Faith leads family into war zone

The Torrijos-Christensen family Thursday in their Modesto home, from left, Akira Torrijos, 16, Joseph Christensen, 14, Gavril Torrijos, 13, Gary Torrijos and Cynthia Torrijos. Despite the Israel-Lebanon conflict, the family recently made a pilgrimage to Haifa, Israel, the spiritual center of their Bahai faith.

Fighting doesn't keep Modestans from making a pilgrimage to a shrine in Israel

Three days after two Israel soldiers were captured by Hezbollah militants, faith led the Torrijos-Christensen family of Modesto to northern Israel.

For six years the family planned its pilgrimage to Haifa, the spiritual center of their Bahai religion; after a family discussion, they decided to travel into a war zone.

"It was a complete act of faith," Gary Torrijos said Thursday as he sat on the couch next to his wife, Cynthia Christensen, and children Akira Torrijos, 16, Joseph Christensen, 14, and Gavril Torrijos, 13. "Logically, there were moments when I thought, as Dad, 'I made the decision to bring my family into this?'"

After a week of visiting shrines and dodging bombs, the family landed safely in San Francisco on Wednesday afternoon.

{josquote}The Israelis were very patriotic, they said, and all the cab drivers loved the United States{/josquote}

The Bahai faith believes the teachings of Christianity, Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism are combined into a unified religious narrative. As Muslims may make a pilgrimage to Mecca or Catholics visit the Vatican, Bahais have the Shrine of Bahá'u'lláh in Acre, less than 13 miles from the Israel-Lebanon border and the final resting place of their spiritual founder.

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