Monthly Archives: July 2009

News from a far country . . .

Dear Momma,

Hello from the Highlands of Scotland! In case you haven’t noticed, Internet is very scarce.

Rachel is typing this letter and Deb is dictating most of it. Rach is paraphrasing and adding in. 🙂

Belfast was amazing! We got to go to a really awesome and alive church and it was a highlight of the trip. We found this great little cafe and it reminded us of Dolce’s. It was called Charlies. Of course it wasn’t as good as Dolce’s, but it was the closest we’ve found and it was great to have a little piece of home. 🙂 They had the best thrift stores. They all benefit something. Like the one was for impoverished children and there are a lot for cancer research. No, we didn’t buy Chris anything there. Tell her to hold her horses.

On to Scotland! Our plane ride was very uber short. Like 20 minutes or something. We found the Hertz place just fine after a long walk. We have a very nice gray Ford Focus. It was a little scary getting started beings we started in Glasgow city and we’re driving on the other side of the road….. with a stick shift. So far, we are all alive. 🙂

The first day we saw Loch Lomond. The banks are very bonny. 🙂 We stopped in a little town called Balloch and bought blankets. (Yay for warmth!) We slept in a little campground in Glenco where the Campbells massacred the Macdonalds in violation of Scot hospitality in the 1600s. Pretty place. We went to this little cafe thing just down the road from the campground. It was called Crofts and things and they could make a mean mocha (according to Rachel) Just so you know, We were in the literal middle of no where. Don’t be fooled into thinking we weren’t cause I found me (Rach) some coffee!

We headed to Inverness the next day. We stopped by Loch Ness on our way and there was this uber cute little boy playing the bagpipes. He was pretty stellar and pretty young. Like ten or twelve. We looked for “Nessie” but no luck. We thought that if we could get a real picture of her we could pay for our trip and My (rach) college…. maybe the adoption too…. But alas, It was not to be.

Inverness was lovely. They had a T.K. Maxx which is a T.J. Maxx UK style. They had more warm clothes for me (Rach) and shoes for Holly and Deb is thinking she’ll get something when we go back through. We searched all over creation for an adapter so we can plug the computer in whilst we drive. Once again, it was not to be.

We headed more north towards Ullapool. It’s right on the Alantic. We spent the night there and it was awesome. Everyone was so nice to us. On the way there we saw a sign for fresh fruit so of course we had to look for it. We went off the main road (two lanes) to a back road (one lane with passing spaces) to a dirt road with a sign saying beware of ditch on left. We ended up at Tolley’s Croft where Collin and Edna Campbell were manning a fruit stand. We picked raspberries, red currants, black currants, and goose berries. They helped us pick our own berries, and then gave us a jar of black currant jelly that Edna made herself! And they let us use the bathroom at the croft! They gave us hugs and their phone numbers. “Just in case!” We thanked them and Edna told us that she just thinks of her own children and hopes people are nice to them when they go off traveling. We went on our way with lots of fruit!

Now we are in Stirling, Scotland.

Love you,

Beebs and Rachel


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I am just a little cross.

I saw, over there on Facebook, that Youngest Daughter wrote Birthday wishes on two walls less than an hour ago, and she never wrote to me.

I am, however, just a little relieved to know that at least, the three of them are not being held hostage somewhere without being allowed to write, call or whatever. 

Today, Beloved Son in Law stopped in to take the pickup load of things for the dump.  He is a good and helpful son in law, and has been in faithful contact with the girls.  I asked him if he had heard anything from them in the last two days and he said he hadn’t.  Then he informed me that he wasn’t really expecting to hear anything from them these last two weeks of their trip “because they really weren’t staying any place.”

“THEY WEREN’T STAYING ANY PLACE???” (I controlled my voice quite well.  My panic, not so much.)  “They have to be staying SOMEPLACE!!!” I said reasonably.

“No, they don’t,” he said amiably.  “I think they were just going to sleep in the car. . . Maybe I wasn’t supposed to tell you that,” he said belatedly.

“SLEEP IN THE CAR?!?!?!?!?!?  Are they allowed to do that???”

“Well, probably the same as here.  You really aren’t supposed to, but people do it.”

I was desperately trying to find a safe place for them to be.  “Maybe they can go to something like a campground or something like that,” I said hopefully.  “Somewhere they should allow people to park and sleep.”

“I have no doubt,” he said with his unnecessarily cheerful grin, “that they will have a run-in with the police somewhere along the way, but that isn’t so unusual.”


Oh, well, what’s a Mom to do?  I guess I will just go and pray hard.



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27 years ago —

We had a birthday party for our Oldest Son on Saturday evening.

The truth is, today is his birthday.  He is 27.

He was born on Wednesday, JULY 28, 1982 at 3:46pm and weighed in at 9 pounds, 12 ounces — a beautiful chubby baby — except that he was clearly in trouble.  He was as blue as he could be, and so they allowed me a quick hug, and then hustled him off to the NICU at Mt. Carmel Hospital in Columbus, Ohio.   

Raph's Childhood0001

He needed oxygen for a while, and they were waiting to see “if the cultures grew anything.”  In the first two days, I would trudge down to the unit to hold him, nurse him and wonder how so plump and beautiful a baby could really be so sick.

The hospital wanted him on antibiotics, but he seemed to be fine, and they finally allowed me to bring him into my room with me.  That was a wonderful day, indeed. And then the
cultures didn’t grow anything, so they said we could go home.

Raph's Childhood0003

He was a snuffling, squggly baby.  So very precious.
This picture was taken of him propped up in the bed
just before we left the hospital.  I have wished and wished
that things had been different for us at this particular time,
but we were so poor that we felt we could not afford the
“new baby” pictures that the hospital sold.  The decision
was hard for us, but we really didn’t see how we
could manage to pay for pictures, send Christina to
Christian Day School, and still
pay our part of the hospital bill. 

Raph's Childhood0002

So, we got a special at Penneys when he was six weeks old.
Those old Penneys portraits
really lost their colors, didn’t they?

He was a happy baby — and we enjoyed him so much!
Raph's Childhood0005

He loved to sit by the couch and play with his box of toys.

Raph's Childhood0006
He learned to read at eight months. . . 

Raph's Childhood0007
And the day came when he turned one.
The picture that was taken right after this one shows him
wailing unrestrainedly.  He had put his finger into the flame
of his candle somehow.  Yes, we were watching him
carefully.  He was just too quick for us.

Raph's Childhood0004
Just before we moved to Delaware, they took pictures
at the school where Christina was a student.  I took Raph
and Deborah in for their “preschoolers pictures” opportunity

“MOM!” the girls say over and over again.  “We can’t
believe that you would dress Raph in such an ugly out-fit!”
Well, when you sew your kids clothes yourself,
and even make t-shirts for them, and so does
everyone else you know, your idea of what is “ugly”
and what isn’t gets warped somehow, I guess.
I always liked the above picture of him at about 14 months.  And dear, dear daughters of mine, I even like the outfit.  That I made myself.  Probably while Chris and Deb ran interference specifically  designed to cause a mama to tear out her hair — I mean, stitches.

There are lots of pictures of Raph over the years, and I got
a little weary trying to decide which ones to include and which ones to leave out.  I decided to include this one yet.   His Uncle Mark was his prayer partner one year, and true to how involved and caring Uncle Mark is, he took him hunting.  I think Raph was out less than a half hour when he bagged a really nice buck.  It was totally unexpected —
by Raph, yes, and by some of the rest of us, too.
Raph's Childhood0008
Pictures were taken, and the buck was mounted,
but with that one event, our son was satisfied.  I’ve often wondered what happened in his heart that day, but he put his gun away, and has never hunted since.  His daddy
has never had the heart to hunt big game —
but I’m not sure that even came into this.  He just seemed to know that it wasn’t something that he was happy doing.  And so he has seemed entirely happy NOT doing it,
and that is just fine with this chickenhearted mama.

And now he is all grown up
and has found the gal that is right for him,
married her and is establishing his own home.
R and R c4

We are so glad that he was sent to our home.
He balances the intensity of (some of the others!!! )
with his easy-going, good natured approach to life.  I used to say he was like a St. Bernard puppy —
with big feet and a happy-go-lucky enthusiasm
that was hard to resist.
You can see that he isn’t my little boy any more

But somewhere in my heart, he will always be.

Happy Birthday, Son!
I surely do love you!


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The last three days have been incredibly busy at this house.  Poor Certain Man, decided to sit this afternoon and rock his grandbaby. 


It wasn’t too long before they were both out:  He has worked so hard!


Last night, Gina had a surprise birthday party for Raph.  He never suspected that it was going to be a party for him.  He thought that the youth group was coming.  We did surprise him!


Christina ordered the cake for him.
How ’bout them Bengals???


He got them all out at one breath!



Look who’s cutting the cake!

I got this picture of Raph and Gina when they were here for lunch today —


They have been married almost a year.

What a year it has been!

And Charis was her usual precious self–


So incredibly sweet!
By the way, for those of you who are interested —
The fundraiser yesterday to help with the adoption expenses came in at $1100.00
What a wonderful blessing!


(And that, my far away girlies, should catch you up just a bit . . . Love you Both.  Only 13 more sleeps.)



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Clint and Frieda’s new grandbaby

There was a family welcome the other night for Clint and Frieda’s new grandbaby, Hannah Louise.

Chip and Susan’s precious little one.
She is six weeks old.

She didn’t make much noise all night.  People passed her around, and she put up with it.
Charis seemed like she had really gotten large when Christina held Hannah.  This was one of the rare times when Hannah had her eyes open.


Aunt Alma is a baby hog.
She has some sort of glue on her hands
that makes babies stick to her.
Grandma glue, Mom-Mom brand.


She looks entirely too pleased with herself, doesn’t she?
She did have to share.
There were too many of us
for just one person to hog the baby.


Hannah’s Mama, Susan, didn’t get much chance to hold her.
She may have not felt like fighting with the masses.


It didn’t stop this grandma.
I love this picture of Frieda.
She looks so young.


Then Hannah’s Daddy got ahold of her,
and it was pretty much over. 


It’s funny how otherwise sane young men can
be so completely wrapped up in a little bundle
that does mostly what my old Betsy-Wetsy Doll did.
“Sleep, drink, wet, and cry real tears.”


The two new daddies needed a picture together.
Both of these young men are exceptionally involved young fathers.
This old world needs more like them.
May their tribes increase!

Uncle Bert and Aunt Sarah were among the visitors.
So encouraging to have them both come.

And just before I left, I took a few family pictures.
Clint and Frieda both like cameras about as well as most people like snakes.
But for the sake of this new grandbaby, Clint changed his shirt,
Frieda composed herself for the camera when she would have rather hid,
And the result wasn’t too half bad.


Sleep tight, Hannah Louise.
You are very, very loved.





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All of you who regularly read my blog have followed the breath taking story of our precious grandbaby and her adoption.  Anyone who knows anything about adoption knows that, in addition to being a gut wrenching roller coaster of emotions, it is also something that will completely deplete a young couples savings, and put their economic climate somewhere in the “Warning:  SEVERE WEATHER ALERT” status for an indefinite period of time.

With that in mind, our church family scheduled a bake sale/yard sale/car wash in the yard of our little country church at the corner of Carpenter Bridge and Canterbury Roads tomorrow, Saturday, July 25th, from 9-3.  Brothers and Sisters from our church family, members of our extended physical family and friends are pitching in to see if we can help defray a small part of the exorbitant fee.

If you want more information, please feel free to call me today.  I really plan on being home most of the day.  Our Girl Nettie took a tumble this morning, so I need to take her out for an appointment, but someone will be here while I am gone.  In between that, I am baking bread, cinnamon rolls, pies, and mixing up a whole bunch of hot chocolate mix to sell.  Christina and Gina are making whoopie pies and anything else that they can get my two ovens to produce in between my baking.

Charis is three months old today.  It is hard to imagine our lives without her.  To be honest, I try not to.

This picture was taken last night at my brother, Clint’s house.
(I have a whole lot more to post from that nice time, but will need to do it later.)

She may have been expensive, but she is worth every penny!!!


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We had a family cookout.
My cousin, Jon, and his family came to Delaware to attend a wedding.
When we found out that he didn’t really have any plans for Friday evening,
it seemed like a good time to get together.

When I called Jon to ask him about whether it was something we could do,
he said in us usual dry humor:
“I’d be interested in something like that if we could keep it relatively small.”
(That comment is SO  Jon . . .)

We thought we could — especially since he did say that he didn’t feel quite ready for it to be an open house for the Greenwood community.  That was understandable.  However, until the evening was over, our “relatively small” group numbered 50.  It was still a really good time. 
Here are some pictures of the evening. 


Youngest Son holds his niece that he thinks is just so beautiful


Queena, glowing in the special glow of early pregnancy talks to
Christina, who is glowing in the special glow of being a new Mommy


Jon’s papa is a brother to my late daddy.  His Momma is my Sweet Mama’s sister.  So we have the same relatives.  I had invited the relatives on both sides, but this was the only Wert family member (beyond the two immediate families) who could make it.  Thanks, Aunt Freda, for making the effort. 
You and Uncle Vernon, Rock!!!
Here, Aunt Freda catches up on Ronda Weber’s life and times


Three generations:  My sweet Mama, my little sister, Alma, and her daughter, Carmen.
My Mama likes to sit on porch swings!


This is my grand-niece, Dorie Mast.  She is usually so sweet and happy.
Her Mama decided to give her a taste of a bing cherry.
She was NOT impressed.


This is one view of the supper tables.  In the front, on the left is Joel Bontrager.  Beside him is my oldest brother, Clint Yoder with his wife, Frieda.  Over Clint’s shoulder is Ronda Weber’s husband, Linford, and to the middle of the picture is Joe Bontrager.  You can almost see his wife, Gloria, sitting in front of him.  I see Uncle Vernon up there, and part of Dave Hertzler’s head behind Edie, who is all the way to the right with a napkin in her hand, preparing to wipe her mouth.


My brother in law, Jerrel Heatwole, Sr. talks to my cousin, James Bontrager.
James is often mistaken for my husband.
I would NEVER make that mistake.



Here he is.  My favorite.  If you look behind him you can see our Mimosa tree.
It has bloomed its heart out this summer.  I love looking at our yard, and Daniel is responsible for the restful, attractive layout of it.  He thought that this picture “showed his bald head too much.”
Who Cares???


This is my youngest brother, Mark Jr.
He, along witht the rest of my sibs, is one of my favorite people.


Christopher brought his fiddle.  I wish he would have played more.
He said that he didn’t feel right because it wasn’t announced that I wanted him to play.
I will know how to fix that little problem the next time around!!!
In the middle is Jared Weber, and on the right, Jesse Mast


This is our middle sister, Sarah.  (She is another of my favoritest favorite people)
She and our cousin, Judi, had plenty to talk about.
Judi is less than a year older than I am, and I have always cared so much what she thought —
about life, about people, about me. . .
I love getting older.  People can be good friends without some of the things that kept them apart years ago.
Judi is such a good friend, and I have come to love her dearly.
More than that, I appreciate her so much.
Blessings, dear cousin! 


Aunt Freda brought some old, old photo albums.
What a trip through time.
I can hardly believe those fresh faced Mama and Daddy.
I wonder what those little ones were thinking.
I look at the pictures of my grandparents, my daddy, and even Dawn.
And I think of them THERE.  NOW.  Safely home.
They are the ones who really have it made!!!


More chatting around the table. 
On the left is Sarah’s husband Bert
At the end of the table is our cousin, Yaul Poder
Then you see the back of Judi’s head
And then Sarah is looking abroad for who knows what.


Cousin Bonnie had another engagement for the evening, but she skedaddled herself on over when she was finished —  and we still had some good times left.
Aunt Freda is a very good friend of Bonnie’s Mama, My Aunt Dottie — who has often been seen on these pages.
Aunt Freda takes a keen interest in the younger generations, and here she is in deep discussion with Bonnie.


“I’m older, I’m wiser, and I have something important to tell you” is what it looks like my sweet Mama is saying.  She herself wonders just what it was that she was saying here, but we don’t really remember.


About that time, cousin Paul (Yaul Poder) put his head into the ring, and Clint had some point to make,
It was about this time that Paul told us a story.  It seems that one of Clint’s neighbors works with Paul.  So one day this neighbor says to Clint, “Do you know Paul Yoder?”  Clint, straight-face and sober replies, “Uh, yes, but it’s distant . . .”   This is not something that Paul will soon forget.


Far right, is Jon and Dawn’s youngest son, Stephen
Beside him is Kristin, the daughter who gave such a magnificent challenge at the funeral.
Next to her is their younger daughter, Amber.  She was in Thailand and came home
Resiliant, beautiful kids.
 I am so impressed with the children of my cousin, Jon and his sweet wife, Dawn.
They are human, they will grieve —
And there are daily prayers going up for them.
But – – –  
“We do not grieve as those who have no hope”
And these kids are flesh and blood embodiment of this fact
They sat around the table, playing games, talking and being so normal.
. . . and yet their hearts must be breaking.
At the end of the table is Jesse Mast, brother to Queena’s husband, Ethan.

To the far left is Daniel Hubbard.  He and Jon’s oldest son, Robert, share living space.  Jon calls him “for all practical purposes, as son!”  Next in line is David Miller.  He came home from Europe to be with Amber and her family over this time.  This isn’t the most flattering picture of him, and I am sorry about that, but I didn’t get others.  And beside him is my nephew, Christopher and then, again, Jesse.


Mark has a reputation for leaving things at strange places.  Here, he is reclaiming a sport jacket that Aunt Freda somehow rescued for him after he had left it somewhere.  I’m not sure of the whole story, but I promise you that it has nothing to do with Mark’s fine attention to where he lays his accessories.
And Polly knows that!!!


Our precious grandbaby, Charis Nichole Bontrager,
slept and slept and slept.


In what has to be my favorite picture of the evening, Cousin Paul put his arm protectively around the shoulders of his younger brother and said, “Don’t you want a pitcher of me and my brudder????”
I did, I did!!!
Paul has shadowed Jon with loving concern and protective gentleness.
The knowlege of how Paul has been so incredibly watchful of Jon and his grief
reminds me again of how blessed we have been as a family.
I think of Jon going home to Alabama this week, and how the emptiness has had to hit him with gut force.
If memories of how people have prayed and cared and loved him is any help
(and I’m sure it is) I would have to believe that this brother’s strong arm will be a source of comfort that stands out in an overwhelming sea of condolences and well wishes.

“He’s not heavy.  He’s my brother!!!”


And when everyone had gone home, Christina stayed behind to help me clean up.
Charis was her usual smiley, gregarious, irresistable self so we had to take a few pictures
This was my favorite:


How fiercely grateful we are for this precious gift!!!



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It’s been a wonderful day, and an even more wonderful night.  I hope to post pictures of this evening as soon as I can get them edited.  Tonight, after my incredible relatives had departed and Christina had stayed behind to help clean up, Certain Man got down on the floor with his grandbaby and talked over the day with her.  I got this picture, and wanted to share it for my girlies in far away Paris, and to brighten the way for a few other weary travelers.  Enjoy! 

Grandpa and Charis


And while I was doing some editing, I came across this one, and I couldn’t resist putting it up, too!

Grandma and Charis

(I really do get to hold her sometimes!)




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I sat in a doctor’s office today, and she asked about the surgery that was done on my knee.  “When did you  have it done?” was her first question.  I thought back.  It seemed at least a year ago.  H-m-m-m-m-m.

“It was done in February, I guess,” I said reflectively.  And I got to thinking about everything that has happened since that day in February when my orthopedic surgeon stood by my bed and said, “Things are not quite the way we expected. . . ”  If I had known that day just what lay ahead of me, I suppose that my heart would have quaked within me!

Here we are, four and a half months later.  If only the months had just been about knees.  But it hasn’t been.  In fact, so much of these months hasn’t been about me at all.  There’s been so many times when I thought the end of the stories would be something I didn’t want to read.  There have been times when hope was the white painted face of a silly mime dancing on an empty stage in the theater of grief.   I am in awe of the grace of a God big enough to handle my days of tears, of sorrow, of doubt and pain, of anxiety and seeming loss.  He has tenderly  carried me when the way was too rough for me,  He has given songs in the night, friends to hold me steady and given hope the living face of my suffering Savior.  He suffered so much —  for us!

Tomorrow, Certain Man and I will celebrate another anniversary.  36 years ago tonight, we were trying to rehearse for a wedding.  No wedding coordinator.  No rehearsal dinner.  No florist’s flowers.  No tuxedos.  No rings.  No flowing veils,  No sweeping gowns.  No violins, organs or Canons in D. Just two people who decided to risk loving each other until death parted them.  (And a bunch of people who decided to cheer us on!)  We had no idea how incredibly painful the relationship would be sometimes.  We had no inkling of how palatable, either.

There was a wedding in our community on Saturday.  Certain Man and I came home from the wedding to view the funeral for Dawn on the webcam.  I sat here in my chair, and he sat on the hearth beside me, and we wept and listened and thought again of how fragile this whole thing of life is.  From celebration to sorrow.  From joining to parting.  From laughter to tears.  And that is how life is, after all.  This grand mixture that only tastes right when the “God Flavor” is in the right balance.  It’s what makes the hard things easier, and keeps us watchful in the good.  It is what gives meaning to months like these last four and a half and causes us to look forward with hope.

One of the girlies from church took this picture at the wedding, and it is just fine for an anniversary picture.

Mom and Dad, 2009

Happy Anniversary, my darling.
Just so you know, I would still choose you!!!



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Letter from Deborah

Dear Mama,

I’ll try to make this a newsy letter. I’m writing it in Salzburg, while we have a plug for the computer, but no internet access, so I don’t know when I’ll get to send it. I don’t remember when I wrote last! So this might have previous news or gaps.

In Rome, we got to sleep in, which is always news for us. Then when we got up, it turned out that the Metro was on strike, and only certain trains were running. We were worried that we would miss out train, but didn’t and got to Naples just fine.

One of our funniest moments involved a little grocery store worker in Napoli. He gave us 11 little individually packaged loaves of bread, and wouldn’t let us pay for them because Holly “looked Sicillian” then when we went back to get breakfast foods, he gave us 6 more loaves, 7 peach tarts, 1 wedge of parmegian (?) cheese, and some gelato. He looked us over, and said (And this was all in italian, he didn’t speak english) To me: “You don’t have a man.” (Do I give off this single vibe?) To Holly, “Maybe one man?” And then he looked at Rachel and said/gestured, “You have your choice of men. When you want one, you can just close your eyes, pick one, and if he’s the right one, you keep him.” We laughed so hard after we left!

I think that was the memorable part of Naples. I really wanted to go to the Blue Grotto while we were on Capri, but we didn’t have enough time. The lines were over two hours long! That would be the biggest disappointment for me. On the other hand, we did get to go to Capri, and it was gorgeous! A lot of people told us to watch out in Naples, because of the crime rate, but we felt so safe there, and had a wonderful time.

We never did figure out how to get the right train in Naples except to our hostel. On the bright side, there was only one station where the train tracks divided to go their separate ways, and when you pulled into the station, you could tell if you needed to get off and change trains. One day, we were riding the train when a little old man asked us where we were going. After telling his two friends, they all decided that we were on the wrong train. We didn’t care. We would just change at our station. No worries. Oh, no. They herded us off the train before that station and told us that our train would be along in about ten minutes. They were right, but as we stood on the platform of a station where we didn’t want to be, we started to laugh about the fact that they just kicked us off our train!

On to The Ferry. It was a good experience. We were able to get tickets without a problem. On our way to the terminal where we waited, we met another American, Matthew, who hung out with us until we boarded. Then, while we were at the terminal waiting, we met two men from Finland, Markos and Jari. In their words, they were computer geeks (software engineers). For “geeks”, they were pretty buff, and Rach said to me, “Deb! If they try something, we can’t take them!” It turned out okay. They were both in their late twenties, one was married, and they became our protectors. We watched each other’s bags, and saved seats so we could all sleep inside the ship. All three of us felt safer with them around. We also met two girls from the Lake district in England who offered to show us around when we get there. We are stoked about that.

Greece was hard for Rachel. She didn’t get to see her little villages, and then we went to see ruins. She doesn’t enjoy days full of ruins. She was a good sport about it, but it was hard. We got her an extra cup of coffee, to help her feel a little better.

Greece hostel story: Our 2nd floor room was 55 rickety stairs up from the computer area. Once up there, our room had no handle. (“No problem. The handle is right beside the door. You just fit it on, turn it, and put it back.”) The door did lock, and had AC, so we were good. Our roommates were a family, husband, wife, teenage son. Very nice. We were cold the 1st night, but were sound asleep the second night when there was a knock on the door around midnight. I opened the door, and the person on the other side asks, “Are you Finnish?” I said no, and then they decided that they needed to be in the room on the other side of the landing. I went back to bed only to be awakened about 2 am by a bloodcurdling scream. It was our roommate (the wife), and she was sound asleep. None of them woke up, up but all 3 of us were wide awake! Rach and Holly decided that they were hungry and ate a snack, then we all went back to sleep. Needless to say, we were all tired the next day.

The ferry back wasn’t as nice as the one over. It was colder and the benches were harder. However, we met a very nice young man, whom I’ve told you about. Ricardo. The new Christian. One of the best things about talking with him was realizing that there is only so much we can do to bring those around us to Christ. We met up with a nice guy earlier in the trip who asked us- me- about what I believed and why. After we talked for a while he basically said, “That’s nice. I’m agnostic. I won’t say there is no God, but I’m just not sure.” It made me doubt whether or not I had said enough, too much, was I really being a witness for God, etc. Ricardo reminded me that it is not what I say or do, that God is the one who draws people to him. I need to do my part, but also to remember that in the end, it is God, not me, who saves people.

Off the ferry, we went to Rimini by train, then took the bus to San Marino. The lockers wouldn’t work right, and thanks to them, we missed the bus. We decided to wait. I think we would all make the same decision over again, but it would have been nice to have made that bus. San Marino is on the top of a mountain. Everything smelled clean and it was beautiful. Rach and Holly got their coffee, and we made the last bus back down the mountain to Rimini. That’s where things got hairy. They said that we could get to Bologna, but not from there to Venice. We actually bought tickets, then the man took them back and said we couldn’t make the train. I was ready to cry! I wonder if my frustration made them mad, and turned it into a vicious cycle. Anyway, I decided to take the train to Bologna because I thought that someone there might be able to talk English which no one in Rimini did. It was a good decision. People there spoke English and were very helpful. We got our train to Venice that night. Sadly, we knew we would not be able to make it to our hostel. A man on the train (who only spoke Italian) loaned us his phone to call them, and they didn’t charge us anything for canceling so late. We ended up sleeping in the station. We didn’t sleep well, but being in downtown Venice before the crowds got there was worth it.

And now I am going to go. I’ve written this over several days when I got the chance. Feel free to post it the same way. It’s a lot of news.

Love you



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