If you’re reading this newsletter, there’s a good chance your life is pretty good. That can be said for most people living in America. I am writing this article from a hotel room in Jordan where my wife and I, along with our tour group of 44 people, fled across the Israel border the day after Hamas started shooting rockets into Israel. We spent a day hunkered down in our hotel in Jerusalem before loading on a bus and heading north toward the Jordanian border to escape into safety. About an hour after we left, we heard that rockets had landed relatively close to the hotel we just left. Our tour operator had a representative who could not contact us for about 8 hours because she was hunkered down in a bomb shelter back in Jerusalem.
After a long line at the border, about ten passport and security checks, and a stop at an ancient Roman city in Jordan to tour for two hours, we checked into a lovely Hotel in Ahman, Jordan. The trip had been initially planned to continue for another four days in Jordan to see a few sights there.
Most of the people in our group were freaked out and just wanted to cancel the rest of the trip and get home. I was included in the cancel group, although I was not panicking. I was just sick of the trip and wanted to get home. For the next 12 hours or so, we experienced our own level of chaos in a hotel meeting room, which amounted to trying to figure out how to book flights home, with airlines canceling flights worldwide due to the outbreak of war in Israel and rescheduling hotel rooms in beautiful hotels in a safe area.
We finally got word that the tour company had booked us on flights, but they would not get us home until about the same time we were originally scheduled to arrive. The flights were a bit longer, with an extra stop or two. In my case – along with most of the group - we were stuck in the Crown Plaza Hotel for the next 3 to 4 days. And it would not cost us any money because the travel company had already told us they are covering all costs to get us home no matter how long it took or how much it cost.
Oh, the Humanity! (reference from the Hindenburg crash). Many in the group were utterly distraught and did all they could to get different flights home so they could arrive a day or two earlier. One couple spent an extra $6,000 - just to arrive home Wednesday vs. Friday.
As I took all this in and then watched the horror I saw on TV, with real people dying and real people hiding in bunkers below buildings that are destroyed by bombs and people being kidnapped and beheaded by terrorists, I had to slap myself. To think that we spoiled Americans are freaking out because we are inconvenienced a little on a vacation that 90% of the world could never afford in a lifetime is really sad. I don’t want to minimize the fact that different people deal with stressful situations in different ways, and those who experience real anxiety are in real pain. I also don’t want to minimize the fact that we got lucky and we could be in a bomb shelter right now.
But we are not, and that’s the whole point.
We were never in any real danger. From the time the bombing hit until we crossed the border, it was 24 hours. During that entire time, it was quiet at our hotel, and the two-hour drive to the border was on a road with almost zero traffic and no sign of any military activity anywhere. All the action was 60 miles away.
So come on! We need to get some perspective!
We have it so good in the USA. Even our poor have a great life compared to a large portion of the world. Why do you think people risk everything to illegally cross the border to get to America?
Yes, knowing that I was this close to a very volatile situation was a bit scary, but the reality is we got out of it quickly with very little pain and just a little inconvenience. I was overwhelmed by the outpouring of messages of prayer and support we have received since this started – from close friends, family, and people we have not heard from in years.
It is moving.
My wife and I decided to embrace this moment, be thankful for what we have, and go with the flow – wherever it takes us. I will thank God that I have the resources to go with the flow, and if I am stuck in a luxury hotel for a few extra days – or even weeks – it will not kill us. We are so lucky, in so many ways, and we need to realize that.
We are approaching the time of year when we all give thanks. This season will be even more meaningful as I reflect on what we have vs. what it could have been had we been born in the desert with the Bedouins that we saw on the side of the road during this trip, or those who live their lives wondering when the next bomb will drop. I would encourage anyone reading this to sit back and look at your life, friends, and family and be thankful.