Summary: Having just returned from a trip to Israel, this is the first of my talks about what I learned. Bethlehem is the place God chose for Jesus to be born... but why Bethlehem and what does the present day city tell us about our faith?

(For those who have been to the Holy Land and are thinking of making a presentation of your experiences, I submit this lesson as a guideline of what worked for my first of several lessons on Sunday Nights).

Set up: My presentation was built around overhead projections of scenes found in Bethlehem. I used pictures I and others have taken of the and made a printed copy (about 8 pages worth) of small pictures of the slides I needed shown in their sequence for the staff in the sound booth to make sure they presented the scenes in their proper order.

Before the presentation I set up a table with items I purchased in Israel and currency I brought back from Israel. As people came in they could come up to the table and ask me questions about the various items.


(Slide of a Turkish Airline Plane in flight)

As you may have guessed, I didn’t take this picture… but this is the type of plane I flew in on my trip to Israel. Our plane left from O’Hare Airport in Chicago at about 10 p.m. and the flight to Istanbul took about 10 hours. In addition to that 10 hour flight I had to take into account that I had flown 8 hours in the future. Right now it’s about 7 p.m., but in Istanbul (and Israel) it’s more like 2 a.m. on Monday morning.

(Slide of the inside of a Turkish airliner)

This is how the seating on my flight appeared. Those screens you see on the backs of the seats are monitors on which I could watch numerous popular movies and TV shows while on the plane. And while this photo gives the impression of spacious seating… it’s not really all that roomy. It wasn’t really cramped… but after 10 hours of sitting (and sleeping) in those seats I was ready to get up and move around a little.

Now the airline has restrictions on how much baggage you can take with you on these flights - 50 pounds for suitcases that they store under the plane and about 17 pounds for carry-on luggage - and I was very meticulous in making sure I adhered to those regulations. But then I saw these foreign guys come back to my section. One of them is a pretty big man and – yes – his ticket has him sitting right next to me. That annoyed me, but (even worse) he seemed to have carry-on luggage that exceeded the limits I had believed were allowed… and that really annoyed me.

But then he gently asked me if his friend could switch seats with me (they were separated by my seat assignment) and he was so polite. We began to talk and I found that he was from Pakistan. In the course of the flight he helped me to figure out the controls for watching movies on my screen and I helped him with something that he was struggling with. He’s a really nice guy. At the end of the flight I told him how pleasant it was to have him sitting next to me and offered my hand to shake his. He smiled and offered instead to “fist bump” with me. And we laugh together.

(Picture of Ataturk Airport in Istanbul)

After 10 hours in the air we landed at Ataturk Airport in Istanbul. Ataturk was the name of one of the prominent leaders and reformers of Turkey’s government. He is still spoken of with respect and reverence by their people, and this airport was named in his honor. We had a layover for about an hour before boarding another plane for Tel Aviv that would last for another 2 hours.

(Picture of “Welcome To Israel” sign at airport)

We finally arrived in Tel Aviv, picked up our luggage and were met by a representative of “Imagine Tours and Travel” and ushered out to our bus and met our guide for the majority of our journey through Israel.

(Slide of our Tour Bus)

Most of the tour buses I saw were like this one made by Mercedes Benz. They are extremely comfortable and spacious. Notice the rear-view mirrors. They look a bit odd, and I’ve not seen anything like them in America, but they are apparently very effective because seemingly every tour company uses buses with this design in Israel. We got on the bus and drove to Bethlehem for our first night’s stay.

(Slide of “Shepherd House Hotel”)

This is a picture of the Hotel we stayed in. Every hotel we stayed at during our trip was either a 4 or 5 star hotel and this hotel was no different. We were treated like royalty and the staff was especially kind and helpful and we stayed here for the first 2 nights of our adventure.

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