Friday, November 27, 2009

More Pictures from Thanksgiving

Here are a few of the pictures taken from my camera. Thanks to Grandma and Grandpa for being excellent hosts as usual and thanks to everyone else who brought food and made it a great Thanksgiving.
Grandma, probably telling us about the fish she caught. (I had a few ideas about captions for this picture, but this is what I went with. Any other good ideas?)

Jello, anyone?

Lily and Max took over Grandpa's chair. I wonder how many pictures of this chair have been taken over the years. That would be a fun post.

Jack got a hold of my camera

These were the two pictures that didn't have a finger in them and were not taken of his face. He kept flipping the camera around, pointing it at himself but still trying to take pictures of people

It's weird to see the newest generation play with the same exact things that I used to play with over 20 years ago. I can only imagine how the Aunts and Uncles feel.

Happy Birthday Ben!

Happy Birthday to Ben! We had a fun day (well, it was fun for me - I hope Ben had fun!) hanging out at the house, having birthday cinnamon rolls, (I'm not a cake person, so don't ever expect me to make you a cake on your birthday :) playing with the kids & going to lunch. Molly & I were tired from shopping the Black Friday sales, but we had enough energy to help Ben celebrate. Thanks Ben & Courtney for hanging out today & for bringing Molly along with you!

Thanksgiving Day at the Twin Pine Ranch 11-09

We had a wonderful day with all who could make it for Thanksgiving Day but also missed the company of those who couldn't make it. Chad's call from Jerusalem, Jake's from Illinois, and Tom's call and e-mail from San Diego helped add to the occasion Norda spent a lot of time getting ready as documented in the pictures taken before the family started arriving. It has always been her preference to get ready ahead of time rather than wait until everyone gets here and then panicking (which is the system used by some of the unrelated people we know and love.) Notice the round batik table cloths from Indonesia that added greatly to the appearance.

Norda also had 6 small quilts ready to be tied for the Humanitarian services and there were many willing hands ready to help, again as documented in the pictures.

During all of the final preparations (which included a lot of food being carried into the house by all of those who helped prepare the dinner) Beth provided an interlude of piano music that was very appropriate to the setting.

When it was time to eat there seemed to be room for everyone to sit down and fill up although it was quite a bit later before sampling of the many desserts was finished.

Most of the family returned to their various homes later in the evening but Mary, Emily, Amanda, Jamie, Camilla, Carly and Katie all stayed to go shopping in the wee hours of the morning. Fortunately, everyone else in the house (John and Norda) stayed in bed to make sure the everything was safe and sound. All in all, a most enjoyable and memorable Thanksgiving day again!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Galilee Thanksgiving

We began our Thanksgiving celebration on Wednesday evening with a turkey dinner provided by Kibbutz En Gev Holiday Village. This resort has hosted BYU students for several decades. We stay for nearly two weeks on the eastern shore of the Sea of Galilee.
The dining room was decorated with an American patriotic theme. The turkeys were delivered to the waiting students and faculty with flaming sparklers on top.
Later that evening in a three hour testimony meeting around a bonfire on the beach, one of the students began his testimony by expressing gratitude to the En Gev Holiday Resort for the wonderful stay and for somehow knowing and taking into consideration that his family's tradition was to present the turkey with sparklers on top (this was the top laugh of the evening).
The turkey tasted great (I was the only dark meat fan at our table). It and the corn were the most authentic portion of the dinner. We also had rolls, baked potatoes with dill butter (pretty good), candied yams with raisins, waldorf salad, and apple strudel a la mode--all tasty but with an Israeli twist.
On Thanksgiving day we headed out on our last field trip in the Galilee. First stop was Sefforis (Arab Saffuiryah and Israeli Tsippori). Here we saw Roman ruins and mosaics including the beautiful Mona Lisa of the Galilee. While driving to Sefforis I told the students that it was a mere 7 kilometers NW of Nazareth. Joel then asked an excellent question. He wondered if Jesus had ever visited Sefforis (he probably was listening better and leaning more than some of the sleeping or i-pod listening students). Many biblical scholars have suggested that Joseph and Jesus most likely would have spent time working as craftsmen (a better translation than carpenter and most likely meaning stone mason) at Sefforis--the growing capital of Herod Antipas in the Galilee. Up until 1948 Sefforis was a large Arab village. I told the students how the residents of the village fled to the safety of Nazareth during the war and then were not allowed to return once the war end--even though they were now citizens of Israel. They stayed in Nazareth as "internal refugees" and eventually settled in a quarter of Nazareth that looks out to Saffuriya (read more about this in my book Beyond the Basilica). To make sure that the Arabs did not return to the village the government of Israel bulldozed down the rock homes and then planted trees (this was done to over 200 villages vacated by Arabs during the war). Most tourists to Sefforis never know this part of Sefforis' history. To ensure that my students got the whole story I pointed out the piles of stones from the demolished homes hidden under the trees as well as the olive, pomegranate, almond and other trees planted by Arabs that still are found on the hillside where the village once stood. The only remaining structure from the Arab village is a crusader/Ottoman citadel on the hilltop. The jump picture above (a favorite pose perfected by BYU Jerusalem students) is taken on the roof top of that citadel.
We next made a quick stop at a new site I learned about--a Roman era rolling stone tomb just off the main road on our way to Mt Carmel.
Next we drove to the traditional site of Elijah's confrontation with the priests of Baal on Mt. Carmel. The students had already studied this wonderful story in Old Testament class. I recounted the story (mainly so Joel and Sarah could hear it--Will fell asleep on Marie's lap at the back of the small Carmelite chapel) and reminded the students that when the fire from heaven destroyed the bullock, wood, stones and water on the altar, it destroyed the symbols of the four main Canaanite gods (who were now being worshiped in the northern kingdom of Israel thanks to the adverse influence of Ahab's wife Jezebel) which then showed to all Israel that Jehovah was God. I then noted that when Elijah asked the people "why halt ye between two opinions?," he was exhorting them to return to what the prophets and scriptures had taught their fathers. He was "turning the hearts of the sons to the fathers"--which is why he then was tasked with restoring the keys of temple work to Peter James and John on the Mt of Transfiguration and to Joseph Smith in the Kirtland temple. We then focused on the end of the story where after the priests of Baal had been put to death (as in the photo above) that no clouds turned into a tiny cloud the size of a hand (symbolic of the hand of God blessing our lives?) which then turned into a dark cloud that brought rain and ended the three year long drought. The Lord blessed Israel for returning to the worship of Jehovah. From Elijah on Thanksgiving Day we learned to be thankful for fathers (and mothers) who have gone before and prepared the way by seeking religous freedom in America (choosing a good opinion) and to be thankful for our many other blessings as symbolized by the rain on Carmel. Then we sang "Prayer of Thanksgiving" and "Come, ye Thankful People" both of which have great lyrics that actually tied in to our Elijah discussion.
We then drove to Haifa via the crest of Mt. Carmel with a stop as a viewpoint down on the port and the Bahai temple (unfortunately enclosed in scaffolding) and garden. Our final stop was at the German Cemetery in Haifa. This cemetery (beyond the neat rows of the British WWI cemetery) is where two LDS missionaries (Adolf Haag and John Clark) are buried. They served in Haifa in the 1890s among the Germans of the Templar colony and there died of typhoid and smallpox. Present in our BYU group were two great great grand nieces of John Clark. One was in my bus group and the other with the second group. As we sat on the lawn in the corner of the British cemetery, Angie Clark told our group how she had come to appreciate this ancestor for his faithful service. Also buried in the cemetery are two LDS couples--both German converts. Georg Grau was converted (in 1884) by Jacob Spori the first missionary to Haifa. Spori had a dream that he was to go to Haifa and there find a blacksmith with a black beard who was prepared to receive the gospel. Grau had a dream that a man would come the next day with the truth. It happened as was dreamed and Grau was baptized and then a month latter he baptized his wife Magdalena in Acco Bay. Magdalena's grave has the image of a flying angel and the scripture from Revelations about "another angel flying in the midst of heaven..." The grave stones of the two missionaries are marble pillars broken off near the base to indicate lives cut short. It was a touching emotional visit as we talked about serving God wherever called. We sang "I'll go where you want me to go."

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Happy Birthday Carly

Carly had a wonderful birthday yesterday. We love you Carly!!!!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Thursday, November 12, 2009


Happy Birthday to Nick! He is the BIG 30 today!
Love you!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Happy Birthday Emily!

We celebrated on Monday because Emily has school all day today.
We're happy she can celebrate all week with her family and friends!
Just like old times, Mom gets a classy picture of Emily
excited with her presents. We're lucky to have Emily home!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Onion Polling

Poll: 100% Of Grandsons Talented

November 9, 2009 | Issue 45•46

ATLANTA—A Zogby poll of 1,542 American grandparents published Monday found that grandsons were described as "very" to "extremely" talented by 1,542 of the respondents. "Participants in the poll were emphatic in their descriptions of the talents of grandsons in fields as diverse as advertising and sales, choral performance, baseball, talking, crawling, making their beds, video games, and instructing their elders on proper cell-phone use," pollster Tom Waterton said. "In addition, an overwhelming percentage of grandchildren were described as outgoing, sharp, and looking just like Uncle Andy, you remember Uncle Andy, he was always up to something, too bad he passed so young, he would have loved the grandchild in question." Sources at Zogby admitted that the survey was incomplete, as several hundred pollsters are still unable to get their assigned grandparents off the phone.

hhmmm... What about the granddaughters?

Monday, November 9, 2009

The oldest grandson is even older

John celebrated his 31st Birthday on November 3rd. Sunday, a few friends and some of Beth's family joined us to celebrate with good food and birthday cake. As I recall, 31 years ago, I missed the annual Warren Miller ski movie due to a 'family conflict' taking place in the delivery room. I told John that if he would have delayed his arrival by a day, I'm pretty sure I would have won the free ski goggles given away during intermission at the ski movie. Arriving a day early was not an option since our USU student insurance didn't take effect until Nov 3.

It takes a village to light the candles on this cake

Old School Cake for an Old School Guy

Beth's brother Kurt, Beth, Jason's wife, Heidi, Jackie, Kru and Kurt's wife Jordan

On this side of the house is Beth's dad, Scott, brother, Jason, high school buddies Trevor Twitchell and Casey Robles and 3 of Trevor's kids. Yes, the color on our TV is that green. That's what happens when the blue color chip burns out and leaving red and yellow to do it on their own. Replacement part is coming tomorrow.

Still struggles with the birthday candles.

On a more somber note, John called me this morning with the pathology report of the biopsy from Stanford of his birthmark/lesion on his leg. They took the biopsy a few weeks ago when they removed a portion of the birthmark on his leg. The news was not what we hoped for. The bad news is that the lesion is melanoma - which puts John in the club with Chad and Dad. The good news is that the melanoma is 'in situ' which is almost always curable (Stage 0 vs. the Stage 4 of dad's). John will meet with Dr. Noyes at the University of Utah to determine how to proceed to remove what remains of the birthmark and any other follow up treatment.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

A few photos from the fall

Mac the Tornado for Halloween '09. Notice the sticks, orange bike, cow and baby that were swept up by natures force.

Sorry I could not turn the video but some tornadoes appear to be tilting...

Alex the Sumo Wrestler for Halloween '09

Sam in Park City on her b-day

Alex actually bought the glasses

Mac models a beanie for Norda's PC

Thursday, November 5, 2009


Camptured on film Steve displays his disappointment shared with many Emmett's about the Phillies lose to the Yankees.... there is always next year. a JTShep original