Today was another great and busy day. Today we started our morning by visiting the tomb of Lazarus and had mass in a church down the road from Lazarus' tomb. Like many of the sites we have visited so far, it is hard to believe that we were standing in the tomb where Lazarus was raised from the dead by Jesus. After mass and visiting the tomb we were headed back to the bus to go to the next stop when we saw a man on the corner giving camel rides. as you could imagine, this was a must do and most of us stopped and rode the camel. It was not quite like riding a horse, but fun none the less. You can imagine for us, there are not too many camels in Detroit so we were all excited and enjoyed laughing with each other as we each took turns riding the camel.
Following Lazarus's tomb, we headed over to the Greek Orthodox Monastery of St. George. Along with everything we saw today, the monastery was in the middle of the desert and very secluded in the mountains. The terrain was similar to that of the Grand Canyon. The monastery was at the bottom of a deep winding canyon. It took us about 20 min. to hike to the bottom and a little longer to hike back up as you could imagine. There was not much in the desert there, but it was a beautiful view. We enjoyed the hike but were happy to get back on the bus with the air conditioning.
Before lunch we made one last stop. This stop was one that many of us were looking forward to, the Jordan River. We were able to walk all the way down to the bank of the river and dip our feet into the Jordan. After we all had a chance to walk into the Jordan, we read the scripture passage about Jesus getting baptized by John in the river. It was so powerful to be listening to that passage while standing right next to the exact same river. It made it easy to picture the passage and helped to make it come alive for me. Another amazing thing was when Msgr. Trapp had us all re-new our baptismal promises right there standing next to the Jordan, the exact place where baptism started. It was one of the most memorable sites for me.
After lunch we accomplished another todo list item, we swam (floated) in the Dead Sea. None of us really knew what to expect. We have all heard that you can’t sink, but still did not know what that meant. We all walked into the sea and to us it just felt like normal salt water. There was no difference until you sat in the water. It was such a weird sensation to float in the Dead Sea because it goes against everything your body knows about water. You do not have to fight to stay a float you just sit back and relax and the sea takes care of the rest. One of the weird things happened when we went to where we could not touch the bottom. We tried to stand up and touch and we would not sink. You would just float vertically like a bobber on a fishing line. It was a great experience that none of us will forget.
As you could imagine, by the end of the day we were exhausted and worn out. It was a pretty quiet bus ride back to the retreat center.
Thank you for reading my post and I hope you have enjoyed my take on our day. Please know that we are praying for all of you each day and appreciate all of the prayers you have been sending our way. Please keep praying for us and we will continue to pray for you. May God bless you and we will see you when we return.
At the River Jordan
Overlooking the Dead Sea