Led by Pastor Bill VandenBosch and his wife Lyn
Preparing for a pilgrimage is vital to getting the most out of it and Pastor Bill and Lyn did an excellent job in getting us ready. Soon after we signed up (6 months before we left) in September (the tour was sold out soon after), Pastor Bill and Lyn held a meeting so we could meet the members of our group, supply us with a travel check-list and a reading list applicable to our pilgrimage. My husband and I took their advice to heart. Knowing that there would be a lot of walking on our tour, Pastor Bill also encouraged everyone to begin a walking regimen. I made the commitment to take an intentional walk for exercise every day and I continue to do so today.
I was a little anxious about traveling to Israel because of the problems going on in some of the countries surrounding Israel. Upon arrival, I soon discovered that Israel was everything I thought it wasn’t – in a good way. I felt safe. People were going about their daily lives just like we do here. This was Pastor Bill and Lyn’s third pilgrimage and we had 31 “pilgrims” in our group (which is the top limit for Pastor Bill), ranging in age from 14 to 77. Salah, our outstanding tour manager, joined us in Israel. He added historical, political and geographical insight.
I have traveled a lot over the 34 years I’ve been in the travel industry but I was not prepared for the impact Israel would have on me. From remnants of ancient civilizations layered one on top of the other to being in the very places Jesus did most of his ministry was a lot to get my head around. Every day the Bible came to life right before my very eyes. On the first full day after arrival, we visited Caesarea, on the sparkling Mediterranean Sea, Megiddo with cities dating back to 4,000 B.C., the picturesque Jezrell Valley, Nazareth, and Sepphoris which was a key city in Galilee by 100 B.C. and home to some of the most magnificent mosaics ever discovered in Israel. Careful pre-planning by Pastor Bill and Lyn assured us of visiting many places within a day. Many times my husband and I said we could have never done this on our own. And if we had, we would have missed the biblical insight, historical background at each stop, and the joy of sharing this experience with the wonderful people who were in our group.