Have you ever experienced that sinking feeling in the gut when you realize you are in a big mess? How does one get into the most security-conscious country in the world without a passport? Mind you, they were exquisitely kind, but bottom line, “No passport, no entry” to Israel.
I searched frantically, but no passport. Kathy and all of our friends were whizzing through passport control, but I was not going to be able to do so. I ran way back to the Air Canada flight entry point, but I was not allowed to enter. “Go to passport control,” they advised. I ran all the way back down; found police who also directed me to passport control. Once I found the office, they were efficient but unemotional—I was emotional! They called someone and told me to wait while the plane was checked. About fifteen minutes later, I was handed my passport. Somehow, during the night, it had been dislodged from my secure spot and fell onto the floor while I tossed and turned trying to sleep. I breathed a sigh of relief and rejoined Kathy, on the other side—in the Holy Land!
Our first day was wonderful. We got a feel of the country as we visited Tel Aviv and Joppa/Jaffa. Joppa is the Biblical site of the great port into which the cedars of Lebanon arrived to construct the great Temple in Jerusalem under King Solomon. It was also the port from which Jonah tried to escape his calling from God to go preach to the rebellious people of Nineveh and as a result was swallowed by a great fish. It was where Tabitha/Dorcas, the woman of awesome social work, was raised from the dead by St. Peter. Here St. Peter also received the amazing vision to spread the gospel of Jesus to the gentiles (non-Jews) and not to simply stick with his own Jewish friends, thus greatly expanding the reach of the early Christian Church. Old Joppa has narrow corridors and stone paving descending down to the port where so many Bible stories came to life.
We spent quiet time in St. Peter’s Church where art depicted the life of St. Peter as it related to the city of Joppa. It is believed the church was constructed on the site of Simon the Tanner’s home, the roof top from which Peter received the missionary vision from God.
Our long day—flight, plus site-seeing—ended beautifully at our wonderful hotel on the Mediterranean Sea in Netanyahu, Israel, a relatively new city north of Tel Aviv overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. The powdered sugar-white sand was a pleasant reminder that Israel is more than history, it is actually a beautiful country. Our meal to end the day with a buffet of local favorites hit just the right spot—Have you ever eaten small but whole pickled eggplant (quite tasty) or lamb burgers with crushed chick pea or turnips and cucumber in a seasoned vinaigrette? The unusual selections were extensive and we savored every bite before heading to our room for a good night’s sleep. Thank you, God, for travel mercies, even when I really messed things up, and for a great beginning to our Holy Land pilgrimage! WEG