Back to the “land of the living”

So, I’ve been here a week now and here’s a quick run-down of my first 7 or 8 days:

Landed at the airport in Israel after what should have been a 24 hour trip but ended up taking 3 days. I kept missing my connecting flights because every plane I got on was either flying into a storm (delay in taking off) or the plane had mechanical problems (delay in taking off). This was true even of the very last leg from Germany to Israel.

Speaking of Germany, I wound up having 12 hours in the airport and should have taken a tour of the countryside. But, I was so zonked, I couldn’t make it happen. No airport is worth staying in for 12 hours, but at least the Frankfort airport is a jam-packed shopping mall for the rich traveler with lots to see.

Frankfort airport 1

Frankfort airport 1

I tried to find something to eat but don’t read German.
Frankfort airport 3

Frankfort airport 3

There was one car I liked
Frankfort airport 4

Frankfort airport 4

but they said I would have to arrange to have it delivered to my house. So, I didn’t pick up one of them.

I finally arrived at 4AM in Israel

Tel Aviv airport

Tel Aviv airport

on Sunday morning but my luggage decided to play it safe and stay in Chicago. No problem. For my trouble, the airline gave me 400 shekels (about $125.00) and a nice little pouch containing a toothbrush, toothpaste, comb and a white t-shirt that could have fit Hulk Hogan. They also said my luggage would arrive within 2 days and they would deliver it to Jerusalem.

Took the van to Jerusalem and arrived as the Johnsons were drinking their morning coffee. I tried to be friendly but was so tired I just crashed. Then I spent all day Sunday and Monday trying to gather my body together, most of which had also stayed in Chicago.

The Johnsons have a soldier staying with them and they usually fix a large supper on Monday and Friday nights for other soldiers. So, on Monday night, they fixed a huge Mexican dinner. It was delicious and I ate a lot of it. That was a big mistake.

All night and all day Tuesday I stayed in the bathroom. As I’ve said, it’s been years since I’ve been that sick. Tuesday my luggage arrived and I couldn’t take it upstairs. I couldn’t take myself upstairs.
But, I gathered all the energy I could to repack my small case for traveling with the tour group to their first stop in the Orthodox community where Danny lives, north of Jerusalem.

Wednesday Danny picked me up and we drove to the airport to meet the last family arriving from the US. We took them to the hotel in Tel Aviv where Danny and I relaxed in the lobby until everyone gathered for me to share the itinerary for the next few days and answer questions. Everyone in the group was tired but happy. There are 3 dads, 2 moms, and 5 teenagers in all.

We told them we would meet them the next morning and Danny drove me to his house on the other side of the country. The tour guide also met us at Danny’s house where he would spend the night. I couldn’t eat anything and went to bed.

Next morning was Thursday and we drove back to the hotel in Tel Aviv and put the group on the chartered bus and we all begin our drive back across the country. We stopped at the very first place in Israel mentioned in the Bible where Abraham stopped when he entered the land.

Shechem 1

Shechem 1

We went up Mt. Gerizim, which is called the Mount of Blessings (as in Joshua calling out the curses and blessings from the two mountains). From here we could see the location of Jacob’s well and Joseph’s tomb.
Shechem 2

Shechem 2

This mountain is also where the descendants of the Samaritans live and we saw the place where they do their annual animal sacrifices. Then we went to Danny’s settlement and got everyone settled into their various homes.

Danny had bought lots of food and began a big bar-b-que.

Danny cooking

Danny cooking

I couldn’t eat anything which was too bad because it smelled really good. But my stomach was still in rebellion. After dinner we went to the edge of the settlement overlooking the Arab village and made a big bonfire where we discussed some historical things that happened after the Jews returned from Babylonian captivity. Then off to bed.

Friday morning everyone ate at Danny’s and we loaded up the bus and went across the valley to Shiloh where the wilderness Tabernacle rested for 369 years after Joshua’s conquest of the land.

Tel Shiloh

Tel Shiloh

This is usually one of everyone’s top 3 favorite places and we stayed there a couple of hours. Then, the boys swam and the ladies took a little tour of their own with Danny.

I realize there is far too much to tell and I’m betting bored with writing this. The rest of the weekend was Sabbath meals and relaxing and walking around the community and lots of talk, meeting the Jews of the Yeshuv (community), etc.

Yesterday (Sunday), the group boarded the bus and we left the wonderful hospitality of the Orthodox community and its amazing food that never stopped coming (which I didn’t eat). We stopped at Bethel and read scriptures relating to Bethel and then came to Jerusalem where everyone saw Mt. Moriah from the place Abraham first saw it. Then I was dropped off at the Johnsons and the rest of the group went south without me to visit the Dead Sea, Ein Gedi, Arad, Masada, Beersheva, Hebron and the valley where David fought Goliath. Sunday night I felt better enough to eat a real meal for the first time and get a good night’s sleep.

Today is Monday and I’m writing this blog. Tomorrow I will meet the group as they return to Jerusalem and stay for 3 days before heading north with me as the guide. I will not have access to the internet, so will have to wait until I return at the end of the month to fill you in on the rest of the tour.

Thanks for the prayers. My stomach keeps trying to remind me who’s boss, but I’ve decided I need to eat, so I’m ignoring the grumblings and complainings.

I thought the weather here would be way too hot in July, but it’s not at all. Evenings are nice and cool and days are hot, but not too hot for a tour. I’m feeling lots better and looking forward to the next two weeks and whatever comes after that.

Let me hear from you. Shalom…

PS. Seth, if you read this you will see that I must have left out a step in the process of picture capturing so I can’t seem to figure out how to imbed pictures as links in the words. DAD

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