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Monday, October 7, 2013

We Are On Our Way To Cross the Tiber

We are off and on our way for a pilgrimage this coming Friday, October 11th 2013 in which we hope to make wonderful memories, meet new friends and broaden our knowledge of the love of our Lord Jesus Christ in walking the “Footprints of St Paul.” We will also be visiting Rome, Assisi and other places as we track across Italy and visit historical Christian landmarks that will take us back in history and we will witness it up close and personal.

We want to think our dear friends Bee and Helen for staying and watching over our place while gone. Hope you enjoy the pool and the weather is nice for some chicken-coop time. Thanks for being such good friends and text us if you need us..

This trip is a first for us in many ways. We as a married couple, who have been together for 38 years, have never taken a vacation by ourselves, since our honeymoon. Sure we’ve gotten away for a few days together here and there, but a planned vacation…never. This is also our first Pilgrimage overseas. Our vacation days since we have been married have always been planned around family that lives miles away. To be totally honest we have also had a few nice vacations, other than visiting family, with our kids as they grew up, always taking my mother with us. But, this is the first vacation since our honeymoon, in which we have planned for the two of us. We won’t know how to act. We would not trade all those memories we made over the years, in which we shared our vacation time to stay connected with family. A family budget and vacation days only went so far and staying connected was a must. Also, family was a treat to visit and have a free place to stay. Loved it when we had family in Maine….wish they would move back. (Hint, hint, hint) Maybe this is one of the benefits of getting old…. We answer to nobody…and it’s finally about us. LOL

This is a first for me to travel overseas to Europe. Jim has been there many times on business (Sweden, Germany, France and Denmark) and usually found some time to be a part-time tourist after working hours. This is a “first” for both of us to travel to the places we are going. We are so excited to be visiting these places. Our tour guide Stephen Ray and his wife Janet just emailed us a letter with information on what to expect, to take and “to do list” to make sure we do not forget anything…like our Passports. He also said; “Just wait until you walk along the streets of ancient Ephesus in the footprints of St. Paul, and see the Island of Patmos where St. John received his apocalyptic vision of Revelation written in exile.  I can't wait to lead you through the city of Athens to the top of Mars Hill where Paul preached.” We can’t wait either Steve!

  I was never very interested in history growing up and it was our move to Pennsylvania that finally got my attention to fall in love with history.  I guess I am more of a visual learner and might have been a better student in my youth had I seen it, rather than having to read about a person or place I could not see or touch.  We lived 30 min. from Gettysburg, 2 hours from Washington, D.C., and 4 hours from NY City and the Statue of Liberty and the list goes on. The northeast boast several hundred years of history, while the area of the south I grew up in only had a 100 plus years of history. Many of my great-grandparents were part of the pioneer families of my region of the world in which I grew up. Sad to say they arrived during or soon after the government pushed the original settlers west… the American Indians.  Just think the areas we are traveling to on our “first” vacation together boast several thousand years of history. Pennsylvania also surprised us and challenged us to explorer Church History. It was such a time as this, that God used a doctrine we had never heard of to open the door and discover Church history. Up to that point in our lives we really did not think about the history of the Christian faith.  All we knew was Jesus was born 2,000 years ago and the stories in the Holy Bible told us about His life. Attending a Calvinist (Presbyterian PCA) church in PA opened our eyes to the history. The teaching of “predestination” is very much a “foundational truth” in that denomination. Predestination really challenged us and as much as we tried to make sense of it… we could not. They showed us a few Scripture passages on which they built this doctrine; we could see that the doctrine did not add up with the totality of the entire Bible. This Predestination doctrine was so different to anything we had ever been taught and in time it opened up Church history to us. We are so thankful we were challenged, because it made us start learning about the 2,000 years of Christianity, good and bad. We had heard about the Reformation, but really did not know what it was about. We didn’t even know the Reformation took place 500 years ago and that was when Christianity started splitting into thousands of denominations. We didn’t know we were part of Christianity called Protestantism… which meant we were a part of a group that protested against 1500 years of Church History, called the Catholic Church. It all started with Martin Luther and a year after he got the ball rolling he wrote this:

  “I never approved of a schism, nor will I approve of it for all eternity. . . . That the Roman Church is more honored by God than all others is not to be doubted. St, Peter and St. Paul, forty-six Popes, some hundreds of thousands of martyrs, have laid down their lives in its communion, having overcome Hell and the world; so that the eyes of God rest on the Roman church with special favor. Though nowadays everything is in a wretched state, it is no ground for separating from the Church. On the contrary, the worse things are going, the more should we hold close to her, for it is not by separating from the Church that we can make her better. We must not separate from God on account of any work of the devil, nor cease to have fellowship with the children of God who are still abiding in the pale of Rome on account of the multitude of the ungodly. There is no sin, no amount of evil, which should be permitted to dissolve the bond of charity or break the bond of unity of the body. For love can do all things, and nothing is difficult to those who are united.” Martin Luther to Pope Leo X, January 6, 1519 more than a year after the Ninety-Five Theses quoted in The Facts about Luther, 356
This is also why the trip is so special for us and why we are excited. We will be seeing things we have been reading about since we started learning about the history of the Church. We are also excited about the tour we chose. Stephen Ray and his wife Janet are converts to the Catholic faith just like us. Their journey to the Catholic Church was very similar to ours and it was history that pushed them to surrender to the Catholic Church. They were devout Evangelicals with a strong Baptist upbringing and very anti-Catholic. If you want to read their conversion story click on the following link: http://www.catholic-convert.com/about/why-im-catholic/   .  

 Since their conversion they have personally traveled the “Footprints of God” all over the world. After learning and falling in love with these holy sites, they started taking pilgrims from all over the world to experience the history of salvation and the footprints in which God and his people have traveled since Adam and Eve. In the last few months they have been to the Holy Lands and just finished taking a group to the Shrine of Fatima in Portugal, Santiago de Compostela in Spain and Lourdes in France. After they get finished with our pilgrimage they are off to the Holy Lands again. They have been to the Holy Lands 100+ times. If you read Steve’s daily blog on his website you wonder where he gets all his energy. He posts daily on his website and Facebook, pictures and YouTube videos of where they are and what they are doing. You can see all these places he takes these pilgrims from all over the world without leaving your home and you feel as if you are with them. This brings me to our pilgrimage …… you can follow us every day by looking at his website at http://www.catholic-convert.com/ or you can go “like” his Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/CatholicConvert and wait for it to show up daily on your Facebook page. We also plan to be posting it on our Facebook page too…. But we’ve learned internet service can cost a bunch over there. We have been informed that sometimes you can hook up on Wi-Fi free…. So we really don’t know how much we will be able to find free Wi-Fi. I’m hoping the hotels and some cafes will offer it free. If you do not see us posting…it means we can’t find any free Wi-Fi. If you really want to follow us on this journey, and see what we are seeing and doing, the best way is to click on Steve’s Facebook or website. His website is amazing and has so much information on it... I challenge you to read his apologetics. He really knows his stuff… Also, Jim’s testimony coming home to the Catholic Church is posted on Stephen Ray’s website “The Defenders of the Catholic Faith.” Click here to read it: http://www.catholic-convert.com/blog/2013/06/26/jims-story-born-presbyterian-then-to-parties-drugs-protestantism-and-finally-to-the-church/

Stephen also shares a link to my testimony of coming into the Catholic Faith on Jim’s link. He called me "Jill"…lol  It’s a typo….

Our dear friends Diane and Dudley who we met a few years ago are also on Stephen’s website as well.  Click here: http://www.catholic-convert.com/blog/2012/04/08/dudley-and-diane-brossettes-conversion-from-searching-many-churches-to-catholic/

For reason I do not understand, when clicking on the Brossette’s story on Stephen’s website the link is broken…. So if that happens to you when you click on it, their story was also published in the Arkansas Catholic and you can read it here: http://www.arkansas-catholic.org/news/article/1232
I keep telling Diane she needs to write a book. Her journey as a Christian has taken her down many roads. She grew up Mennonite and eventually end up in the "Faith" movement. Diane was a youth minister in a big mega church in AZ many moons ago. I thank my Lord everyday for putting such a special friend in my path. It is truly a miracle we both crossed the Tiber around the same time. We did not meet each other until after the "deep crossing" in which we both swam, HOME. 

Keep us in your prayers that we all have a safe trip and we are excited!!!!!

God Bless

P.S. Today is the Feast of “Our Lady of the Rosary.” A FB friend of ours posted this today on his blog. It is a very good and well written article to read today, as we remember and ponder; “Our Lady of the Rosary.”