Day 1:

We gathered at O’Hare airport around 6pm to begin our journey.  Everyone (all 43 of us!) arrived safely, made it to our gate, and boarded our giant Turkish airlines jet.  Father said a prayer before we boarded, and the 9.5 hour flight to Istanbul went smoothly.  A short layover, and we boarded another jet to Tel Aviv for a 1.5 hour flight, and we arrived safely in Israel.  We all got through passport control, and were promptly greeted by our travel agent, Yair, and some of his colleagues from AMI Travel. We have a large charter bus to ourselves for the entirety of our trip, so we loaded up to head to our hotel for some much-needed rest.  The Sharon Hotel in Hertsliyya kept their marvelous dinner buffet open late just for us starving and weary travelers, and it was delicious!  We also sang an informal Happy Birthday to Fr Panagiotis, complete with a candle stuck into a bread roll, accompanied by grapes.  After dinner a few pilgrims took walks out behind the hotel right along the shore, while others went back to their rooms for a hot shower and some serious rest and recovery. Our wake up calls are at 6am tomorrow, so I will conclude here for today.  Please keep us in your prayers as we travel by bus tomorrow to visit our first batch of Biblical sites!  God bless our efforts and study in the holiest of places.  -Presbytera Nichole