Today our Encounter Tour came to an end. It’s been an immeasurable privilege to spend 10 days with lovely, engaged, interested, passionate people who have been a blessing to me and the local people we’ve met along the way.
Perfectly finishing our tour, we spent a couple of hours at the ancient port of Caesarea which I thoroughly enjoyed. I had time and space at this ancient, complex site, and had a great chat with Bishara about the geology and archaeology of the ruins. I would love to come back and explore further.
We then travelled down to Jaffa and had an incredible Middle Eastern tapas type meal. Then it was time to bobble back to Tel Aviv where Neil and I jumped off the coach to collect a hire car for the rest of our trip. We waved goodbye to the group as they headed for their terminal. They’re probably taxiing out to the runway as I write – through a doozer thunderstorm – safe travels my friends.
Tomorrow Neil and I head to Gaza to meet partners and beneficiaries of projects we’re funding through those partners. I am excited to visit a place so few people get to see and meet people who have voices, but few ears turned towards them. Please pray for a smooth transfer into Gaza and a good night of sleep and good health – Neil’s had a cold and I’ve had rotten indigestion today and am developing a sore throat. Thank you.
I’ve mentioned in a couple of blogs this week that the people we’ve met have encouraged us to tell their stories and tell what we have seen and heard. Many of the Christians we have met have said how encouraging it is for them in their faith to know there are people out there who want to stand with them in solidarity and who are praying for them. I understand a teeny bit of that today as I prepare to cross into Gaza tomorrow, knowing those lovely guests will also be thinking of us and praying for us. We take them, their questions, their love with us into Gaza.
Our guide Bishara, asked us to promise to talk about our experiences and feelings. He said: Your duty as you return home is to tell people to come. Come and see, come and spend time in this beautiful welcoming place. Yes, there are difficulties, but there are difficulties everywhere. Please, just come.
As you’ll have worked out by now, I try to listen out for a phrase during each day to building my blog around, a hook, a prompt. The group knew I did this now and so I was getting suggestions like:
‘The shorts have it’ (after voting for a short or long tour at Caesarea)
‘Constantly braced for impact’ (an unnamed passenger describing how they felt in Jerusalem traffic)
‘Upmarket Harvester’ (how Neil and I felt about the eatery we I visited tonight)
However, today’s title is simpler than that. Please, come. Come and see for yourselves.