Sometimes, we would pile out of the car, reverently survey the holy sites and share how dipping our hands into the waters that Jesus walked on added color to our understanding.
Other times, we were just kids, road tripping on any country road, squashed in the backseat and annoying the heck out of our parents.
After a particularly frustrating morning of Hebrew road signs and a few (or ten) missed turns to the Sea of Galilee, my mom snapped her head back and yelled at us to stop joking about irrelevant stuff.
We gave it a moment of respectful silence.
Cody: Do you know what the Sea of Galilee said to the sea gull?
Me: I see Sisi. Wait . . . I was blind but now I see?
Jody: See ya later, sea gull!
Cody: Nah. It said, "I'm single!"
Jody and I looked at each other and ate another hazelnut wafer.
Cody: Yeah, I didn't get it either.
Soon, our mom crumbled and joined in.
Mom: I have a joke. A snail went to the Salt Lake and said uh oh, this was the Dead Sea!
Mom: Put that on your blog! It's my first joke! I made it up last night before going to bed.
(Before you judge, let me say that my mom has the best Chinese fart jokes. Ever. Perhaps our hummus diet this week and collective indigestion inspired her. Cody will try telling them in his Mandarin class next time to see if he scores extra points.)
We weren't the only ones taking liberties.
A Chinese tour guide sat solemnly on a rock and started intoning her version of biblical stories to her nodding atheist tourists:
"Once there were fishermen who gave up their fishing boats to follow Jesus because they thought they would get better lives once He became King. After He was crucified, they were mad because they had to start all over again. So they came back to this village and tried to fish in vain until Jesus came back from the dead and helped them catch fish. Then they realized that they were not very good at fishing so they became teachers instead."
Next time I'm contemplating a career move, I better read up on the apostles.
Camels on the road side always makes me feel like
Lawrence of Arabia.
Hummus. Falafel. Shawerma. Tehina. Chicken Shishlik.
These soldiers like photos. And texting.