Hello all. After the 18 hours of travel, I finally arrived in Tel Aviv and Joppa. Sad to say, my suitcase did not make it here. They say it will arrive sometime tomorrow. I hope so. I would post a couple new pictures, but all my little photo transfer gadgets are in my suitcase. It's been an interesting day of small adventures. God took care of me all day. I got to sit next to a Jewish woman on the way to Philadelphia and we ended up talking for hours. When I told her that this trip was sort of organized (without plans) and that I needed to learn how to use a bus, she said tsk tsk for not using a travel agent (she's a travel agent) and suggested I ask someone from the airport. Then from Philadelphia, I got to sit next to a greek woman. In front of us were two young Jewish boys (perhaps men, if they've been Bar Mitzvah'd) and they were quite friendly. They, along with their Rabbi and a total of 10 men, woke up at sunrise and headed to the back of the plane for their morning prayers. I must confess that I at first was a little annoyed being woken up (after trying for an hour to get to sleep) by voices and light, but then thought it was pretty cool how disciplined they could be each and every day. One of the boys lost his yarmulke (skullcap) during the night and we all tried to crawl on the floor of the plane to find it. It reminded me of the parable of the lost coin.
After arriving in Tel Aviv, I for the first time felt the disappointment of not seeing my bag come down the shoot. After getting that figured out with Customs and the Lost and Found (assuring it would be delivered to me tomorrow), I headed for the buses. Quickly I learned I need to learn Hebrew. Thankfully I think the look of lost confusion on my face told a guy that I needed help. He gave me directions and also rode with me on the bus to make sure I got to the right connection. Then on the next bus, I had to make sure I found my stop, or I would miss where I was going. The roads here in Tel Aviv have hidden signs, or at least they're small and up on corner buildings. Then when you assume you're on a certain street, you find yourself quickly noticing that the same street you're on, can change names every two blocks. After having the sense of "where am I?", did I ask someone on the bus (the only english speaker) where to go. Thankfully I had just missed my stop one stop and within two minutes, I arrived at my temporary home named Beit Immanuel. They're a Messianic congregation that runs a hostel and a church in the same building. It's a beautiful area and across the street (more like across the alley) is an old looking Lutheran Cathedral. There's even bats flying around in a tree outside.
I should get to sleep since tomorrow I begin work on photographing the Old Joppa and some beach areas in Tel Aviv. It will be tough considering the 80 degree weather and blue sea to gaze at :) Lots of walking in store. Hopefully my bag arrives and I can share some pictures.