Day Eight Hundred Sixty Seven #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

Over night Elijah and I separately received confirmation that today was our day to enter. We timed our arrival at the gateway to coincide with the morning rush. However, we were intercepted on the way by Meesa and our guest at the desert well, Jezer.

She had been on the way out to our spot to introduce us, and to inform us about the best strategy for entry.

A few awkward moments ensued, then we were talked into entering later in the day as part of a labor crew bringing scraps from outside for reuse.

The stratagem worked. This evening we are within Damascus. And thankful for the Spirit’s timing, for without Meesa’s intervention we would have been turned away.

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Day Eight Hundred Sixty Five #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

Our observations of the last day and a half have brought up something very curious. The two main roads are often backed up at certain times as the vehicles are checked before entry. A third way into the city lies between them. A steady stream of people on foot depart the main roads on either side to join the path to this gateway.

So, to my mind without a vehicle ourselves, this looks to offer the best way in, leaving the only decision as to the morning or the evening busy times.

But Elijah hasn’t ruled out one of the vehicle only entries. In fact he rather prefers it.

In which case I think it calls for a closer look.

Day Eight Hundred Sixty Two #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

The villages we passed through yesterday and today were quiet and almost empty, for their inhabitants were out laboring in the fields. The requisite posters of Stan increased in number as we grew closer to Damascus.

And as we were getting closer, Elijah and I strategized about our entry.

We decided that we would hold up at a distance and observe the patterns of movement into and out of the city.

It would also need to be an out of the way site, the better to seek the Spirit’s direction.

We have noted already that at certain times of the day the road traffic slows due to an increase in vehicles and backs up. This may prove an important factor.

Day Eight Hundred Sixty One #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

Town police rousted us from our sleep this morning. We had chosen a place too close to the town for their liking. Thus we were a little earlier on the road than planned.

It worked to our advantage as we made good progress being the only ones on the road at that hour.

Ahead we could see a series of villages nestled along the road surrounded with fields under cultivation.

I debated with Elijah whether or not to leave the road and go around them. He felt no need or compulsion to do so. I wanted to avoid anything like yesterday that could hold us back again.

We concluded that walking in the fields would bring unwanted attention to ourselves.

Day Eight Hundred Fifty Eight #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

I thought Jezer merely unscrupulous in his business dealings. Clearly his attempts to sell to people not bearing the mark (Elijah and me) would make him guilty in the eyes of the authorities. At the time I guessed that his view was just a matter of – no witnesses – no crime.

But that he bore a phony mark didn’t change my estimation of his character. And that was at the crux of my apprehensions to being in the same city as him.

As ever Elijah is unconcerned. He points out that we have no idea how we will be treated much less whether or not we will be allowed to enter the city.

He just knows that we must go there.

Day Eight Hundred Fifty Seven #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

We planned to let a whole day pass before setting off on the road to Damascus. Neither of us wanted to overtake Jezer and fall into his company.

We had just collected ourselves together when an army truck rolled up to the well and accosted us. They couldn’t understand us and we couldn’t understand them.

The man in charge searched us, then dismissed us in disgust. They remounted and sped away north.

The way ahead looked much the same as our route from the south, more rock cliffs channeling our path.

I fell into a discussion with Elijah about our former guest.  I supposed that the soldiers were in pursuit of him.

Elijah nodded and said, “His mark was false.”

Day Eight Hundred Fifty Six #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

Jezer bid us farewell in the late morning. Charming as ever despite his failure to strike a deal or two. He took the eastward road, saying that he was headed for Damascus. It was the first we knew that we were further west than we had supposed, which meant our final destination lay somewhere north of us.

But the mention of Damascus resonated in my being. And lingered. So much so that I  asked Elijah if that was the waypoint through which we must pass before ending in Jerusalem.

His answer in the affirmative went a long way in explaining his former reticence. I would not have wanted to go there either. For it has been long under the mark.

Day Eight Hundred Fifty Three #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

I twisted my ankle on our transit last night. Elijah caught me before I hit the ground. Otherwise the injury would have been more serious.

As I sat there he rubbed his hands together creating heat from the friction. Then seized the point of the swelling. I could sense warmth radiating from there throughout my body.

In moments I was able to stand. He loaned me his staff as a precaution against further missteps.

We called an end to our night walk early for we came upon a well at a crossroads.

We drank our fill and found a place nearby to rest and pass the day.

Given the crossroads we had another decision to make, hopefully not under duress.

Day Eight Hundred Fifty Two #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

I took Elijah’s words to heart and pondered them during my quiet times. It required chasing away the images of our friends in dire straits. Something not easy to do, for I did not want to miss any opportunity to intercede for them in what I was sure was their current peril.

Elijah kept us on the move. Forward. For the only other way would be back to the scene of the attack upon us.

I took comfort from the fact that these rock formations hem us in on each side.

It was then that I realized that the Spirit had used the attack to channel us forward. In a way l feel it has helped to confirm our destination.

Day Eight Hundred Fifty One #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

Not only did I lack confirmation, I confessed to having more questions than before.

Along the way Elijah had confirmed my suspicion that the first snowfall had been an answer to his petition on our behalf – a provision of water for the next step in our journey along an unknown path. A highly localized suspension of the drought. Purely for our benefit.

But – hence the question. Who was responsible for the crimson snow that followed. And did they know where we were? And if so, how? Were we under surveillance?

Elijah just shrugged and said it was obvious the enemy’s goal was to thwart us, but asked me to remember that the Spirit can use that opposition to help us.