This was my first ever trip out of the country! I flew from Washington, D.C. to Doha, Qatar… then from Doha, Qatar to Amman, Jordan. If you don’t already know, the flight from D.C. to Doha is a little over 12 hours. Yuck. But the flight from Doha to Amman is only about 3 hours so that wasn’t bad at all.
D.C. to Qatar, Doha
I got dropped off at the airport by a friend and thankfully I’d done my research and decided that I needed to be able to carry all my own luggage; all I had was a backpack, a purse and a little carry on bag. I was realistic with my carry on stuff, I took my iPad, phone, charging cords, battery pack and a notebook. I also took my toiletries, medicine and a change of clothes. Thank goodness, because I had mixed up my flights and instead of landing in Doha in the morning and leaving in the evening, I landed in the evening and left the next morning. I was very disappointed because I didn’t get to see ANYTHING in Doha, but I did get a great of night sleep in a big fancy bed all by myself (well from 8 PM till 3 AM).
Doha, Qatar to Amman, Jordan
I had a great experience on both flights and in both airports, except for a guy at the Visa counter in Amman who I couldn’t understand and I am pretty sure I pissed him off by saying “What?” a few too many times. I landed in Amman and finally got to see Q after 7 months of a deployment! HURRAY! We rented a car and drove to a hotel at the Dead Sea where we had a wonderful day and evening… until I started throwing up.
Amman, Jordan to the Dead Sea, Jordan
Before the vomiting, we had burgers and fries (yes, in a hotel at the Dead Sea in Jordan)… a long nap… and then a delicious dinner at one of the hotel’s restaurants. We also caught the end of a traditional belly dancing show and got to see an olive tree that was over two THOUSAND years old. It may have been there while Jesus walked the earth, that’s just incredible. I didn’t want to miss any parts of our trip so I tried to go to bed early and sleep off the bug. That may have worked somewhat since I was back to almost 80% the next morning. Back home in Virginia all of my kids were also sick with a stomach flu (then my dad got sick, then my grandmother, then my grandfather, and finally my mom…) and their’s lasted a while longer than mine.
Our first trip was to Madaba, Mt. Nebo, and Bethany beyond the Jordan- the baptismal site of Jesus Christ. Our driver was amazing, super knowledgeable, friendly, and professional. He actually shared with us that he had 5 year old twin girls and a 3 year old son, so we had a lot in common! He also taught me a new word, and I think you should learn it too! Mashallah or masha’allah, it’s a phrase expressing joy, thankfulness or appreciation that means “as God wills”, “God has willed” or “God willing”. That was the first thing out of his mouth when we shared pictures of our three boys. I just really loved hearing that, it was so honest and he seemed to truly mean it since it was said almost as a reflex.
Mount Nebo in Jordan
Our first stop was Mt. Nebo which is famous for the mosaic map of the Promised Land and as the place that God led Moses to at the end of his life to show him that he had led his people almost all the way to the Promised Land. It’s been said that Moses was buried there and that the Arc of the Covenant was hidden in a cave there (neither of these has ever been substantiated). Pope John Paul II visited Mt. Nebo in 2000, planting an olive tree at the summit as a symbol of peace. There is also a huge bronze sculpture (the Brazen Serpent Monument created by Giovanni Fantoni) which is in reference to the bronze serpent that God told Moses to create to heal those who had been bitten by the poisonous snakes (Numbers 21:4-9).
From near the top of the mountain, our tour guide pointed out at the valley below us and asked us if we saw the dark green area. It was pretty obvious since it’s the only green area in the middle of a sandy valley, he said that it was one of the Moses Springs, where Moses stuck his staff into the ground and a spring flowed forth. Later on when we were leaving, I saw this faucet on the side of the walkway. It was surrounded by small green plants and white flowers, then just brown and gray dirt and sand everywhere else and thought how appropriate it seemed, such a vivid comparison to the ancient spring in the center of the valley.
I was so glad that we visited when we did since the church had been closed for renovations from 2007- 2016. Inside this 4th century church are floors that are almost entirely covered in mosaics, even the walls are hung with mosaics that had been uncovered at other locations. There were several areas that had been unearthed my archaeologists including a baptismal pool, we tried to imagine how it would have felt to take your child to this place to have them blessed and baptized. There are no explanations allowed within the church, it is awesomely quiet. We lit candles, prayed and just stared at these amazing works of art and architecture.
This place was so incredible, and Q is so knowledgeable about the Bible and history in general it was really interesting listening to tour guide and then Q talk about the same place in a way that I actually understood. Another reminder of how much I miss him when he’s away.
As always, I have no idea what I am doing… even when the kids aren’t even around!