DAPHNE, Ala. (WKRG) — “We heard the air raid sirens and then the explosions, and that’s when the rockets started coming into Tel Aviv.”

For Rev. Thack Dyson, it’s still hard to believe.

“It wasn’t until the intercom in the hotel started blaring in English and Hebrew, ‘Go to your bomb shelter. Go to your bomb shelter,'” that he knew it was real, he said.

What was supposed to have been a two-week tour of the Holy Land was suddenly a war zone.

“It was nerve-wracking,” he said. “We were just hoping to get out while we could.”

Getting out was a challenge in itself. Dyson said domestic flights were immediately canceled. He and his wife were the last to leave the group of 18 enduring a 16-and-a-half-hour flight from Dubai to Houston and then to Pensacola while they were relieved to be home.

“Part of us is still there,” he said. “We love that land. We love the people. We feel for them and hurt for them because they are in this fix.”

In the courtyard of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Daphne is a prayer circle in the shape of the Star of David.

One prayer has already been answered with the safe return of Dyson and the other church members.

“We had a good trip, and all the people said we had a good trip,” Dyson said. “They enjoyed, and they got something spiritually fulfilling out of what we got to see.”

But prayers, he said, are still needed for Israel and for peace.