Below are the two messages I sent from Israel to family and friends at home in the States.
A quick hello from Israel
19 June 2013, Wednesday, 6:23 PM in Israel
(11:23 AM Eastern Standard Time)
I just returned from our second full day of touring and discovered some rare (if brief) free time before dinner, and an actual wi-fi connection. The trip has been wonderful so far, if packed full. We are staying on the southern shore of the Sea of Galilee right now, and today visited the Mount of Beatitudes, Caperneum, and finished the day by crossing the sea on a boat. Amazing and surreal.
Eating lots of hummus and feta and falafel. Hard to believe we have a full week to go, we’ve already seen so much! Our tour guide assures us that we’ll need a vacation from our vacation, but it is probably true that most of us will only visit Israel once. The group is great, and we are enjoying each other as well as what we are seeing and learning. Only real complaint: I wouldn’t mind cooler temps. It was near 90 and very humid today, but we’re in a valley, several hundred feet below sea level. Should be cooler when we reach Jerusalem in a few days.
It’s time to head to dinner and our evening meeting shortly. I’ll check in again if able, but if not, see you after the 27th!
A second quick hello from Israel
23 June 2013, Sunday, 6:24 PM in Israel
(11:24 AM Eastern Standard Time)
Just wanted to let you all know that everything is still going wonderfully. We arrived in Jerusalem last evening, which is our final destination before heading home Wednesday night. After settling into our rooms and eating dinner, we took an evening “rooftop tour” of Old Jerusalem, where we are staying, just inside Jaffa Gate. Amazing.
This morning we worshiped a Christ Church (Anglican), which is also the name of our guest house—which sits on the ancient site of King Herod’s gardens! The melding of old and new here takes some getting used to.
It’s much more comfortable up here in Jerusalem than in the lowlands of the Dead Sea and Jericho, which are both several hundred feet deeper below sea level than even Galilee. (Jericho: the oldest and lowest city on earth. I am learning much! 🙂 ) One of my fellow Pittsburgh travelers commented that she will never complain about clouds in western PA again. It has been consistently sunny since we arrived (and hot), and our tour guide, who hails from Minnesota but has lived in Israel since 1980, says his kids run out into the rain when they are visiting their grandparents in the States, rain is so rare and wonderful to them.
After church this morning, we had time for a quick lunch before heading off to Yad VaShem, Israel’s holocaust museum, and to the Israel Museum.
It’s now a little after 6pm, and dinner will be served here at 7. For lunch, I joined others who wanted a break from falafel, hummus, and shawarma and headed to Jacob’s Pizza, around the corner in the Arminian Quarter of the Old City.
Three more very full days of touring to go. This trip has gone by so quickly and been so full, with not much space to process everything, so I’m not even touching on half of what we’ve seen and done. (You’re welcome!) It has been such a blessing to be here.
By the time you all wake up tomorrow, I’ll have toured the Temple Mount, the Western Wall, and much of Old Jerusalem…lots of walking in narrow passageways on slippery stone in my immediate future!
This is likely my last update before heading home. Thanks for your interest and prayers!