Resident tours the Holy Land

Rena Hopkins showing off her Middle Eastern memorabilia.

Rena Hopkins couldn’t pass up the chance to visit her granddaughter and family in the Middle East earlier this year. “They asked me to go. I said sure!”

Rena, a resident at Arkansas City Presbyterian Manor, spent three weeks in Ammann, Jordan, and in Jerusalem, touring the sights of the Holy Land. They went out on a boat in the Sea of Galilee, saw a re-creation of Nazareth in Jesus’s time, visited the Old City of Jerusalem and the Wailing Wall, went up to Mount Nebo (where Moses looked into the Promised Land), and toured the Mount of Olives, the Garden of Gethsemane and Garden Tomb, where their guide skillfully evoked the last days of Jesus.

Rena’s daughter, Connie Tyler, arranged the trip. Connie’s daughter has lived in Jordan for four years. She teaches global issues at her children’s school, and her husband owns a Crossfit gym. Both are Arkansas City natives.

Despite what many of us see on the news about the Middle East, Connie said they felt safe during the entire trip. “Jordan is a very secure place; it’s all the countries around it that are in turmoil. Right in Jordan we felt very comfortable,” she said. The hardest part was crossing the border into Jerusalem, which is heavily fortified; it was a time-consuming process with a lot of transportation transfers.

Once there, they got a wheelchair for Rena to be comfortable as they walked upwards of five miles a day. But Rena’s a veteran traveler, Connie said. “She and my dad did a lot of traveling. Through the years she had been almost everywhere except the Middle East.”

The Sea of Galilee was probably Rena’s favorite part of the journey – she received a certificate that acknowledged she had walked in the same place that Jesus walked 2,000 years ago. The sights were amazing on this once-in-a-lifetime journey, but Rena said the best part was simply spending time with her granddaughter and great-grandchildren.