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.