Monday, March 28, 2011


“Now the dogs are barking tonight, Now the men will bargain as they stand beneath the light” – Peter Breinholt

I spent a semester in Jerusalem in the fall of 1994.  There is a special place in my heart for this historical city.  It was a real treat to be able to share it with Yvonne and walk it’s extraordinary streets together.  It would be difficult to describe our experiences here in a way that would do it justice, and I don’t want to bore you with a travelogue…. So, I’ll simply say that we did a lot of walking, and I enjoyed every step.  I  had even more fun watching Yvonne see these sights for the first time.  It was enchanting.
A few highlights:
We stayed in a charming convent and "pilgrim house" within the walls of the old city.  The view from outside our room was as good as you could ask for overlooking the Dome of the Rock, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre with the Mt. of Olives in the distance.  It was right on the Via Dolorosa and actually one of the stations of the cross in the supposed path that Christ took while carrying the cross.  The name of the convent was Ecce Homo, Latin for the phrase uttered by Pilate (Behold the Man).  Tradition is that we slept very near the spot where Christ was presented to the crowds with the crown of thorns. (
The view from the balcony outside our room
20110125[IMG_1344] - Jerusalem20110125[IMG_1346] - Jerusalem

The western “wailing” wall
20110125[IMG_1366] - Jerusalem20110125[IMG_1370] - Jerusalem

BYU Center for Near Eastern Studies
20110126[IMG_1473] - Jerusalem20110126[IMG_1472] - Jerusalem

The View from BYU Jerusalem
20110126[IMG_1476] - Jerusalem

The path of suffering where Jesus carried the cross
20110126[IMG_1418] - Jerusalem

Church of St. Peter in Gallicantu
20110125[IMG_1390] - Jerusalem

The walls of the old city (I’m hiding out like Nephi’s brothers)
20110125[IMG_1401] - Jerusalem    20110127[IMG_1575] - Jerusalem
The Mt. of Olives – Graves and Olive Trees
20110126[IMG_1509] - Jerusalem20110126[IMG_1492] - Jerusalem20110126[IMG_1484] - Jerusalem20110126[IMG_1485] - Jerusalem

Tradition says that Christ was buried either near here: (church of the Holy Sepulchre)
20110126[IMG_1442] - Jerusalem20110126[IMG_1463] - Jerusalem
Or Here: (garden tomb)
20110127[IMG_1540] - Jerusalem20110127[IMG_1547] - Jerusalem

Probably more important is this:
20110127[IMG_1556] - Jerusalem

We thought these were interesting (notice what is not allowed at the school ;)
20110126[IMG_1420] - Jerusalem20110126[IMG_1512] - Jerusalem

Tuesday, March 22, 2011


“Well you don't know what we could find, Why don't you come with me little girl, On a magic carpet ride” – Steppenwolf

I’ve had several people ask for more info and photos about our recent trip. So, Here is Part #1 of the trilogy:

"Lucky” Anniversary

Yvonne and I celebrated our last anniversary a bit later than normal because I had more of a break between semesters. It is a bit of an adjustment to realize that you don’t get a Christmas break when you are working in a Muslim country.
Anyway, because it was our "Lucky" Anniversary (at least I think that is the term)... 11 years on the 11th of Dec, I wanted to do something fun. I've been telling Yvonne for the last 10 years that she is pretty lucky because I have taken her to Hawaii every year for our anniversary. That was going to be hard to beat, but a few weeks beforehand, I surprised her with the news that I had arranged a trip for the two of us to Jordan and Jerusalem. My folks were just finishing up their mission in Prague and I had contacted them to see if they wanted to join us for a trip to the Holy Land on their way home. They responded with: "it sounds like fun, but we would rather not. Instead, we would love to come to Dubai and babysit the kids while you and Yvonne go by yourselves." Well, I didn't argue with that too much.
We spent an amazing day exploring PETRA. Now, I wouldn’t say that I’m much of a world traveler, but I have been a few cool places like Zion’s National Park, The Great Pyramids in Egypt, Teotihuacan Ruins outside Mexico City, The Alhambra in Spain, Mt. McKinley in Alaska, Volcanoes National Park, and others …. Let me just say that Petra is cool enough to compete with anywhere.
Cameras (at least when I’m behind the lens) never do places like this justice, but here are a few pics anyway:
20110123[IMG_1171] - Petra
The Treasury (Indiana Jones “chose wisely” here)20110123[IMG_1289] - Petra
You could climb almost anywhere!20110123[IMG_1199] - Petra
Quite the luxury box in this theater20110123[P1010846] - Petra
Look close to find me…. this pace was HUGE!20110123[IMG_1214] - Petra
Yvonne had fun climbing around too20110123[IMG_1238] - Petra
Time has almost erased this camel and master20110123[IMG_1301] - Petra
…. Stay tuned for Part #2, Matt & Yvonne in Jerusalem.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Listen to the Music

I'd Like to Teach the World to Sing, In Perfect Harmony" - The New Seekers

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Birthday Excitement Pt.2

“Let 'em cry, let 'em giggle, Let them sleep in the middle, Oh, but let them be little.” – Billy Dean

I mentioned that our kids like birthdays, right?  Well, they also like animals.  And, they really like juice boxes and chips.  Recently, they got the chance to put all those things together for the super-fun birthday party of their good friend Mia.  We got to go to the Dubai Animal Sanctuary for the party.  There were party hats, horse rides, ducks to feed, all kinds of rabbits, turtles, birds, and all the chips they could eat.  Even Talon was so excited he was saying “Meeeeeaaaah, Meeeaaaah” all morning before we left.
Check out a few photos and some video of all the fun.
20110226[P1010907] - Mia's Birthday
183440_10150150480891518_728531517_8050184_2942092_n  185926_10150150480531518_728531517_8050181_1961448_n
20110226[P1010911] - Mia's Birthday20110226[P1010914] - Mia's Birthday20110226[P1010916] - Mia's Birthday20110226[P1010920] - Mia's Birthday

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Birthday Excitement!

“Youth is like diamonds in the sun, and diamonds are forever…

… so many dreams are swinging out of the blue, we let them come true” – Alphaville

There is not much that can compare to the excitement of birthdays for twin girls about to turn 3 years old. Abigail and Saylor have been excited for their birthday since… well, since their birthday last year. They have been excited at every single birthday for the last year. Partly for the person whose birthday it was, but mostly just for birthdays in general and because it meant they were one day closer to their own.

At the end of January their birthday finally came… and Yvonne and I were not even in town. Fortunately, even though they have been excited for quite some time and know what a birthday means (presents, cake, candles, songs, etc), they still don’t really have a good understanding of dates and calendars. So, we got away with some selective truths and were able to celebrate their birthday only a couple of days late after we got back from our trip to Jordan/Israel.

I think one of the best presents the girls got was to be able to celebrate with Grandma & Grandpa Anderson. They don’t really realize that they were able to see the tallest building in the world or visit the largest mall in the world on their birthday, but they did know that Grandma & Grandpa came a long way to be there. Plus, they got to make their own birthday cakes!

Here are a few pics of their big day.

20110131[IMG_1756] - Twins_3rd_B-Day20110131[IMG_1764] - Twins_3rd_B-Day20110131[IMG_1771] - Twins_3rd_B-Day20110131[IMG_1778] - Twins_3rd_B-Day20110131[IMG_1785] - Twins_3rd_B-Day20110131[IMG_1796] - Twins_3rd_B-Day20110131[IMG_1801] - Twins_3rd_B-Day20110131[IMG_1816] - Twins_3rd_B-Day20110131[IMG_1825] - Twins_3rd_B-Day20110131[IMG_1827] - Twins_3rd_B-Day20110131[IMG_1829] - Twins_3rd_B-Day20110131[IMG_1842] - Twins_3rd_B-Day20110131[IMG_1845] - Twins_3rd_B-Day20110131[IMG_1850] - Twins_3rd_B-Day20110131[IMG_1854] - Twins_3rd_B-Day

Here a short video clip of some sweet birthday dancing…. if you can call it that ;)