Confessions of a reluctant pilgrim
“Thanks, but no thanks. I’m not interested” was the way I answered Graeme Lienert when he first invited me to join him on the trip to Israel this past Easter. I like traveling and there are countries I would still like to visit, but Israel was not on my radar.
But Graeme is not easily discouraged. He kept inviting me. My kids told me it was a great opportunity and I should go. Several friends who had been to Israel told me how interesting they had found it. So eventually we decided that my wife, Janet, and I would both make the trip.
How glad I am we did! The experience was better than I hoped for. I enjoyed getting to know our traveling companions. The trip was hassle free, with Graeme quickly taking care of a couple of minor hiccups. At no stage did I feel in danger or under threat. Our Jewish guide, Gale, was positive, good-humoured and a wealth of information about Israel past and present. Our Palestinian bus driver, Feris, gave us a smooth and stress-free journey around the country. The accommodation was first class, the food excellent, and there were no unexpected costs.
And what a privilege it was to visit and be in places that I had read about so often in the Bible: Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Jericho, Lake Galilee, Capernaum, Cana, Nazareth; to sail on and swim in Lake Galilee, to be where Jesus gave the Sermon on the Mount, to walk down the Palm Sunday road, to touch the olive trees in the Garden of Gethsemane, to worship in the Lutheran Church in Old Jerusalem on Good Friday and join with a large congregation of Christians from all over the world to celebrate the Lord’s resurrection at the Garden Tomb on Easter morning.
We had such a wealth of experiences in the ten-day visit in Israel. I had feared it might be too much to take in in such a short space of time. But I didn’t find it that way. It was helpful to have refreshed my knowledge of Israel’s geography and history beforehand. Janet and I also kept diaries of where we had been and what we had seen. And we were given time to relax and do our own thing. So we headed for home feeling greatly enriched by the experience and by the new friends we had made on the way. (And the day we spent in Dubai was an unexpected bonus.)
If you have the opportunity to visit Israel but are reluctant like I was, let me encourage you to go. The Scriptures will gain new clarity for you. Your faith will be deepened. Your knowledge increased. And you will have a memorable time in good company.
Pastor Brian Schwarz
Australian Holy Land Tour to Israel – October 2013
“Words cannot describe it” was the most common reply when asked how you would best describe the Tour of Israel you’ve just been on.
I think we were all gasping for adequate words – I recall thinking over and over “it’s like a walk through the Bible”. No matter how versed you were with the Bible you could not escape the encapsulated feeling of actually walking your way through the pages and feeling the presence of the Holy Spirit. We walked in their steps, we lay on the same stones, we bathed in the same waters, oh my, it still gives me gooes bumps as I write.
Awe inspiring to be in the grounds, on the mountains and in the seas, rivers and lakes in which we read and learnt back through our Baptisms, Sunday School, Confirmation and every learning experience through church and life over the years. We were actually there and so often we looked at each other saying “can you believe we are actually here?” We knew when we watched each other in deep contemplation exactly what was in our minds. Words could not describe it. It was a deep and meaningful ‘feeling’ we all experienced going from one amazing place to another day after day… One more thing …! How many tours would you come across an ex “Policeman” as the Tour Leader? I said it was a special tour and in his own unique way Graeme got us across busy roads, … up & down mountains … and herded us together to make our next meal on time … If you ever thought about going to Israel – DO IT as the saying goes. It’s safe … You will never ever regret it – God Bless
(Sandra H. Perth October 2013)
A beautiful place to visit, very picturesque – Loved the food – largely mediterranean – nice light salads, flat breads, legumes local deserts, fruit which included dates and turkish delight – the real thing! Exi, Perth, Oct 2013
There was time to bathe in the Dead Sea, to float in waters rich in minerals and to ‘muddy up’ with Dead Sea minerals. A real fun day.
Dot S. Balcatta WA Oct 2013
Holy Land Pilgrimage – April 2014
‘The tour was amazing, full on, but I learnt and experienced so much. Our tour guide (Gale_ was fantastic.’ Lyn, Brisbane Qld. 1 May 2014
‘I had a wonderful time. Hotels were great, food was very good. Coach was comfortable and all venues were great. It is an experience one will never forget.’
LH Esperance WA. 7 May 2014
The Meridien Hotel in Dubai was first class – the hotel in Tel Aviv was nice and close to the beach. We especially enjoyed our stay at the Ron Beach hotel in Tiberias – would liked to have stayed longer – great location on Lake Galilee. Bus and driver were excellent. Our Israeli Guide Gale, was first class – Very knowledgable… had a great sense of humor. Thoroughly enjoyed our trip.
Great memories. H. B. NSW – 9/5/2014
Happy to have been to Israel. It was a very special holiday. Gale, coach driver and tour leader were all very good. P. H. 19/5/2014