09.28.10 | | Comments
After a ten hour flight, we arrived in Tel Aviv on July 15. There at the airport, our group of 38 people started to gather in the baggage claim area. That was where we first met Doron, our Israeli tour guide. He and Bobbie tried to keep us all together as we went through customs and boarded our bus. Our plane had actually arrived in Tel Aviv earlier than scheduled so the decision was made to stop at our first site before we went to the hotel in the Galilee to crash.
I was in Israel! It still didn’t seem real to me. I wanted to take in every bit of the countryside. I didn’t want to miss a thing. Unfortunately the two hours of sleep that I got on the plane wasn’t nearly enough to keep my eyelids from closing. I needed sleep, I needed a shower and I needed a clean pair of clothes. But that would all have to wait.
The first stop on our pilgrimage was Caesarea Maritime, a city on the Mediterranean Sea that was built by Herod in 20 BC. We learned that Peter preached to a gentile congregation here at the house of Cornelius (Acts 10). Doron also shared that Paul was sent on his mission abroad, was imprisoned and spoke before King Agrippa (Acts 25 & 26) in this city.
The ruins of this once glorious city revealed a Roman theater that has been renovated and is now used for concerts. We gazed at the remnants of the Hippodrome where chariot races once took place and envisioned scenes from the movie Ben Hur. Doron showed us a stone by the sea that had Pontius Pilate’s name carved into it and explained that for 600 years Caesarea Maritime was the capital of the Roman province of Judea and the official residence of its governors including Pontius Pilate.
We took a few minutes to explore the shores of the Mediterranean. Some of us looked for shells and let the waves rush over our feet. For a few moments, the exhaustion was carried out to sea.
We boarded the bus and headed to our hotel on the shores of the Sea of Galilee. The dinner buffet at the hotel was delicious and included so much variety! Many from our group already knew each other. Most of them were from the same church in Wisconsin. But for those of us that met for the first time that morning, we began the “getting to know you” process over dinner. Not for long though because what we really wanted, what we really needed was a good night’s sleep. I went to bed that night knowing that the waves that were once calmed by the voice of Jesus, were steadily lapping against the shore only a few feet away.
Can’t wait to see what God has in store for us all tomorrow!