Saturday, January 23, 2010

Home :)

Well, after an amazing 3 weeks abroad, Alan and I have made it home safely.

We were warned that the security out of the Tel Aviv would be a long and drawn out process- complete searches of checked bags right in front of you, major x-rays of bags, personal searches, etc. However, we actually made it out of Tel Aviv without any major holdups.

When you first walk into the Tel Aviv Ben Gurion Airport you go to zone A, B, C, or D depending on the company you're flying. We entered and headed towards Brussels Airline- section A. A security person, a young female (there were a number of young employees, a lot of them women, and we wondered if this is a possible site to learn security if you are in the army. That being said, any Israeli citizen aged 18-40 has to do 2 years in the army at the age of 18 and then stays in reserve until 40.) She asked us all the usual questions: how do we know one another, who packed our bags, did we receive any presents, and then she congratulated us on our engagement. It was a very friendly and pleasant encounter.

Step number two: take your checked on baggage to these GIANT x-ray machine. This machine was definitely bigger than an MRI machine. They had two of these machines in our zone. We plopped in our checked baggage and they shot out the other end :) My bag cleared and was good to go. Alan's, on the other hand, had to be checked for further examining. We figured that would happen because.....

We stepped up to the counter and the young woman asked: "do you have Dead Sea products in your bag?" (Yep, they're good alright...She had her own personal computer screen with Alan's bag on the counter in front of her. In Alan's bag, we had a pop bottle's worth of Dead Sea mud (Come on, it costs like 35 bucks for packaged mud! There was no way we'd actually buy that!! haha) and then we had a pop bottle's worth of salt we got from the bottom too. There was also two zip lock bags of salt crystals that were really cool and scavenged from the bottom of the sea. He told her where they were exactly in the bag, along with the location of his shaving cream, razor and any other soaps or shampoos, and we were all cleared. She didn't even open up the bag!

After we got our tickets, we were on to round number 2 of security- the classic carry on baggage x-rays with metal detectors. They were also very friendly there...and Alan got a little smile, which turned into a bigger smile from the one young woman when he pulled a bright pink lap top from his bag...hahaha...poor Alan.

After that though, we were good to go!!

We jumped on our plane at 0 35 (1230, love it!) and we took off around 120.

This is where the night gets long...haha

Even though we stayed in the terminal, we had to go through another carry-on screen.
Both of our bags got pulled to be hand searched.
The bag that I was carrying that got searched got pulled because of a metal menorah hahaha. That would be a real low if you had to stab someone with that!
As we were closing up that bag, the airport workers said, 'this sure is a holy bag!' hahaha. Yes indeed. Although, it did make me think, it was like an interfaith dialogue conference in my bag with crosses, rosaries, and then a menorah!! Love it!
Alan's bag got pulled because we had water in it (we didn't realize we had to go through the check in because we were not leaving the airport). But the guy was really nice and asked if he could dump the water, but he wasn't allowed. At that point, he let Alan go out and dump it and come back through.
Well, on his 2nd way through, he got pulled for a random search! (poor Alan haha) So, he got frisked and underwear checked and shoe bomb checked and he was good to go! The man was very apologetic though and said that the machine beeps on say, 1 in 5 people and that person is the one to get searched further. Although, what we were seeing, it seemed they were going through a lot of bags and personally searching a lot of people.

At that point, it was 530 in the morning in Belgium. The airport was great and had these couch lounge areas with no lights on. We found two love seats next to one another and each laid down. We slept until about 9am. It was really wonderful!

At 1030 we made out way to the gate. We got in one line- turns out since we had a transfer into the airport, we had to get new boarding passes. Blah. After waiting for 25 min in the 2nd line, we had to proceed to another line for questioning!

This woman was cruel to us. She grilled us for about 10-15 min on our lack of flight itinerary (we didn't print one, we simply printed our boarding passes), on how we even got to Israel, on who's passports she was holding and questioned whether we had another set of passports, on why we didn't get them stamped in Zurich on the way over (we never left the airport so we didn't have to go through customs until Israel), on who bought the tickets (Alan) and on what site (Cheap tickets. com). She was going nuts on us! Who knows what she was getting at, and I understand that they really have our safety in mind, but it was a bit much.

After that grilling, we were selected to go through another search! Bah! So, we waited for 30 min that line. There were only 3 people (and only 1 woman!!) searching/frisking. For a huge flight, they were severely understaffed for our flight. We got our carry-on bags hand searched and ripped apart (for the 2nd time in that airport, mind you) and then we got frisked. Now, the thing is, we all went through the first screening to get to that terminal. But only the people who transfered in to that airport had to go through the next search and frisking. It just does not make sense! If you're going to search half the people, why not do all at that point?!
Ugh, anyways, we left 35 min late because of that. But, we still arrived at time in DC.

We arrived around 240pm Friday and had a friend pick us up. We had no problems in customs. We came back to the seminary (45 min drive from the airport) and threw our stuff in the car and began our journey north.

Once we got to Franklin, we started unloading- both our physical things and then our memories.

There seems to be so much that we have yet to learn from this trip-
the spiritual aspects, the questions of the historicity of holy sites and then the consumerism at the sites
the complex situation of the Palestinian/Israeli conflicts within Israel and the West Bank and the Gaza strip
how we're going to integrate our reflections and transformations into our lives at home
These are just the very beginning of unfolding this trip, fleshing it out, having grist for the mill, or whatever metaphor you want to use for reflection hahaha.

I'm so glad that all could have a chance to read a bit into what we were experiencing. Thanks for all your prayers and kind thoughts over our journey.

Oh Jerusalem, Alan and I were so blessed to have seen this earthly one, as we await for the heavenly one...Jerusalem, my happy home! Name ever dear to me; When shall my labors have an end, In joy, and peace, and thee?...

There's a song we sang in Jerusalem:
10 measures of beauty, God gave to the world, 9 for Jerusalem, 1 for the rest. (Repeat 3x)
10 measures of sorrow, God gave to the world, 9 for Jerusalem, 1 for the rest. (Repeat 3x)
So prayer for the peace, pray for the peace, pray for the peace of Jerusalem...

Blessings on wherever you might be in your own journeys...It's great to be home...

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The final days...

Apologies for not updating lately...the trip seems to be winding down and so does my blogging enthusiasm :)

Monday Morning: We got up early and prayed the stations of the cross. We walked with our cross to the first station and ended up on the roof of the Church of the Resurrection/Holy Sepulcher. Because so many denominations already split it, you cannot do the final stages inside the building (something like the remaining 4 or 5 (?) stations). After that, we ate breakfast in the Old City and then went into the church to see Calvary, the stone of anointing and then the tomb. Pretty cool stuff.

After that, we had a free afternoon. Came back, and well, napped hahaha. It was cold and rainy and gross outside. So, we got pizza and ate and relaxed the rest of the afternoon. It was much needed. At 6 we had a debriefing on how to get out of the Israeli airport. Apparently it's a pretty serious thing: individual interviews, questions, things like that. Then din din and then we had a final lecture on pilgrimage. LONG day....

Tuesday: We got up and headed off to Emmaus- Now, it turns out there are 4 Emmauses, so we chose one and headed off in that direction. The plan was to walk the road to Emmaus like those at the end of the Gospel of Luke but as mentioned before, it had been raining for about 24 hours straight, so it was flooded... : ( So, we had Eucharist at a monastery and headed back. After lunch, we napped again (you can tell it's near the end of the trip haha). Then, we headed out for the ultimate search to finish buying souvenirs.

The market here is one of haggling, and I hate it. There are no prices on things, so when you ask a price, you enter into a commitment and conversation which pretty much assumes you'll buy on the way out. So, we went into one store and they started very high and since it was a gift for my mother, why were we being so stingy in buying gifts for her. We walked out.

Next stop, he started out even higher, and tried to offer us two pairs. He chased us out of his store and was holding onto Alan's arm....yet again, a corridor of Old City we can't go back in, hahaha. Good thing we're leaving in a day...

So FINALLY, we went into a shop that said 5 shekels for pair. Wow, about a buck a pair?! Yes please! So we found a pair, 65 shekels?!?!?! WHAT! No, no, no, no, no, this would not do. So, in the end, with them getting pissy we got two pairs of earrings for 20 shekels...not bad when they started out at 65 each, right?

So, we were done. DONE shopping. We love everyone, but this is too much hahaha, I can't wait to get into America where know prices and that you can look without buying!! grrrrrr.

After that, we had a reception/hymn sing/skit time at the Deanery. It was nice- we received certificates for the program and tiles from St. George's. :)

Then, dinner, and bed......

Wednesday morn- another incredible day that I didn't think would be incredible haha

We started off to just wander...BUT, we ended up going into a Russian church which had the most and best archaeological remains of Constantine's basilica. This coupled with AMAZING icons and the Russian's own Calvary made this a winning find.

NEXT- the holy sepulcher. Supposedly, in the Armenian church, there is a 1st century inscription in one of their hidden chapels. This is one from some of the first pilgrims to Jerusalem. In Latin, it says: We have arrived.

We went into the Armenian's office. At first, the young priest didn't seem to go for it, but our fearless leader Sally talked him into it. We were in!!!!!!!! We headed into the Armenian altar...he opened a locked door, we headed down into the quarry that existed since who knows when and is what the church is built from, we then headed further down into another church, and there it was!!!

It is this boat on a wall with the Latin written under it. Wow, I mean, WOW!!!! Not very many people get to see this!!! Then, the priest gave us a blessing in Armenian!!! How cool is that?!?!

I mean, just incredible!!!

After that, we headed off to check out some Armenian pottery. We ate lunch in the Jewish corner and then, headed down to the Wester Wall tunnels!!!

This is also a site to see- one that you have to call and reserve and sometimes it takes two month to get tickets! But we were in!!! I can't really even explain this!! We were under the newest renovations to the Western Wall. Now, this is the continued section of the Wailing Wall- same wall....

Inside, we saw the biggest stone in the wall! It was'll have to ask Alan the measurements hahaha. Apparently, it started out taller though and when the Romans came to destroy the temple and city, this block was so big they just started chipping away at the top, and then eventually gave up, but not before taking off 4 feet...

Then, there is this tiny section of the wall that is proved to be the closest section to where the Holies of Holies would have sat on the Temple Mount. Just a beautifully moving section to be in...
Then, we walked through this narrow tunnel of wall space, we saw 20 feet down into more wall, we saw cisterns, and pools of water and then we were done. I mean, one of the best things we've done here! (Although, at this point, I could say that about a lot hahaha). The tunnels were just over an hour with a tour guide.

We headed back to the college and hung out and began packing and wrapping all our valuables. We got some crosses for churches that are special to Alan and I back home and the one already broke!! :( These were hand made and supposed to be of wonderful quality...lame. But, it was just the end, so we'll fix it with wood glue....and it will be as good as new :)

We then went out to din and now I'm catching up this ole blog.

Tomorrow, we plan on getting up at 445am and heading into one more quiet time at the Holy Sepulcher. Once you get past 6 am, it's tour groups galore and super annoying when you're trying to pray...So, we'll take all the rosaries we bought and rub them on the stone of Christ's tomb. We'll also take some more candles and lights them on the Holy Fire.

Besides that, I'll spend the night packing. We have some Dead Sea salt we pulled from the bottom of the Sea to package up :)

I might not blog tomorrow, so, if not, I'll see you in the states! Our flight leaves at 130 am Friday, and we'll leave from the college at 845pm to get to the airport. Good night!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Sunday 1-17

Today is another day off- thank goodness.

Alan got up at 315am and headed to the Holy Selpucher for some alone time at Calvary, rock of the anointing and the tomb. He also worshiped in a Latin Catholic mass. Fun stuff.

We have a lecture at 430 today on the Way of the Cross (Via Dolorosa) in which we are participating in tomorrow at 6 am (to beat the tourists).

Besides that, the time is winding down here. Crazy fast!!

We're going to hit up Hezekiah's Tunnels for sure today and whatever else happens happens...


Saturday 1-16

This Saturday, there was an optional trip to Masada, Qumran, and the Dead Sea.

We drove an hour and a half to Masada first. The views going along the Dead Sea were just beautiful with the early morning sun shining.

When we got to Masada, we waited for a cable car. (There is a path up the mountain called snake path, but it takes an hour to hike, and being with a group made that impossible.) So we rode up the cable car and landed on top of King Herod's palace. King Herod built a variety of palaces to get away from all of his enemies. After the construction, Herod did use it to entertain, but probably not as much as he hoped because he died shortly after the construction. Another story is that a group of Jews were living in Masada and the Romans came to attack. After months of building a ramp to get their war machines up the mountain. The Romans did indeed make it up the ramp, burned the doors, took down the walls, and retreated to start afresh and attack the inhabitants the next day. Legend has it that instead of becoming slaves, their leader convinced them to all die. They had drawn lots for 10 people to kill everyone. They drew another lot for the one out of the 10 to kill all the other nine people and then that last guy killed himself. This story is debated (eh, I'd believe it) but they have found archaeological evidence of the lots of names.

Although this place was pretty much a ruins pile, they had rebuilt various buildings like the bath house. Alan really liked it because it is an engineering marvel. He really liked the system that collected flash floods that would supply Masada with water for the year. (It would also supply the bathhouses, swimming pools, etc. So much for being in a desert hahaha.)

After that, we headed off to Qumran. This was pretty disappointing, as you can only see one or two of the caves in which they found the dead sea scrolls. Also, the closest cave was about 200 feet away and you couldn't even explore. But they did have the ruins of the Essenes settlement...ritual baths, scriptorium, more ritual baths...(They REALLY like purifying themselves.)

Next up, and FINALLY (yay!) THE DEAD SEA!!!!!!!!!!!! Alan noted that the beach we were on was surrounded by land mines...oh well, just can't wander too far off the beaten path haha.

I could've spent all day relaxing at the Dead Sea. Now, there are a variety of health precautions to this because of the uber high salt content- don't shave the day of, don't get the water in your eye (really don't even put your face in the water), don't drink it, and inhaling it can kill you. Lovely.

But, besides that, it was an incredible experience! It was crazy just floating around with no effort. You can only stay in for 15 min max and then wash off with fresh water. So, we stayed in for 15, I coated myself with dead sea mud and sat out until it dried. Washed off, and then we hopped back in to collect dead sea mud and salt. (Now, of course they sell this stuff, but it's ridiculously priced!!, we collected our own :) ) There are just giant salt formations out there that you can collect from.

That was just wonderful. Loved it!!

After that, we came back home around 330 and relaxed, did laundry and other practical things. (One among them was to take a long shower....and I still felt like I smelled like Dead Sea...haha)

We had dinner and then we walked into the Old City and wandered to the Wall and the rooftop walk.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Friday 1-15-10

Annnnnnnd another wonderful day in the Holy Land :)

We hit up 6 churches today...and had 4 reflections mixed in on various topics.

We started off in the place where Jesus told his disciples to get the donkey for Palm Sunday.

The juxtaposition of barbed wire and cross still gets me...

Next, as we were on the Mount of Olives we heading down the hill to Dominus Flevit. (And Jesus Wept.) Not to be confused with Jesus weeping over Lazarus. This is the Jesus weeping over the city scene- as Jesus longed to gather up the flock like a hen over her brood...Beautiful beautiful views of the city, particularly the temple mount was right across from this site. (Makes sense crucifixion wise...) I spoke with the monk here- he originally came from California and he said he was called by the Holy See to come to Jerusalem. He's been here for 21 years and it is still a joy to be here in this land. What an amazing man and conversation.

After, we went to the Garden of Gethsemane. This was by far my absolute favorite church and we did not have enough time. As evidenced in my blog and the pictures, I LOVEEEEEEEEEE mosaics. This church was covered, floor to ceiling, in mosaics. And it was dark, and lovely. This is the place where Jesus asked God 'to let this cup pass from me, but be it your will, not mine...' We touched the rock in which Jesus wept over.

Next- Mary's tomb- It was orthodox- Greek and Armenians split it. It was neat. Besides a bunch of people cutting in front of us before the tomb and then consequently took FOREVER in there. But alas, I need to be more sensitive and patient for those ahead of me. Hahaha. But it was cool- walked down maybe 40-60 feet underground into this cave of Mary. The entrance to the plaza of the church was probably about 20 feet below and then the 'cave another 40. Love it.

Next up- lunch at the Lutheran Hospice. Also good stuff. And the most AMAZING cake ever! It was a giant ho-ho. We counted and alloted ourselves 1.5 piece each. When the time was done, there were two pieces left, so 6 of us played a game to win them. I won!! (With a classmate.) In the end, we split it up between the remaining 6 vultures, aka us, that wanted the dessert, but it was a lot of fun.

We also saw some of the most beautiful stoles I've ever seen- handmade by this man in a tiny shop in the street.

Next- St. Mark's Syrian Orthodox Church and the place of the Last Supper. A sister of the church, named Justina sang the Lord's Prayer in Aramaic for us. She also told us stories of the Holy Spirit and how she still comes and makes it able for communication between understanding different languages. (This is the site of Pentecost...and the first church...) The Upper Room Down is what she kept referring to the place of the Last Supper as. And, since it's from the olden days, it is down archaeologically. So we headed 'down' in the 'upper room.' Very cool. It was this tiny room, about the size of a dorm room. Also fun fact, you can't 'cross' body parts in the Syrian church. You can't cross your legs and things like that because you're only supposed to cross yourself intentionally. (But my roommate informs me, as with anything, there are 3 of any 'holy site' hahaha.

After that we went to the Church of St. Peter in Galicantu (means the cock crow). This was a modern church, built in the 1930s :) Once again though, a stunning display of mosaics and stained glass. THEN! Underneath this church is the supposed tomb of Jesus. Going down one level is another church. Going down two levels are tunnels of rock formation and the tomb of Jesus. On the outside of the church is most certainly proven a 1st century staircase.

We returned to the college around 430 and have been relaxing, updating/uploading until dinner at 7.
At 8 we have yet another lecture on Christians in the Holy Land. I can see how this will go- there really aren't any left here...however, it'll be good to study some more root causes and explore the complex issues of the land.

Tomorrow- big day! Optional (but of course we're going!!! 12/17 are going) side trip to DEAD SEA, MASADA, and QUMRAN. This will be incredible! Alan just said, we owe your parents a huge thanks for these tour guide, here it is, Dad and Mom, your books and maps have aided us greatly in this land. :) Love you!!!

PS, tomorrow night, we might spend the night in the Holy Sepulcher (you can get locked in!!)'s not like Alan or I to be late night people, as most who know us know...however, this sounds like it could be an amazing spiritual experience!

Hope everyone has a lovely weekend- pray for us when you go to church on Sunday ;)

Thursday 1-14-10

After today's adventures (Friday), Thursday looks relaxing!

A run down of Thursday:

Went up to the Temple Mount!! I think I mentioned this before, but this holy site has been inhabited by a number of the different religions over the years. It is currently owned by the Muslims and the temple on it is called Al-Haram Ash Sharif. The other mosque on this site is Al Aqsa Mosque. As non-Muslims, we were not able to enter these holy sites. And side note, this site is owned by Muslims but controlled by the Israeli govt. Very interesting and complex land...

Back to the main temple, the decorations on the outside are just beautiful- very ornate and colorful.
We saw from the inside the golden gates- these are the supposed gates that the Messiah will walk through when the Messiah comes (according to Jews).
We also talked about the context of Jesus 'cleansing the temple.' This would have been where it happened.

Next site: the Pools of Bethesda. This would have been where Jesus healed a man that has been sick for 38 years. Good stuff. The ruins were phenomenally well preserved. The rainwater of Jerusalem would have run right into these baths. We also checked out the crusader church St. Anne's which is right beside the pools.

After that, we had lunch in a French monastery named Ecce Homo. Good stuff.

Then, onto the Wailing Wall. I placed my prayers in the wall. This place is simply powerful, and I still do not know how to explain or articulate why. Some spots are holy and sacred, and the wailing wall sticks out to me as one of those.

After that, we moved into the southern excavations. They have proved in the last 20 years that this part of the wall is also Herod's Wall just as the Wailing Wall portion is. The blocks were huge, and I can really imagine being shocked as a disciple when Jesus said not one stone will be left upon another.

Also, on a wedding note, a bride and a groom with their two flower girls were getting their pictures taken on the steps that would have led into Herod's temple. Pretty sweet. How amazing would those wedding pictures be!?!

After that, we went on an extensive search for stoles. It looks like the best price is 20 dollars, and if we are getting a bunch, we're hoping to haggle 'em down- all in good fun, and of course the search for the cheapest goods in the Old City...

After din, we had a lecture from a man that worked for the Palestinian Liberation Organization. Well, to be sure, he certainly was not balanced at all, as the Israeli professor was that came the other night. However, it was great to hear another side of the story. But, alas, he went on forever and at 920 the leader FINALLY called it and said, thanks for coming, if you wanna stay and ask more questions, please feel free. So, we booked it. After a full day of touring, come 8/9, you're really beat.


Thursday, January 14, 2010

Wednesday 1-15-10

Note to those reading, sorry for the typos or confusing sentences...I do not proof before I post...

On to the next day!

We departed from our lovely hotel at 745 for Mount Tabor. This was the supposed site of the Transfiguration.

We took taxis up this huge hill (they said it would take 2 hours to walk up) and first had a Eucharist. I was the chalice bearer. It was nice- in little covered enclave in front of the church. Inside the beautiful church (complete with mosaics :) ) was the side 'tents' (mini chapels) for Elijah and Moses.

After that, we headed into Jericho. Someone commented that after visiting Jericho, no wonder Joshua wanted to destroy it. The context of that is: Jericho is in the West Bank- a Palestinian city (Just like Bethlehem). So, what we're learning is (and skip ahead if you know a lot about this situation): the Jews and the Palestinians have been fighting for ages over this land. The Palestinians right now have the West Bank (of the Jordan River) and the Israeli's have basically closed off a bunch of there cities by something like over 200 checkpoints and have stop imports and exports and have basically destroyed their economies. So, Jericho was the worst place I think I've ever been. The outskirts of Jericho is literally in a desert hell. When you get to the middle, it is an oasis in the desert with plants and trees, but it is simply tragic what oppression leads to.

After Jericho, we stopped and looked over the desert. You could basically draw a straight line to Jerusalem of where we've been, and they suspect Jesus walked somewhere down their to get to Jerusalem haha. The desert was stunning though. (We don't have those pics up yet, but we'll get there :) )

When we headed back into Jerusalem, we read Psalms. It gives a whole new meaning when you read about ascending the holy hill and you're really doing it!

We got back and although I wasn't a huge fan of the city of Jerusalem before (dirty, busy, loud, all big city stuff...) it was nice to go 'home.'

Later on, we went to the Garden Tomb. This is where the Protestants believe the Crucifixion happened (as opposed to Holy Sepulcher or also called Church of the Resurrection). However, it has been proved these tombs found here were not of Joseph of Arimathea, but rather 3rd century tombs.

Well, I think that's it. I know it's not very deep, but it's an idea of what we're going through (to match pics) and it's a start to processing all of these feelings and emotions over here.

I pray all our well. Prayers for Uncle Bruce and Family- May he rest in peace and rise in Glory. You will be missed.

xxoo. Mel

Tuesday 1-12-10

On to Tuesday and another full day!

We first went to the Mount Beatitudes Church (another Catholic Church). This was where the Catholics believed the beatitudes were given to the crowds from Jesus. There are a ton of mountains surrounding the region though, and of course there are other shrines on other mountains dedicating those to be the site...

But this was very pretty- surrounded by a wonderful rose garden. The roses here are so big and smell so fragrant! The church was an octagon- it was very simple on the inside with the beatitudes around the dome surrounding the altar.

We then left and went to St. Peter's Primacy- where Jesus 'gave' the church to Peter. We had a wonderful Eucharist in this circle grove overlooking the Sea of Galilee, and then we had some time to look over the sea and reflect.

Next, we were off to Capernaum. Jesus did A LOT here according to scripture and they have the house of Peter's mother-in-law preserved. Now, they put a church on top of this house. HOWEVER, they made it so the church 'levitated' above it and did not disturb the site. They wanted to make it look like a boat (Capernaum was a tiny fishing town) but it looks more like a space ship :)

Then we were off again to eat lunch. Starving, we had the typical 9 mini plates of various 'salad' and hummus plus pita and then our main meal came! A fish!!! A whole fish!! So that was a lot of fun diving into that :0

Then, we got on a boat and ventured out in the Sea of Galilee. It was just beautiful. We were out there for probably an hour and the waves and the wind were so peaceful. It was great being on the same lake that Jesus was on!!!

And finally, we went to the Jordan River to renew our baptismal vowels. Now, we thought this would be a magical experience, and it was, but in a different way. This had to be the Disneyland of the Jordan River! They had a huge gift store (of course) and then they had 'stalls' for groups to go to. The water was freezing! And very swampy, but it was still pretty cool. And, the kinda creepy thing was that everyone was walking around in these white baptismal robes with a screen-printed Jesus getting baptized on the front. Little did they know, those suckers are SEE-THROUGH after the dip in that water. And they record these on Video and they have them playing at the end of the 'ride' just like roller coasters. hahaha. It was still neat, and although that wasn't the real site of the baptism (it is closer to Jordan and that is serving as an international border so we can't go in those waters) it was still neat.

We went back for din and had a lecture on our Spiritual Geographies and what would be the center of our maps...

Catch up time :) Monday-Wednesday, 1-11-10, this will be a long blog :)

Alright, my apologies for the lack of posts, the past couple of days have been so packed and full, by the time we came back from Galilee Wednesday night, we just wanted to collapse!

But what an amazing AMAZING last couple of days it has been!!

Early Monday morning, we loaded up the buses and headed north to Galilee! We went to Caesarea Maritima (not to be confused with Philipi or all the other Caesarea's haha). Built by Herod the Great in the early 1st century. This was a MAJOR port city, and the port city that Paul came to and was accused and said he wanted to be tried by the Romans. So, they shipped Paul off from this city to be executed. Besides that, the actual city is in good condition (for being a 1st century city...). It was also very beautiful looking at the sea from the land of the ruins.

After a quick stop, we headed up to Nazareth where we went to 2 churches of the Annunciation. As I mentioned before, there are often multiple sites of the 'place where this event happened' as the Catholics think it is one place, the Orthodox in another, and the Protestants in yet another.

So, we first went to the Catholic Basilica of the Annunciation. Around the outer walls were maybe 20 large mosaics of Mary. They were just stunning. They went sent in from countries around the world. The church itself was beautiful. It was a large an open space and then it opened up even further and then into the ground. The altar was about 20 feet down and behind the altar was the cave-house where Gabriel announced to Mary that she would be having a son.
Then, when you went upstairs, there was ANOTHER church! (The bottom is earthly Jesus/Jerusalem; the top is heavenly Jesus/Jerusalem.) There were more mosaics lining the walls.
Then, outside of that was the rest of the street from the time of Jesus.

We then went to a Greek Orthodox Church. Much much much different from the Catholic church, it was a teeny church down the road from the Catholic church. They believed that Gabriel came to Mary at this well. So, they had that toward the end of the sanctuary and the well still works to this day.

We then went to our 'hostel.' Ok, this was not a typical hostel, and frankly it was probably a hotel. This place probably cost more than all the hostels Alan and I stayed in while traveling Europe two summers ago hahahaha. It was gorgeous! Right on the Sea of Galilee, this place was newly remodeled and had a patio area overlooking the sea. Just lovely. It was called Pilgerhaus. They have a website if you're interested.

But, after a long day of traveling, it was nice to come and relax and have a great German dinner buffet :)

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Wed. 1-13-10

Hi everyone! We made it back safely to Jerusalem.
Will post on the many many many things we did while in the north.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Early Monday Morning


We are off to Galilee today!

We will be staying Mon, Tues, and coming back Wednesday night. So, there will be no posts until Wednesday.

Hope all is well!


PS. Yesterday afternoon we headed to Yod Vashem- the Jewish Holocaust Museum- Very powerful. We also had prayer and reflection time about the trip so far, and then we had a lecture at 8 about Palestine/Israeli conflicts from an Israeli Jew.

Sunday 1-10-10

Hi! It is only 10 am here, but I decided to do a morning blog.

We got up at 530 am and went to the Holy Sepulcher! I'll talk about this more later when we 'officially' go with the college and do the Via Dolorosa and finish there.

But, as said before, this is where the Catholics think Jesus was whipped, crucified, body prepared, and then the tomb of Jesus. Pretty neat stuff. In it, it is broken down into areas- it's huge! There is a Latin Catholic, Greek Orthodox, and the Armenians. And then the Muslims own it. Interesting, right?

So, we stayed and had some great prayer and reflection time from about 6 until 730.

We walked back, ate breakfast, did laundry, and now I just finished blogging! :)

Today is a free day. (We have free time until 6- prayer and reflection on the trip so far; 7- dinner; 8- lecture).

Then, we'll probably be offline for the next three days. We're heading to Galilee!

Love to all!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Saturday 1-09-10

Well, after last night's adventures, we were up bright an early for a trip to Bethlehem!!

We had breakfast at 7. Same old same old. I now currently eat egg and cheese in pita every breakfast hahaha.

We had a lecture at 8: was Jesus really born in Bethlehem? Interesting stuff. I mean, it begs to answer a question, here we are, worshipping and praying at all these sites- where Jesus was born, where the crucifixion happened, and so on, and it does make you wonder, did this really happen here? Or were these just the attempts of someone in the 2nd/3rd century to create a memorial to the events? Needless to say, wherever these events truly happened, we need to return to our text, the scriptures and study and prayerfully consider it. Either way, the places that we go to are powerful and sacred places, and places that people have been visiting and pilgrimaging to for thousands of years. (For instance: there is the Holy Sepulcher (the site the Catholics believed where Jesus was crucified, buried, etc and there is the Garden Tomb, the place where Protestants believed it happened...)

So, back to the schedule....we were off on our way to Bethlehem at 9. On our way, we stopped in En Kerem. This is the birthplace of John the Baptist. We went to the church of the Visitation. This is where Mary, pregnant with Jesus, visited Elizabeth, pregnant with John. We also saw John's birthplace, at a nearby church. At the C.o.V., they had the Magnificat (Mary's song to the Lord in Luke) in maybe 25 different languages on the wall. Then, at the Birthplace church, they had Zechariah's canticle in the same form. Pretty neat stuff.

After that, we went to Bethlehem! Yay! Turns out, Bethlehem is in the West Bank, which politically, was closed off and is being still closed off by a wall separating Jerusalem from the West Bank. Bethlehem is in Palestine. So, we had to go through a very long wait at a checkpoint to get through (on the way in and out). This is a terrible situation for these people. If your family is separated, chances are, you won't see them. Or, if the dad is Palestinian and the Mom and Children live in Jerusalem, you might only be able to visit your loved ones (and go to West Bank, not have the loved one get through to Jerusalem) on the weekends. If you work in Jerusalem, and you're from the West Bank, you have to get a permit EVERY day. We also heard that you can often only get a job/permit if you are over 30, married, and have kids. Then, once in Jerusalem with your permit, you can only stay from certain hours and must be back through the checkpoint by 10/1030. And to think, here we were in our tour bus, traipsing through, and we could just leave by the end of the day. What a sad situation politically.

Once we were in there, we went to Shepherd's Fields. This was the field (used to be) where the shepherd's saw the star and went and met Jesus then.

So, there's the problem, it's not really a field any more. Some church group got a hold of it and put a church (which was beautiful, don't get me wrong), and built up cement and concrete and everything around it, and it doesn't even feel authentic. Eh. So, we went in a cave that the shepherd's would have been living in. Pretty neat.

(these are two different folders, one is Alan's Camera (EOS), one is my Camera)

Then we went to a Christian store where they sold hand made goods from Christian families in Bethlehem. Since they are trapped in there, and they can't do import/exports, they do not really receive money for their products like they used to. (They are olive wood stuff). So, they tell us that tourism is their only income. So, ya, we bought some stuff hahaha.

We then ate lunch in the Tent Restaurant. It was delicious. They brought out about 9 plates of different middle eastern foods and a giant thing of pita. We had falafel then. And then a baklava type desert and then some coffee. I was stuffed.

Then, onto the Basilica of the Nativity. This was where Christ was born. So we checked out everything and then got in this huge line to see the place of the birth.
Sadly this was disappointing. There was no reverence for the spot from the group in front of us. And the rock was this little piece with a star around it. It didn't even feel like a cave or stalls or whatever. Oh well. We've been. Trying not to be bitter. Haha. These churches, I think it's great and the churches are beautiful on site, but there's not much authenticity then. There's more liturgical garb than actual real spot...

After returning to the college and eating dinner, we went to Ben Yahuda street. This is in West Jerusalem (we're in East Jerusalem) and this is where a lot of the Jewish people live, especially the Hasidic Jews. It was the end of Sabot, the sun had gone down. So, this was crazy! There were hundreds of people out in the street- mostly young- enjoying the night. We got some delicious gelato. :). But, the funny thing is, most of them were speaking English! Crazy.

After that, we returned to the College and went to bed.

What a day.

Friday 1-8-10

Sorry this took so long to write, it's been a busy and crazy past couple of days. It has been a day full of a spectrum of emotions...some that definitely surprised me.

Friday morning we had a lecture on pilgrims and what it means taking pilgrimages. We have a woman in her thirties doing a thesis on pilgrimages, so I think we're part of her research. She gave us the run down of 2,000 years of pilgrimages.

Then, we hoped on our tour bus (and how this giant vehicles get through the city amazes me...) and we went to a HUGE model of the city of Jerusalem (2nd temple period). What would have set it over the top would have been a train running around it, but alas hahahaha.

Then, on the same grounds, in a building shaped like the top of a jar that held the Dead Sea Scrolls (the Israeli Museum) are some of the real Dead Sea Scrolls. So, the whole time that we were in there, I thought we were in a sacred place with all these great old documents and then on the way out Alan broke the news that most of them were just replicas....bummer. Oh well, it was still neat to see what they look like, real or not.

We then had lunch back at the college and we had free time the rest of the afternoon.

So, we headed into the old city. We climbed a church tower (The Lutheran Church) and took pics overlooking the city. After that, we went to an Armenian Church for Vespers. That was incredible! The church was absolutely beautiful with tons of candles, icons, and lights hanging from the ceiling. All in Armenian of course, but wonderful to be a part of that sacred space.

We then left there and climbed up the Austrian Hospice for another birds eye of the city. We then walked past the Ecce Homo Arch. And into the prison of Jesus. That was closed down, but surely it is a must see hahaha. Supposedly this is where Jesus was imprisoned before the events of Good Friday.

We then walked out of Lions Gate (the gate where Stephen was stoned) and into Herod's gate. Outside of Lions Gate was a Muslim cemetery. Very interesting as they bury their dead on top of the ground and seem to just paint the words on the tombstone in black paint. In Herod's gate we walked through the back streets and saw lots of little kiddos playing. After that, we waited outside of Damascus Gate and waited for the group to meet us.

When the group met us at 545, we headed to the Wailing Wall.

We didn't think we were going to go up to the wall, since as the sun was down, it was the beginning of the Jewish Holy Day. However, we did approach this space.

The men and women had to go to different sides. The men had to cover their heads. It can be anything (Alan wore a baseball hat) but their heads must be covered. The women could never turn their backs to the wall (Alan said the men could). So, when we were done, you have to walk out backwards turning only your head until you are at a respectful distance from the wall (basically out of the portioned section.

There were an amazing amount of people- singing in circles, standing, praying with families. The men's side was definitely more rambunctious than the women's side.

I can't explain what happened at that wall, it is so hard to even put it to words. I don't know why the wall is that powerful- maybe because of the history of the Jewish people- the struggles, the pain and sorrow, and the hurt, but the immense amount of hope and trust in the future. As soon as I touched the wall I simply started weeping. Their is just this energy, this presence of God that I was not expecting...

What a wondrous day...I'm so glad to get to the wall because until then, I didn't feel like I was in Jerusalem or really have these spiritual, pilgramatic moments.

Thursday, January 7, 2010


So today we split into our 'families' and went into the Old City.

We had never been into the Jewish Quarter (it's in the South East section of the city). We had been through the Muslim quarter (it's the largest and the one that you enter when you enter the Damascus Gate). Sidenote: we learned there were nine gates into the old city. One of them is one of the gates that Stephen was stoned outside of (Lions Gate).

Onto the Jewish quarter. So the Old city on a whole is pretty much this tourist trap- a trap however that over 40,000 residents live in. They live above the shops and then in various quarters. We were even told that some residents never even leave the old city. Crazy!

To get to the Jewish quarter, it was a good 20 min walk through the Old City.

The Muslim quarter is BUSY. Packed with people, stores, shops, people being aggressive to you to buy things, etc.

The Jewish quarter is CLEARLY marked from the Muslim Quarter by a big entry way and a clear demarcation in the stone work. We then saw a security guy with an upholstered pistol- just hanging out by the wall. Also, there were a ton of plainclothes officers walking around. We also saw some Israeli soldiers. This is certainly the most heavily "" quarter in the Old City. In other borders, you have the Western (Wailing) wall, an iron gate leading into the Christian quarter, and a clear mark before the Armenian quarter. The shops here in the Jewish quarter are upscale, some sell in American dollars, and they are rumored (and this is true because we tried it) that the vendors do not bargain. This as I said, was proved to be true.

We ate lunch in the Jewish quarter at this place called Schwarma. Alan tells me this is a type of cut of lamb. So I got this HUGE sandwich...I mean, HUGE (check the pics :) ). It was delicious!!!!

We then looked out over the Temple Mount and the Western Wall. For the first time, I got chills that I was in a sacred place. Here we were, overlooking this holy site to so many people- so many people that it has caused devastatingly horrific disasters, murders, riots, etc- so holy that people will give their lives to protect. And here we were. We did not go to the Wall yet, the group will go, but from the upper angle, the rocks on the ground were shiny from how many people have crossed to get to the Wall.

We watched the wall for a while, and then we walked down these stairs that faced the wall. An incredible feeling just passed over me. There is something about this land. A reverence. A sacredness. I can't explain it. And as soon as I felt it, the tears welling up (thanks dad haha), the feeling was gone. I was happen to finally feel this incredible presence of God, of something bigger than myself.

After that we climbed on a section of the Ramparts Wall. This is a ledge that wraps around the city wall. That was pretty incredible too: we looked down into the Kidron Valley (where Christ is supposed to come back and perform judgment on all of us) and then we looked into Gehenna (the place of Hell- legend is this is where Judas killed himself or where his intestines got pulled out by wild dogs, whichever you want to believe) and then over to the monastery that we looked out on the previous day before.

After that we made our way home and I FINALLY got to chat with Dad and Mom on skype :). We had a lovely time in which Mom informed us that August ate her glove. What else is new. hahaha. But I was glad to hear everything is going well at home.

Dinner was good. Chicken/veggies stew and couscous. We also had delicious cake- chocolate and vanilla. During dinner and after, I had a 'seminarian' moment and we had a fabulous conversation on, "does God suffer?" Good stuff.

We had a lecture tonight that was actually very good. A lot of lectures are at 8 pm, and that's a little late for me (lame, I know haha). It was on the History of the Temple Mount (It is currently a Muslim site, the Dome of the Rock is on there). We also found out that there are other temple mount theorists that believe that the Temple Mount in it's current position is not in the original place...who knows, that's a theory. We learned about the Roman fortress on the site.

Now, politically speaking, whomever owns the Mount is a huge question. It all goes back to the question of identity here in Jerusalem. Who owns what? Who was here first?

The Israeli Govt/military police the Mount. The Muslims own the Dome of the Rock (The rock is supposedly where the Holy of Holies was). However, no one really knows where the Holy of Holies is/was and so the orthodox Jews do not go up on the Mount for fear of treading on the Holy of Holies. Just some interesting stuff.

Thanks for reading this crazy stories, I hope they pick up with more interesting stuff when we visit the holy sites. :)

Tuesday Night.

After a dinner of beef, weird gross eggplant puree, salad (with tomatoes :) ) and steamed broccoli, a group of 7 of us (plus a young adult that is volunteering for a year at the college) left to go on a night walk.

We went into a convenience store and saw their version of doritos and other junk foods. We got some hummus (3 bucks for a GIANT tub) and some fresh pita (about 1.50 for 7 big pitas). We then continued into the old city.

All the booths and vendors were closed down (it was about 8) but the street cleaners were out and about in their big machine (which we had to squeeze by) cleaning up after a day of business in the city. It was a lot of fun. However, when we began the journey, I thought it was going to be a short lived trip, but it turned into about 2 hours. Which, again, was super nice, but by about an hour in (and chugging water at dinner because they told us to) I had to use the restroom. Hahaha.

So, Alan wouldn't let me pee in a dark alley in a corner (he was afraid of trying to bail me out of an Israeli jail hahaha); about an hour later we found a mall!! It was like we were in DC. It was soooo nice! And they were having sales! (But alas, Alan pointed me on toward the bathroom...) We found a bathroom and all was well.

Made it back home and went to bed. :). Not quite sleeping well yet, but hopefully soon. My roommate says I've been talking in my sleep. Last night, I got up to go to the bathroom, and she thought I was sleepwalking outside of the room. Hahaha. Dang. Oh well, hopefully once I get settled that sleep junk will change.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Here are our pics!

Enjoy :)

Alan sorted them by dates :)

Our first full day in Jerusalem

To be honest, I haven't felt like we were in Jerusalem. We got to the airport, cab, and we were cloistered away in St. George's.

So, this morning, I was really looking forward to a brand new day. We were so blessed that we got here safely, and we have some good travel stories to add to the other horror travel stories we have from the past :)

We had Eucharist at 730. It was Anglican, and I really liked the liturgy. Subtle differences, but enough to make it something new and different. It really matched us being in a different place.

Breakfast was, well, interesting. We step up to the table: cut deli meats, cut tomatoes, cucumbers, hummus (YUMMY), Greek yogurt stuff again, pita, hot beans and scrambled eggs, hard boiled eggs, and cereal. I went with the pita, hummus, some cucumbers and an egg.

At 9, we had another briefing with some orientation stuff. You can get your laundry done for 10 US dollars (no thanks). We also got our internet connection (30 bucks. It turns out, if you want to use the school's computers, you still have to pay the 30 dollars!) So, added costs; oh well. We'll wash our clothes in the sink, and the internet is worth it to buy...

After that, around 1030 we had some free time :) Finally! Alan and I took off into the Old City of Jerusalem (where most of the NT 'historic' stuff is: temple mount, via dolorosa, church of the sepulcher). We went into the Damascus Gate (there are a couple main gates: Damascus, Herod, Lion, and Jaffa. It was great! It was a funnel of people and you take a twisty left, then right and then you're in the old city!

There were millions of delicious smells- food, spices, incense. Basically, the old city is about a 6 foot wide path and it's packed with vendors and sellers of everything imaginable! I found a 2 dollar bra!!!! (Didn't buy...yet...) I'm hoping Alan and I can find some incense for our wedding in the Christian quarter. The old city is broken up into 4 quarters- Christian, Muslim, Armenian, and Jewish. We were there for an hour and a half. We came back to the College and got on a tour bus.

We rode through the city and rode to a French Catholic monastery. Had tomato/carrot, more tomatoes, turkey/chicken (we weren't sure) with mushrooms, baked potato, veggies. At first, after the soup and tomato, we saw fruit on a table and thought, this is it! But alas, they fed us more :)

We then had an incredible experience. Climbed up the roof. Looked out over Jerusalem. The other way you can see Jordan. I mean, it was incredible!!!! So, we took some great shots, read Psalm 122. The scriptures are just in such a different light when you're looking at the holy hill!! Amazing!!!

We then got into the Bus and looked over the Judean Desert. I mean, this is THE desert that Jesus was tempted in! Ok, maybe not, but quite possibly :) :) :) Just really really cool!!

On to will be posted later this evening. love to all!

It has been a crazy 3 days, but we made it!

Good Evening!

We have been in Jerusalem for a night and almost a full day is so wonderful to finally be here!!

Monday- our day of travel.

Meg, a seminary classmate drove us to the Dulles airport in D.C. We left at 230 and arrived around 3ish.

We go to the United airlines ticket counter- 'all destinations.' The woman prints out our tickets and says to go in another line. We wait, and a man tells us to step on up to the counter.

Immediately, he turns incredibly cruel and rude! We were both shocked and taken aback, we didn't know what we did wrong! Well, he told us that we were in the domestic line and the 'last time he knew, Tel Aviv was not a domestic flight!' After more rude comments and stabs at us (meanwhile, we are being polite, just taking it), he leaves and comes back. I say, 'I'm sorry, did we do something wrong?"

And right there, I think he realized what a jerk he was being. He informed us that there was an international line on the other side of this kiosk (there were no signs!). He then got us our seats, asked us if we had our visas (we don't need them) and we said, 'no' and he said, 'good, you don't need them.' Then he made some joke on the way out about whether Alan wanted to sit next to me or not. Um, too late buddy, joke was lost!

So, we get through, he puts our luggage through (meanwhile we're worried our luggage will be lost because of that guy hahaha) and we go to the other side of the kiosk. Sure enough, it was packed and looked like an hour/hour and a half wait. So, we made a mistake, but it was a good mistake to make hahaha.

So, we get through to luggage and my bag gets flagged for explosives. The only thing we can think of is that I had two flashlights in there (that we got on black Friday at Home Depot). So, maybe they set it off. After a thorough check of the ole bag, we were off to find our seats.

The flight to Zurich, Switzerland was fine. It was full- a 2-3-2 row seating. After making it to Switzerland, we rushed through another bag screening (even though we didn't leave the airport) and got our tickets. We were next to each other again! Yay! Online ticketing worked this time!

Then, we had the best flying experience ever and I never wanted to leave this Swiss airplane! Swiss air is the best company! It was a 4 hour flight. They had multiple snacks, constant drink service, and the flight was 2/3 full so when we were up in the air, everyone spread out and relaxed. And! They had wine, champagne, hard liquors for FREE! Bah! So, Alan and I tried some Swiss wine :) He got the red and I got the white. Then, the meal was salad, brie cheese (!), home-made looking cake, and hot roll (!)

But sadly, after that rich feast and 16 hours of flying, it did not sit well with neither Alan or I. Oh well, it was worth it :)

Ah, Jerusalem. My happy home. We arrived Tuesday at 230pm (730am Eastern time). We get to the Immigration 'checkpoint.' I go up. The woman barely speaks English- does not know what St. George's College, couldn't understand me when I said I was studying, asked me Dad's name, and after all that, I finally got through.

Alan on the other hand, I never thought I'd see him again :(

The woman asked him to step aside. I was waiting for him about 50 feet away and an agent action asked me to go through the 'no return zone' to wait for him. So, I said, it's my fiance, and that didn't matter. So there I was was, waiting helplessly, envisioning Alan being hauled off into some secret room being harassed, kidnapped, and killed. Dramatic? Yes; but we were exhausted! and these are the thoughts that go through one's head. Hahaha.

So FINALLY, after 15 min (it felt like hours), Alan showed up! Thank GOD! Here's the story, apparently, Alan's last name, Adzima, showed up in the Israeli database! They claimed Alan's grandfather and father were from Israel. They also were making claims that Alan was lying when he said he was 5/6/7th generation American. They also claimed that Alan's Dad was still alive and living in Israel. As nice as it would to have Alan's dad alive, it is false. And I think when he got the message across that his Dad died in August, they finally let him through.

So, we're through the gates. We made plans to meet my friend Grant. We got our baggage. Wait around for an hour. No Grant. His flight in an hour previously. So, we find a taxi driver. (Grant's story is that he also got cloistered and had to wait for two hours!!!! Trapped! He arrived at the college at 830 that night.

On to the Taxi. You can take this mini bus called a Sherut for 15 dollars. We were worried about that because it's one of those ones you throw your stuff in the back and as they let people off, they get their stuff out. We didn't want to get to Jerusalem and not have luggage haha. So, we were tired and just wanted to get to the college. A taxi driver, a bit obnoxious, approached us and was very aggressive.

We heard 70 dollars was standard. He proposed 90. Heck no! I proposed 60. He proposed 65. Ok. Deal.

We asked him, do you know where St. George's College is? He said Yes, OVER AND OVER AND OVER and OVER again. He said YES! However, he did NOT. And we could tell he didn't. He was calling all his buddies. When we got to Jerusalem, he was yelling out the window at people. It was awful.

45 min later. We arrive in Jerusalem. He gets us to the street. He's yelling out. He takes us to a hotel. Here you go, this is where you wanted to go. NO this is not it!

Thank God for Dad and Mom and wonderful Christmas presents! We had the map of Jerusalem and the Old City and St. George's was on it!!!!!! :) :) :) So, we were pointing it out to him and he would not look! He did not need it! Although he clearly did not know! So we're out of the car, and we go, we want our stuff. Now. (We knew we were close.) We get it. Alan gives him 60. The guy is arguing, give me that 5, give me that 5. Us: you didn't even get us to the spot! So here we are, arguing with a crazy taxi driver (that got up to 90 mph while texting/gpsing and calling his buddies) in the middle of street. So I say to Alan, give him the 5 and we trekked off. (Not to mention, they say negotiate the price before you get in the cab. We did that. About a mile in, he wanted to make us pay 75. Um NO! We're sticking at 65.)

SOOOOOOOOOO. Here we are, dragging our luggage in a country where we do not know the language (Biblical Hebrew doesn't help so much haha) Thank God for Maps :) It was about 10 min away from the place we got out of the cab. And at around 530, we arrive at St. George's College!!

We got our rooms. Alan is staying with Grant (30 year old VTS student) and I'm staying with Jennifer (40; also a VTS student).

We went to Evening Prayer at 6; Reception at 630 (we opted for water and Sprite after earlier wine indulgences haha); Dinner at 7. Dinner was a tomato salad; cucumbers in a Greek style yogurt; yellow rice; chicken; some weird gross almond cake.

Annnnnnnd; even though we were exhausted, we had a get to know you 'hour'. Barf. So after that torture was done, we were finally freed.

We both unpacked and I took a shower and went to bed around 1030.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Packing and getting ready

Hi All!

Alan and I are continuing to pack for our trip to Jerusalem! We will leave D.C. Dulles Airport January 4th at 6:11 p.m. and arrive in Tel Aviv, Israel around 2:35 p.m. We will have one lay-over in Zurich Tuesday morning.

We will be studying with a group from VTS at St. George's College Jerusalem. Jerusalem is about a 45 min. taxi drive from Tel Aviv.

We will begin our whirlwind adventure of the Israel with a dinner Tuesday night at the college.

We have a Picasa account and will be posting and blogging as we are able.

We return to the States on January 22nd.

Please pray for safe travel and a wonderful trip!!

Love to all. Melissa and Alan