If I’m going to be honest, I’ll say that it’s difficult to find time to write everyday…even in my journal. These days are full, in a good way! But I want to make writing about each and every moment a priority. Some days start at 6AM, class 8-12, lunch and then homework and reading all day until we go to sleep. Other days start early but we go to amazing sights and have life-changing experiences. Nonetheless, whether we are in this four-star hotel or going to biblical places, each day is a treasure and I am pinching myself in disbelief that I get to be here with these people, at this time, for this purpose.
On Friday we had class until noon, a midterm and then we walked to the park about a fifteen minute walk away. Most of my classmates played soccer while some of us sat on the sidelines reading for class. The dark grey clouds were rolling in and we knew the rain was coming. Dre, Luke and I started walking back just as the drizzles began. Soon enough, we were soaked. But, we saw a car on the side of the road that was selling beautiful flowers. Later on, Shabbat began as the sun fell. Shabbat is a weekly occurence for the orthodox jews. From sunset on Friday to sunset on Saturday, they partake in a feast and rest. For instance, during this time all the elevators stop on every floor for this 24 hour period. In the morning, we can’t use the espresso machine because it uses electricity. Tons of people come to the hotel in order to partake in Shabbat. It’s a very interesting and fun experience.
Because of this, our Saturday’s are kind of like Sunday’s. We went to church on Sunday at a Messianic church. I think we are supposed to be going there the majority of our time here. I was very surprised at how developed it was. We ended up getting there an hour early so we spent some time on the balcony and Dre and I listened to articles for Systematic Theology. By the time the service started, there were probably thirty people standing because there was no room. I’d say there were probably three-hundred people there. It was such an incredible experience. The whole service was translated from Hebrew to English, back and forth; which I imagine would be quite patience-building for the pastor as he had to preach one sentence at a time. The worship was probably one of the coolest experiences in Israel (and possibly my life) thus far. They sang in Hebrew but there was English for us as well. It was so amazing to worship the Lord in Hebrew and English in Israel. It’s fun to try and speak Hebrew 😉 The majority of the rest of our day was filled with catechisms, reading and zombieland. Our room has become the hangout room which is fun. We’ve been having some movie nights which is fun but sometimes results in late nights and tired mornings.
Sunday was a good good good day. Another one of those “best day of my life” days. We got to sleep in a little bit which is something I am so thankful for. I’ve been waking up in the mornings thinking, “When will I be able to sleep next?” The weather was looking promising today. Yet, by the time we got to the old city, dark clouds were rolling over us but no rain! We headed to the Old City around 11:30 and got lunch at Panoramic Restaurant. We walked through the thin market streets to get to this rooftop restaurant. We definitely paid for the experience rather than the food at 35 shekels for a falafel pita. But hey, it was my first one in Israel and definitely memorable. We had apple sodas on the roof with our falafel, looking all around the city with the Temple Mount just in sight.
After we walked the market and went to Shaban’s. Shaban has a bunch of penants from schools all throughout the world, including Moody. Really cool. We have a relationship with him and he gives us great rates and hospitality. He poured us mango juice and gave us cookies before taking our tea orders; fresh mint tea in little plastic cups. We sipped as we shopped. I found a little utensil that is used to make Arabic coffee. I am planning on getting unique utensils from all the places I go so I am reminded of the culture and each place. Shaban told me how to make the coffee and wrote down instructions in my journal. He also said he would order Shalom Y’all mugs for our group which I am SO glad about. He told us to grab some earrings from the shelf before leaving for free. I just love the hospitality of these people. They treat us all like family.
As we walked through the market streets, I was really thankful for the guys. Although the hospitality is impressive of most, being stared down by most in the streets and called to is something to get used to. Cat-calling in the states in nothing compared to this. We went right across the street to Shaban’s brother-in-laws shop. He had so many wonderful things, including dead sea glass which I’ve been eyeing. It’s something like 2,000 years old and is just stunning. I’ve been wanting to buy sandals from Israel for a few years now as my friends have gone. For only 50 shekels, which equates to about $12, and real leather, I was pretty excited about this. I also got Lavinia some bath salts as she had to stay back since she sprained her ankle. We planned on going to Christ Church for a tour but instead Mandy, Dre and I went to Aroma.
Aroma, sweet Aroma. Anyone that’s been to Israel knows about this little jem. This is like the Starbucks of Israel except way way better. It’s kind of like Inteligentsia in Chicago but prettier. We each got pastries to share and coffees. I had a Mocha Aroma (or something like that) and it was delish. We sat in the sunshine, chatted and it was wonderful. Eventually, we headed back to the Old City and met up with some others. We were trying to contact our professors all day to get permission to go to a church service but they weren’t answering their phones. Eventually, they did and Josh, Dre and I ended up making it. A couple stops on the light rail, going into the mall on a whim and finding it. The security guard at the mall didn’t know where/what it was so this led me to believe that church’s are somewhat underground here.
It was such a cool experience to be at King of Kings. One of our friends from Moody, Asaph, goes there because he is from Israel. So his whole family was there and we got to meet them. Two of them were leading worship and are Moody grads! All of the people are meeting are so wonderful. At first when we were there it felt like such a modern Israeli church. Hebrew worship and the culture. But as time went on and the welcome video played, it just kind of felt like a Harvest in America. Kind of cool. After we went out to the bus stop but realized we had about 15 minute and weren’t sure if we’d make dinner at the hotel in time, so we grabbed falafel…again. But this time only 10 shekels! So fun. Back at “home”, we finished watching the movie we had started, got free bread which ended up turning into a bread fight but memorable.
I love life outside of the US. I’ve never really been the type of person to have an ideal location to end up. But as I’ve gotten older I’ve seen and experienced the closed-mindedness of Americans and have truly grown to appreciate my multicultural and truthfully better educated friends. I love Israel. I love all the cultures. And I’m excited to see where I end up.
Today was another full day that I’ll have to write another post about. We went to the garden tomb and it was a surreal experience. More on that later… 🙂
- Health. Pray for Lavinia as she twisted her ankle the other day. She’s been in a wheel chair/crutches since Friday and it’s been very hard for her.
- Safety. Pray that our group would be wise and be safe.
- Group Dynamics. Pray that we would continue to have our eyes opened.
- Peace for Israel. Pray for Israel as a nation, that peace would come and ultimately that Jesus the Messiah would return.