July 30, 2006

Having fun and relaxing in Belgium

We are having a wonderful time in Belgium. We arrived Wednesday morning in Brussels. We ate pains au chocolat, waffles and chocolates for breakfast. We were able to check in to our hotel at 10 am. We turned on cartoons for the kids and decided to nap. We thought we would be ready to go by noon. All four of us fell asleep and we finally all woke up at 4 pm! It was nice to rest and recover from the stressful couple of weeks we have had.

We spent a couple days in Brussels, visited Dinant and then left Belgium and spent a day in Luxembourg. We went to Bastogne and then to Liege. We attended church in Liege and then spent the afternoon with the Bellings, a family Scott taught on his mission. We had a wonderful time with them. Tomorrow, we head to Brussels and the next day to Bruges.

Posted by sjbowden at 10:55 PM

July 25, 2006

Leaving Israel

The taxi to take us to the airport will pick us up in about 15 minutes. We have had a wonderful stay in Israel. These two and a half years have passed amazingly quickly and we have on the whole enjoyed it. These past two weeks have been a little stressful, but that is helping it to not be as hard to leave.

We will update our blog once we get back in the States. There are several things we need to add: Eilat, Arbel cliffs, Jerusalem and also the past weekend.

We will be back in the States on August 3rd, but things will be busy for a while. We hope to hear from you soon.

Posted by sjbowden at 8:15 PM

July 21, 2006

The movers came!

On Wednesday afternoon, the moving company called to say they would send a work crew to our apartment on Thursday. We were thrilled because this was the last big thing we had to get done before leaving Israel.

Scott drove up to Haifa and arrived about 8 am. Tiffany stayed with the kids in Herzliya. Scott started cleaning out the fridge and kitchen. Due to new customs regulations in the US, we aren't allowed to ship any food. Scott packed 5 big boxes of food to distribute to friends. Scott made about 10 trips to the dumpster throughout the day.

The work crew was supposed to show up between 8:30 and 9:00 am. Scott tried calling the shipping company at 9:15, but couldn't get through to anyone. The movers called about 9:30, said they were 20 minutes away and asked for the exact street name. By 10 am, Scott asked our building maintenance man to call the mover's cell phone. They told him that they were in front of the building. Within a minute they were arguing with each other whether they were in fact in front of the building. Then Scott found out that they were on the right street but in Tirat Ha-Carmel, about 30 minutes away from Haifa! By 11 am, the workers were at the apartment and started to work.

The packing started out OK, but then one of the movers decided to leave. He didn't come back until 5 pm. That left two movers to do all the work. The movers also kept telling Scott that we had too much stuff and they wouldn't be able to pack it all. Scott had to call the main office of the shipping company to get it all arranged. Of course, the movers didn't bring the scale they were supposed to bring, so this was all based on their guesswork. They claimed we had double what we were alloted.

Fortunately it was a very calm day in Haifa. There was only one siren and it was a false alarm. Scott thought it was funny that the movers, who were very hesitant to come to Haifa, ran to the windows to look outside when the siren sounded.

Scott noticed that the movers weren't keeping track of what was being packed for the packing list. Scott wasn't able to communicate that to the movers and so he called the shipping company offices. They told him not to worry. However, at the end of the day, the movers asked Scott to fill out the packing list after the boxes were packed and on the truck! The movers also didn't give Scott all the paperwork that we were supposed to receive.

After the movers left, Scott finished organizing the house. Scott left Haifa at about 5:30 pm and returned to Herzliya. Scott took a quick shower and we got the kids ready for bed and left them with the Earls. Then we went to a movie theater in Herzliya and watched Pirates of the Caribbean with our friends Rivi and Efrat. It was nice to have a break from the stress of the week.

Posted by sjbowden at 10:50 PM | Comments (1)

July 19, 2006

Another Recap: Monday through Wednesday

We had several more alarms throughout the day on Monday. The time between when an alarm sounds and when the rockets hit is very short. Sometimes we heard a missile hit before the alarm. We didn't go to the bomb shelter on Monday because we were worried about going down 17 flights of stairs or taking the elevator. So every time we heard an alarm, we went into our closet which is the most protected room in the apartment.

This is what we saw out our window after one alarm. A missile hit a building down near the water.

Bat Galim

Scott took this video so that we could remember how loud the sirens were. Scott took this just as an alarm was ending so you will notice the sound trailing off. Scott stuck the camera out Tyler's bathroom window to take the video.

Siren (video)

During the time we weren't hiding in our closet, we were organizing our things so that it will be possible for the movers to pack if we don't get to go back to our apartment. We made piles in almost every room and made a list of what to pack. The kids watched lots of TV in our bedroom and also drove us nuts because they were so sick of being cooped up.

Piles of stuff

After we were mostly packed, we decided to go visit the Abbotts. Driving through Haifa was strange; it felt like a ghost town. A few minutes after we got to the Abbotts, there was another alarm (about the sixth of the day). Fortunately, their shelter is just one floor beneath their apartment. We chatted with their neighbors until it was time to return to their apartment. We think this was when the missile hit a street a couple of blocks away from our apartment, but we didn't find that out until Tuesday. Even though it landed in the middle of the street and didn't do any damage, we were glad we weren't home when it hit. The Abbotts fed us dinner and we enjoyed the time we had to relax.

Abbott's bomb shelter

We had planned to go to the Tel Aviv area Monday night, but we still had several things to do. We put the kids to bed and then organized the kitchen and repacked our suitcases. The last alarm of the evening was around 10:30 pm.

On Tuesday morning, we ate breakfast, packed the car and left the apartment. We wanted to drop some things off at the house of Tyler's friend Or. We had fun visiting them, but we got to spend some time in their shelter when an alarm sounded. It was pretty comfortable though because Or's room is the shelter and there were lots of toys and a TV.

Afterwards, we went to Intel to talk to Scott's manager and some friends. We ended up staying for a couple of hours. Several of Scott's co-workers were all working in a secure room. They let Tyler play on their computers and Efrat got hula hoops and balls from the gym for Brooke and Tyler to play with. We also stayed for lunch - packaged sandwiches, salads and soda. While we were there, a missile hit the side of the mountain behind the mall across the street from Intel and started a fire. Fortunately, the area is open and undeveloped.

Fire due to missile strike

After we felt things were calm, we drove to Herzliya. We first visited Tiffany's dentist to prove to him that we were safe and then we went to our friends, the Earls. The Earls have two boys, one two years old and the other turning four years old. It was so nice to relax and let the tension dissipate. The kids loved being able to run around in the Earl's yard and playing with their toys. Scott drove to the Intel site in Petach Tikva, which is south of Herzliya. Scott had several meetings by phone and tried to catch up on his email.

We had a wonderful night's sleep. It was so nice to sleep without the fear and stress of alarms and missiles. The Earl's extra bedroom is even in their bomb shelter in their basement, so we felt extra safe!

The Earl's son Ethan is turning four and he had his pre-school birthday party on Wednesday. Tyler and Brooke got invited too. We had a little scare because the power went out and then we heard that power was out to much of the country. We discovered later that it was unrelated to the current situation in Israel, but instead a technical problem at a power station that provides one-fifth of Israel's power.

Ethan's party

After the party, Scott went to the Intel site in Yakum. Along the way, Scott passed several tanks on semi-trucks headed north.

Tank headed north

In Yakum, Scott met with several people and got some work done. Then after returning to the Earl's house, we had pizza and put the kids down to bed.

"Do you want me to run home and get my squirt gun and shoot at them?" - Tyler comforting the Abbotts by telling them that he would take care of the missiles.
"Please tell them to stop shooting missiles because we are up here in our closet and we want them to stop." - While praying in our closet during an attack.

"That one" - Brooke wanted Tyler's red cereal bowl.

Posted by sjbowden at 11:18 PM | Comments (5)

Safe and sound in Herzliya

We are safe and sound in Herzliya with our friends, Josh and Nicole Earl. Their children are about the same ages as our children. It is nice to relax and let go some of the tension of the last couple of days. We will stay here at least through Saturday and longer if the situation does not improve.

Posted by sjbowden at 12:26 AM | Comments (5)

July 18, 2006

Leaving Haifa

We are finally really leaving Haifa. We wrapped everything up and we are driving to Herzliya. We are still doing well and we are safe.

Posted by sjbowden at 1:47 PM

July 17, 2006


Thanks for all your prayers, messages and calls.

We are doing fine and we are safe. We don't currently have internet, so it may be harder to reach us.

We will keep you informed whenever we can dial up.

Posted by sjbowden at 8:57 PM

Recap of the past few days

On Thursday night we were getting the kids ready for bed and heard a loud sound. Loud sounds are not unusual in Haifa. With the port and construction there are often loud noises, that sometimes even rattle the windows. For example, when a shipping container gets set down too hard at the port, it is very loud!

A few minutes later, Ann Hansen called us to tell us that it was a Katyusha missile that had hit near Stella Maris. There were no injuries and only some slight damage to a sidewalk. Stella Maris is the traditional location of Elijah's cave. It is the northwestern point of Haifa and has a spectacular view of both Haifa Bay and the Mediterranean. We went there a few weeks ago and got a tour of the military base there. Later after the kids were in bed, Tyler and Brooke's pre-school called to tell us that the end of summer party scheduled for Friday would be postponed. We moved Tyler into Brooke's room because her room is less exposed. Tyler didn't even wake up as we moved him.

Stella Maris Carmelite Church (taken from the military base)

This is a picture of the remains of the rocket and the damage (from Uri Sabach).
Damage from Stella Maris attack

On Friday, we started organizing the house to get ready for the movers. We have to separate our stuff from the landlord's things and pull out everything that is going in our suitcases. The Abbotts came over for lunch and to use our internet phone to move their return flight earlier. After lunch, Doug and Scott took the kids swimming. In the evening, Ali watched the kids so we could go to dinner at our favorite French restaurant, HaShmura 1872, in the German colony at the base of the Baha'i gardens. It was a calm, but busy day.

Tiffany, after dinner, in front of the Baha'i Gardens

On Saturday, we went to church as usual. It was a special meeting because we were released from our callings in the branch. President Cox came from the Jerusalem Center. After the meetings, we were preparing for our potluck lunch when we heard several loud booms and the windows rattled. We grabbed the kids and went down to the branch president's office in the basement. We waited a little while and then we brought the food downstairs and ate lunch.

Tiffany, Tyler, Brooke and Mary safe in the basement office

We found out that several Katyusha rockets hit Tiberias and the surrounding towns. One hit within 200 meters of the church building. The two BYU center couples were told to go to Jerusalem. Several members also decided to go to the Jerusalem center to stay for a few days. We drove home the long way, past Bet She'an and Megiddo. Later that evening more rockets hit Tiberias and shattered and cracked some of the windows of the church building. We spent much of the evening talking to friends and family.

On Sunday morning, things seemed pretty calm. However, pre-school was cancelled so the kids stayed home. Scott and some co-workers were supposed to meet with someone from the US who had just arrived in Israel for a business trip. Scott picked him up from his hotel and took him to work. A few minutes into the meeting, Scott heard some noises but he dismissed them as noises from the construction site next door. Then Tiffany called to tell him to come home because rockets had hit Haifa. However, at the same time, Scott was told to go immediately to the bomb shelter at Intel. Tiffany grabbed our 72 hour kit and took the kids to the bomb shelter in the basement of our building. Fortunately, someone brought coloring books to the shelter and the resident association president brought snacks and water.

Some of the rockets that hit Haifa were the more advanced Fajar rockets and not the Katyusha rockets. One rocket hit the train depot which is near the water of Haifa bay.

Scott arranged for the co-worker on a business trip to meet with the people he needed to in the bomb shelter. Scott participated a little bit, but mostly checked news and answered email. Someone brought water, soft drinks, fruit and cookies to the shelter. Later, Scott visited the different shelters at Intel talking to his friends and trying to get touch with Tiffany. Tiffany couldn't get cell phone service in the shelter and the cell networks kept crashing.

After several hours, Tiffany and the kids left the shelter to go upstairs to a friend's house for lunch. During that time we were able to call each other and talk until alarms sounded again and we both had to go back to the bomb shelters. Scott found the shelter where his manager was and met with him. Scott also was able to return calls for all the voicemail messages he got while the networks were down. Scott found out that the movers cancelled the appointment to pick up our things for shipment home.

After a couple hours, Tiffany and the kids were able to go back to the apartment and Scott drove home. We spent the evening packing our suitcases and organizing things for our move. Throughout the evening we heard many Israeli jets flying overhead.

On Monday morning we were awakened at 6 am by the emergency alarms. We woke up the kids and went to our closet, the most protected place in the apartment. There we played Memory until we couldn't stand it any longer. We found out that the alarm was a false alarm. Then we got ready and made more preparations for the movers because we don't know when they will come and we need the packing to be somewhat self explanatory.

Brooke is pretty oblivious to what is going on. She only gets nervous when Tyler does. Tyler is a little nervous and runs to us anytime he hears any noises.

"Are the people riding in the rockets OK?" - Tyler pictured NASA rockets crash landing in Tiberias.
"Are the animals OK?" - Tyler was worried when he heard that one of the missiles had landed in a field. He didn't know it was a football field.

"Rocket! Rocket!" - Repeated while running around wildly whenever any loud sound is heard. This is much like the game she plays, yelling "tontor" and pretending there are monsters in the house.

Posted by sjbowden at 12:45 PM | Comments (5)

July 16, 2006

Still safe in Haifa

We are still safe. We are in shelters, but the missiles that have hit Haifa are still a long ways from us. Remember that Haifa is a large city. The missiles so far have been aimed at the industrial areas near Haifa Bay. We are very high up on the Carmel mountains.

The movers are supposed to come tomorrow. We don't know if they are still planning on coming. We hope so, because that will help us relax.

Intel is taking care of us and has already offered to move us to Tel Aviv. The BYU Jerusalem Center has also invited us to stay at the center. We will wait until the situation calms down and we can gather our stuff. We already have our suitcases packed and our 72 hour kit ready.

We are not scared, but sad that our stay in Israel is ending this way.

We hear that the members of the church are safe. Many have moved to the Jerusalem Center. We will update you later.

Posted by sjbowden at 10:31 AM | Comments (1)

July 13, 2006

Safe in Haifa

In case anyone is wondering, we are safe here in Haifa.

If you weren't wondering, then don't worry about it.

Posted by sjbowden at 11:14 PM