Saturday, April 21, 2012

A Much Needed Update...

So, where have we been for the last twenty days? Here's an overview:

April 1-4    Amman, Jordan

  • We heard from numerous lecturers who gave us an in-depth and expansive view on what makes Jordan, Jordan. Talks ranged from academics discussing the attitudes of the Arab countries to an artist/activist retelling his incredible life story to a successful young refugee describing his life growing up in a refugee camp.
  • We were able to explore Amman a little bit and see its modern, yet distinctly Jordanian, style.
  • On our way out, we stopped by the Dead Sea. Yes, we all floated.

Yup, the Mude really was Free! (c) Keaton Hudson
April 5-6    Petra, Jordan
  • Arriving at night, we joined a large group and enjoyed Petra by Night. A gorgeous (yet tourist-y) look at the archaeological site by candle- and moon-light. We were serenaded and captivated by Bedouin song and story:

Yeah, it was pretty awesome... (c) Keaton Hudson
  • Channeling our inner Indiana Jones, we spent the entire next day exploring the ancient and exhaustive ruins:

The Whole Group! (c) Keaton Hudson

April 7-8    Wadi Rum, Jordan
  • After our serenade, we realized that we just weren't ready to leave the Bedouin quite yet, so we decided to camp with them for a few days in the desert of Wadi Rum.

Peter Harman, Joe Bagdanov, and Keaton Hudson doing their best impressions of T.E. Lawrence. ( (c) Kurt Walker)
  • We entered the camp by camel caravan. Now, please read that again. That's right, by camel caravan:

Lauren White gazes back from
atop her majestic desert steed.
(c) Kurt Walker

The Caravan (c) Kurt Walker
A View from A Camel...
(c) Kurt Walker

  • We spent two nights camping. We ventured all around the Wadi; by jeep, by foot, and by camel. Smiling, and laughing, all the way.

Our whole group + guide, drivers, and security guard. (c) Keaton Hudson
April 9    Madaba, Jordan
  • We stopped at:
    • Bethany-beyond-the-Jordan: the place of Jesus' baptism
    • Mt. Nebo: where Moses was buried
    • St. George's Church: where a giant mosaic map of the Middle East displays the 6th Century world.
Pretty cool day, huh?

April 10-15    Bethlehem, Israel/Palestine

  • These five days were a welcome change of pace as we entered our last country. We settled into our digs at the Tantour Ecumenical Center, and began looking at the incredible land around us.
  • About twice a day, students would pass through Bethlehem checkpoint to enter the city itself. Some of the time was spent looking at the current Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the marks it has/is still leaving on Bethlehem; and part of the time was spent visiting some of the historical and traditional sites of Christianity. 
Looking at the Church of the Nativity...
(c) Kurt Walker
...And the Conflict. (c) Kurt Walker

  •  We snuck into Jerusalem for a remarkable day on Friday, April 13. Eastern Orthodox Good Friday coincided with the last day of Passover this year, and the amazing city of Jerusalem bustled with excitement. We managed to successfully maneuver through the winding streets - and even into the Church of the Holy Sepluchre in the middle of a procession - and come out the other side full of unforgettable stories. 

April 16-17    Galilee, Israel
  • We spent an amazing day and a half up in the Galilee. 
    • Visiting Campernaum, we were able to walk in the ruins of a synagogue similar to the one that Jesus would have preached in.
    • Floating on the Sea of Galilee, we felt winds like those that Jesus' words quelled.
    • Upon the Mount of the Beatitudes, we reminisced on the incredible words of the Sermon on the Mount.
  • The next day, we were honored to hear from Archbishop Elias Chacour, a Palestinian Christian who preaches a message of reconciliation based around the events of his own astounding life.

April 18-21    Jerusalem, Israel/Palestine
  • The past three days have been a blur of site visits (the Western Wall, Garden Tomb, city rooftops, Southern Steps, etc.), street-side interactions, lectures (on topics like Jewish history and sects, Christian Zionism, and the Jewish roots of Christianity), and religious ceremonies (churches and synagogues). 
Heck of a way to end the semester, eh?

Parents, family, and friends - we'll be home in 10 days... Are you ready?

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