February 25, 2006

The Beutlers' visit

We were thrilled to have our friends from Switzerland come visit us in Israel. Russ and Lisa Beutler (and their daughters Madeleine and Elodie) were in our ward in Oregon before they moved to Switzerland with Intel. Russ also served in the same mission as Scott. We visited them in Geneva in August 2004.

The Beutlers arrived Tuesday night. We stayed up late catching up after (mostly) getting the kids to bed.

On Wednesday, Scott and Russ went to work so they could both finish some things that they needed to get done. Tiffany and Lisa took the three girls to the mall while Tyler was at pre-school.

Three girls driving

After work, we all went to Stella Maris, the supposed location of Elijah's cave. We admired the beautiful sunset over the Mediterranean and walked along the Louis Promenade. The Louis Promenade overlooks the Baha'i gardens and the German colony. Afterwards we got bagel sandwiches from our favorite bagel shop.

Stella Maris

On Thursday morning, Scott went to work and Tiffany watched the kids so that Russ and Lisa could do some sightseeing on their own. They went to the Baha'i shrine and the German colony.

Russ at the Baha'i Shrine

After lunch, the entire Beutler family went to Caesarea, which is one of our favorite sites in Israel. Afterwards, we met at Avasi, a traditional Middle Eastern restaurant.

Elodie and Russ at Caesarea

On Friday, we all went to Megiddo. Megiddo is an Israeli national park that consists of a hill made up of 26 layers of ancient ruins. It is more famously known as Armageddon, which comes from Har Megiddo, meaning mountain of Megiddo. Megiddo is in the Jezreel valley, sometimes called the valley of Armageddon, which we drive through on the way to church every week.

Here Madeleine and Tyler are looking though an ancient millstone found at Megiddo.

Madeleine and Tyler and a millstone

It was a pretty warm day, but we still enjoyed hiking around the ruins. It was a nice change for the Beutlers from the cold Swiss weather. We brought a picnic lunch with us. Of course the kids had more fun playing than eating. The ruins were interesting and the views were spectacular.

Armageddon horse trough

One of the neatest parts of Megiddo is the aqueduct. Megiddo was besieged and destroyed so many times, that eventually residents built a tunnel to a nearby spring so they could get water even if they were surrounded. We enjoyed climbing down into the tunnel and walking through the aqueduct.

Armageddon water system

After we exited Megiddo through the water tunnel, we walked back to our cars. There we happened to meet Ritchie and Judy Whitehead who were sightseeing with their family. They recommended that we visit the Carmelite monastery at El-Muhraqa, which is the traditional site of Elijah's contest with the priests of Baal. We were glad we went. The drive there was beautiful. The highlight was the observation point on the roof of the church. We could see all of the Jezreel valley on one side and the Mediterranean on the other.

From Carmelite Monastery

We drove home through Daliyat el-Karmel, a Druze village near Haifa. We were tired so we ordered pizza and then put the kids in bed. Tiffany and Lisa enjoyed watching Olympic women's figure skating together.

On Saturday we went to church. We brought Doug Abbott with us in our car and the Beutlers took Ali.

The Beutler family at church

After church we visited the sites near the Sea of Galilee: Capernaum, St. Peter's Primacy, Tabgha and the Mount of Beatitudes.

Madeleine at the Sea of Galilee

On Sunday morning we said goodbye to the Beutlers as they left to go to Jerusalem. We had to stay behind so that we could get ready for our trip to South Africa.

We were having so much fun with our friends that we didn't think to write down any Tyler-isms or Brooke-isms.

Posted by sjbowden at 8:56 PM

February 18, 2006

Spring Flowers

Spring starts earlier in Israel than we are used to from the States. Of course, most people from Utah would say that we don't have a winter here. However, most people from Oregon would say that we do, because of the rain.

After church, we went to look at the spring flowers with the entire branch. Near Megiddo (Armageddon) is a huge field of anemone flowers. The flowers are all poppy anemones: purple, blue, white and red. Below are Tiffany, Scott and Brooke among the flowers.

Poppy Anemone field

The reason Tyler wasn't in the picture above is that he saw that the flower field is right next to an airfield, the Megiddo Airport, and he ran to watch through the fence. Tyler was thrilled to see, "one plane pulling another plane with a rope", or in other words, watching a towplane pull a glider into the air. Tyler had fun watching the planes with Yulia, one of his friends in our branch.


Here we are all together as a family. It was a beautiful day, and we had fun walking through the fields with our friends from church.

Family portrait

Brooke really liked the flowers. She enjoyed smelling them. We had to make sure she didn't pick any because it was not allowed. There were lots of other people there, and they all thought Brooke was very cute.

Brooke in the flowers

"How does the rope come un-hooked?" - Tyler was very interested in the gliders and thought they were being towed because they were broken.

"Me, Me, Me!" - my turn

Posted by sjbowden at 8:51 PM

February 13, 2006

Jerusalem, Galilee and Caesarea

On Thursday morning after visiting David's tomb, we walked through the Jewish Quarter of the Old City. In that area is the Cardo, part of the Roman ruins of an ancient marketplace. Today it is lined with shops selling souvenirs and Judaica. We also visited the Burnt House, a museum built over the ruins of a priestly family's house, which dates back to 70 AD when the Romans besieged and burned the city.

The Cardo

Our next stop was an unplanned detour to Bethlehem. After taking a taxi to the Garden of Gethsemane and finding it closed for lunch, our driver talked us into a side trip to Bethlehem. When we arrived, we were joined by Issa, a local licensed guide, who gave us a tour of the Church of the Nativity. The center of the gold star on the floor, in the picture below, has a hole so we could touch the cave floor, the supposed site where Jesus was born.

The Church of the Nativity

Afterwards, our taxi driver took us back to the Garden of Gethsemane. We walked through the olive tree garden and admired an ancient olive tree which dates back to the time of Christ. Then we went back to the Old City and visited the Western Wall. We enjoyed wearing our new scarves at the Wall, since it is required for married women (and all men) to cover their heads there.

The Western wall

That evening, Rob joined us once again. He drove us to a viewpoint on the Mount of Olives overlooking the Old City.

The Dome of the Rock

We ate dinner at a restaurant called Olive & Fish. Scott and Tiffany had eaten there with Scott's parents when they came to visit. After a delicious meal, we went to the King David Hotel for dessert. The King David Hotel is famous for being bombed by the Jewish underground in 1946 because the British command was located there.

King David Hotel

Friday morning we went on the Hasmonean Tunnel tour, the underground tour of the foundations of the Western Wall. The tour gives a great summary of the history of Jerusalem and uses models to show the city during the Second Temple period until modern times. After our tour, we visited the Archeological Park at the base of the Western and southern walls of the Temple Mount. We saw the ruins of Robinson's Arch, which supported one of the entrances to the Temple Mount at the time of Christ. We also walked along the ruins of a paved street from the Second Temple period, where moneychangers may have been located and where sacrificial animals were sold.

Jerusalem Archeological Park

We were only able to catch a glimpse of the Dome of the Rock since it was closed to the public on Friday for the Muslim holy day. While we were in the Muslim Quarter, Rob, Jacki and Kristi got to taste falafel, deep-fried balls of ground chickpeas.

Eating falafel

Next, we left the Old City and drove up to Mount Scopus where the Brigham Young University Jerusalem Center is located. We went on a tour of the building, listened to a beautiful organ recital and walked through the grounds and gardens of the Center. We enjoyed the spectacular view of the Old City. Then we drove back to Haifa. Tiffany was glad to be home with Scott and the kids.

The Jerusalem Center

On Saturday, the Sabbath, we attended church and visited the sights in the Galilee. We had a picnic lunch on the shores of the Sea of Galilee. Then we drove to a viewing place along the Jordan River. We went to Tabgha, a church built on the supposed location of the miracle of the loaves and fishes. Next, we went to St. Peter's Primacy where Jesus commanded Peter, "Feed my sheep." We ended the day at the Mount of Beatitudes, a beautiful setting with a church and gardens commemorating the Sermon on the Mount.

Sea of Galilee

On Sunday, we went to Caesarea, Herod the Great's port city dedicated to Caesar Augustus. It was a beautiful, clear day, perfect for exploring the Roman ruins and collecting sea shells. We walked through the bath house complex, along the horse race track and around the Roman amphitheater. We also drove farther up the coast to the ruins of an ancient aqueduct.

Caesarea aqueduct

That evening we ate dinner at Avasi, our favorite Middle Eastern restaurant in Haifa. We sampled a variety of Mediterranean salads, falafel, pita and skewers of different types of meat. Since our friends' flight left early the next morning, we stayed up late together until it was time for them to leave for the airport. The boys talked shop while the girls watched a movie. We also had a slice of the Marie Calendar's Chocolate Satin pie that Jacki and Kristi brought with them on the plane as a wonderful surprise for Tiffany.

"When I grow up can I be Santa?" - Santa has Tyler's dream job - toys and a flying sleigh.
"Who could be my helpers?" - Then he suggested Brooke would be a good elf.

"High" - When things are out of her reach.
"Over" - When she sees the credits of one of her "shows".

Posted by sjbowden at 9:59 PM

February 8, 2006

Jacki and Kristi Visit Tiffany

Tiffany was thrilled when her wonderful friends, Jacki Archiabald and Kristi Child, said they were coming to visit. It all started when Kristi's husband, Kym, came to Israel on an Intel business trip in December. Tiffany had hoped that her friends could have come with him, but the timing didn't work out. Instead, they planned a trip for early February. In the meantime, Jacki's husband, Rob, was asked to come on an Intel business trip at the same time. After hoping for this trip for two years, Tiffany was so excited to meet them at the airport. We sent Rob on his way to Tel Aviv for his week of work, and took Kristi and Jacki home with us.

We let them sleep in the first day to recover from jet lag and also because Jacki is pregnant. When they woke up later that morning, Kristi announced her pregnancy; so it was good we let them both sleep. That afternoon, we saw some sights in Haifa. We walked along the Louis Promenande which overlooks the Baha'i Gardens and the German Colony. We also went to Stella Maris which is the Catholic church built on top of one of the supposed sights of Elijah's cave.

The next day we were ready to do some shopping. Tiffany's Hebrew teacher, Dvora, took us to her friend's house to see her hand-crafted jewelry. We all bought necklaces and earrings. Then we went to the mall to look around and do a little more shopping. We also ate ice cream and crepes at Dr. Lek's, a popular ice cream chain in Israel.

Doctor Lek's Ice Cream

After we picked Tyler up from preschool, we went to the beach. The kids played in the sand while we admired the sunset.

Sunset over the Mediterranean

On Tuesday morning we headed for the Dead Sea. Scott worked from home and took care of Tyler and Brooke for a few days so we could have a girls trip. We stopped at Tiffany's favorite road side stand for lunch on the way down. Kristi was brave enough to try some bedouin pita with lebane cheese, olive oil and spices. Jacki was kind enough to take our picture.

Yummy olive oil and pita

We stopped at a scenic overlook on our drive down to the Dead Sea. We enjoyed passing the elevation markers as we descended hundreds of meters below sea level.

Dead Sea Overlook

Our first stop was Masada, Herod's hilltop palace overlooking the Dead Sea.
We took a cable car to the top, explored the ruins, admired the mosaic floors and walked through the ancient bath house complex.

Masada with cable cars

We stayed in the Crowne Plaza Hotel on the shore of the Dead Sea. We enjoyed floating in the salty water. It was very relaxing. That night we had fun with Dead Sea mud masks.

Floating in the Dead Sea

We felt very refreshed from our time at the Dead Sea. We wished we could have stayed longer.

Hotel Beach

As we left the Dead Sea, we stopped at Qumran, the caves where the Dead Sea scrolls were found. Then we drove through the Judean hills on our way to Jerusalem. We spent most of our first afternoon in Jerusalem shopping. There were long lists of souvenirs to be purchased. Once we got going, we got pretty good at bargaining and buying.

Shopping in the Old City

We left the Old City and met Rob, who drove to Jerusalem after work, and went to the Garden Tomb. It is a very special place. It is beautiful and peaceful and easy to feel the spirit there.

The next morning we went on the Ramparts walk on the walls of the Old City. It was neat to be up on the walls and see the amazing view of the city. Afterwards, we visited David's tomb. We tried to visit the Upper Room, but it was closed for restoration.

Jerusalem ramparts walk

"brooming" - sweeping
"I need more string." - Tyler needed more cord while helping Tiffany vacuum.

"Tonter" - monster. Brooke and Tyler like to pretend they are hiding from monsters.
"Up" - as in stay up and don't go to bed.

Posted by sjbowden at 10:16 PM