Archive for March, 2011

Overcoming a computer crash, head winds and ubiquitous TV

March 16, 2011

Our laptop reached its limit again and again these past few months. Whenever two tasks needed handling at once, it didn’t seem up to it. In an effort to still get as much done as possible, we decided to have our computer do all the producing of the edited film overnight. After visiting Pergamos (see video), we checked out all the filmed material, put it together and got the process going. At four o’clock in the morning, Hanspeter realized the screen had ‘frozen’, and no matter how many keys he pressed there was no response. “That’s a first” Hanspeter muttered. After we had prayed together for the situation we tried to go back to sleep. On the following morning, we were happy to find that we could restart the computer after it had reinstalled itself. We thank God for protecting us from worse and that our PC crisis has been overcome.

After a delicious breakfast of our presently usual fare of olives, cucumbers and tomatoes, we are greeted by strong headwinds as we set out on our walk that morning. Around lunchtime, we decide to just have a quick snack by the roadside for want of a place to sit and since it’s fairly chilly. A little later, though, we spot a long wall running along one end of a car park with perfect sitting height and make straight for it. We welcome the pleasure of finally being able to sit, make ourselves comfortable and take our shoes off. Hanspeter has just dug into some lovely almonds and dried apricots, when suddenly a car that – until a few seconds ago – was parked at the far end of the car park is making its way towards us. The driver gets out talking at us nineteen to the dozen. We don’t understand a single word. In a frantic effort to make himself understood, the man grips Hanspeter’s legs. We still don’t get what it is he seems so desperate to communicate. The man’s facial expression hardens. He points at the house situated far behind the wall and again clutches at Hanspeter’s trousers. In the distance, we can make out a dog. Does the man want to warn us we could be bitten by it? “Get out of here!” he seems to say. We’re reminded of a similar situation some weeks back in Montenegro, when it was Hanspeter who had muttered something along those lines after someone had tweaked Annemarie’s cheeks and suggested we come home with him to spend the night. Again we prefer to take to our heels. Back on the road, we spot a petrol station-cum-restaurant. Sadly, a man informs us that it’s closed. So again just a short break. “It seems we’re continuously urged forward today,“ Annemarie says. We learnt that day that headwinds can also bring out strength you didn’t know you had. We’re amazed that we actually make it to the next town on our route, a stretch of 37 kilometres. When we proffer our pedometer at the hotel reception, we’re actually given a discount on our room price. The room turns out to be very nice and spacious on top of it. And if we draw the curtains, we can shut out the view of the landfill site at the back of the hotel. Since there’s still some work to be done on our Pergamos video, it doesn’t really matter what’s outside our window. Little do we know then that it will take more than one night’s work to finish the film clip.

After a good night’s rest, we have breakfast at the hotel. Two TV screens allow us to watch two different programmes at once. We’re familiar with this phenomenon from all the countries we’ve passed through – except Croatia, where we never stayed at hotels: the ubiquitous exposure to TV – like it or not. The screens usually present us with either pictures of tragic events from around the world or sparsely-clad women lounging to the beat of hot music. We’re not particularly keen to let those images penetrate our souls. So we’ve made it our habit to find seats as far away from the glaring screens as possible. Jesus says: “What you say flows from what is in your heart.” (Luke 6:45 NLT) We make a point of daily trying to fill our hearts with good and uplifting stimuli which at times requires to go against the flow and to overcome headwinds – from within and without.

Overcome, this is what Jesus, through John, the Apostle, in his letter, asked seven churches in Asia Minor to do (Book of Revelation, chapters 2 and 3). Presently, we visit the places where those churches were located. When we heard snow had been forecast, we overcame our weaker selves and walked the 150-kilometre stretch from Bergama to Sardis (see video) via Thyatira (see video) in four days. Once we spent the night in a room with – not snow – but white paint trickling from the ceiling. So we just wiped it off our sleeping bags at night and again the following morning. Sometimes we sleep like kings, at other times like beggars. Similarly, we keep hearing extreme contrasts around us: Everything ranging from “Please, give me something to eat!” to “We could get millions this way!” In Sardis, one word of Scripture spoke to us in a special way. “Wake up! Strengthen what remains and is about to die” (Revelation 3:2 TNIV). How grateful we are for people who have shared stretches of our walks of life and faith, strengthening and encouraging us along the way. It is our experience that it pays to trust Jesus anew each day.

“Impossible!“ This is a designation not to be taken seriously all too often. How good it was that Paul – when asked at Troas (see video) in a dream by a man to come to Europe – did not think this a mission impossible. In Assos (see video), a young man shook his head at our sight telling us it would be impossible to walk to Bergama. And yet, six days later we reached that very destination, where we then treated ourselves to a day of rest. Had we used the ancient Roman road (see video), it would probably have taken us a bit longer. Even back then, people will have spotted all sorts of interesting things along the way such as the cockfight (see video) we witnessed. What a picture for what happens if no one is ready to yield. Animals can teach us quite a bit.

Greetings from a country of contrasts

Hanspeter and Annemarie