I warned the kids that I wanted to take a bunch of family pictures at the Jerusalem Center on Shabbat–so we left Mesaveret Zion ninety minutes before church starts. The Jerusalem Center grounds open 30 minutes before sacrament meeting and close 30 minutes after church ends, and our journeys to church had not been smooth any of the other times–usually taking us between 40-50 minutes from wherever we were.
Naturally, this time things went super smoothly! It only took us 30 minutes to get to Mt Scopus and the Center. Luckily for us, the guards let us in early. Let the picture taking commence!
While at church, an awesome branch family named the Farrells invited us to their house for dinner, with some other members of the branch. We were thrilled–well, my kids were filled with trepidation at first, but ended up having the BEST time ever. We raided our larder (such as it was) to figure out what to bring–which ended up being deviled eggs (the yolks were flavored with salt, mayo, fry sauce, and garlic powder, which were the only spices/condiments I had on hand!), cubed watermelon, and challah bread.
Driving to the Farrells’ house was a bit of an adventure (we are used to those by now), but we made it fun by finding roads named after people in our family. Or interesting restaurants–I didn’t know they have Papa Johns here!
The Farrells have a cool story, the upshot is that they and their six kids are living in Israel for several years so Heather (mom) can get her degree from the Hebrew University. They are living their dream and I think it is the coolest thing ever. It’s not an easy thing to be an expat, and when you aren’t fluent in the language it adds even more difficulty. They were so welcoming and we had the best time visiting with the Oldroyds (from Provo, living in Jerusalem for the summer for research) and the other expat couple (whom I can’t remember their names! I’m terrible!), and the two Hebrew University students, and of course the Farrells. The kids got over their shyness and had a GREAT time chatting with all the kids there.
The Farrells’ oldest son is an amazing cook, and we had the most delicious curry, and salads and fruits and rolls and cookies. The deviled eggs were a hit–apparently it is Heather’s birthday this week and she always wants deviled eggs on her birthday, and this way she didn’t have to make them! That was a funny coincidence (or tender mercy).
We had marvelous conversations about masters’ degrees, and writing (Heather is a published author!), and nuclear energy, and interesting experiences we’d had with strict Orthodox Jews. We aren’t the only ones that have been intimidated and/or made uncomfortable–President Farrell said “Oh, you’ve seen that side of Jerusalem, have you?” to Bradley; Heather told us about the almost fights her sons have experienced, or the rocks thrown at other friends. I had read an news article about some altercations at the Western Wall, and one of the Hebrew University students was explaining the situation–it seems that there are some Jews who would like to pray together (men and women) at the Western Wall (egalitarian prayer), and other Jews who think this is an abomination. She also mentioned many women are tired of being shoved off into a little tiny prayer area, while the men get a much larger part of the wall. It was a really enlightening conversation.
We finally dragged our kiddos away, and they were SO SAD. Gee and Yummy kept talking about how “Of course, on the last day, we make friends!” Everyone was on a bit of a high as we walked back to our van.