Thank you for your kind wishes and prayers for our anniversary trip. It was a great joy, and we’re still processing all that we saw and experienced.
Here’s where we went: we flew to Rome; boarded a cruise ship from there to the Eastern Mediterranean, where we stopped in Santorini, Istanbul, Ephesus, Mykonos, Athens, and Naples. It was a trip of both natural beauty and historical wonder, the full account of which would take hours, and would surely remind you why you try to avoid travelogues!
An immense amount of planning goes into such a trip. Moving 3000+ passengers and 1000+ crew members across that much territory, feeding them and keeping them healthy, doesn’t just happen. And our place in it didn’t just happen either. Ron Sleeth’s expert help was a great gift as we planned the trip and its excursions.
But some of the greatest gifts of the trip were of the kind that only the Lord can plan. For example, we flew to Rome on an overnight flight, arriving at our hotel at 9:30 a.m. on Sunday, and the clerk told us that the Pope would be preaching at noon in the great Vatican Square, less than a mile away. So we walked over, and joined tens of thousands from around the globe – quite a preview of heaven – to hear Pope Francis preach in Italian. I could pick out only a couple of words, but the presence of the Spirit and the joy of that gathering were clear enough. I snapped the attached picture as he preached. And so one of the greatest gifts of the trip came to us with no planning of our own.
Then there were other unplanned blessings. We met a lovely Christian couple from San Diego, Richard and Nancy, and greatly enjoyed hearing how the Lord was at work in their lives. On the Island of Mykonos we happened upon a little Orthodox chapel, filled with icons, and offering a lovely place apart from the crowds of beach goers and shoppers. Then each night at dinner we were waited upon by Pedro, a Honduran who leaves his family as he sails for seven months a year, and who served up not only fine food, but also great kindness. And then, to top it off, when we got home we had dozens of anniversary cards from family and friends – amazing!
God is good, and his goodness is sweetest when it comes by surprise.