The Swiss guards in charge of guarding the Vatican and the Pope.
I know! Crazy, huh? Last Sunday we went to church in Notre Dame and this Sunday we hear from the Pope. Totally unexpected and one of those once in a lifetime things. What a trip of a lifetime for students and adults!
We leave the Vatican pretty impressed with our day. Time for a nice drink of water from one of Rome's fountains. Did you know that you can drink from any of the fountains in Rome and the water is clean and delicious? True story.
I love this!
A beautiful walk!
Love this girl!
Shortly after this - we discovered our bus had an issue and we had a short diversion for awhile while it was repaired.
We also enjoy a little entertainment from this gentleman and our own entertainers.
Jordan tests the acoustics at the amphitheater in Pompeii.
On to Sorrento -
Last day - Capri -
Coreen and Lucas - love this and them!
The Aiken family
What an incredible journey and opportunity! I am filled with thankfulness for this trip and for those who came along. They were wonderful and really great sports.
I do have some take-aways from my time on the road - and it wouldn't be me if I didn't share. So after all the beautiful pictures here are some amazing things I learned that I couldn't have learned apart from this adventure:
I had no idea how exhausting the organizational part of this would be for me. I have been home a week now and am only just now feeling like I can manage human contact other than my own family. I realized that my personality bent is to make sure everyone is happy and that they are having the trip of their lives - ALL OF THE TIME. Can I just share with you how exhausting that is? At one point I totally understood why Moses hit the rock.
Thought experiment: If each person complains or speaks negatively about something small just once each day - that is 45 complaints a day. Also my personality is that I don't receive criticism well. Ha! Perfect! (I do want to insert that I never received 45 complaints a day and my group really was fantastic to travel with, but if you like to please people and success is important - well, you get the idea. The very hint that things aren't gloriously perfect can send a person like me into a manic state of some type.)
Travel pushes those of us who like our comfort (i.e. Americans) into places that require stretching - whether that is with different food, lack of sleep, lack of available bathrooms, aggressive schedules, etc... The comfort gods must be toppled when you travel. But it is easy to speak of other people's gods. What about mine? What did I learn?
I learned that the gods of success, power and perfection, which are my Triumvirate, have no home here because travel unmans them. Which sounds like a wonderful thing from afar - but is oh so painful in the moment. Pleasing people 100% of the time is not possible - not 46 people with competing ideals who show up with their own lesser gods. Travel requires give and take and expectation and disappointment and lack and plenty. So for me, travel and leading travel is probably the best holy science experiment possible. It forces me to come face to face with my lesser gods and choose. So here are my thoughts about travel:
Travel = growth
Travel does what you expect it to do - it opens up the world to us in ways that we expect - new food, customs, people, etc... It shows us things we could never see in our infant land of plenty. Travel makes us better citizens and makes us more thankful for conveniences that we take for granted. This is what I preach when I prepare people for travel. And it is all true and if that were all that travel did that would be enough.
But travel does something else - it topples gods. It takes you to places you weren't expecting to go (if you will let it) and it brings you face to face with who you really are when everything else is stripped away. Travel humbles.
For the Christ seekers this is good news. Augustine's quote means more now to me then it did when I left.
"Life is a book and those who do not travel read only a page."
The really wonderful news is that we get to change the ending. We don't have to be a one page wonder. This is immensely comforting to me. Travel can be the vehicle that brings about healthy change - repentance, thankfulness, courage, compassion, and joy.
I am profoundly thankful for this trip and opportunity and to the Lord for His continual pursuit of His own and His gracious dealings with a sinner like me. If you want to grow - travel. But be prepared to return changed.