The Nazareth Mishap and the Florence Bus

The Church of the Annunciation

It was the third day of our missionary trip, and  we were to visit The Church of the Annunciation, in Nazareth, followed by The Franciscan Wedding Church where Jesus turned the water into wine. After the visiting the Wedding Church, we were to go on to the Mount of Transfiguration. I was feeling sluggish and bloated, as my body had not acclimated to the time change. Carmen, a slender and attractive lady from the team, was an avid tea drinker, and rarely suffered these effects. Carmen attested to the tea helping her stay regular. This was the same year that my sister Norma and her family were traveling with us, Maggie, her youngest daughter, was my roommate.

Maggie and me at the Western Wall

I sent Maggie to get some tea from Carmen, but Maggie came back with warning instructions. “Carmen said to not to make the tea too dark!” I told Maggie, “I think I know how to make tea; I don’t need anyone to tell me how dark it has to be!” With that I drank the potion and fell fast asleep. The following morning, breakfast was a combination of fruits and vegetables, with coffee to wash it down.

The Church of the Annunciation

It is 64 miles from Jerusalem to Nazareth, and about half way there my stomach stared rumbling. At first I dismissed it as cramps, but it was not. I felt every hair follicle on my arms rise, and  I needed to use the facilities in the worst way. The roads to Nazareth are not friendly for this purpose, as there are no gas stations along the way. I could not ask for the bus to stop because where would it stop? So I started to pray. It felt like a small volcano was about to erupt in my intestines, so I could not talk because I needed every bit of energy to be still. My eyes began to water when I read the sign to Nazareth, not realizing it was in kilometers and it was still two digits. I kept praying, and asking God for me not to experience an embarrassment.

Prayer was working, until my sister Norma asked me, “What’s wrong with you?” then she burst into an evil loud laugh. I had no fighting words, again, because it would use up too much energy. When we finally arrived at the Church of the Annunciation, I remembered that we not only had to walk a distance but it was uphill. We also had go through the church in order to get to the WC. I grabbed my niece Maggie and ran, as I was in the race of my life. Everything was in my favor until we reached the bathrooms. There sat a man collecting 2 shekels for the use of the facility; he was not there the year before. I knew I did not have any shekels, and I explained that my situation was worse than an emergency. Through the interpretation of angels, he allowed me passage, but sadly it was too late. This day made into my history book as one of the worst days of my life, as this was our first stop.

This missionary trip was one of the longer ones that we would take, lasting over two weeks, with an extension to Italy. We were a group of 18, so that meant that we had a bus driver and guide the entire trip. When we arrived in Rome, we did our normal routine of visiting the four major basilicas and praying for our family and friends.

We had a one day overnight extension to Florence. We stopped to visit a small monastery on the outskirts of Florence. The Tuscan roads leading to the monastery were so narrow that the bus could not pass. The bus was parked, and we had to walk the long distance. It was a beautiful scenery of lush farms and the sweet smell of early spring flowers filled the cool breeze. We wanted to visit the home of Saint Maddalena Di Pazzi, a mystic and powerful intercessor. When we finally arrived, the the tall wooden doors were locked. After a few bangs on the door, the groundskeeper allowed us into the cloistered monastery, where we quietly knelt and prayed. We could see the nuns behind the small barred windows. It is normally not permitted for outsiders to enter into the private quarters of the nuns, so we knew that the Lord granted us this favor. Therefore we were most respectful for this experience. I prayed to have the mantle of Saint Di Pazzi as she experienced many heavenly ecstasies.

Ed, a gentleman not from our team, was traveling with us. Ed was suffering from cancer, and his dying wish was to visit the Holy Land. He was a quiet gentleman who kept to himself. Our Italian bus was equipped with a bathroom, but we were all told that it was not functioning; therefore we could not use it. After the mystical visit to the monastery we were off again. Our driver was a chain smoker and made one smoking stop. Some of the other men on the team got off to stretch their legs. Even though it was a rest area with public restrooms, Ed decided to use the toilet on the bus. I was sitting directly in front of the toilet. It was too late to warn Ed, and what happened next was a disaster.  I could see the the driver and Carlos, my brother-in-law, from the tinted windows. They were standing near the bus when suddenly a huge cow pie dropped to the street. The bus driver hit his head with the palm of his hand, yelling, “Mamma Mia!” The bus toilet had no bottom so Ed’s soft stool hit the street. By this time, the mild-mannered Ed was sitting in the back of the bus. A stench quickly filled the bus, so those of us who stayed on the bus were quietly gasping for air. No one dared to embarrass poor Ed. When Carlos came into the bus, he said, “Lynda, not again!” I was so upset and laughing at the same time that I could not defend my position.

We made it to Florence, awaiting another adventure and another Blog posting.


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