On October 22, 2011, 21 people will travel to Tel Aviv to begin the experience of a lifetime. This United Methodist Volunteer in Mission (UMVIM) team from Portland First UMC will include members of at least five Portland area churches, some of whom are veteran travelers and at least one of whom has just obtained her first passport ever!
Dee Poujade and Betty Cobb (now Cobb-Colgan) visited the Holy Land for a study trip with the General Board of Global Ministries (GBGM) in 2008. We came back wanting to share that experience with as many people as possible (and, indeed, did presentations in a number of area churches). But we believe that nothing beats first-hand observation and knowledge so, with the assistance and encouragement of Janet Lahr-Lewis, a Methodist missionary in the Holy Land (and one of First UMC’s “ three covenant” missionaries), we began planning this UMVIM trip.
We still don’t know exactly where we’re going – as one may imagine, conditions “on the ground” in the Middle East are in constant flux – but we go trusting that God will show us what he wants us to see. We expect to see the Biblical sites, of course – Bethlehem, Nazareth, the Sea of Galilee – but we also will meet with the people who live in this troubled land – Christians, Jews and Muslims – especially those who are working to bring peace. We will have a “work project” of some sort (probably picking olives as our visit coincides with the olive harvest), but, as the team has been told, the trip is really not about the work we do; it is about the connections we make and the experiences we share – both with the other team members and with the local people we encounter along the way.
In the coming weeks, we’ll be selling “shares” in the trip and Palestinian olive oil to help financially support the work projects in the Holy Land. We’ll also be introducing the team members. In the meantime, please keep us all in your prayers!
Dee Poujade (UMVIM Team leader)