Living Stones Pilgrimage – May 15-27, 2017

Sponsored by Pilgrims of Ibillin,
led by Joan Deming

The May Living Stones trip, with 11 intrepid travelers, began in Bethlehem Tuesday May 16! The three most recent posts to our blog are just below on this page. Click here to check out our full blog for this trip.

For photos and additional record of our trip, please visit Pilgrims of Ibillin’s Facebook page:

Sunday in the Park with Usama (and family)

Sunday was simply a lovely day, a break from the intensity of the past week, and a chance to renew and refresh. We got to have a leisurely morning before attending worship at Christmas Lutheran Church in Bethlehem where we were warmly welcomed as "frequent visitors."

Photo of Lutheran Christian Church bell tower

Christmas Lutheran Church, Bethlehem

Worship in Christmas Lutheran Church

Christmas Lutheran Church

A quick return to the hotel to change clothes, and we headed to Qumran for lunch and to explore Qumran, the place where the Dead Sea Scrolls were found, 1900-ish years after they were stashed in clay pots for safekeeping by the Essene Community.

Qumran, amazing day with Jordan easy to see in the distance

Cave 4 at Qumran, where some of the Dead Sea Scrolls were found.

Last act of the afternoon was swimming (well, floating) in the Dead Sea. Everyone who swam loved it, and the ones who didn't took photos.


Elizabeth, Jasmine, and Alycia model at the Dead Sea mud spa.


Sam and Elizabeth

We closed the day with a stop at Wadi Qelt where we imagined ourselves into the Good Samaritan story (read for us by Alycia) and enjoyed the desert views, gale-force winds notwithstanding. Usama's family joined us for the whole afternoon, and it was great to spend it with them.


Wadi Qelt -- our group in the gale!

It's sad to think of leaving our Bethlehem home tomorrow. We have loved the kindness and hospitality of everyone in our Holy Land Hotel home.


Today we met the Occupation

Saturday, 5.20.2017

We spent the morning in Hebron, afternoon at Tent of Nations, and early evening with George Sa'adeh and Rami Elhanan of the Bereaved Families Circle. Words fail. Maybe pictures will hint at today's powerful experiences. Check out Pilgrims of Ibillin's Facebook Page for more photos and caption-descriptions of a full, challenging, inspiring day: While you are there, please "like" our page!

Open Shuhada Street

Before 1994, this part of Shuhada Street housed shops selling fine gold and silver jewelry. Now filled with trash from settlers.


Memorial to Abraham. Seen here from within the Ibrahimi Mosque.

After a truly inspiring hour at the Tent of Nations, Jasmine and Daoud share a moment.

Capping an incredible day, we heard from George Sa'adeh and Rami Elhanan as they shared their painful stories of each losing a daughter to the violence of the Occupation, and of committing their lives to the hard work of peacemaking. Check out the Bereaved Families Circle, website and YouTube videos.


Sam's Birthday!

By Samantha Heim, 5.19.2017

Today was my birthday and it was the most amazing and unforgettable one I've had yet.


We began the day by touring the ruins of Herodium, Herod's palace and burial place.

Inside Herod's mountain -- built to hold his tomb

We proceeded to visit the Shepherds' Field, which, believe it or not, is not an actual field. Instead there was a church overlooking what must have been the Shepherds' Field once upon a time. In that church, a magical moment happened, with another group from Germany, we sang Angels We Have Heard On High with both languages mixing in perfect harmony.

Quest students and Bonnie with Mitri Raheb

The day continued with a meeting with Reverend Mitri Raheb who spoke about his work for returning Palestinian culture and helping his people to "not only survive but thrive."

Of course that's not all, next up was Church of the Nativity and Manger Square.

Family members of prisoners on 33rd day of hunger strike

While in the Square, an unexpected opportunity presented itself. We were able to sit and listen as Palestinian women spoke about the current prison hunger strike (affecting their sons, husbands, and brothers), and their hopes for a peaceful and beneficial resolution.

Just when I thought this day could not get any better, after dinner I was surprised with a birthday cake and impromptu dance party! Everybody in the group joined in as well as the workers and owners of the hotel. I was intensely struck by the generosity and kindness of all the people on this pilgrimage and all the people we have encountered along the way

Excited to meet more of these amazing people and make more incredible memories.


For lots more photos, see Pilgrims of Ibillin's Facebook page at


One thought on “Living Stones Pilgrimage – May 15-27, 2017

  1. Thank you for so graciously sharing your travel experiences I’m working on a resolution to encourage travel to the Holy Land and in particular to for travelers to meet the “living stones”. Please share lots of stories that I could share with my church!

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