It’s been about 36 hours since we have landed in Israel. I can’t quite explain what it feels like to be here. I am experiencing a lot of jet lag but so much joy and so much excitement. As we landed and I saw the first glimpses of the lights of this land around 12AM on January 6, tears filled my eyes as I was reminded of Jesus’ character, all that He did here and all that is to come.
Shalom is a common greeting used by the Israeli’s here. This past semester at Moody, I took a class called Faith and Learning which was a study on the integration of faith into the learning process in all forms including mathematics, art, language and how God is completely involved in the process. Shalom was a word that was common in that class but coming to Israel and hearing it so often is so beautiful. Shalom is most commonly know to translate into peace. However, Hebrew is a complex (and stunning) language that translates into more than just a one-word answer. According to Strong’s Concordance shalom translates to completeness, wholeness, health, peace, welfare, safety soundness, tranquility, prosperity, perfectness, fullness, rest, harmony, the absence of agitation or discord. The way to shalom is YHWH. Read Luke 2 to see this more. It is such a beautiful thing to hear the people of Israel greeting one another with this term that means so much.
Our journey here was long. We boarded our first flight to Istanbul, Turkey at 8:50PM on January 5 and didn’t take off until probably midnight. If the rest of our flight went according to plan, we would still be able to make our connecting flight to Tel Aviv. I took some melatonin before the flight hoping to sleep but didn’t end up sleeping at all on the twelve hour flight. I was completely exhausted and so tired but didn’t get a minute of sleep. But, Dre and I watched a couple movies in the meantime. The best part of international flights is the movies. I had an aisle seat with Dre, Lavi and Kevin by me. The turbulence wasn’t bad. The landing took quite awhile and we weren’t able to get off the plane for awhile. A few ran ahead and rushed to gate 220 hoping that we would make it in time for our connecting flight. Although we did all get there while the plane was still there they wouldn’t allow us to board. Thankfully, we got on a plane a few hours later. The majority of us were completely exhausted, dehydrated and ready to be in Israel. Kendra, Luke and I were in row 4, right behind first class (which only had two people in it). So we were swimming in leg room. The Chicago weather followed us to Istanbul as there was a major snow storm. We waited for almost an hour to take off. Let’s just say a lot of deicing took place on our journey. I fell asleep for a bit on that flight, missed the food but got a packet of water. We landed 4:11PM on January 6 Chicago time and 12:11AM on January 7 Israel time. Knowing I was in Israel gave me the energy to get through. The airport was pristine and amazingly clean. We got through customs fine and all got our luggage. Praise the Lord. We all got on the bus and met up with other people in the group that had traveled from other locations. Arrived to Hotel Yehuda, our home for the next few months, and got to sleep around 4AM.
Day one was an adventure as we caught up on sleep and decided to walk to the mall (about a 25-30 minute walk). However, it rained, hailed and snowed. So, a bunch of Americans walked the hilly streets of Jerusalem, passing by a soldier with a machine gun (a new sight to get used to), and a few cars that honked at us as we stuck out like sore thumbs. Once we arrived and all of us were soaked (including feet…may need to get some rain boots), we were told the mall was closed. So back we went. When Jerusalem gets weather like this, the city basically shuts down. Our professors still have not arrived and are stuck in Tel Aviv. Compared to the weather we get in Chicago, this is nothing. However, Israel is not equipped to deal with weather like this. It was really just a dusting of snow, hail and continuous rain, but the city is shut down.
I am overjoyed to be here. It truly feels like I am living in a dream. The hotel is a four star wonderland and probably the best in all of Israel. The food is truly some of the best I’ve had in my life. SO many fresh fruits and vegetables. Our group is incredible already and I am so thankful. Although not everything has not gone according to our plan, God is in the midst of all things, had a plan and is making all things work together for our good and His glory.
- Jet lag. We haven’t had much time to get over jet lag. Not getting to sleep until 4AM on the first day really messed us up. Although we were exhausted last night and got to sleep around 11, Dre, Lavi and I all woke up at 3AM and could not fall back asleep. So of course, chatting, laughing and memorable moments. Classes are most likely starting tomorrow so we really need to get our sleep schedule together. Pray that we would be able to stay awake today so we can get adjusted soon.
- Group Dynamics. Pray that everyone would feel included. Please pray that the Lord would open my eyes more and more to those that aren’t feeling included.
- Spiritual growth. Pray that the Lord would remind us of why we are. It’s all about Jesus. Pray that He would begin to change our hearts and mold us as we are on this journey.
- Shalom. Pray for peace in Jerusalem.
- Christ’s return. This is something God has been pressing upon my heart for the past few months. My first prayer everyday should be for the Lord to return.
(Original Post January 8, 2015)