As many of you know, my family and friends provided the opportunity for me to go on a 9-day study tour of Israel. So I'm in Tel Aviv tonight... eagerly awaiting my trip to the Mediterranean Sea and Nazareth tomorrow. I wanted to blog about my experiences as a way of inviting you to experience it with me, and as a way ot journaling my thoughts and feelings.
Unfortunately, since I don't have my laptop with me I won't be adding photos until after I get back.
Here's the first installment (it's not very exciting... check back tomorrow for the real deal :))...
I flew out of Basel/Mulhouse airport on a cold and rainy day. The flight was uneventful. But I did sit next to a couple of young Israeli students. They explained that I was coming to Israel at the most beautiful time of the year - Spring. Because of the Spring rains there is green everywhere and the pools, lakes, seas, etc are all full.
Once I arrived at my hotel (Leonardo) I took an hour or so to walk around the area... it is dirty, but it looks as if they're really trying to bring urban renewal to this area. It is apparently a diamond trading area of the city.
I took a few photos, but there's nothing really photo-worthy yet. This part of the city is modern, with both high-dollar and decaying buildings. The autos are about the same as in Europe, with less German cars. And the building style is different.
I hate the feeling of being illiterate and unable to communicate outside of my native language. I had forgotten this feeling... I only get glimpses of it in France, but then we find someone that either speaks English or German. I'm used to being able to at least communicate in the language of the country I'm visiting (e.g. France, Italy, Netherlands). Hebrew is an entirely different world!
Another interesting thing was the number of people walking around with guns. A guy in flip flops and shorts was walking with a girl, and he had an assault rifle slung over his back. And this was only the first of many that I saw.
The rest of the group should arrive in an hour or so, and I want to be rested for the orientation tonight. I want to get as much as possible out of the trip, so I'm going to take a nap.
I've learned that there are 50 people on this trip. I've met three of the pastors of Seacoast, one of whom is over 7 of their campuses.
After dinner tonight they told us we'll be going to the Mediterranean Sea tomorrow, as well as visiting Nazareth (where I'll need to change into jeans). Can't wait!!!
I have been asking God to make this not just an educational tour, but an emotional and spiritual one as well. It was encouraging to hear the trip leader say that we WILL encounter God, although not where we expect Him. He'll probably show up in unexpected ways in unexpected places. That's exactly what I'm asking for!!!
I miss Robin and the kids already. I wish they were here to experience it with me. This is the most amazing birthday gift I've ever been given.