NOTE: It may not appear so but I do read everyone's comments. I just wanted to let you know and trust me I've heard you about Vit's behavior. And Veta's as well. I try not and right fairytales where everyting goes just so all the time. Sometimes life simply sucks. Vit and Veta are still "newlyweds" if not newly wed. There's a sharp learning curve and two people don't necessarily grow at the same pace all the time. There will be a "come to Jesus moment" but it is still a little ways off. A few lessons need to be learned by both of them along the way. Plus there is the Peace Mission with its twists and turns.

I just want to thank everyone for reading! There is still a ways to go but I have it all outlined.


Chapter 114: May 7 – Haifa, Israel (1)

Vit is not well. I woke up last night/early this morning to hear him vomiting in the bathroom. I smelled it as soon as I walked in. Vodka. I had not realized he had started drinking it again. Not that I hadn't seen him drinking. I mean drinking the vodka as a means to relax when he was agitated or stressed. The problem is not how much he drinks but the old injuries he suffered that have left him with a sensitive stomach. Stress is bad enough but then to put vodka on top of it? He knows better. Or should.

He was definitely agitated. Guy's hate puking. "Do not say anything Veta."

Calmly I replied, "I haven't even opened my mouth."

"I can hear your thoughts."

I gave him the same look Momma would sometimes give us when we said something stupid. He had the grace to look contrite. He said forlornly, "Forgive me. I am being a bad husband."

I sighed. "Stop doing this to yourself. You're stressed. I'm sure there are things going on that I do not know about since you have a higher security clearance. I am sure there are … other things … involved as well. But the vodka … it isn't helping." I stopped there because he was obviously already miserable. He belched and I nearly gagged. The odor was worse than a full drunk. I knew his stomach was sour but that was by far more malodorous than I was prepared for.

I expected some embarrassment and resistance but he allowed me to help him shower. Afterwards, he was surprised and grateful that I had restocked the small pints of milk that I've been keeping in our cabin refrigerator. When I went to get him a couple of antacids as well, I realized he must have been all but living on the things while I had been away. I gave him two and added to my personal chores to go down to our storage cage and get another bottle.

"Vit …"

Defensively he said, "Not now Veta. My head aches badly."

"All I'm going to say, then I'll shut up, is if this gets worse you need to see the ship's doctor. It could be an active ulcer."

"Nii."

"Yes. And if I can wrangle the brats to make them see someone besides Derrick …"

"Veta …"

"No negotiations on this. I love you and hate to see you in pain. Hang the cost or anything else you might be thinking. Your health comes first."

The look he gave me almost broke my heart. It was the last thing I would have expected to see there. It wasn't anger … it was surprise, and a surprising vulnerability. Maybe I'm not doing something right. How could he be surprised about such a thing? It didn't take him long to fall into an exhausted but restless sleep. His sleep was so restless in fact I didn't both getting back in the bed and dozed a bit and woke up just in time to stop the alarm clock from going off. He had a low grade fever but it looked like it was sweating it out. I wish there is someone I could ask to keep an eye on him but there is no one that wouldn't compromise our positions.

Today we were in Haifa. How I wish I could have been here as something other than a glorified babysitter; the Israeli government provided of today's real security, I just played Crossing Guard. I've always wanted to visit Israel even when my siblings thought me mad. Yes, it can be dangerous, but the history, the atmosphere … the ghosts of the ancient past. It was good … it could have been amazing.

Once I got to the gangway I found out we had a couple of students that were held back by their parents. One was a strict Muslim adherent and the other objected to the non-secular portions of the excursion. I don't think there were any hard feelings and it wasn't a last-minute choice. It happens on occasion. And parents are within their rights to pick and choose what they find objectionable to their worldview. So long as the student(s) complete an assignment in the excursion's place there have been no major problems.

Today we visited some of the most important places in the life of Jesus. First, we met our private guide outside Haifa Port, and then traveled east by air-conditioned minibus to Nazareth, roughly an hour away. The holy city, nestled into the Galilean Hills, is home to one of the most important shrines in Christianity – the Church of the Annunciation – where the Angel Gabriel is said to have appeared to the Virgin Mary. Inside the basilica we looked around and learned of the site's significance as a Christian pilgrimage destination while admiring the architecture. Another sacred site – St Joseph's Church – is nearby, so we strolled over to it next. Built on the ground where Joseph of Nazareth's carpentry workshop is said to have stood, the church is fascinating to explore with a network of crypts beneath its main prayer hall.

After walking around the church, we left Nazareth and continued our tour of the Holy Land by minibus. I must say that our guide reminded me a little of an old cartoon character called Miss Frizzle. She had a magic school bus that would turn into different forms of transportation and our guide used similar techniques to get the students' imaginations working. I rather admired her. As I said, I wished I could have enjoyed it more on a personal level without having to be constantly aware of my other responsibility, which was providing security. Or more correctly acting as a babysitter for those members of our group – not all of whom were students – to keep them in bounds and moving in a timely fashion.

We passed through the tiny village of Cana and stopped for photos at the Church of the Multiplication on the banks of the Sea of Galilee. It was here that one of the New Testament's most famous parables – the feeding of the 5,000 – reportedly took place.

Then we continued around the foot of Mount Beatitudes to the ancient fishing village of Capernaum, and saw the ruins of Jesus' much-celebrated synagogue. During our walk we took a break for lunch using boxed meals provided by the B and then traveled onward toward the city of Tiberias on the Jordan River. There we stopped at the baptismal site of Yarendit, to walk along its sacred riverbanks and learned about the baptismal rituals that take place at the water's edge. There were people there getting baptized much the same way as they had over the last two thousand years. I was suddenly so lonely for Poppa and Derrick that it nearly drove me to tears.

One of the women there who'd been eyeing me suspiciously suddenly was all friendly and said, "Yes, it is quite affecting. I was under the impression you were … hmmm … secular."

"I was raised in the Russian Orthodox church prior to my adoption but …" I gave her a brief synopsis to give myself time to distance myself from my emotions. It was the same memorized synopsis I have used for years.

"I had no idea!" she said. "My brother is adopted ." And then she shared her story and I must admit that there was a connection there and I felt less … something. Maybe less lonely but more it was less … invisible I guess. Yeah, that was it, less lonely. So stupid. But that is how it felt.

We journeyed to Canaan of old and crossed the coastal mountain range and back towards Nazareth, stopping at the Yigal Alon Museum, where we discovered an archaeological treasure that rocked the worlds of archaeology, history and religion when it was found in 1986 – the Galilee Boat, a 2,000-year-old fishing vessel discovered in the mudflats of Galilee. Exhaustive scientific research places the fishing boat in the time and place of Jesus along the Sea of Galilee. As an added treat we boarded a working replica of the boat and sailed the waters of Galilee on a guided tour to see how fishermen in Jesus' time lived and worked. We learned about this rural area's many kibbutzim – farming communities which teach self-reliance, collective action and civic responsibility.

Back in Nazareth we went to two markets. The first was The Shuk, the most popular open-air market in the city. There was a massive variety of spices, plus the freshest fruits and vegetables. There were also tasty sunflower and pumpkin seeds on sale, as well as dried fruits. Yes, I managed to pick up a few treats thinking that Vit and I might use them as healthy snacks. I admit I was mostly thinking of Vit's stomach, but I manage to eat some as well which was probably good as it was turning into a long day. The other market we visited is in Haifa's Hadar neighborhood. The Talpiot Market is a large market that also had fresh fruits, vegetables, dried fruits, nuts and seeds. That kind of food is very popular in Israel.

It was finally back to the ship and the students and other adults were very tired. I on the other hand had a report to write up but first I wanted to check on Vit. I texted him to let him know I was back aboard. I didn't expect a response has he normally does not give one but I was surprised by, "Could you please bring me a milk? I am in the Communications area."

I killed two birds with one stone. I took him a carton of milk and sat at an empty workstation in the security area and wrote up my report. Since there had been no real issues or incidences today's report was short and quickly submitted. Before leaving – Vit was still on duty – I stuck my head in and took of the empty carton and with hand gestures asked if he wanted another. He didn't and told me what time he'd be off-duty and not to wait up. But he seemed … calmer … than he had for the last few days. Maybe whatever happened is finally getting out of his system. I don't know. All I know is that I'm exhausted. I would wait up for Vit but I have another excursion tomorrow, once again in Haifa.