Hello friends . . . grace and peace,
(please remember all Red Bold Text is a link to click on)
Well, we aren’t in Wisconsin anymore.
The pilgrimage group spent the better part of 24 getting to Amman, Jordan but did arrive at 5 p.m. (Jordanian time) which was 9 a.m. Thursday, Oct. 29 in the Midwest. It will only be a 7 hour time difference after tonight as the Mideast version of Daylight Savings Time goes into effect after midnight here.
We arrived at Chicago’s O’Hare Field shortly after noon on Wednesday and went through all the complicated steps of getting checked in, something that puzzles me in this day of technology. The only drama was added by me – Tony – when I unknowingly dropped my passport in side O’Hare, only to have a gentleman behind me point it out and pick it up for me.
But after reaching our gate, we learned that our initial flight to JFK Airport in New York was delayed by two hours, meaning we wouldn’t make our connection to Paris. Fr. Ralph went into conversation with the Delta folks and we soon learned that we could be rebooked on Royal Jordanian Airlines and flown directly to Amman. It meant 12 hours on the plane but it was a fair tradeoff. We flew at 10 p.m. and arrived in Amman 11 hours later. We were fed a dinner and breakfast enroute by a very competent flight crew.
In Amman we were met by a man named Allaa, an associate of our host and guide, Bishara Khoury. He led us to the baggage claim and we were pleased that our bags – minus one for Brad Lauderdale and one for Sue Giles that should arrive tomorrow – arrived. It is a brand new terminal and the Muslim Call to Prayer was broadcast over the public address as we waited for our bags. Our passports were collected and Allaa took care of the customs details. Outside the terminal, we met Bishara and his wife, Rana, and our bus driver, Soud.
We loaded up and Soud drove us about a half hour to the Best Western Grand Hotel in Madaba, a suburb of Amman. On the way, Bishara pointed out a brightly lit Muslim mosque that is named The Mosque of Jesus Christ (the English translation). He said it was the named this because the Muslims in Jordan wanted to emphasize how the two faiths could live together in the country. It was nice to hear after reading so much negative opinions about the Muslim faith.
Amman reminds me of Tucson, Arizona because it’s in the desert. But Thursday was the last day of the work week in Jordan so there was plenty of traffic as we headed to the hotel. There we were assigned our rooms and fed a wonderful buffet dinner that included fish, chicken, rice, pickles and stuffed leaves.
We sang Happy Birthday to Father Ralph, who celebrated his birthday by flying overnight. Then we met with Bishara who outlined the plan for Friday. We will go to the Baptismal Site on the Jordan River where we will renew our baptismal vows, visit Mount Nebo where Moses viewed the Promised Land, tour St. George Orthodox Church to see the ancient mosaic map, then drive to Petra for the night.
Nope, we aren’t in Wisconsin anymore . . . but please continue to
“Pray for the peace of Jerusalem…” – Psalm 122:6