When I was a third-year teacher, I had the opportunity to participate in a transformational professional development opportunity that changed the way I teach forever. I have always been a history nerd, so it was an absolute dream come true when I was selected to attend the Historica Dominion Institute’s European Battlefields Tour amongst 20 other educators from across Canada. Given my undergraduate degree in History, I had copious amounts of head knowledge swirling around upstairs, but nothing could have prepared my heart for what it would be like to stand before the gaping, scarred earth of Zivy Crater, the final resting place of 57 beloved husbands, fathers, brothers, and sons. Twenty-two-year-old John Wesley McMullen of Oshawa, Ontario is amongst the fallen and lies entombed in the mass grave alongside his brothers-in-arms who perished that fateful day in April 1917.
As I clutched John’s medals to my heart while feebly attempting to capture the essence of who he was to my colleagues – his life, what he’d done at Vimy Ridge, and how he had sacrificed his hopes and dreams, I was overcome with a wave of grief upon the realization that John was scarcely older than my brother when he was killed. He was only 22 years old. I thought of the students in my History 12 class who would soon be John’s age, with their whole lives ahead of them. John was an older brother to Mercy Ann, Clara, Ethel and Mary Grace and was the only son of Susan and Frederick. He was the namesake of his family and never had the to opportunity to get married and have children of his own.
I think the reason that this experience impacted me so profoundly is that I discovered the power of experiential learning in a way that I had never before encountered. God gave us five different senses for a reason, and he designed us to make meaning of our world by utilizing all of them. I will always carry the memory of John in my heart because I traced the engraved letters of his name on the cold, lifeless, white limestone with my fingers. I was struck with the surrealism of birds singing overhead combined with the smell of freshly cut, manicured grass as we stood amidst the cavernous hole so oddly out of place amongst the rolling farmlands – the only remaining indication of what had once taken place there. And as I stood before that gaping hole in the earth, I tasted the salty tears that I couldn’t stop from running down my cheeks, and my heart ached with a profound sense of loss and sadness for all of the unfulfilled life and potential that lay buried in the ground before me. Although this experience happened years ago, these vivid memories remain cemented in my mind and heart.
This experience was life-changing for me so I cannot even begin to imagine the impact of what it would be like to have the opportunity to walk in the footsteps of our Saviour. Of all the places that we, as believers, could ever go, I can envision none more inspiring or transformative than to travel to Israel and experience the culture, people, and historical significance of The Promised Land.
How might your son or daughter be forever impacted by the opportunity to stand in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, where our Lord was crucified or to walk the Via Dolorosa through which Christ carried the rugged cross?
What would it be like for them to gaze upon the emptiness of the Garden Tomb where Yeshua conquered death or to serve His people with the love and humility that He did?
It is our sincerest hope that this trip will provide an unparalleled, transformative experience for your children in which they will be spiritually awakened and grow the roots of their faith down so deeply, that it can never be shaken. We are so excited to present the families of RCOA with this incredible opportunity and ask that you prayerfully consider how your family might be involved. I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear, But now my eye sees You… ~Job 42:5
When: March 17th to April 4th, 2019
For more details and to apply to journey with us on this trip, see the Missions page on our website.
Lauren Teichrob, High School Teacher and Israel Missions Coordinator