June 18-19, 2016: My trip to Israel and a taste of Tel Aviv

This summer, one of my greatest wishes was granted. I was blessed with the opportunity to visit Israel with a Pro-Israel/Jewish Christian organization catered to student leaders. The organization is called Passages and the trip was sponsored by Philos and the Museum of the Bible. Traveling was a little stressful because my family and I arrived at JFK airport much earlier than everyone else and we had a large stretch of time with nothing to do. Fortunately, I was able to get a cup of coffee and keep in touch with the group via Facebook–thank Heaven for free airport WiFi!

Despite the fact that I had never traveled alone before, I was not nervous going through customs and being interviewed by myself. Fortunately, El Al staff were very friendly and professional. I felt very safe and comfortable under their charge. I was also comforted by the presence of one of my friends from Princeton.

The day had barely begun and I was still seated in gate B31 when one of the students was already speaking prophetic words over us. This was while we were waiting for our baggage to be checked a second time. I’m really glad that even though Israel and El Al have heightened security, I wasn’t scared, nervous, or stressed. The only thing that was disappointing was that when I got my suitcase back from Ben Gurion/El Al baggage claim, the little padlock was missing. That’s not their fault. I just left it open for security reasons.

After arriving at the airport at approximately 5:30, my plane finally took off at 11:30, headed for Ben Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv-Yaffo, Israel. I spent the majority of the flight sleeping, mostly because I was tired, and partly because I was afraid to eat anything on the plane. I wasn’t sure if I would become nauseated, even though the food was certified Kosher. I kept myself entertained when I was awake by reading the Hebrew names of the states and countries we passed. The Hebrew names for places are exactly the same as their English names. Fortunately, I know enough phonics to be able to notice that.

Once we had arrived, we felt the effects of the time zone change. Plane takeoff was at 11:30pm US time. 9 hours and 50 minutes later, we would have landed at 9:20 am. However, in Israel, the time is 7 hours ahead. Therefore, the time ended up being 5:20pm. It felt as if I had been flying for an entire day. When we finally arrived in Israel, customs was a breeze. After meeting our tour guide, driver, and security, we boarded the bus and went to an incredible Middle Eastern restaurant called The Old Man and The Sea. The food literally just kept coming, course after course, until we could eat no more. And then it still just kept on coming. The waiters were also awesome, holding competitions to see who could balance the most dishes when removing them from the table.

Tomorrow we go to the holy sites in Jaffa.