Disappointment by The Mediterranean Sea
We all knew it was our last scene together in Israel as a group, the sea air in Jaffa, the city of Jonah. After a short jaunt through the market and a gorgeous spread of Arabic food, we walked to the railing by the sea. It was pitch dark, so we couldn’t see the distance, only the white foam receding and then rushing in. We lingered there, and the chatting swelled with the tension of almost goodbye. As we turned to walk toward the bus, I linked arms with a dear one, and we huddled in prayer as we lagged behind them. It was the perfect end to such an intense week of complexities. It was topped with prayer.
As I was stepping onto the bus to catch our final ride to the airport where I would then be on my way to see Seth and my babies after being gone for 9 days, I reached in my shopping bag to double-check for my wallet. It wasn’t there, and I had checked for it only 5 minutes before.
In a panic, one of the leaders and I retraced all our steps several times, but eventually we went back to the bus to retrieve my things and send the rest of the group on to their flights. I felt my bottom lip poke out trying to keep a seal on a cry, but it didn’t work. I cried and said, “I’m so disappointed!”
Nish looked at me and said,”You’re going to be fine.” Hands all around me, touching my shoulders said, “It’s going to be okay” and “we’re praying, Amber.” Someone recognized that along with my wallet was all my money, my credit cards, my passport, and my driver’s license, and she said, “You’ll need money!” Within a minute, the girls had stuffed my pockets with shekels and dollars and slung hugs around my neck. All I could think was “What if I never see you again?!” The whole goodbye was improper, and as I got my baggage off the bus, I was running through their faces in my mind, how I meant to bless them as I said goodbye.
Then they rolled away.
Our friend who lives there was with his wife, and we all combed the sidewalks again. I needed a reason for the frustration, so I thought: “Maybe I’m here to share the gospel, to do a great thing for God.” A decade ago, a Bible-teacher friend of mine taught me this: in disappointments, always look for God’s appointments. I must have an appointment, I thought.
They drove me to a hotel, found me a map of Tel Aviv and showed me where we had just been. I’m not sure what I would have done had that amazing couple not comforted me and told me what to do. The hotel assured me that I wouldn’t do without anything to eat or drink. I went to bed exhausted, the word disappointed caught in my teeth.
Scrap paper in hand, I wrote my list.
Wake before dawn; Walk an hour to the police station in old Jaffa city; Don’t get lost; Don’t be afraid of your utter lack of direction; Make sure to sleep well; Start exercising again when you get home; Walk most of the way back and then get a taxi to the American Embassy; Watch your money; Be patient; Don’t have expectations; Have Seth book a new flight and send copies of my passport; Have enough money for a taxi to the airport; Look for your appointments; Don’t look alone.
I was not alone.
This post sets the scene for one of my favorite stories of my life, and I’ll share it with you in Part 2 in just a few days.