I have found my second favorite country in the world- so far, at least. And it’s not one that I was expecting. But I’ll say it plainly – I’m in love with Jordan! I don’t even know how to describe why I love it so much. I guess probably just because we all had such an incredible experience. But in all seriousness- it’s a beautiful, wonderful place.
We left early Monday morning, and headed for the border between Israel and Jordan. Even though the border is only like 45 minutes away from the Jerusalem Center, it took us two hours to get across because of the strict regulations you have to go through for crossing Israeli borders. It cost 17,000 just for the students and professors to cross the border—that’s roughly $4500!
Once we finally crossed we went to Madaba, where Mt. Nebo is located, which overlooks the promised land. According to Deuteronomy 34, it was where Moses was taken to view the Holy Land. [Madaba Picture]
|A group of us posing with a monument at Mt. Nebo|
|Sarah, Me, and Becca posing in front of the Promised Land!|
After that we went to Machaerus, which was a fortress built by the Hasmonean king Alexander Janneus, and later a fortress of Herod Antipas. Antipas lived at the time of John the Baptist, and revered him as a man of God. However, Antipas decided to marry his brother’s wife, something strictly against the Law of Moses. John the Baptist knew that this was unacceptable and condemned the marriage. Thus, his head was demanded. The fortress is the supposed site of the beheading. The site was in pretty good shape, and was a great opportunity for a discussion about serving Christ. It’s easy when you read a story like aforementioned one to say that we would each be willing to die for Christ like John the Baptist, and, in fact, I believe most of us would. But really, dying for Christ wouldn’t be all that difficult. It might be painful, but it would be fairly quick and wouldn’t require too much of our own effort. No, rather than dying for Christ, the harder path is choosing to LIVE for Christ; to exemplify Him in everything we do and to be an example unto the believers. This is the real struggle that most of us face every day, but really, what more worthy struggle could there be?
|Sarah, Becca, Me, and Crystal posing on some ruins as statues... so I went for the Heisman pose, of course.|
|Me, Amanda, and Sarah around a column at Machaerus|
|The view from Machaerus|
That evening we made the long drive down to Petra in southern Jordan. We arrived at our hotel and were greeted by the best welcoming party I have ever seen. There were tables and tables of fresh orange juice and pita bread waiting for us, as well as horses available for us to ride around in front of the hotel and a man playing traditional Arab songs on a wooden flute. After getting over the shock of this five star treatment, we brought our bags in and headed to the hotel restaurant for dinner, where there was once again a wooden flute player, this time joined with a bongo-ish type drum player. Dinner was great, but it soon developed into my first real Arab dance party.
|Me and Sarah with our welcoming glasses of OJ :)|
|One of the horses they had there to welcome us... Seriously, it was like a royal welcoming. I could get used to that... haha. :)|
|The drummer and flute player at dinner|
We had all gathered around the flute and drum player, and soon the waiters came over and began to demonstrate some of the traditional dances. They then started teaching us them, and before we knew it we were doing a grapevine-like dance all around the restaurant. It literally seemed like a scene out of a movie. After spending an hour dancing with what seemed like the whole restaurant staff (chef and his chef hat included), we headed up to our rooms, very satisfied, and with the beginnings of a passionate love affair with Jordan.
|Lee, Amy, Sarah, one of the waiters, one of the chefs, and Me after the epic Arab dance party|