It is so easy to tell you the places that we have seen but it is another thing to tell you the experience. Sometimes words can not describe what is going on internally. I (Candace) am a visual learner and like to observe in my little world. So when we got to our Airbnb in Arad the first thing I did when we left for the day was watch the people around me. We were staying in an apartment in an Orthodox Jewish community by a school. These men with black hats, black outfit, beards, long hair on the sides, with children walking beside them. It felt a little like we were in a movie. While I was watching these people, I noticed how the children were curious about us. I’m sure we stuck out like we didn’t belong. These people were neither friendly or unfriendly just going about their day. We tend to say hi as we pass people on the street but this did not seem to be the norm. Nevertheless, I felt safe in this neighbourhood which I was grateful for.
Another observation was how much I rely on reading to understand things. All the signs have Aramaic, Hebrew and English on it. We went to the grocery store to stock up our kitchen. With Cassidy having Celiac disease we find it easier to cook (less chance of her getting sick) than finding restaurants that are Gluten Free. Except today, we found out McDonalds in Israel have gluten free buns/hamburgers and fries! Canada needs to learn from this! LOL! None of the groceries are in English so thankfully Mark found an app that could translate for us! Not only was it hard to read but trying to find people who speak English has been a little fun! Once they catch on to what we are saying the light bulb goes on and big smiles, trying to be helpful.
As we have travelled I have been able to see camels, sheep/shepherds in their natural settings. Oh, ya and cows! Just had to put that in for my dad! These are things I have only imagined but now has become a reality. We have done many hikes and seen much contrasting terrain. The desert area has been really neat to experience especially when you suddenly come to a waterfall or climb up a huge mountain at 5:30 in the morning (Masada). Both the Dead Sea and the Sea of Galilee are much bigger and vast than I imagined. I am trying to etch all these places in my brain because the pictures truly do not do justice to what I see in front of me.
One day we went to the Jordon River, where Jesus was baptized. It was one of those places I always wanted to see. People come here from all over the world to be baptized. Sure enough, when we got there we saw people dressed in white getting ready to be baptized. At this time the water in the river is too high so there were pipes with water from the river flowing out. People stood under them and were baptized. As we were observing this, there was another group of people standing together singing “Lord you have come to the Lakeshore” but in a different language. A few days before we left on this trip, we had been at a funeral for Mark’s uncle. At his funeral, we had sung this same song (I think it was called something else but the same tune) As I was observing, I was so moved by the fact I could sing the same song in English with them. To be in a different place and a different time singing this special song.
I think in the last post, Mark talked about us going to Magdala. This was a time to experience more than what I saw with my two eyes. We had a tour guide gather all the English speaking people together so he could guide us through all the structures at Magdala. First we saw the excavation site of a 1st century synagogue. He gave us lots of information of what they discovered here. At the end of this time, he described what it would have been like when Jesus came to visit here at the Sea of Galilee. He was describing it so well and told us to take Jesus’ hand and talk to him as we went to the next place. I was overcome once again with the fact that Jesus wants to know us personally, have a relationship with us, to be there with us.
The guide then gathered us in front of the women’s atrium entrance. He chose the song “Amazing Grace” and as a group we went in singing. Inside we were in a circle singing, moving closer to the centre of the room. As we finished the song, the acoustics were amazing. Powerful to sing a song like that with strangers but unified in Christ. Listening and participating were so great that I wish I could do it again!
The third experience at Magdala that impacted me was when we went into a chapel that had a picture of Jesus healing Jairus daughter - the picture was made of glass mosaic, absolutely beautiful (all the chapels there had pictures made of this). The guide brought Cassidy, Mark and I to the front to pray a prayer of blessing on Cassidy and us. Because this place was dedicated to women that were apart of Jesus' life, he chose Cassidy as a young woman. It was a beautiful prayer that was a blessing as she graduates in a few months and goes on to follow what God has for her. It was so fitting that, that day happened to be her 18th birthday.
I was taken aback with how this man (the guide) was in tune with the people around him, relying on the Holy Spirit, to encourage the many people that come there. But isn’t that what we do at camp? This is what I began to realize. We have people come through our doors all the time, not knowing where they are with their relationship with Christ. But we give them opportunities to see Jesus, relying on the Holy Spirit. Whether we are in Israel or in Rosthern I can see Jesus but maybe I now see him with more colour and understanding as I walk the land that He walked!