Sixty-five years of living has brought me many blessings … and the occasional curse.
I want to mark one of those blessings with this blog post.
Six years ago today, I bid so long to four young people with whom I’d spent four marvelous weeks in the Holy Land. We were there as part of a Rotary International Group Study Exchange. I am a member of Rotary and I had the high honor of accompanying these four individuals to Israel.
The link I’ve attached to this blog gives you a slight hint of what we experienced. We went to many of the locations noted on the video.
But this post really isn’t about that. It’s more about them, my dear friends, who traveled with me the entire length and breadth of one of the world’s most fascinating countries.
Aida, Fernando, Shirley and Katt all hail from West Texas. One of them has moved to Dallas, but we stay in touch. We all do. They’ve become four of my best friends.
The GSE is designed to acquaint young professionals with colleagues abroad. It’s also designed to recruit young Rotary members, to keep the service organization alive and vibrant.
Our journey began at Rick Husband Amarillo International Airport on May 9, 2009. It ended on June 7, 2009 when we bid adieu to three of our team members at David Ben-Gurion International Airport. One of them stayed behind in Tel Aviv.
We’d laughed and cried together. We enjoyed sumptuous food. Prayed together on the Mount of Olives. We stayed in Israeli hosts’ homes, met their families and were treated to sights and sounds the usual tourist doesn’t get to see.
We peered into Gaza, stood on the Golan Heights, and swam in the Red Sea, the Dead Sea and the “Med” Sea.
We walked where Jesus walked in Jerusalem and where he preached near Galilee. We toured churches, synagogues and mosques.
I cannot possibly list all of what we saw, heard and felt.
We made new friends with members of another GSE team from The Netherlands that traveled through Israel with us. I’m still in touch with a couple of that team’s members.
It was one of those life experiences that you just cannot quantify. You can’t put a price on what one learns on a journey such as that.
I was delighted to have taken that journey with those four young people.
My time in Israel didn’t end at Ben-Gurion airport. I stayed on another week with my wife, who’d flown over to join me. We acted like typical tourists, staying at a B&B in Jerusalem. I got to show her some of what I’d experienced.
Would we return to Israel? In a heartbeat.