This year marked the 15th year the Kelso-Longview (Wash.) Church offered their production of Journey to Bethlehem. The event, which takes community members on a journey through which they can see, hear, smell, taste and feel a Bethlehem experience, attracted more than 8,500 people.
This year's production involved nearly 220 volunteers, most from the Adventist congregation but some from other churches. These volunteers worked together like a well-oiled machine in areas such as costumes, set design and setup, parking, greeting, directing, tending animals and fires, and providing security. The newest cast member this year was Curley the Camel. He replaced the church's camel, Gizmo, who died suddenly last spring.
At the start of their journey, participants were met by two "cousins" who guided them from Nazareth to Bethlehem. On the way they came across three magi and their camel, spent time in a Jewish family's tent, were held up by a Roman guard, experienced a Bethlehem marketplace, begged for lodging at an inn, paid their taxes, witnessed an angel, and found a family huddled together at a manger.
Every person taking the journey ended the trip at a large, lighted wood cross where they were instructed: "Tell everyone you see, anyone you meet, that the Messiah, our Savior has been born."