A Final Reflection

Summary and Final Reflection…

It has been a full week since our group has returned from our journey through Israel and Palestine.  There are some random thoughts that are running around in my head; so, I will just go ahead and jot some of those down and see where this final entry leads us.

This edition of my summary and final reflection has taken me hours to write. I started out with some random thoughts which turned into a long list of issues and concerns. None of which as I read them over were very helpful to anyone but me.  So I deleted them all.  This leaves reflections that made this journey one that has in fact changed my life for the better. I hope and pray as our group comes home, settles back into their lives and life choices, they, too, will find this journey has impacted who they are and what they are willing to proclaim through the grace of God and in the calling of the Holy Spirit in each of their lives.

There were issues and challenges in bringing this journey to its completion. I think anything worth doing is going to have them. This journey was no different.  I celebrate that we managed to overcome, persevere and grow as a result of what we have done together.

For those of us that have made this journey before and wanted to know what it was like to go in the spring rather than our usual time of right after Christmas; well, we can now cross that off our bucket list. We know the differences and will let our experience help to shape anything we might want to do in the future.

There is one other matter which deserves its own written closure.  We took 10 mission suitcases filled with supplies and gifts with us. When we gathered out stuff we thought we had it all.  Once we got to the hotel and began to really search out our items for each particular ministry and family, we quickly discovered one of the mission suitcases did not make it to the hotel. We made numerous attempts to contact the airport to see if the suitcase had simply been left behind. We were given numerous answers, none of which was either affirming or denying the presence of the suitcase at the airport.  We made one last attempt at communicating with the Lost and Found department at the airport on May 3. There were a few message exchanges that gave the airport every amount of information we could muster to identify the suitcase in case it were to be located.  On May 12th the Lost and Found department sent me a message telling me the suitcase was indeed sitting at the airport and we could retrieve it at the Lost and Found as long as we had our passport. It took a little arranging of time, space, security and passports, but we did finally get the last of the mission suitcases. It was delivered to its intended ministry family for proper distribution of the items in it.  Thanks be to God!

I was very happy with the group as a whole. They all seemed to get along with each other and offered encouragement to each other all along the way.  This was a group of which only a few of the members actually knew each other prior to taking this tour.  Still, from the very start, nobody stood out as a loner or did not interact with the others. I was pleased with their level of group cooperation.

Our guide was full of energy and information. He took great care of our group. He assisted me in making decisions which offered to our group the best opportunities we could provide.  I have known our guide for over 10 years. He and I met through a mutual friend.  It has not been until these last few years that a more personal relationship had begun to develop.  I really enjoyed spending time with him. I got to know much more about his journey and story as a 4th generation Arab Catholic Christian living in the Holy Land. I enjoyed letting him lead me to places I did not know about and not only opening his life, but the lives of his family to me.  Some of the best moments for me on this tour were when we had some one on one times and sat around a beverage sharing stories, hopes and dreams; and, looking at what challenges we have faced and conquered through the grace of God.

I had fun finding out what supplies and gifts we could bring to the ministries and families we were going to visit. I really enjoyed the challenges of trying to make sure all the requests were honored. I experienced moments that took my breath away when seeing what others, not going with us, contributed to see that the needs of these ministries and families were all accomplished. It was a privilege and honor to make deliveries of some special gifts that had been given to me to personally hand over to those we would visit along the way.  It was a goal of mine to gather as much as we could in a limited amount of space; and, for us to do this without just reaching deep in our own pockets, but rather, letting others be a part of this effort. I found nothing but support and encouragement from those who heard about our efforts and wanted to join us in this cause. My hopes and expectations were far surpassed.

This time of sharing life with those with whom I call my friends, and, yes, see even as family, marked a significant milestone. Most of these folks and their ministries were introduced to me through mutual friends. My relationship with these folks has been seen, for the most part, as being one which has been seen in connection to the mutual friends who most of the time have been present with us each time we are together. This tour marked a difference in that our mutual friends were not present. Any interaction we had was not buffered through those friends, but rather we marked a  significant strengthening of a personal relationship with each other.  I walked away this time, really feeling like I was leaving my own personal friends and colleagues in ministry. I have never liked goodbyes. This time leaving friends and family behind, felt like a mournful goodbye. I really hated to walk away from any of them.

This really was for me a journey of ministry and opportunity. I am looking forward to continuing in finding ways that I can be of further support to these ministries; and, new ministries that I am still discovering on my own. I want to expand on my own role of sharing their stories and proclaiming the Good News of Jesus Christ through these ministry outlets. I want to seek out ways that the future might hold for more commitment and personal investment of myself in the opportunities that God might call me to in the countries of Israel and Palestine.  This journey was one of owning for myself my role as friend and family, colleague and supporter, for the lives of those living in the country and the ministries we can share in together.  It doesn’t get any better than this, does it? Thanks Be to God.  Amen.