Shalom from Jerusalem! (I have waited so long to say that!) I’m safe and sound in Jerusalem and ready for whatever adventures the Lord has in store! But first, some reflections on the trip.
Though I have taken many international trips (often leading them, or helping others through passport control, etc), I realized today that this is the very first time I have traveled totally alone internationally. Navigating airports is routine, but whizzing through passport control was a new adventure! I got through in no time!
On a serious note, the trip alone left lots of time for study and reflection. A three hour layover in Minneapolis thankfully gave me time to find a quiet corner and catch up on some study for a class I’m taking, as much of the time on the plane was spent sleeping (yes, I can do that!) and meeting new people. The Lord was also gracious enough to provide an empty seat next to me on the long leg from JFK to Tel Aviv. I took advantage of the extra room to stretch out a bit.
My only concern was how I would get to the hotel from the airport. I had two options: a bus, which would get me to within about 1/2 mile of the hotel; or sherut, a ride share. Since it was dark by the time we landed, I chose sherut. That is a 10-passenger bus that leaves only once it is full. We waited about 30 minutes, but 3 other people are attending the same seminar (and thus headed to the same hotel). We were joined by 6 Israelis with whom we all got to know during the 45 minute ride to Jerusalem.
Entry into Jerusalem this time was a different adventure too, as I realized I have departed that route many times, but have never arrived in Jerusalem straight from the airport. I’m also at a different hotel than ever before, so I’m getting a different perspective.
I arrived in time for dinner and met about 10 other participants who were already in the dining room having diner when we arrived. I quickly joined in the lively conversation about who we are, where we’re from, and what our role is in ministry. As suspected, most are pastors or leaders of ministries. I am likely a “low man (or woman) on the totem pole” when it comes to vocational ministry resumes, however I know the Lord opened this door for a reason and I intend to step through it!
Tomorrow begins an 8-day journey with 29 new friends, as we learn about and respond to anti-semitism, the holocaust, and how to build bridges between Christians and Jews. Each day of the seminar we will be shuttled from our hotel a few miles to Yad Vashem (holocaust museum and research center). Our days are booked solid, but I will attempt to share tidbits with you as time allows.
Meanwhile, thanks for your prayers…and shalom!