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Tags - disabled travel
We made it! I'm not sure how many of you might remember this, but on the day that we left the US for Israel, the entire east coast got hit with one of the worst snow blizzards in years.
Basically every airport on the east coast had been closed. We arrived at the airport six hours ahead of schedule to see what I could attempt to rearrange for our intinerary. We were met by litterally thousands of people hoping to do the same thing. So we got in line and after a two hour wait to talk to an agent we were told all flights had been canceled and that it would be three days before we could fly out. The agent was wonderful to work with and when I told her that if she had to book us the long way around planet earth, we were going. She laughed at my determination and told me "let's see what we can do." She was a champ. She completely changed everything, including our airline.
So we left Charlotte NC, took a straight flight from there to Rome Italy, and then on to Israel. We ended up arriving in Israel only 15 minutes later then what our original flight would have. Once again, where there is a will, there is a way. We were greeted by a portion of the rest of our group, since everyone was having the same difficulty with the weather.
We then left the airport to see for the first time our brand new mode of transportation. A brand new tour bus equipped with a lift, and enough tie down locations inside for 11 wheelchairs! This bus was one of only three like it.
Our group was the first to use this bus and at this point I want to sing the praises of our bus driver. He was an absolute wonder! He was not familiar with people in wheelchairs and what he should or should not do. All of that changed in 10 minutes. He was lifting, helping, laughing with us, and he drove that bus for the entire tour like we were worth a fortune in gold. He went so far above and beyond what he had to. I am still amazed at the places he managed to get that huge bus into. He always got the front spot for us, dropped us off right at the best location possible for wheelchairs, and picked us up again the same way.
He and his bus were quite the main attraction everywhere we went. All of the other bus drivers would come over and watch the lift operation as he loaded us on the bus. They were full of questions and Reuben was eager to show how it all worked. He was a truly a blessing for our entire time in Israel.
We left the airport and went to our hotel which was right down town Tel Aviv. It was beautiful and as with all tours, we were greeted in the lobby like we were royalty. Fresh juice was given us and we just sat and talked as our bus driver, tour guide, and the hotel staff did everything. We were spoiled rotten but none of us were complaining about it! lol
My family had two rooms on the 12th floor with an amazing view over Tel Aviv looking out over the Mediterranean Sea. Our dinner that evening was fantastic beyond words! So many new foods to try and everything was delicious. I soon found out that every meal would be like that. My wife absolutely loved being so pampered but did tell me not to expect this back home! lol Enjoy the pics, and my next post will be our first day of travel.
Going down to Joppa. When we left Tel Aviv, Dr. Hartman with Shalom Ministries pointed out a great Bible application for us. When Jonah fled from God he went "down." To get to Joppa, a coastal city, Jonah had to go down. So he went down to Joppa, down into the boat, and ultimately down into the belly of a great fish. But when Jonah cried out to God from inside the great fish, Jonah's lowest point, God heard his prayer and restored him. So the fish vomited Jonah onto dry land, back "up" so to speak when Jonah stopped running from God. How many times in my own life has that same application been true.
It was amazing to look at the ancient city and buildings of Joppa realizing that this was the very place where Jonah thought he could run from God. We did not actually stop in Joppa but our bus driver drove through very slowly as our tour guide pointed out the old city in relation to the new city as well as many other points of interest. One of these being Simon the Tanner's house. Our bus drove up a steep hill here allowing us to look down over a wall and get a glimpse of the house. This house of course is where Peter had his vision while on the roof. Acts 10:34-35 I love because Peter realized here after his vision, and later announced to Cornelius in Caesarea, that God's word is for everyone, not just a select few. "I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism but accepts men from every nation who fear him and do what is right".
Being disabled does not mean that life is over. As a t-8 complete paraplegic I want to encourage all people with a disability to get out and live life!