The Circuit Pilgrimage to the Holy Land, November 2014. This was a wonderful experience  but definitely not a holiday. (I draw heavily from the Norman Allen tour information, for clarity.)

Dear Readers, it has been over a week since we returned ‘home’ and I am still trying to recall exactly where I’ve been and what I’ve seen. This is due to the content of the pilgrimage which was full on, to say the least, and also due to picking up my ministry after a long break.

After an overnight stay at a Heathrow hotel, a very early morning start to the day, we flew to Tel Aviv, Israel. The weather was glorious and our first hotel not quite so good. Yet we were warmly welcomed by Essam, our guide, a very intelligent young man with masses of information. He quickly became our valued friend. Only after returning to UK did I discover the extent of his anxiety over our safety during the Israel part of the pilgrimage.

We had a different guide for our two days and nights in Jordan, as well as the company of a policeman for the duration. Security was intense on the Israel/Jordan boarder which, although time consuming, was very reassuring.

Most days our bags were packed we were out of the hotels by 8am.

Some of the places we visited.

Day One:  Caesarea, the port from which the Apostle Paul sailed to Rome, and the site of a crusader Castle and Roman Amphitheatre. From there we travelled along to coast to Haifa and Mount Carmel. There was a wonderful sense of peace at Mount Carmel, as well as a spectacular view.

By mid afternoon we were in Nazareth and I was so exhausted that I stayed close to the drop off point. I had to move from there because youths threw small stones at me. Being stoned in Nazareth (without a single drop of alcohol) doesn’t read well, and I certainly felt saddened by it but no real damage was done, and I suppose they had their reasons.

After a good journey we arrived at our hotel in Tiberias and very pleased to be spending two nights there. There had been a run in with protestors on the way, and the barrel which was thrown at the mini-bus shook those who were near the front. Our driver just carried on, we were surprised but unharmed.

Day Two: It was lovely to wake up to another sunny morning, with us all looking forward to a sail on the Sea of Galilee which did not disappoint. At the 11th hour of the day, this being the 11th day of November, we were silent and prayed. You must ask Simon to tell you about his own unique experience around this time.....

The area is fairly unspoilt, and the sea was calm, so it was easy to shut my eyes and picture Jesus being there. It really is a wonderful place to be, there was a great sense of peace. After lunch I had a paddle and as I picked stones out of the water I found myself praying and praising God. This was to be one of the best experiences of all. Apart from the sea which has receded a little, this was the most authentic site of the pilgrimage, in my opinion.

We then travelled to Capernaum, where Jesus spent so much of his ministry, and saw what remains of the town including a synagogue.  Then on to the Mount of Beatitudes, and from there we travelled to Tabgha and the chapel dedicated to the loaves and fishes.

The next stop was the site of Peter’s confession at Caesarea Phillipi, in Upper Galilee and then on to Mount Hermon the final resting place of Moses. From here he looked far across the very rugged