Israel Trip—Day 1

January 18, 2007

Dan Panorama Hotel, Tel Aviv, Israel

Even though I got lots of funny looks when I said we were flying Turkish Airlines, that turned out to be a very good choice. Excellent food, amazing on-demand video with a little screen for each seat. To pass the time, I watched an episode of the Simpsons, an episode of Everyone Love Raymond, and the classic movie Casablanca. Meanwhile Marlene has been devouring a novel called My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult and Nick read Night by Elie Wiesel. During the ten-hour flight from Chicago to Istanbul, I made rounds several times to chat with the tour members who were scattered throughout the plane. Even though our group comes from MS, IL, OH, FL, AL and NY, people seemed to bond very quickly. I saw Nick having a long chat with Georg Rupprecht in the Istanbul transit lounge. Tonight Nick and Mark ate dinner with Jim and Colleen King. I sat down the Eryn, Dana and Joy Keuer and we had an exciting Bible Q&A about the biblical background of the place we’re going to visit and the meaning of Armageddon (we’re visiting Megiddo tomorrow) in the Bible.

Tonight we enjoyed our first Israeli dinner buffet that included a salad bar with items you’ll never see at Bonanza or the Golden Corral. One of the highlights was onions baked with fresh fruit, which Marlene said was very good.

Our guide Abed has been guiding groups like ours for forty years. He told us that this is not a vacation or a tour. It’s a pilgrimage to seek the roots of our faith. We stopped at Joppa where Jonah fled from the Lord, intending to land in Tarshish but instead he was swallowed by a great fish. This is also where the Apostle Peter stayed in the home of Simon the Tanner (Acts 10) and where he saw the vision of the clean and unclean animals in the sheet being lowered from heaven. By that vision, God signified that the ceremonial acts of the law were gone forever. That led to the church agreeing to admit Gentiles without requiring them to be circumcised. And since we are all Gentiles, you might say that we are here because Peter was there, in Simon’s house in Joppa 2000 years ago. Tomorrow it’s on to Caesarea, Nazareth and Tiberius.

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