At the beginning of September 2008 we had an opportunity for a short break at the seashore with both our sons and daughters in-law. It was a pleasant and restful time, just what we needed after the extreme stress of the conferences and my subsequent stent insertion. I felt good, strong and refreshed.
As soon as we returned from our break, we had a tour group arrive for a guided trip to the seven churches of Revelation. Such tours were part of our business venture; this was to be our last one.
Barbara and I traveled with them by bus for ten days, giving them the inside story of what Turkey was like spiritually in Paul’s time and what it was like now.
We walked on the marble paving stones of the streets of Ephesus, the same ones the Apostles Paul and John had walked on. We sat in the amphitheater where the crowds who rioted against Paul’s preaching shouted, “Great is Diana of the Ephesians.” We stood in the ruins of the synagogue in Pisidion Antioch and read from Acts the sermon Paul gave on that same spot. In Iconium, we visited one of the old city gates, perhaps the one Paul walked through. These were, for me, spine tingling connections with biblical history.
It was a stimulating trip, but also a strenuous one, what with spending every night in a different hotel, traveling long distances and having continual interaction with people.
During the tour Barbara and I also made a side trip. Our visas would run out a week before our scheduled departure for Germany, so we wanted to make a quick exit to a Greek island to extend them. However, we discovered that the harbors in Greece were all closed by a strike, so we could not get that accomplished. This meant we would have to leave our apartment and Turkey a week earlier than planned.
If you have ever completely closed down a house, disposing of everything in it, leaving it repainted, empty and swept clean, then you know how much time that takes. It is a much more difficult process than just moving. And we were now under a time crunch to get this completed a week earlier than planned.
The Lord helped us with the good assistance Josh and Sarah, Robert and others gave us. We stored some things with Robert in faith that we would sometime come back. The rest we were able to sell, give away or put on the street so we were fully moved out in time to have the apartment painted.
The Lord even worked it out so that the landlady gave back all of our sizable deposit—something she rarely did for her renters. We then moved in with Josh and Sarah for the last few days before our departure.
One of our teammates very generously offered to loan us his van to drive to Germany, and Nat and Abby volunteered to go with us and drive the van back. The thought of spending some extra days traveling with Nat and Abby made the prospect of our trip much more pleasant.
Our visa expiration dates forced us to leave in the midst of a major four-day Muslim holiday, but that turned out to be a gift from the Lord, too. First, there was very little traffic on the roads, and second, all the tolls on the turnpikes and the bridge over the Bosporus were waved. We zoomed our way out of Turkey and into Greece in record time.
Picture: on our way to Germany; note how skinny I am after the very stressful summer.