We came full circle yesterday when we made a visit to the Holy Land Institute for the Deaf in Salt, Jordan. This mission to deaf and profound hearing loss children has been operating since 1965. 160 children, as young as three and up to 20 years old, live together in this colorful, harmonious boarding facility designed to create one big family where everyone speaks sign language. The Holy Land Institute has long been dear to Christ Church missioners. Not only have we given our treasure in years past, we have also given time and talent. Some of our parishioners have spent time volunteering at the institute. Under the capable leadership of Audrey Grissom, and supporters like Joanne Metcalf, this vital ministry to the Holy Land was nurtured. While our commitment to the Holy Land hasn’t wavered, our support for the Institute has waned over the last few years.annblog1029boy.jpg

Brother Andrew, the indefatigable Dutch monk, who has served as Executive Director for many years has even made visits to Christ Church. Although he is a new friend to me, he said repeatedly to Jane and I, “I am so glad to have found you again!” Jane, along with a group of Christ Church folk, had been here several years ago. She is delighted to see all the changes and upgrades. This place exudes health and love. Here deafness is not seen as a disability, but an advantage in communication. With a twinkle in his eye, Brother Andrew shared with us a common understanding among deaf people: the world’s problems are caused by hearing people who can’t communicate and they could use some help from deaf people!

ann-blog-1029-2.jpgAs our pilgrimage to holy sights ancient and contemporary draws to a close, I am profoundly clear that pilgrimage leads to mission. The stories of the Holy Land and the people who live here change us who visit. Pilgrimage changes how we understand ourselves and how we understand Christ in the world. As a faith community, it is time for us to reinvigorate our commitment to this amazing place.