Touchdown in Tel Aviv!

Read about the first day in the Holy Land for the Westminster Youth Ministry pilgrimage!

Hello from Israel!

The Westminster Youth Ministry Holy Land 2014 pilgrimage is now well under way.

Coming in to Tel Aviv!
Coming in to Tel Aviv!

The day started early, with everyone meeting at Heathrow Terminal 5 at 5am. A few of us had stayed in the terminal hotel for the night, with most people coming in the morning from home.

The flight was slightly delayed, as there was ice on the plane that needed to be removed. But after a short period, the captain was ready and we took to the air!

Having made numerous flights to Brazil in the past year, the five-hour journey to Israel wasn’t all that daunting! In a somewhat humorous moment, whilst we were waiting for permission to land, we had to make a circle in the air; on the live map, this made it look like we’d decided to fly back to England momentarily!

Folks resting after arriving at the Golan hotel in Tiberias
Folks resting after arriving at the Golan hotel in Tiberias

However, we shortly arrived in Tel Aviv without any problems. At the airport, we’d been told that we may be asked lots of questions by the security. What I had imagined was far from the reality.

Upon meeting the border security officer and handing her my passport, I said to her, “Hi, does ‘shalom’ mean hello or welcome?” She warmly explained that it could either mean hello or goodbye, but not welcome. She then asked me if I’d been to Africa in the past month, obviously because of the recent problems with Ebola. All in all, I found the security to be very friendly and welcoming.

After a few moments waiting for everyone to pass security, we boarded the coach and headed to our hotel in Tiberias. The journey there took about two hours and for the first half hour, our guide, Ibrahim, talked about Israel, the history of the country and so forth.

Chris looking puzzled, with the Cardinal in the background
Chris looking puzzled, with the Cardinal in the background

We then got to the Golan hotel at around 6:30pm local time. After a brief rest and a welcome drink, we sat down for dinner, which was a selection of meats, fish, potato, rice and so on. It was an opportunity for everyone to get to know each other a bit better and settle down into their new home for the next few days.

We then had a brief meeting and prayer, before everyone was free to do what they wanted for the rest of the evening – ending a very long and tiring day.

Tomorrow, the activities really start to get going, beginning with a trip on the Sea of Galilee. Stay tuned for more!