The class of 25 students taking the Study Tour in Israel left the Conn Center in Cleveland, Tennessee, on Sunday, April 19th, 1989, bound for Israel. The bus taking us to the Knoxville airport broke down before we got 30 miles from home. Plan “B” went into effect, and several vehicles arrived to take us on the 90 mile trip to the airport.
We flew from Knoxville to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, switched planes, and flew into New York JFK airport. There we boarded KLM Airlines and had about a six hour flight to Amsterdam. I might add that KLM Airlines is the Cadillac of airlines. They know how to take care of their passengers, down to giving each of us a warm washcloth at the end of our flight to freshen our faces with. It was a very pleasant flight.
I determined that I would sit by someone different each leg of our journey so I could get to know my class mates better. We were going to be together day and night for almost two weeks, and I don’t like to mingle in a room full of strangers, so it was time to make them my friends.
We had a three hour layover in Amsterdam, so we hopped on a train and went downtown Amsterdam. We walked around, trying not to get run over by bicycles, their main means of transportation. We saw the house of Anne Frank, but it was too early in the morning for it be open. We stopped in a coffee shop to have a snack and warm up a bit before heading back to the airport.
When we got back to the airport we discovered that there was an intense baggage search, and body search, before we could load the aircraft flying us on into Tel Aviv, Israel. This took well over two hours, but we realized it was for our own safety. It was another four hour flight into Tel Aviv. When we landed we were met by a bus which took us to Jerusalem to our place of temporary residence.
The Jerusalem Center for Biblical Studies was to be our home for the next twelve days. The whole trip took us 29 hours to reach our destination. I had not slept any of those hours, so Monday night, our first night there, I was ready for bed! My two roommates, Nelda and Kim, were to become good friends over the next few days. Nelda is the wife of Bill George, another one of my professors in the Bible department at Lee College. Kim is a single girl, in her senior year, and soon to be married. (After we got back from the trip, she asked me to be her substitute Mom and help her shop for a wedding dress. That was a neat gift from God, since I did not have a daughter. I knew He would supply a girl in my life to go shopping with some time, and here it was!)