October 11, 2013 (Friday): DUBAI – AMMAN – MOUNT NEBO – AMMAN
We arrived in Dubai International Airport at around 7:00AM after eight and half hours of flight from Manila which was late already for the boarding time to our next flight to Amman, Jordan via Emirates Airlines. But the crew of the airline bound for Amman waited us and we departed for Amman at around 7:45AM.
We arrived in Queen Alia International Airport in Amman at 10:05AM after three hours of flight. An orientation was made before going to Amman immigration. After immigration and customs formalities, we were met by our tour guide, Adam, and drove along the King’s Highway to Mount Nebo for the 1:30PM Mass which I presided.
Before the Mass, even before entering into the Sanctuary of Moses in Mount Nebo the presumed site where Moses was laid to rest (Deut 34:5-6), we took pictures, and where the Blessed Pope John Paul II treaded on his first pilgrimage of the millennium.
In my homily during the Eucharistic celebration, I told my co-pilgrims that this was my first time to go to this place and I was sure they were first timers too except Bishop Dinualdo Gutierrez, DD the Bishop of Marbel Diocese. I suggested to them on what to do during the duration of our pilgrimage, the 3 Rs of Pilgrimage. These 3 Rs were: Rest, because all of us were tired and wanted to sleep. Re-charge, maybe because our spiritual relationships with the Lord and with one another were becoming lowbat (low battery) already. Reflect because in every place we intend to visit, a scripture passage will be read in relation to the place and a short reflection will be followed by the assigned Shepherd of the Day. We were 8 priests and so one priest is assigned everyday of this 8-day pilgrimage to be the shepherd that is: to be the presider/celebrant of the Mass, lead the prayer, read the Scriptures, then give some reflections and so on. I was the shepherd of the first day (October 11, 2013) of our pilgrimage because I belonged to Co-host number one. We were four in this first co-host.
After the Mass we toured around the place. The tour guide explained to us the significance of those things that were found in this pilgrimage site and showed us Moses’ tree where Moses struck the rock and a great stream of water gushed out (cf. Num 20:7-11). The tour guide also showed us Serpentine Cross, which Moses, after he was instructed by the Lord, made a snake of bronze so that anyone who was bitten could look at it and be healed (cf. Num 21:8-9). Israelites were bitten by snakes because they lost their patience and spoke against God and Moses (Deut 21:5). This Serpentine Cross, which stands just outside the sanctuary, is symbolic of the cross upon which Jesus was crucified.
When we were at the top of Mount Nebo, we could see, as Moses did, the vast panorama that encompasses the Jordan River Valley, the Dead Sea, Jericho and Jerusalem.
We ate our lunch at around 3PM in a restaurant in Manaba, “the City of Mosaics,” a quiet little town, but no water was given to us. Instead, I bought bottled mineral water for one (1) dollar. And then we went to a mosaic factory, still in Manaba. Somebody explained to us how the mosaics were made manually.
We also toured around the city of Amman, the capital of Jordan. Amman is a fascinating city of contrasts because of unique blend of old and new. In the commercial heart of the city, ultra-modern buildings, hotels, restaurants and others rub shoulders with traditional coffee shops and artisan’s workshops like this mosaic factory we visited where mosaics were made manually. Everywhere there is evidence of the city’s much older past. Houses are almost uniformly white. This is the reason why our tour guide told us that Amman is called the ‘white city.’ The city is situated on a hilly area between the desert and the fertile Jordan Valley.
I asked our tour guide about the peace situation of Egypt. The situation is so bad according to him due to human greed and money. Then we proceeded to Geneva Hotel in Amman, Jordan and checked in. After we checked in, I slept at around 5:30PM and woke up at 2:30AM on the next day, local time, October 12, 2013 (Philippines is advance for 5 hours with Jordan).
After I woke up I was not able to sleep again until a wakeup call was rung by the receptionist of Geneva Hotel at 6AM of the next day, Oct 12, 2013.
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