“Travel sparks our imagination, feeds our curiosity, and reminds us how much we all have in common.” Deborah Lloyd

This rings so true. Our group started as strangers, but we soon bonded as whanau. We sang together, we shouted, we snored together. We laughed, talked and we cried together. We danced on first century Jerusalem streets, and on our boat on the Sea of Galilee. We knelt in prayerful worship, and in exhaustion. We went to Jerusalem, Mt Gerazim, and Shiloh, but the true place of worship was wherever we were, together, the Holy Spirit in our midst. Our stories are now entwined.

When reflecting on our journey to Israel, Palestine and Jordan I am filled with gratitude, but the greatest gift I have received from this journey is the ability to imagine; pohewatia.

Kia pohewatia. We walked. It was dusty, rocks are everywhere. It was so hot. We sweated copiously. We had bottled water, an air-conditioned bus, and buffet meals of feast proportions––truly the land of milk and honey. Jesus and co. didn’t have our luxuries. They would have been fit, tanned and ruggedly resilient.

Kia pohewatia. We felt the warm wind at our faces while we stood on the land where the tabernacle once stood, at Shiloh. Hands were lifted in silent prayer by some, with many faces tear-stained. The modern roads that we travelled to Shiloh are built upon the ancient roads. Sentences in scripture about navigation that were so dry, now hold such meaning!

Kia pohewatia. Jerusalem, a beautiful city with such contentious history. We sat at the garden of Gethsemane, looked over the Kidron valley to the old city walls. Jesus cried in agony there. He was crucified, entombed, then gloriously resurrected, just over there. Thankyou Jesus.

Kia pohewatia. Sabbath is intense. Jesus was condemned for working on the sabbath. We were chastised for using our cameras. Our coffee machine was on sabbath, as was the toaster. Coffee brought in to our hotel from the adjacent cafe was treated as contraband––it wasn’t kosher. Sabbath is set apart and deeply respected. 

Kia pohewatia. I wonder whether Jesus and his disciples swam in the sea (lake) of Galilee, like we did? Surely! That water was so refreshing, and we had time to just play. One of our group was baptised there. Special times.

Now, when hearing scripture, to be able to close our eyes and simply “imagine” is a gift. To see, hear, smell, taste and touch. A gift for which I am so grateful, and one that I hope we can share with others, to enable them to worship more deeply. Scripture is truly the Living Word. Pohewatia.

Nicola Mountfort

Pastoral Leadership student