Jerusalem Update: October 2013

Jerusalem Update: October 2013

Elliff October Update

You know the feeling. You stop paying much attention to the paths you walk (or drive) every day, you go to the same stores and buy the same foods, you see the same people and grow to enjoy their company . . . it’s the feeling of settling in. Though surprises still often tap us on the shoulder, this welcome feeling has been growing in us this last month.

Lately we’ve found that a good way to get to know people better is to ask them about their daily schedules. Once you understand all of the little odds and ends that make up a person’s life, you can start to see how they all come together to define that person. Although we’d love for each of you to visit us and see for yourselves what our life is like, it may be more practical to describe it for you.

We’ll start with Sunday, our favorite day. Every Sunday morning Bryan asks me in Hebrew, “What do we need to do today?” To which I respond, “Nothing!” We don’t set the alarm, and we don’t make any plans except fun ones like setting out to explore different parts of the land or spending several hours in a coffee shop reading the Bible together. Then in the evening we go to Ulpan (modern Hebrew classes) and straight from there, to church. Our church also meets on two other nights of the week, and Ulpan meets on two additional nights. We also try to have someone from church over once a week. Add up all those nights and you only get one free night. It can start to feel non-stop. But as we often remind ourselves, this is what we have chosen, and these are all the things we enjoy the most.

Every morning we wake up at seven. I get ready while Bryan makes bulghur, a cheap and delicious Middle Eastern substitute for our normal cereal and oatmeal. After getting ready and eating, we read Genesis together to prepare for an informal Bible school that Bryan helps lead on Saturdays. Then we walk about 15 minutes to his school. I normally study Hebrew in the library while Bryan goes to class, studies, and TA’s for Elementary Hebrew, and then we eat lunch together with other students. Sometimes I visit an older lady from church who can’t get out much, and one day a week I tutor two Korean boys from church in English. It seems that more and more opportunities like this will come to fill up my days. Then in the afternoon I walk home to do housework and cooking before Bryan gets home for dinner. Some time before we go to bed, we go on a short prayer walk.

Saturdays are a little more relaxed, but still full. We walk over to our church’s ministry house in the morning, where we meet Bryan’s four students and he leads them through a three hour discussion on portions of the Torah and Matthew. Then we all prepare and eat lunch together. After that, he tutors me in Biblical Hebrew and then studies for a few hours before we grab a quick dinner and head to church. Every Saturday night after church, we go to the Arabic Souq near our apartment, a fairly small outdoor market where local vendors sell and sometimes practically give away their produce. We usually walk away with nearly a dozen bags full of extremely cheap produce and grains and smiles on our faces.

So there you have it: a week in Jerusalem with the Elliffs. Of course, you don’t really have it. There are always surprises and adventures, just as in your schedules. We still get discouraged sometimes, especially with trying to serve at church and often seeing little fruit. But we can see how God is refining us and strengthening us through it, and we’re excited to see what each new day will bring.

And at least we can count on a steaming bowl of bulghur waiting for us each morning.