About time!

Beginning in the 2019-2020 school year, the updated Texas Education Code will require elementary school kids to learn cursive writing. Second graders will learn how to write cursive letters, and third graders will be expected to “write complete words, thoughts, and answers legibly in cursive writing leaving appropriate spaces between words,”  By the time they reach the fourth grade, students will be required to write legibly and complete assignments in cursive.

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The majority of school districts in the state currently do not teach students how to write in cursive. Beginning in the 2019-2020 school year, elementary school students in every Texas school district will be instructed in cursive writing.

Arroyo City News hails this change as a step in the right (resist using “write”) direction. Most kids today cannot write, cursive or otherwise. What happens when the power goes out and the keyboard won’t work? What were the powers that be thinking when writing was taken out of the schools?

We pray that since the State Board of Education appears to be seeing the light they will do the right thing and put God back in the classroom.

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Ancient Jerusalem – Faith and Fact

“The ongoing archeological excavations at the City of David continue to prove that ancient Jerusalem is no longer just a matter of faith, but also a matter of fact.”   Doron Spielman, vice president of the City of David Foundation.

In a rare and exciting discovery, a bulla (seal impression) and a 2,600-year-old stone stamp bearing Hebrew names were uncovered in the City of David. The artifacts were discovered inside a public building that was destroyed during the destruction of the First Temple and were uncovered in archaeological excavations of the Givati Parking Lot in the City of David National Park in Jerusalem.

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The Givati parking lot in Jerusalem where the artifacts were uncovered

These special artifacts were found inside a large public building, that was destroyed in the sixth century BC – likely during the Babylonian destruction of Jerusalem in 586 BC. Large stone debris, burnt wooden beams and numerous charred pottery shards were discovered in the building, all indications that they had survived an immense fire. The importance of this building can be discerned, among other things, from its size; the finely cut ashlar stones from which it was built; and the quality of the architectural elements found in the layers of destruction. Bullae were small pieces of clay impressed by personal seals, used in ancient times to sign letters. While the parchment that they sealed didn’t survive the fires that devastated ancient Jerusalem, the bullae, which are made of ceramic-like material, were preserved, leaving evidence of the correspondence and those behind them.

The stamp and bulla, which are about one centimeter in size, were deciphered by Dr. Anat Mendel-Geberovich of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the Center for the Study of Ancient Jerusalem, who, according to the script, dates them to the middle of the seventh century to the beginning of the sixth century BCE.

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The Natan-Melech/Eved Hamelech bulla

The seal impression, dated to the First Temple period, features the words: “(belonging) to Nathan-Melech, Servant of the King” (LeNathan-Melech Eved HaMelech). The name Nathan-Melech appears once in the Bible, in the second book of Kings 23:11, where he is described as an official in the court of King Josiah, who took part in the religious reform that the king was implementing: “And he took away the horses that the kings of Judah had given to the sun, at the entrance of the house of the Lord, by the chamber of Nathan-Melech the officer, which was in the precincts; and he burned the chariots of the sun with fire.” This seal impression is the first archaeological evidence of the biblical name Nathan-Melech.

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The Ikar Ben Matanyahu seal

The stamp-seal was also in discovered the same place, made of bluish agate stone, engraved with the name – “(belonging) to Ikar son of Matanyahu” (LeIkar Ben Matanyahu). According to Dr. Mendel-Geberovich,” The name Matanyahu appears both in the Bible and on additional stamps and bullae already unearthed. However, this is the first reference to the name “Ikar,” which was unknown until today.”

Having evidence to verify accounts in the Bible gives us a powerful case for its authenticity and validity. As Christians we believe that the Bible is in fact the “Word of God” and having this verified by physical evidence only serves to strengthen our faith.

Independence Day

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In support of the Greek nation, President Trump honors Greek Independence Day with Greek Orthodox Elder Archbishop of America, Demetrios

In 1821, Greeks started a revolution (the Greek War of Independence) for freedom from the Ottoman Empire. The conflict lasted until 1830 when the modern nation of Greece was formed. March 25 is celebrated as the the day – 198 years ago – that this war was started. In typical Greek fashion, the celebration is for the start of the conflict, not the successful conclusion! Χρόνια Πολλά. May God bless Greece and their supporters.

The Annunciation

26……………. the angel Gabriel was sent from God into a city of Galilee, called Nazareth, 27 To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. 28 And the angel being come in, said unto her: Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women. 29 Who having heard, was troubled at his saying, and thought with herself what manner of salutation this should be. 30 And the angel said to her: Fear not, Mary, for thou hast found grace with God. 31 Behold thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and shalt bring forth a son; and thou shalt call his name Jesus. 32 He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the most High; and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of David his father; and he shall reign in the house of Jacob for ever. 33 And of his kingdom there shall be no end. 34 And Mary said to the angel: How shall this be done, because I know not man? 35 And the angel answering, said to her: The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the most High shall overshadow thee. And therefore also the Holy which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God. 36 And behold thy cousin Elizabeth, she also hath conceived a son in her old age; and this is the sixth month with her that is called barren: 37 Because no word shall be impossible with God. 38 And Mary said: Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it done to me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her.

Luke 1:26-38 (Douay-Rheims 1899 American Edition (DRA))

Today Greek Orthodox Christians celebrate the Annunciation (Ευαγγελισμός). This is one of the defining moments for all Christians – the day God announced that He would manifest Himself to the world in human form through the birth of Christ Jesus. It is truly a day to be revered and celebrated. Our Savior is about to be born! Blessed be the Mother of God (Θεοτόκος)

Getting around Bangkok, Thailand

ArroyoCityNews spent the last three weeks in Bangkok, Thailand. We won’t bore you with a “what we did on holiday” travelogue, but we thought you might be interested in the ways to get around the city – some conventional and some not so conventional. The city suffers from permanent gridlock, so street transportation can take forever.

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Taxis are colorful and cheap. We’re not sure why Pepto Bismol pink and John Deere yellow and green are the colors of choice, but it makes for easy recognition and a bright journey.

For a fun ride, our first choice would be a Tuk Tuk. These are motorized tricycles that are more agile than taxis and get through side streets inaccessible to cars.

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If you want a “put your life in danger” hair-raising zip around the city (mostly on the wrong side of the road) – hail a moped and jump on the back. Not recommended for the faint of heart, but dirt cheap and way faster than any other street vehicle. They are easily recognizable by the orange jacketed drivers. We are definitely too old for this.

Lastly, buses are available, but are hot, busy, intermittent and slow. They are, however, cheap.

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Now to the quick and reliable methods – the MRT (metro) and BTS (skytrain). While busy and usually packed, especially at rush hour, they run frequently and punctually. If a station is near your destination this is the way to go.

For the old city and Chinatown areas, boat travel is fun and reliable. There are traditional cross-river ferries, hop-on hop-off express boats, regular ferries and of course the long tail river boat. There is no experience to compare with being propelled over the water in a long skinny flat bottomed boat powered by a gleaming V8 perched on the stern. A ride not to be missed.

All in all, getting around Bangkok can be frustrating, exhilarating, slow, scary or wild – but always interesting and an adventure.

The face of evil

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Satan has many tools and disguises in his arsenal to lure us into sin and to destroy the world. Sometimes its a little voice at the back of our minds. Sometimes i’s a story line on a TV show. Sometimes it’s an inaccurate news report. Sometimes it’s a female comedian. Sometimes it’s a newly elected congressperson. Sometimes it’s a State Legislature. The list goes on.

Now it’s the Governor of New York. He has sold his soul by becoming an accomplice to murder. If you willingly and knowingly assist someone in taking the life of a human being, you are guilty of first degree murder – that is the law. While Cuomo won’t be charged he will have to answer for his actions to the ultimate court.

 Thou shalt not kill”  Exodus 20:13

Shame on you Cuomo and may God have mercy on your soul.

Super blood moon

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Starting tonight at around 9 pm we’ll have a full lunar eclipse which will peak at 11 pm or so and end around 1 am. It will be perfectly visible here in South Texas so make the most of it. The moon is close to the earth in its orbit so it will be larger than usual, hence the “super” designation.

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Here is a brief tutorial on eclipses for those interested in knowing a little more:

The Moon does not have any light of its own – it shines because its surface reflects sunlight. During a total lunar eclipse, the Earth moves between the Sun and the Moon and cuts off the Moon’s light supply. When this happens, the surface of the Moon takes on a reddish glow instead of going completely dark. The red color of a totally eclipsed Moon has prompted many people in recent years to refer to total lunar eclipses as Blood Moons. The reason why the Moon takes on a reddish color during totality is a phenomenon called Rayleigh scattering. It is the same mechanism responsible for causing colorful sunrises and sunsets, and for the sky to look blue. Even though sunlight may look white to human eyes, it is actually composed of different colors. These colors are visible through a prism or in a rainbow. Colors towards the red part of the spectrum have longer wavelengths and lower frequencies compared to colors towards the violet part of the spectrum which have shorter wavelengths and higher frequencies.

The next piece of the puzzle of why a totally eclipsed Moon turns red is the Earth’s atmosphere. The layer of air surrounding our planet is made up of different gases, water droplets, and dust particles. When sunlight entering the Earth’s atmosphere strikes the particles that are smaller than the light’s wavelengths, it gets scattered into different directions. Not all colors in the light spectrum, however, are equally scattered. Colors with shorter wavelengths, especially the violet and blue colors, are scattered more strongly, so they are removed from the sunlight before it hits the surface of the Moon during a lunar eclipse. Those with longer wavelengths, like red and orange, pass through the atmosphere. This red-orange light is then bent or refracted around Earth, hitting the surface of the Moon and giving it the reddish-orange glow that total lunar eclipses are famous for.

Veteran eclipse watchers will tell you that if you look really hard right at the beginning and just before the end of totality, you may detect a light blue or turquoise band on the Moon’s face. This happens because the Earth’s Ozone layer scatters red light and lets through some of the blue light that is otherwise filtered out by other layers of the atmosphere.

The Moon can take on different shades of red, orange, or gold during a total lunar eclipse, depending on the conditions of the Earth’s atmosphere at the time of the eclipse. The amount of dust particles, water droplets, clouds, and mist can all have an effect on the shade of red. Volcanic ash and dust in the atmosphere can also lead to the Moon turning dark during an eclipse.

For serious eclipse watchers, here is a schedule of upcoming events:

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