Keeping the faith

Rob Antle
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Four C.B.S. teens make pilgrimage to Holy Land

Afloat on the Sea of Galilee, four Newfoundland youth realized how much they had in common with their peers.

At left (from left) Victoria Dinham, Kaylee Morgan, Ryan Dwyer, Charlotte Dawe and Father Mark Nichols pose on top of Masada. The four C.B.S. teens and Anglican priest recently returned from a trip to the Holy Land. — Submitted photo

The four C.B.S. teens — Charlotte Dawe, 18, Victoria Dinham, 17, Ryan Dwyer, 17, and Kaylee Morgan, 16 — were in the Middle East as part of a pilgrimage to the Holy Land.

They were aboard a replica first-century fishing boat.

Some people had dubbed the vessel the “Jesus boat,” says Father Mark Nichols of St. Peter’s Anglican Church in Upper Gullies, who accompanied the teens.

It was night, and the city lights of Tiberias shone in the distance.

Then the music started and teenagers from Newfoundland, the U.S. and Israeli Arabs started dancing.

The music was as diverse as those dancing — a mix of North American, Christian and Arabic songs.

The Arabic music “was very different, but was very nice,” Kaylee recalls.

Adds Victoria: “Everyone was just mingling together, and it was really nice.”

Nichols says it was a night to remember.

“Seeing them come together, these different groups, was something for me.”

Study tour

About 35 teens took part in the religious study tour.

The four participants from C.B.S. were the only ones from Canada.

The trip came about, in part, because of a previous visit to the region.

Nichols has been in the Holy Land a couple of times, most recently in 2008.

He discovered that St. George’s College in Jerusalem had a summer course designed specifically for youth.

So when Nichols began his time at St. Peter’s in Upper Gullies, he decided to canvass some of those most involved in the church to gauge their interest.

The parents of the four teens agreed to the trip.

Last fall, fundraising began in earnest.

That included everything from selling cookie dough and cold plates to organizing a smorgasbordand silent auction. In July, all that work finally paid off.

“A lot of people stop going to church, and stop doing stuff like that, when they get out of (high) school. So it’s helped me find a reason to keep going.” Charlotte Dawe

Including travel to and from the Middle East, the local group was away for 10 days.

Charlotte, who turned 18 while overseas, thought the time was right to do it.

At her age, she says, many tend to drift away from religion.

“A lot of people stop going to church, and stop doing stuff like that, when they get out of (high) school. So it’s helped me find a reason to keep going.”

The C.B.S. teens had many memorable experiences on their journey.

They slept under the stars in a bedouin camp, visited the ruins of a castle built by Herod, rode camels, swam in the Dead Sea, visited Bethlehem and had breakfast on top of Masada, the famous fortess besieged by the Romans 2,000 years ago.

“The place just got to me, and the people we were with were amazing,” Victoria says.

“We met a lot of people and we all got, one way or another, reconnected with our faith over there. So it was really cool.”

Ryan agrees.

“For me, it’s to experience the culture over there — how people were different, and even though we’re so different, we’re the same.”

He recalls one of the girls — an Israeli Arab — addressing everyone one night. She said they want what the Israelis do: “We want peace.”

“It just sort of stood out to me — how both these youth, all of these different cultures, want the same thing in the end,” Ryan says.

“It’s a country unlike any other — all these cultures in this one tiny little spot. … It (was) just really an incredible experience.”

rantle@thetelegram.com

Organizations: College in Jerusalem, Anglican Church, North American

Geographic location: Middle East, Upper Gullies, Victoria Tiberias Newfoundland U.S. Dead Sea Bethlehem

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  • Eugene from Town
    August 24, 2010 - 14:48

    Israel is in a state of war with several of its neighbours, it builds communities that the world recognizes as illegal, Israel has an undeclared nuclear weapsons program - in contravention of the nuclear non-proliferation treaty it refuses to sign, Israel regularly carries out extra-judicial assasinations - often using passports from citizens of its allies, Israel has occupied territory (besides what was ethnically cleansed in 1948) since 1967 holding all of its residents hostage since and denying right of return to any exiles, and this group of well-intentioned, but naive, religious studies students and groups like them aid in legitimizing a state that should be considered a pariah in the eyes of the world for its treatment of the indigenous population. Religion may be the opiate of the people, it goes a long way toward blinding them too.

    • cosmo
      September 06, 2010 - 13:30

      Let's see, 345 million arabs most of which are still at war since 1948 independence, surrounding Israel with 7 million people and you have the gall to criticize!! 1 Egypt 77,545,232 2 Iran 76,914,260 3 Turkey 74,472,846 4 Iraq 28,807,000 5 Saudi Arabia 24,573,000 6 Yemen 21,730,000 7 Syria 19,050,000 8 Israel 7,026,000 9 Jordan 5,703,000 10 United Arab Emirates 4,496,000 11 Lebanon 3,925,502 12 Kuwait 2,687,000 13 Oman 2,567,000 14 Qatar 813,000 15 Bahrain 727,000

  • Anon
    August 14, 2010 - 08:29

    Sounds like a lovely experience but don't be fooled, the Israelies don't want peace they want Peace all right, through complete control of the holy lands and the middle east. Peace sells but no one's buyin.