After a mad dash through London, we have settled down in Israel. The last two weeks were spent “guiding” my parents on a tour of the land. They had a great time! We did as much as we could do in ten days and they left exhausted this morning. The experience was very helpful for thinking about how I lead trips. Every time I’ve been in Israel I’ve been part of a tour which includes a bus, driver, and a guide. It’s a totally different experience to fly solo. Our GPS unit helps incredibly and I know enough about the land to not listen to it when it tries to send me in the wrong direction.
We have settled in an apartment in the Jerusalem suburb of Mevasseret Zion. It is a nice, quiet neighborhood. The rent fits into our budget and the location is perfect for our upcoming dig – only :30 minutes away. Sadly this part of the world is neither safe nor quiet. While we detect almost no threat to our safety on the ground, the government of Israel is preparing for trouble. Recently we were alerted to a chemical warfare preparedness drill planned for next week. Our landlady sent it to us and showed us the bomb shelter in the home. In case you are wondering, Israelis are not running around shaking. They have come to live with this tension. To me is seems vaguely similar to the way I grew up in Brooklyn. Yes there were muggings every day in crime ridden NYC, but you learn to live with it. You adjust to your circumstances. You go on with life. So it goes in this area of Israel. Sderot is a different story.
For the next few weeks I’ll be visiting important sites in the land sometimes with Julie and the kids, sometimes without. Pray for me. I’ll be going off the beaten path. That’s the point of being here without a tour group. For example, last week we all jumped on an Arab bus and rode to Bethlehem. Honestly, it was fantastic. Felt as safe as downtown Chicago. I even got a chance to witness to a Muslim university student who was keen to talk. That said, I’m not sure a trip like that is for everyone.
The dig begins on June 16th and I’ll be there every week day for five weeks. I’m really looking forward to this experience. Unfortunately some of the living arrangements didn’t workout as we hoped. Initially it was looking like it would be affordable for Julie and the kids to stay with me at the hotel associated with the dig. However, after trying hard the dig director was not able to negotiate a price for the children which fits in our budget. You will remember that our apartment plans came together at the last minute. Well that seems to have been part of God’s plan for us all along. The dig is only :30 minutes from the apartment, so it looks like I will commute a few days a week to the site. I’ll return home on weekends. During the week we are close enough that Julie and the kids can come to the hotel and use the pool! It will be more comfortable than what we had planned, even if it means I’ll be away from everyone for a few nights each week. In addition it fits into the budget. Zambia was relatively inexpensive compared to Israel! I’ve attached some pics and created a Facebook album which you can see here (even if you don’t have Facebook).
Thanks for following, praying!