Israel, The Holy Land
Updated: Feb 5
Amazing Holy Land Experience
When I envisioned my blog and what its purpose would be, I decided that it would focus on my travels, the foods that I experience, the people that I meet and how that all relates to my spiritual journey. I initially thought that my first blog would be a quick recap of my life and my written introduction to the world… “My name is Patricia, but you can call me Trish”. From there I’d move on and share my present-day life with the world. But what I’m learning is that many of what HAS happened to me is just as important to share as what IS happening. This one particular event was something that, literally, changed my life and there’s no better time to revisit this memory than now… the day of my birth.
If you read my Blog Post titled, “What are you doing, January 28th”, you know the story of how I got started with my Birthday trips. Now let me fill you in on the emotions that come with this day. As I wait for January 27th to come, I am like a kid waiting for Christmas morning. Just like how children wait for Santa, or Mom and Dad, I get giddy waiting for the gift from my father…my Heavenly Father. I’m waiting to celebrate His gift of life. The closer I get to that day, the more excited I get. I am so grateful to see each and every day, but my birthday....yeah, that’s different. You’ll never see me being one of those nonchalant people who say, “Oh it’s just another day”. When this time of year comes, I celebrate Me! This can be alone or with the few in my circle whom I share the month of January with. Topping the list of the birthday-related things that I look forward to is what I like to call my Born Day Destination. I have had a few that I thank God for and I’m excited to see what other places He’ll direct me to. So, in keeping with this “birthing” theme. I thought my first Birthday Blog should transport you to the place of my RE-birth. It’s the place where the Lord directed me to in 2017. It was my best trip thus far; my trip to Israel, The Holy Land.
My Unforgettable Experience
There is so much I want or could share about this trip but, as I have to keep reminding myself, this is a blog not a book (well, at least for now😉). Reading about this trip, I want you to get a glimpse of how amazing God is and how amazing this trip was for me. Now friends, let me tell you, I am a member of a great church here in Milwaukee. It’s called, New Testament Church, and the anointed leader is the honorable, Pastor Julius Malone. Over the years, Pastor Malone has arranged for the church to go to Jerusalem a few times and me being a fan of travel, and my desire to see the Holy Land, I would attempt to make those trips. Up until a few years ago, each effort that I made would be countered by life’s happenings. Simply put… stuff just kept coming up. This time, as I heard the seriousness of my Pastor saying that this trip scheduled for the summer of 2017 might be the last time he would take a group there, I knew that it would be now or never. When I started my conversation with God on how I’d make this trip happen, He spoke to me about all of the hurdles I was facing. “Now Trish,” He said, (yeah…He calls me Trish because we’re pretty close 😊) “Now Trish, you know you’re in the middle of your cancer treatments at MD Anderson.” My response was, “Yes God, but…” He then said, “Now Trish, you know that your income is pretty fixed and this trip could easily cost you $4000”. My response was, “Yes God, but…” Our conversation covered how the traveling time and activities alone could hinder my health. To everything, my response was “Yes God, but…” I honestly felt in my heart that I was destined to take this pilgrimage. I honest Felt, that if I could just allow my feet and fingers to touch His Holy Land, that’s all I needed. I could turn around, come back home and forever be grateful. The harder I prayed, the more it seemed as if all signs were pointing to me NOT being able to fulfil this dream.
My disappointment and sadness about not being able to make the trip with my church, all changed one morning when I checked my emails. There was an email from Travelzoo, a popular destination site. They listed a trip that read, “8 Day Essential Israel (Chicago Special) $999 with air included”, and low and behold, they had one listed for the week of January 27th. I almost dropped my phone! Apparently, God had mulled it over and not only decided that I was indeed worthy, but He made the options possible! The trip was through a company called Gate1 Travel and I only had a few days to get the full details and book this deal from Travelzoo. Gathering my composure and pleading with my hands to stop shaking, I started making calls. First, to make sure this was real. You know how the internet can be. After confirmation, I started making calls to my support team: my sons, a few close friends and Pastor Malone. My Pastor said he had never heard of a trip to Jerusalem for that price and in all my research, I hadn’t either. He told me to go and gave me his blessings. My sons were also good with me going, So I began to pray and plan. I had traveled solo before, but I could not believe I was taking a solo trip to another Country! My initial cost was about $1500 with Gate1, because I had a Solo price and insurance and I had the option to purchase additional tours and activities once I got there.
My flight from Chicago with the Royal Jordanian airline, was a nice, 11 hour straight flight to Tel Aviv-Yafo, a beautiful city on Israel’s Mediterranean coast. It was the longest flight I had ever taken. A Gate1 representative was there to greet us and took us to our first hotel. As much as I want to give specific details about this trip, I keep hearing that Columbo guy from the old detective show: Just the facts ma’am, just the facts. First let me tell you what was included with my package. The Dead Sea and Masada Trip, a trip to Bethlehem, A visit to the “Wailing Wall”, which is the most religious site in the world for the Jewish people, located in the Old City of Jerusalem. Round trip flights (Chicago-Israel), 6 nights accommodations (in Tel Aviv, Tiberias and Jerusalem), all transfers, some meals and various tours with a certified guide, on an air-conditioned motor coach. It was, as the kids say, the ultimate hook up!
It was dark when we arrived, so I couldn’t really see Jerusalem. Our very nice, Gate1 Tour Guide met us early the next morning and told us that he and our bus driver would be with us for our full 7 days. The entire group that joined us was pretty nice. In fact, I made an immediate connection with 2 sisters and a man traveling with his granddaughter. When we went out that morning, I could hardly catch my breath. To see the place that I had been hearing and reading about, in the BIBLE, since I was a child, made me VERY emotional. I could not hold back the tears. Touring by bus and walking all through Bethlehem and Jerusalem was great. On our free day, my group of 5 got a cab to take us to the places that were not on our tour list. One thing I really wanted to do was to get Baptized in the Jordan River by Pastor Malone, if I ever made it to The Holy Land. My Pastor wasn’t with me, but by the Grace of God, I had made it to the Jordan River. There was a group getting baptized and I asked if he would baptize me as well. They seemed happy to do this for me. My heart was exploding with gratefulness, all I could do was cry and my newly made traveling family were in tears and emotional for me too. There, in this Holy Place, in the land of miracles, without family, I got baptized in the River Jordan. Me, Patricia J White, Trish to most, was baptized in Jerusalem, for my birthday. What a gift!! I could not wait to Share with Everyone! Even typing this now, I’m thanking my Father. A birthday RE-BIRTH! Blessed be HIS NAME! I really felt like I could have went home after that, but we had more places to see. The food on this trip was hard for me to adjust to, even as I was being told that it was probably the best food for me. I obliged and when I found something that I liked, stayed with that and made it work.
As I try to close, I have to share one other special moment. I don’t know if you talk and listen to God, but we communicate on a daily basis, about everything (He calls me Trish 😊). Before I left to go to Jerusalem, my girlfriend prayed with me. She said, “Trish we are going to Pray that you leave that cancer over there in The Holy Land, and you come back feeling better”. As we were on the bus, just finished our awesome floating experience at the Dead Sea, I realized I left my Fighting Cancer shirt in the bathroom. My son had this made for me so it was special. We were waiting for others to load the bus, the Dead Sea tour was last on our list. I got up to go run to get my shirt and I heard the Lord speak to me, very clearly, He said, “I thought you were going to leave that cancer here?” I sat back down and said to Him, “Yes God“, with no buts! Now, the doctors have not told me that I am cancer free, but since that day on the bus, I walk in my healing daily.
A funny thing is I left my hotel in Jerusalem, early morning on Ground Hog’s Day and when I arrived in Chicago the time difference made it the start of Ground Hog’s day. I was having a real Bill Murray experience. Taking this trip was so amazing to me, it was, in a word, Everything. The People, Hotels, The Experience, simply Amazing. I went and returned safely, with no problems. Seeing, feeling, inhaling The Holy Land is something I will remember forever and it has sealed my motto of Faith over Fear. So as I prepare for this year’s birthday trip, and reflect on other trips, I courage all eyes that read this to find YOUR motto and seal it. Talk to God and negotiate if you have to. Take that leap of faith over fear and find your own pilgrimage. Oh yeah, I got up on a camel!
“Fighting cancer with a suitcase; one adventure or experience at a time.”