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Carol Perkins: My Trip to the Holy Land Part I

By Carol Perkins

Guy and I have safely returned from the Holy Land. A year ago when this trip took shape, many asked if I were afraid to travel to that part of the world. Tourism is such a major industry in Israel that I was not afraid. Once there, I realized I had no reason to be, but I am certainly glad we hadn't booked the six-day excursion on into Egypt, because a few days before we were to come home, the city of Cairo erupted. Three travelers on our bus did go on and later had to be smuggled to Jordan. Being that close to the critical situation was daunting.

Eight of us from the Edmonton United Methodist Church made this ten-day journey, along with over 232 others from or associated with churches in Kentucky. Along with Guy and me were Harold Chambers and his daughter Cayce Chambers Cole; Pam Fields, Wendell and Misti Stephens, and our pastor Danny Sallee.

We, along with others on the tour group, flew to Nashville and then to Atlanta and finally to Tel Aviv. We were to leave around midnight from Atlanta where security was tight, lines long, and patience limited. I knew the flight would be brutal (12 hrs. over and 14 back), but I really didn't know that I would have to go through the burning fire to get to the promise land.

The plane to Tel Aviv, a double decker, held around 400 people. There were three seats on each side and four across the middle. That is 1/4 the popularion of Edmonton.

That is the enrollment (give or take) of MCHS.

Imagine! I was flying in a city with only eight people I knew.

The first couple of hours in the air I read and chatted with those who were also on the tour. I finally dozed off and woke eight hours later!

Guy had not slept a wink. During the last two hours of the flight a sect of Jewish men filed up the aisles, past business class and on to first class. I am not sure where they went, but they disappeared and then reappeared, going from row to row, asking the men if they were Jews. I assumed they went to pray.

We were met in Tel Aviv (which is seven hours ahead of central time), boarded buses, and faced a two hour drive to Tiberius, which lies along the Sea of Galilee. By the time we arrived, we ate in the hotel dining room and went to bed, exhausted. Dragging around luggage and fighting fatigue due to the time change, plus swollen ankles from sitting so long, were unavoidable.

Our hotel in Tiberius was the equivalent of a Comfort Inn, and the food much like a hometown buffet Israeli style. Hummus and lots of bread were two staples at every meal, along with rice, potatoes and beets, none of which taste like home. We dined with fellow tourists who would make up the eight tour buses that would followed each other for the next ten days.

To my surprise we would be in the company, along not on the same bus, of two former ministers from the Edmonton Baptist Church, Kevin Burney and Steve Sholer and our own Bob Blankenship. I also met a friend from Burkesville whom I had not seen in years. She now lives in Elizabethtown. We were eating and she said, "Don't I know you." It is a small world!

Promptly at eight, we had to be on the "tan" bus, which meant a wake-up call at 6:30. Because I don't do mornings well, I had rather ride a tour bus from ten until midnight, but I was on their schedule. I soon learned how tight that schedule was.

We were instructed that we would change seats every day, so as to give everyone a chance at a front and back seat. I didn't see the point because all seats were good ones, but I obeyed. We were also not to talk while the guide was talking, but I am not sure everyone heard that announcement because they were talking. That could have been because many on the bus couldn't hear. A few people, as is typical, talked while the guide was explaining what we were seeing. I wanted to use my teacher voice and "shish" them, but I refrained.

We were to drink lots of water, sold on the bus, and stay with the group. Suddenly, I remembered why we have always avoided tours: however, the only way to see Israel was this way. We certainly couldn't rent a car and drive around like locals, who drove BMW and Mercedes, by the way.

At four thirty the first morning a rooster crowed outside our room. I was glad it didn't crow three times! I lay awake, waiting for the wake-up call and the beginning of my walk where Jesus walked. Thus, my pilgrimage began.

(Next read of the boat ride and sermon on the Sea of Galilee)

This story was posted on 2011-04-03 18:28:49
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