West meets East under the tent

I was pinching myself Sunday night because for a moment, I couldn’t believe I was doing what I was doing.

Our Rotary Group Study Exchange team met with a combined group of Rotary clubs under a Bedouin tent … in an Arab village … in an Israeli city … far from home.

Our presentation went off without a hitch; well, maybe one — we’ve had some audio trouble with one portion of it, but we’ve learned how to improvise. It’s the same one we’ve been presenting ever since we arrived in Israel on May 10. We’re getting pretty good at this. Our team — Katt Krause of Amarillo, Aida Almaraz of Amarillo, Shirley Davis of Levelland and Fernando Valle of Lubbock — tells our hosts a little about themselves, their occupations and their families. They sprinkle their presentation with just the right amount of West Texas color, which our hosts appreciate very much.

We’ve also been blessed to be traveling with an engaging team from The Netherlands, who are conducting a simultaneous exchange right along with us. So, this GSE team is getting a double dose of cultural exposure — from our hosts as well as from our traveling companions.

But this event Sunday night was quite special. We had Jews and Muslims and Christians sitting under the same tent, eating a wonderful assortment of food prepared by our hosts living near Karmiel. Many of the folks were familiar, as we had met them the previous day.

The first two weeks have rocketed by, as I look back on it. The next two likely will fly past us even more quickly. Everyone keeps telling us the same thing: Wait until you get to Jerusalem.

Jerusalem is our final stop. We’ll deliver our final presentations to the Rotary District 2490 conference before a crowd predicted by our hosts to exceed 600 people — by far the largest room we’ll “play” on our journey.

With all due respect to The Beatles (who helped raise me during the ’60s), the “Magical Mystery Tour” had nothing on this adventure.