Archived Story

Christian group prepares for trip to Israel

Published 9:31am Monday, January 14, 2013

Column: Creative Connections, by Sara Aeikens

Writing a column before a trip gives me more assurance that I’ll actually have something exciting to say when the adventure is completed.

Sara Aeikens

I soon will leave for Israel for 10 days with a church group from Freeborn County. The local Presbyterian minister and wife recently returned from a trip to Israel. Just talking to them and hearing how things actually went very well, as opposed to all the fear-based thoughts thrown out for fodder, helped restore my sense of wellbeing.

I asked a friend to be my traveling partner, which will help make our trip ecumenical. The local Methodist Church planned the trip that is sponsored by a group called Educational Opportunities.

One of my main reasons for going is that I learn best through doing or experiencing. Although I’ve read the Bible a number of times, I believe the memories of walking in those Biblical places will certainly impact me the rest of my life.

Taking the trip also gives me the opportunity to speak with other Israel visitors whom I might not ordinarily talk to about travels.

Today a friend shared with me that she took a pilgrimage to Israel three different times. Besides telling of the spiritual aspect of the trips, she shared with me about special gifts she brought back of crosses and rosaries made out of wood from the holy land.

She also cautioned about pickpockets and keeping track of personal belongings that could be stolen. My travels have taken me to around 30 countries, and I have felt safe everywhere, from the back mountain roads of Venezuela during my Peace Corps service 50 years ago to the cliffs of Acapulco a few years ago.

I have decided to travel with as little luggage as possible, don’t plan on bringing much back, am taking a smaller camera than usual and will probably wear a serviceable but old pair of glasses so that I’ll feel fine if they, or anything else, gets left behind.

These are things I’ve not thought as much about on other trips. However, my main focus on this journey is studying, learning and reading about the history of this area in the Middle East.

Two books recommended by the sponsors are “Blood Brothers” and “Lemon Tree.” While reading them I am especially moved by the themes of peace, love and forgiveness in the first book, written about growing up in the war-torn and strife-filled area of Palestine and becoming a Christian minister for a Palestinian church.

I choose to write about my thoughts and feelings before I leave in hopes of discovering opportunities and unknowns that will encourage me to compare my views on an unfolding journey of faith.


Sara Aeikens is an Albert Lea resident.