Sabbatical update – weeks 4 and 5

It’s been just over two weeks since my last post; let me catch up on what’s been happening with me during weeks 4 and 5…

I finished my edits and rewrites (for the moment) on Lead: Leadership Lessons from the (Not So) Minor Prophets, and it’s now being proofed.  The cover’s looking good, and if all goes according to how I think it will, we should be ready for a launch of this book (in paperback and e-book format) in either late March or early April! I was editing and rewriting right up to the time when I left for Jordan, so not much progress to report on the Haggai novel.

I’m continuing my progress in the 90 day Bible reading plan through YouVersion.  I’m reading the ESV translation this time; it’s the first time I’ve read the ESV all the way through.  I’m really enjoying the broader view you get of Scripture by reading 30 minute chunks a day.

I miss my family!  No surprise there, but Facetime does help make it a little more bearable.  I’m really looking forward to being back with them.

Last week I arrived in Jordan, and my first 9 days here have been great. It’s my first time to Jordan, and I’m so enjoying getting to know some of the local people a bit here in Madaba (where our hotel is).  They’re incredibly gracious and welcoming, and I’ve rarely felt so welcome in another country.  The schedule here is a bit different; the holy day here is Friday (like our Sunday); Saturday is like our Saturday; and the work week is Sunday-Thursday.  So I’ve completed my first week of being a part of the archaeological dig team, and what a lot of hard work it is!  I can honestly say that this is one of the most physically taxing weeks I can remember.  It’s very rewarding though, and I look forward to sharing some of the pictures in the future with you (if you’re interested).  I’m learning so much, so this does involve more than just the physical challenge.  We leave in the mornings at 7 sharp to travel the 45 minutes to Tall el-Hammam, work hard all day, get back to the hotel around 5:15/5:30, shower and change clothes (I am covered in dirt when I get back each day), and have dinner.  After dinner, there are lectures offered each night by a member of the TSU faculty, which have been very insightful and informative thus far.  I’m having a tremendously difficult time adjusting to the time zone here.  Typically I have jet lag when I’m coming back west, but this time it’s hit me HARD coming east.  The first four days I only slept 2-4 hours a night.  I’m now sleeping around 6 or 6 and a half per night, but it’s not the eight I normally shoot for.  I’m hoping my body clock will snap into place any day now.

On our day off yesterday, many of our group went to Petra.  It was my first time to this wonder of the ancient world, and it truly lived up to all of my expectations and beyond.  After going 2.7 miles through the main part of Petra, I opted to climb up to the monastery, which was another mile and a half or so over VERY rocky terrain mixed with occasional large steps.  It was a tough climb, but well worth it to see the monastery, which was used as a church later in its history.

This morning I went out into Madaba to see the church where the Madaba map mosaic is located (fascinating – you can see it here),walk around the town, and have lunch at a local falafel shop (yum!).  Madaba is about half Christian and half Muslim; it has the highest percentage of Christians of any city in Jordan. Madaba was an ancient city, given to the tribe of Reuben and mentioned in the Bible in Numbers 21:30, Joshua 13:16, 1 Chronicles 19:7-15, and 2 Samuel 10:6-14.

All in all, quite an experience so far.  I’m striving to make the most of this opportunity and learn as much as I can.  My hope and prayer is that it will help me to lead Southview better and better in the months and years to come.  I continue to pray for Southview and her people; I know the pastoral team and Elders are doing a fantastic job leading in my absence, and that’s such a blessing to know that God’s work continues forward there while I’m here!

Thank you so much for your prayers!