We departed from Stafford Baptist Church (Stafford, Virginia) at 9:30 A.M. for New York. We passed the Washington monument, the Statue of Liberty, the Empire State building, and the World Trade Building on the way to John F. Kennedy International Airport. At the airport I encountered a security official at Israel Airlines and he said no one could enter their waiting area due to “tight security.” The security is mainly because of bomb threats, etc. from Arab, Third World countries. No other airlines had such a policy and a security guard as did Israel. The “Zionists” have many enemies.
We met Jo Anne and Steve Abbott at the airport. They just flew in from Oregon, and were joined by their son Mark, in the Air Force, and on leave from the Philippines. Their other son, Paul, is a missionary from Africa and will join us in Amman, Jordan. What a place and what a time for a family reunion!
I was quickly exposed to the culture of the Middle East on the airplane. The gentleman seated next to me was born and raised in Damascus, Syria; he moved to the United States and raised a family of five children. He told me he was returning to Damascus, and then he gave me some history of the city. He said it is the world’s oldest capital city, and the world’s oldest inhabited city. He claimed the tomb of John the Baptist is there, and there is a castle left by the Crusaders from about 1100 A.D. As a Christian, I know Damascus was once part of the Hasmonean Dynasty. Even of more significance, the Bible (Acts, Chapter 9) reveals that it is the place where Paul went to persecute Christians. However, due to his conversion along the way to the city, he ended up preaching the gospel message of Jesus Christ there. Paul now ended up as the one being persecuted, and his friends had to lower Paul in a basket outside the walls of Damascus so he could escape with his life. No one promised that it would be easy to follow Jesus.
We lost seven hours of time as we flew towards the sun. We will gain the seven hours back when we are going home.
While still on the airplane, we saw some very scenic, desolate, hilly and craggy terrain about one hour and one quarter prior to our arrival in Jordan. We guessed that it was probably Turkey that we saw. I saw another sign of the tension in the Middle East while still on the airplane. While glancing at a map of the various flight routes which Royal Jordanian makes, I noticed that Israel was not even listed on the map in the airplane! On the plane I tried to speak with a Jordanian to ask him about this, but he could only speak Arabic. We ate several meals on the airplane, and I had trouble figuring out if it was day or night- jet lag. After thirteen hours of flying time we finally set down in Jordan, and after a very scrutinizing passport/visa/luggage check and frisk, we were carried away to our hotel.
I did not care for the Jordanian food at the hotel. I also noticed that Arabs engage in close body contact, and do not observe the “space” that Americans are use to having. They elbow, poke and push. Arabs commonly have body odor. I was glad that we were going to spend only one night in Jordan. I already found that some things in other countries make me appreciate the United States of America all the more. How many things we just take for granted.