We’ve been up for nearly 36 hours. I’ve written, let’s see, six partial paragraphs that either don’t make sense, or don’t make sense. (That makes sense, right?) Every few minutes, I doze off, and my chin slides off its prop on my fist and jolts me awake again.
But before I can sleep I need to share with you a few things we’ve talked about today as we visited Joppa and then Caesarea. In Joppa, now a modern port city with narrow, winding streets and hills overlooking the harbor, John told about Solomon’s desire to build a temple for the Lord. He made a deal with the king of Tyre, and from Lebanon, rafts brought the cedar “by sea to Joppa,” (2 Chron. 2:16).
We stood on one of the highest hills, while a Muslim prayer call echoed throughout the city, and imagined what it must have looked like centuries ago as ships brought cargo into the harbor,and then as that cargo was busily unloaded, bound for faraway destinations.
John reminded us that we are not building a literal temple today, but we are building the temple of God in ourselves – in His church. While some consider this journey to the land we read about in the Bible to be simply a vacation, we understand it to be a journey of information gathering, of faith building, of spiritual growing – and all about desiring to build God’s church.
This evening, as our group stood on the windy beach near the Caesarean Aqueduct and watched the sun set over the Mediterranean, John said “Take it in, and take it home. In what ways will you grow? What things will you see that will change you? How will these changes affect how you respond to possible tragedies and challenges as well as blessings of the future?”
I’ve personally seen growth, change, and different responses to challenges in my own life over the past year. You may not see it, but I do, and I know my Lord does. I am excited for those who are traveling with us, knowing that they will also experience these changes.
Now. What have the past 36 hours been like? Well, our first little snafu occurred with Southwest airlines. Way back in January when we secured our tickets to Newark (from there we flew United to Tel Aviv) – we paid extra for Early Bird Check-in. To make a long story short, they didn’t credit us for Early Bird. So, we ended up with “C” boarding passes – which meant we’d board dead last. Now, John gets nauseous sitting in the back of a plane. I know that if he barfs, everyone around him will also barf, so I did what I could to change our boarding time.
But Chelsea had an “A” boarding pass, and somehow saved us two awesome seats near the front. I suggested she try to look like a crazy person, and maybe foam at the mouth, so she wouldn’t have any takers on the seats next to her. I’m not sure if that’s what worked, but we did get to sit together by Chelsea near the front!
Jay showed up at the church building in crutches and managed to April Fool John pretty good! (There is nothing wrong with him except maybe a warped sense of humor.) 😉
The lines in Newark were long, and the TSA agents deserved to have their picture made with the Cranky Snickers.
In Newark, we met up with Freddy and Anh McNabb, Simon Pennings, Doug, Mat, and Gerry Whitacre. Jon, Wynn, and Jonathan Absher flew in a day earlier than we did, so they met us in Tel Aviv.
Thankfully, our flights were boring (I never pray for safe flights, because you can have a turbulent, roller coaster, zigzag plane ride and still land safe…so I pray for uneventful, boring flights.)
I can’t sleep sitting up, so I dozed a few times. John studied. And whatever kind of sleeping medicine the guy next to me took – I want some of it! He slept 10 of the 11 hours and never ONCE got up out of his seat!
They herded us like cattle through the passport process in the airport and then we found Lindy…and I was looking for Tsvi but he wasn’t there! Sadly, he has the flu and won’t join us for a few days. I was so looking forward to seeing him.
Instead, we will be guided for a few days by Murray, a native New Yorker who is Jewish. Think Abe Vigoda with less hair. If you’re younger than 40, you’ll have to google Abe Vigoda. He ran a falafel stand in New York City until he decided he wanted to be an Israeli guide. He has been entertaining so far, with his Brooklyn accent speaking Hebrew words. He says things like Pontius PiLATE (with the emphasis on the second syllable of Pilate,) PhilisTINE (like the tine of a fork,) TaBEEtha (I usually say it Tab-i-tha.)
I can’t wait til we have Tsvi back, but I was amused at Murray’s description of Israel: “we’re a very nice country in a BAD neighborhood!”
That’s all for today. We are all doing fine and loving the opportunity to make new friends!
After a gorgeous sunset devotional overlooking the Mediterranean, we were all ready to crash. Tomorrow – Mt. Carmel, Megiddo, and Nazareth Village!