This past summer we have lived a different style of family vacation. We volunteered in Magdala. We were able to live many new experiences, of which our most prized highlight was encountering Jesus. This was thanks to our prayer time, reflections –while watching the mesmerizing sunrises and sunsets across the Sea of Galilee– and spending a wonderful time with an exceptional community, the Legionary of Christ priests and Regnum Christi consecrated as well as the cadre of Magdala volunteers.
The site is so beautiful that your spirit is elevated. With the Sea of Galilee at your feet –the same lake in which Jesus, our Lord, practiced His Public Ministry– with those tall palm trees loaded with dates, the clear and pristine blue sky… With Duc In Altum and its serene mosaic chapels, its impressive Boat and Encounter Chapels, we were able to constantly “enter” into the Gospel and pray as the first rays of light broke the silence of the morning. What a delicacy!
The experience of community that we could share with Magdala visitors was truly impactful and life changing. Music was also our companion across these days, as we listened to different visitors be inspired by the awe of the Women’s Atrium and break into song. One of the most impactful melodies was that of a young local Christian woman singing Ave Maria in Arabic.
On our rest days we had the opportunity to visit the Holy Sites and one of our most cherished moments was the renewal of our baptismal promises, all together as a family, in the Jordan River.
During our time in Magdala, our family grew with all the volunteers which we shared and spent time from morning to night. It was many a night in which we didn’t want to rest but to continue experiencing and enjoying those wonderful moments in family.
We worked, laughed, sung around the bonfire, prayed, walked, cooked and cleaned… Alongside that great big family that we now long for. Moreover, we became a living part of the Magdala project as we were able to live together with the architects, and workers putting the finishing touches on the soon to be opened Magdala Guesthouse. We were also able to participate in the small and emotive inauguration of the Saint Joseph Chapel.
As volunteers we were able to truly experiment the saying, “there is more happiness in giving than in receiving.” Magdala has captivated us and we thank God for this wonderful volunteer opportunity which we have shared as a family. The five of us leave Magdala with a longing in our heart to return soon to this place we now call home.