Wednesday was our first field trip. The Judd class went on the same trip the day before, and we Schades spent all evening listening to them sing its praise. It made me very excited indeed.
We began the day by crossing the Sea of Galilee by boat. Our little vessel was called the -----. We piled all forty of us on and chugged our way across the water. It was still fairly early in the morning--just barely eight o'clock--and the sun was shining bright and clear, casting gleaming sunbeams along the water behind is. A crisp breeze was blowing--not a tempest, just a cool little gust. Partway across, our captains cut the motor and gave us a few minutes to have a devotional. It was completely silent out there in the middle of the lake, and I wondered what it would have felt like for those long-ago disciples to go from battling a raging, roaring, blowing storm straight into complete, silent, shining calm in the space of the words "peace, be still." We read about the miracles that had happened on the Sea--Christ calming the storm on one occasion and walking on water to the ship on another. We sang "Master the Tempest is Raging" out there, as well as "Brightly Beams Our Father's Mercy" and "Be Still My Soul." I could just picture the words of the former as we glided over the lack: "Master the tempest is over / the elements sweetly rest. / The sky in the calm lake is mirrored / and Heaven's within my breast!" That's just what it looked like.
When we reached the opposite shore we stepped directly into our first stop--the Ginosaur Boat Museum (yes, very nearly rhyming with "dinosaur" except for the first vowel, which is "i" as in "fiddle"). This museum displays a 1st century boat discovered a few years back during a drought year when the water line was receding. It is jokingly known as the "Jesus Boat," it being very much the sort of ship the Savior would have traveled in. It is old a weather-beaten and incomplete now, but it was still fascinating to see and learn about it.
We then drove to the Mount of Beautitudes. It was a beautiful place. Green flowered gardens and walkways surrounded a lovely little church, all overlooking the Sea of Galilee. We had a small devotional in a private, shaded spot, in which Brother Schade talked to us about the Sermon on the Mount (with emphasis on the Beatitudes). He gave us a quote by ---- that I've heard a couple times before: " . He encouraged us to look for areas we needed to work on as we worked our way towards that commandment of perfection. We were then given an hour to ourselves. I did not look at things I needed to work on--partially because I already know some of those, but also because I had other areas of interest. Instead I found a quiet spot and read through "the Living Christ." My goal in my head was to learn more about the Savior--but I have realized in hindsight that that wasn't actually what I wanted. I know a lot about Jesus--more than most people, actually (thank you modern revelation). The questions I really wanted answers to were more along these lines: What does Jesus Christ mean to me personally? What is my purpose or motivation in following Him? Why does it matter to me? I think I got some answers--but I'll save those for more personal circumstances. I also walked about some, looked inside the church, perused my journal for past spiritual experiences, and talked with my friend Alyssa for a bit. I had wanted to visit with others that day and hear their thoughts, and looking over all my class mates sitting about I felt I ought to talk with her. She shared with me the things she had been looking at--particularly how in every prayer the Savior prays (the recorded ones, anyway) he says something along the lines of "Thy will and not mine me done." It's yet another way that they Savior is an example to me--He was always submitting His will to that of the Father. I'm not very good at that. I like to be in control and feel like I have a handle on things. Really, though, the only person who is in any position to direct my life for good is Heavenly Father, because only He knows what I am capable of becoming and what I need to do to get there.
Our next stop was the church of St. Peter's Primacy. It was a slightly weathered, gray-stoned church on a beach of gray pebbles. It commemorated the place where Jesus sat with Peter and the other apostles at the little fire He had made for them and asked Peter three times if Peter loved Him. Again, Brother Schade gave us a small devotional. We talked about how the work of Jesus Christ did not cease with His death, but lived on through missionaries and apostles. Their calling was to feed Christ's sheep--and they did. During our free time, I looked into the church, waded in the water a touch, and spoke some Arabic with Andrew and an Arab gentleman who was also on the beach. I also reread the story in the New Testament and also a copy of Elder Holland's most recent conference talk about the same story: "The First and Great Commandment." Please read it. It was amazing. I was taught so much as I read it through and received spiritual confirmations anew of things my heart already knows to be true but that my head takes time catching up with.
We walked down to the church of the Multiplication of Loaves and Fishes, a colorful little place with some beautiful courtyards and some nice mosaics inside the church. We talked there about the story the church commemorates--the apostles bringing a lad's five loaves and two small fishes to the Savior, only to be stunned as they multiplied to feed thousands. I loved the application we found in this story. The apostles didn't need to have enough to feed 5000 people--they just had to bring all they had and the Savior made it go around. Just like that, I don't need to bring my Savior perfection in order to be an instrument in His hands or to receive repentance. If I bring all that I am and all that I have, He is ready and able to make me more than I ever could have been on my own.
Our last stop (after a little detour to pick up Alex's scriptures that had been left back at the Ginosaur boat) was Capurnaum. Brother Schade talked to us there about the Bread of Life sermon (side note: Brother Schade let us loose for free time with the statement "I can see some heads nodding, so I'll wrap it up." I am terribly embarrassed to say that one of those heads was mine. Sorry, Brother Schade). I looked in the church again--a high-raised, octagonal, modern-like structure built over the ruin said to be Peter's house. I looked over the old foundations, then found a spot to sit in the ruins of the Byzantine-era church and read over some of the stories and miracles that took place in Capurmaum. There are so many--the centurion with the sick servant, the woman with the issue of blood, Jarius's little daughter, the Bread of Life sermon... I love so many of those stories and teachings.
We left as the sun was going down. When we got back to Ein Gev, we all beat fast path for the beach, where Erin and Mikele were waiting with their mission calls. They read their calls aloud to us: Mikele is going to Guatamala, and Erin is going to New York, New York North Spanish Speaking. We were all thrilled for them, and they were very thrilled for themselves. It was a great conclusion to the evening. I went off to sit by the sea shore for a while, thinking a lot about the question of my own mission--whether it is to happen now, or in years to come. It's a question I've been wrestling with for some months and that I still don't have a good answer to. I can say for certain that I have felt at peace about it, however--and with my usual anxiety-ridden worrywart tendencies, that is something very special. Right now I am trying to content myself to let things come in the Lord's time--because Heaven knows He knows better than I do.
More tomorrow! Please keep commenting if you've got a second--it makes my day every time to hear from one of you. Of course, I'll be back in less than three weeks (GASP!) so I suppose I'll hear from you soon enough. Love you all!