Israel...Day One

So much to share about this complicated land.  More pictures, more words and more thoughts than I know what to do with.  Enough history to keep my nose in the books for years and still I'm not able to wrap my head around this sacred place.  The chosen people called Israel home.  Our heroes of faith walked within her borders, or just outside.  And yet, I walked those roads too.  Stood on the Mount of Olives, walked in the Garden of Gethsemane, climbed Masada, felt the water David spoke of in his Psalms and dipped my finger tips in the Sea of Galilee.  I mean, come on.  Tell me how to process the weight of these experiences.  Months later and I am still reeling from my ten days spent there. 

I'll start the best way I know how.  With pictures and notes from my journal.  Then we'll probably continue that way.  Like in time thoughts as I took in and meditated on each day's events.  Before all that I must comment on what a holy privilege it was to travel with Thing 2.  To venture to Israel with a group of recently graduated high school students that had been preparing for this trip for months, studying, memorizing scripture and note taking during lengthy lectures, was nothing short of incredible.  I did not know many of these students well but I can say that I witnessed a generation rising; And that my friends should be encouraging to us all.  They were a special group, offering their gifts to the masses, overcoming their fears and walking as a royal priesthood where Jesus Himself walked.  It was a beautiful experience.  So here we go.  We'll start at the beginning, not including the travel day escapades, but in Tel Aviv.  Day one as noted in my journal.

We landed in Tel Aviv and hit the ground running.  Through customs and onto the bus that became sort of a home base for us as we trekked across the country.  Our bus driver, Eli, greeted us with a smile and our tour guide, Aaron as well.  On board we were welcomed, and as we drove the city streets the low roar of excitement surrounded me.  With no sense of where we were going I looked out my window and tried to follow the road.  Looking for people, for signs of a long ago story.  And then, once we unloaded at our destination, there it was.  A stone whale, a new addition to the city but nonetheless a tell tale sign of what had happened here.  Marking the port where Jonah was swallowed up.  Beautiful buildings with overflowing window boxes lined the streets.  The Mediterranean Sea bordering us.  Cobble stone roads and hidden alleys every which way.  And the sound I remember the most, the waves crashing on the sand.  I inhaled the salty air.  We walked and talked and ate at a local cafe where again my olfactory senses were on overload   Spices and fermented cabbage and delicate meats, oils for the fryers and deliciousness.  I do remember how delighted I was to hear we would be walking to our hotel in stead of boarding the bus again.  Fourteen hours of sitting in small spaces had begun to take it's toll on this body of mine.  There was a trail along the sea and we followed the winding path, passing play grounds and flying para-sailers, locals sitting down for a snack or smoke break, Mamas walking their babies in strollers and tourists heading down to the sandy shore.  Once room assignments were given no time was wasted.  Upstairs to change in to bathing suits and down to the sea.  I couldn't wait.  I watched Thing 2 and her friends jump the waves and I listened to their squeals each and every time the water came crashing down on them.  And then the squeals took on a different tone as they realized jelly fish surrounded them.  A few stings didn't slow them down though.  The water was a welcome excursion, an introduction of sorts to this foreign land we would be exploring and getting to know over the next week.  I laid back in the sand and closed my eyes.  I felt my limbs relax, all control lost as I melted into the grainy ground beneath me.  Was I really here? My mind was mush.  Possibly from the travel and time zones and general exhaustion of the undertaking but I didn't want to miss anything.  I wanted this first experience to be the marking of the week ahead.  And it was.  The day ended with an after dinner walk through the city center and ice cream from a corner shop.  Stories and lives beginning to be shared and memories being made.

The whale. Or fish.  You decide.

The view from our walk to the hotel, it's one of those tall buildings in the distance.

Cornetto cone-she was a happy girl!


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