May 8, 2014

"And we called the place Bountiful..." 1 Nehpi 17:6

My father-in-law Warren Aston spent years exploring the coastline of Yemen and Oman looking for a place that would match the description of the land Bountiful as found in 1Nephi. It was on one of these trips that he brought along his eldest Claire and they were on a boat going up and down the coastline looking at other areas, when Claire noticed the Beach of Karfot and suggested they stop there and thus began the exploration and multiple expeditions to see if this could indeed be Nephi's Bountiful.

For those of just joining my blog or unfamiliar with the Book of Mormon's account here is a brief summary and list of requirements for the land Bountiful: An ancient Jewish Prophet named Lehi was told in a vision to take his family and leave Jerusalem (aprox 600 BC). They traveled South and then East living in the dry and desert wilderness for eight years.

"5 And we did come to the land which we called Bountiful, because of its much fruit and also wild honey; and all these things were prepared of the Lord that we might not perish. And we beheld the sea, which we called Irreantum, which, being interpreted, is many waters.

 And it came to pass that we did pitch our tents by the seashore; and notwithstanding we had suffered many afflictions and much difficulty, yea, even so much that we cannot write them all, we were exceedingly rejoiced when we came to the seashore; and we called the place Bountiful, because of its much fruit." (1 Nephi 17)"
If you've been reading my previous posts you've seen some of the dry and barren wilderness shots and then can compare that with how lush and green Khor Kharfot can be after the Monsoon season. Being there I could very much imagine the Bountiful of fruit and honey by the sea. It was a beautiful place. 

From Warren and Michaela's book In the Footsteps of Lehi they summarized these 12 criteria points that Nephi described of the land bountiful. Their book evaluates each of the candidates along the Oman and Yemen Coastlines and how Khor Karfot best matches Nephi's description. Here's wikipedia quoting their list:
  1. The location must lie nearly eastward of Nahom (1 Nephi 17:1).[3]
  2.  The coast must be accessible from the interior desert.
  3. Both the general area and the location when the Lehites camped must be fertile and capable of producing crops.
  4. It must be a coastal location (1 Nephi 17:5).
  5. It must be very fertile, with "much fruit and also wild honey" and small game (1 Nephi 17:5-6).
  6. Timber must be available with which to build a ship (1 Nephi 17:8).
  7. Freshwater must be available year-round.
  8. A mountain must be located nearby to account for Nephi's reference to going to a mountain to "pray oft" (1 Nephi 18:3).
  9. Cliffs overlooking the ocean must be present to account for Nephi's brother's attempt to throw him "into the depths of the sea" (1 Nephi 17:48).
  10. Ore and flint must be available with which to make fire and fabricate tools to build a ship" (1 Nephi 17:9)
  11. No resident population at the time of the Lehite's arrival.
  12. Wind and ocean currents capable of carrying a ship out into the ocean (1 Nephi 18:8)
After visiting and evaluating every site on the southern Arabian coast that might qualify as Bountiful, Aston concluded that all sites were found to be incapable of meeting every one of these requirements with the exception of Wadi Sayq/Khor Kharfot (Aston &; Aston 1994, p. 43)

I'll just include the various shots that Varian and his family took those days in Bountiful. They were busy exploring the caves, (yes that is a real human scull  and teeth and bones that Chad found by accident on a previous expedition) seeing the hieroglyphics (camels, boats, tree of life :) perhaps???) metal detecting and searching the ancient ruins and area. They even found some time for lobster catching, playing games and swimming in the fresh water spring and lake. They had a wonderful time, and despite a few falls, overheating and hiking out on sheer cliffs (argh Varian) it was a success.

I don't think that I've mentioned yet that Chad was making a documentary on Bountiful and Khor Karfot (it's nearly finished now [2014] and I've seen one of the drafts and it's amazing!) and asked Varian to compose the music for it. (Yes I am married to an amazing composer!) But that is also one of the reasons we really wanted to come along on this expedition. Varian has grown up seeing his parents passion on searching for and finding this place and to finally be there in person was incredible!

All in all they had a wonderful time there in Khor Karfot. It was amazing to have so many members of the family there together- only missing their Mom Michaela and sister Mya. We in-laws have heard so many of the stories and research as well, it was exciting to take part in this adventure! I can't say for certain that this was the place, but am very impressed with all the research that Warren and Michaela and other members of the family have done/are doing (Chad and Warren just finished another research expedition there) and feel that it most likely is the place Lehi and Sariah's family stayed and Nephi prepared to sail to the promised land. Either way it did help me to feel so much more connected to them and their story. I will always be glad that we went there.
ps: Sorry in the previous posts I've listed which photos we've also borrowed, but forgot to when I posted this one. Some Varian took, but lots we borrowed from the group- thank you so much!!!