|From left to right: Joshua Cook, Daniel Dixon, Stephen Johnston (me), and Katie Joy Irwin.|
I knew that Daniel and Katie Joy were planning on making it to Qumran. In fact, we had scheduled to have them join me on the dig for a couple of days! What I didn't expect was for Joshua Cook to show up. We had barely talked about the idea, but I was pleasantly surprised to see three friends walking up, instead of two!
We enjoyed great conversations from comparing travel adventures, to the typical verbal exchanges of friends. It was refreshing to take discussions into deeper waters, without having to give lengthy background information that is necessary with strangers.
Daniel and Katie Joy had just completed an Israel tour with Northwest Bible Church (in Dallas) and were on their way to visit Petra in Jordan. From there I think they were planning to meet up with Daniel's sister and tour Greece.
So here I thought it would be another week until I saw a familiar face, but that wasn't so bad. That's when God provided for a surprise encounter with another friend from Northwest Bible Church, Sarah Margaret!
Sarah Margaret and I had discussed her visit to Israel, but it seemed her tour wouldn't line up with my stay. I had dropped it from my mind thinking that it wouldn't happen. I wasn't looking for her.
Sarah Margaret was touring with her family as part of a group from Dallas, TX. She had visited the dig site and not seeing me, she asked for me by name. I have no idea whom it was she asked, but this individual didn't have a clue who I was. Perhaps he was one of the Bedouin or the geologist that just showed up a few days ago. In any case, she thought that my group had moved on. She was no longer looking for me.
In any case, as a stranger was rushing up toward the tour group, shouting random names, Sarah Margaret saw me. Though equally shocked, she showed her mental prowess and accurately recalled my name, amidst laughter. That is when I recalled her true name, not her spontaneously created alias, and I apologized. I'm not sure she even understood me. After we hugged a friend from another land, we posed for pictures. I briefly met her family before I had to go. What a pleasant surprise!
Well there are only 5 days left on this trip and I am left wondering if I will still see others.