It is GREEN HERE!
Whether it be the luck of the Irish, or more likely God’s Divine blessing that we have ARRIVED in Israel, safe and sound.
We left Columbus on time Tuesday Morning at 8:35 am, and arrived in Newark by 10:30. We got on a shuttle bus to our concourse, found our gate, and settled in. After lunch and a lot of people watching, we were herded out of one area of the concourse so they could set up additional screening. Thorough bag checks and everyone being “wanded” with a metal detector, we waited for our flight to finally board.
We knew at this point we were heading to something different – at 3 pm, several of the Hasidic Jewish men, with leather straps on their arms, prayer boxes on their heads, prayer shawls over their shoulders, faced East and said their prayers. Such devotion is wonderful to see. We even saw it a couple times while on the plane as well. The cutest thing to see at the airport was a little girl with a pacifier standing on the seat next to the men with a book in her hand bowing like her Dad.
We got on the plane on schedule and were set to leave, but one passenger (no one we knew and not from our group) missed the flight, but his bag made it. The airline baggage handlers had to find that one suitcase out of 300 or so in the belly of the plane. That set us back about 1 hour.
None of us slept well on the plane, but that is to be expected. We arrived in Tel Aviv at 9:10 am local time (that is 3:10 am Eastern Daylight Time) , made it through customs and baggage check with no problem. The touring company arranged for our welcome and ride to Tiberias. Our driver is a Russian Jew who moved here 20 years ago. His wife just had a baby three days ago. Our conversation was limited as his English was not too strong. He got us to Tiberias (even though his driving was about as good as his English) by noon. Once again, we had some language issues checking in, but got to our rooms, called our tour guide, and we FINALLY met up with the rest of the group at 2 pm on the shores of the Sea of Galilee. Our guide did his best to fill in where they had already gone, and we were bummed that we missed some neat sites.
BUT, meeting up with our fellow travelers, and the final stop of the day (our ONE stop) was a boat ride on the Sea of Galilee. A beautiful, sunny warm day on the Sea and you could just imagine Jesus and His Disciples joining along with us. The boat ride began with, believe it or not, The Star Spangled Banner, being that we were all Americans. Then we had a devotion and prayer led by a pastor from one of our tour group. We then got to meet Daniel, who sails the only Christian tour boat on the sea. He showed us how they would cast nets into the water in Jesus’s day, but his catch was not so good. The nets they used were so the scales of the fish would get caught in the net and be pulled in – reason being that in Leviticus, we are told that fish without scales are unclean.
Then, Daniel led us in a few songs – “Revelation Song,” “Agnus Dei,” “How Great Thou Art.” They sang the songs in English and Hebrew. What a beautiful setting. One down side was the selling of CDs and trinkets along with the ride – kind of made it too commercial. But that is the reality of the sites we are visiting. To finalize the visit, we saw a 1st Century boat that was excavated about 30 years ago. It was found in the mud along the shores of the Sea of Galilee during a year of severe drought. It was pretty cool to see a boat from Jesus’ day.
We drove past the town of Mary Magdalene (Magdala), the location where Jesus cast the demons into the swine, the home town of Peter (Capernaum) and other places. All of these are around the shore of the sea, as is our hotel.
Back to the hotel, and exhausted – dinner and bed are in order. More to come soon!
More pictures from our trip will be updated along with this blog and can be found at the following web site: