Our friends on the Global Immersion Project trip to Israel/Palestine are kind enough to send back some blogs on what they're seeing, learning and experiencing in the Holy Land.
We hope you'll keep these folks in your prayers and enjoy experiencing things through their words.
This first post is from Molly McDonnell.
What do you do at 3:36a when you can't sleep? You blog. :)
The streets of Tel Aviv were alive and vibrating on a Friday night with swarms of people out and about having a good time. Car horns honk frequently because someone attempted to cross the road when the signal wasn't in their favor or the individual in the car ahead of them stopped and started backing up the street (true story) or they simply weren't getting on the gas fast enough when the light turned green or you're saying hi to someone you know. There are loads of reasons to honk your horn here. It's an accessory and it's meant to be used. I know this because we slept with our window open vs using the air conditioning (personally I won't be doing that again). Ear plugs help. Thank you Sara.
Breakfast at the hotel was AMAZING yogurt and granola (my fav) and the most delicious coffee I've had since I was in Spain in college. I'm getting me some more of that! I walked the city streets. Everything was closed, it was Shabbat. Highly observed until 6p. It was fun to see they way people live. Very similar to how we do. For example, a young boy was arguing with his father about getting in the car to go somewhere. Either he wasn't happy about sitting in the back or he wanted to, i couldn't tell. The look on his father's face was like, 'what is your deal!? Just get in the car already.' And he patiently stood there and waited as the meltdown happened. Sound familiar? I chuckled to myself. Some things are universal.
Lunch on the beach after checking out, because that's what you do when you are in Tel Aviv. You also share food because several people order the same thing and someone's order doesn't come. It happens. Especially when English isn't your first language and you have 10 people asking you questions. The food was good.
Off to the beach, because EVERYONE goes to the beach on Shabbat. Everyone. I actually saw people using that air mattress thing that is advertised on Facebook. They seem to work quite well, I might get one when im back in the states. Heidi and I were the only ones to go in the Mediterranean Sea. Salty, sticky, and full of sand? Yep. That's how I roll. You only live once. My salt bath was free and refreshing.
Off to Jerusalem to connect up with Jer and Catherine. The adventure begins. It can be summed up by the lessons learned. 1) a Sherut is not a bus and it's not a taxi, it's in a category all on its own, so if you want to take one, call it by its given name; 2) know ahead of time where you are going and how you are planning to get there, because when your large group gets separated-you better know your stuff or a few miles touring the bus station might just be on your agenda; 3) get an international data plan because although wifi is prevalent in Israel, you can't connect without presumably signing in but the page is entirely in Hebrew (so maybe you don't sign in? How do you create an account? I thought it was free!!?? So confusing.) 4) wait for your people and trust they are waiting and looking for you. Or have a designated waiting spot - even better if such a thing can be planned. Because when you're being heckled at by taxi drivers who are very convincing that the only way to get to Jerusalem is in their vehicle, it's stressful keeping your wits and the true end goal in mind ("find rest of group, take Sherut to Jerusalem"). 5) when all else fails, call Jer. He knows everything and is the central hub of information. He's been here done that. 6) they do not read backwards, you do; 7) laugh. Always laugh. It relieves stress and lets face it, there is comedy in this situation. 8) If you send a group of people to a foreign country where no one speaks the language, you inevitably learn conflict resolution. They don't call it "Global Immersion" for nothing!
We eventually all made it to Jerusalem. We eventually connected with the other part of our group and the larger group as a whole. All was right in the world again.
Dinner in the old city after sharing some wine and telling stories, getting to know the non-Genesis members of our group. And off to bed we went, it was a full day. (More about the old city tomorrow.) We are starting at 8a SHARP. Time to attempt sleep again - 2 hrs left in this night.