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Each person in the Northwoods Assembly of God Israel tour group got a turn riding a camel in the desert.

Fourteen return from Israel with a dream fulfilled

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Ask most people if they would ever like to go to the Holy Land and the answer is usually the same: "Yes, someday."

Pastor Dirk Currier, Northwoods Assembly of God Church in Perham, just returned from the Holy Land with 14 people from the area who had a dream of a lifetime met. The group left Perham on February 22 and embarked on a 12-hour flight that landed them in the midst of the Middle East in the heart of Israel.

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For the next 10 days, they were able to walk where Jesus walked, stand in the synagogue where Jesus taught, and took a boat ride on the Sea of Galilee where Peter walked on water and where Jesus calmed the storm.

On top of Mt. Carmel, the group looked out over the Valley of Megiddo where the Bible states that the final battle will take place. The final week was spent in Jerusalem visiting traditional and historical sites of many events in the Bible.

Twelve of the 14 group members were baptized in the Jordan River. Many also took their turn at floating in the Dead Sea. Others seized the opportunity to ride a camel in the desert and pray at the Western Wall.

After the baptism, the group was able to obtain special permission from the Israeli military and entered a place a stone's throw away from the Jordan, standing in the historical place where John the Baptist baptized Jesus. Entering through a guarded minefield and ending up in a place that not many tourists get to from the Israeli side of the border was a great highlight of the trip.

Roger and Mary Johnsen from Perham were able to celebrate and renew their vows to each other in the Upper Room in Jerusalem. Pastor Dirk officiated the ceremony. The Upper Room is the traditional place where Jesus shared His Last Supper with His disciples before His betrayal and crucifixion; as well as the room where the Holy Spirit was poured out on the Day of Pentecost.

During their visit to Jerusalem there was an uprising concerning the Temple Mount. This resulted in the group being unable to exit a tour due to rock throwing. For safety, they had to turn around and exit where the tour began.

"At no time did we feel threatened or that our lives were put in jeopardy," says Pastor Currier. "In Israel, you are treated as guests and security is a priority for every pilgrim who comes to the Holy Land."

After the tour was over, everyone returned home safely with cameras full of pictures and memories to pass on to family and friends. However, Pastor Currier stayed for another two weeks and attended school in Haifa and Jerusalem to better equip himself as a pastor and learn more about the Holy Land.

"I really want to help others fulfill a dream by making local trips from Perham affordable, friendly and safe to the Holy Land. There was no greater joy than seeing people's faces beam with understanding and fun as they learned and experienced the sights, sounds and faith that are so rich in Israel," said Pastor Currier.

Another trip is being planned for the early part of 2012. Trips are filled on a first-come, first-served basis. To make the most of people's time and money spent, the trips will be kept to a minimum of 15 and a maximum of 25 people.

Larger groups can be taken, but they tend to take away from the personal touch. If interested, go to www.northoodslife.com and view Holy Land Tour. Send an email or call the church at 218-346-5433 for details.

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