8:05 pm – Israel Time – Sunday 3/22/15
We are on a bus now heading to our hotel in Tiberius right on the Sea of Galilee. You may be familiar with the Sea of Galilee, a guy named Jesus walked on it.
Our flight landed at around 5 pm and we sped through customs. I took a cheesy photo next to the sign that says”Welcome to Israel.” Through the whole travel process, I have been meeting so many of the 44 people on our trip, but I don’t have all the names down yet! There are six people involved in running the trip. There is our tour guide: Mountain (yep that’s his name), our local guide: George, the bus driver: Adele, and our three hosts? I guess you could call them hosts. Everyone on the pilgrimage put their name in a lottery to go because of these three guys. They are all part of the Catholic Channel on SiriusXM. Lino hosts a show, Brett produces a show, and Fr Dave also holds a show.
Fr Dave celebrated Mass for us at a little church in a town called Ramla, it was on our way to the hotel. The church, named for Saints Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea, was like a hidden fortress. Seriously, hidden. The bus driver actually couldn’t find it! We went through two iron gates in set in stone walls before we came to the church itself. However, the place was made less formidable by the massive Christmas tree perched atop one of the walls. One of the Jesuits who runs the church said they keep it up year round!
I think it was on the bus when Fr Dave prayed a blessing over us and our trip that it really hit me that we are here. Really here. I may have already walked where Jesus walked. Literally!
I want you to know that before we started Mass, I prayed for all of you. For all the struggles that you are going through. I may or may not know what struggles you are dealing with, but God does. And I offered my pilgrimage up to Him for you. I am offering up this trip for you and for your burdens. And if that doesn’t make sense to you, that’s okay. The prayer still works!
After Mass we congregated outside. Two Carmelite sisters and two Franciscan friars live at and run the church. One of the sisters is Polish and she was very sweet. She insisted on a group photo with her and the Friars and all of us. It was a heartfelt and very human moment.
It’s now midnight here and I am at our hotel. We had a meal so fantastic at the hotel that all I could eat was the salad course and dessert. There were at least 15 different fresh salads and veggies and olives and sauces…. I tried as many as would fit on my plate!