Children dream big dreams. Many say they desire to be a doctor, teacher, lawyer, astronaut, archeologist or fireman.
This summer, four students embraced a childhood dream and became archeologists. Theatre major Michael Ring and graduates of the California Baptist University class of 2010: Liberal Studies major Jillian McLaughlin, Journalism major Carissa Gonzales and Bachelor of Theology major Danny Francis worked alongside archeologist John Knight and 40 other volunteers in search of artifacts that would unveil the mysterious lives that the Edomites lived over 2,000 years ago.
Ring, McLaughlin, Gonzales and Francis served in the Middle East for 9 1/2 weeks through International Service Projects’ new program, Summer of Service (SOS). They were on one team of three sent across Asia to serve for an extended period. These four students were perfect candidates for the team, due to their significant amount of overseas experience and their interest in serving overseas in the future.
The SOS Middle East team spent their first month in the country’s capital, learning about the culture and building relationships with the Arab people.
During the excavation the team spent their early mornings hacking through sediment in search of evidence from the Edomite time period. They worked in the trenches during the mornings, spent the hot afternoons relaxing, prayer-drove through the hills and visited Bedouin tents at dusk. Local Americans served as translators between the students and Bedouin. As they drank tea in the Bedouin tents, they learned about and observed a different life they had only read about in books.
“The dig was my favorite part of the trip because I got to talk to the Bedouin guys there,” Francis said.
The computer and lab equipment, 3D scanners and labeling systems made the excavation the most high-tech archeological dig in the world to date.
Gonzales served as Knight’s assistant for the first week of the project and Ring worked as a photographer.
The team’s task was to excavate artifacts, but their main objective was to build relationships with the Arabs around them and pray for opportunities to share the gospel.
Ring and Francis had unique opportunities to meet and build relationships with the Bedouin who worked alongside them during the dig.
“During most every break I’d sit with the Bedouin guys, drink tea and talk. I was able to laugh with them and had a couple good spiritual conversations,” Francis said.
The dig was harder for McLaughlin and Gonzales because the work was physically exhausting and the culture did not allow women to befriend local men.
“I was tired and exhausted during the dig, but occasionally excited for each new day and the new things we would find,” McLaughlin said. “I would definitely say that after the dig I was glad I did it. It was such a cool experience and I feel like I learned a lot; not only archeological things, but also things about myself.”
During the dig the team found a reconstructable plate, large pieces of pots that could be reconstructed, animal bone, vertebra and teeth of a large animal.