Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Have migrated the blog over the tumblr.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011


We spent three fantastic weeks at Kasey's parents' house relaxing, readjusting to American time zones, seeing movies (HARRY POTTER!), and eating good food.

Inevitably, though, vacations come to an end, and we had jobs to get to. So, we set out on our road trip to North Carolina, Polly in tow :)

When we arrived, we spent a couple of days in our new house, getting situated, and then Jon's family showed up unexpectedly, with all of our things we'd stored with them!! They stayed for a few days and explored our new home, and then they headed home.

We are now settled into Fayetteville and our jobs at VCA. We were extremely blessed that, when we told the school we had no furniture, they made it their mission to furnish our apartment. We have literally all the furniture we could want! It's been pretty amazing to see how God continues to provide for us.

And Polly appreciates that she still has stairs to play on :)

Saturday, July 16, 2011

We're baaaack.

We spent two awesome weeks touring with Jon's family, and then, on June 22nd, we left Israel. The security at the airport went extremely smoothly -- not exactly what we were expecting after two years. Normally, people we know who have traveled home have been the teachers from Beit Hanina (Arab community), who have it stamped in their passport that they are volunteers in East Jerusalem. Their security encounters usually include a full search of their luggage and often a strip-search.

Since we were technically in the country to get Jon's Masters degree, and traveling with family, however, we passed straight through. We got a 4 am snack from the McDonalds at the airport, and then off we went... only half an hour late!

We flew first to Poland, where we ate our first out-of-Israel food: SAUSAGE! :) As you can see, Kasey is super excited about this, and both of us felt that the food had an AMAZING amount of flavor to it.
The family was set to leave earlier than us, but their flight was delayed a couple of hours. We hung out with them until they left, and our plane should have boarded immediately after theirs cleared the gate. We actually boarded our plane 2 1/2 hours after we were meant to.

We arrived in Chicago on time, miraculously. We were a little antsy about reentering the country, but less than two minutes after approaching the customs desk, we strolled on through! At this point, we were pretty sure that our entire trip would go smoothly.

Ha. Ha. Ha.

We arrived in Chicago at 9pm, which apparently is bad. All the ticket counters were closed for the night and we were unable to recheck our bags or pass through security into the terminal. We spent almost 7 hours waiting for the terminal to open (they had red-eye flights that people were unable to check in for, btw). It was very cold.

Early the next morning, we rechecked our bags and went through security. I got my first Starbucks (YEY!), and Jon tried to nap before we boarded our plane to St. Louis, which boarded about an hour late (are you beginning to see a pattern?).

We stayed in St. Louis for 3 days. The last day there was spent being the photographers at Jeff and Maryann's wedding, which was gorgeous!

The day after the wedding, we flew to Houston to catch a connecting flight to San Diego. Our flight left around an hour+ late because the pilot that was scheduled to fly our plane was also scheduled to be in New Orleans, not Houston. We took off, flew about an hour, then the pilot announced that one of our engines seemed to be failing and we'd head back to make an emergency landing in Houston. That was the near-death experience of that day... we were escorted by emergency vehicles and everything. Pretty impressive.

But that also meant that we spent about 3 hours after that waiting for another plane and the same pilot, who had to undergo drug and alcohol testing thanks to a comment from one of the passengers. THEN we flew to San Diego.

Five hours late, we were finally with Kasey's family!

It has been a glorious three week vacation, which has included a pool, an old dog, our beautiful kitty Polly, lots of food, trips around San Diego, and Kasey officially (and FINALLY) changing her last name so all paperwork reflects our marriage... oh, and of course, the last Harry Potter movie midnight showing...
(Lupin and Tonks)

Now we're down to 2 1/2 days left in San Diego. On Tuesday, we'll begin our cross-country trek to North Carolina, along the way visiting friends (including Jeff and Maryann). We begin our new jobs at Village Christian Academy in Fayetteville, North Carolina, on July 27th.

To anyone else, moving with no money, no furniture, and not even any pieces of a kitchen (plates? tupperware? coffee pot? can opener?), would seem to be daunting and nearly impossible. We feel that's one more thing our time in Israel has equipped us for. We trust Him totally, and are ready to patiently work toward the things we need.

After all, when there's a time of need, that's when He provides.

Prayer Requests:
  • God's continued provision during our transition to NC. It will be quite the financial stretch.
  • Safe and enjoyable road trip -- California, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, West Virginia, Virginia, North Carolina -- WOW.
  • That Polly makes a good traveling kitty.
  • That we will find a way to move everything we stored in Calgary to NC.
  • That our new jobs at VCA go well!
Praise Reports:
  • We accomplished what we set out to do! Now for the next adventure :)

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Employment Success!

Major praise report:

We have just officially accepted offers to teach at Village Christian Academy in Fayetteville, North Carolina!!

It's pretty perfect, actually. Jon was offered a position as a Bible teacher for 10/12th grade (hey... isn't that one of the things we came here for?), and Kasey was... well, Kasey's going to be doing the exact same thing she's been doing in Jerusalem: teaching 7/8th grade science!

We're super excited and looking forward to what the new year (and our return to the States) will bring.


Sunday, May 1, 2011

Heading out in 52, 51, 50, 49...

24; 52; 56.

It's hard to believe that when we first arrived in Jerusalem, we had 678 days to go before we headed home. Exams for Jon, 24 school days for Kasey, and 52 days until we leave the country for home!

Jon is very quickly approaching the end of his Masters degree. He has finals this week on Tuesday and Friday, and two comprehensive exams, each roughly two weeks apart and completed around the first couple of days in June. He soon hopes to demand the title Master Harkness (lol).

The 24 days of school for Kasey will move quickly. May has only 3 weeks of instruction, followed by review and finals. Finals end on June 2nd and graduation is the 5th.

Kasey has to be at school on the 4th to help hand out report cards. That night, we will head to the airport to pick Jon's parents up at 3 am (the same day as graduation). The Harknesses will be here until the 22nd, when we will (finally) depart for North America. We will all be traveling to Poland for one leg of the flight. Our layover is twice as long as theirs, as our final destinations are different. After about 7 hours in Warsaw, we will travel to Chicago for our next layover. We arrive after 9 pm, and don't depart until 7 am. There will be lots of sleeping at the airport. From Chicago, we head to St. Louis (which will hopefully be reconstructed after the recent tornado disaster).

We plan to spend several days in St. Louis acting as the wedding photographers in our friends' wedding. We met Jeff and Maryann in Jerusalem at The Jerusalem Schools and not only became good friends with them, but watched them meet and fall in love. We took their engagement photos last month and are so happy and excited for them :)

We have concocted a crazy plan upon arriving in St. Louis. Apparently we will step off the plane and head directly to a water park. This is on the 23rd. The wedding is on the 25th, and we head out on the morning of the 26th. Before noon, we'll be with Kasey's family in San Diego.

Because the reality of our departure has become more apparent as it approaches, we have been trying to make the most of the time we have left. On Palm Sunday, we participated in the Palm Sunday Walk, which commemorates Jesus entering Jerusalem by following a familiar path to the one he would have followed from the Mount of Olives into the Old City through the Lions Gate.

We also attended a Passover dinner at a Messianic Jewish village.
Time is passing quickly, and as we rapidly approach our departure date, we have been reflecting on how extremely blessed we are to have spent two years here broadening our horizons and serving the Lord.

Prayer Requests:
  • Patience and focus as we near the end -- Jon in his studies, and Kasey in her ministry with the Jerusalem Schools.
  • Safety.
  • Safe travel for the "Harkni" clan.
  • Employment upon our return to the States (which looks promising!).
  • Our finances are dwindling.
Praise Reports:
  • WE MADE IT! :)

Friday, January 7, 2011


Greetings! Time for the Christmas update!

Our Christmas was far more comfortable this year than it was last year. Once it passed Thanksgiving, we set up our Christmas decorations and created a Christmas songs playlist on our iTunes. We also volunteered to co-host the first Christmas party among our volunteer community (along with our neighbors, Nick and Angel [and baby Moira]), which was a great success.

Kasey wound up being sick the last week of school (Dec. 20-23) and spent the first day of her illness alternating napping on the bathroom floor and, well… being ill. She became more coherent on the 22nd, but woke up on the 23rd with a bad migraine, so her Christmas break began (unhappily) several days earlier than the other teachers at school.

On Christmas eve, we traveled to Bethlehem. It’s a tradition for the volunteers at The Jerusalem Schools (and supposedly the sister school in Bethlehem) to head to Manger Square to carol on Christmas eve. After a very long, confusing trip to Manger Square (and not joined by the Bethlehem volunteers), we split off into two groups so that one group (made up mostly of the men in the group who had driven… and Kasey) could park the cars and the other could wait for us to catch up with them before heading to the square.

Except that the second group (women and tiny children) wandered off into Manger Square without all the men (and Kasey). We really didn’t understand the scale of the celebration that goes on in Manger Square over Christmas, and the second group undoubtedly overestimated our skill of navigating the exact same path through thousands of people that they had.

By the time that we had parked the cars and made it to the square, we were thoroughly stressed out. There were literally thousands and thousands of people crowded in a fairly small area, and we had NO idea where to go. All we saw was the official stage at the front of the square. Most of us had assumed that by “caroling” we were going to be standing in a corner, singing to passersby for half an hour, going relatively unnoticed.

Oh no. This was the same stage that, moments before we went on (supposedly), the Palestinian president gave a speech. It was a pretty big stinking deal.

Luckily we had an administrator from the Bethlehem School with us who is Arab, so she pushed her way toward the stage (we grabbed each others’ coats and scaled walls and shoved through people and tripped over medians *cough*Jon*cough* to follow her), argued her way backstage… then promptly walked us to the opposite side of the stage and back into the crowd, next to the stage, but still in the crowd. They are… somewhat unorganized over here.

Meanwhile, the second group (the one with the women and children) had gotten stuck in the middle of the crowd, and everyone had in some form or another gotten trampled or groped, and they were all traumatized. They eventually made their way to the opposite side of the stage from us, and then after waiting and arguing with the soldiers guarding the backstage, they were finally able to make their way over to us… bringing with them Eddie James, who they had met in the crowd and convinced to carol with us.

After standing for a very long time in the crowd, and Jon having to fend off men who were hitting on Kasey left and right, and one of the guys in our group nearly getting accidentally engaged, and families reuniting after a long separation in the crowd, and lots of tears and frustration, someone called out that we were on, and we shoved our way onto the stage.

There was a lot of cheering, and lots of roses were thrown onto the stage (one even beaned our leader in the back of the head), we sang carols for half an hour, and then we were done. It was far easier pushing our way out of the square than it was to push our way in.

We ate at a chicken place in Beit Jalla and then headed home.

Though we attempted to watch The Santa Clause before we went to bed, Jon fell asleep, and Kasey was nodding off at the end, as it was well after midnight.

Jon woke up super early the next morning to make a surprise breakfast for Kasey: eggs, toast, and BACON. We munched on that while we Skyped with Kasey’s family (Jamie’s boyfriend, Kuro, and our now San Diego-dwelling kitty, Polly, included).

After breakfast and our chat, we opened presents, and were definitely spoiled (both families had sent bunches of presents).

We relaxed and played cards through the rest of the morning and the afternoon. In the evening, we had a Christmas dinner with all the volunteers who had stayed in the country for Christmas.

Nick and Angel left us with their car while they went home for the holidays, so we spent our days after Christmas making use of the mobility (it’s ridiculously difficult to get out of the neighborhood for long without one). We didn’t make any huge trips (except for a quick trip to IKEA), but had lots of fun jetting around Jerusalem easily with friends.

As our holiday (or Kasey’s, at least) comes to a close, we look forward to the next 5 months – the only time remaining in our 2-year Middle Eastern experience. Kasey has already planned out what she will teach and is a little daunted by the lack of holidays in this semester (fall semester contains something like 6, whereas spring semester contains 2). Jon has 3 classes left – Archaeology of Jerusalem, Hebrew, a history seminar – and 2 comprehensive exams – Hebrew and Historical Geography. We’re both taking our last big breaths before we dive into the semester and work our butts off (apparently necessary to this post: Jon has become MORE good-looking in the past few months… just FYI… this is awkward…).

We’re shopping for plane tickets home for June. At the moment it will take about $1700 for both plane tickets, and we still need to find that money somewhere. We have a good chunk of it, but unfortunately it is in the shekels that we have saved this year, and not in a bank account accessible by credit card. Tricky. We’re trying to figure out the best course of action before too much time passes and the prices go up.

We will also very soon begin sending out our applications to teach in schools across America. Hopefully, out of the list of 350 schools we have built, we will find some success (AKA: JOBS when we get home!).

Also to look forward to in June: Jon’s family is planning to visit for our last 2 weeks in the country. We’ll get a chance to re-see everything before we take off, and Jon’s family will get the full Israel experience.

*deep breath*

Here we go!

Prayer Requests:

  • Energy and enthusiasm for the coming semester.
  • $$ for plane tickets.
  • Safety.
  • Jobs.
Praise Reports:

  • We had an awesome fall semester!
  • The scholarships Jon has earned.
  • Our safety over the past year and a half.
  • Experiences and friends to last a lifetime! :)

Sunday, November 21, 2010


Jon here!

Story to tell that I thought should be shared.

Kasey has been sick literally her entire time off (not cool at all). BUT, yesterday our friends had some CHEERY flavored NyQuil for Kasey to use (apparently it is non-existant in this entire country).

Now just on an obvious note. We all know that Cherry flavor tastes like death just died in your mouth... nobody wants to come near the stuff let a lone drink it.

Anyway, she took it once in the morning (2 Tbl) and then 6 hours later at night WHERE (and this is my point) she filled the cap lid (I'm watching her the whole time) and started to drink it. You'd THINK she would just down the whole thing all at once to get it over with like a normal scared human being... but no.

She pours some into her mouth and swallows it, not once, not twice, BUT THREE TIMES!!! Taking breaths in between. While I was watching her, her face continued to shrivle up on every gulp, she was trying to plug her nose but by her facial expression it was not working. By the end she looked like she was going to throw it all up but she did not :)

I was seriously amazed! She took like 3 punches to the head of the Cherry flavor! I started laughing and said "YOU ARE TOUGH!!!" And told her to quickly drink water, but instead she went to the sink and washed out the cup with soap... and Didn't drink any water.

I may never forget this night of awesome.