Archive for June, 2011

One island, two countries

June 13, 2011

June 7, 2011

We’re in Salamis/Cyprus (see video). “No, you can’t walk across the border. But I’d be happy to give you a lift.“ Hanspeter almost takes the cabdriver’s word for it, but Annemarie has her doubts. “And you’re quite sure you’ve never seen any pedestrians passing through the military checkpoint,” she tries again. “No, I haven’t. Never.” he replies. “People say all sorts of things. That doesn’t necessarily make them true,” Annemarie muses a little later. In the end we decide to try it anyway. After visiting the town of Famagusta (see video), we’re headed for the border. One of the customs officials there announces that he will now search one of our backpacks and adds: “It’s up to you which one.“ We don’t really mind, so we suggest he look at Annemarie’s. “Let me check yours,” he says pointing at Hanspeter’s rucksack. Later, as we’re walking through the checkpoint, Annemarie says: “There was no real point asking us first, was there?” “He probably thought we’d suggest the one containing nothing illegal, so he would of course want to search the other one,” Hanspeter reasons. Whatever it was, the official confirmed yet again what we had heard before: the stamp in our passport acquired upon entry of Northern Cyprus might pose an obstacle later. Others had expressed their concern we might have to return to Northern Cyprus in order to be able to fly to Israel. An undertaking which would have cost us a couple of hundred euros more than flying from the South. As soon as we arrived in Southern Cyprus, Hanspeter got online to enquire about this at the responsible government agency.

Yes, it’s true. This island has a Turkish and a Greek part. When talking to people here, a big conflict can be sensed simmering between these two sides. The issue of the EU alone reflects the complication of things. An information leaflet about the island reads: “On 1 May 2004, Cyprus – including its occupied north – became a full member of the European Union. In a protocol of the treaty of accession it was noted, however, that in areas of the Republic of Cyprus of which the government of the Republic of Cyprus has (due to Turkish occupation) no control, the implementation of the EU body of legislation will be postponed until the Cyprus question can be solved. Negotiations and efforts towards a just and viable solution will continue.“ On the continent we heard a variety of remarks on the issue of the EU. In one country people said: “Let’s behave, shall we? We want to join the EU after all.“ In another country we heard them say: “It’s not our fault our country is in this state. The EU should have made more effort to hold our country in check.” But there are – voluntarily – nice people on both sides. And control is a necessary part of life. We can see room for improvement in this respect in our personal lives too. On a campsite in Cyprus, we heard the buzz of a mosquito but thought we were quite safe in our tent. On the following morning, however, we discovered that the tiny animal had not been outside after all. A distinct trail of blood gave evidence of a rather busy night. Other animals have other preferences. One day, we observed two dogs feasting on plastic (see video). Another beast we encountered on the island was – luckily for us – dead: a snake. Annemarie prefers to steer clear of these rather scary creatures. A number of years ago, in an effort to do a young visitor a favour, she had bravely held out her hands towards his pet snake. Everything seemed OK at first, but when the snake unexpectedly started to move, she pulled back her hands in terror – and dropped the animal. She was sincerely sorry, but what had happened could not be undone.

Adam and Eve couldn’t undo taking the snake’s word for it that God had lied to them, wanting to deprive them of something good. The problem is that the enemy never stops lying to people and tries everything in his power to make them stray from the straight and narrow. When in Cyprus, Paul and Barnabas were summoned to the governor at Paphos (see video) who wanted to hear the Word of God. But Elymas, a so-called false prophet, bent over backwards to make the governor turn from his faith. But Paul wouldn’t stand for that and gave him a piece of his mind: “You are a child of the devil! You are an enemy of everything that is right! You cheat people. You use all kinds of tricks. Won’t you ever stop twisting the right ways of the Lord?” (Acts 13). Just as Paul predicted then, Elymas turn blind that instant for a period of time. And the governor believed in Jesus Christ. The slanderer didn’t stop at Jesus either. Matthew 4 tells us how Jesus countered each of Satan’s temptations by a word of Scripture from Deuteronomy. We enjoy reading the Bible but next to walking, doing our laundry, shopping and getting things clarified here and there, there’s frequently not much time to spare. But with today’s technology, that’s not an obstacle either. Paul, someone we met on the road, gave us an MP3 player containing the New Testament. That way we can listen to the world‘s best message on our hike. And that was not the only time we marvelled at God’s unique and wonderful care for us recently. The other time he helped us concerning the weather. When we arrived in Cyprus the weather was hot and humid. We both developed a rash on our legs. So this time we kept saying “Thank you, Lord!“, not like a couple of months before at the sight of a single sun ray, but whenever the sun hid behind a God-sent cloud. When the weather turned cooler, the rash disappeared. Sometimes we would overhear people saying: “Isn’t this funny weather we’re having this year?” We were grateful.

Meanwhile we’ve arrived in Israel. Upon leaving Cyprus, we simply showed our identity cards and were waved through without any further ado. Thank you, Lord! The political situation allowing, we will start the Israel Trail on the border to Lebanon by Thursday. Now we no longer follow in Paul’s footsteps but in Jesus’. In Christ „are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.“ (Colossians 2:3). So we’re in for a treasure hunt! We do hope you’ll also spot a lot of those treasures along your way. Life with God is and will always be an adventure.

Hanspeter and Annemarie

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