Chapter 15 Nov. 13, 2019
Before we get to the flat tire story, oh what a joy that will be, I must tell you the rest of the story about the hat restaurant. And lest I forget before this chapter is finished, I must tell you its location, so I myself won’t forget and miss it again. It is on Highway 98, east of Mt. Odem, where the roundabout makes it easy not to lose site of it sitting on the southeast corner among the eucalyptus trees. And don’t forget to look for the herd of cats, which aren’t as big as the cattle. Numbers, yes. Size wise, no.
After coming down the mountain top and heading east back across the Golan countryside, my Google Maps, which by now she had started to behave, led us east on Highway 98, to then travel on the east side of the Sea of Galilee, along the country of Jordan, around to the lower end of the water basin, back to our lodging.
Highway 98 is not very wide, and with its many curves, you might consider the speed you travel. As you rapidly approach a curve, I mean drive carefully on it, be mindful of this. Also watch out for the others coming your way. Obviously they know every bit of the road, for speed is of no concern for them.
Around one bend in the road again I saw the makeshift metal ornamented memorial of a motorcycle the IDF had made using rocket remnants from Syria, shot at them five decades ago. The Star of David flags flew on the barbed-wire fence posts, and thus it made a great picture. I stopped. Got out of the vehicle and got the shot. Multiple times. To update my photo album.
The cattle were lowing, the Middle Eastern sun was lowering, and the golden fields were swaying. And then, there it was! The hat restaurant!
Oh, how the Lord is so good! As we came upon the roundabout, there was the place I had hoped to find earlier but had gone too far north. But as it is in the Lord’s heart, He grants us these little tokens of His love, and brought us here, so I could show the other guys.
I parked the car but could see by the empty parking lot that they had already closed for Shabbat. I had so desired to come and talk to the owners again, who loved to tell their historical stories as they cooked the delicious hamburgers. Nonetheless, I took some more photos to add to the Ahava Adventure photos albums. For this trip. And I added the name of the highway and location in my phone contact list. Never again would I miss it!
The rest of the ride was basically normal. As the “tour guide”, I pointed out the cliff where Yeshua cast out the demons from the man and went into the pigs, which ran down into the Sea of Galilee and drowned. It is on the southeast corner of the sea. A church had once been built there to commemorate the place, and the ruins can still be seen in the national park that it has now become.
We got back to the Aliya Return Center after dark, after searching long and hard and finally finding some good food at one of the very few restaurants open that Friday night. Greg and Lathan shared the Lord’s heart for the Jewish waitress, who was working her way through Hebrew University in Jerusalem, with the job here in the Galilee. I hope the seed germinates.
Earlier I had mentioned to David that the front right tire seemed a little low when I parked the car, but figured it was of no concern, and went to bed once back.
Saturday had been all planned out as much as we wanted. The guys selected several sites, including Qumran and Masada as part of our destination. One of the anticipated moments was to baptize Lathan in the Yarden (Jordan) River, on the other side of the highway from Jericho, where Yeshua (Jesus) most likely was immersed by Johanan the Immerser (John the Baptist). The drive down Highway 90 would take a few hours, so I had said 8 am was the blastoff time. It would be a full day before going up to Jerusalem that night.
My bags were packed, I grabbed a piece of toast with local honey, made a quick cup of coffee with cream and more honey, and took my stuff out to the SUV.
Before discouragement set in, I prayed and asked the Lord for direction.
Try changing with the spare. But then I couldn’t get the lug wrench to untighten the hard-fast lugs. Whoever put them on prior had used an air gun, and certainly didn’t care about anyone possibly needing to use the “by hand” method to remove them in an emergency.
I went and told the others. Greg, the oldest, wisest among us, said to call Avis, the rental company, and get someone out here. So, that is what I did next.
“Where are you again?” the young girl at the other end said, as she obviously was chewing on something, and most likely was ending her night shift, with little concern during her last hour on the job. “Can you send me the GPS location?”
As I said earlier, the Aliyah Return Center, a former boarding school for top-notch and well-afforded students in days gone by, was not the easiest place to find on the map.
“Beit Zera!” I said for the 4th time, trying to tell her where we were. “We are by Beit Zera, the kibbutz near the southern shore. By the zoo!” I emphatically spoke, having complete understanding that she was not understanding.
After a half-hour went by, I called again. The previous girl had left her post. The man who answered said they had dispatched someone and gave me his direct mobile. Having all the patience I had, I pressed on to get us on the road again. But after the 4th time I had talked to that repairman, he quit answering my calls, saying the girl had told him we were on the northern end of the Galilee. He couldn’t find us, getting frustrated himself, and thus blocked any more of my calls.
I called Avis again, having watched an hour go by at this point. Lathan can confirm all this. He had gone with me, as we had driven slowly in the car on the spare tire that the Aliyah staff had managed to put on. Thank you!
We parked at the front turnoff on the kibbutz road, to better be found by someone. Anyone. Time was being wasted. I couldn’t just sit there, so I made a “Walk With Me” video of the banana grove on the side of the road. (You can watch it on YouTube!)
FINALLY, the dispatcher said another was coming when I called again. And yes, he came. In a regular sedan car. No repair tools or nothing. Great. What a big help this was.
The serviceman then made a call or two and found a repair garage that was open, but it was 30 miles away. Remember, this was Shabbat. No work on Saturday, the day of rest. Except for some Christian or Arab businesses.
He instructed us to follow him and so we did. Lathan came with me, and I said to let Greg and David know that we would be gone probably an hour and a half but to be ready upon our return, knowing four hours or more will have been lost by the time we could head south.
I wish you could hear the “moment by moment, play by play” that Lathan later portrayed to the other two as we finally did get on the right highway, going the right way, down to the sites we really had wanted to see. I was breaking up in laughter as he described in very good detail the ride to the repair shop, the texts to Hadassah Lerner (trying to get assistance), the desire I had to hear Paul Wilbur on my phone playlist to relax by song, and the return trip. That even included having to drive backwards on an off ramp for several hundred yards to get on the right road.
What can I say? Having fun in Israel on the ahava journey!
When Lathan again told his same rendition of the flat tire story at Nissim and Hadassah Lerner’s dinner table a few days later in Givat Ze’ev, after the second day of Rosh Hashanah, joined by Jerusalem’s CBN News broadcaster Julie Stahl, I tried sliding down my white plastic chair under the long table, but even as all laughed and hooted. But at least I was still giving thanks that all this would later be in a book. This one!
I do want to say a special thank you to the two Arab Christians who did repair the flat. They did a good job for the $15 charge. In shekels though of course. They were very gracious; I appreciated the hot coffee; and watching their German Shepherd trying to turn over his silver metal water bowl that was upside down helped make the time go by faster, even if there was some consternation through it all.
Our God reigns. Knowing we are in His hands, even when it seems not quite so, will give us the grace and peace during what looks like the opposite. And yet as I am still learning this at age 64 (at that time). Yes, I am learning still!
So, we finally had headed down the highway. We would have to cut out the Masada portion, but the day was yet going to be good. I believed that, while continuing to trust in the One we serve.