Holly’s Israel Pilgrimage
Holly returned recently from a 12-day tour of Israel. She traveled from Tel Aviv to Bethlehem, Jericho, the West Bank and many other sites, learning about the ancient country. Often, she walked where Jesus walked and felt honored to do so.
At the Wailing Wall, Holly tucked prayers into the cracks between the stones. She leaned her head and body against the ancient surface and said her own prayers with women from all over the world. In the Jordan River, Holly was baptized by one of the pastors in her tour group. She visited the Garden of Gethsemane which boasts ancient olive trees as does the Mount of Olives. The Judean Wilderness is aptly named with mile after mile of desert, void of greenery. Megiddo, host to more than 22 civilizations over time, and Cana where Christ turned the water into wine, now has Christians and Muslims in residence.
A self-proclaimed lover of water, Holly walked along the Mediterranean Sea and sailed on the Sea of Galilee. She waded knee-deep into the Dead Sea where bathers of all ages floated about in the brine. Their faces looked peaceful, and most spoke in low tones, enjoying their time in ancient waters. Drinking from Jacob’s Well, Holly noted how good it tasted. At Masada, one could almost hear the echoes of those destined to take their own lives to escape Roman captivity. Holly prayed for God to send them all her love. The Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered at Qumran in 1947. Today, the cave in which they were found remains.
“The City Built on a Hill,” Jerusalem, was alive with visitors from near and afar. Holly went through the Muslim Quarter, Jewish Quarter, Christian Quarter and the Armenian Quarter, shopping the marketplaces. While enjoying a spicy hot burger in the Jewish Quarter, she observed many Bar Mitzpah’s parade by with family and friends, playing drums, violins, singing, dancing, and occasionally a shofar was heard being blown.
Holly Fox Vellekoop is a writer, speaker and adventurer. A few years ago she went skydiving for her birthday. The following year, she participated in a medical mission to Ecuador where she assisted giving medicines and doing physical exams on more than 200 children and pregnant women. This year she toured Israel. Read about her trip below.
Cool, sunny days were enjoyed, as were the hot ones. And yes, Holly rode a camel near Bethlehem. She walked the Via Dolorosa along with pilgrims from various churches who were bearing crosses, the journey culminating at St. Anthony Coptic Monastery, 325 AD and St. Jacobs Church of the 4th century, an extension. These are shared by six denominations: Coptics from Egypt, Armenians, Ethiopians, Catholic Church, Syrian Church and Greek Orthodox. Inside, Holly reached below the altar to touch the spot where tradition has it that Christ’s cross was erected. In The Valley of Elah, she gathered smooth, round stones from a dry stream-bed as David, son of Jesse, had done when he fought the Philistine Goliath there. On the 13 ½ hour ride from Tel Aviv back to Philadelphia, then a flight to Orlando, Holly processed her spiritual journey. She continues to do so.
What is Holly’s next planned adventure? Stay tuned to find out!