This was the view out my hotel room window, sunrise, day one of our excursion to the Holy Land. The city is Bet Yam, which is south of Tel Aviv. Hard to tell where one ended and the other began. At this point in the trip, I was still in shock that I was in Israel, the land of the Bible, the land of the Chosen. It hadn’t hit me yet. It would soon enough.
We arrived in Israel on Tuesday, January 11th, after one LONG day of flying from Raleigh, to NYC, to Istanbul, to Tel Aviv. Did I mention how long it was? It was LONG. I don’t mind flying, so far as the usual fears that people have. Being in the air, over the ocean, fear of crashing…none of that bugs me. Being confined to a tiny seat for 9 hours straight…not my favorite event. Couple that with the fact that I had a middle seat, and that the headphone jack for my in-flight movies wasn’t working, and you have the makings of a very long night. Thank the Lord I had my iPod and Kindle, which got me through. We left at 6:50 a.m. on Monday (E.S.T.) and arrived in Tel Aviv Tuesday afternoon. Did I mention the flight was long?
All that was forgotten, however, upon arrival (just like the airline seemed to forget I had checked an acoustic guitar. More on that later). From the get-go, I realized I wasn’t in North Carolina anymore. Israel has a beauty all it’s own. From the inherent splendor of the coast with the incredibly blue Mediterranean, to the lush gardens planted out of seemingly infertile soil. From the stone buildings of past millennia to the soaring skyscrapers of today, this is a country that is both ever-old and ever-new.
After making it through customs without a full body search (thank You so much Lord!), we met our amazing tour guide, Shimon, and our bus driver, Amir. They were awesome. We simply could not have asked for a better duo to lead us through the Holy Land. On our way to our hotel for the night, we stopped in Joppa to visit the sight of Simon the Tanner’s house.
I was still suffering mental overload from being in Israel, but this place had a special effect on me. Check out the full story in Acts chapter 10, but suffice it to say that had it not been for Peter’s little dream on the roof of this house (or one close to it), myself and most of you reading this post (unless you’re Jewish) would never have made it into the kingdom! Staring at this house, I could only think “Thank You so much Lord, for loving the rest of us, for allowing us to come and eat from Your table. Thank you for making what was unclean, clean.”
As we headed back to our bus, I had another “this is definitely not N.C.” moments when the Muslim call-to-prayer began over loudspeakers. Definitely a strange feeling for this Southern boy.
As the realization that I was several thousand miles from home and from my family collided with the realization that I was about to embark on a journey through history and the Bible, I felt incredibly tired! After dinner and a quick call home, I called it a day (or two).
We had only just begun, but I knew it was the beginning of an amazing trip. If you’re interested, check back, and I’ll fill you in on the rest!