Dreams can come true. Herman Meier, of Minot, knows that. His dream of a trip to the Holy Land became a reality in January when he traveled there with a group of people from the Diocese of Bismarck.
He had initially made plans to travel to India, but those plans changed after he visited with a lady at a Year of Faith event in Bismarck in October 2012.
"It's a place I've always wanted to go," he said about his visit to the Holy Land. During the 11-day experience, which included two days of travel time and nine days of touring, there were many places to see and "experience" the life of Jesus.
Herman Meier, of Minot, stands at a gate leading to Capharnaum, the town of Jesus on the Galilee.
Doug Helbing, left, of Bismarck, and Herman Meier, of Minot, stand by Jacob’s Well. The Samaritan women gave Jesus water to drink at this well.
The Kidron Valley runs along the eastern wall of The Old City of Jerusalem, separating the Temple Mount from the Mount of Olives. It then continues east through the Judean Desert, toward the Dead Sea, descending 4,000 feet along its 20-mile course. The settlement Kedar, located on a ridge above the valley, is named after it.
Herman Meier, of Minot, holds a 2-inch thorn between his finger and thumb.
"We actually went to places where Jesus walked and where he was crucified," Meier said.
Meier, who is known by many as Corby, was able to pick thorns from a branch cut from a tree at Temptation Mountain. He wanted to get longer thorns from a branch on a tree but a custodian invited him to take some thorns from a branch pruned from a tree.
"I didn't have to climb the tree," he added with laughter. "It saved me from getting a lot of stickers and thorns on myself."
The gospels and readings I hear in church now 'come to life.' I can relate to what happened back in Jesus' days in a realistic way.
- Herman Meier,
The group also went to Jacob's Well. They watched as the bucket was lowered into the well and pulled back up. They were then allowed to drink of the water.
"The water was excellent, very good tasting," Meier said. "There were no additives!"
The flight to the Holy Land was more than 7,000 miles one way. Meier flew from Bismarck, to Denver, to Newark, N.J., and then to Tel-Aviv, Israel.
The group stayed in two different hotels. The first part of the trip they stayed at Pontifical Institute Notre Dame of Jerusalem Center in the heart of Jerusalem. From there they were within walking distance of many holy sites including The Holy Sepulcher, Via Dolorosa, Mount of Olives, Mount Zion, Temple Mount, Western Wall and Western Jerusalem.
The second part of the pilgrimage the group stayed in a hotel on the shores of the Sea of Galilee.
"We were right on the shores of the sea. There were boats there. We could see them from our rooms," Meier said.
During the day it was so windy the group didn't think they would be able to go on the Sea of Galilee boat ride. "By the evening, the sea was calm and we were able to go," he added.
Meier said they were not afraid of the people from that country. In the evenings some of the members from the tour group went on half hour to 45-minute walks on their own without a tour guide, even after they had walked on rock steps, rock trails and cobblestones most of the day. There was very little concrete to walk on.
The weather was beautiful most of the time. Meier said there were three days when it was 75, three days when it was 65 and two rainy days when the temperature was 55.
"It was disappointing not to be able to see Joseph's carpenter shop," Meier said. The shop was closed to the public at the time the group was in the Holy Land.
"We did get to see a tree that is more than 2,000 years old though," he said, "that dates back to the time when Jesus walked the earth."
"The gospels and readings I hear in church now 'come to life.' I can relate to what happened back in Jesus' days in a realistic way. Walking the path Jesus walked to his death was an emotional experience. He died on the cross for us."
Meier feels every Christian who is able to should be able to experience all of what he experienced.
"It was a trip of a lifetime. I will never forget the things we saw and the things we did," he added.