Back in January of 2011, I took a trip with my church to Israel. Israel was and is not what you see on the evening news. It is not anything like Nanny’s flannel graph that she used to teach Sunday school with. It was a very wonderful and eye-opening experience. The Bible became real to me as I walked where Jesus walked.
As I traveled I wrote a journal. I was 25 so some of the writing is probably not how I would write it if I went now. I would like to share that journey with you this week during Holy Week. Maybe you will see the Bible through new eyes as I share this.
Jan 11 ATL to JFK
Well getting to the airport was the beginning of our adventure. The storm that came through plastered ATL. (Historical Note: We had a major Ice Storm here in the South that January. It shut us down for several days.) The interstate from a little before the perimeter was a solid sheet of ice.
We got to the airport and checked our bags in. The was just chucking them onto the conveyor. So glad there were only clothes in mine!
We breezed through security. Atlanta, come to find out, has none of the new x-ray machines. I worried for nothing. We found our gate and left our carry-ons with Mr. Bobby while the rest of us found some lunch. I was not really hungry so I had a bagel with cream cheese and some water.
When we got back to the gate I tried the wifi but they were charging for it. I figured that it was not an essential at the time so it was not worth it. Mr. Bobby went to eat. Ben and Kelsie went shopping for a power converter. Pastor Dan, Mrs. Debby, I stayed at the gate with the luggage. We were just relaxing when the speaker came on and announced that our departure gate had been changed. The three of us that were there scrambled to grab the luggage and find our missing people. We hustled to our new gate. Only giving Mr. Bobby a few moments to eat.
Our flight was one of the few that was actually not canceled. There were not a few people stranded at Atlanta.
When we started boarding they stopped us to check our passports. After we cleared that they proceeded to take Pastor Dan, Mrs. Debby, and Mr. Frederick’s carry-on below making them check-ons. Hopefully, when we get to JFK they will just hand them back to us. We may have to go to baggage claim to get them.
Take off was not bad. We taxied north, made the turn, revved the engine, and were air born shortly after that. Atlanta slowly slipped out of sight as we ascended through the clouds.
Right now we are cruising above the storm at 33005 ft. We have gone 332 miles. While I was writing this we slipped well past Greenville Sc. Our speed is 661mph. We have about an hour left in flight. This little screen in the back of the seat is really neat!
Jan 11 8:40is
Well, we are now on board our plane for Tel Aviv.
JFK airport was well…interesting. I had that, “Toto, we’re not in Kansas anymore” feeling. Our layover there was around three hours.
Mr. Bobby, Ben, Kelsie, and I got off our Atlanta flight and headed straight to our departure gate. That was quite a hike. I would guess it was about ½ mile or more. Poor Mr. Bobby was huffing and puffing. It was like the airport had evolved and they just stuck buildings where ever they happened to find space.
Pastor Dan, Mrs. Debby, and Mr. Frederick had to get their carry-ons from baggage claim. They left their other carry-ons with us so they had less to go through security.
Once again we left Mr. Bobby to guard the luggage while we found some supper. There was a Burger King nearby so that is what we had. I wish they had it where I could have just gotten a burger but all you could order was the complete meal. I did not really want the Coke but I drank it anyways. It was about 7 dollars for the meal. A very shocking price for someone who is a tight wad! The funny thing is at the coffee shops, Starbucks and Dunkin, the prices on their drinks were not much different than what I paid outside the airports.
Ben and Kelsey relieved Mr. Bobby of luggage detail after we ate. After I ate I decided to wander around a bit. I enjoyed looking out several windows from the different gates. It was kinda cool because I think I was seeing New York City in the distance. I ran into Pastor Dan, Mrs. Debby, and Mr. Frederick as I was wandering. They had retrieved their luggage and were ready for supper. We found a Chillies and sat down for a meal. I just had water. I think I chugged two glasses I did not realize how thirsty I was!
After Mrs. Debby was done eating we went to find her some M&Ms and get me some coffee. However, as we were purchasing her M&Ms we heard a boarding call for our flight. It was an hour ahead of time. Both of us hightailed it to Mr. Fred and Pastor Dan, who were still at Chillies finishing their meal, and told them. Delta was boarding us an hour early trying to beat the ice storm that was following us out of New York. As it was, our plane still had to go through de-icing before we took off. I could see the snow blowing very hard outside the jet’s windows. I could even see some ice starting to form on the wings. Not a comforting thing to be seeing.
It was very interesting observing the passengers on our flight. At the gate, we meet 2 pastors from Florida. They are actually going to be on the same bus as us. We also meet and saw several families of Hasidic Jews. The little boys were adorable and very willing to talk to the two pastors. Just from listening to the boys they knew the Old Testament very well. There were three of them between the ages of 3-9. I have also seen quite a few of the Educational Opportunities people. Not many from our bus though.
This jet is not what I expected. The one from Atlanta to JFK was very modern. It had screens in the back of every chair and wifi. This one has a big projection screen at the front of the cabin and no wifi. Now when I say projection screen I mean projection screen. It was very old and a very poor quality. It still had the three lenses one blue, green, and red. Not the modern power point projectors. I don’t think I will be watching anything that they have on. This plane really reminds me of the one I flew on to London in 1996. That is pretty scary. I hope the plane is not ‘96 vintage! One other thing. The fasten seatbelt light came on and Pastor Dan discovered that his seatbelt was slightly unattached to his seat. Also, his seat is in a constant state of recline. Makes me feel good about flying this plane. Wonder what else is wrong with it.
Feb 12 5:13 USA time
Ahh, I love the smell of diesel fuel!! It feels so good to be off that plane. I did get a little bit of sleep. I took a Benadryl, which really helped.
About 11 last night they fed us some supper. I opted for the chicken. That was pretty good considering it was plane food. After I ate I left the table down and laid my head on that. Sometimes being short is great. I had plenty of foot space even with my backpack under the seat. However, this morning when I got up my feet had swelled and I had a crick in my neck from having it at a crazy angle. I was fine once I got walking around.
I was not on the window seat but I did see a little of the approach. The first thing I saw was the Meditrainian Sea. It looked beautiful. I think there were a few little boats out there but I could not tell for sure if that was what they were. Then land came into view. I saw beautiful ivory colored buildings with the sun reflecting off them. It was a very amazing almost indescribable sight. We kept getting lower and lower and I did not see any runway under us just little spits of land in between water. Then suddenly there was a runway and we had all wheels on the ground.
One of my first thoughts at the sight of Israel was, “I can’t believe I am here at a place I have learned so much about in church and school.” It was breathtaking. I could not believe that I am here in the land of the Bible. There is so much to see. So much to learn. I will not be able to get it all in on one trip. Oh, the thrill!
Well, the bus is pulling out from the airport. Two hours till Tiberius.
Jan 12 5:41 Israel
I am still on the bus and there is so much I wish I could tell and I wish I could take in. Words cannot begin to describe the amazing sunset I got to see from my window. I tried to take a picture but knew that it would be an abject failure. I’ll try describing it but I know it won’t give you even half an idea of what it was like. The sky was a brilliant baby blue. There were clouds moving in that the setting sun painted purple, pink, and gold.
I have notice that there are these towers sprinkled thoroughly out the towns. They are quite tall with green lights. I think they are Moslem Minarets. The cars are the same variety as what we have in the US. However, I have yet to see a Ford. Right now we are getting off their interstate, which reminds me of ours back home. We are in a very very modern town. I can read a few of the signs but most are in Hebrew. Right now I wish I had taken some Hebrew in college.
On the horizon, there are lights as far as the eye can see. Honestly, for some reason, I did not realize Israel was this modern. I guess maybe it was because I always studied it in History. Yes, this land is one of great antiquity but it is also very modern and up to date. So far I have seen several McDonalds and also things that look like travel plazas and truck stops.
Our tour guide is Hannah. She has been a guide for many other trips for EO. Tomorrow we are supposed to see Galilee, Capernaum, and the Jordan river.
I feel like I am doing a spit poor job of documenting all this. It is like trying to explain an American Western to someone over here. They would not understand or have any concept what I am talking about. This trip is truly something that you have to experience for yourself. I will take pictures and write but I can’t explain it all to you. You will have to come and see for yourself.
Jan 12 10:56 pm Israel
Supper was very good. I did not eat any of the meat. They say it is ok to eat here but I just am a little leery. The room is very nice. I am having a few problems with the electrical but nothing that is making anything malfunction. I tried plugging in my little power travel strip but it was just too much. I was scared to use it. I have my computer plugged into the converter and adapter. I need to charge my Kodak. I will have to get off here in a bit to do that.