Peter and I arrived safely in Israel very early Thursday morning our time (Wednesday night your time). Thank you for all your prayers, kind words, help, going away parties, advice, encouragement and love on our way out of Austin. It was very meaningful for us. When we left for the airport, we had four large bags, three of which were over 50 pounds. Peter and I were prepared to pay the 150 dollar fee for our overweight baggage, but fortunately our very nice check in lady didn’t charge us anything. We were thrilled, needless to say, and it only encouraged us that the rest of our traveling would be covered with grace. As we took off out of Austin, I looked out the window of our plane and starred down at the earth beneath us, I was overwhelmed with such strong emotions that I just started bawling like a baby, I was so embarrassed and tried my best to contain it, but it was too hard. I think the weeks of preparation and the days after days of saying goodbye to so many of you finally hit me like a wave and I just couldn’t keep it in anymore.
Peter and i had a six hour layover in Chicago, we found a delicious Greek restaurant in the airport and i had my favorite, spanecopita (spinach pie). While Peter finished up some last minute phone conversations, I played some serious scrabble – against the computer, since Peter will no longer let me play him; his constant scrabble smack downs are not good for the morale of our marriage, but the computer has no feelings, so I’m extra ruthless.
Our flight from Chicago to Frankfurt was long. Somehow neither one of us found the ability to sleep very much, which also was not very nice for the morale of our marriage :), but we made it. In fact, when we landed in Frankfurt for our nine hour layover we manged to take the train into the city for some bratwursts and German beer. I also managed to convince Peter to come with me into H&M, one of my favorite European clothing stores for some serious window shopping. After about 30 minutes of that Peter found his way to the center of the town and sat at the picnic tables while i continued on my window shopping quest. I found some little red sneakers with white polka dots for just five euros. I walked back to find peter, I looked everywhere for him. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw some poor man stretched out on the bench asleep. That unconscious man was Peter. I woke him up, showed him my new shoes, he liked them, especially the price. We talked briefly, before we decided that we were too tired to stay there anymore, everything was blurry, and we were starting to stare at people with our mouths open and mumble one syllable words to each other. We thought it was time to make it back to the airport.
We arrived back at the airport, at passport control the German customs man smiled at me and said, “Mrs. Kusek, ja, dats goot Polish name.” and handed me my passport back with a toothy smile. Peter and I had another two security checks (Germans are very thorough) before we made it to our gate and boarded our plane for Israel. After a brief four hour flight we landed in Tel Aviv. I was so nervous about passport control that i realized i was struggling with my breathing. My main concern was the fact that we had only purchased one way tickets into Israel and that they had the right, if they chose to, to send us back to the states if they weren’t happy with our explanation. After some considerable time talking and prayerfully considering our options of what to selectively tell customs about our reasons for coming to Israel, Peter and i felt that we should be completely honest with them and tell them we were coming to work with Succat Hallel. Which is exactly what we did. When asked why we were coming to Israel we said to volunteer with a Christian organization, then we showed our letter of invitation. She asked us where we were staying, “Jerusalem,” I answered. She read our letter of invitation, nodded her head, stamped our passports and then said, “Thank you for coming to Israel.” And that was it. I was amazed. I’ve never experienced such an easy time going through customs before (out of more than 10 to choose from). I was stifling laughter because it was so shocking for me.
All four of our bags arrived safely in Israel. Which was nice. My dad met us at the airport, drove us to our new home in Jerusalem. Peter and I finally got to sleep around 6am Thursday morning. About 36 hours after we had left Austin.
Jet Lag and Melatonin.
Friday night we had Shabbat dinner with most of the Succat Hallel staff. It was a nice time of getting to know people and getting a sense of the new community we’ll be working with. That night, Peter and i came home and tried to sleep but could not, so around 2am we got up and made a breakfast of scrambled eggs with fresh cucumbers and tomatoes and yummy hummus. After a long whispered talk around the breakfast table and bits of silent starring out the windows at the foggy city beneath us we attempted to sleep. However still wide awake at 4am, we chose to take some melatonin – which knocked me out until three this afternoon. Ugh.
Still drowsy from melatonin I did something stupid, i plugged in my curling iron without a converter, just an adapter. The 220 voltage here heated up my curling iron so hot that when I placed my hair around the barrel, it burned off with one huge puff of dark hot smoke. With shock i stared at my curling iron. It had a huge hunk of my burnt hair glued to the barrel, still steaming with fowl smoke – like a charred piece of black toast. I’m sad, I’ll miss that hunk of hair, my hair is thick enough that you can’t really tell. However, the bathroom stinks like burnt hair, and for the life of me, i can’t get rid of the singed smell in my hair. Bah. I should have known better, but i blame it on the melatonin.
Today, while dad and Peter were out looking for the road to Emmaus, literally i wrote a song. There’s a big, beautiful grand piano in the living room here, and although i can’t really play, i like to touch the white keys when no one is listening and tap out my elementary melodies. In the midst of that, i stumbled across a little diddy and wrote a new song called “unburden the dawn” or something like that. It’s encouraging to me that something new musically has already started to happen.
Tomorrow is my dad’s last day before he returns to the states for three weeks. Meanwhile, Peter and I will be hosting the home for the first time on our own. We are getting the very quick guided tour of how to run this place. I’m hoping that we’ll remember it all.
Well, that’s all for now, I’ll try and be faithful with writing and filling you all in. Don’t be shy, we love hearing from you so keep us posted.
Much love to all of you. We miss you and hope to see you soon (hint, hint).