First of all, let me apologize for not updating more consistantly as the Holy Land trip continued after my last blog on February 8th. My preferred style would have been to blog each day but somehow my time and energy got pulled into other directions and I wasn't able to accomplish what I set out to do. In light of that reality, I hope to blog about our fantastic trip to the Holy Land over the next two or three days as I catch up here at home, at the church, and prepare for my next adventure to Burkina Faso, Africa.
Our group of seven from the Centerville/Richmond area combined with 141 United Methodists from the state of Indiana (give or take a few from other states and denominations). Our group was hosted by Bishop Mike Coyner and his wife Marsha; both of them providing faithful, friendly, and spiritual leadership throughout our trip together. It was a fabulous trip filled with the sights and sounds of the places of Jesus' birth, life, ministry, death, and resurrection. I was absolutely thrilled to be able to share the trip with our seven Holy Land pilgrims and other friends, old and new, as we journeyed together in the area of the Sea of Galilee, Bethlehem, Jerusalem, and many other places in the country of Israel. Our guide, Halel, was wonderful! A life long Jew, Halel was born in the great state of Ohio and moved to Jerusalem when he was 26. His knowledge of US culture and being a native speaker of American English, plus his 40 years of living in Israel and incredible knowledge about Jesus, New and Old Testament scripture, and the history of the areas we explored all combined in a very, very unique and satisfiying way for the people he served on the "Gray Bus." Not only did his communication skills excel on so many different levels to us folks from the US, he was a genuine "people person", possesed an engaging, self deprecating, and "wickedly" funny sense of humor, and was able to sense the needs and wants of the people he served. My trip was enriched by his presence and knowledge and I heard from the others on the trip that their appreciation for Halel matched or exceeded mine.