Seeds Planted - God Grown

Today we left Aboud. I have never liked goodbyes. Today was no different. I have enjoyed, beyond words, the experiences of these last few days. I have worked at nurturing relationships with the leaders of the school. It is my fervent hope to come spend a longer amount of time with them. I’m not sure, yet, when or what that might look like, but I have planted the seed I am sure God wants planted.

Today we travelled and experienced the Great Rift Valley. We drove through Jericho to the overlook for Mount of Temptation. We had a couple of interesting shopping experiences. Neither of them would I recommend. We offered the opportunity for anyone to Remember their Baptism in the Jordan River. We travelled around Jerusalem and down to the lowest point on the earth. We moved through the Judean Desert and saw unusual sites including Bedouins and a Pepsi Delivery truck.

Our first stop is the Baptismal site just outside of Jericho. It could have been a significant day at the Baptismal site, but it turned out to be less than what I had hoped. It was too crowded to be able to have the kind of atmosphere I needed to make this a memorable moment. I elected to take pictures instead.

I have always been a bit fascinated at Qumran. I find the theory of the monastic order recording scripture for the world to see hundreds or even thousands of years later amazing. I am also intrigued by the additional practices that have been attributed to them. I respect their commitment and lifestyle. I love the story that comes with the discovery of the scrolls. However, as with many of the sites, Qumran has become a tourist destination. There is a beautiful visitor’s center with all the amenities one could want. There is a gift shop that beckons you in to buy anything from the standard Holy Land souvenir to Dead Sea Mud and plush stuffed toys. Worst of all there is a cafeteria that shuffles tourists through like feeding cattle. Its large, noisy, expensive and a definite buzz kill. If you are looking for a spiritual moment, avoid the gift shop and cafeteria at all costs. By the time you walk through either one of them you will have forgotten most of what you learned and certainly how you felt about God being at work through this place.

The weather is hot. There is a mugging feel to the air. Our next stop is the Dead Sea. I find the Dead Sea to be a Bucket List moment. I have no dream of using the Dead Sea to revitalize my skin . I have no use for the miracle mud. I do enjoy bobbing in the mineral heavy water. I think everyone should experience it at least once in their lifetime. Our group does not seem to reflect my enthusiasm for the place. Only a few choose to go into the water. Everyone else is electing to wait under the shelter of shade and automatic midst dispensers. I roam around a bit and take some pictures to pass the time. We were in and out inside of an hour.

Onward to Jericho Resort. This is a large hotel complex. I’ve been here before and had an enjoyable experience. With all the tourists we have been seeing at the sites, I am surprised there are very few guests at the resort. A group that we have been bumping into throughout the day checked in at the resort shortly after we did. There were a few other guests roaming the lobby. A small group came in as we were eating dinner. Honestly, as anti-social as I can be, I didn’t mind the light traffic flow.

Dinner was a buffet. It had several salads, a few entrée choices, vegetables, and a small dessert bar. I sat at a table with just a few of the team members. We all agreed the food was good, maybe not as good as that in Miss Raika’s kitchen, but good because it was something different. The resort was serving up Stroganoff and Pasta. Don’t get me wrong. I love the food here. I have some definite favorites. But when travelling, sometimes you just appreciate something completely different.

We gathered for our evening devotions and reflections. There we had a meaningful time reflecting on our Baptismal covenant with God and each other. It was what we had planned to do at the site but were unable to accomplish. I’m glad we did this. It was a missing piece of today that I was hungry for.  The liturgy, the comments and the attitude were just what I needed. We ended with a song called, “There’s a River in Judea.” Some of us knew it and sang with the recording. Perfect, just perfect.

We had some additional things to discuss, and we were able to finish with a devotion that was spot on by one of our VIM team members. What was a disappointing day turned out to be a great evening. Thank you, God, for taking the seeds we planted throughout the day and growing them into something wonderful this evening. Amen.

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