We arrived in Israel Friday evening—so it was the Sabbath. We, being Pastor Fabio and his wife, Sissy, Nina (who is Sissy’s sister), Michael (Nina’s son), and me. The rental car company said that they didn’t have any cars at all. Then it turned out that they did, but they needed a manager to authorize an upgrade. The manager was difficult to find. Meanwhile, some other customers who were in the same predicament saw our pile of luggage. They said that it won’t all fit in the kind of car that we had requested. Upon hearing this, I began praying, and I advised the others to pray, too.
About an hour and a half later, when we finally got our car, the fellas packed, packed, and packed again, until it all fit. Backpacks had to go on their owner’s lap, but we were happy to all fit somehow. Pastor Fabio drove us to Tel Aviv, but without GPS (which cost too much from the car rental place), it was very difficult to find the beach road. It seems like if you point the car west, you’ll eventually find the beach, right? Well, after the sun has set, and with streets that weave and wind around, finding the beach was a real problem. We pulled over to ask at least a dozen people how to get to the beach road, but the answers were so vague at first that we literally drove around in circles for almost an hour. The first few people we asked answered, “Make a U turn, then . . .” Finally, when the responses began to sound the same, we knew that we were getting close.
The hotel was really much more like a small-roomed hostel, with a shared bathroom. We were glad to be able at least to have our privacy for sleeping. But none of us slept well at all. Nina and Michael’s room was a noisy, street-side room. Mine had noisy neighbors. The man next door had his television on at full volume until I knocked and asked him to please turn the TV down—at midnight. Then the people across the hall came in drunk and shouting at three in the morning (apparently the more one drinks, the less one is able to hear). So I was only able to sleep during the three relatively quiet hours between midnight and three. Fabio and Sissy’s room was hot because the air conditioner was broken, and they only had one tiny window that opened to an interior stairwell. So we all had a pretty miserable night.
The next morning as I sat looking at the beach, I made a decision not to make these difficulties my focus. I decided that it’s better to be grateful. And with that decision, I did feel better. There, just across the street was the beautiful Mediterranean Sea, sparkling like a blue sapphire under a golden sun that hadn’t yet begun to heat the day too much. A soft breeze ruffled my hair, like the caress of an adoring parent.
Tel Aviv is very touristy, and for that, it’s not so nice. But the beaches are clean, the sea is clear, the sky is beautiful, and God is always on His throne. Yes, this is going to be a memorable trip—and it’s only just begun. God is good!