Our group of 28 represented nine nationalities. Most were ministers but some of their spouses accompanied them. There were some lay people too. Three Latvian pastors and their wives were with us, and it was a most wonderful opportunity for them to see and experience many new and exciting things. They loved it all and were so eager to learn and understand about the countries through which we would be travelling. Also we had two pastors and one wife from Poland, plus two pastors and a lady minister from Hungary.
The adventure begins
We began our adventure from England by coach on May 21. We travelled to Ramsgate on the east coast and crossed by ferry to Oostende in Belgium. We called into Luxembourg where the three people from Poland joined us. We went on to Austria where we spent our first night abroad. It was then to Budapest, Hungary, where the three Hungarians come aboard. This made our group complete.
Hurrying through Romania, the police stopped us for speeding and charged us $1. Then we headed for Bulgaria and Turkey, but border delays in Bulgaria ate up our traveling time so we had to drive allnight to get to Istanbul on time.
We found the Turks were very friendly and willing to help in any way possible. We stopped at Ankara then hurried on to Bogazkale and Boghazkoy, where we visited a museum of Hittite life. VVe visited the area of a Hittite town and climbed over the remains and took many photographs.
Highlight of my trip
The highlight of the trip, for me, was Cappadocia. We arrived in at Goreme on Friday night and stayed at the Tan Pension right in the middle of all the wonderful sandstone pinnacles where people made their homes after fleeing persecution. My husband, David, and I went for an early morning walk before breakfast and drank in the beauty. For our morning worship, we chose to go to a church in one of the sandstone cliffs. The pulpit stood in the center and seats were around the wall. It was cool inside this church, and we all enjoyed our fellowship and worship together.
We visited an underground city large enough for 10,000 people on 11 floors. Eight floors had lighting. The church area was in the shape of a slope as we went in and we dragged ourselves through on the way out. In some tunnels, we could easily stand up in, but in others we had to bend low. Air shafts let in fresh air, and we saw places where the water was brought through.
Our guide explained that the Hittites dug the first two floors. Then the Christians came in the second century and dug down further. It was a wonderful hideaway. The entrances were from under buildings on the surface. To halt the attack by the enemy they had huge round stones, like the one which was rolled in front of Jesus' tomb, to roll over the opening.
Some ministers had a "dry" baptism in the baptistery. There was the large room with a table where the students had classes. We spent two days there drinking in the beauty of it all.
The odyssey continues
Then we went to Tarsus, Paul's home town. We visited Antioch in Pisidia, which is a relatively new area to be excavated. It was great to visit the seven churches of Revelation.
We took a boat to the Isle of Patmos via Samos. The wind blew and the sea became rough. The Latvians found it a delight to be on deck and feel the spray blowing over them. Patmos was a highlight for everyone; it is beautiful.
We finally crossed over the border into Greece and spent Sabbath in Philippi. We followed Paul's example, when he met with the women and Lydia, by having our worship d own by the river. We travelled on to Thessalonica, Athens, and Corinth. After a little respite, we caught a ship from Patral and sailed 24 hours to Italy on a relatively calm sea.
In Italy, we visited the Herculanium; Pisa, with the leaning tower; and the Waldenses' Valleys. We visited some places in these countries along the way where we had a swim, walked in a Turkish market, and climbed over more ruins, Then we had to race home. The mountain scenery through northern Italy and into France was some of the best.
We thanked God for a marvelous three weeks, for wonderful fellowship, for safe keeping, for cheerful-careful drivers, for a greater understanding of the life of Paul and where he worked. But most of all, we thanked God for a greater understanding of His leading in the past and for His care for each one of us as we endeavor to hasten His coming.