The last day was so much fun, so incredible, and so sad.
We started with an action packed morning, with taking photos, checking into flights online, and meeting Elias Chacour! I have only read one of his books (Blood Brothers) and was an instant fan. Abby and I sat up front and totally fan-girled over every word he said. He is incredibly insightful, hilarious, inspiring, and all over amazing. He had to be somewhere else later, so he came to the hotel to see us which I find really incredible he would go to such lengths to meet us!
We then got back on the bus for one of the last time, and headed to the village where Chacour lives, Ibllin. We saw the Church of the Sermon on the Mount which is gorgeous, and had a commissioning service there. There were each of the beatitudes with an image to go with each one around the walls of the church. What struck me is one of the beatitudes, blessed are the persecuted, there was a modern day image, rather than a Bible story, clearly showing this is a church for the Palestinian people. We were welcomed by the people of Ibillin with a delicious lunch, and learned about the mural they had painted that shows various elements of peace, from the symbols of all three monolithic religions, to peacemakers, to Bible quotes. It was very inspiring to see. We didn't have time to see the school Chacour built for the people of the region, but he told us all about it, providing an education for any child of any religion or background, and I wish we could have seen more than just driving by.
We then drove to Haifa to see the Bahai Temple from below and then above which was stunning, as well as the Stella Maris Monastary. The Bahai Gardens at the top of the mountain was just gorgeous, and we all wanted to move in there. There was a couple getting engaged and another getting wedding pictures taken there, so it's clearly a popular spot!
And now we come to one of my favorite parts- the ocean! We were there to see the ancient Roman aqueducts, but really we all just ran straight to the beach. I wish we had more time or had known more in advance so I could have gone in more than just to where my pants rolled up. We saw one man in a VERY tiny swimsuit strutting around the beach, and then begin to take every single selfie possible. And I don't mean just a picture at the beach, I mean the serene, 'I'm not looking at the camera someone else took this photo of me looking gorgeous' kind of selfies. We watched him for a good 5-10 minutes before we realized we should be taking photos of him taking photos of himself! As we were leaving and putting our shoes back on, he walked by, headed towards some bushes. We had no idea what he was doing until he came out of the bushing wearing an Israeli military uniform! Definitely a highlight of the day!
Finally we got back on the bus to head to Jaffa for our last dinner together. The restaurant had a patio we sat out on and were able to watch the sunset on the ocean as we ate. It was nice to spend a last dinner with everyone, I'm really going to miss these people! We've gotten so close in 10 days and don't want to go home!
Finally one last bus ride to the airport where we had a scare and though they were going to check the whole bus going through security to get to the terminals! But everything was ok and we were able to get to the airport just fine. My flight wasn't until 7:30 the next morning, but everyone else was on a flight at 11pm that night. My plan was to check everything in and just hang out with my new friends until they had to leave, then nap and keep myself entertained until my flight. Well it turns out I couldn't print out my ticket at the kiosk, or check my bag until 3 hours before my flights, so while I was running around trying to figure that out I had to say rushed goodbyes to everyone as they went through the security checkpoint I couldn't go through. I spent 24 hours awake, 11 of those in an airport, and I don't know how I got through it other than reading and internet! I got on my flight, slept pretty much the entire time, and woke up in London, England!