April 19, 2010

Remembering Nazareth

So we are now in Italy but just arrived a little while ago so I do not have much to say on that matter right now.
However I could write for a long time about our experience in Nazareth. We were there for about two weeks with four days of it being spent hiking from Nazareth to Capernaum which is about 60km total I think. In Nazareth we had much less time in lectures and spent most of the time doing service work on the Jesus Trail or at the Village. Nazareth Village is a 1st century village historic site where we got to work on staff dressed up in 1st century clothing (dresses all around) and leather sandals like the ones Jesus would have worn. It was probably one of my favorite parts of the trip though I guess I could say that about a good many things. Most of the time we were just doing grounds work but because we were actually in the village we had to dress up and no part of anything later than 1st century could be on us visibly. I learned very quickly what it would have been like for people with visual impairments during the 1st century. It is a challenge to avoid being good for nothing, even picking weeds is a challenge. At various points during the 7 days of working there I also helped tend the sheep and goats and dug dirt out of the hills for the paths around. Thankfully the weather was great the whole time we were there cause otherwise we would have been cold and wet. Israel has two seasons wet and dry and while we were there it rained only a tiny bit and then not at all for the last month at least. (we knew were in Europe when we arrived in Rome to pouring rain....)
During the last week we hiked the Jesus Trail which was made by a couple of EMU grads who hiked it with us. Dave Landis the guy in charge is Sprockets or Kristina Landis brother for those of you who know her. It was really a fun and great experience spending days walking across the land that we otherwise wouldnt have seen. None of it was too terribly strenuous and it gave me a good opportunity to reflect on our trip and what things I have been questioning and also to talk with people that I have not really talked to since the trip started (if you can believe that). We had a couple long days including the last one that finished in Capernaum where Jesus lived during His ministry at Peters house. Larisa one of the students on our trip was baptized in the Sea of Galilee at Capernaum! It was an exciting time!
So something I thought I would share with all of you is while we were hiking everyone was coupled with one of our leaders and we were asked three questions: what have you learned about yourself? about God? and about the world? I am going to attempt to explain my answers to those questions because when I return some of you might not hear it. This trip has changed me more than I dare admit I think and I think it is safe to say in good ways but that has caused some confusion.
I will start with what I have learned about the world which I would actually word as what I have I learned about me in the world in regards to my answer.
So before this trip I really didnt have any idea about anything involved with the issue in Palestine or in any other part of the world. I never paid attention to world issues or news at all as terrible as that sounds. I think a lot of it was because I have been so concerned with things going on in my immediate world I guess to take notice. But after this semester I pay so much more attention to what the world is dealing with and just seems so much more important because Im in the world and it really isnt that big of a place. We are all tied together when it comes down to it. So now Im proud to say I know the difference between Israelis and Palestinians and who they are.... and I also know that there was a volcanic erruption in Iceland that is making Rome traveling RIDICULOUS!!!
Ok so for the next answer.
I have grown so much this semester and have realized so many things as well as had many other affirmed or really not clarified at all. I dont really know where to start so here it goes. I think for me the biggest thing is realizing that I cant ignore anymore how much my life has affected me and how Ive let it define who I am. Its been a challenge for me to realize that but I think the scariest part is knowing what is in store in the near future... lots of talking and praying and healing which isnt going to be easy a decade later. But it will happen I have made that decision as painful as it might be. Thistles may hurt but they can help you move on in difficult situations and if grasped help you reach the ultimate reward.... if youre wondering where that came from I can explain, later.
And the last answer.

God. well I have realized that I really dont know who He is or where His purpose lies in the world. It is kind of scary to say that but alas its true. I know truly that you never stop learning and growing and Ive gotten really good at asking questions. The biggest one that Im still searching for an answer to is where and how and to what extent God actually works in situations. Does prayer make a difference or is what happens actually going to be changed based on what you pray for? And does it matter if we pray out loud cause God already knows our prayers? And what is free will? I dont know. Its all a little confusing even for me so I apologize if this doesnt make sense. I just see the situation in Palestine and Israel and wonder what happened to the miracles and the answers to prayers that happened so frequently throughout the Bible. I dont suspect to get answers soon but even with the questions I have grown and still believe.

April 3, 2010

Great Adventures cont'd

Thursday morning... we didn't have to be in Jerusalem again until 2 in the afternoon so we took our time in the morning getting ready to leave the Galilee. This turned out to be incredibly bad planning that would change the course of our entire day. First of all we each took out the amount of shekels we'd need for the week and kept in put away, also maybe not a great idea but anyway. I was supposed to be helping to pay for our stay in the Galilee but when Sarah and I went to pay I realized quickly that I didn't have all of my money with me so I headed back to our bungalow to get the rest. I didn't get very far before it dawned on me that I didn't the rest with me at all but had left it in our room at Arbel where we stayed the first night. A great deal of fast packing and scrambling resulted but we got everything packed up and even took a picture of ourselves there before leaving in all of 15 minutes. Unfortunately driving back up to Arbel isn't at all on our way out of the Galilee so we added another hour and half to our trip by going up there. Thankfully everything I'd left there including the shekels were safe and sound waiting for us.
After about 2 hours we arrived back in Jerusalem with a ridiculous amount of traffic to greet us. Now let me just say that driving in a car around the city makes everything look quite different than it would if we were riding in a bus. Finally after having to turn around twice we arrived back at JUC to print out proof of the cost of our car and to pick up Janelle's bathing suit that she'd forgotten the first time around. We did our thing and bolted to get the car returned. By the time we left JUC and headed up the next ridge it was 1pm. We got to Budget 45 minutes later. Why we were trying to still get our bus by 2pm I don't know but we didn't make it. We figured everything out with the car rental and thanks to my mad bargaining skills I've developed since being here got the price we wanted to pay. We got to bus station half an hour after our bus left but thankfully we able to get the next bus to Eilat. Everything worked out well and we arrived safely in Eilat around 9 in the evening and were greeted by two other girls from our group.
The place we stayed at in Eilat was a small Christian hostel a 10 minute walk from the public beaches. It wasn't at all what I was expecting in a hostel but just being there was a great experience in itself. We met so many sweet people from all over the world and had countless theological conversations as well as just talking about ourselves or what our group is doing. There were a couple people from the States working there as well as two guys from Holland that we ended up spending quite a bit of time with, hanging out, talking, and playing guitar. There was also a family of six kids and two parents from New Zealand. Their oldest was a 19 year old girl who also spent a lot of time with us since we were similar in age. Let me just say that their accent is one of the hardest ones of I'm come across to try to imitate... We had a lot of fun playing with their one year old girl as well. But anyway about what we did Eilat...
It's a city right on the Red Sea which I might add is one of the most beautiful bodies of water I've been to in my life! We spent most of the time there at the beach just hanging out and enjoying the really really salty water. One thing I've found out though is that most beaches around here don't have sand but gravel which was a bit uncomfortable to lay or sit on but we managed. The last full day we were there was my 22nd birthday so we went snorkeling and spent the day at the Coral Beach. We ended up meeting up with the four guys from our group Ben, Aaron, Matt, and Will who we didn't think we'd ever see even though we were in the same town. It was so fun to start getting back with the group again.

Snorkeling was over course great though I am proud to say that I'm not that great at it. I kept swallowing water and because it's really hard to wear glasses underneath goggles I unfortunately saw more standing above the water than in it. I still loved it and can't wait for another opportunity to go! We saw things that I've only ever seen in pictures and seeing the fish in real life was 10 times better. Thankfully even though the weather was in the 90s we didn't get too badly burned and some of us not at all. In the evening then all of us girls plus Gem (the girl from New Zealand) went out on the boardwalk for frozen yogurt and fruit. That about concludes my birthday and our free travel apart from the four hour bus ride back to Jerusalem. We arrived at our destination without any trouble thankfully and were very not ready to sit in classes again for another week.