I've been thinking about how to end this blog, how to summarize all that we have encountered. We have seen the good, the bad and the ugly.
The good...the reverence of God and His Son Jesus in art, and the stories of the Early Church; Paul's willingness to undergo trials for the sake of the Gospel which spread like fire throughout the Roman Empire.
The bad could take many forms...the sale of idols (many profane) at the site of the Temple of Athena, or the young runaway thief near the beautiful Trevi Fountain. Even the poor exchange rate between the Euro and US Dollar could be considered such.
But the ugly was the hardest to comprehend...the deaths in the coliseum for the pleasure the Emperor, and the satisfaction of the citizens of Rome. "Breads and Circuses" were important to the people, and a way to retain the Emperor's good name. Whether it was a fight between gladiators, or man and beast, it still remains a gruesome tale. Christians martyred for their faith stoked the fires of the Church, and lead to it's growth. They did not die in vain.
On the lighter side, I was surprised at the cool weather we experienced (50s, cloudy and damp). I thought the Mediterranean was always warm and sunny, which is why, I assume, Paul was so adamant about having his cloak before winter! We were pleasantly surprised to see Christians from all walks of life (mostly senior citizens) who were tickled to have our family join them on the tour. Their varied spiritual backgrounds added spice to our lives.
It was a treat to sit back and enjoy the well laid plans of others, and to have Dan join us each morning (sometimes as early as 5:30am) bright eyed (well, almost), without complaint, at breakfast to start the day. Although we toured at a steady pace, with little time for leisure, something always seemed to catch our interest...even down to the Turkish toilets! At times, especially for Olivia, we experienced "information overload". It will be good to review as we revisit our notes, scripture and photos at a slower pace.
A highlight was meeting up with my dear friend Karen DuBert, her son Luke and daughter Isabel, in Rome. We spent our meals together during the two days they were in town, and shared our adventures. The four kids had fun "hanging" together. It was difficult to say goodbye...we won't see them until next year, when they return to the US on furlough.
Turkey was an unexpected bonus, in particular, Istanbul. It was a charming, very European but exotic city with friendly faces and good food. The Grand Bazaar was a once in a lifetime experience, and we felt as though we were transported to the times of the Arabian Nights. Bargaining came as second nature to Mario!
All in all, it was a delightful, educational and enlightening trip...of a lifetime. We thank the Lord for the opportunity, and are privileged to share this journey with you.