Tuesday, May 20, 2014

I'm going to Israel!

Before my mother-in-law passed away in February, she referred frequently to money she had set aside for my husband and expressed a desire for us to travel to Israel.  Israel?  As in, the Middle East?  This was more than a little surprising. And not exactly a wish I was eager to fulfill.

A few weeks after her death, I saw the notice that a group of people connected with the Church of the Nazarene in Southwest Indiana will be going to Israel in January 2015 with an invitation to be part of that group. Israel!  Well, maybe.  If we could go with people we know.  If someone else would be handling the details of international travel.

So we signed up.  And I'm already enjoying this trip immensely for multiple reasons.

  • I haven't been "abroad" for forty years -- since Nazarene Youth Congress was held in Fiesch, Switzerland in 1974 and I attended as a 16-year-old. This is a big deal!
  • My husband and I haven't done a genuine vacation trip since our children quit traveling with us. I get email all the time from airlines and travel sites and hotel chains offering me travel opportunities, and I look at them wistfully before pushing the delete button, not sure where to go or why. How wonderful to now say, "No, thank you. I already have a wonderful trip planned."
  • I haven't made a trip as an adult that I didn't have to plan. The greatest stress in my life comes from my to-do list, for home, work, and the church. Looming deadlines, forgotten details, and a huge list of unfinished tasks is what keeps my stress level high. Having nine months to prepare for a trip that adds hardly anything to my to-do list -- mostly packing and clearing nine days for travel -- is wonderful! It adds much anticipation all these months ahead of time while adding hardly anything to my to-do list.  At some point, that one small detail of clearing nine days for travel will become a sticking point, but this far ahead of time it looks simple enough and the entire trip appears to be a stress-free adventure.
For previous trips, I have added books set in the region to my reading list. Israel is different. I don't want "Dick and Jane Visit Israel" type novels. Travelogues from modern pilgrims have some appeal, although I think less may be more in that genre. But I think I found the perfect addition to my pile of unread books -- Out-of-Doors in the Holy Land by Henry Van Dyke, written in 1908. Thus far, I've read the introduction and two chapters. His trip from England to Palestine, which he described with admirable brevity, took him 15 days of travel by ship, train, and Mediterranean yacht. I hope to get there from America in 15 hours or so. He saw many people from a wide variety of cultures along the way. Yes, come to think of it, I suspect that will be the case for me as well. I'm looking forward to the rest of his trip, which will be so different and yet maybe remarkably similar to mine. There's a reason great authors are recognized as being great, and this promises to be a great read.