Eight hours ahead of our home in Harrisonburg VA, we are all together on a Sunday night after enjoying a worship service together as a group. This is not an easy task to summarize what we’ve done so far. In the past week, we have been all over the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan and experienced so many things and learned so much history, it is nearly impossible to write about it all.
Day 1: We met our beloved tour guide Mohammad and we took our first bus trip as a group. We saw the River Jabbok where Jacob wrestled an angel. Then we travelled on to the ancient city of Jerash and explored the ruins, sang on an ancient Roman stage, walked through Hadrian’s Gate and visited Artemis’ temple and Zeus’ temple. Then we got back on the bus and travelled to Ajlun Castle, where we learned about Saladin and his defense of Jordan.
Day 2: We travelled down King’s Road to Shobak Castle. However, Mohammad insisted we take a detour and view Arnon Valley, also known as the “Grand Canyon of Jordan.” The view was well worth the detour. When we got back on the bus and finally reached the road leading up to Shobak Castle, the road was too snowy and icy for the bus to make it. Instead, we hopped out and enjoyed a snowball fight. After that, we made our way to Little Petra and explored the ancient catacombs and amazing view Little Petra had to offer.
Day 3: We explored Petra, a bigger version of Petra. We learned about Nabateans and enjoyed a very long hike with an amazing view. We then travelled to Wadi Rum to stay overnight in a Bedouin Camp.
Day 4: Man, do the Bedouins know how to have a good time! We enjoyed such good food and hospitality, with specialty dishes like “magluba” and “zareb.” We also enjoyed a long camel ride through the desert.
Day 5: We left the Bedouins and travelled to Aqaba to swim in the Red Sea.
Day 6: We came back to Amman. On the long journey back, we enjoyed a stop at Lot’s Cave and a very nice view of the Dead Sea.
The very first site that our group visited was the Jabbok River, where Jacob wrestled with an angel before going off to meet with his slightly pissed off brother, Esau, whom Jacob had cheated out of his inheritance. As we all stood and looked out over Jabbok, leader Linford Stutzman read the story of Jacob aloud.
“That night Jacob got up and took his two wives, two maidservants and his eleven sons and crossed the ford of the Jabbok. After he had sent them across the stream, he sent over his possessions. So Jacob was left alone and a man wrestled with him until daybreak. When the man saw that he could not overpower him, he touched the socket of Jacob’s hip so that his hip was wrenched as he wrestled with the man. Then the man said, ‘Let me go, for it is day break.’ But Jacob replied, ‘I will not let you go unless you bless me.’ The man asked him, ‘What is your name?’ ‘Jacob,’ he answered. The man said, ‘Your name will no longer be Jacob but Israel. Because you have struggled with God and with men and have overcome.” Genesis 32: 22-28
Like Jacob, all of us were uncertain of what would lie in store for us. As Jacob left the land, home, and comforts he knew and embarked on his journey, he must have been worried and full of doubt, as many of us on this trip currently are as well. But, the part that resounds prominently is Jacob overcoming, wrestling with God, and wading through the Jabbock and starting his uncertain journey.
This week, our group has been thinking about what it means to have faith in the face of such uncertainty. We wrestled with the idea that believers are meant to be travelers; uncertainty is a part of this life and faith a necessity.