By Clarke, Ewing, NJ
During the two weeks we had two Birthday Celebrations.
On November 3, 2006 Bill S. celebrated his 82 birthday! Bill may be 82 but he was one of the youngest in heart, along with Deanna and Mike.
On the day Bill turned 82 we went to see King Herod’s Fortress on top of Herodium. It was a beautiful day. After walking up a steep incline we traveled though caves under the fort. With the help of our fearless guide, Rami, we came out into the ruins of the fort.
There we gathered to wish Bill a “Happy Birthday”. Bill loves sweets so we gave him a box of sweets as a substitute for a cake. We gladly helped Bill eat the sweets.
Bill was born in Beirut, Lebanon. He served in the US Foreign Service for many years and was Ambassador to Kuwait. Because of his background Bill spoke Arabic and was a great help in translating when our local guides were not around. We soon called him “Arabic Bill” to differentiate him from Rev. Bill. Bill’s enthusiasm and love of people was contagious and he added greatly to the adventure.
Bill reminded us that he has been traveling on this road for Peace most of his life. I am privileged to have travel part way on this road with him (and with the other members of our group).
The last full day in Israel, 11/11/2006, we celebrated David’s birthday. Again we had sweets instead of a cake. I forget how old David is but it was much less than 82. David was completely surprised as we asked the geologist to give a lesson as we sat at the shores of the Sea of Galilee (David claims it is really a lake – but hey it saids “Sea’ in the Bible.) As soon as David began his lecture we broke out in the “Happy Birthday” song. After a few rounds of sweets we let David continue with his talk about the area. There is a rife in the Jordan Valley called the “Great Rift”. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Rift_Valley for more information or better yet go see it for yourself.
David was one of the “Arizona boys”. Rev. Mac was the other. Time wise Arizona is further away from Israel than New Jersey so there was often a delay when we took roll call before they responded with “7”. Being from the USA desert it was interesting for them to see the desert in Israel and the Palestine Territories. And it was great having them along.
I am envious of these two since my birthday fell later in the month, today in fact, November 19th. I got to have an extra donut at work. Not quite the same but it was “sweet”. I have been fortunate to travel to several parts of the World, including Sydney, Australia for my birthday in 1996. But never with such great adventurers and friends.
So where will we be celebrating Arabic Bill’s 83rd