KINGSPORT, Tenn. (WJHL) – Early Wednesday morning, 48 members of Sunnyside Baptist church arrived back in Kingsport after visiting religious sites in Israel.
Towards the end of their trip, the group was visiting Mount Masada when Hamas militants attacked Israel.
“While we were up on the mound, we heard the explosion,” said 11th grader Isaac Moody. “And then I knew something wasn’t necessarily right because I saw the look of the tour guide’s face.”
Following the explosion, others began to realize something big was happening around them.
“When we had to stop our tour early and come back to the hotel, I knew something was serious and something was totally up,” said college sophomore Ella Moody.
Emotions began to rise as the conflict began to progress.
“I wasn’t necessarily nervous anymore after the first little thing that happened,” Isaac said. “Until Monday, whenever we had to seek shelter because they had sent some missiles to Jerusalem. That was probably the most scary thing I think I’ve ever been through.”
“The tensions and the anxiousness were very high,” said 8th Grader Tucker Moody. “The emotions, everybody was riled up. We didn’t really know what was going on at the very first point.”
The group was then informed that the location they were at was keeping them safe.
“We actually ended up being in one of the safest places I think that we could have been in Israel,” said Tucker.
The location in which the group was during the attacks was less than 100 miles away. The distance between them, and the knowledge that they were safe from harm helped them feel more secure.
“Once I found out that we were in probably the safest place, it was like a sigh of relief,” said 6th grader Addison Rowland. “It just feels better whenever you know that you’re safe and that you don’t have to worry.”
“It definitely gave me some peace knowing that God was at work,” Ella said. “And we were in the safest place and just knowing that it was all going to be okay, and it definitely was.”
The students say the amount of love and support they received from home helped them feel secure during their difficult situation.
“It gave me a little bit of peace knowing that I had all kinds of prayer warriors back home,” Ella said.
Upon seeing the group of people waiting for them to arrive at the church, the students felt even more support from their community.
“I thought it was just really sweet to know that they would stay up to come back home,” Addison said. “To make sure we’re all safe. And it just shows all the love they have for us.”
Looking back on their trip, the students all said they will take away many memories of their trip.
“It’s definitely an experience none of us are going to forget,” Tucker said. “In good and bad ways. And even while being within a war, we knew that we were in a very holy place. And definitely, we are one of the only few that have ever experienced something like this before in our lives.”