Our 2022 Israel/Palestine tour group spent 12 life changing days in the Holy Land during the period of Oct 13-23. This included engagements with Nazareth Project Inc. partners in Nazareth: Nazareth Hospital, Nazareth Academic School of Nursing, Nazareth Village and SERVE Nazareth.
The tour group members composed of friends from Pennsylvania, Ohio, Alabama, New Mexico, Utah and West Virginia, visited numerous sites in Jerusalem, as well as Masada, Qumran, Jericho and the Dead Sea. Northern Israel sites included Megiddo, Capernaum, Dan, Mt. Carmel and numerous stops around the Sea of Galilee. Some of the participants on the tour told us about the impact seeing these holy sights from the Bible had on them. Aaron Groff said:
“Some of the memories that have been indelibly etched into my soul include looking over Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives, entering the Old City through the Lions’ Gate, touching the Wailing Wall,
standing in the Jordan River, floating in the Dead Sea, riding in a boat on the Sea of Galilee, standing on the Mount of Beatitudes. These and many other memories remain with me.”
John Martin and his grandfather Bob Martin, shared this unique experience together. For some context: Bob and his late wife Nancy lived and worked in Nazareth on three occasions during the years 1965-1995. As the tour group travelled around Israel/Palestine, Bob shared with us numerous stories from his experiences. While in Jericho, John enjoyed a camel ride while Bob cheered him on. Reflecting on the experience of this trip John wrote:
“I very much appreciated the opportunity to learn about the history and significance of Israel and Jerusalem to all of the three major world religions. I feel honored to have been able to walk in some of the same places Jesus called home during his lifetime. Sharing this experience with my grandfather and each member of the tour group has been a memory that I believe will last with me forever. Ibrahim Emtanis, our tour guide, did a fantastic job of teaching us about the history of Israel, not only during the life of Christ, but also in the times after Christ, during the Crusades, and after 1948.”
On October 19 the group toured Nazareth Hospital, the School of Nursing, and Nazareth Village. The Hospital tour included stops at departments where NPI-facilitated grants from ASHA/USAID helped the Hospital to initiate new services such as: an expanded operating room, heart catherization, pediatric surgery and expanded dialysis services.
Dr. Fahed Hakim director of the Hospital, shared his ambitious dreams for a larger and more sophisticated hospital that will be linked to research and training. The spiritual care team gave an update on plans to involve more international supporters as chaplains and volunteers.
At the School of Nursing, Dr. Salam Hadid described the expanded facility to train up to 40% more nurses to help meet the shortage in Israel. She reported that the current student body includes traditional RN students and those pursuing a BSN degree. She stated that there is also a significant group with BA degrees who are doing several additional years of study to receive the RN degree. A special event also occurred during our visit to the School of Nursing: NPI’s presentation of a photo commemorating Nancy Martin and the former director Dr. Amal Khazin. Dr. Salam graciously thanked Nazareth Project Inc. for our assistance with student scholarships. She noted that many of her students need financial support to pay their fees and living expenses. Cheryl Gentle gave us her impression of the School of Nursing and what the experience meant for her:
“After waiting for two years for this tour to happen because of Covid delays, it exceeded my wildest dreams. Seeing the expansion of the School of Nursing was a highlight. As a retired nurse and one who called Nancy Martin a friend, it was very emotional to know that her legacy lives on. Bob and Nancy are so loved at the hospital and all of us can understand why.”
Also of note: NPI’s Nancy Martin Memorial Scholarship fund will begin dispersing monies in July 2023. NPI’s goal is to grow the fund to $200,000 by June 30, 2023. Our generous supporters gifts to the fund will help NPI to achieve that goal by June 2023!