Our Spiritual Trip of a Lifetime to the Holy Land
One of the items on the “Bucket List” of my wife, Lynn, and I was to take a trip to the Holy Land of Israel.
Lynn has been active in an organization now called Aglow International but which started about 47 years ago as Women’s Aglow. Over the years the organization has grown to have chapters in over 130 countries and has broadened its appeal to include men and teens.
Aglow has been taking tour groups to Israel annually for a number of years and in 2007 we decided to go with a group that numbered approximately 300 people. The majority of the group was from the U. S. but several other countries were also represented.
We arrived in Jerusalem and were pleased to find ourselves accommodated in a very nice hotel very much like the better hotels in any large American city. We quickly learned that Israeli hotels and eating places accommodate the tourists from many countries and cultures other than the native Israeli kosher style of food by offering (at least in our experience with a group of 300) lavish buffets that we found to be both delicious and kosher at the same time. After our initial buffet dinner, we settled into a large meeting room to be briefed on the necessary and desirable information covering, itinerary, local customs and “no no’s” which would not be appreciated, including less than modest attire and things that are considered offensive when touring the sacred sites and ancient ruins that we would be visiting.
The next morning we were delighted and impressed to find that the tour buses were the latest (and greatest) versions made by Mercedes Benz and they were quite luxurious and comfortable.
Each of the several buses had its own tour guide and we stayed with our assigned bus and guide for the entire trip, except for one day when the men took a different tour.
This is Moshe (Moses in English) our guide for the entire tour. Moshe is an archeologist and taught archeology in California for several years prior to returning to Israel to become a licensed guide. All tour guides in Israel are required to complete a rigorous training process that assesses and augments their knowledge of the history of the nation of Israel, the locations and pertinent details of all of its notable historical and religious sites and the fluency of their language skills.
Moshe was a tourist’s dream. He “made” the trip into a lifetime memory by imparting so much more information to us than we could ever have hoped to glean for ourselves.
Our first full day was a full day indeed! In the morning we went to the Mount of Olives, visiting the Chapel of the Ascension, the Church of the Lord’s Cry (for Jerusalem), walking the traditional Palm Sunday path and visiting the Garden of Gethsemane and the Tomb of Mary. In a subsequent post I will return to this morning’s activities in detail.
The afternoon’s activity featured a visit to the Garden Tomb. With Easter almost here, I’ll devote the next Israel post to that experience.
I hope you will find this new series of posts both enjoyable and informative.