Israel – our first days here and Jerusalem


Hey All!!!

 My first few days here at Moshav Yad HaShomnah have been amazing!!  The flight here from Newark, NJ, was about 9 1/2 hrs, so although we flew out at 11pm on Sat night, we landed around 4pm on Sunday evening. We made our way through customs fine with only a few little hassles that didn’t really end up being anything anyway.

The faculty here is amazing.  Abner Chou, one of my favorite prof’s at school, is here, and he and his wife Johanna just had their first child Nehemiah.  Randy Cook is one of the other prof’s and he seems really cool and also very approachable.  I look forward to learning from him. Bill Schlegel is also really cool.  He’s my regional studies prof, and since he’s really fit, I’m sure that class is going to be a killer.  It’s basically an intense hiking class that he openly told us we’d better be fit for. *gulp*  Rachel Israel is our IBEX volunteer/secretary/student liaison.  She’s a Master’s alumnus and is awesome as well.  The other ladies here (Stephanie Schlegel, Phyllis Cook, and Becky Bange) are also amazing, and I look forward to being involved in the women’s Bible study with them.

Man, I feel like we’ve done so much already that I’m losing track.  I’ll try to start from the beginning.  Well, after we got here on Sun night, the faculty counseled us to stay up to at least 9 to try to beat the jetlag that they said would wake us up at 3am.  A lot of people had a hard time sleeping that night, either being unable to sleep or only sleeping until the early hours between 3 to 6am.  Thankfully, I had no problem sleeping and had to be woken up by my roommate Caitlin because I didn’t hear the alarm.  Don’t worry; I had planned for her to wake me up because I know I sleep like a rock.

We had orientation on Monday morning, then a campus tour and a walk to a local grocer’s for an Israeli snack.  During the evening, after dinner, we just had fun hanging out, walking to the Elvis Inn Café – don’t ask…lol – and goofing off in the miklat, which is our moshav bomb-shelter/student lounge, playing cards and other games.

This morning, I started my new job on the moshav. I officially open up the library and the “email room” (computer lab) and the classroom (yes, we only have one) and turn the heaters on (yeah, they’re space heaters for the most part).  It’s not a bad job.  I just have to be up and at it by 7am, which isn’t a problem since my first class is at 8.  I also am in charge of cleaning the miklat twice a week, but I haven’t done that yet.

This morning I was up at 6:30, which definitely seems like the pattern for this semester.  Breakfast is at 7, and classes start at 8; so that doesn’t leave any time for sleeping in.  Oh, well.  Who would want to sleep in when you’re in the Holy Land?! lol…just remind me of that later in the semester when I’m dead-tired.

Food over here is definitely different, but I’m learning to like it a lot.  In fact, I don’t think I’m going to be very motivated to switch back to American food.  Many people here would probably find my saying that very surprising – not many people here like the food – but I think it’s a ton healthier, and I like having a little bit of everything and not really having seconds.  Maybe there is something to eating kosher…lol.  Kosher or not, I do miss a good Whopper meal and am still not a fan of fish (unless it’s raw) but I do like the creative way they cook (or don’t cook) vegetables here.

Continuing on that thought of lifestyle here in Israel, I really don’t mind the living quarters either.  Maybe it’s my adventurous side, but living in a cold room with only a space heater (which we can’t leave on when we’re out of the room, so it’s STINKIN’ cold when we come back) that’s smaller than my bedroom back home with two other girls who have just as much stuff (or more) than I do is hard in on sense but neat in another, because I realize how blessed we are in America and how easily we…I… take it all for granted.

Today it rained, and life went on.  I watched others walking around – natives – and life went on for them. Girls didn’t fuss over their hair, and you know what? I’m learning that the exterior is not the focus (wow…basics here, Ash) and practicality is better than fashion.

The group here at IBEX is amazing.  I couldn’t have asked for a better group.  I’m learning so many revealing things about others, myself, and what love looks like.  Reaching out, true leadership, humility, incorrect prejudice, trust – living together with 32 other students, some of whom I didn’t know before this trip, is already teaching me a lot about myself and my lack of Christlike character.

Today, we had the awesome opportunity to go to Jerusalem for the whole afternoon.  We walked all around inside and outside its walls, learning about the people who lived there and looked at the stones that Herod put there, looked into the Kidron Valley, walked past Gethsemane, saw the Dome of the Rock, and…wow….can’t remember it all! lol

Jerusalem was amazing!  Can I just say that again?  It’s WAY different than I imagined and only slightly like any Jesus film I’ve seen.  It’s way more crowded, dirty, run-down, and more like NYC than I’d ever imagined.  I really feel like walking through the crowded streets in the center of the city was like walking down the streets in the Bronx or some other downtown-rundown area of NYC.

The markets are some of my favorite parts of the city.  They’re so foreign to us Americans that they’re both captivating and hilarious.  Once today, Randy (the IBEX leader) bought about 100 shekels (about $23) of almonds for us to eat as walked back to the bus, and the vender said, “Who’s next? Who’s next? I like everybody!” lol.  Maybe you had to be there, but it is rather hilarious to hear these Arabs and Israelis speaking rough English and trying to get us to buy stuff from them.  They sell everything from food to clothes to jewelry to …anything else you can imagine (except furniture; didn’t see any of that).  I did see a whole store devoted to 70s clothes though; that gave me a chuckle. =D

I have tons of pics but as of now, my camera is dead and I have yet to purchase an adaptor (the electricity is different here) so I can charge my battery.  Rats. lol

Well, I’m off for now.  I have a work meeting, then it’s off to hw.  I have over 100 pgs of reading to do in the next 6 days plus a map-marking projects with TONS of Bible- and manual-reading and another, all-day trip to Jerusalem on Sunday (we do church on the Shabbat, which is Saturday, in case you were wondering).

Well, lila tov for now!  Pictures are coming soon!!!

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