Here is just a brief e-mail to let you know that we have arrived safely and without any major incidents along the way, the very sort of “boring” travel that a tour leader wishes for devoutly, to be sure :). Just a few highlights.
We set off from EMS very promptly at 7:00 AM yesterday, Thursday, April 30, with a “send-off” prayer from Kevin Clark, Seminary Campus Pastor, and the well-wishes of a sturdy little group of EMS students and faculty. Our trip to Reagan National (not International, as I incorrectly identified it two days ago) and our flights from Washington DC to Toronto and from Toronto to Tel Aviv were, as noted above, altogether safe and uneventful. Our plane set down wheels on Israeli soil at 10:00 AM ME time this morning, under bright blue skies and 70 degree weather, something quite close to “perfect” on my scale of potential weather situations. We had no difficulties whatsoever at immigration ( read “passport control”). And all of our bags arrived just fine. So we were out of Ben Gurion by 11:15 via the Jerusalem sherut (Israeli shared taxi). And we were pulling our bags into Tantur at 12:45 PM this afternoon . . . . Our sincere thanks to God for traveling mercies and a safe arrival!
And then the real fun started. We were met first by Sami Nassar and then shortly by Issa Da’boub, both of them Tantur staff that I have known ever since January of 1996, so just shy of 20 years . . . . It was a great gift to receive their very warm welcomes, along with the welcomes of Tony Pohlen, Program Coordinator, and Esther van Stam, Housing Coordinator. And Esther offered us an instinctive “Tantur” welcome, as we were standing in the reception talking about check-in. It suddenly occurred to her that we needed lunch (even though we are not signed up on the lunch plan), since we had just arrived. So altogether instinctively she said, “You folks should just go and have lunch in the dining room today, since you just arrived!” And with that the Tantur reputation for wonderful, gracious, instinctive hospitality (I have other such stories, one special one from years ago in particular!) has just reconfirmed itself. We wasted no time . . . and had a fabulous lunch!
Life is clearly “hopping” here at Tantur at the moment. There is a “Seeds of Peace” group here this week and a “Kids for Peace” group (if I have the name correct) as well. We will not lack for excellent opportunities to make connections and to hear stories from different folks.
This is now “down time” for several hours, before we gather once again and embark on a “tour” of the Tantur property and our first “Evening Prayers,” prior to dinner in the Tantur dining hall . . . .l
It is good to be “home” at Tantur . . . and to have four EMS students here with me for the next three weeks . . . . My heart is unbelievably full . . . .
Blessings to you all!
Dorothy Jean (for Gabe, Matt, Nick, and Jason as well)