8/22/09

Plans made in jello; Our European road trip!

My original ship date was the 10th of August but due to the swine flu our date got pushed out to the 19th. My friend Christina and I had been in contact earlier in the year to try and coordinate flights to Africa so when our date got moved we  should travel around Europe. Once in Texas another friend of ours, Leah, was in the same boat so here began the story of the 3 Amigas!

   Our adventure started off in Paris, continued on in Munich, then over to Switzerland, and then back to Paris. Here are a list of things that I NOW think are funny but at the time didn’t think were funny at ALL: our hostel address was a restaurant, it cost 50 euros for a 10 minute taxi ride, climbing 4 flights of stairs with 100lb bags, my license expiring 10 days prior to the trip and not realizing it until trying to pick up our car at Hertz, the GPS and her annoying directions (definitely a love/hate relationship), eating bread peanut butter and water for 4 days straight, 30 euro tolls, having to pay to use the bathroom, illegally jumping on a train without even realizing it.  The rest of the stories are currently under investigation by the European government and therefore can not be released indefinitely.  Sorry.

Even though there were many annoying and stressful things about this trip, the good definitely outweighed the bad.  The countryside’s that we drove along were magnificent, quaint, and peaceful.  The long drives that gave each one of us ample time to praise and thank God for this wonderful opportunity; for our family and friends, for our Gates family, for our churches, for His plans for each one of us.   Learning more about the Dakau concentration camp (the first concentration camp set up by Hitler) and the many innocent and brave men, women, and children that were killed during this horrific time in history. After our time in Munich Christina randomly suggested hiking the Swiss Alps so off we went. On our way to our Swiss hostel we stopped often to take pictures of the many breathtaking views that we saw.  At one point we pulled off to take some pictures by this aquamarine colored lake.  WE took a couple pictures and then realized that we could get a much better picture if we were on top of the car.  So as i lay on top of our car a police officer pulled up in front of us... eek! Now mind you, Christina and I had been switching off driving even though my license was expired but also knowing that for safety sake we needed to split up the driving.  So when the officer came over both of us were freaking out inside trying to formulate our stories so when we were brought into the torture chamber of the Swiss Police our stories would be the same.  As the officer stepped out of his cruiser, our innocent smiles blossomed and he asked "…photo? would you like me to take a photo?" PHEW! “Why of course!”

   

The next morning at 7a our adventure began.  We had perfect weather throughout the day and ended up doing a 7 hour hike through the Swiss Alps.  At every twist and turn I was amazed at the intricacy of Gods creation but also the splendor of what he has made.  Walking through the mountain and reaching elevations of about 8000ft was definitely a struggle and at times I had to stop every 20 steps or so just to catch my breath, but it was worth every step.   That night we stayed in Geneva with Christina's friend Ian and his family.  WE spent the next couple days hanging out with Ian's family, enjoying home cooked meals, sitting on couches, having great conversations, running through the woods, walking dogs, playing card games, going to church etc.  This was a perfect ending to a perfect trip.  To be able to be back in a family environment was exactly what we all needed.  Ian and his family opened up their house and made it our home.

  

After leaving Geneva we went back to Paris to meet up with 3 more “Gates Family” members; Julle, Elliot, and Heather  We spent the next 2 days biking around Paris, exploring the different monuments, and just being together.  Then on the 19th we all hopped on a plane and flew over to Benin, Africa.  

 

What was the point of this trip? Why did God screw up my plans of being able to be on the trip on the 10th and push it out to the 19th?

As I reflect back on this random vacation and sit here looking out my little port hole window I can see exactly why God placed this trip in my life. Traveling around Europe was an unbelievable trip and a portion of my life that i will always reflect back on.  I have been praying to God asking him to help me to grow closer to him and to know him and love him more, and that is exactly what he did.  

Every hour of our day we tried to think of God; sometimes even more often.  I think God planned this trip for me to help me grow closer to him and to learn how to make him a part of all aspects of my life.  Secondly I believe God put Christina, Leah, and myself on this trip to sharpen each other; iron sharpening iron.  It was such a blessing getting to know both of them more and even more of a blessing knowing that they will forever be a part of my life.

Now that I am on the ship I realize how important it is to #1 keep my focus on God at all times and in ALL circumstances (good or bad) and #2 to continue to build relationships with each other and to love one another. 

I John 4:7 “Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God.  Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.”

 

2 comments:

larryk13 said...

Well, i thought from the heading that you were eating Euro Jello, but once i read your blog, it was apparent it was Euro Peanut Butter!! (lol)
Glad to hear that you made it to the ship healthy and energized.
Will continue to keep you in my prayers.......
Larry K

Maaike said...

Hey Becca,
I just overheard the European board, they were very pleased with your visit :-D
I hope you'll look back with increasing happy thoughts and I especially hope you enjoy the first days onboard and your ward!

Many blessings
Maaike