Israel Journey — Day 1
We left Central America and flew into LA to meet the team and fly out as a group. That gave us a couple of days to pick up the rest of our equipment and clean the cameras and lenses, test the microphones, charge the batteries and pack an endless supply of tape.
Of course, we’d been watching the news. We knew that the day before we were scheduled to leave, the Palestinians were planning on demonstrating their displeasure with Israel, but we had no idea if or how that would affect our trip.
The professor we were going to be recording, Dr. Varner, has been to Israel 46 times. When we met the group to whom he speaks regularly at Grace Community Church, many told us how privileged we were to get to hear him lecture on site. We couldn’t wait!
Of course, we had to get there first.
Joel insisted that we were bringing too much stuff (i.e., I was bringing too many clothes), so I felt vindicated when we arrived at the airport and people were amazed how little luggage we had. I think I saw Joel secretly smile.
Security was tight, but not more than we expected. I think El Al is the reason they say you have to get to the airport 3 hours early.
I’d never been on a 13 or 14 hour flight without stopping, so I guess I was a little nervous about how I would pass the time (but oh so excited to be going to ISRAEL!). Ever since two friends of mine had gone and written in their Christmas letter that year, “If you ever have the chance, go,” I started praying that God would give us that opportunity. Over the next few years, during Bible study when I’d pull out the maps and try to figure out where the Dead Sea was in relation to the Sea of Galilee, I would be reminded of that prayer. Of course, I assumed it would happen one day in retirement, but then we started talking to The Master’s College about producing a DVD series of their on-site Israel study program and when things started getting serious, I told Joel about my prayers. God had answered them decades before I thought He would!
I was so excited….
Soon after boarding, the flight attendants passed out the day’s newspaper. On the very front page, our destination was featured:
Israeli troops open fire on crowds of Palestinian refugees and protesters as they try to cross from Syria, Lebanon and the Gaza Strip to mark Nakba Day, in remembrance of Palestinians’ displacement with the founding of Israel.
After a long flight, we landed.
Instantly, we could see we were in a new place. Old and new were constantly running into each other, it seemed.
As soon as we passed through security again, Dr. Varner told us, “Well, you’ve landed in the Bible.” And our production began on the tour bus. (I had to grab my camera from under the bus, but thankfully Joel was ready to go!)
We started out in the Old City.
We couldn’t wait to sleep, but the day was still young.
So, no better way to pass the time than to start taking photos, if not from the balcony of our room.
After dinner, we set out for the Church of the Holy Sepulcher and were not disappointed! As we would soon realize, we weren’t on the “tour route.” While most groups had gone to bed, we waited around and saw the church close for the evening. Apparently, there was so much fighting over the church, that the keys to the church were given to two Muslim families who now hold the privileges of closing up shop every night. They climb up the ladder, lock the door, and pass the ladder back through a small hole in the door. Between the jet-lag, the low lighting, and the church men yelling at us frequently for not moving the line fast enough through the Sepulcher, I’m not sure how our first night of shooting turned out, so we’ll have to see about that!
Except for a couple shops, the streets were mostly quiet on our walk back to the hotel.
We had a beautiful view of the city walls from our room…which came in handy at 3 a.m when my jet-lagged brain told me I was ready to go do something again!