On life's journey, whether traveling around the world or walking around your block, there's lots to learn about life, love, and the pursuit of happiness, so lets dive into a new ocean together!

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Lady Traveler on the road in the Gulf of Mexico ~ Part Two

Like all great travelers, I have seen more than I remember,
and remember more than I have seen.

Beautiful beaches on Dauphin Island, Alabama 
Traveling is in my blood.
Whether on a
plane, ship, train, bus, car, or RV,
I'm in my element.

Writing is in my blood too.
Whether at home, in a foreign country, or on the road,
I'm in my element.
The two go hand in hand.

This Lady Traveler is a simple writer and a simple traveler.
For me, they go hand in hand.

The purpose of our journey to Mobile, Alabama was for Rob to take 
Part 1 of a 2-day first responder chaplain training class in Mobile, Alabama.
Each day he came home drained, yet inspired.
"Helping and encouraging people is part of your calling," I reminded him.

Afterwards, we spent a few weeks in the gulf of
Alabama and Florida.
Some times we plan ahead, 
but most of the time we don't.
It's fun both ways.
That's what makes it a a true adventure,
not knowing where the road will lead you.
We have lots of old fashioned maps,
but the new technology of GPS's
usually keeps us on the straight and narrow.

We spent a week in at Pecan Grove RV Campground in 
Theadore, Alabama, just south of Mobile.
We were surrounded by pecan trees, rivers, and wildlife.
Forest Gump's fishing boat in a boat building yard
about 30 minutes from our campground.
We took day trips to the hot spots around the area:
Dauphin Island, Gulf Shores, and Orange Beach,
just to name a few.
And talk about delicious food!
I had the best shrimp and grits ever at 
Ginny Lane Bar and Grill in Orange Beach
 that overlooked the fishing boats on the river.
My mouth is watering just thinking about the special cajun flavor,
not to mention the loaves of warm bread delivered
faithfully to our table.
When the chef strolled by, he glowed as I raved about his special sauce.
(and thank you to my Downey High friend, Phil Urban for telling us about Orange Beach)
Fort Gaines on Dauphin Island, AL
Lots of history in this area!
Lunch at The Pelican Reef on
a windy day on Fowler River
Popcorn's new friend.  Don't think so!
Celebrating Mardi Gras for the month of February
from Pensacola FL to Mobile AL to New Orleans LA

A little history: I didn't know that Mardi Gras first began in Mobile.
There were parades and parties everywhere.
There was a Christmas tree decorated for the season in
one of the nearby restaurants, The Pelican Reef.
All too soon it was time to travel to the Florida Gulf.
What fun driving through the large and small beach towns.
Mexico Beach was one of my favorites, where we ate breakfast at Sharon's Cafe.
Of course I had to buy a t-shirt with my name written on the front and back.
And the breakfast was scrumptious!
Sharon's Cafe, Mexico Beach, FL

That afternoon we arrived at Ho-Hum Campground, and to our surprise we had
an ocean-view space right on the water!
Ahh, the sound of the waves beating on the shore, the seagulls flying overhead.
There is a bird sanctuary island within a kayak ride away.
But be on the look out for black sharks.
A room with a view.  On the waterfront at Ho-Hum RV Campground
Carrabelle, FL
It was hard to leave this slice of heaven, but these upfront spaces are reserved a year in advance.
They squeezed us in between reservations for 3 glorious nights.
We met the sweetest couple next to us and we are now Facebook buddies.
Another reason why I stay on Facebook, although there have been moments when 
i want to trash the whole FB habit off to the side of the road.
My happy place at Ho-Hum RV Campground, Carrabelle, FL

Our last campground stop for 3 nights was at Sopchoppy City Park right on the Sopchoppy River, 
in the town of -- where else?  Sopchoppy!
Surprise! We arrive the day of a Jesus River Festival,
complete with free hamburgers, hot dogs, and trimmings!

Come to Sopchoppy supplied with food, etc, as there is only one small market in town.

We come prepared. Home-cooked spaghetti--yum!

The only market in town ... cute and quaint
I wish you all had the pleasure of experiencing the southern hospitality
of the little town of Sopchoppy.
When you ask for directions they personally walk you out to the sidewalk and point,
"Head down this road, pass the curve, then turn right, then left, right again, 
and you're there."
Wow.  So simple.  Who needs a GPS anyway?

We made one last overnight stay at the friendly Waldorf Walmart in St. Mary's, Georgia. 
We ate at Hwy 55 Burgers Shakes and Fries.
Again, delicious! And I wasn't even hungry.

At last, Home Sweet Home. Never more to roam, until ... stay tuned.

Light is sweet, and it pleases the eyes to see the sun.
However many years a man may live, let him enjoy them all.
Ecclesiastes 11:7-8

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Lady Traveler's memories of Turkey and Sweden

Lady Traveler's memories of Sweden and Turkey
Dinner with my Swedish girlfriends 2008

There is much talk about the world's refugees,
which takes me back to our journey
to Sweden and Turkey in the fall of 2008.

It's hard to believe that it has been 9 years since this journey.
We were blessed to have a house-sitter and dog-sitter
that enabled us to be gone for three weeks.
When God asks you to do something,
He always provides.
First, we flew to Sweden.
I was honored to be asked by my Swedish friend, Helene,
to speak to a group of Kurdish refugee women from Turkey.
Although they were completely covered, the lovely dark-skinned women lit up the small room.
They were timid.  They were kind.  They were hungry.
We gathered around a long table where they served, in my honor, 
the most delicious Kurdish dishes.
I usually can't eat before speaking (its called nerves),
but I made an exception.

Then it was time for me to share what God had placed on my heart.
At first it felt strange to once again be speaking with an interpreter,
but soon we were flowing together like old friends.

Afterwards, I offered to pray with those who wanted prayer.
Every woman waited patiently as I spent time
holding their hands and praying for them.
We hugged, then ate delicious desserts.

Believe me, I was the one who was blessed that day.
I thank Helene for the opportunity to spend time
with these refugees that needed a safe place to live.
To this day, the women and their families are not able to return to Turkey
due to the political atmosphere.
(no photos available)

A week later Rob and I took another leap of faith.
A small team of three Swedes--and us-- flew to Istanbul.
Planes, trains, buses, and hours of walking in a city filled with thousands of people.
Bus lines were blocks long.  How did they get to work on time? I wondered.
So many people.  Strangers to me, but not to God.
He sent us to minister to a handful of Armenian refugee leaders who had begun a 
Christian work in this city of millions.
Leaders that needed encouragement, love, and prayer.
That's the least we could do for these brave, courageous men and women.

In the flat of leaders of a local Christian church in Istanbul
(that's me and Rob on the right)

Praying for people in a beautiful church after an evening service.

Eating lunch with Pastor and his family, and other church members after Sunday church service
(Rob preached that morning. Afterwards we prayed for the congregation)

Istanbul, Turkey 2008

We saw many famous sites in this magnificent city,
but it was the beautiful people that left the most profound memories.
We met in small flats throughout the city, and in local churches.
Their courage to obey the call of God on their lives,
no matter what the cost,
will stay close to my heart forever.

Wherever I travel, near or far,
I am always knitted closely together with my Christian brothers and sisters.
I'm sure you find this to be true in your travels.

Let us not forget those who have fled their land in search of a
safe haven until they are once again able to return to their safe home.

A few travel tips:
Get plenty of rest, drink lots of water, and carry snacks.
Travel light.
Always have an interpreter with you whenever possible.
Much can get lost in translation.

I wish you oceans of travel blessings!

Now, I beseech you brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,
that you speak the same thing,
and that there be no divisions among you;
but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind,
and in the same judgement.
I Corinthians 1:10