This past Wednesday, Linda and I returned from oversees having been out of the country for two and half weeks. Our trip was divided into 2 different adventures both of which were excellent.
Adventure #1 – For the 4th time in 5 years our church staffed a retreat for the missionaries (M’s) that are in the Germanic and Catholic clusters of Europe. This includes M’s from Germany, Austria, The Czech Republic, Hungary, Croatia, Slovenia, Slovakia, and Poland. We gathered in Jelenia Gora, Poland with about 55 M families who came together for meetings, fellowship, worship in their heart language, and soul refreshment. Our job was to provide ministry to the M kids and students, lead worship, and create some fun surprises for the adults.
Linda and I, along with 7 others were in charge of the Student Ministry. Essentially we hosted a 4 day retreat experience for middle and high school students. It took me back to the 25 years that I spent in Youth Ministry and reminded me why I stayed so long and how much I enjoyed working with students. I did a series of messages entitled “Not Your Average Joe” and looked at 4 “Joes” in Scripture and what it was that made them not your average Joe: Josiah, Jonah, Joseph (OT), and Barnabas – yeah, Barnabas. See if you can figure out why he is not an average JOE. Here are a couple of pictures of the awesome students we had the privilege of hanging out with for the week…
This is after one of my famous “Shay hikes”. The next one is the group sporting our “Not Your Average Joe” tee shirts.
Adventure #2 – Our Poland retreat finished up on Saturday, August 5. We had flown into Prague but we were flying out of Berlin. We arrived in Berlin around lunchtime and since our flight home was not until Sunday morning we took a 4 hour tour of Berlin in the afternoon. Hit all the main tourist spots like Checkpoint Charlie, The Berlin Wall, TheBrandenburg Gate, the Holocaust Monument, and a few government places.
The rest of the team took off early Sunday morning but Linda and I stayed behind and took a train up to the northern coast of Germany where we boarded a ship and began a 9 day cruise with Norwegian around the Baltic Sea. It was AWESOME. We had great sailing weather – never really knew we were even on a ship. Incredible dining experiences. Perfect weather everywhere we went – sunny and 70-75 degrees. We enjoyed all the ports as well as the 2 days we were at sea. Norwegian did an excellent job of spoiling us and refreshing us. Here are a few pictures that will not do justice to our experience but will at least give you some kind of idea to what our trip was like…
And a few random pictures…
A few comments about the trip…
1) We enjoyed all the ports but Copenhagen was our favorite.
2) We loved walking around the Old Towns of Tallinn and Stockholm.
3) The Peterhof Palace and Gardens outside of St Petersburg was incredibly beautiful.
4) We were unplugged for most of the trip which was kind of nice.
5) We got in over 23,000 Fitbit steps in Copenhagen.
6) The Danish danish in Copenhagen would be worth flying back for (see picture above).
7) I am now quite the selfie stick master.
8) Never underestimate the value of your favorite pillow.
9) It was great to be away together by ourselves for an extended period of time.
10) We loved the trip but we were glad to get back home.
And we would definitely recommend a Baltic cruise with Norwegian Cruise Lines to anyone who is so inclined – and I was not paid to write that.