Danny, my bloggerooni buddy over at Dream Big, Dream Often has a “question of the day” sort of mini-post. Today he asked what our most interesting vacation was.
And I can not decide.
It was either my first pilgrimage to Israel……..or my mission trip to Guatemala.
Now it may sound odd coming from me that I took both a pilgrimage and a mission trip. I could have been the original doubting Thomas. I have to see and touch and smell and taste to believe things. PROOF is necessary to me. Faith just doesn’t cut it.
Oh, I had tons of faith..smug faith at that until my seminary days. Then I learned how to read horizontally..and compare and contrast…and find sources and alternatives. And kicking and screaming throughout the process I decided that the Bible was written by men for men…I honestly didn’t have any choice in that determination as the more I studied the more proof I came across that “faith”, while wonderful, has little to nothing to do with what is actually written in the bible and how it came to be the book we have today.
But, even though it sounds ridiculous, I made a pilgrimage. I needed to see where events took place. I had several bibles with me..I had a concordance, and an ancient map reproduction and I walked. I walked all over the countryside. I broke down and climbed aboard buses when the paths were far apart…I AM an old lady after all and the legs don’t work so well. But for the most part, I walked. I rested in the synagogue where Jesus preached in Capernaum. It is still standing….well the ruins of it are.
I wandered through Bethsaida, and Magdala, and En Gev. I tramped through Nazareth and hiked the passes through Tzippori, Cana (Kafr Kanna), the Horns of Hattin. I climbed the Mount Arbel Cliffs, swam in the Sea of Galilee, and walked through Qumran, Tabgha, and floated in the Dead Sea..
I walked the Via Dolorosa in Jerusalem and sat in church after church listening to choirs sing and ministers preach. I came out of it all respecting the man Jesus far more than I ever had before…but with the absolute knowledge that he was not God.
I visited Israel twice. The second trip was to see the Palestinian side of things.
A few years later, George and I traveled to Guatemala. It was a medical mission trip combined with projects to be done at a Christian school and clinic as well as building homes with Casas Por Christos. We lived with other medical personnel in a cinderblock compound with razor wire atop surrounding walls. It was up in the highlands north of Guatemala City.
We dug a well for a small community, built two single bedroom homes for families that had been living in cardboard and sheet metal hovels, we vaccinated children and adults for various diseases that have been eradicated in the US for the past fifty years. We built a music room, kitchen and offices for an elementary school. We traveled by foot, by donkey or in the city of San Raymundo by tuk-tuks. We ate what the villagers ate..we washed our clothing in the river with sand and rocks…we bathed upstream from where we washed our clothes.
We helped villagers evacuate when a volcano decided to erupt just west of Antigua.
We learned some Spanish from the village children…we learned (ok, I learned) how to weave fabrics from the grandmothers. We bargained for food at the local markets. After ten days, we traveled back to Guatemala City for three days at a five-star hotel (it cost 4 dollar American per night). We did some sight-seeing at museums, churches, historic buildings and a short zoo trip.
That trip was mostly just giving of ourselves, our time and energies to help people live a better life. It made me appreciate all the things that I had previously taken for granted.
I’m still not sure how to tell Danny which of these “vacations” meant the most to me. One made me re-evaluate my life. One made me appreciate my life. How can I possibly choose which was the more important?