Holy Week is the highest of all Christian celebrations. For me, to be able to be there in the flesh is the most blessed and cherished time, as this rejuvenates my spirit. The Lord has once again opened doors for me to visit the place of His birth.
I am always fearful to tell Mike that I am going to the Holy Land. It was no different this time. Mike understands my calling and would never discourage me from my work with God. Mike also knows that he will be financially obligated to help me with the trip.
I prayed for several weeks before deciding if I should go. When the price of the airfare was announced, I almost had same amount in my savings. I prayed again to be certain that it was of God, and not just me wanting to be there during Holy Week. I asked God for a confirmation and when I opened the Bible, I got the verse Luke 23:26, about the Passion. I was still too scared to tell Mike. I asked God to give me a sign as to when to approach Mike with the news. I went to bed with my nerves on end. That night the Lord gave me a short beautiful dream. In the dream I told Mike that I was going to the Holy Land. Mike stared at me with a broad smile, and the dream ended. I felt a sense of security and knew that it was time to tell Mike.
When I told Mike, it did not go down like the dream. Mike reminded me that he was planning to retire soon, and went over some big expenditures that we were going to incur. Then he said, “I will never stop you from going and doing God’s work.” Mike never smiled like during the dream, but was more stoic than anything.
Mike always makes sure I have plenty of money for any unexpected incidental. Sometimes at Israel’s Ben Gurion airport, we are charged extra for luggage. When leaving Israel, if you do not have a direct international flight, the price is different for luggage. We are flying Turkish Air and they fly from Tel Aviv to Istanbul, which is considered a domestic flight. These are not hidden costs, but they always catch us off guard. Normally your carry-on bag can weigh anywhere from 17 to 26 pounds, depending on the airline. We were scrutinized about our carry-on luggage, and were told by the Israeli security that we were only allowed 8 pounds domestic. My carry-on already weighs 5 pounds, so that meant that we needed to redistribute the weight by putting our belongings in other, larger bags. The strictest airport in the world does not make any allowances for anyone, I once had to pay $125 for overweight luggage. You do not dispute with security personnel in Israel because they always win, and they have big guns.
In most cases, when you leave Ben Gurion your luggage is going to be searched, and by that, I mean that security goes through it by taking everything out. Don’t worry though; you get to put it all together. All this takes a lot of extra time, so that is why we arrive about 5 hours before departure, to make certain we all get through security unscathed.
We always use American money to get by in Israel. Though Israeli citizens still use the shekel, the same currency that was around in the time of Jesus, I never exchange money because everywhere that I’ve been to in Israel takes the good ole American dollar.
There is always unrest in Israel, but we are never discouraged from going. Everywhere you go in this country, you will encounter army personnel with huge rifles and guns, so we always feel safe.
As I write this, there are problems brewing on the Gaza Strip. We have visited the Gaza Strip, and on one of our earlier trips, we stayed at a hotel on the beach. We arrived early in the evening, and everyone wanted to go to the beach. The night was brightly lit by moon’s reflection. We frolicked in the waters of the Mediterranean until we grew tired and went to bed. The following morning, my friend Millie and I decided to take a long walk on the beach. We could still see out hotel from a distance, when I saw two men running toward us. These men were from the hotel security staff. They were yelling in broken English, “What are you doing? You could be killed! Go back to the hotel!”
Our main purpose to visit Gaza was to bring medicines to the St. Teresa of Calcutta convent. This was the first and last time I have visited the Gaza Strip. Travelers are strongly advised not to travel in the Gaza Strip, because of all the political unrest.
The Gaza Strip is located on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea. It is exclusively Palestinian territory, populated by Palestinians Arabs, and it is ruled by Hamas.
Please send me your prayer requests, as I promise to pray for all your petitions. I will either leave them at the Western Wall (Wailing Wall) or the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. Pray for our safety as we carry the Cross down the Via Dolorosa, on Good Friday. God Bless!