When I am traveling outside the United States, I don’t look for Dr Pepper. Do you? Even within the borders of the U. S., I don’t spend too much time looking for Dr Pepper outside of Texas and the four adjoining states. Certainly not, though, outside the country. And definitely not in Israel. I was in Israel for 15 days seven years ago and never once saw anything even resembling a Dr Pepper. So, yeah, it’s been kinda gross having to drink Diet Coke and — gasp! — even Pepsi Max over here. Nasty. But I’ve always figured that’s the price one pays for leaving the States. So, of course, I was more than a little surprised when Debbie walked up to me in the middle of the museum of the ancient fishing boat this afternoon with a couple of cold cans of that wonderful Waco brew. What?!? Where did you find that?!?! Oh, my word!!! We truly made a scene, no doubt. She found them in the museum gift shop. Incredible. She slipped hers into her purse and saved it until dinner (She stared at it first, on the table in front of her, for a good twenty minutes before she popped the top). Me? I came straight to my hotel room, put it in the tiny little refrigerator in my closet and am drinking it right now. Right now. Ah… nectar straight from heaven.
It has been another wonderful day over here, our last in this northern region of Galilee. Like yesterday it rained off and on most of the day, which flattened our hair in weird ways, but not our spirits.
Celia found a real bargain on a bottle of water and then wound up having to carry it around with her all day. Our van driver nearly turned our vehicle upside down while passing another car at a high rate of speed on a hairpin curve on the way up Mount Tabor. We watched a re-run of last night’s “Arab Idol” on TV while we ate lunch at the YMCA in Nazareth (now, how could I make that up?). And we’re all still having a difficult time with U.S. dollars and Israeli shekels.
Please note that in our hotel lobby, one of the elevators is labeled “Shabbat Elevator.” Shabbat is the Hebrew word for Sabbath. And every week, from sunset Friday to sunset Saturday, this particular “Shabbat Elevator” runs on Shabbat mode. The elevator is programmed to stop at every single floor and open and close its door at every single floor, giving riders more than plenty of time to get on and off. All the buttons are disabled. You know why? Because one is not allowed to work on the Sabbath and, apparently, pushing a button on an elevator is work and so is prohibited. Pushing the button on an elevator?!? Yes, really. Work. So the other two elevators are mind-blowingly crowded and slow because nobody wants to get stuck on the Shabbat elevator which takes about six or seven minutes to go up six floors. Except Ted and Becky and me. Yeah, it was dark when we returned to our hotel tonight and we assumed all the elevators were now working in normal operating mode. Until it took us almost two minutes to get from the lobby to the first floor and another two minutes for the doors to open and close and get to the second floor. By that time, it was too late to get off, wait for another elevator, and start over. So we endured it. One… Floor… At… A… Time.
The highlight of our day today, for me, was the excursion across the Sea of Galilee in the old fishing boat. It was just we twenty on the boat and we spent about an hour tooling around from Magdala to nearly Bethsaida and back on the waters where Jesus revealed his glory to his disciples so many times. We read together from Mark 6, we sang and prayed together, and reflected on the grace of our God who condescended to visit us where we live and work, to enter into community with us, and to bear our sins so we may be righteous in his site. On that very water — that same water where he called us, where he taught us, where he walked on the waves, where he calmed the sea, where he provided the fish. We were on that water today with our Lord. And it was something none of us will ever forget.
Tomorrow we head down to the desert. On the way we’ll visit the ancient cities of Beth Sha’an and Jericho, we’ll share a picnic lunch on the banks of the Jordan River, and then we’ll float and play late tomorrow afternoon in the Dead Sea.