FROM THE MIDDLE OF THE PACIFIC OCEAN

Ni Sa Bula (a big hello) from Fiji.  My wife, Patti, and I are in the last month of our fabulous 77-day voyage aboard the luxurious Seabourn Odyssey, headed toward American Samoa.

Here are some recent developments relating to matters discussed in the book:

The first is on "The Buzz" page of this website.  Please take a look at the article datelined, "Haaretz Daily Newspaper: Jerusalem."

The second is about the war in Syria.  Because of the conflict, Turkey and some Balkan countries have decided to forego trucking their goods, destined for Gulf States and Saudi Arabia, overland through Syria.  Instead, they have begun shipping the goods by sea to Haifa, trucking them through Israel's Jezreel and Bet Shean Valleys, and crossing the Jordan River just south of "Kibbutz Haziv" described in the book. The goods then make their way overland through Jordan to their destinations.  This is another way Israel is building bridges, both literally and figuratively, to various Arab States in the Persian Gulf and Saudi Arabia.

I learned about the third development when a couple from Auckland, New Zealand, boarded our ship a few days ago.  They immediately bought the book (which I'm pleased to report sold out of the ship's boutique giftshop shortly thereafter) and told us that the "real world" character upon whom (part of) the character of Banjo Braham is based, is, indeed, confined to Israel, most likely for the rest of his life.  However, his New Zealand-based parents, friends of this Auckland couple, are given an annual two-month vacation to visit him, courtesy of the Israeli government.

The fourth and final development I hope will make you smile if you haven't already.  I was pleased to have been invited to present the book to our former congregation in Auckland.  We were only in port for a few hours that day and the only convenient time for the gathering was from 4-5 pm on a Wednesday afternoon. As usual, I read the beginning of chapter 21 as part of the presentation, the bit about "Tipene Solomon."  Because of his work commitments, the real Tipene could not be present.  However, his phone that night and the following day must have rung off the hook as many of those who did attend, evidently, called in to report to him. Two days later I received an email from him, ordering the book.  I was able to ship it to him from the tip of the South Island just before we set sail for Australia.

Now you know the rest of the story!

Vinaka Vaka Levu (thanks very much) for checking in!

RD