Opening Blog – Posted from Jerusalem – Friday May 6, 2011

Posted in Holy Land 2011
May 6th, 2011

By Steve Carpenter

We have all arrived safely in Jerusalem after more than 20 hours of travel. Thanks be to God (Al hmdulillah!)

The days and hours leading up to our departure from the Eastern Mennonite Seminary parking lot at noon on Thursday were frantic. Four of us graduated from EMS the weekend before. Some were frantically and diligently searching for passports and other precious items. I delivered three copies of Master’s thesis in to my advisor at 11:35 pm, just minutes before we left for Dulles.

When we arrived at the airport in D.C. we caught up with Sue and Monroe, two other members of our group. Robert flew out of NYC and met us in Frankfurt, Germany completing our party of 15 travelers and 2 experienced guides (Dorothy Jean and Kevin).

For many it was a sleepless night but we were particularly joyful when Dorothy Jean was able to clear customs at the notoriously diligent security desk in TelAvi despite having overstayed her visa while on sabbatical in Israel several months ago. Reflecting on the experienced Dorothy Jean said, “I feel like I saw God at work today. . . . It feels like my life was given back to me.”

From the airport we boarded a tour bus and visited Mount Scopus which has a spectacular view of Jerusalem. For many it was our first glimpse of the Holy City. Later that night at evening prayers we reflected on our experience of seeing Jerusalem from Mt. Scopus. It was a powerful moment, both the first glimpse and the time of reflection.

We chuckled that the sign on our tour bus said “Easter [sic] Mennonite Seminary Group. We thought the name change should be suggested to Michael King, the seminary dean.

We entered Jerusalem through the Jaffa Gate and walked the narrow stone paved streets of the city to the guest house where we are staying for the first two nights. It has a beautiful rooftop courtyard where we are able to see the Dome of the Rock, and hear both the Muslim call to prayer and the joyous singing of a Jewish Youth group staying in the hotel beside ours.

At evening prayers, Kevin reminded us of the admonition, found in Psalm 122 verse 6a, to “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem.” Thank you for your prayers for us and for this unique, majestic, ancient and conflicted city.


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