Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Travels Abroad July 19 - July 30, 2012
Luke and I had the great opportunity to travel to the Middle East in July of this year. We joined about 40 others and traveled to Israel and Egypt. I didn't know hardly anyone before we left, but by the end I felt like I had 40 new friends.
Our journey started in Jaffa and continued north to Mt. Carmel, Megiddo, Nazareth and the Sea of Galilee. Traveling in July meant hot temperatures, but very few people around. The tourists weren't there, the Jews were on vacation, and the Arabs were observing Ramadan. Some times the heat was over 115 degrees, but I would still take that over the hoards of people that are usually milling around the same places we visited.
The Sea of Galilee was very beautiful. We took a boat ride in a boat that supposedly is a replica of the type of boat Jesus would have ridden.
We went up on the Mount of Beatitudes. Israel is really quite hilly. It is also very brown in the summer. We often wandered what all the fuss was over this hot, desolate land.
We had a tour guide every step of the way. He taught us a lot about the country, its peoples and its history. I didn't realize that the Jews and the Arabs all live together. Just because the UN decided to create an Israeli state did not mean that the Arabs who were living there all got up and left. And for the most part the Jews and the Arabs that live in Israel get along fine. It was interesting to learn about the wars, the boundary line shifts, and the existence of Arab towns within the nation of Israel, where Jews are not allowed to enter (like Bethlehem and Jericho).
Another observation is that the country has been occupied and destroyed many times. There aren't too many original sites. Every place we went was a ruin or had had several buildings built of top of the original. And most every place we went, we were told, "this is the traditional site of .....".
We were able to go the the northern end of the country where we could see both Syria and Lebanon.
The area along the Dead Sea was also very nice. It is the only part of the country that is green during the middle of the summer.)(actually anything that was next to water, ie. the Mediterranean or the Sea of Galilee). We went to two different sites that claim to be where Jesus was baptized.
Jerusalem was a highlight. We visited all the major sites. It was amazing to know that we were walking literally where Jesus had walked.
We finished our trip to Israel by heading south, with stops at the Dead Sea and Masada. I can not tell you how hot the Dead Sea was. Hotter than any hot tub. We did get in and floated, but could last only about 5 minutes.
Going from Israel to Egypt was quite the experience. Our bus parked on the Israeli side. We walked through the check gate and customs and then got on a new bus on the Egyptian side.
Our trip through the Sinai included an armed security man on our bus at all times as well as two jeeps with armed guards escorting our bus. But honestly, I never felt unsafe. I think it is just a precaution the tour companies take in Egypt for their clients. Sinai was very large, very barren, very mountainous.
We spent two days in Egypt. One day was in Luxor, the other day in Cairo. What I really liked about Egypt is that the places we went were the originals. They had not been destroyed and built over. The Pyramids are the real thing. The Karnak Temple is the original.
Our trip ended with a long flight back to the USA. It felt good to land on US soil after being gone. Luke was a great traveling companion. Sorry that we probably won't have the chance to travel like that again, but it was great!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

It's a Wonderful Life

This blog is probably for me more than anyone else. But for those who knew Dirk, particularly his children, this blog is for you too.

This Christmas I decided to watch It's A Wonderful Life. This was Dirk's favorite movie and he watched it every, single Christmas. In fact he had most all of it memorized. So, this year I decided to watch it and see what it was about this movie that meant so much to him. It really wasn't hard to do. Everything in it reminds me of Him.

First, this is a love story. Dirk is Jimmy Stewart. I guess that makes me Donna Reed. I think in any story, you place yourself in it. There is much about George Bailey that parallels Dirk.

Dirk prided himself on his humor. He really thought of himself as a funny guy as does George Bailey. Dirk loved to laugh at all the corny humor in the movie, including this scene, where Mary is hiding in the bushes and loses her robe. He also called Mary "brainless" when she was a child.

Dirk loved George Bailey, his faults and his strengths. George was very passionate about life. He, so much wanted to leave his hometown to see the world, but his sense of duty and loyalty to his family kept him there running the family business. You always felt so bad for George, when it looked like he was just about ready to leave town, and then some crisis would cause him to remain home. He was always quick to give the shirt off his back to one in need, but sometimes a little frustrated about how the person had gotten themselves in the mess in the first place. This makes me think of one of Dirk's favorite sayings, "No good deed goes unpunished". George was often quick to lose his temper or patience. But he always felt bad afterwards. He was tempted by the power and wealth that Potter offered him, but in the end George saw through it and chose the higher road.

The real point of this movie is the value of relationships. George Bailey, thought the world would have been better had he not been born. But through his experiences with Clarence, the angel, he comes to see all the good he had done in his life. It was all the little things that really did matter. George had lived a good life and been very influential in the lives of many others.

I think the most moving scene in the movie is near the end. George is probably going to jail for Uncle Billy's misdeed. Through the efforts of his wife and friends, money is collected to cover the debt. I have to admit that I sometimes get teary-eyed (Dirk, always got teary-eyed!) during this scene as many, many people come to donate their money. They all loved George and wanted to help him out.

This last scene makes me think of Dirk. Family meant everything to him. And he always had an eye heaven-ward.

Towards the end of his mortal life, I cannot tell you how many phone calls and letters came to Dirk with expressions of love and support. What a blessing that he was able to enjoy this display of friendship from so many. He heard from childhood friends, mission companions, law school classmates, work colleagues, church friends from all over and of course his own family.

He died knowing that he had loved so many, and that he was loved back. We all miss him! He indeed was the "richest man in town"!