Polashek’s pilgrimage special in more ways than one

The Sphinx, the Rock of Golgotha, and the baptism site of Jesus were all things that Ames High Orchestra director Mary Kay Polashek and her husband Emil saw on their two-week pilgrimage in November. This, however, was not Polashek’s first visit to the Holy Land. In November of 2007, Polashek and her mother went on the pilgrimage to Egypt, Jordan, and Israel, as a request by her mother shortly after her father passed away. “It was a fabulous trip. I came home and said to Emil, ‘I want do that trip someday with you,’,” Polashek said. “We were thinking it would be years and years after Isabel and Jotham [our children] were gone.” After last year’s Christmas midnight mass, Emil surprised Mrs. Polashek with the words “Holy Land Pilgrimage” on bright green paper laying on a church table. However, there were a few obstacles to climb over. “We really didn’t have the money to do this. What would we do with the kids? How would I be able to miss two weeks of school again?” Polashek said. “I thought about it and prayed about it.” “Then one night, Emil handed me a beer and said, ‘here’s to our Holy Land trip.’,” Polashek said. The planning for the trip began. The two Polashek children at home, 4th grader Isabel and Ames High junior Jotham were given a nanny for the two weeks. Mrs. Magel, a retired middle school English teacher with a music degree, was assigned as a long-term sub for the orchestras. And the finances? “We were going to pay for it whether we could pay for it or not,” Polashek said. On November 5th, the Polasheks boarded their plane for the Holy Land at the Minneapolis International Airport. Their pilgrimage was with two catholic churches from Wisconsin. “We were all like minded people,” Polashek said. First stop: Cairo, Egypt. The group boarded the tour bus that would be their mode of transportation for the next two weeks. It took them to the Egyptian pyramids, the Suez Canal, Jerusalem, and many important biblical places. Polashek said the trip opened up the scriptures for her, and that she urges those who are religious or enjoy history to someday visit the Holy Land. “I had read and listened to the bible and gone to church for 50 years, but now it really comes vividly to life because I’ve been in all those places,” she said. On November 9th, the 4th day of of Polashek’s trip, her mother passed away. Polashek has been asked many times what her favorite part of the trip was, and she says that it was sharing it with Emil, as well as the one who took her on her first visit to the Holy Land. Polashek said, “Feeling like she was with me on the rest of that pilgrimage was a very special thing.”