It was exciting to finally receive the parcel that contained our e-tickets, itinerary, luggage tags, ID "packet" (shown in photo), and a booklet describing the ports and places we will be visiting, with accompanying Scripture. I was thrilled to find a tiny hymnbook (words only) in each of our packets...evidently we gather to worship together at certain points. What a memorable occasion to recall: meeting and worshiping with other like-minded Christians in the cities where Paul preached!
So what does one do to prepare for such an experience?
For the last few weeks, we've been using a children's devotional called, "From Paul with Love...", which is a brief summary of his journeys and letters. Mario and Olivia have completed a study of their own on the "Missionary Journeys of Paul". We have also watched a few videos of Paul's life, and one that highlights the seven churches of Revelation.
I have done research on my own, and am bringing a novel entitled, "Great Lion of God" (the life, of course, of St. Paul) by Taylor Caldwell, and to balance it with Scripture, "A Prayer Journey with the Apostle Paul", a devotional by Michael Green. I will also carry a small New Testament to concentrate on Paul's writings. This will be the bulk of my reading, with time in between to take in the sites, journal, blog and take photos. Good thing that we are taking buses just about every where we go...there will be time, hopefully for these pursuits.
The kids are taking a pile of reading books, their Bibles, journals and sketch pads to keep them busy...Dan will decide last minute what he will bring besides his Bible and camera. Mario, being the resident photographer, will be toting two cameras with lenses and plenty of memory on his digital card.
I have asked each one in our family what he/she is looking forward to most on this adventure. Here are the responses: Dan: "This will be the biggest dose of ancient history I have experienced in the last 20 years. I look forward to seeing the ancient Greek and Turkish sites...especially Ephesus." Olivia: "I can't wait to visit Philippi, where Paul and Silas were imprisoned. Also the artwork in the Sistine Chapel" (we have been studying the Renaissance). Mario: "Rome...and the Sistine Chapel" (something tells me he's looking forward to an expresso!) And me? Istanbul (Constantinople)...there is so much intrigue that surrounds that city, and it's a place like no other I have visited. I have already asked a friend for help in composing a prayer for the citizens of that place to be used whenever I hear the "call to prayer" from the minaret. A highlight for me (which will be ongoing) will be never seeing scripture in the same light again, as I bring to mind Biblical cities that I have visited.
Things are slowly falling (like the snow outside) into place as we look towards our departure date...we appreciate your prayers!