WATERLOO, Iowa—A group of 28 people from Walnut Ridge Baptist Church, Waterloo, Iowa, have just returned from a ten day trip to Israel.

As the group waited for a flight in the Atlanta airport, they met soldiers leaving for Iraq. Vicky Gander started up a conversation, which ended in a group prayer for the soldiers. The soldiers expressed their appreciation and also prayed for the Iowa group as they visited the Holy Land.

After a 12-hour flight to Tel Aviv, the group met their pastor and his wife, Rich and Lynette Van Heukelum, who had left four days earlier to escort a group thru Egypt and Jordan.

“What a trip!” remarked one of the participants. “Many of us had never flown overseas before and the anticipation was overwhelming.”

One of the first highlights of the trip was the Sea of Galilee. Sitting in a boat in the middle of the sea, Pastor Rich reminded the group of Peter’s experience of walking on the water. It was easy to envision Peter’s apprehension as he stepped out of the boat to meet Jesus.

“If you want to walk on water,” said Van Heukelum, “you have to get out of the boat.”

Other highlights were Mt. Carmel, the Dead Sea, and Massada. One group member recalled, “As we drove up to Jerusalem, the bus driver played a CD of the song ‘Jerusalem.’ As we peaked through the tunnel to overlook the city, the words ‘We are standing on holy ground’ rang through our ears. There was not a dry eye in the bus. In a physical, emotional way we experienced the sensation of God’s Holy City.”

Group members described the trip as a life-changing experience, noting that “words will never be able to express the awe of being in Jerusalem and sense the nearness of the Lord’s return. We thank the Lord for the opportunity to take this trip.”