Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Home Again!

Yesterday we completed our Holy Land trip. It was a day starting with a 1:30AM wakeup call in Jerusalem and ending in Rochester at 9:45 PM. With the time zone changes that's over 28 hours. We had a chance to say goodbyes to new friends made from Israel to Michigan to Minnesota.

Here are comments from some of us:

My comments? The same lesson I taught for years: the Sea of Galilee, sweet water, vibrant, alive, teeming with talapia (St Peter's fish), swimmers, boats, and jet-skiis. The Dead Sea, briney, caustic, inimical, barren, hostile. The difference? One receives and gives, the other receives and does not give. Just so is it with us and God's sweet love in Christ: loved lavishly, we in turn can love lavishly. That way we stay sweet and fresh, like the lovely Sea of Galilee. But if we are takers (receivers) only, and do not freely share God's love in Christ, we too become barren, caustic, inimical, hostile, selfish (spiritually dead).

Larry and I were so pleased that we could travel with this group of long time friends and a few new friends. The friendships old and new are so important to us. However, the spiritual fellowship of this group of faithful followers of Christ made our experience even more precious. Yes, I felt a little pressure since I wanted this to be a perfect tour for all of the participants. (And, it was a very good tour.) Yet I found that the spiritual aspect was the significant part for me. It strengthened my faith in Jesus Christ as I once again visited where He lived and died. I felt the powerful meaning of His sacrifice for my sins and I praise God for the plan of salvation. We heard the Israelite history, old and new. In an area where there has been so much conflict, we heard a second side of the story when we visited a home in Bethlehem. I felt so much love in that Palestinian home. And it was so enlightening! As a result of our tour, may we all bring understanding and a little bit of peace to our world. I want to thank our three pastors for their leadership. To me singing the hymns led by Pastor Meiers was a real highlight!
Joanne Larsen

We join the rest in saying that one must be on Pilgrimage to understand and appreciate all we saw, heard, and felt. We agreed that it was our Number One trip, in the areas of study, appreciation of our Christian Heritage, and bonding with the peoples of the area, not to mention the blooming of the desert. Israel shows that the multicultural groups can live in peace. This should be a lesson for all of us here in the USA. Thanks to all on the trip for the cohesivness of the group. A joy that will always be with us.
Gene and Marilyn Treder

This was a wonderful experience - especially the Sea of Galilee. Thank you for allowing a Methodist to be a part of your group - it was a learning experience I enjoyed.
Beverly Ladin

What a time we had together! Seeing the land and places that we've read about and studied in the Bible has really helped me understand the message in context and to appreciate the challenges Christ, the disciples and early Christians faced as they spread the good news. For me this was a trip that sets the standards for all others ... beautiful scenery, interesting/historical places, spiritual renewal/growth, political enlightenment, well organized and enjoyable tour companions. I came away with much more than I started with.
Niel Wiegand

Our trip to the Holy Land - Israel - was a powerful, wonderful and exhausting time. However, I am so pleased that my family encouraged me to go... We have been asked to name the most impressive stops of the trip. For me, the supposed site of the Baptism of our Lord in the Jordan River by John the Baptist. But another as well, the Communion Service at the site of the Garden Tomb. Then, not one of our group could forget our awesome opportunity to walk through the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Jerusalem.
Pastor Jim Mattson

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