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All right, I've lollygagged long enough; it's time I got off my lazy rear end and started posting my pictures and commentary on my ABSOLUTELY FANTASTIC trip to Israel from 07 to 17July.
First off, although I left on the 7th, I arrived the morning of the 8th. I traveled with another couple between Newark, NJ, and Tel Aviv, and not with the vast majority of the group; there was a small mix up figuring out connecting flights, and since I wasn't leaving out of Orlando, I used different flights.
Continental actually had a good schedule, and I very much liked the fact that eash seat had its own viewscreen - plus, there were over 170 movies available to watch at no charge! Loved that, both going and coming, because I can never get proper sleep on a plane. However, when Judy and Larry (the other couple) and I arrived in Tel Aviv, I encountered a wee problem: my luggage apparently didn't travel with me! I had seen my bag when I left the arrival plane in Newark, and I'd deliberately left TONS of time for the connection, so I don't know what happened.
But, in spite of that inconvenience, I must remember that when the plane's wheels touched down on Israeli soil, my heart leapt and I had to choke back a tear or two. To be in the Holy Land where Jesus walked and preached and healed and died and triumphed over sin and death...! I cannot express how wonderfully moving that was (and is, even just in memory).
Anyway, Judy, Larry and I landed at Ben Gurion International fairly early at about 930am, and the rest of the group wasn't going to land until around 1pm. Our driver took us to the hotel - the Dan Panorama in Tel Aviv - right away to wait for the rest of the group, so I had some time to dither and fret about my lack of luggage (oh, I wanted a shower and fresh clothes!!!) for a while. But, the rest of the group got in at about 4pm (after a brief stop at Joppa on the way from the airport), and my wonderful roomie, Barbara, went with me to shop for some emergency clothing.
At dinner, I got to meet some of my fellow travelers (76 of us in all, two buses - Garnet, and my bus, Gold), and learned of Verizon's international data plan - so I texted my Beloved back here in the States, and he got me set up right away (oh, I DO love modern technology!!!). After dinner, there was a brief orientation meeting, and we went to our rooms to crash for the night.
I walked into the room while setting up my Droid for the international plan (roaming and wireless access permissions and whatnot), turned around, and THERE was my blue Delsey bag, waiting for me! God is indeed good... ;-)
Of course, then I found out that (I thought) I'd left both batteries for my canon xSi DSLR back in the States... So, all of the pictures I took of the trip - until we got in to Jerusalem - were taken with my Droid. Frankly, the Droid did a very, very good job for a cell phone camera, AND I really think God used this little bobble to remind me that my main purpose for being in Israel was NOT to go hog-wild with pictures and video and blogging, but rather to learn and soak in all that He had planned for me.
So, the very first day was a bit of a trial, but by God's grace I was able to maintain my calm, and He took care of me the whole way. Even if He hadn't returned my luggage to me, I knew I was in His hands and that things would all work out - one way or another. It was a wonderful, practical, real-life illustration of 1 Peter 5:6-7:
Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.
All right then, since I've broken the ice on getting started, I hope to have my round up of our first full day - 09 July 2010 - up by tomorrow or Saturday mid-day! Keep bugging me, people; I need a little extra motivation. As a matter of fact, threatening me with 20 lashes with a wet noodle might not go amiss! ;-)