I didn't know what to expect.
I had never seen pictures of the Holy Land. All I knew is that I wanted to go.
I've seen a significant change in the people who have been there. I couldn't put my finger on it but there was a change. They were a bit more radical in their faith I guess. God's Word was a bit more real. I wanted that.
Life was so hectic before the trip. I had to cram 2 weeks of work into 2 days! Such a frenzied pace. This trip was a much needed breather.
And so along with 38 other pilgrims we got on a plane January 31st, 2013. Our group was like family, having most of us belong to the same community, "Ang Ligaya ng Panginoon" (The Joy of the Lord). As our name suggests, we are a lively group of Christians.
Amman, Jordan was our first stop.
Here we had our first taste of Persian food. I already felt like I landed in heaven! This is my most favorite cuisine of all! This is the only kind of food I want to learn to cook! So healthy! I piled on the salads!
After our sumptuous lunch, we had a very cold and wet arrival at Mt. Nebo. The weather was foggy but we had a beautiful mass at the small chapel there lined with ancient mosaics.
Mt. Nebo was were Moses viewed the Promised Land from a distance but was not allowed by God to go.
If you were Moses, would you be willing to just obey even if you had other plans? Sometimes we are other people's Moses, we lead and guide them, pray for them and then, despite times when you think you were more faithful to God, they seem more "blessed" when we are not.
I'm sure that Moses was not aware of the grave consequence of his actions. When God told him to "speak to the rock" so water would gush out, he instead tapped it twice, a less humiliating thing to do in case it didn't work and something that has "worked" before. He also made it look like he was that made the water run out, not God.
We must be careful not to offend our Lord and to always give Him back the glory. Otherwise, we may miss out on the best things in life, things we have been waiting for, for a long while.
The River Jordan...
After 40 years in the desert, the Israelites finally crossed the River Jordan on to the Promised Land. Therefore the river symbolizes Freedom for many.
I remembered the immigration officer back in Manila mention "Freedom" to me. I was chatting away in the line and forgot to fill up my form. Once I got there, the officer wasn't cross with me but asked me a lot, and I mean an unusually lot of questions. Where was I going? where did I work? What company I worked for? What school I graduated from? What course did I take?
It so happened that I am from the State University. He asked me "What is U.P.'s motto?" then he said "Freedom!"
I reflected on this a bit and remembered my "One Word for 2013". It is VICTORY. No, it's not Freedom but having much awaited freedom is indeed a victory! Possibly this year, the Lord is going to free me from things that are weighing me down in my faith. It could mean healing for someone dear to me, grace to overcome discouragement and sin, answered prayers, or all of the above.
The Jordan river was not what I expected it to be. It was murky brown, contrary to my Hollywood-inspired perceptions. I gingerly dipped my finger in it, believing it to be healing and anointing not just for me, but for my family and friends who sent their prayers along with me.
Fr. Dave, our pilgrimage chaplain, told us that it was not the river that was holy but Jesus was the one who made it holy. Just like us, who are made of dust and earth, God chose us, touched our hearts, and sanctified us with His ultimate act of love. He took upon the cross all our sins, flaws and infirmities so that we can live lives of holiness and love.