After a successful trip to Jordan, I am safely home in Jerusalem. Apparently there was an incident in the city while we were gone of an Israeli police officer shooting a Palestinian dead who had injured 15 people with a construction vehicle, but things seemed to be settled down and we are hoping it hasnothing to do with the fact that Obama is here right now, since we are still scheduled to go to Bethlehem tomorrow-which is considered to be in the West Bank. As for Jordan, I was really impressed with the pride that they take in the many Biblical sites within their country’s borders. This is clearly a Muslim part of the world, but Christianity is much more accepted and respected in Jordan that in other surrounding counties, as far as I could tell. As far as these such sites, my class and I went to the baptismal site of Christ, Mount Nebo where Moses saw a vision of the Promised Land, and the Jabbok River where Jacob’s name was changed to Israel. I also had the opportunity as we passed through the land of Moab to do a little student teaching about the Biblical Book of Ruth. Whether you subscribe to the Judeo-Christian tradition of the Old Testament or not, there is a great story presented in this book and it is also really interesting to actually get the story of a woman thrown into the Bible. I especially hold a special place in my heart for Ruth since I bear her name as my middle name with pride, as do both my mother and grandmother. I was able to tell my class how the decisions of my mom and grandma to live virtuous lives have led to the fact that I have been raised in a home blessed by covenants with God, much like how Ruth’s conversion and service led to her marrying Boaz and beginning a lineage that would produce Jesus Christ.
Besides religious history (even the Muslims loosely believe in the morals and stories of the Bible with a few revisions, such as Christ being merely a prophet, Ishmael being nearly sacrificed by Abraham instead of Isaac, and so forth- for your information) there were incredible ancient ruins of a Greco-Roman style as well as these amazing Nabataen structures carved right into the mountains with breathtaking facades (see Indian Jones and the Last Crusade for an example, we saw the place where the Holy Grail was filmed as being hidden in). There is obviously much more money in Jordan than in Egypt and the big cities remind me of Jerusalem- gleaming white buildings all crammed in next to each other. Between cities are miles of desert with slightly more foliage that most places around here and just tons of Bedouin tents scattered throughout. I was actually able to have a fascinating conversation, along with my friend Peter, with a Bedouin man whose name was Roq (spelling unknown). He told us how he had family in Australia but that he would never think of moving there because, to him, that would be giving up his freedom. As a Bedouin, he loves how no one needs to worry about money or really any influence from the outside world. He said that he loves living and free and simple life and that he is always happy. So interesting. These people literally sleep in tents and caves and have not much else but the clothes on their backs and yet they describe themselves as “always happy”. Peter and I agreed later that sometimes we feel that we have a monopoly on happiness because we feel that we have so much and that we are blessed with rights and abilities, but that is just not always what leads to happiness. These Bedouin have none of those things and we decided that nearly anyone in any situation can find happiness with the right outlook. We see movie stars that seem to have everything committing suicide and abusing drugs right and left, and here are these humble people with nothing that would never consider abandoning their way of life- definitely some food for thought.