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Friday, February 01, 2008


From Jersualem - Friday, February 1, 2008

Our group arrived safely in Israel on Friday, February 1, after many hours of travel by plane. We flew first from Philadelphia to Frankfurt, Germany (a little less than an 8 hour flight) and then, after a 3 hour layover, to Tel Aviv, Israel (another 4 hour or so flight). The weather greeting us at the airport was warm and sunny - there had been 6 inches of snow in Jerusalem on Wednesday and Thursday but there was no evidence of that on our arrival in Tel Aviv. We later saw some remnants of the snow as we journeyed up to Jerusalem.

Our Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) group consists of 11 people:
* Bishop Claire S. Burkat of our Southeastern Pennsylvania Synod,
* Dr. Phil Krey, the President of the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia (LTSP) and his wife, Dr. Ruth Diemer, the registrar at LTSP,
* Tim Frakes, of Tim Frakes Productions, our videographer,
* Bishop John Schreiber of the Southeast Michigan Synod (Detroit area),
* Pastor Jack Eggleston, Bishop Schreiber's assistant,
* Bishop Dean Nelson of the Southwest California Synod (Los Angeles area),
* Mary Beth Nowak and Marcia Johnson of the ELCA churchwide office staff in Chicago,
* My wife, Kris, and me.

We traveled by bus from the Tel Aviv airport for the 45 minute trip up to Jerusalem. We dropped nine members of our group, everyone but Kris and me, at the Lutheran Guest House in the Old City of Jerusalem, where they are staying, and headed to the east Jerusalem home of ELCA missionaries Pastor Mark & Marcia Holman (newly sponsored by Trinity Lutheran Church, Lansdale), where Kris and I are staying. We had no time to rest before heading back to the Old City so that the group could exchange money (into Israeli shekels, about 3 per US $1) and have dinner together at the Lutheran Guest House. After dinner and a briefing of our Saturday schedule, we headed to the Lutheran World Federation's Augusta Victoria Hospital on the Mt. of Olives where Mark and Susanne Brown hosted us for a brief reception at their home on the hospital grounds. Mark is the Lutheran World Federation director in Jerusalem. The Browns were wonderfully hospitable to our very tired group.

We then headed back into the Old City and east Jerusalem for a night of rest.

The big news we heard on Friday evening from Bishop Younan (by telephone) was that we ARE now scheduled to meet with Palestinian Authority President Abbas on Monday evening! This is a great privilege for us and very exciting.


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