After an excruciating two days of travel by bus and train and hanging out at various interesting stop over stations, we arrived in Macedonia in the middle of the night - tired, dirty and hungry. Our moods were immediately lifted when we were welcomed by our friendly hosts who received us at the train station with big smiles and joyful hearts. They treated us to a midnight feast of the biggest hamburgers we have ever seen and it was not long before realized that Macedonia, like the Middle East has a very late night culture. Nothing happens before 10 in the morning and 10 at night is a perfectly acceptable time to start a new activity.
We departed from Turkey almost two months ago already, but it was such an overwhelming experience to be a pilgrim in the country where a big part of the new testament plays off that I struggled to put it into words. Here is my attempt at celebrating the highlights!
Israel, the promised land, the country where Jesus walked, the place where God revealed so much of His character to us through the Israeli nation. Visiting this special place is an experience that can hardly be captured or described in mere words or pictures. It is seeing a piece of living history, a walk through the gospels. From Bethlehem where Jesus was born to Capernaum next to the sea of Galilea where Jesus ministered to Jerusalem, the city that Jesus loved. How strange and heartbreaking to see the same historic events being viewed so differently through the glasses of different worldviews and religions and how these differences are used as a platform for blind hatred.
From Biblical times until today, the Middle East has been a region subject to near constant unrest and war. Throughout the generations, the kingdom of Jordan has been a safe harbour offering refuge to countless people fleeing from war torn countries on all sides.
After two months of training and preparation the day finally arrived for the international leg of our Global Challenge journey to begin! It was with much excitement and expectation that our entire group of 36 students got on the midnight flight form Johannesburg to Dar Es Salam. On arrival we stepped out into the pressing humidity of an early morning in Tanzania. Everyone scurried about to pick up their bags and hurry off to catch the next mode of transport which would take us to our various destinations. When the commotion died down it became evident that my bag might not have been as excited about the start of this journey as I was - It appeared as if she never even made it onto the airplane…
"The Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them on ahead of him, two by two, into every town and place where he himself was about to go. And he said to them, "The harvest is plentiful, but the labourers are few. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out labourers into his harvest. Go your way; behold, I am sending you out as lambs in the midst of wolves. Carry no moneybag, no knapsack, no sandals, and greet no one on the road. Whatever house you enter, first say, 'Peace be to this house!' And if a son of peace is there, your peace will rest upon him. But if not, it will return to you... Heal the sick and say to them, 'The kingdom of God has come near to you.' " Luke 10:1-9