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County residents, from left, Jim Smart, BJ Smart, Ric Kuhlman and Judy Hill took a trip to Israel earlier this year.

A birthday party in Illinois was the catalyst for Judy Hill and her husband Ric Krueger, Jim and BJ Smart, and Ric’s aunt and uncle to make a life-long dream come true—a trip to the Holy Land in Israel. Late in 2013, Jim went to his sister’s 80th birthday party at a Baptist church in Illinois. There Jim saw a poster about that church congregation taking a trip to the Holy Land. That was what got the wheels started. Following is Judy’s story about the trip, edited slightly for space: Ric and I had never traveled out of country so we had to get our first passports (with my several name changes, my passport was delayed but finally it arrived). We packed and prepared for an adventure of a lifetime. There were 14 Baptists and us four tag-a-long Lutherans on this trip.

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