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Sunday, September 5, 2010

More Pictures from Charles and Sue Hall

I got an email from Charles Hall on August 5th. Unfortunately, I have been buried with a work project and too busy to really look at it until this weekend. Charles has done a wonderful, great job with his pictures. Here's the text of the email that I got:

Sue and I completed our slideshow of the Greece Turkey Trip.

It's on Google and you need a free account to view it. It is more about where we went and what we saw, rather than people, although it does have some of Sue and myself. It has 681 pics at 3 seconds each = 35 minutes to view.
I am not much of a computer guy but somehow it was fairly easy to get it loaded with Picasa and Picasa Web Albums. If you think it is worth viewing you can tell the others.

Charles Hall

Obviously, I think it's worthwhile. I would whole-heartedly recommend you spend some time and check it out!


Sunday, August 1, 2010

Dale's Thoughts about the FSoP trip...

Wow. That was some trip.

I just went through and added some more links, captioned the pictures in the blog, and just reviewed the trip. I am really glad that I did this blog, because the memories from the trip were already fading, and this was a great way for me to review and revisit.

I don't know if it helps anyone else, but the maps have helped me. All of the maps in the blog are interactive, you can use the controls on the maps - or you can click on the link below the map and go into Google maps. Even better, right-click it and open it in a new window. You can zoom in pretty far and really see details - for instance, if you look at Ephesus, you can clearly see the route we walked, first west to the Library at the corner, then north through the Agora to the Theater (clearly visible on the satellite image), then west a bit and then north to the bus stop. Of course, all of the routes are not verified, I just took the default Google maps routes, and some of the places may be a little off, but overall I am pretty happy that I got real close on most of the places.

The trip by the numbers:
14 days
8 hotel rooms (if you count the cruise ship)
8 hours time difference DFW to Greece
2 countries (Greece and Turkey)
13,000+ air miles
1,500+ bus miles
750+ boat miles
who knows how many miles walking on foot?
and there were the donkeys on Rhodes and Santorini...

Was it worth it? Yes, definitely.
Would I do it again? I would have to think long and hard, but right now I would say no. This trip was physically demanding due to the heat, the long days, the travel, and the lack of down time to recover. And I am very much out of shape. So at the moment, I would probably not do another trip of this duration and magnitude, and certainly not in June.

What was most impressive?
This seems to be a question that I get a lot about the trip. It's such an open-ended question that it's hard to answer, so I typically break it down this way:
For spectacular beauty: Santorini Island - the cliffs, the colors, the ocean, the volcano, the sunset were all simply beautiful
For spectacular ruins/excavations: Ephesus for sheer size and details, Troy for historical/archeological perspective.
Spiritual significance: The Island of Patmos where John wrote the Book of Revelation
Biggest impact to me personally: a better understanding of the Grace that God has lavished on us, and how I should live my life in light of that understanding.


Revisits Done - Let me know of any problems or suggestions!

Footsteps of Paul people, whether you went on the trip or you're following the blog...

I have updated all the "revisits" for Days 1 through 14. I'm sure there's something I missed somewhere. I've already found and corrected some small things, so if you're reading in email you might actually go check out the web site. Please let me know if you see anything out of order, anything that you think can be improved.

Also note: you are entirely welcome to post your own pictures, or comments. The more the better!

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Ice Cream!

Ice Cream was very important on the trip. Every break it seemed like someone was having an ice cream of some sort. I tried to capture at least one variety of each kind. I found nine - what did I miss?

See them here

Day 14 Revisit - Corinth and Traditional Dinner

Day Fourteen Revisit - Saturday June 19th - Corinth and Traditional Dinner

Corinith Canal
Today we were on the bus at 8:00 and headed toward Corinth. This city is not too far from Athens, about an hour and a half via bus from our hotel. We saw the Corinth Canal, which is cut from the rocks, connecting the Aegan Sea with the Ionic (or Adriatic) Sea. This canal is 4 miles long, 290 feet deep, 78 feet wide, and the water is 28 feet deep. It was pretty impressive. Interesting fact is that there are bridges at both ends of the canal that are the opposite of draw bridges, instead of raising up, they lower down below the water allowing the boats to pass over them.

We stopped at the Canal for a rest break, then proceeded on to the Ancient Corinth. There was a nice museum at the location of the ancient Agora (marketplace) of Corinth. There was the Bema seat where the Jews brought Paul before Gallio in Acts 18:12-17.

The Bema Seat
Pastor Wayne did some teaching there from 1 Corinthians 3:11-15 and after talks about the Bema seat judgement and how all believers will be brought before the Bema seat by grace, while non-believers will appear before the Great White Throne judgement described in Revelation. Since we are saved by grace, we have an implied duty to live by grace. Everyone who is saved by faith is justified (v15) but what we have done with our lives (sanctified v12-14) will determine the rewards we have in heaven. Also in 1 Cor 6:19, Paul describes that our bodies are bought with the price of Jesus Christ, and so they are not our own, they are the temple of the Holy Spirit. This is very poignant here in Corinth, since there was so much immorality here, but it is also very convicting. One day we will stand in front of the Bema seat and God will judge how we spent our time, our energy, the blessings of health, wealth, and wisdom that He has given us, and we will give an account of our actions. Pastor Wayne encouraged us to spend some time in prayer to seek God's wisdom on what kinds of changes we should make in our lives.

One last item at Corinth: We walked out of the museum and agora area, and downhill to a small valley. There we saw a block of marble on the ground with a Latin phrase. The first word was 'ERASTUS' and the translation is 'Erastus, commissioner of public works, laid this pavement at his own expense.' Why is this important? This is probably the same Erastus that is mentioned in Rom 16:23. Archaeology has shown once again that the Bible is talking about real people in real places.

Cenchreae Beach
After finishing at Ancient Corinth, we got on the bus and headed for Cenchreae, the beach where Paul had his hair cut off (Acts 18:18) to fulfill a vow. 

Greek Dancing
Tonight we had a special dinner at a Greek restaurant, with traditional Greek dishes - Greek Salad, Souvaliki, wine, and baclava. There was traditional Greek dancing. We presented Susan with a special gift for organizing the trip so well.

The next morning was our return to Dallas. It was a very early morning and a very long day. We had our large luggage out of our rooms at 3:45 and we were on the bus at 4:30, so that we can make it to the airport in time. We flew for approximately 3 hours to Madrid, have a layover, and then another 10 hours to DFW, target time for arrival is 4:45, so with the 8 hour time change, that is a 20+ hour day, and that is just to DFW. We all made it safely back, Praise the Lord!

Dale's Pics for Day 14 - Ancient Corinth: here
Dale's Pics for Day 14 - Traditional Greek Dinner: here
Approx Miles Traveled Day 14/15: Bus 139, Plane 6,439

Travels Day 14: Corinth

Day 13 Revisit - Athens

Day Thirteen Revisit - Friday June 18th - Athens

Today we had to be ready to leave the ship at 7:30. After waiting and going through customs, we said goodbye to Yanni and were in Athens, finally back with Aliki and in the tour bus at about 9:00. We headed to the Athens Acropolis.

The Acropolis is an amazing place. There are multiple structures: 
  1. Porch of the Caryatids
    a small temple to Athena Nike (currently under restoration) right at the gates
  2. the Proylea - the gates themselves
  3. the Parthenon
  4. the Erechteaum (dedicated to Athena, Poseidon, and Erechtheus) with the Porch of the Caryatids (female figures as supporting columns)
  5. and several others...

After we spent some time on the Acropolis, we came down and visited the Areopagus, also known as Mars Hill. This is the location associated with Paul's speech in Acts 17:16-34, although we are not certain that is actually where it took place.

View of Acropolis from Agora
After that, we did some quick souvenir shopping and then headed to the Athens Agora (meeting place or market place). This is a huge place and we only had a few minutes here, but you could easily spend a half-day if not a full day.

View of Acropolis at night
We had a late lunch and then headed to the hotel to get checked in. We saw the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and several Neo-classical buildings from the bus on the way. After checking in at the Titania Hotel, about half of group went to the National Museum while the rest of us caught up on sleep.

Dale's Pics for Day 13 - Athen Acropolis: here
Dale's Pics for Day 13 - Athen Agora: here
Approx Miles Traveled Day 3: Bus 12

Travels Day 13: Athens

Day 12 Revisit - Crete and Santorini

Day Twelve Revisit - Thursday June 17th - Crete and Santorini

Knossos Palace
A pretty hectic day. The cruise ship had arrived at Crete and we had to be ready to go on our Knossos Palace tour at 7:30. The tour was interesting but it was VERY hot out. The ruins of the Palace were noticeably older than the other ruins that we had seen. This is the place where the legend of the minotaur arose.

Interesting Bible tidbit: Crete was known in the first century for three primary things: 
  1. the legend of the god Zeus changing form into a bull in order to seduce Europa
  2. the minotaur
  3. King Midas (of the Golden Touch)

Bull Acrobats
So when Paul writes in Titus 1:12-13 about the Cretans being "liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons" he is referencing these three myths, he is not being derogatory. This is a good example of how you should have the context of the time in mind when you read the Bible.

We did not have a long time at Knossos Palace, as we also spent a short time in the modern city of Heraklion. We quickly visited the Basilica of St. Mark and the Church of St. Titus, patron saint of the Island of Crete.

Santorini from ship
We then made it back to the boat, which sailed for Santorini. Santorini is a volcano that erupted many years ago, probably creating the legend of Atlantis; the explosion is estimated at 10 times the size of Krakatoa. The explosion left about a third of a circle as the only land above the Mediterranean. We arrived there, and had to take tender boats (or lighters) to shore. Some people went on a tour, others explored on their own or with Yanni. The volcano caldera is one of the largest calderas in the world, and there is a goodly amount of land, which is very picturesque, with some very amazing scenery. The towns on Santorini are up on the cliff of the remaining land, and there were only a few ways up to them: be on the bus tour up, take the cable car up, ride donkeys up, or walk up.

Cave House on Santorini
On the bus tour, by the time we got to our destination in Oia Village, we had only about 30 minutes of free time to explore and take pictures, and then we had leave for Thira. By the time we reached Thira, we only had time to take a couple of pictures and then take the cable car down to the shore to take the tender boats back to the boat. Even with the short amount of time, the ship was still over an hour late departing Santorini. Basically, it was just crazy to try to do both Crete and Santorini in the same day.

After we got back to the boat, we had a short time with Pastor Wayne talking about Titus and how he had been a "guinea pig for grace" (Gal 2:1-9).

After that we had to pack and have our large bags out of the room by midnight, with an early call to leave the ship in the morning.

Dale's Pics for Day 12 - Crete: here
Dale's Pics for Day 12 - Santorini: here
Approx Miles Traveled Day 102: Boat 327

Travels Day 12: Crete to Santorini to Pireaus (Athens)

View FBC Travel 2010 Mediterranean Cruise in a larger map

Day 11 Revisit - Rhodes

Day Eleven Revisit Wednesday June 16th - Rhodes

A catch-up, relaxing day. The cruise ship traveled overnight while we slept to the Island of Rhodes, which was very important as a shipping center in the Mediterranean Sea. Some people went on tours, some went with Pastor Wayne to the Museum, some wandered around the town on their own, and some stayed on the ship and relaxed.

I went with Pastor Wayne to the museum, where we found that it was much improved over seven years ago when Wayne was last there, but there were restrictions and he was not allowed to 'guide us' since he is not licensed here. So we all split up and went separate directions. I walked through the museum, then walked around a little bit of the town, picked up some items, had some ice cream, and came back to the ship to catch up on these notes. I then went to have lunch at a cafe that has free internet access.

Tonight we have to be back on board by 5:30 and the ship travels to Crete overnight.

Prev: Day 10 Part 2 <=> Next: Day 12
Dale's Pics for Day 11 - Rhodes: here
Approx Miles Traveled Day 10: Boat 208

Travels Day 11: Rhodes to Crete

View FBC Travel 2010 Mediterranean Cruise in a larger map

Day 10 Revisit Part 2 - Cruise and Patmos

Day Ten Revisit Part 2 - Tuesday June 15th - Cruise and Patmos

After Ephesus, we boarded the bus and drove to the port of Kusadasi and got there before 10:00. We said goodbye to our Turkey guide Hakan, driver Hasan, and assistant George. We went through customs and boarded the cruise ship. We had a nice surprise in that Expedition Travel had provided a guide, Yanni, on the boat. He helped a lot, especially at Patmos dealing with the taxis.

Entrance to Grotto
At Patmos, the Grotto and the monastery built to honor John are at the top of a hill. There are tour buses, but we took taxis with four people each. Yanni negotiated a price of 25 Euros up and back. At the top, we sat in the shade on some stands while Pastor Wayne taught. We were able to get another group picture here.

Ephesians 5-15-21 One of the great 'therefore' passages in the second half of Ephesians. "how you walk" means "how you live". In verse 18, "filled with the Spirit" means "controlled by" -- the more that you are controlled by the Spirit and by God, the more you can be yourself, not as your old flesh, but as a new creation in Jesus -- not dogs any more, but ducks, so quack.

Detail above entrance
Revelation 1:4-15 Verse 8 - Alpha and Omega -- Jesus is not only the Word, but He is the very letters of the word, from the first to the last. Verse 15 -- Many waters -- is a reference to Amos where he uses the term as a form of judgement. Verse 17 -- John, the apostle that knew Jesus so well that he leaned against him as a friend at the Last Supper, falls down "like a dead man" when he sees the glorified Jesus - Jesus IS God. John knew how to balance the friendship with the worship and obedience that God requires. This is something that many people struggle with due to their backgrounds -- many Catholics know about the worship but have a hard time with the friendship -- many people that come to Christ at a very early age know about the friendship but have a hard time with the worship. May we all learn to balance these two viewpoints.

After the teaching, we saw the Grotto where John is said to have written the Book of Revelation. This was very Catholic, especially since the Catholics built a monastery on the island in the ninth century and made the Grotto a sacred site.

We got back to the town Patmos and had a couple of hours of free time before the ship sailed. The ship left Patmos and we had our first dinner on the cruise. While we slept, the ship sailed for Rhodes, arriving before we got up.

Dale's Pics for Day 10 - Patmos: here
Approx Miles Traveled Day 10: Boat 220

FootSteps of Paul (FSoP) group on Patmos

Travels Day 10: Kusadasi to Patmos to Rhodes

View FBC Travel 2010 Mediterranean Cruise in a larger map

Day 10 Revisit Part 1 - Ephesus

Medusa gate
Day Ten Revisit Part 1 - Tuesday June 15th - Ephesus

On the bus at 7:00, headed to Ephesus. This is a huge site that has been wonderfully excavated because there is not an existing city on the site as is so common. Ephesus was a harbor town in the first century and earlier, but the harbor silted up and the reason for the town moved. There were many interesting sites here, but refer to the Wiki article for background. I will mention two: the Library, which had a very impressive facade, and the Theater, which was huge - it would seat 25,000. Using the accepted ratio of 10 to 1, that would mean that Ephesus was a city of 250,000 people.

Ephesus Library
Ephesus was a very sophisticated city. They had stands with torches on them for 'street lights' (and you can see the holes and rings that they used to anchor them), they had a system of running water (with latrines) they had medical areas, and they had upscale neighborhoods.

Pastor Wayne taught in the Agora after walking thru most of Ephesus. Ephesus is of course the site of the church of Ephesus, which is where Paul sent the letter to the Ephesians. Ephesus is also mentioned in Revelations 2:1-7.

Ephesus Theater
In Acts 19, the riot in Ephesus is described. Possibly started by the silversmiths in the odeon (smaller than the theater, seats about 2000) and proceeded like a Greek soccer protest through the same streets that we walked down to the theater (which seats 25,000). Standing on those ancient streets, you could very well imagine a crowd going through the streets, chanting, gathering strength as it went along, and people getting swept up in it. Kind of a mass hypnosis effect.

In Ephesus, there were four statues to four gods -- wisdom, knowledge, fairness/justice, and virtue. The book of Ephesians goes through and shows Jesus superior to all of them. 

Dale's Pics for Day 10 - Ephesus: here
Approx Miles Traveled Day 9: Bus 29.6

Travels Day 9: Kusadasi to Ephesus to Port of Kusadasi

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Day 9 Revisit Part 2 - Hierapolis

Day Nine Revisit Part 2 - Monday June 14th - Hierapolis

After seeing the ruins at Laodicea, we drove a short distance and had lunch at a buffet restaurant. Then we went a short distance away to Hierapolis. This is an area close to Laodicea with Greek and Roman ruins, travertine deposits, and hot pools of water.

Back on the bus and we drove for a while to get to the Kusadasi area. Pastor Wayne taught from Colossians, which is the letter to the church at Colossae, only a short distance from Laodicea.  
Col 1:3-8 Epaphras.
Col 2:8 you have to start with God's grace (unmerited favor of God)
Rom 3:23-25 Greek karis = graciousness.
Only by putting faith in Jesus, can you receive karis. 

We stayed overnight at the Hotel Aurora in Kusadai. Internet access was only in the lobby.

We join the cruise tomorrow. On the cruise, the internet is very slow and expensive. 0.25 Euro per minute, or 15 Euros per hour. No wireless is available. Most people will be staying off it, so you may not get updates as frequently.

Dale's Pics for Day 9 - Hierapolis: here
Approx Miles Traveled Day 9: Bus 282

Travels Day 9: 
Izmir to Laodicea to Hierapolis to Kusadasi

Day 9 Revisit Part 1 - Laodicea

Day Nine Revisit Part 1 - Monday June 14th - Laodicea

On the bus at 7:30. Today is the hottest and longest of the trip. We drove for a couple of hours and got some sleep/rest/catch-up on notes time. Stopped at a rest stop and then back on. Pastor Wayne teaching: 

Laodecia was known for the hot and cold waters in the area. When John writes in Revelation that they are lukewarm, it is with this in mind.

Antikus the third, one of Alexendar the Great's generals was given the area around (will have to get later), and he moved several hundred Jewish families into the Lyodician region. Many of them came to faith in Jesus. Later they brought in Synchronisim, blending in three parts of other religions that don't make sense in Christianity:

  1. Jewish legalism of Hebrews
  2. Sophistry - arguing not for truth but to win the argument
  3. Oriental mysticism
Colossians Chapter 3 refutes these arguments by pointing back to Jesus:

  • v 9-10: Christ is all sufficient and at peace
  • v 11-17: Jesus (and those in Him) are exalted over legalism- we are better than that
  • v 18-19: Jesus is exalted over mysticism
  • v 20-21: Jesus is exalted over sophistry / aecestism (stoics)

Synchronized religions are like fancy cars with no tires. The rubber doesn't meet the road. 

Don't do things and sprinkle a little Jesus on top.

We visited the ruins at Laodicea. This is a large site, and they are actively restoring even more of the site. There are a lot of excavations, a lot of work in process. There is a large theater. One item of special note is one of the pieces of marble has a Jewish menorah with a Christian cross filling the middle candle position.

Dale's Pics for Day 9 - Laodicea: here