We are finally here in beautiful Tel Aviv. If you want to locate us on google maps, we are staying at the Grand Beach Hotel. We have had supper, a nice walk on the beach, and dipped our feet in the Mediterranean. Perhaps, however, I should start from the beginning.
We left Saint John at 9:30 am, drove to Moncton (Me, Pastor Andy, Janet, Chris Henderson and Mark Brewer). Then, we arrived at the Moncton Airport, where we met Isaac Burrill, Pastor Crossman and Alex Henderson. We 8 flew to Toronto problem free. We arrived at our gate and browsed the over priced shops as the rest f the group arrived. Soon the St. John’s pilgrims arrived. Pastor Seely, Scott Mercer and Gene Anderson, then Pam and Basil Banks from Halifax and last, but not least, Pastor Joel and Tara Eastwood.
After drinking voluminous amounts of Tim Horton’s Coffee, we went to our gate for departure but delay after delay meant we did not actually board our flight until 6:00pm (we were supposed to board at 4:20pm). We sat on the plane patiently (or not so patiently in some cases) waiting to leave. Soon we heard an announcement from the pilot that there was a computer problem and they were waiting on a part. Finally, around 8:00 we heard that the problem was fixed and we were due to depart. We taxied out to the runway, but did not leave. Then the captain comes on the intercom again and says that we cannot take off because the computer was malfunctioning again. So we went back to the gate and waited. Shortly after arriving at the gate, the pilot came on to say the problem was fixed and we would leave, but 45 minutes later we were still sitting at the gate. Apparently, as we would later discover, the delays meant that some of the crew and very nearly the pilots were no longer cleared to fly. So, we ad to witch some of the crew before we could take off. With that done, we pushed back from the gate, and climbed heavenward just after 10:00pm, four hours after we had first boarded the aircraft.
We landed, cleared passport control quickly, met up with Sandra Auterson from Melbourne, Australia, and Barbara Harpur from Newfoundland, found Rachela our guide and Eli our driver and we were on our way. However, Curtis and Cathy Mawhinney, who were coming from Rome were further delayed, so we left the airport without them!
Our first stop was Neot Kedummim, a Biblical Landscape Preserve between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. Miriam, who I had experienced as a guide before when visiting this site, guided us through a tour regarding the seven species (Deut.8:8). After a surprise visit with a scribe (Zechariah), we left the gardens for our hotel. We ate supper, strolled along the beach and that pretty much capped off our day, our very long day. Curtis and Cathy are here now, and we have already begun to forget about the frustrations we felt earlier with travel delays. Waiting four hours for a plane seems small inconvenience when you are confronted with the stark travel realities Jesus must have fced when he walked this land by foot!
We are all well (including Pastor Joel)!