Penny Cowell from East Sheen writes about the UK Friends walk in Jordan in May:
Tinkling goat bells, the smiling welcome of our Jordanian hosts and their wonderful hospitality, the muezzin’s call to prayer, ancient ruins lying long forgotten on the hillside, the laughter of refugee children – these are some of my abiding memories of a week in Jordan, walking along the Abraham Path, a long distance walking trail across the Middle East.
There were eleven of us from the UK branch with a local guide. We spent three days trekking and it was like stepping back two thousand years as we walked amongst the olive groves and watched the Bedouin shepherds with their flocks on the hills. We stayed with local families, enjoying wonderful Arab hospitality. On one day of unheard of rain we visited the vast ruined city of Umm Qais, where Christ cast out the devils and they entered the Gadarene swine.
At the end we had the opportunity for three days community service. We spend one day working at a Friends of the Earth Middle East ecopark and two days with Syrian refugees. Jordan has one and a half million living in the country and 600 more arrive every day, most of them hoping to return. We entertained children in a tented city and delivered food parcels to families living in a squalid concrete shopping mall within sight of the Syrian border. I was struck by their quiet dignity and welcome.
It was altogether an amazing experience and I felt immensely privileged to have been able to go. As the leader of our group summed up: step by step we are all walking side by side towards a common goal. Yahweh, Allah, God. Shalom, salaam, peace.