Thursday, December 30, 2010

ship of dreams turned Classica nightmare, part 5

(For the beginning of this story, click here.)

Allow me use this post to insert some of the events of this 6-month period that did manage to put a smile on my face:

1.  Kim and I wanted to see the Segrada Familia cathedral in Barcelona.  It had been several months since I had seen a real Christian.  We waited in line behind two Americans, I glanced at the t-shirt one of the guys wore and noticed it was a "Harvest Crusade" shirt.  These crusades are held in Orange County where I was from so I asked the guys where they were from.  They were from California and attended Calvary Chapel Downey, and knew a dear friend of mine who I went to church with, Renee.  Talk about water to a thirsty soul.  These guys prayed with me.  How I hungered to share prayer with someone.  These guys were a bright light in the midst of months of darkness.  Hallelujah!  And for bonus points, I ended up sitting behind one of these guys about a year later when I was at church!

2.  Walking into my cabin and seeing my three friends drunker than you-know-what and just as happy as can be.  I probably shouldn't have enjoyed that so much, but it was funny.

3.  A visit from my mom at just the right time when I didn't think I could hold it together much longer.  And the crazy drunk French lady at the Crocodile Cafe in Marseilles who took hair accessories off her own head and gave them to my mom, her friend, and I as gifts.  She actually sent my mom a card which my aunt (who speaks French fluently) had to translate for us.

4.  Portofino.  sigh.
My mom in Portofino.

5.  As wrong as it was, my boyfriend was a great comfort.  He knew and saw the incredible injustices toward me.

the home of Christopher Colimbus
6.  Italy.  I loved Italy.  The man who drove me from the airport to the ship was the craziest driver ever!  He waved and yelled out the window at people passing by and laughed at me when I laughed at him.  I was so thrilled to be in this place I had dreamed of but never imagined I would actually be able to visit.  I loved the blouses, jeans, and sheets strung out the windows of every building I passed by.

7.  My first day off the ship was in Palermo.  I bolted off the ship and meandered the streets and alleys and boutiques of Palermo.  I listened to the voices which seemed to be unable to speak without the assistance of hands.  I watched an old man fill a water bottle in a fountain and then he turned to give it to me as a souvenir.  I will always remember a 2-minute encounter with a beautiful Italian girl who worked a swimsuit boutique and how she talked to me and I talked to her and we couldn't understand anything, but she kissed me both sides of my all Italians do...and how when I returned home, I had the same habit which I wish I had never lost.

8.  Naples was my favorite of the three Italian ports.  I loved walking on the cobblestone streets.  I loved meeting the staff of the newly opened Disney store there and sharing a love for all things Disney with people who barely spoke my language.  I loved how the lady's eyes brightened when I told her I worked at Disneyland in California.

9.  Pompei.  A place of absolute fascination.  Did you know how totally immoral they were?  No wonder the city was wiped out so quickly!  It was comparable to Sodom & Gamorrah.  Prositution Houses and you should have seen the "artwork" on the walls in the homes.  Hellooooo!?

10.  The Arabic music played on the alleys of the Medina in Tunis.

11.  The times I would sit in on a conversation between 4-5 Italian friends and listen to the language of romance passed back and forth, wondering if I would ever learn any of it myself.

12.  Staying up into the wee hours of the night having hallway parties with the photographers who we had come to know and love so dearly.

13.  Learning to count in Italian during photo shoots as passengers loaded onto the ship.

14.  Climbing all over the fort in Marseilles with Kim.

15.  Fountains.

16.  Provence.  Need I say more?

17.  Margherita pizza in Naples.  And equally as significant, the Chinese restaurant we ate at practically every week in Naples.  The owner's Italian in a Chinese accent, and her 3-year-old daughter who sat with us four American girls and played with us.

18.  Creepy internet cafes.

19.  I bought a coat in Palermo and it was close to the time that I had to be back in the ship.  I RAN ALL THE WAY TO THE SHIP!  However, now, I sort of wish I would have missed it. It would have been nice to just walk off one day, get a hotel, and make my own way home - avoiding the drama that was to come.

20.  Cars driving on the sidewalk.

21.  The 3-lane road we had to cross to get out of the Naples port and risked our lives doing it every single time.

22.  A bitter-sweet visit from my friend, Matt, a missionary in Austria at the time and his invitation to join him on the mission field...and my refusal because I knew I had faltered by loving a non-Christian.  I often wonder what I missed while up-to-my-eyeballs in my own sin.  Could I have gone to the mission field had I kept to the straight-and-narrow?
May I digress here because I have never pondered this in-depth and think I will take the opportunity to do it now.
I love the Lord and I have a heart for people of the world.  Since I was able to experience the ship, I was delightfully introduced to people from all over the world.  People, traditions, culture, way-of-life, etc. totally fascinate me.  I love languages and desperately want to learn more.  I will entertain the idea for a moment here that perhaps the Lord was exposing me to a lost world.  As I mentioned previously, Italy is covered with churches, yet God is clearly absent.  I'm not saying He isn't omniscient or whatever, I'm just saying that in a culture where churches are on every corner, I never once in all my time abroad met a Jesus-loving Christian among them.  Kind of interesting when you think of the influence the church has had on a nation, and yet now see that other than a bunch of buildings, the church is nowhere to be seen.  And now, as I write that, I realize how our own beloved U.S. of A. is slowly fading to the same apathetic status.  Let it not be!  Let there be a revival!  And let churches put away their false teachings and traditions and cling to Jesus and the truth of God's word.

See!  Sometimes you just don't know why things happen.  I just found something else to take from my Classica experience.  I imagine God will reveal more as life goes on.  Only He knows.

Thanks for reading.  A friend recently told me how valuable these stories will one day be to my children.  So, I will just throw more of my life out there and see if it speaks to anyone else.  At the very least, learn from my mistakes! ;)

Bless you,

p.s. Click here for a related post.

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