A hornet the size of a hummingbird

Do you know what it’s like to get stung by a hornet? I sure didn’t.

I had heard it was far worse than a bee sting…but I never wanted to find out.

For 27 years I had escaped getting stung by any sort of bee, hornet or wasp. I was wary and a bit paranoid around them, and I would commonly run away if they buzzzzed near me. Now I think it’s all so silly! I think the most reasonable explanation was that I just didn’t know how much it hurt to get stung, and I didn’t really want to find out!

imag2138I was minding my own business the day it happened. We were on tour of Jordan, riding camels and trekking through the stunning, colorful, rocky and cave-filled landscape of Petra.

It was beautiful. It was HOT. I could explore that place for hours. Maybe not in the intense heat again, though. 🙂

imag2170 I was vastly enjoying this trek, even though it was so hot. We were walking down an incredible entrance that you could tell would have looked grand in its day. It was reminiscent of what I picture it may have been for Jesus as he rode the donkey into the city…and the crowds waved palm branches on every side of Him. “Hosanna!” Such a beautiful image.

imag2194This was the moment right before it happened. Look at me. So clearly happy…so blissfully unaware!



One minute I was lost in thought as we made our way down the sandy pathway, the next, completely stunned and in pain, with something soft and fuzzy wedged between my sunglasses and my face.

My face jerks hard to the right and my hands frantically try to get whatever has just hit me “off of me,” whatever that means. Nothing worked, the pain began and the dive-bombing bee was still wedged against my face.

I lost all knowledge of my body movements as instinct kicked into high gear and I flung my sunglasses as fast as I could away from my face and into the powdery sand. Aaaaahhhhhh!!! (I think I screamed, or yelled. Who knows? It’s all a blur!)

Most of the people in my group were behind me, and everyone just stopped, totally confused, and stared at me.

“Guys, I think I just got stung!” I said, shakily raising my left hand to touch the side of my face.

Later on they told me it was HUGE. They could see its wings from 100 feet behind me, and unfortunately a couple of them saw it fly off after it remained in the sand, stunned, for a minute.

Man…I wanted that thing DEAD. If I could’ve, I totally would have smashed it. It just hit my FACE…it should have died! Ha!

At this point I had gathered a crowd of curious Bedouin locals, the guys who ride the donkeys and sell “air conditioned taxi rides” to and from different points along the path in Petra.

I knew I needed to sit down, so I wandered over to a bench in the shade. They all clustered around me, jabbering in Arabic, assessing the damage as the left side of my face throbbed in firey pain. I am certainly grateful for high pain tolerance!


I was in pretty intense pain (1, I’d never been stung and 2, my face wasn’t used to being stabbed). That thing sure got me good.

A couple of the ladies on my team were quick thinkers and made some mud from water and sand to put on my face. They didn’t quite have to use spit to make mud, but I imagine it was something like what Jesus did with the blind men, mixing sand and water to make a paste and put on their eyes.


The best part of the day was the old timer who clearly had seen a thing or two in his day. He came up to the group wearing his red checkered turban – his white facial hair highlighted the deep wrinkles in his tan, weathered face. He leans close to examine the problem. Then he squints his eyes and proceeds to tell me, “You must squeeze it, like a thing on your face!”
I am pretty sure he meant “squeeze it like a pimple!”

I laughed, and it hurt, but I couldn’t help but smile at these men who were so kindly helping me.

They didn’t have to help, you know. In Muslim culture, it’s not normal for a man to talk or touch a woman. In fact, one of the Bedouin guys put mud paste on my face, and then the old timer sat down with me to take a picture.


They kept coming back over to check on me, to see if I was okay, the look of concern clear in their eyes. I could see the beauty of kindness in the wrinkles around their eyes as they smiled.

I hope these men saw Jesus in the way we interacted, in the way the men of my team rushed to help me, in the way they gathered around me to pray for me when we weren’t sure if I was going to be okay or not.

It definitely makes my visit to Petra so memorable that I won’t ever forget it.
I also won’t forget my wonderful teammate who sat with me and prayed over me as I cried after the adrenaline ran its course, 1) from pain and 2) from disappointment that I couldn’t climb to the top of the highest point and see the views of all of Jordan. I won’t forget the stories that were told in the days after this happened, and each time the hornet grew bigger, the tall tale was told in larger, more grandeur details. It was the size of a hummingbird! I didn’t see it, but all I can say is…so they say! 🙂

This next part really cracks me up. Logically…this is strangely abnormal. But…I was crying and I don’t cry often, I had just been stung in the face by a giant killer wasp/hornet/hummingbird thing, and that’s not a normal experience either. I wasn’t quite thinking clearly, so the next logical plan of action is to take a picture. Of my face. Haha. I actually took a picture of my face.

imag2195I naturally had to post this…I’m weird, I know.

I look really, really sad! Everytime I look at this now my internal dialogue is something like this, “Oh my goodness! Wow. Ohhh…I look so sad!” And then I laugh. Because that is seriously my reaction to everything. I laugh. No matter if it’s good or bad or funny or not ok…my reaction to it will be to laugh. So…I don’t honestly think everything is truly funny, it’s just the way I react the things.

Oh goodness. So there you have it. I don’t quite know how to end this epic-ly. I’m just very grateful I didn’t see it coming. Best to be blissfully unaware, I guess!

I can probably just say this day was such a mix of awesome and traumatizing and exhausting and memorable that I slept really well that night. I won’t tell you about the part where my face throbbed the rest of the day and night. Ok, I guess I just did.

2 weeks later and I can still feel where I was stung. It’s a bit stiff & slightly sore at times. I have no idea if that’s normal! Quite the way to get my first “bee sting,” I tell ya!

I think I’ll take a bumblebee over a hornet any day. If I act a little jumpy the next time I’m with you and a bee flies by, you’ll know why. Hopefully you won’t laugh at me too much :). Just another interesting day in the life of Jess! I can’t help but wonder what random adventure experience is next…best I don’t know, probably! 😛

More photos and details about my trip to come, I’m sure.

See ya on the next blog!


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