After passing through Passport Control and Customs, our team was greeted by our wonderful guide. Following a 30-minute bus ride through the outskirts of Tel-Aviv, we arrived in the old town of Joppa (also spelled Jaffa or Yoffa). This is the historic port city in Ancient Israel that saw many international powers pass through such as the Phoenicians and Egyptians. The first stop was lunch at St. George’s Restaurant for some classic Middle Eastern kebabs. Directly across the street from the restaurant was a large monument of a whale!
One famous biblical story that took place in Joppa is Jonah. This prophet was summoned by God to preach to the Assyrians. Rather than doing that, Jonah fled to Joppa where he boarded a vessel heading in the opposite direction. Read the full and fascinating story of Jonah here.
Additionally in Joppa, the disciple Peter was staying at the house of a man named Simon the Tanner. It was upon his rooftop that Peter beheld a prophetic vision that helped shape early Christianity. This story can be found in Acts 10. The team also visited Saint Peter’s Church, which was built by the Franciscans in honor (and supposedly on top of) the house where Peter received this vision. Following these sites, we were driven through the “newer” city of Tel Aviv and meandered past a mosaic of old structures and modern high rises en route to our hotel. A few team members chose to stroll the beachside promenade that extends for miles cascading along the coast of the Mediterranean.
I would say that for an “arrival” day, today was full of wide-eyed and slightly sleep-deprived people learning to take in and cherish every moment and memory. Can’t wait for our first full day together tomorrow when we begin the trek to the area of Galilee.