Sunday, September 16, 2012

The Shofars Will Sound in Tsiyon!


(This story is a continuation of the previous day's post.)  My time in Israel coincided with Pesach and the Feast of Unleavened Bread.  The small group of us that had come to Yerushalyem after the prayer tour was all headed off in different directions.  Three of us were blessed with an opportunity to celebrate Pesach with a local family.  Then we were all scattered and I headed up to Tiberius for what was supposed to be a week.  Things didn’t work out so I hopped on a bus to Tel Aviv and planned to spend my last week in Israel there.

When I arrived at the bus terminal in Tel Aviv, I was trying to find a place where I could book a hotel room.  I was directed and then, redirected to several locations in the terminal.  I went from the first floor to the fourth and then back to the second using elevators, escalators and stairs.  I found myself, a seasoned traveler lost in the bus terminal/mall and frustrated as I struggled just to find an exit.  When I asked for help, I was sent hither and yon or even rudely rebuffed. 

I was quite befuddled with this situation as I routinely traveled in Asian countries without any language skills and had never gotten so turned around.  As my frustration grew, I found myself getting into another elevator and none of the buttons seemed to work.  Finally, I thought, I just need some divine guidance and I had been told that angels like the sound of the shofar and could be summoned in this way. 

So, once again I lifted my shofar to my lips in the elevator and blew a short blast.  I had no sense of anything happening, but when the elevator door opened I saw an exit at the street level.  I made my way to the exit and to a row of taxicabs waiting outside.  I went up to the first cab at the stand and told him that I was trying to find a hotel in Tel Aviv.  He brushed me off with a wave as if dismissing my request.

I went to the second cab feeling quite confused.  I didn’t feel that I had asked for something unreasonable so I wasn’t sure what to ask the next guy.  I made the same request to him and he told me that there were several hotels along the beach of the Mediterranean Sea.  He said that he could take me there and I could find the hotel of my choice easily.  I agreed that this was a fine plan and got into his cab. 

He proceeded to do a u-turn to head down to the beach and just as we passed the bus terminal again, there was a loud blast of a nearby explosion.  The explosion was so loud and so close that we felt the reverberations inside the cab even though all but one of the windows was closed.  He turned and looked at me as he said, “That was a bomb.”  There was a brief moment of silence and then the sound of sirens coming towards us.  I didn’t know what to say or do or even think.  I tried not to think the thought that in that moment someone or someones' somewhere nearby had just died or were dying.  It was too horrible to think of this all at once.  We drove to the beach in silence.

I spent a week in Tel Aviv in a tiny little hotel just off of the beach.  My time there was marred with the news reports of a terrorist that had blown himself up near the bus terminal in a busy restaurant.  The hotel staff was kind and careful to steer me away from the TV when I would start to cry.  No one in my family actually knew that I was in Tel Aviv and I hoped that this was enough to keep them from worrying.  I should have known better.  My mom has her own way of knowing things about my travels and when I called her later on in that week, she not only knew that I was in Tel Aviv, she already knew that I was safe.  As a mom myself, I should have realized that moms just know things and left it at that. 

My time in Israel came to an end and it was time to go home.  I was ready.  I headed to the airport with a quick prayer for a safe and uneventful trip home to Thailand.  My shofar didn’t fit into my suitcase, nor did I trust it to make such a trip there so I was carrying it wrapped around my arm against my side.  It fit me well and blended into my silhouette so that most people weren’t even aware of it.  I was facing a ten hour layover in Istanbul that I would be forced to wait out in the airport.  I knew this wasn’t going to be an easy trip.

When I got on the plane in Israel, I found myself sandwiched in a four-person row between three very large, hostile men.  I had a sudden lesson in what it means to be a non-entity and I made myself as small as possible.  I was able to squeeze my shofar down alongside my leg, but my seatmates were up and down and I feared for my shofar’s safety.  I didn’t want it to be kicked or stepped on. 

Finally, I grabbed a flight attendant and asked if there was a space available in an overhead bin where my shofar would be safe.  The looks on the faces of my seatmates when I pulled it from the blanket over my lap would have been funny if I had been in a laughing mood.  It was clear that they were quite surprised.  It rode out the rest of the tense flight in far more comfort than I. 

My time in Istanbul was uneventful and as I waited it out, I was able to watch the Turkish people around me.  Most of them simply ignored me and my time there passed slowly.  Finally, the time came to go to the boarding gate for my flight home.  The gate area was down a long ramp and enclosed on all side with tall glass windows.  There was another security station to pass through before we could board and I was waiting in the line at the scanner. 

Suddenly, this Turkish female security guard spots me and starts yelling at me in Turkish from across the room.  She storms towards me yelling the whole time.  Everyone in the room has frozen into place and turned to see what’s going on and I have no idea what has set her off.  I hold up my passport facing her and tell her that I don’t know what she’s talking about.  She continues to yell at me and as she gets to me, she reaches out to grab my shofar from me, still yelling.  I do a quick look UP and a silent prayer putting all responsibility for this situation in the Hands of ONE better equipped to know what’s going on.

At the security station behind me, the guards there are just looking at her in amazement.  They don’t seem to know what she’s yelling about either.  She hands the shofar to the man running the x-ray machine still yelling.  He x-rays the shofar and then hands it back to me with a shrug and a small look of apology.  At that point, I had turned to keep my eyes on the shofar and had taken my eyes off the female guard. 

I then turned back around to see where she was and if she was satisfied with the x-ray results.  She was gone.  I scanned the entire room to see where she had gone, but I couldn’t see her anywhere and I never did see her again.  I got on my flight home without any further ado.  My arrival in Bangkok was routine and my shofar has long since become a powerful part of my testimony.  There are many more stories that could be told but those will have to wait.  My thoughts are now turning to DannyLee’s shofar (to be continued)

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