February 25, 2013
Our middle east journey continued about the same way the apostle Paul traveled by ship to the southern coast of Turkey, called Asia minor in those days. We made landfall in Antalya, which is very near to Perga, where Paul went in accordance with Acts 13. Riding a bus in this beautiful mountainous area reminded us of the clean European areas, which we have visited before. Green grass highway divide, which groomed and cared for. Fountains and flowers along the way into town. Just a sense of order and pride in their city. A very refreshing change from Egypt. These are both Muslim countries, although Turkey is know for being a “secular” Muslim state. We saw less of the traditional dress here in southern Turkey.
The whole of this area seemed much more relaxed, prosperous, affluent, and catering to the visitors. Any port of call is innately oriented toward tourism, but we certainly experienced less of this in Antalya. The obligatory souvenir shops are here, just like elsewhere; but the urgency of the vendors was much more subdued. Their wares we on display and we could in all quietness look and decide. The complementary hot sweet tea was a welcome diversion during our browsing experience. The inner city has a plethora of mosques, some traditional some more subdued. We were able to visit one of the more obscure ones in the old part of town.
A local “guide” had joined our small group of three, and he shared that he had spend many years in Berlin as a Turkish guest worker there. He must have heard Corrie and I talk in Gronings, which is close to German, because he addressed us in German. The third person in our group was from New Zealand, however; so I got to practice my German and English translation skills. We had a great time and a wonderful tour, seeing parts of town we would not have ventured in alone. Obviously, he expected some compensation and we obliged. Our guide had left us the edge of the old inner city pointing us into the direction we should go. Fortunately we had a good map of the city so we could find our way back fairly easy, once we knew where we were. Going back to our pick-up point following the more touristy-route we stopped off for some coffee and pastry. We made our way back through relatively civilized parts of the old city and made it back to the rallying point where we caught a bus back to the ship.
The weather was very nice, warm and dry. I must confess, “ It was as expected.” We are conditioned by the glossy brochures and video clips to expect the best in beautiful weather all the time. I can share with you all that we were blessed to have beautiful weather in all our ports of call on this trip. No need for umbrellas, except for about a 10 minute spell of light rain in Katakolon, Greece. A small port we visited on October 12, 2012. But that is another story.
February 6, 2013
We have been back from our mission trip to Jamaica for two weeks already. The trip to and fro was uneventful. This is a very good thing when you are flying. The Children’s home is located on a mountain top, so we rode up there in a small bus. The driver had done this trip many times before, and we were happy to know that, because the road was a one lane dirt road with many pot-holes. We were literally shaken up when we got to our destination. The next few days we worked on the campus, doing a variety of tasks. Some who had teaching experience, worked directly with the children. All of us interacted with them after school hours.
I build some shelves in the newly constructed paint and gasoline storage shed, while Corrie did a lot of reorganizing.
The last 36 hours we were able to unwind and relax at an all inclusive resort.
All in all a very good experience for the whole group. We bonded well as a group. We shared our meals and helped with clean-up. There was a lack of warm water and we even ran out of water one day, due to the drought which plagues the island. Our showers were cold water only, but with the high temperatures during he day, this was not a significant problem for any of us. When we got back to Des Moines, the temperature here was only 10° (F), well below freezing.
Quite a shock from the tropical temperatures in Jamaica. Yet it has been good to be home.