not a new concept, though a bit more harsh….

      Even Jeopardy knows….

    8. “______ is life” is a serious commitment
  10. They will do anything for hot Cheetos
  11. It’s probably okay to let them go to the “liquor” to buy Hot Cheetos
  12. Theater and Theatre are 2 different things.
    1. Theater is a place, building, etc

      This is not my theater…

    2. Theatre is the actual performance etc

      Not my students…

  13. Costuming is hard to do
    Finding the right size, the right look, and not breaking the bank on clothing….hard. I’ve come to really love thrift stores…
  14. Set design is hard to do
    I really need to learn how to build things. I can draw them out fairly well, but the implementation is still a bit shakey. I have the power tools and the materials to do it….I just don’t have the know-how…
  15. IB sucks the life out kids, but also gives them a taste of what college is like…
    I nearly tore my hair out. I was nervous. I wanted to get a perfect pass rate. I’m pretty sure I didn’t…
  16. Theaters can be really creepy
    I think ours might have a spirit of some kind living there with all the rats and other critters…
  17. Some textbook distributors will give you free samples of the books about theatre…FREE…
    This would have been good to know months ago…
  18. Musicals are harder than plays.
    Coordinating with the music director to make sure that everyone is learning their part on top of all the other stress of a play is quite stressful. I would not recommend taking it on all on your own.
  19. You will spend so much time with your theatre kids, you’ll wonder if you know anyone your own age.

It’s definitely been an adventure; an adventure I’m excited to continue pursuing. I know my Grandpa would be proud of the work I’m doing and that means a lot to me.

Until next time…whenever that it is.

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Memories Past and Future

It appears that I am rather awful at remembering to make time to write on my blog. It’s a good thing that I don’t fantasize about becoming a widely followed and popular blogger who is sponsored. Haha, that dream would probably never come ture, but hey, that’s really okay with me… Last I wrote, I was filling out new hire paperwork and thinking about all the changes and choices I would be facing. So, let me give you a quick update!

September 23rd I started my first, full time teaching position. It’s not exactly what I had been educated in or what I had anticipated teaching… I guess you could say it’s been a lesson in adaptation and trial and error. It has definitely been a growing opportunity and an adventure. I’m teaching…

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Theatre vs. Theater – Theatre is the performance aspect where Theater is the physical building… Mhmmm yeah… so interesting, I know…

Now, these are some of the questions that come up when I tell people that I’m teaching Theatre…

  1. Oh, so you must love acting?
    1. Uhm, I guess so…but –shrug– not really?
  2. Did you do drama in high school?
    1. headshake- Nope…
  3. Did you study drama in college?
    1. headshake- Nope…
  4. Have you been in a lot of plays?
    1. headshake- Nope…
  5. Do you have any experience with drama?
    1. -headshake- Not really, I was in a play when I was in 3rd grade, I was friends with people who were in drama when I was in high school, I took a few classes in college that were focused more on performance (Shakespeare and Bible as Lit), and recently I was in a “skit” for a church thing… But I love watching plays and musicals…
  6. So…how?
    1. Just what they offered me…and drama is covered by an English teaching credential… The teacher who held the position before me was also in a similar boat.

But, the truth is… I kind of love it. It’s probably one of the jobs I will look back on and think, “That was really fun.” Don’t get me wrong, it is also extremely challenging. For example, I am the Theatre department. Haha, yeah… I am the Theater/Theatre Director, I teach 6 classes of Theatre, 4 Intro classes, 1 Theatre 2 class, and an Advanced Theatre class. And among those classes, I am participating in IB and AP… I’m also the Drama Club adviser. I also get to run the after school program, which consists of putting on 2 productions each year, a Fall play and a Spring musical.

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I’m teaching at a high school; I went to the homecoming game. We won!

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I have A LOT of keys…. Some of them I don’t know how to use…

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My classroom…back looking to the front….

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My classroom from the front looking to the back…the giant grey thing is the air conditioning…

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A view of the stage….

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A view of the “house” where the audience sits…

I wanted to get my feet wet, I wanted my students to really get the most out of being in Theatre, and I wanted to make sure that the transition was smooth. I decided to go ahead and produce a play this Fall, despite not knowing exactly how that works. I was so grateful to have such an amazing predecessor, who gave me so much help with curriculum and even stuck around to show me how to run auditions. {In case anyone is wondering, snacks are a vital part of the audition process…} We produced The Crucible. It’s about the Salem Witch Trials essentially…if you haven’t seen it…I don’t know what to tell you. I’m not sure I’d recommend watching it. The movie is….-shrug– not that great, though it did help with some creative ideas…

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I had a lot of fun and anxiety with this first production. I learned a lot, which was really the point. And while we had a lot of fun with this production, my kiddos are looking forward to the musical. I decided on Into the Woods. Most of the kids seems pretty excited and the more we talk about it, the more excited they get. They have even started planning the set! And really, the set was what gave me the most headaches. Scheduling was often a NIGHTMARE; between sports, other clubs, and academics (and probably a few other things I’m forgetting – OH! Doctor’s appointments…) it was sometimes hard to get a full cast together. And I think we had like 5 people drop out throughout the course of the play… Yeah, that was fun….

Anyway, we made it through it. I learned a lot about the traditions of this particular program that I think I will keep. And we’re going to hit the ground, mostly, running when we get back. Which reminds me of about 70 things I need to do in order to be ready…. haha – oy….

I don’t believe in coincidences. I really don’t. I believe that everything happens for a reason and that God is ever aware of the things we need and what others need. He knows what we’re capable of and I have a firm testimony that I am meant to be where I am right now for reasons that aren’t entirely clear to me right now. And I know that things happened the way they did so that I would be ready to take this opportunity on fully committed to doing the task at hand.


Other, perhaps random, things that have been going on….

  • I went to Arizona for Thanksgiving…
  • My students are both surprised and excited to discover that I can sing and play the piano….They want me to be in the musical, as in they want me to have a part….
  • I have had to take a involuntary break from crossfit because… I may or may not have a stress fracture in my clavicle. They’re really not sure what’s going on with it yet….
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My MRI for my shoulder…

  • So in the mean time I have a 24 Hour Fitness membership (yay) so I can run after work in a relatively safe environment…

    Dec2014Gym02

    Shameless and obligatory gym-bathroom-mirror-selfie

  • I got an annual pass to Disneyland!
    Which helped me really get into the Christmas spirit….after I had already done this…

    Dec2014TreeSquat

    Yeah, I’m banned from crossfit, but I’m not going to quit completely….

  • 20141222_195347
    Beyond excited!
  • I played Santa’s Helper this year and got to assemble a train set by myself… Yes, it functioned properly…
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    This transforms into a car….

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    This is the car…

  • I got some really neat Christmas presents…

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    This is probably my favorite gift….(the necklace…)

All in all, I guess 2014 has been an okay year. Nothing fantabulous has happened I guess. Israel was the highlight and getting a job was an amazing blessing. I didn’t “graduate” from anything. Many of my friends are reaching other milestones that I have yet to reach, but I think I’m okay with where I am right now. Friends have come and gone, so have love interests. And yet, I remain hopeful. I’m kinda feeling like a mix of the following songs…

  1. Dear No One – Tori Kelly  (lyrics)
  2. It’s Not Right For Your – The Script (lyrics)
  3. Style – Taylor Swift  (lyrics) the video is not the same version as is on the album….
  4. Kiss Me – Ed Sheeran (lyrics)
  5. Demons – Boyce Avenue cover (lyrics)

As 2015 approaches I can’t help but feel excited, nervous, and hopeful for the adventures that I will encounter. I hope that most of them will be fond memories and yet I know there will likely be some heartaches as well.

“Oh, if life were made of moments,
Even now and then a bad one-!
But if life were only moments,
Then you’d never know you had one.”
– Baker’s Wife

“Best to take the moment present
As a present for the moment.”
– Cinderella’s Prince

Until next time…

There’s a Sub…But Not For Long!

I kind of love being a substitute teacher. I know I went to school to be a full time teacher, and I still want that. I love the stability of having the same classroom everyday with the same set of students and knowing what will be on my lesson plan before I get to the classroom. But there is something about the “unknown” in subbing that I quite like. There’s a familiar phrase you hear from the doorway to some unseen figure, “Hey So-and-so has a sub today.” Which is usually met with something like, “Ah, sweet!”

They get so excited, like it’s going to be a party…

But, that usually makes me feel like I need to crack the whip – and that is usually in conflict with my desire to be the sub that students like to have. I don’t need to be a “cool sub,” but it’s nice to have students say hello in the hallway rather than roll their eyes and pray I’m not going to their classroom that day.

I mean, you don’t have to be mean as a sub.It might help, but more flies with honey. In this case, respect is the honey. That and being “real” with the yodel heads that try to stir up trouble.

I was in for a math teacher for a day this week. Usually, when teachers are out they don’t leave new material. This particular teacher has an IB class. IB is, from my understanding, another rigorous course not unlike AP. Eight, yes 8, students walked in. All male. A female TA came in as well. There are only 8 students in this class. They were amazing and so different from one another, but they were all willing to work with and learn from their peers. It was entertaining to hear them talking about the math, discussing how to negotiate the probability questions and reasoning them out into the right answers. It was essentially Greek to me.

At one point during the day the conversation and the way students listen turned the conversation to my not being married and the inevitable question of “why not?” came up. It sounded like someone said it was because I’m only eighteen, which of course I’m not. I’m twenty-six. Haha, but when I asked if that was what they said it was interpreted as being fact. Cat-calls ensued. I was pretty embarrassed.

Frequently, when things like this happen I am reminded of the reasons I wanted to teach and there are often times when I think that this generation isn’t all bad. There are a lot of stories in the news about bullying and, while I’m sure there are incidents that I don’t see, I also see a lot of students encouraging each other. Especially in the IB class and with the volleyball team that I was putting together.

Earlier this week I had interviews. These interviews have been weighing on my mind heavily and I turned to prayer and fasting for guidance and comfort. There are a lot of things that have been on my mind that I felt I needed some guidance and comfort in actually. I don’t believe in coincidences. I don’t think that things just randomly happen. I interviewed at a school several weeks ago and did not get the position, but received another phone call in regards to another position at the same school. I interviewed there on Monday and at another school on Tuesday. I didn’t actually feel as good about the Monday as I had when I interviewed with the school originally. Tuesday’s interview felt very natural and I had a good feeling about my experience.

So, imagine my surprise when Thursday at lunch, I received a phone call offering me a job at the school from Monday. I was so excited. I still am, but I guess I feel like something is missing. Not everything on my radar is falling into place the way I had hoped it would.

Life has a tendency to throw curve balls at the least opportune moments. Everything can change in a blink of an eye. And we can choose to be hopeful – to take people at their word – and risk heartache and misery, potentially bitterness. We can choose to be “realistic” and declare everyone to be evil fiends who are out to hurt, ruin, and destroy all the good in the world. Admittedly, sometimes it feels good to give in to that anger. Sometimes it’s great fuel, but it’s not healthy.

Last night, after the excitement of the job offer, the successful volleyball practice with the finalized team, and the dress rehearsal for a silly church play a good little group of us went out for ice cream. We were in the parking lot and this guy, this character – who knew two members of our group, passed by and we somehow initiated a very strange and colorful interaction with him. It was very entertaining, but there were several times when this guy said that we need to stay strong in our faith and build our relationship with God because despite what religion, race or whatever else might be used to define us, we are beautiful people and we can do anything.

I don’t really know what my point is tonight. My mind is rambling and really I’m trying to distract myself. I’ve been writing poems, maybe they’re song lyrics… Reflecting a lot… I was thinking about posting one, but now I’m not sure if I should. It’s interesting how you can go from

to

IANYWAYS…what’s really been on my mind in relationship to subbing and teaching is that there is a part of me that is scared of having my own classroom and students who are my responsibility. I’m not scared because I don’t think I can do it. I know I can. I’ve been trained for it and now it’s go time.

I’m scared of what it means about my life. I will have so many choices ahead of me. Choosing to take the position means I have to give up my volleyball team. While that’s not the end of the world, and I will likely have more opportunities to coach in the future, it will be sad to tell the girls. Next week, I’ll go in and fill out new hire paperwork and I’ll have to figure out “benefits” for health coverage. Then I will have to figure out what the heck is going on in my classes and learn the names of 150 or so students. I’ll be figuring out BTSA. I’ll have to put my classroom together. Good thing I have a few posters scavenged from student teaching. Perhaps, this will be well timed chaos. Depending on how I, and my car, handle the commute I might have to get a new car or maybe I’ll end up relocating. I guess what I’m really saying is, the realization that I am becoming a REAL adult finally hit me.

I’m embarking on a new adventure. I know my destination, I have my compass, I don’t know what troubles I will face, but I feel like I’m missing my co-pilot.

Sneak Peek Into My Irrational Female Brain

I’ve been thinking about relationships. Not just romantic relationships, relationships in general. I have been thinking about the relationships I have with my family, with friends, with people I teach with or for, with the students I teach, and people I don’t yet know. I became a teacher because I want to help people. I care about people. I want them to have opportunities to live better lives and I think that I can do that as a teacher. This mentality, of trying to bolster people up, bleeds into other aspects of my life, though sometimes I have a difficult time really accomplishing what I set out to do because of fear or hurt feelings.

Truthfully, I will probably be writing around the idea of romantic relationships here in this post, but I think it’s natural to want any of the relationships with the people in our lives to be meaningful, uplifting, equal, and easy. I’ve seen quotes like these lately…

because obviously we still love each other

i believe no matter how bad the fight, as long as our feet find each other underneath the sheets, everything will be alright – the story of us

because it takes two

if the feelings are mutual the effort with be equal

because it is hard to give up on something that made us so happy

she’s standing on a line between giving up and seeing how much more she can take

just a fact - at least for me

i fall too fast, crash too hard, forgive too easily, and care too much

you have to work through the problems together

you can’t just give up on someone because the situation’s not ideal. great relationships aren’t great because they have no problems. They’re great because both people care enough about the other person to find a way to make it work.

just because you're hurting doesn't mean our responsibilities go away

sometimes all you can do is smile. move on with your day, hold back the tears and pretend you’re okay.

Pretty wide ranges of emotions, probably the stages of grief or something if you really look at them. And of course, there are others. Ones that remind us that the one who walked away will be sorry, but they aren’t always sorry are they? Sometimes they walk away and find something that truly makes them happier. There are ones that remind us that we will fall in love again some day. Yeah, that’s true…but unless you have learned something, made a change, you may be doomed to repeat your mistakes.

I’m female. I know, you’re shocked, right? 

At times, I annoy myself. I get frustrated with the way my brain and my heart think and how my imagination goes wild and tears me down. I am my own worst enemy. A lot of times, I’m completely aware that whatever I’m worrying about is out of my control and that what I’m imagining or feeling is not reflective of reality; it doesn’t change the fact that I am worrying. Haha, I’d be the first one to admit that I overreact and over think situations…from time to time.

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But when I care about someone? When I have decided that I want that person to be happy, that I want to be part of their life and them part of mine? I can’t help myself. I can’t seem to keep myself from thinking that I will screw something up. That when they are having a rough time I need to be there for them, to help them emotionally if nothing else. I want them to share their misery with me. I don’t care if it has nothing to do with me or if I can’t actually do anything to change the situation. I want to be “burdened” with the frustration and the sadness. Why? Who knows… Maybe I feel like it means they trust me and they care about me the way I care about them. That they want me to be part of their life even when things aren’t going smoothly.

women tend to prefer solving problems through emotions while men through actions.

women tend to prefer solving problems through emotions while men through actions.

Reflecting on this, I realize that – at least for this femme – when I really like a guy, I want to be there for him. I realize I just said something along those lines, bear with me. I don’t want to wonder if he’s “okay” or why he’s not okay. I don’t understand someone wanting “space.” Why? Because even if I don’t want to talk about what is bothering me, even if it can’t be fixed, I want someone, the guy I’m choosing to spend my time with, to take my mind off the problem. So when I am pushed away, so to speak, because the guy is “dealing with it” on his own, it doesn’t make sense to me. It’s hurtful. It’s torture. And no matter how many times I remind myself that I have done nothing wrong, that whatever is causing the distance and silence can’t have had anything to do with me, there will always be a part of me that will wonder, “What more could I have done?” So, when it’s someone else struggling, I will keep poking that bubble…trying to establish that connection and offer my help…

doanything

i swear, i will do anything to keep you happy. i’ll take care of you when you’re sick. i’ll cuddle you when you’re cold. i’ll tell you funny stories when you’re sad. if you need to b!@#, i’ll listen and b!@# with you. i’ll cook for and with you. i’ll sing to you when we’re on long drives. if you want to go traveling, you know i’ll be right by your side. we can do absolutely crazy and adventurous things together.

But…

feelstupid  forgethowtofeel

likecrazy

 

And media tells us…

notworthit

 

So eventually…

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Let’s be patient with one another. But moreover, let’s communicate. Don’t let your bad day keep you from expressing appreciation, concern, or love for someone else.

 

A Work in Progress

Before anyone gets upset with me for not posting more about my trip to Israel, let me say that I apologize and I will add pictures and more information when I feel like it. Haha…that wasn’t very warm and fuzzy, was it? Oh well…  But tonight I have something on my mind that I haven’t been able to stop thinking about and I think I need to write it down and share it if I hope to fall asleep tonight.

There has been a lot of interesting disconcerting media coverage on various things that have happened to some select members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who are unhappy with the way different issues are handled within the organization; namely, these issues are women holding the priesthood and the level of I’ll use the word acceptance of people who have same gender attraction. I’m not going to argue one side over the other though I do know where my heart lies on the issues. I will, however, share something that came to my mind at Institute (a type of Bible study group/class) tonight.

The question was asked, “Can we deepen our souls?” and was followed by, “If so, how can we deepen our souls?” People talk about the word of God sinking deep into their soul, so I would guess that means our souls can have “depth.” I’m not sure how to explain that measurement, perhaps it’s better to describe it as your faith in something or your testimony of something. Given the scriptures we were reading I decided that it was possible and that it would require a strong desire and action on the part of the person striving to “deepen” their soul.

So here’s what came to me…

I think it has been said that God is the potter and will shape us as clay, fire us, and so forth in order to guide us into the person we could be, but I think this analogy can and should be used in another way.

When a potter first sits down to the wheel they will usually have a fairly round lump of clay that has already been prepared, kneaded, to rid it of air or impurities.

Just a lump of clay…

 

Next the potter starts the wheel and shapes the lump into something more manageable and hopefully more symmetrical.

The color wouldn’t change this drastically…jus sayin’

Once the circumference for the base is established, which would largely depend on the desired shape of the piece, the potter starts to apply pressure. First with one thumb most likely.

Applying pressure…

Eventually, the potter will use more pressure and more of the hands to shape the piece. Fingers will pull the walls apart, guide them up, and even draw the top to a close.

The desired shape will dictate how the hand is used.

After some time, the piece will have new shape an will, hopefully, reflect the potters design. It will be a product of their time, their skill, and their actions.

Beautiful shape…

But what happens if the lump is not in the center of the wheel? What if the potter didn’t prepare the clay before placing it on the wheel? What if the potter tries to go too fast or is not methodical about the movement of their hand? Well, then you run into problems. The walls might become weak or thin and collapse. The shape might become uneven.

Your piece might, unintentionally, look a little off.

When the potter is ready to remove the piece, they use wire to cut the clay from the wheel. But they have to be careful not to cut too high and make sure they left enough clay on the bottom so there isn’t a hole in the bottom when it’s removed from the wheel.

CAREFULLY removing the piece!

Each piece can look very different.

Different shapes, sizes, and detailing….

The potter might decide to add more height by adding coils to the rim or maybe even to to the base of the piece.

Coils to add…

Maybe the potter adds designs…they could carve into, add on more clay or other ornamentation, cut pieces out entirely, and add color to the piece.

Ornamentation after the piece has been taken off the wheel.

We are like the potter. We can choose to apply pressure and create something wonderful. As we build our faith, our testimonies, our relationship with God and those around us, we are striving to reach a certain goal. We have an outcome in mind and we have all the materials that we need to get there. At times we will need to move slowly, plan, and adjust so that we can come closer to our final product successfully. We must make sure that we build and develop on a foundation that will not break or be easily destroyed if and when we are ready to progress and add the finishing touches. We must have focused patience and steady hands with the end result constantly in mind so that we can continue to create, add on and embellish, strengthen, and create a lasting product: an unshakable faith; a testimony of truth, of an unchanging, yet loving God who forgives sin freely while never condoning or excusing it.

That is part of my testimony. That my Father in Heaven has given me the material and the instructions on how I should create my masterpiece, but it is up to me to prepare those materials, follow those instructions, strive to be patient and diligent, strengthen and build onto those materials with a result in mind. It is okay if my work looks different from those around me, but I need to put effort into it. And lastly, I need to share my work with others, put it on display so that those around me can see and feel how much work I put into it and how much it means to me.

 

 

I Need Them Forever and a Day Interrupted

Technology is a blessing and a plague. I know traditionally we say curse, but I’m going to say plague. Plagues are no respecter of persons, they spread quickly and into everything. Technology has replaced traditional forms of communication, courtship, travel, medicine, and so forth. Some times these advancements or changes are exceedingly beneficial. Instead of walking on foot we now use airplanes to travel great distances. This, I think, is a benefit of technology. But in other areas like interpersonal relationships or intimacy, technology has created some hidden dangers.

I don’t really want to focus on technology, but today I am grateful for technology because of a really awesome experience I had.

Saturday, the Sabbath, we went to the Sea of Galilee. This is where Peter, James, and John were found fishing on two separate occasions, Christ calmed the waters during a voyage, and Christ walked on this water and Peter was saved from drowning here. In October 2012 General Conference, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland gave a talk in which he took some creative license in interpreting the story in John 21. We had the opportunity to listen to this talk again as we sat near the shore of the Sea of Galilee. As we sat, I felt the Spirit so strongly, just as I had the first time I heard the talk in 2012. There is a gentle power in the words that Elder Holland delivered that just trigger something inside of me.

“Then Peter, why are you here? Why are we back on this same shore, by these same nets, having this same conversation? Wasn’t it obvious then and isn’t it obvious now that if I want fish, I can get fish? What I need, Peter, are disciples—and I need them forever. I need someone to feed my sheep and save my lambs. I need someone to preach my gospel and defend my faith. I need someone who loves me, truly, truly loves me, and loves what our Father in Heaven has commissioned me to do. Ours is not a feeble message. It is not a fleeting task. It is not hapless; it is not hopeless; it is not to be consigned to the ash heap of history. It is the work of Almighty God, and it is to change the world. So, Peter, for the second and presumably the last time, I am asking you to leave all this and to go teach and testify, labor and serve loyally until the day in which they will do to you exactly what they did to me.”

How amazing it was, to sit near where these men sat with the Savior and think about this story. The Savior wants us to be his sheep, but also his disciples forever.

Today, was also another amazing day! While we have been here in Israel we have had the same, wonderful, bus driver. His name is Ata. He’s quite amazing and maneuvers the bus expertly. Earlier in the day, the air conditioning on our bus started cutting in and out. No one really noticed it when we first got on the bus because we weren’t on the bus for very long before we took a boat ride on the Sea of Galilee… Yeah, I “sailed” the Sea of Galilee, but more about that later. Once we got back on the bus it started to be a little more noticeable. It got a little warmer and continued to come on and cut out pretty regularly and the air was no longer cool. Well, we made it through about half of our day. We had been to Capernaum where they believe Peter’s mother-in-law lived, we saw Syria, marked by the Syrian flag, then we stopped to have lunch in a Druze village and had Druze pita with olive oil and olives {It was pretty good, though I’m not sure I would get it again…}, after lunch we drove to Banias (Ban-yas) or Caesarea Phillipi where they have ruins from a pagan temple to Pan {It used be called Panias, but Arabic doesn’t have a “p” sound so it became Banias} and explored. We walked around, had a nice time looking at the sites there and then we all congregated near the parking lot and decided we should go because we were going to go to Dan next.

Well, our fearless leader Stewart went to talk to Atta and Joseph { our guide} and came back looking a little sheepish. He told us that our bus wouldn’t start, but there was another bus, with just the right amount of seats on it for our group, and they were heading back to Tiberias right then. If we didn’t go with them and we waited for another bus to come, we wouldn’t get back til dark; we could’ve waited there for another mechanic, but we really wouldn’t get back til dark. Either way, we weren’t going to Dan anymore. How blessed we were to be in a place where Heavenly Father could bless us with people to help us.

Jordan River, Elisha Spring, Gideon’s Spring, Bet She’an and Nazareth

Today we started our adventuring kind of early. A 6:30am wake up call, 7am bags out and headed down to breakfast. We loaded the bus and were out of the hotel gates by 8am. We headed first to the River Jordan. I have realized that I don’t know a whole lot about the bible stories that happen in the Old Testament. I mean, there are several stories about the River Jordan that I didn’t know. Anyway, as we were walking to the river, we had to pass some fields where old churches have been built to mark a “holy” place or places. These fields and their ruins if you’ll allow me to use that term a bit loosely, are gated in with barbed wire on the fences and little signs.

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Danger. Mines. We thought about how strange it is to us that there would be mines in a location like this.

While we were at the Jordan River, we had a quick scripture discussion. It was interesting to see soldiers sitting nearby, to have mass going on behind us, and to have another Christian group down by the river singing all at once. It was very easy to feel the Spirit there with us. I even put my feet in the water before we left.

After the river, we went over to Elisha’s spring then to Bet She’an. Bet She’an is an interesting site. It has a lot of Roman ruins (columns, bath house, theater, ancient commode…) and some Byzantine traces as well.

Following our time in Bet She’an, we went over to the spring and stream where Gideon may have led his troops before their battle. As the story goes, Gideon brought his men before The Lord before he went to battle against the Midianites. God said that there were too many, so Gideon said whomever was afraid to fight or who wanted to go home should go and 22,000 of the 32,000 left. But there were still too many men. So God told Gideon to take his men to drink water from a spring; those who lapped the water like a dog (with their face to the water) should be sent away and only those who scooped water to their faces should stay and so the story goes there were only 300 men who stayed to fight the Midianites who were like locusts in the valley.

We also had the opportunity to go to this neat mini-Nazareth replica village today. It is in Nazareth and they claim to be built where a farm had been standing during the time of Christ. It was neat to see the olive press and the what the wine press would look like at that time. We also received little oil lamps as part of our ticket. It will be a cool little reminder of the trip!

I was debating whether or not to write some of the thoughts and feelings I had today, but I think I will share two things…it might end up being a bit more than that…but my intentions are good.

1. Going back to yesterday, which now I can’t remember if I wrote very much about, when we visited Masada. Joseph (our Palestinian Catholic guide) said that the people who died at Masada, the ones who killed their families and then themselves, were making a statement. They were trying to convey that they did not die from natural causes, from starvation, or from dehydration; these people chose to die, to take their own lives, in order to send a message that they took their lives and they would rather take the punishment of God for what they did than allow themselves and their children to be enslaved or their women abused. They had such strong convictions to their faith, that they would not surrender to the will of the Romans.

2. At the morning devotional, we talked about “receiving” things. We talked about how it takes faith and action on our part for a gift to be truly received. We compared this to how the Holy Ghost, the gospel, and Christ must also be things we have faith in and take action in behalf of.

3. Lastly, thinking about Gideon and his men, there was a point made that the 300 chosen to stay would have to have a lot of faith. But it doesn’t say that the other 9,700 men were bad men or that they were chastised and sent home. These other men just didn’t go into the initial battle. Additionally, the men who were not among the 300 and other things to do. It doesn’t matter when you are called or what you are called to do, as long as you take courage and drink deep. You will find a task that has been set aside specifically for you and your experiences will have prepared you for it.