They say coincidences don’t exist, but when you experience three “coincidences” in close succession of one another, you start to wonder how much of life can be simply attributed to chance. The following are three events that have changed the course of my life and lead me to believe that Magdala is a place where many treasures are buried, waiting for us to find them.
The first coincidental event happened while I was excavating part of the marketplace of Magdala when I was volunteering on the archaeological excavation. I was digging, just as I had done for many days in a row, in a room that seemed to be a storage room that had been abandoned millennia ago. Dr. Marcela Zapata-Meza , director of excavations at Magdala, asked me to finish cleaning a wall and some stones that formed the floor of the storage room. I struck the soil with my pick and, all of a sudden, a piece of metal became visible. I grabbed hold of it to take it out of the soil, and to my surprise, I ended up pulling a whole Roman sword out of the soil! It was still in its scabbard and perfectly preserved. That was a hugely important day for me because, as an ex-Legionary of Christ I found the sword that had to have belonged to a Roman legion. This is the first treasure that God had waiting for me.
But that wasn’t all; during that same summer I met Rachel. I had already made my plans to return to Rome to study world religions. Before leaving, I had to find someone to take my place as the Visitor’s Center Coordinator at Magdala. Two whole years had passed since excavations had begun and we were beginning to receive our first buses filled with tourists from all around the world. In August a young American woman arrived to volunteer at Magdala. She caught my attention because her Spanish was perfect and she had a deep love for God that was apparent when she prayed. These were characteristics I was looking for in my future wife. In Rachel I found a true treasure. Providence brought our paths together and three years after meeting her that summer in Magdala, we were blessed enough to be married in the recently-built church at Magdala. We were the first couple to be married in Magdala in two thousand years.
Rachel and I became the Volunteer Coordinators at Magdala after our wedding. After a year and a half at Magdala, we took a trip back to America to visit family. One morning while eating breakfast at my mom’s house, she surprised me with a Christmas gift. When I opened the small box, I saw a beautiful Star of David pendant with my name engraved in it. My mom explained that it was a gift from her and my dad (who passed away when I was eight years old). When I was born, my parents named me Carlos David; my dad got that Star of David engraved for me as a gift to commemorate my baptism. My mom kept the pendant until I was old enough to appreciate it. I never imagined that, many years later, I would end up working in the same country that David, the great king and prophet, reigned over.
God is never out-won in generosity. Here at Magdala we discover this truth every day. I have never ceased to be surprised that two thousand years of history had to pass in order for us to, only now, dig up such great treasures for our lives.