Well, we’re back in Canada (almost all of us at least), exhausted but so thankful for an amazing experience.

Our last day in Israel and Palestine took us to the desert again. We began (quite early!) at Matsada, a Herodian fortress and palace built in the late first century before Christ high up on a mountain. It is also the site of a last hold out of the first century Jewish rebellion. (Some of you may have seen the tv miniseries in the early 80’s.) Seeing the engineering that was necessary to build something like this is absolutely incredible. This was a favourite place of mine when I went 20 years ago, and it was again fascinating to me.

Our second stop was in Qumran. This significant for two reasons. It is the site of an Essene settlement from Jesus’ time. It is also, likely, the source of the Dead Sea Scrolls that were found by a bedouin shepherd in the 1940’s in the caves surrounding the area. It was fascinating to see the town, the caves, and to imagine life there in the desert.

Our last stop for the day, and the trip, was the Dead Sea. It is stunningly blue, with mountains all around. We were all hoping for a really refreshing dip in a cool lake… Unfortunately, the Dead Sea is not particularly cold. But it was colder than the 36 degree temperature outside, so it felt good. We waded in, getting stuck in the mud as we walked, until we decided to lay down on our backs and float. It is a bizarre feeling to float or tread water effortlessly. It was a great way to relax and celebrate the end of a phenomenal trip.

Once we returned to our hotel in the Old City we took some time to debrief. There is a lot to unpack, historically, intellectually, emotionally, and spiritually. It’s something we’ll be unpacking and debriefing for a while. But the best way to debrief is to have conversations. So, Emmanuel, get ready to hear a lot about our trip. All that we saw, heard, smelled, tasted and felt. It was a great trip and we can’t wait to share more with you!

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