I have been privileged to spend ten days in the Galilee area with trips to tells and ruins and churches of all sorts, of interest to both the historian and the scriptorian. It was most definitely an unforgettable adventure wherein I think that the most important things I learned revolved around my company. I have been in classes, on field trips, and in church with around ninety of the most bright and giving students, professors, and service couples that live here at the Center, for many weeks now and we have become incredibly close. You could definitely see the seeds of oneness when we all shared Immodium without shame in Petra, and now things are even better! We have seen one another sweat right through every piece of clothing we own and we still can’t get enough of each other! We had a smidgen more time to catch our breath while in Galilee and between homework and fieldtrips, we had many fun afternoons together on the shores of the Sea of Galilee and of course, right in the Sea itself (which after a miserably hellish experience in the Dead Sea, seemed like absolute paradise).
I guess that my pitch to the world is to examine the sort of presence that you bring to a group. Do you help and contribute, or do you distract and demean? Christ’s presence was undeniable in the Galilee as many, even thousands, followed Him to hear His teachings and to see His miracles. His works caused those around Him to marvel over these amazing things and try to fit them into their view of the world as they knew it. He encouraged people to “love one another” and laid a foundation of how mankind can achieve happiness and fulfillment through righteous service and meekness, a shocking doctrine in this land of war and conquest.
We are not all from the same BYU campus, some are graduating and moving on, and our dear Caryn from South Africa will be home for the next semester, and I think we are realizing that we will soon be inevitably split up. It is strange to get to close to so many people so quickly. Several people have commented that it is as if we are all cousins since we don’t keep hardly anything back in our conversations and we seem to know all about each other and we are so comfortable around one another. I guess that happens in close living proximities and when you share experiences that are simply beyond imagine nearly everyday. We have been shocked as we learned together about the plight of the Jews as well as when we became more informed about the intrusion of the world into the state of Palestine some 60 years ago. He have had moving experiences in chapels and synagogues as we learned from locals and also taught each other in holy sites from the Bible and from historical texts. We have lived and learned in the Holy Land as a unit, and our experiences with one another have most definitely colored our overall understanding and feel as we have traveled side by side.
Do groups flock to hear your words as they once surrounded to Good Shepard? Of course, we cannot fairly compare ourselves to the Christ, but we can certainly try to be one who lifts others, loves others, and acts with service and charity. We can be the kind of person that others want to be around and that can have influence in a positive way through their daily interactions. A favorite hymn comes to mind “Have I done any good in the world today? Have I helped anyone in need? Have I cheered up the sad, made someone feel glad? If not, I have failed indeed.” Seems harsh, but honestly, what better way to earn your keep in this world than by reaching out to others on their way. Even just a smile, a greeting, or assistance in some small way can help. I hope that I will come home with a more giving hand towards those around me; I am definitely no saint in this regard, but there is room for improvement and recognizing this gap brings me one step closer and I pray to not let my good intentions fall without action.