by Bill Boyle
We recently returned from another exhilarating and exhausting trip to the Holy Land under the auspices of our periodic travel company: SJR Travel.
Every couple of years, we put together a group and travel to the other side of the world.
As you can imagine, it is not easy to pull up stakes for several weeks and leave a demanding job in San Juan County. The plan was to edit the newspaper each week through email.
It would have been impossible to pull off without dedicated employees. In particular, Andrea Montgomery, Jill Pearson and Merri Allyson Platt carried a heavy load while I was gone.
This was particularly true when the technology didn’t work as planned. Even with spotty internet, computer problems and a stolen cell phone, they still managed to publish the paper every week. And the paper looked great!
Thank you to everyone who helped. In addition, my daughter Katie Boyle was invaluable while we were on the trip.
My wife Lynda and I met at BYU while working for the BYU Jerusalem Center. We both studied in Israel as students and were hired by BYU to help recruit students for the study abroad programs.
I immensely enjoyed the study abroad experience and relished the 18 additional months I spent in Israel as a full time employee of the Jerusalem Center.
While living in Israel, I completed graduate level courses in Biblical history and geography, worked as a research assistant for Truman Madsen, led tours for BYU students from the London and Vienna study abroad programs, and traveled the length and breadth of the Holy Land.
I also ran the business operations for the BYU programs in Israel. This allowed me to work with the travel agents, guides, bus companies, hotels, merchants and tour operators throughout the Holy Land.
Lynda studied history and Hebrew at BYU while earning a teaching certificate. She has a major in History and a minor in Near Eastern Studies. We initially met when a mutual friend told me, “Lynda is the only person I know who loves the Holy Land as much as you.”
After I completed a graduate degree in business from Stanford University, we assumed that we would return to the Holy Land. But life took us in a different direction.
For the past 23 years, we have lived in Monticello, where I own the San Juan Record and Lynda works as a high school history teacher. We live a quiet but demanding life.
About ten years ago, I was asked by LDS Travel Study to lead a tour to the Holy Land. We had a great time and decided to start our own little travel business. Since that time, we put aside our lives in Monticello once every two years or so and return to the Holy Land with a new group of friends. We have brought more than 160 visitors to the Holy Land in the subsequent years.
Our groups are different than most groups that tour the Holy Land. We recruit primarily through word of mouth and focus on groups of friends and acquaintances. Many of our group members have been to Israel in the past, either as students or visitors. For instance, more than 50 percent of our most recent group had been to Israel at least once before.
Our groups are generally much younger than typical groups, with more than half of some groups college age or younger.
We are very active in our tours. We don’t just look at the Holy Land through a bus window, we walk and swim and climb and hike and explore.
The goal of the tour is to have an unforgettable experience in the Holy Land and to set the stage for a lifetime of insight, studying and learning after we return. I hope you can join us in the future!