Amazing, life changing, moving, safe, and Religious were the most common words used while my family was in Israel. The four best things about our pilgrimage were we went to the Sea of Galilee, we swam (floated) in the Dead Sea, we went to the Church of the Nativity, and we went to the tomb where Jesus was laid in the Church of the Holy Seplechre.
Our Legatus group met up with us at the hotel and the fun began with our hotel by the Sea of Galilee. The pilgrimage group actually went on a boat, but we weren’t allowed to fish. I wished we did. Also, we got to swim in the Sea of Galilee after our full days of touring. After 3 AMAZING days everyone got on our tour bus and went to Jerusalem for the remainder of our trip. The first day in Jerusalem we went straight to where Christ was buried. Our guide Steve Ray had arranged a surprise ...We got a “solemn entrance.” To qualify for this special event you have to just be arriving in Jerusalem and have never been into the Church of the Holy Seplechre. What happens is an organ player starts to play, they clear the path for the "special people" and the group walks though the entrance to the front of the tomb. The Franciscan monks “chant” in Latin while the ancient pipe organ is playing. Then we are greeted by the head of the Franciscans. When the ceremony is over you go into the Tomb. For me this was totally life changing being able to touch and see where the Messiah lay.
After a few more days, we went to the Dead Sea and swam/floated. At first you can’t feel a difference but when you lay down you start rising up from the muddy mineral rich floor filled with rocks and sink holes. We were only in the Sea for 15 minutes because you get dehydrated if you are in the DEAD Sea too long. Our group had to be careful not to swallow any water or get it into cuts or your eyes. The adults were advised not to shave 3 days before so it doesn’t sting.
Today my family went to the Church of the Nativity. Our Legatus group went to the Nativity Church 2 days before but the line was so long they said we would have to wait 3 hours to see where Jesus was born. We decided not to wait because we knew that we would have 2 extra days at the end of the trip. Those who stayed, had to wait 1 1/2 hrs. before they went down to the birth and manger site. Today, we only waited 15 minutes. The reason why the time was different was our guide for the day knew a trick and we went in through the exit ... the guard didn’t do anything about it. We took many pictures which mom will post. Overall it was a life changing experience.