June 24, 2013
Bruce Baergen, chair of the AMBS board, and his wife, Debbie, pause for a rest in the “Little Venice” part of Mykonos, with windmills in the background.
Sue Richard, scribe
Today is the tenth day of our excursion with four more days to enjoy the beauty of the Mediterranean Sea on the ship as well as search out the historic ancient sites on land. Breakfast at the Oceanview Café this morning was our first opportunity of the day to exercise choices—which ethnic breakfast foods would we indulge in. So far I have not had a craving for pickled herring with coffee, but sautéed eggplant in olive oil along with my regular serving of stewed Mediterranean figs was indeed satisfying! I have observed that the American breakfast bar does not include Texas toast or large Danishes, long johns, or Dunkin’ Donuts. The more petite pastries encourage nibbling on a variety of pastry delicacies.
I am grateful we have the time each morning to carry out our normal after-breakfast schedule of shared devotions. Our Scripture this morning was from Luke’s travel blog (i.e., Acts), when Paul left for Macedonia, where he gave the believers much encouragement. Then he went on to Greece, where he stayed for three months. Tomorrow our ship docks at Athens, where we will spend only one day visiting the ancient sites, some of which are referred to in Acts.
My interest in Macedonia was piqued when at dinner the very first night our waiter introduced himself as Alexander from Macedonia! And now this afternoon while recording my thoughts of the morning’s events in a quiet place on the 14th deck, Alexander spotted me and came to my table to say hello. Unfortunately he did not have time for conversation. How I would like to ask him if he comes from the seaport city of Thessalonica or from the interior, and whether he knows how important his province of Macedonia is in the biblical story.
Today’s off-ship destination was the island of Mykonos, a place not mentioned in Paul’s journeys. It sits on the same southern edge of the Aegean Sea as Samos, Kos, and Santorini, and is not all that far from Patmos. I wish we could have stopped at Patmos instead, where John received his revelation.
Mykonos claims to be “extremely popular with tourists, . . . retaining a Cycladic charm with its white-washed houses, hilltop windmills, shops, cafes, and tavernas [small restaurants].” Al¬though the island consists of only 35 square miles, it has more than 400 churches!
Today’s excursion required being tendered from the ship to the island by ferry. With map in Hand, Wesley and I set out to view the most impressive Byzantine jewel on the island, The Panagia Paraportiani Church, actually a complex of five different churches or chapels, one of which is open to the public. Our search for the jewel of the island yielded more than one spiritual jewel along the way. Walking along the seafront illuminated the glory of God’s creation right before our eyes—crystal clear water flowing over beautiful rock formations with the mountains creating an idyllic scene in the background.
Reading a map proved to be misleading, just as asking for directions does not always send you in the right direction! After going in the wrong direction a good distance around the island, we realized our search was leading to a dead end and that we needed to turn around and head in another direction to find the House of the Lord for which we were looking. Thankfully, we ended up at the right destination.
Our day on the island ended early, allowing us to luxuriate in the hot tub on board before having dinner with our fellow AMBS travelers. What a blessing to share food and conversation together!
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Welcome to this window on the 2013 Mediterranean Cruisetour. As Sara Wenger Shenk, AMBS president, and Loren Johns, AMBS professor of New Testament, and 43 other travelers explore the places where the Apostle Paul traveled, they will share photos and reports here. Come back to this space for what we hope will be daily snapshots in words and photos of what the group is experiencing.
Visit Menno Travel to learn more about the Cruisetour.