This is a street near my house in Bethlehem.

I arrived in Tel Aviv on Tuesday and met my driver outside of security. With three bags and operating on very little sleep, I was very thankful to have someone there for me who knows this country and who could take me where I needed to go. He had a Jesus fish on his dashboard, but I’m afraid that, in my sleepy state, I didn’t manage to make conversation with him about our shared faith.

The drive was beautiful! As the sun set, we went through rocky but green hills, and overall I was very surprised at how nice I found things. We pulled into Jerusalem around sunset and I went to Ronit’s (a new co-worker of mine) house to stay the night with her.

Although I was pretty tired by the time I got to the house, Ronit was having some Israeli friends over for dinner and hanging out. It was good to get to meet them and I’m actually really glad to have gotten a little taste of Israeli-believing culture before heading to Palestine. Many of the people I met are are Messianic Jews originally from America and have attained Israeli citizenship and served in the army here. Very interesting!

Wednesday, Ronit and I came to the office in the morning and I got to experience my first daily prayer time and staff meeting. I walked to the store with Ronit to buy some office supplies (the good kind: coffee and tea) and then went to pick up my bags and run some other errands around town with another coworker. I think I expected there to be more signs in English, but I should be able to get around anyway.

In the early afternoon, Salim brought me into the West Bank to meet my family. We weren’t hassled at the border. We just drove through, showed our passport/papers through the car window and continued on our way. My first impression of Bethlehem was that it seems peaceful! Not nearly as congested or seemingly intense (stressful) as Jerusalem. This really surprised me. I also was interested in the walls of separation between Israel and Palestine. They are huge and thick and bleak (ugly concrete) but, on the Palestine side, covered by all kinds of graffiti, including some really amazing art which Salim said is famous around the world. Someday I might spend some time hanging out at the wall looking at all of what is there. If I can, I’ll post some pictures.

We went to Bethlehem Bible College, where Salim introduced me to some Palestinian young people. Then I met Ana, who is the mother in the family I’ll be living in for my time here. She is in her thirties, full of energy and well educated, currently finishing a MA and teaching school, co-leading a 50 member youth group, and caring for her family of 5, and now me as well. She told me that she is happy to have me and dropped me off at the house, showing me my new home on the way to one of her final exams.

I was thrilled to see my room. It is big, on the roof, simply furnished but private, and with a private bathroom. So much nicer than expected! I was thrilled to unpack all of my things and start to see the room become my own.

Now I am pretty set up, and am settling in. Since moving in I have had several more experiences which I will write about later! Thanks for beginning this journey with me.