Thursday and Friday, June 26 and 27

2014-06-26 Bus Arrival

A long and successful “Day 1!”

We are all safe and sound, grateful and humbled after arriving at 7 a.m. Friday morning (midnight Thursday) on the flight from Newark to Tel Aviv.

Some slept, most didn’t on the 10+ hour flight that left Newark, Thursday, at 1:30 p.m.

After gathering all luggage, our pilgrimage began immediately that Friday morning. Thirty six of us, ages 8 – 81 (!) left the airport by tour bus en route to the Manger Square Hotel, in Bethlehem — but with a few stops on the way.  In Jaffa, we stopped to see the home of Simon the Tanner. In Acts (Chapters 9 and 10), Peter visits Simon and has visions which clarified God’s will that the new faith be much more than converting Jews; rather something to be spread to all peoples.

After checking into the hotel around 12 noon (5 a.m. Hopewell Valley-Time) we trekked by foot a short way to visit the headquarters of Diyar, a Lutheran-based organization based at Bethlehem’s Christmas Lutheran Church. Founded in 1995, Diyar emphasizes a multitude of diverse programs aimed at Palestine’s beleaguered youth, children, women, and the elderly to give them hope in circumstances of such utter hopelessness. An inspiring presentation showcased very impressive programs providing enrichment in performing arts, fine arts,  education, and sports. Visit their website at

After approximately 36 late afternoon naps, we all gathered at 6:30 p.m. for pre-dinner worship, prayer, and sharing.  We each reflected upon and shared a single word best describing our first day.  Thankful, anxious, shocked, awakened, accepted, blessed, and curious, were among words we shared.

A delicious buffet dinner at the hotel brought this wonderful first-day to a close.  Many took nearby strolls.  We are all filled with anticipation for a good night’s sleep and a tomorrow, Saturday, full of adventure in and around Bethlehem.  Peace!

— George White