When I am in Jordan, I have to go to Petra – every time if I can!
Petra is a must see if you are in the Middle East. But it’s not just the ancient and majestic buildings carved out of the high cliffs. It is the people who work there, especially the young “bedouins.”
The last time I was at Petra with a friend, I just hung out with the bedouin guys who make their living by taking people up the 800 steps to the monastery on their donkeys. They meet people from all over the world, speak at least a few sentences in many languages, and make you feel at home with their fun sense of humor. For example. . .
When you are struggling to get up on a donkey to go up the steep incline, they say, “Take your time. . .but hurry up!”
They crack jokes: “Why do you go to bed? Because the bed can’t come to you!”
When my wife was here with me last winter, she and I rode the donkeys to the monastery. She was terrified her donkey would go over the cliff as they met other donkeys who were coming down the narrow and steep stone steps. She would yell a few times and shout short prayers to heaven like “Jesus, help me!” Her bedouin guide would just say, “Don’t worry, lady, be happy.” (I was laughing most of the way to the top! I knew these guys would take good care of her!)
The best part of the day with these guys was just talking life, especially what life is like for them. It is so different from the life most of us know. It is slow, peaceful, and quiet.
It was also great to talk faith with my new young bedouin friends - Islam and Christianity. They shared with me. I shared with them. Building bridges of friendship, trust, and understanding. Building bridges, always building bridges.
So. . .if you get to the Middle East, be sure to check out Petra in Jordan. And while you are there, tell my young bedouin friends “marhaba” (hello) from Mark.
They might not remember me, but I sure won’t forget them.