Sunday, December 5, 2010

I'm motivated to change my wardrobe

So.. on our way home from the cruise, John and I got stuck in Brussels overnight because the plane had an engine problem.  This kind of thing is very difficult to argue with.  The captain casually announces the plane is not moving and then everyone loaded and sitting there has to deal with it.  It's a study in human nature to watch the various reactions of thrown-off passengers.  Actually, John and I remained quite calm; we had little desire to return to 'real' life back in the States... WE WERE IN BRUSSELS!!!  What's the problem!!!!

One lady had some interesting reactions that caught my attention right away.  She was smiling!  She was calm!  I struck up a conversation at the baggage carousel as we all waited about 45 minutes for our thrown-off luggage to reappear.  Yes, she was heading to the US to see her 91-year-old father and yes, this was day 3 of travel.  Two nights before she had been up most of the night to attend to a native in childbirth.  She (I'll call her Sal) was a missionary living the past 16 years in Guinea.  In Guinea, Sal has a husband and 3 children (plus one son going to college in Iowa).  I had just gotten off a cruise boat - one of the most luxurious vacations available to man - and she had come from a home where there was no electricity and water was available by pump.  Sal had helped the pregnant native lady for hours by the light of a flashlight, and then paid a driver to take her through the country to a hospital during the night under possible gunfire!  Sal looked fresh.  I looked spoiled...

All of we passengers were funneled to a hotel connected to the airport and again stood in line to check into a room.  I whipped out my cell phone and asked some fellow passengers how to make a cheap international call.  Sal, of course, had no cell phone.

Next, we were all herded to a buffet lunch in the hotel.  I could hardly believe my eyes!  The food was fine but obviously airport grub left over from something the day before.  It was kinda odds and ends-ish.  When Sal saw it, her face lit up at the lavish feast.  I was still full from having eaten too much on a cruise boat laden with more choices than humanly possible.  Sal said they eat a lot of rice in Guinea, just mostly rice...  During lunch, I questioned Sal more about what she was doing in Guinea.  I was fascinated by her selfless acts and her servant attitude. 

Dinner time rolled around, and again, we strolled to the buffet line to see it laden with the same food as lunch!  Passengers were taking pictures as proof of our abuse... Sal, again, thanked God for this feast... John and I ate about 3 bites.  Sal was dressed Guinea-style.   She was festive and talked to everyone, getting to know their situations and feelings.  She offered to get anyone something more.  She encouraged us and made us smile.  She walked a frail lady to her room.  Sal was gentle, kind and peaceful.  I was not...

Lately, I had read a book that really challenged me.  The gist of it was:  if believers are filled with the Holy Spirit, why don't we look and act different than non-believers.  It should be obvious that we 'wear' our faith; that we are loving and Christ-like in our actions and attitudes.  This idea was stuck in the back of my mind and I had prayed that God would show me and teach me how to do this.  As you read in the Bible, people flocked to Jesus.  He was gentle, tenderhearted and loving.  He was a powerful healer and would do miracles to help someone.  And now I had an answer to my prayer.  Right here, during an unexpected overnight stay in Brussels, Sal showed me how to be more Christ-like.  She showed me how to put on loving gentleness and peacefulness. She was a clear example of how to live this Spirit-filled life that looks different than everyone else.  Everyone noticed her...

So to finish this out, my prayer is that you all meet a Sal.  Her example has really given me something to shoot for.  She's a clear lesson on what to 'wear'.   Colossians 3:12 says 'Therefore as God's chosen people... clothe yourself with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.'  Lord, help me with this wardrobe revision.  Start with my inner thoughts and motivations and change me so much that I 'wear' Your characteristics on the outside each and every day.

Saturday, December 4, 2010


S0... Our cruise boat stopped at the port of Kusadasi, Turkey.  We found the city fascinating - the rug dealers, the leather coat salesmen, the Turkish coffee, the raki; now this was not Iowa!  We hopped on a tour bus headed for the ancient city of Ephesus located about 6 miles from Kusadasi.

Ephesus was a earthquake-toppled mess of marble, covered with silt for centuries.  Archaeologists are unearthing it bit by bit, discovering the buildings and culture of the time.  On the interest scale, it rates a '10'.  Our Muslim guide was very knowledgeable and reminded us that Paul, according to Acts 19,  lived in Ephesus about 3 years as a tent maker and evangelist.  The guide pointed out where the shops were, where the theater district and schools were, where the prostitutes hung out and where the 25,000 seat auditorium stood.  And something happened...

Ephesus became a real place.  Paul became a real person.  The letter to the Ephesians from the Bible became relevant.  I could 'see' Paul explaining the risen Christ to the locals.  I could 'hear' the idol sellers hawking the little Artemis statues.  I could 'feel' Paul's passion for telling the truth about Jesus as the way to Life Eternal.  My heart actually started to pound... I could feel my faith grow!  The Bible became real... alive!

Come, Holy Spirit, and keep Your Word and this experience alive in me.  Remind me that the stories in the Bible are about real people and real places.  Let this truth take root and grow each day, giving me a fresh passion to share the risen Christ as the Way, the Truth and the Life!

Foreign toilets...

So... my dear husband John and I have been on a cruise!  On Nov. 10th, we flew  to Venice, Italy and boarded a cruise boat for a quick tour of the Mediterranean.  We learned some things along the way and I have a lot of fodder for posts as you will see.

Perhaps one of the most difficult parts of traveling is the toilet factor.  It's not that I'm real particular about toilets, it's just that each situation ends up a soul-searching, mind-boggling episode.  The toilets on the cruise boat are nearly dangerous in their tremendous sucking action and the European toilets left me guessing every time... By the end of the trip, I missed my lovely toilet at home (it has roses painted on it) 

For example, the doors are different.  Often times you walk through a door and then go into an unmarked roomette that shares a sink.  Hidden pocket doors are common and several times I was left pants-down and doorless, praying that I would not become some child's first glance at a female body.  Lights are not always on switches but rather respond to movement.  John found this to be an issue after taking a bit too much time...  he was left waving his arms about in the wide open... and I do mean wide open.  One time, he got stuck behind a motion detecting glass door that was slow to open.  Several tables full of onlookers got a good show of an American searching about for a door handle when there was none; a youtube classic.   And there were toilets that opened with a coin and toilets with hidden flushing buttons and toilets guarded by a uniform with the universal palm up sign.  And then there were the challenges of door locks and water faucets and non-existant toilet paper...  One toilet left us 'high-fiving' and 'chest bumping' all the way back to the boat!  I accomplished the perfect gymnast's aim and squat pose necessary for the turkish potties - a 3  inch diameter recepticle in the ground... that's it!  (How do old people do this??)

So where am I going with all this toilet talk? Absolutely nowhere...  The whole trip was so interesting - even the toilets!  There is so much to see and experience.  Everyone is so different.  If you can scrape together the time and money to go to a different place, do it.  See this world that is so wildly diverse from what is normal to you and me.  Go see someone else's normal.  And then appreciate how vast and creative our Heavenly Father's heart is to have designed and accomplished it all.  How great is our God!


p.s.  And how about those bidets????