Journal of a Living Lady #356
Nancy White Kelly
Shalom, ya’ll – Part I
The Living Lady is back in America! In spite of internal squabbles, the USA is still the best country in the world. Kiss the ground and thank a soldier.
Charlie and I flew over 13,000 miles, changed planes 8 times, and walked at least 25 miles. That would be quite a feat even if my medical records didn’t include metastatic cancer, kidney failure, two heart attacks and a pair of artificial knees.
Let me briefly up-date you on the reason for this adventure. As a Bible teacher for some fifty-plus years, I have become somewhat familiar with the geography of the ancient Middle East. Twice Buddy and I have made the journey to the Holy Land, first in 1972 and then again in 2003. It is impossible for a tourist to absorb such rich history in two visits. I have longed to return one more time.
There is a spiritual connection to this cradle of civilization that is difficult to explain. The Holy Land is both a physical and vicarious crossroad of the heart and mind that bridges humanity’s past and future.
Through a casual entry in a business-related essay contest provided by British Airways, I won the Grand prize trip to London as well as a ticket to the destination of my choice. That other location was an easy decision– Israel.
In addition, I could take a traveling companion. That choice was easy too. Buddy and I agreed that this should be our older son, Charlie, who has often expressed a desire to visit those biblical sites that he also has taught about.
The awarded trip started in New York City, so Charlie and I had to get there on our own time and dime. Wouldn’t you know that the first flight we were planning to take out of Atlanta was over-booked? The one other plane leaving at night was a hopper through Indianapolis and would land at an alternate New York airport. It was a no-brainer. If we were to make the gifted trip that started at 7:00 a.m. the next morning, we had would fly to LaGuardia and then take a taxi to J.F.K. We arrived with no sleep and yet six hours to kill.
Charlie and I wearily walked around the JFK airport, baggage in hand, looking for a quiet place to park our bodies. We came upon an empty, ecumenical chapel and made ourselves comfortable on the floor. I am sure God didn’t mind that we caught a few winks in that dark and quiet refuge. It has been my observation that people sleep in church quite often.
We arrived in London on the chartered flight and were chauffeured to a five-star hotel. Business and political dignitaries addressed the group of winners. They enthusiastically encouraged us to consider expanding our businesses to London and other world cities. This courting was amusing to Charlie and me as the Ye Old Coin Shop isn’t exactly a Fortune 500 business. Far from it. Buddy and I operate a small coin shop located in a tiny mountain town of north Georgia. On a really good day we may have five customers.
By noon Charlie and I completed our contest obligations and were free to tour London before our late evening flight to Tel Aviv. We navigated the bus system through odd-sounding streets such as Castle & Elephant.
Charlie has long been an admirer of Charles Haddon Spurgeon, the great London preacher of the 1800’s who is still known as the “Prince of Preachers.” It is estimated that Spurgeon preached to around 10,000,000 people in his lifetime, often up to 10 times a week. Charlie wanted to see the Metropolitan Tabernacle that Spurgeon pastored for 38 years as well as his grave site. Mission accomplished.
With that site crossed off our short London list, it was my turn to pick. I chose Buckingham Palace. The queen was not available for tea, but we did enjoy observing the red-coated guards as we ambled the 350 acres of Hyde Park.
Charlie and I both desired to see Big Ben, but there was no time to spare. We hurried to the hotel, gathered our luggage and headed to Heathrow Airport for the last portion of our trek. We arrived in Tel Aviv, Israel, at 5:00 a.m.
Next destination: Jerusalem.
To be continued…