Saturday, November 3, 2007

The last day......Amman to New York

We were up early, as usual and boarded the bus to the airport for the final time. We went thru security with no problems, however it was about a two hour process. The plane was full for this trip and the flight from Amman to New York was to be 12 and 1/2 hours long! We watched three movies, some played cards and generally moved around as much as possible and kept each other in good spirits during the very long flight.
We left Amman at 10:30 AM Jordan time arrived at JFK at 4:40 PM US time. It took about one hour to go thru immigration and customs, but most of that time was spent waiting for our bags to come off the baggage carousel. Re-entering the US was painless and prompt. It was great to be back in the USA!!

We parted ways with our new found friends, and said our good byes. Many friendships have been made during our travels. There is no doubt that we'll be seeing each other again in the future.

For those who do not know, three of our pastors have a "connection" to each other. Beginning with Pastor Don Bowen and his time at Downtown Baptist Church in Alexandria, when a young man named Ricky Speas began attending his Church. Ricky became an "adopted" son to the Bowen family and Don mentored Ricky as he began his studies and ministry. He performed the marriage for Ricky and his wife Leslie. Don likes to say he knew Ricky "BLT"---Before Leslie and the Twins! (They have twin children). Ricky moved on and met Kevin Brown, our wonderful young pastor from Mt. Pleasant Baptist Church, and has been a great friend and mentor to Kevin, as he moved into his ministry.
It has been such a pleasure knowing and spending time with these gentlemen and it is such a testimony to all of them, seeing how they continue to "pay forward" love and kindness. In addition, you've seen Melody Eller mentioned here on our trip. What a bundle of energy and a true bright spot she has been for all of us! Well, if you talk to her, she'll tell you that Ricky and Leslie have "adopted" her, much as the Bowen's did Ricky. And she has been a longtime friend of Keven, and he and his family are also like "family" to Melody. So the tradition continues, and it is a wonderful example for all to follow!

The flight out of JFK for the Virginians was delayed, departing around 11:45 and arriving in Richmond around 12:30. Earl and George( Charlotte's husband) were there to meet us with the church bus. We were glad to see them and ready for the drive to Warsaw. We arrived at Cobham Park about 2:15 AM. A little sleepy after 26 hours of travel, thankful to be home, and grateful for the wonderful experience of our trip.

Shortly we'll post a final "wrap-up" of our Holy Land Experience! Thanks to friends and family for supporting and following us along the way!

Friday, November 2, 2007

Petra, The Red Rose city carved in rock.....

Thursday morning found us pretty well rested, after a wonderful dinner and evening in Petra. There were several lively Spades games going on in the lobby last evening, but everyone was up and ready for our five mile walk thru Petra at 8 am.

Now, Petra (the Latin word for "rock") is a city carved entirely out of rock around the early 1st century by the Nabateans. It was recently voted as one of the Seven Wonders of the World. To enter, one must walk thru the "Siq" which is a natural, narrow rock passageway about one mile long. Many of the group chose to ride part of the way in on horseback, being led along by the Bedouin men. The first majestic "building" facade is known as The Treasury and is the one made famous in the movie "Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom". All of the structures are carved by hand in the classic Roman style with Corinthian columns, in the usual elaborate manner. The interior "rooms" however, are very plain, with no carving, but the beautiful rose and rainbow colors of the rock, due to the mineral deposits in the rocks are plainly visible. Some of the most interesting were in the bathrooms!

Many of the group opted to ride part of the way out in a camel caravan! We hopped (well, not exactly "hopped", more likely "struggled") ourselves onto the camels, and rode up the hills to the Treasury facade, where we resumed our walk thru the Siq and returned to our hotel to board the bus for Amman. The camels were led by Bedouin boys, one of which was named Bilan. He spoke rather good English and told us that he was "born in the cave". He was about 10 years old, and said that he went to the Bedouin village school on the other side of the "mountain". He wore the head garb of the Royal Jordanian army, which is the red and white pattern, reminiscent of our red-checked gingham table cloth patterns!

Needless to say, we all have a new appreciation for the "washing of the feet", after all the time we've spent walking thru the dusty desert and cities here! There is a constant fine powder of dust on your feet and body as you travel. But it is ALL good!!

This was our last bus ride thru the desert for our group, so we enjoyed our time chatting and reviewing our experiences of the past 11 days.