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We did so much today that it is hard for me to begin processing it, never mind reporting on all of it for a blog post.

One of the things I loved best was a tour of “Nazareth Village” which is a historical 1st Century farm that has been restored. It is part working farm, part living museum. Our guide was named Daniel and he said to us: “this is why I love my job…every day I am walking in the footsteps of Jesus, and being others along with me.” He was speaking of the physical reality of the farm in what was Jesus hometown – there is little doubt that Jesus would have been on that farm at some point in his life. But he also took time to point out that while walking in Jesus’ physical footsteps is a beautiful thing, doing so spiritually is far more important. I loved his heart – he was so real as he said that.

Also, we got to meet Hannah. She has been working at Nazareth Village for many years. She spins and dyes the wool they gather from their sheep, and weaves it into wraps and dolls. Years ago, the first time our group leader (the Rev. Doug Rollwage) visited Nazareth Village, she discovered that Doug’s daughter is also named Hannah. She told Doug he must bring her with him one day. He did, and when the two Hannah’s met, the one from Nazareth Village asked Doug’s daughter if she was a believer. Doug’s daughter answered yes, and Hannah from Nazareth said, “Good! We will be in Heaven together.” Doug told us that this was said as one might say “we will grab lunch together” – with an honest, humble, matter-of-fact-ness that Doug and his daughter found deeply touching.

It was good for my heart, good for my soul, to be around people who wore their faith on their sleeve in a way that was so gentle and honest.

There is, indeed, a great cloud of witnesses. And I thank God that he has seen fit to allow my path to cross with so many of them.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.
Hebrews 12:1 NLT

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