Saturday, October 22, 2016

Saturday, October 15

We began this day with the AWT women, serving at the conference.
Mallori joined with their worship leaders - it was so beautiful.

The AWT women blessed us with a beautiful gift before we left:
a necklace, with our names written in Arabic.
I will always treasure this gift, and those who gave it.
I am forever changed by the women I met, the hands I held, the faces I touched, the stories I heard.  You don't sit at the table with women like that and come away the same.

We were able to then travel to AWT headquarters to meet the men,
and take a tour of their facilities.
It's an amazing story of how God has provided for that ministry!
It was time well spent learning all the ways that AWT works toward spreading the gospel: international radio broadcasts, business affiliations, systematically working with Syrian refugees.  This is one of the most influential organizations for the gospel in this part of the world,

I love how our church creates deep, lasting partnerships 
with the mission organizations we join in country.

We were able to sit together in Hillcrest Hall and pray for the work being done.

After leaving the AWT offices, we made a quick stop at Al Afghani for gifts.
I got Dan and Tucker traditional local knives - they were both thrilled!

Battle buddies: first two girls out of the shop!
We should have won some sort of award.

A treasure Tom bought for each of us.  He loves Jordan so much.

We were headed toward the River Jordan,
but stopped first to visit Mount Nebo.
Mount Nebo is an elevated ridge in Jordan,
mentioned in the Bible as the place Moses was granted a view of the Promised Land.
It's an important place to visit geographically, 
as the summit provides a panoramic view of the Holy Land, a glimpse of the Jordan to the north, and on a clear day, the city of Jericho in the West Bank.

Unfortunately, the site was closed and under heavy guard.
We learned later that the King was hosting a dinner there that night.

We were able to stand on the side of the road and get a limited view of the wilderness that the Israelites would have wandered through for 40 years.  You know, I've always been pretty judgey toward the Israelites when I read the Old Testament. 

I mean, honestly.  God miraculously rescues you from generations of Egyptian slavery, brings you out of captivity, gives you a cloud by day to keep away the heat, gives you a fire by night to drive away the cold, rains down literal food from heaven on the daily....what's with all the complaining?!
But as I stood there and looked out over that vast wildnerness, I had so much more compassion for them.  It was absolutely desolate.  Nothing for as far as the eye could see, no hope at all, no end in sight.  The heat is different in this part of the world, too - it's so dry, it just sucks the life out of you.  I could see as I looked out that I would have done the same, been just the same complainer.  
And then God reminded me that I AM THE SAME.  Now.  Currently.
God has miraculously rescued me from slavery, 
through the death of Christ on the cross.
He's made me a daughter, not a slave.
He's brought me out of captivity to sin, and given me a seat at His table.
He gives me the protection of His Word as a cloud and a fire,
so that I might have life to the full.
The heat and the cold can't kill me....not my soul.
Every time I sit down to read His Word, every time I gather with His people, every time I listen to His Word proclaimed through music, He is raining down food from heaven on my head.
So what's with all my complaining?!
Oh, maybe I don't complain OUT LOUD necessarily,
but there's a steady stream of grumbling in my heart if I'm not careful.
my life is so busy, this job is so hard, the children aren't doing x the way I want them to, my husband doesn't do x but so-and-so's husband does, something always needs to be fixed, the to-do list never ends, I don't have enough time for myself, if only this would happen I would be happy....
on and on I can go, if my heart is allowed to go its own way.

And it's absurd to my own ears - 
I can only imagine how it sounds to the ears of God.
May my  heart rejoice in a Psalm 118 kind of way,
not because of circumstances or what I think is good,
but because of who He is and what He's done-

Psalm 118:15-17
Shouts of joy and victory 
resound in the tents of the righteous:
"The Lord's right hand has done mighty things!
The Lord's right hand is lifted high; 
The Lord's right hand has done mighty things!"
I will not die but live,
and will proclaim what the Lord has done.

I clearly treasured my time with the Lord at Mount Nebo.
After we finished there,
we loaded back up and headed to the Jordan River baptismal site.

It was a very exciting ride, clearly.

Arriving at Bethany Beyond the Jordan and the baptismal site:

We joined with our Jordanian friends and very simply observed the Lord's Supper together on the banks of the river.

We sang and prayed together a bit before baptisms began.

It was an honor for Pastor Nabeeh to baptize me in the Jordan.
The entire thing was surreal to me.
The water was cold and murky,
and I wanted to swim in it, not just be baptized.

Oh, yes, there were so many tears of absolute joy here.
I was crying and laughing at the same time!

Mallori, Elaine, Deb, and I

Here's a sweet photo with Pastor Nabeeh on the end, a girl from his congregation who was participating in believer's baptism, and then our group who have already been baptized as believers, but were being baptized in the Jordan in identification with Christ.

I took a few more, just as we were leaving.
I don't ever want to forget this humble, beautiful place.

It's where the Trinity was all together, here on earth.
Christians don't make pilgrimages like other faiths do,
but if they did, I kind of think this is where they should journey to.

After we changed into dry clothes, we made our way to a lovely hotel on the Jordan side of the Dead Sea.  It was so fun to be greeted with this delicious lemonade:

Oh, the Dead Sea.
Just looking at this picture takes my breath away.
We arrived that night just in time for sunset;
I don't want to ever forget the wonder of this place.

It's amazing, in a very basic sense.
The incredible buoyancy,
the oily sheen that soaks your skin with minerals,
the complete lack of life therein, 
the promise that one day this sea will live again,
and all that those things represent spiritually...
it's all just awe-inspiring.

Standing on the shores of this sea, my soul welled up within me.
There aren't even words.

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