Greetings! Vanessa and I have just entered into the world of blogging (who would have thought!). We pray this blog will be a means for us to share what God has done and is doing in our lives. We desire that all who read will “stop and consider the wondrous works of God” (Job 37:14) which he has so clearly manifest throughout our relationship, and which we expect him to continue to manifest throughout our lives.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

!הקץ בא – The End is Coming!

As our summer winds down, our minds have been preparing for what comes next. We thank God for the opportunity we’ve had to be here and are excited to see how God uses it in our future (both near and far). We have one more week of our Genesis course, which has a very different feel than our Jonah course did. It involves less acting out and more discussion of the creation/fall account. It’s encouraging to be able to speak about the Biblical text in the language in which it is written. Last week, we took a field trip to the Biblical Zoo since we studied Genesis 1-2. It was a unique experience!
As for our return, Marcus (BCS classmate of mine who’s here studying) and I have the opportunity to teach what we’ve been learning this summer at The Bethlehem Institute this year. It has been exciting to plan for this, though we know it is going to stretch us tremendously. Vanessa will be taking the class both to solidify what she’s learned this summer and to help us teach the feminine gender of the language.
We made our last excursion into Jerusalem today. It has been rich to spend time in the Old City, but we’re excited to explore the rest of the country during our last five days here (after this week of class). Pray that we will absorb as much of the language as we are able to this last week!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Life Beyond Class

The last several days have been refreshing and encouraging for us. Both last weekend and this weekend we visited some friends who live here in Israel. They moved to a different city and we helped paint both their new and old apartments. It was a good break from our studies! Both weekends we called the same taxi driver (for our 45 minute ride) who asked why we are so interested in studying Hebrew. We told him we love studying the Tanakh (Hebrew Old Testament) and knowing Hebrew better will help us. This opened a flood of questions: Why do you love studying the Tanakh? What do Christians believe? What is the New Testament about? He was very curious so we simply answered his questions explaining the difference between the Old and New Covenants and the person and work of Jesus. It ended with him asking where he can get a Hebrew New Testament, which we “just so happened” to have. Pray for Yosef!

On Shabbat, we visited our friends’ Messianic congregation and were blown away by the diversity! Four languages were used throughout the service. Hebrew was spoken from the pulpit, which was then translated into Russian, English (for the few of us visiting) and sign language! It was amazing to worship with these believers from around the world.

The is a picture of one of the song slides in the congregation. Top left: Hebrew. Top right: Russian. Middle: Russian phonetic spelling. Bottom left: Hebrew phonetic spelling. Bottom right: English.

On our field trip two weeks ago, we stopped at the Mediterranean Sea to act out and recite our Hebrew dialogue for that day––Jonah getting swallowed by the fish and then spit out onto the beach!

After acting out and reciting the reading, we had class under a Roman Aqueduct.
We also visited a Talmudic village. Here we are at the synagogue.
These were the students in our Jonah class. Unfortunately, we lost five students for the next two-week course, and we will gain one new student.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Final Exam

Tomorrow is our final exam for the Jonah course. Pray for us! Next week, we will start a two-week intermediate course on Genesis 1-3.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

העתיד - The Future

Before this trip, we were praying that God would clarify some things for us concerning our future, but we feel that this summer has opened more opportunities and possibilities. I’ve mentioned that I see my gifts and desires fitting into the ministry of Bible translation; however, the last several weeks have served to open our eyes to perhaps a greater need that is one step removed from actually translating the Bible––training Bible translators! A number of students in our class this summer have the same passion to see the kind of training we’re receiving here to be spread to more and more people. There are very few people who are equipped to teach the biblical languages in a communicative (spoken) manner, but there is a massive need for it. Perhaps God could use me in a greater capacity if I trained those who are doing the “grunt work,” that is, native speakers who are being hired to translate from a common language (such as French, Spanish, or English) into their mother tongue. The beauty of the training we are receiving here is that is transfers completely to another culture in another language. That is, there is no need to translate grammar books and other materials. I could teach the biblical languages the way they learned their other three or four languages (which is common for the average human being across the world!). This vision would require extensive training, though we are not clear what it would look like at this point. Please pray for Vanessa and I as we seek to use our gifts to spread His word to the nations.

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

[Creative Title]

We just started the last half of the beginning Hebrew course (first course is four weeks; the second is two weeks), in which we use the book of Jonah to immerse ourselves in the language. I am VERY pleased with the program so far and I feel it has helped tremendously in understanding the Hebrew language. Last week I felt like I hit several mental walls and struggled to absorb the language, but after a refreshing weekend I have been doing better this week, which is encouraging. Vanessa is doing very well, though it is always more difficult the first time you are exposed to such a foreign language with squiggly letters and guttural sounds :-) Tomorrow morning we leave for on an overnight field trip to Jonah's birth place: Gat-Hefer (in Galilee). We've been told it's not a typical tourist highlight, though we will be making some significant stops along the way including: Caesarea on the Mediterranean coast where we will act out our Jonah dialogue for tomorrow (Jonah getting spit out of the fish's mouth onto dry ground), Mt. Carmel, Sea of Galilee, an old village (name?), and a winery. We're excited to get to see more of the country!

Please continue to pray for us. We have been praying for God's direction for our future. There are many people here who are interested in the same things we are, which seems to present more opportunities and not narrow them down. But we know that God has already determined our future and will lead us in his time.

Saturday, July 02, 2011

A Glimpse Into Our Daily Life

 This is where we're living for six weeks. Not too shabby! We've had sunny and eighty degree weather every day since we've been  here!
Our back porch where much studying, reading, and eating takes place :-)
Our study time involves much listening and performing drills to increase fluency.
These little guys are our friends this summer! They help learn verb persons and numbers.
Our classes are held across the street in these old school buildings where other activities take place on the kibbutz.
Here's the inside of our classroom (well, we've had to change rooms since then).
Class consists of many different activities including role playing, singing, demonstrations, skits, stories, etc. which all help to internalize the language.
Another activity...this time, I was the prop!
The stories in our class are quite comical. Some, like this one, were thought through; others, however, are made up on the fly using props and other ideas we throw in as the story progresses. All of the activities and stories prepare us for the readings we have assigned for homework.
Every Friday, we celebrate Shabbat which begins in the afternoon. Here, Randall Buth is explaining the bread and the wine before we enjoy the Lord's Supper as a class. The two men standing in the background are our teachers: Jordash (left) and Aaron (right).
This week we had quite the spread: flat bread, hummus (fyi, causes terrible gas), olive oil, apricots, figs, carrots, cucumbers, wine, and juice. Yum :-)