Yesterday, the 13 of us arrived in Israel. The seven of us coming from Indiana landed in Tel Aviv late in the morning. After sitting on planes for endless hours and being questioned by airport security, setting foot on the ground of the Holy Land was nothing short of surreal.

From the airport, we took a taxi into Jerusalem, drinking in the sights along the way. Though the dominant color of the land is brown, the landscape is far from lifeless. Light stone structures rise almost seamlessly from the earth and cling to the sides of the rolling hills. The foliage is scrubby, yet vibrant, and large flowers burst from every corner.

We arrived at the Lutheran World Federation Guesthouse in Jerusalem, where we would soon greet the remaining 6 of our trip-mates. That evening, the 13 of us had our first taste of the local cuisine at a hotel restaurant.

Later, we had an orientation meeting. We talked a lot about culture and stereotypes and what it means for us to be strangers in a foreign land. We must constantly endeavor to be aware of cultural differences and expectations, not only to keep things running smoothly, but also to better understand this land and its people.

Today, we’ve got a long and exciting day ahead of us. First, we’ll be attending a service at the Lutheran Church of the Redeemer. As the trip goes on, we’ll keep you posted on our activities through this blog!

~ Caroline Hewitt

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