May our God be praised and glorified as we give thanks for this awesome opportunity to travel to the Holy Land.
This pilgrimage was anointed from the very beginning in 2018 when Iyad-Eddie- Abufarha approached me with the idea of traveling to the Holy Land through his company, Trinity Tour Travels. I did not feel a bit of doubt or hesitation to begin the process. I feel that it has been Holy Spirit inspired and guided every step of the way. I had a feeling of confidence in leading my very first pilgrimage and a confidence in Eddie as well.
Although I have been to the Holy Land several other times, this was my first time into the Country of Jordan and discovered much there is rich in the history of the Holy Land and is in fact a critical part of what is the Holy Land. I found a great contrast between Jordan and Israel. Jordan is more arid and desert than Israel and seems to be much poorer in it economy.
Staying in Amman was a delight as our home base. The accommodations were excellent as was our guide, Sami and our bus driver “Captain” Amal and our security guard Muhamad, He was a surprise but joined right in with all of us and even showed us some extra tricks for our iPhone cameras. It was a very busy two days going to the sights in Petra to Mt Nebo and Jerash. The history is amazing as are the sights.
Crossing over into Israel security check was interesting but uneventful. I really enjoyed staying in Nazareth and Bethlehem for extended stays. The hospitality was excellent as was our guide and bus driver. They took good care of us and managed the tours day by day so that we were able to see the optimum sites and usually were the first or second bus at the sight.
Having only twenty people in the pilgrimage was an excellent number, not too few and not too many to keep track of and we took care of each other. Only twice did someone miss the group but our bus drive Murad found them and kept them safe till we got back together.
I come away with a fresh appreciation for the Holy Land and all the people there, Palestinian Christians, Jews and Muslims and so many other pilgrims from around the world all there together -in peace- doing the same thing we were. It felt right, although I didn’t have a clue what was being said in Arabic. I found a little book from the Magnificat Book company called the “Holy Land Companion” that I was able to procure for each pilgrim. That was very helpful for our morning prayer time on the bus, for the masses, other prayers and meditations for the different holy sites and the Stations of the Cross on the Via Dolorosa.
Celebrating Mass at the different sites each day was the highlight for me. With a small group it was very intimate and an awesome experience. Everything was set up for us at each place, thanks to the Franciscan sacristans and sisters who took such good care of us. I liked the prayers that spoke of THIS place for each of the holy site Masses. What great memories I have and can appreciate the Prayers at Mass and the Scriptures so much more having been at the actual place the events of Christ’s life took place.
Louay arranged for us to participate in the candlelight procession in Nazareth at the Church of the Annunciation and to personally be involved in the recitation of the Rosary. What a special honor that was.
I can’t say enough about the bus drivers and our guides, Sami and Louay. They are extremely knowledgeable, like walking encyclopedias, and very thoughtful and generous. The bantering between the guides and bus drivers was delightful and refreshing because they included us as well. Being on the ground for only eight days and seeing all that we saw in that short of time was a bit exhausting, but we had plenty of time in the evening to recover. Thank goodness we have pictures to remind us where we were and what we saw. We are an older group and the memory retention isn’t what it used to be. But it is a worthwhile experience we will treasure for a lifetime. I highly recommend Trinity Tour Travels and hope to return sometime soon. I must recover from the 11-hour plane ride first.