A New Living Stones Pilgrimage – October 16-29, 2017

Sponsored by Pilgrims of Ibillin,
led by Joan Deming

The October Living Stones trip, with 14 intrepid travelers, took place October 16-29 in Israel & Palestine. This page shows the last three entries to our blog, just below. For the FULL BLOG for this trip, Click here.

For many more photos and additional reflections of our trip, please visit Pilgrims of Ibillin’s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pilgrimsofibillin/.

Jaffa - Knowing the Place for the First Time

28 October, 2017, on the way home

"We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time." T. S. Eliot

Mural at Terra Santa School, Jaffa

While waiting in Newark for our connecting flight, I need to write about our final day in Israel. It began with our visit to the amazing Church of the Sermon on the Mount on the Mar Elias campus in Ibillin where we digested the extraordinary symbolism of the icons, and our day ended with several hours in Jaffa and our “last supper” in Ramlah (Arabic phonetics).

Current teacher, former student

The long awaited day came for us to visit Costy’s birthplace. I told Joan that I wanted that “ahah” moment for him. And it did happen. After touring Old Jaffa without recognizing much, when our guide Ramy began on the street of churches and schools that had been initiated by religious groups pre-Israel, he mentioned Terra Santa, and Costy perked up. Ramy, himself, is a history teacher there currently. I do not believe it was a coincidence that he was our guide!

Costy and Beth, Terra Santa School

When we walked up to the gate and stone wall that surrounded the school, Costy stopped and said, “I remember.”  Jerry, one of our group, asked if we could go in, and Ramy pulled out his keys, unlocked the gate and in we walked. Memories washed over Costy, as we continued into the building itself. He wept. It was emotional for all of us. My heart was full.

Then on our way to the Port of Jaffa, we stopped by Simon the Tanner’s House.

Simon the Tanner's house in Jaffa (See Acts 10)

It was all too much for me. I had heard about these places almost all our married life, now I was there and he was at the first home he knew before his family fled. He had not seen Jaffa since 1948.

~ Beth Saba

"How was your Trip?"

28 Oct 2017

Marty Callies with Abuna Elias Chacour

The trip opened my eyes to the situation between Palestine and Israel.

But more so, I grew to understand how Palestinians are so resilient. Not that they don't hurt or want things different, but that through calm, consistent, peaceful means of education, constant prayer and sheer determination, they can be successful.

Yes, they have lost a lot, but in their battles, they have steadfast hope. Pray for peace for the whole situation.

~ Marty Callies


Holy Moments in Biram, then "Running where Jesus Walked"

Toomi Magzal and Jerry Gray, Biram Church

27 October

We ate our lunch at shady picnic tables near the church at Biram after our local guide, Toomi Magzal, had graciously and movingly shared historic photos and copies of documents and then shown us around the ruins of his childhood village.  Meanwhile, Joan let us know that we needed to make changes in the itinerary to accommodate the extra time we had taken at Biram. The Church of Loaves and Fishes would not be possible and our trip out onto the Sea of Galilee would be saved to last instead of first thing in the afternoon.  In this way, we stayed flexible...and practiced "running where Jesus walked". It also reminded me that while we have had the privilege of going into places that few are allowed to see and experience, we must balance it with having to not see some places many people go. It is the paradox of pilgrimage, capturing the eternal truths in a limited space with limited time.

Sarah, Tim, lovely Mar Elias student Yara Khoury who spent the day with us, Grace

On our approach to Primacy of Peter, we were reminded of Jesus asking Peter "Who do you say I am?" and of a later triple command to "Feed my sheep" as a way to show he had been forgiven for his earlier denials before the crucifixion. Joan let us know about an attack on the Church of the Loaves and Fishes that took place a couple of years ago, a "price tag" attack by settlers, repaired, in part, by donation by a Jewish rabbi. She continued with a story about a visit by George W.Bush to the Church of the Beatitudes where Abuna Chacour persuaded security personnel to allow him to guide the president through this site. He observed that though the president could recite the Beatitudes, he had yet to put them into action. Again, the pressure is there to put the pieces together and discern our identity in Christ and the urgency of the message to get up and get our hands dirty with the work of peace and reconciliation.

The level of the Sea of Galilee was alarmingly low to those who had visited as recently as May, with the three heart shaped stepping stones from the seventh century a far distance from the edge of the water. Nevertheless, it was blessed moment to be on the shore of Galilee, walking down to the water and touching it and seeing an egret in the distance while a group of pilgrims arrived in blue tee shirts to stand in the water while their leader led them in prayer. The dark volcanic rock of both old and new structures are distinct from the white limestone structures of Jerusalem. The Primacy of Peter Church with it's simple interior soon ran together with the ruins of Capernaum and a church there that we could not enter because mass was going on, and we were on to a very crowded Church of the Beatitudes with some parts accessible and others not.

With Galilee Sailing, David our skipper

Time was the master and our appointment with David and the boat was swiftly approaching. Space on the boat was limited, so Joan and George stayed on shore. Again, with 45 minutes and two thirds of Jesus' ministry contained in our outstretched arms as we faced the places we had just visited, we were reminded of places we had not seen, such as Mount Gherizim where Jesus healed a man possessed by demons and afflicted a nearby herd of pigs. We listened to Tim read from Matthew, relaxed a little as David talked about Peter hooking a fish and then proceeded to catch, even to his astonishment, a Damascus barbel within moments of telling the story.  Finally with a lively Fairouz piece cued up Costy invited Sara to dance and this joyful moment is captured on video. See Pilgrims of Ibillin's FaceBook page to watch the dance and share our enjoyment of a special time in a place still alive with memories and meaning.

~ Debbie Abbott


 

2 thoughts on “A New Living Stones Pilgrimage – October 16-29, 2017

  1. Thank you for so graciously sharing your travel experiences I’m working on a resolution to encourage travel to the Holy Land and in particular to for travelers to meet the “living stones”. Please share lots of stories that I could share with my church!

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