Monday, October 20, 2008

Pilgrimage Newsletter 2

Welcome to the second Pilgrimage Newsletter.

After further discussion with our travel agent, I’m able to pass on the following information.
Firstly, the land only price for the pilgrimage is $4450 per person twin share. The cost of a single supplement remains the same.

The cost for the visas for Egypt and Jordan will be $135 per person for the two applications. Our travel agent will obtain these visas on our behalf, but we will have to fill in an application form. I will send pilgrims a copy of these forms closer to the departure date. Passports and visa forms must be lodged with the travel agent, together with the final payment, seven (7) weeks prior to departure.

Passports: Your passport must have a validity of six (6) months from the date of arrival back into Australia.

For further information, please contact our travel agent: Harvest Pilgrimages. Our consultant is Bronwyn Newman, and she may be contacted on 9390 5460 or at

Pilgrimage Readings: Reading 1

The Exodus Story: The oppression of Israel in Egypt (Exodus 1: 1-22)

These are the names of the sons of Israel who came to Egypt with Jacob, each with his household: Reuben, Simeon, Levi, and Judah, Issachar, Zebulun, and Benjamin, Dan and Naphtali, Gad and Asher. The total number of people born to Jacob was seventy. Joseph was already in Egypt. Then Joseph died, and all his brothers, and that whole generation. But the Israelites were fruitful and prolific; they multiplied and grew exceedingly strong, so that the land was filled with them.

Now a new king arose over Egypt, who did not know Joseph. He said to his people, “Look, the Israelite people are more numerous and more powerful than we. Come, let us deal shrewdly with them, or they will increase and, in the event of war, join our enemies and fight against us and escape from the land.” Therefore they set taskmasters over them to oppress them with forced labor. They built supply cities, Pithom and Rameses, for Pharaoh. But the more they were oppressed, the more they multiplied and spread, so that the Egyptians came to dread the Israelites. The Egyptians became ruthless in imposing tasks on the Israelites, and made their lives bitter with hard service in mortar and brick and in every kind of field labor. They were ruthless in all the tasks that they imposed on them.

The king of Egypt said to the Hebrew midwives, one of whom was named Shiphrah and the other Puah, “When you act as midwives to the Hebrew women, and see them on the birthstool, if it is a boy, kill him; but if it is a girl, she shall live.” But the midwives feared God; they did not do as the king of Egypt commanded them, but they let the boys live. So the king of Egypt summoned the midwives and said to them, “Why have you done this, and allowed the boys to live?” The midwives said to Pharaoh, “Because the Hebrew women are not like the Egyptian women; for they are vigorous and give birth before the midwife comes to them.” So God dealt well with the midwives; and the people multiplied and became very strong. And because the midwives feared God, he gave them families. Then Pharaoh commanded all his people, “Every boy that is born to the Hebrews you shall throw into the Nile, but you shall let every girl live.”

The birth and flight of Moses (Exodus 2: 1-22)

Now a man from the house of Levi went and married a Levite woman. The woman conceived and bore a son; and when she saw that he was a fine baby, she hid him three months. When she could hide him no longer she got a papyrus basket for him, and plastered it with bitumen and pitch; she put the child in it and placed it among the reeds on the bank of the river. His sister stood at a distance, to see what would happen to him.

The daughter of Pharaoh came down to bathe at the river, while her attendants walked beside the river. She saw the basket among the reeds and sent her maid to bring it. When she opened it, she saw the child. He was crying, and she took pity on him. “This must be one of the Hebrews’ children,” she said. Then his sister said to Pharaoh’s daughter, “Shall I go and get you a nurse from the Hebrew women to nurse the child for you?” Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, “Yes.” So the girl went and called the child’s mother. Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, “Take this child and nurse it for me, and I will give you your wages.” So the woman took the child and nursed it. When the child grew up, she brought him to Pharaoh’s daughter, and she took him as her son. She named him Moses, “because,” she said, “I drew him out of the water.”

One day, after Moses had grown up, he went out to his people and saw their forced labor. He saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, one of his kinsfolk. He looked this way and that, and seeing no one he killed the Egyptian and hid him in the sand. When he went out the next day, he saw two Hebrews fighting; and he said to the one who was in the wrong, “Why do you strike your fellow Hebrew?” He answered, “Who made you a ruler and judge over us? Do you mean to kill me as you killed the Egyptian?” Then Moses was afraid and thought, “Surely the thing is known.” When Pharaoh heard of it, he sought to kill Moses. But Moses fled from Pharaoh. He settled in the land of Midian, and sat down by a well. The priest of Midian had seven daughters. They came to draw water, and filled the troughs to water their father’s flock. But some shepherds came and drove them away. Moses got up and came to their defense and watered their flock. When they returned to their father Reuel, he said, “How is it that you have come back so soon today?” They said, “An Egyptian helped us against the shepherds; he even drew water for us and watered the flock.” He said to his daughters, “Where is he? Why did you leave the man? Invite him to break bread.” Moses agreed to stay with the man, and he gave Moses his daughter Zipporah in marriage. She bore a son, and he named him Gershom; for he said, “I have been an alien residing in a foreign land.”

Thursday, October 2, 2008

The Exodus Experience 2009 - Newsletter 1

Welcome to the first Newsletter providing information about our pilgrimage to Egypt and the Holy Land in September, 2009.

I have invited Harvest Pilgrimages to prepare our itinerary, and in this Newsletter I will hand on the information they have provided so far.

Firstly, an overview of our itinerary. The Pilgrimage - the Exodus Experience - departs from Sydney on September 14, 2009 at 9.45 pm. We will be travelling with Emirates.

Meal Plan - B: Breakfast L: Lunch D: Dinner

Monday, September 14: Depart Sydney 9.45pm for Cairo

Tuesday, September 15: 5.30 am: Arrive Dubai
4.40 pm: Depart Dubai
6.50 pm: Arrive Cairo

Upon arrival at Cairo airport our local guide will welcome us as we travel to our centrally located hotel. The rest of the day is at leisure before dinner at our hotel.

Cairo overnight (D)

Wednesday, 16 september: CAIRO (3 nights in Cairo)

We begin our journey by visiting the great Pyramids at Giza, the 7th wonder of the ancient world and the only one still in existence, before coming eye to eye with the inscrutable Sphinx. We will venture inside a pyramid and have the opportunity to view the ancient burial tomb of the Pharaoh. We then continue onto the Hanging Church with the miraculous image of Our Lady before visiting the Abu Serga Church where tradition says the Holy Family took refuge while in Egypt (crypt sometimes inaccessible due to subterranean water). The remainder of the day is at leisure to recuperate after our long journey or for some private sightseeing.

Cairo overnight (BD)

Thursday, 17 September: CAIRO

This morning we visit the world famous Egyptian Museum which houses the treasures of the “Boy King” – Tutankhamun; the mummy of Ramses II (thought to be the ruler of Egypt at the time of the Exodus) as well as some of the most famous ancient art pieces in the world. We continue to the Coptic Orthodox Church of St Mary. We continue via the City of the Dead to the Khan El Khalili Bazaar. The afternoon is free for reflection or to wander and really feel the essence of this ancient land.

Cairo overnight (BD)

Friday, September 18: CAIRO TO MT SINAI (1 night on Mt Sinai)

This morning we depart Cairo and travel via the Gulf of Suez to Ayun Musa (Well of Moses) where Moses made camp following the parting of the waters, and miraculously brought forth water from the sands. Then onto Hamman Faraun Malun ‘the baths of the cursed Pharoah’ where hot sulfurous waters gush forth from the mountain into the sea. Continue our adventure today to Wadi Feran abounding in biblical history and identified as the site of Rafadim – battlefield between the Hebrews and the Amellecti (Exodus 17). Just before we arrive into the village of St Catherine we stop at the plain of El Raha (plain of rest) known as the traditional site where the people of Israel stopped to camp and first laid eyes on the sacred mountain as well as the Chapel of the Golden calf built to commemorate the false idol made by Aaron while Moses was on Mt Sinai. Retire early this evening.

Mt Sinai overnight (BD)

Saturday, September 19: SINAI TO PETRA (2 nights at Petra)

Arise as pilgrims in the very early hours of the morning for our optional trekking adventure (or partly by camel back) as we ascend to the heights of Mt Sinai before the breaking of dawn (bring your torches). The solid walk to the summit which takes about 3 hours is rewarded by an unforgettable view and a look at the cave where Moses had hidden himself before coming face to face with God. After our descent we visit the Monastery of St Catherine where a small chapel marks the spot of the burning bush from which God spoke to Moses. We then continue through the desert to the Red Sea and via jetboat* to Aqaba dating back 5,500 years and at the junction of land and sea routes from Asia, Africa and Europe. This afternoon we come to the magnificent ancient trading city of Petra known as the ‘Red Rose City’.

Petra overnight (BD) *Subject to jetboat operation

Sunday, September 20 : PETRA

We have a guided tour this morning of the ruins from ancient Petra – capital of the Nabatean people dating back to 300 B.C. We will follow a passage through the Siq, a chasm created in a prehistoric earthquake. It is one of the special moments to walk through this canyon which dramatically opens up to reveal the Treasury Building (Al Khasne) - a never to be forgotten experience. We will see also the Roman Theatre as well churches, homes and many other buildings from this fascinating period. The remainder of afternoon will be at leisure.

Petra overnight (BD)

Monday, September 21: PETRA TO AMMAN (1 night in Amman)

This morning we head north on the “Kings Highway” visiting the ruins of the 12th. Century Crusader Castle; it was here that Saladin attacked the Crusaders. Travelling further north along the Moab desert we take time to visit biblical Mt. Nebo – where Moses saw the Promised Land and later died. Here also was the infamous resort of Herod, and where it is believed that John the Baptist was beheaded. At Madaba we will see what is believed to be the oldest map in existence of the Holy Land – it is a beautiful mosaic of Palestine dating back to the 6th. Century. We then travel to Jerash (once one of the busiest Roman Towns) and now the best preserved Graeco/Roman Town in Jordan. We will visit the Street of Columns, Temple of Artemis and the Arch of Hadrian. Later this afternoon we will arrive in Amman.

Amman overnight (BD)

Tuesday, September 22: AMMAN TO SEA OF GALILEE (3 nights Sea of Galilee)

Start today with a tour of Amman which includes the Archaeological and Folkloric Museum, Roman ruins, mosques, Capital buildings, and a panoramic view over the city. We then cross the Jordan River into the Holy Land and from Old to New testaments as we arrive at Tiberias on the shores of Lake Galilee…“Go to Galilee and you will find him there” (Mt28:5).

Sea of Galilee overnight (BD)

Wednesday, September 23: CANA/MT. TABOR / NAZARETH

We set out this morning for Nain, where we relive the story of the dead son who Jesus healed and gave back to his mother (Lk 7:15). We then continue to Cana where Jesus performed his first miracle transforming the water into wine at the wedding feast (Jn 2:1-11). We then ascend the narrow road leading to the majestic summit of Mt Tabor where Jesus was transfigured in the presence of the three disciples Peter, James and John. (Mt 17:1-2). After Mass in the Basilica we will enjoy a special lunch in this breathtaking setting reflecting upon Peter’s words ‘Lord it is good for us to be here’. Our afternoon will be spent in Nazareth, the town of Jesus’ childhood. Visit here the Basilica of the Annunciation where a traditional cave becomes the focal point of Mary’s response “Let it be done to me according to thy word” (Luke 1:38). Also see the Church of St Joseph, Mary’s Well and a traditional Jewish synagogue. Free time then to wander the historic bazaars as we capture something of everyday life in Nazareth while reflecting upon the hidden life of Jesus.

Sea of Galilee overnight (BLD)

Thursday, September 24: SEA OF GALILEE

Our memorable Galilee day begins with a visit to Nof Ginosaur Kibbutz within which is preserved the remains of a first century fishing boat as in the days of Christ. Stop at Sowers Bay to reflect on the parable of the sower (Mark 4:1-9) before proceeding to Capernaum, the centre of Jesus’ teaching and healing and home to Peter the apostle (Mt 9:1 & Jn 6:59). We set off from the shore in a traditional sailing vessel across the sea while remembering the miracles of Jesus when he calmed the storm and appeared to the apostles walking on this very water. After an extended pause in the centre of the lake for prayerful reflection we will arrive at the ‘other side’ at Ein Gev for our special ‘St Peter’s fish’ lunch. Return by road around the lake to Korazin to relive the parables of the House built on the rock and the perservering widow. Onwards to the Church of the Primacy of Peter where Jesus challenged Peter and each one of us ‘Do you really love me, feed my sheep’. Finally we arrive at Tabgha, site of the multiplication of the loaves and fishes (Mt 14:20) where we will celebrate a special Mass at the outdoor altar here down by the shore of the lake - a moment to remember!

Sea of Galilee overnight (BLD)

Friday, September 25: JERICHO/BETHANY TO JERUSALEM (5 nights Jerusalem)

Our day begins with Mass at the Mount of Beatitudes as we take time in this special place of silence to ponder Jesus’ message of happiness (Mt 5:1-12). The adventurous may enjoy a stroll down the mountainside in the tradition of Jesus. We move on to the Jordan River to commemorate the Baptism of Jesus and to renew our own Baptismal promises. Travel south through the lush Jordan valley and onto Jericho the ‘City of Palms’ which is said to be the oldest inhabited city and most famous oasis. An intriguing look at the excavations assist our understanding of the successive stages of the town walls and its 10,000 year history. Across the valley we ascend by cable car to the Mt of Temptation, the site of Jesus’ fast of 40 days and there are enough stones to illustrate Satan’s words “If you are the son of God, tell these stones to turn into loaves”. Finally today we relive the story of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead in Bethany and descend the dark stairs to his tomb before continuing onto our hotel in Jerusalem - city of our God.

Jerusalem overnight (BD)

Saturday, September 26: JERUSALEM

We begin our pilgrimage today with a visit to Shepherd’s Field to commemorate the appearance of the angels to the shepherds on that first Christmas night. On to Bethlehem where we will visit the Church of the Nativity built over the stable where Jesus was born, Manger Square and the Grotto of the Holy Manger. We continue to Ein Karem, birthplace of St John the Baptist and site of the Visitation of Mary to Elizabeth “Why should I be honoured with a visit from the mother of my Lord” (Lk 1:43). Afternoon at leisure to rest or wander at your own pace.

Jerusalem overnight (BD)

Sunday, September 27: JERUSALEM

We will proceed to the Mt of Olives where we will firstly visit the Church of the ‘Pater Noster’ commemorating the site where Jesus taught His disciples the Lord’s prayer (Mt 6:7-15). We then enjoy a panoramic view over the city as we wander past the tombs of the Prophets Haggai, Malachi and Zechariah before arriving at Dominus Flevit for Mass where Jesus wept over the city of Jerusalem (Lk19:41-44). We visit the Church of Mary Magdalene and then onto the Garden of Gethsemane to enter the Church of the Agony containing the bare rock upon which Jesus is said to have prayed before his arrest. We proceed to Mt Zion to visit the Cenacle, room of the Last Supper, the Church of Dormition where Our Lady was assumed into heaven. In the Church of St Peter in Gallicantu we will commemorate Peter’s denial of Jesus after His arrest, before visiting King David’s tomb & tower. The remainder of the afternoon is free. This evening we will journey back to the Garden of Gethsemane for a memorable Holy Hour to contemplate the Agony of Our Lord in the darkened Basilica.

Jerusalem overnight (BD)

Monday, September 28: JERUSALEM

After breakfast we travel to the Temple Mount to view the Dome of the Rock, El Aqsa mosque and the Wailing Wall. Then we come to the Church of St Anne, built over the birthplace of the Virgin Mary and the Pool of Bethesda where Jesus healed the paralysed man (Jn 5:29). We continue onto Ecce Homo convent where we view the Lithostrotos and the Pavement and visit the Flagellation and Condemnation Chapels. We then commence the Stations of the Cross as we pray and follow in Our Lord’s footsteps along the actual Via Dolorosa to the Church of Calvary where we will celebrate an unforgettable Eucharist. Enjoy a special lunch together in a restaurant overlooking the Old City. Continue out to Emmaus (Abu Gosh) where the Disciples recognised the risen Jesus at the breaking of bread and exclaimed “Did not our hearts burn within us as he spoke to us on the road?” (Lk 24:13-35). This afternoon we will have the opportunity to visit the Shrine of the Book, a striking modern museum dedicated to the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Scale Model of first century Jerusalem.

Jerusalem overnight (BLD)

Tuesday, September 29: MASADA AND THE DEAD SEA

Travel along the Jericho Road as we remember the parable of the Good Samaritan and journey through desert hills and dry rocky landscape. A fascinating pause will be made at Qumran where the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered in 1947 by a Bedouin shepherd boy. We continue south passing the Dead Sea to Masada where, on arrival, we will embark on the cable car offering spectacular scenery to the summit. Here we will enjoy a guided tour of Herod’s fortress and the Zealot’s last stand. In the afternoon we will have an opportunity to float in the Dead Sea at En Boqeq – there is nothing like it! We will return to Jerusalem and our hotel in time for dinner. This day is optional – you may prefer to stay in Jerusalem for extra sightseeing, shopping in the Bazzar or just taking it easy.

Jerusalem overnight (BD)

Wednesday, September 30: AMMAN/ TEL AVIV TO AUSTRALIA

Friday, October 2: ARRIVE AUSTRALIA (6.55 am)


The basic quotation (including airfares ex Sydney) is $6,850.

There are other costs that must be added to this:

Airline taxes and fuel levies - $140 per person
Prepaid Tipping Fund - $180 per person.
Visas for Jordan and Egypt - $135 per person.

Single supplement for those who may wish it: $1195 per person.


Economy class airfare flying Emirates from/to Australia via Dubai

Accommodation & Meals: Based on 3 or 4 star hotels or religious houses throughout with buffet breakfast and dinner daily (or as specified.)

Three feature lunches on tour in Holy Land.

Miscellaneous inclusions:

Free places as indicated above (minimum 20 persons)
All entrance fees to sites listed
Deluxe Air-Conditioned Touring Coach with driver
Porterage of 1 piece of luggage per person at hotels
Quality Harvest cabin bag, day pack, pilgrims journal and ticket wallet

Not Included:

Other meals not stated
Items of a personal nature such as phone calls, laundry, beverages, etc.

Travel insurance:

Harvest recommends World Assist, underwritten by QBE due to their comprehensive cover schedule. Brochure will be forwarded with each passenger’s letter of confirmation.