My hopes are for people to read this and have something to reflect on. Reflection has been a valuable discipline that I have struggled to learn while abroad and a practice I encourage you to shape as a part of your daily lives.
However, this short piece will not focus on the value of reflection.
What I am going to share is some of my travel experiences. Up until now I have had the privilege of living a mile from where Jesus was born, visit a Jewish service in a synagogue, praying with Jews at the Western Wall, making friends with Jews, Muslims, Messianic Jews and Palestinian Christians, and abundantly more exciting experiences.
Perhaps my favorite undertaking thus far has been the pleasure to dine with the opposition.
By this I mean living for a week with a Palestinian family, part of the people group American media stereotype as terrorists. That experience has opened my eyes to see that those we have been fed to believe are the enemies by the media are actually welcoming and loving human beings.
By the time you read this I will most likely be in Morocco, but I am presently in Cordoba, Spain. If you are anything like I was before coming here, you are probably ignorant of the rich culture and history that resides within this flourishing city.
Some of you may not even know that from around 711 to1492 Muslims controlled much of Spain, which was then called Al-Andalus. It was not until the last stronghold in Granada was surrendered in 1492 to Queen Isabella that we have what we understand to be Spain today.
Furthermore, the fall of Al-Andalus, among other internal important factors, was due to the Crusades.
Today I visited the ruins of the palace of a Caliphate of Al-Andalus, Abd-ar-Rahman the third. The architecture and defense positioning of his palace are brilliant.
After a weeklong stay in Morocco, I will be traveling to Istanbul, Turkey. As one of the biggest players in not only the Middle East, but also the Islamic world today, Turkey will hopefully hold many adventures and life changing experiences for my fellow team members and I.
I could go on about what I have done this semester, but I want to take this opportunity to share the value of my experiences. If you want to know more about my specific adventures please feel free to ask me when I return.
Why did I share about the history of Al-Andalus? Because, similar to the way I shared about how American media portrays Palestinians in the Middle East, most of us are clueless to the truths that are out there waiting to be uncovered.
A quote my friend shared with me from Aristotle claims, “To say of what is that it is not, or of what is not that it is, is false, while to say of what is that it is, and of what is not that it is not, is true; so that he who says of anything that it is, or that it is not, will say either what is true or what is false.”
There are some things we are just simply ignorant about, but we have to be careful for some things people say are truth are simply not true. I challenge us all to look through the lens of the other before we assume something to be truth.
I continue to keep you all in my prayers and I ask you do the same for us here as we try and understand the complexities of this fast changing world.