November 30, 2006 (unedited from the email I sent to several of my friends.)
What an amazing trip! This will be long!
Some of you are aware
that I was quite nervous about going on a last second cruise by
myself. Like God couldn't take care of me, or something!! Really, the
concern was finding someone to talk to (a necessary thing, don't you
know!) and hang out with for 4 days. God is good.
Let me start
with getting sick the first night. Well, several people actually got
SICK, I just felt like it. The sea was a little rough. Come morning,
things were much better. There is a pressure point in the crease of the
wrist, which, when pressed hard enough and long enough, will relieve
motion sickness. Works fairly well.
Dinner the first night was
nearly uneventful compared to the last 3. There were 3 men, 2 women,
all traveling alone. Then Joan arrived. She took over the table,
requiring all of us to introduce ourselves. She ended up running the
conversation (can you imagine, it wasn't me!) for most of the rest of
the trip, which wasn't so bad. Cheryl and Greg, both in their 30's and
partyers, spent a lot of time together. Bob, Joan and I kept up our end
of the chatter. The other gentleman was an eldery very soft-spoken
Peurto Rican who didn't really have much to say, or not that we could
tell. Of course, with 3 chatty women, who would have been able to hear
Monday night the waitstaff sang "O Solo Mio", none
of them being Italian. Tuesday night they danced around the dining
room, along with several of the guests. Gerry, the head waiter for our
section, dressed up like Batman. He was a hoot! Wednesday night Gerry
ala Michael Jackson showed up while the rest of the staff was doing
something equally noisy and fun - seems they sang and choreographed
"Pretty Woman". Perhaps Greg, the 30 something gentleman, will send
pictures of Michael
The first day, Sunday, was at sea. Can't remember what
on earth I did that day. Nothing memorable. Monday we stopped in
Freeport Bahamas. The port isn't very close to 'downtown', which looked
more residential than business. There were several government
buildings of more than one story, but everything else was low, old, very
colorful (my favorite part about the islands). Then the tour took us
to the beach and resort area. Night and day. On the way we saw lots of
houses that would have fit in just about any coastal town subdivision
in the south. Again, the colors were wonderful! Mostly warm medium
shades of green, coral, pink, yellow. A few smurf blue shades. Most
had various colored tile roofs, with a few metal ones that replaced the
hurricane-damaged tile. Lots of fruit trees. Several damaged houses
that appear to have been abandoned.
The resort was - a resort.
The standard complement of Gucci, Cartier, etc, shops. On the way back
from the beach, having a few minutes to spend before Charlene and I
(lawyer from Regina, SK, Canada who said several times to my comments "I
was just thinking that!") headed back to the bus, we stopped in a
jewelry store. There was a beautiful blue topaz/peridot necklace and
matching earrings for $500. I'm sure the price was decent, as the
stones weren't small. However, the thought crossed through my mind "how
many Bible could you buy with that much money?" I didn't buy the
Ah, Nassau!! This could take a while.
wasn't one that was operated or contracted by Celebrity Cruise Lines. I
was the only one from the boat to take that particular tour. There was
an 84-year old taxi driver waiting to pick me up. His baseball cap
said "Jesus is my Boss". Of course we got to talking about salvation
and other good
conversation along that line. I told him about the John/Romans I
planned to deliver after returning from the tour. He said he knew the
church and would take me there.
The taxi stand is no longer
beside the boat. Since 9-11 there is now a coast guard cutter with 50
cal. in the pier area, and the passengers must walk about 1/4 mile to
the shopping area that is behind a fence. It's accessible to the local
public on foot, but not by vehicle.
From the taxi stand Leroy
(the old taxi driver) took me through very narrow and congested streets
to the tour bus - a van. There were 5 of us in all. The driver was a
preacher. Reminded me somewhat of James Earl Jones. As we were running
late, there wasn't much sightseeing until we got to Paradise Island. A
wrap-around aquarium was very nice. There were the standard yachts,
brightly colored condos, and the Atlantis resort. There is a walkway
connecting two buildings, which look like a castle. Above the walkway
is a suite that rents for a paltry $25,000 a night - with a 4 night
minimum!!!! Now, let me ask you, "How many Bibles could you buy with
THAT much money"!!??
Upon returning to the taxi stand, James Earl
Jones made sure I found Leroy, who then took me to Calvary Hatian
Baptist Church. He made sure that Marcelyn (the church secretary) was a
respectable fellow, and was willing to make sure I was taken care of.
Marcelyn called the preacher, who had just gone somewhere, knowing only
that I was to arrive that day, but not when or how I would get there.
While we were waiting for the preacher to arrive, we had a tour of the
They have recently more than doubled the size of
their buiding. It's a very nice addition. Pastor Henri Cher-Aime said
they have about 400-450 people attending services of a Sunday morning,
including about 100
kids. It's beyond my imagination to figure out how all those people
would have fit in the original two-story building! God has blessed them
with a very nice place now. Pastor Henri did mention a need for
parking and a place for homeless people. There is a building next door,
but the price is $300K!! A daunting number for a healthy American
church with that many attendees, let alone one in the Bahamas!
Pastor Henri arrived, we went to the pier so I could retrieve the
Bibles. On the way back to the church, it was beyond me not to comment
on the driving skills of the locals, not to mention that he was turning
the wrong side of the street! Well, according to our custom in the US.
You see, they drive on the left side of the road in the Bahamas. So
when he turned right from the left side of the road and stayed in the
left-hand lane, it was for all the world like we should get run into any
thought my reaction quite funny! Even volunteered to let me drive
'when I come back'. He and Marcelyn were certain that I should have
stayed, and, failing that, I must return at my first opportunity. To
which I told them that I can come back anytime. Just pray me down
there! They have need of many more bibles and tracts, which I would be
happy to deliver any time God allows such a trip.
had quite a time. I took pictures of the building (that may or may not
turn out, as the flash didn't appear to be working too well) and
especially of the churchfolk with the J/R, to take back to church here.
That was easy. The fun part came when he went to take his wife home
before taking me back to the pier. First his wife left her keys at
home, since he had his. But he didn't. So we went to school to get the
key from their son. His key was home also. Then the preacher
discovered in the
excitement of Bibles, picture taking and leave-taking he had left his
cell phone at church. Eventually, we left his wife at their tenants'
and he called a relative who has a spare key. Last I knew, they still
hadn't gotten into the house. It's been 2 days. By now, one would
God worked so many miracles in the arranging of that trip,
it's a wonder to me! Shirleen Godfrey (the widow of the founder of the
work) tried to arrange things in her absence, but alas, that is not
always possible. (Sorry, Shirleen, I didn't get to call your
daughter...) My idea of how it would/could work was completely without
knowledge, but God! He worked things out to perfection!
I discovered my dinner companion Bob is a PK, and was interested in
taking J/R with him on his travels to deliver to missionaries in the
States once he knows where they are, and who needs what. And there is a
nice young lady from South
Africa who works in the jewlery shop on the ship who expressed an
interest in receiving them to distribute amongst the crew, who are
almost all foreign - from India, Tunisia, Romania, Moldova, Italy, etc.
(Yes, I did buy some jewlry - tanzanite necklace and earrings at a price
that was amazingly cheap, considering. Had I not, I wouldn't have met
Ardi. How many ways can one can justify spending money?)
all in all, the trip was a huge success!!! Not only did God take care
of my fears of going on my first vacation alone, he provided me with
good Christian companionship, arranged transportation to deliver the
Bibles, and set up 11 more contacts to spread the Gospel! (Pastor
Henri's church supports 7 Hatian churches and another one in Nassau.)
Mike Kelly said to me once when I commented that I'd be a missionary in
a heartbeat if God would call me, but failing that love to take a
missions trip, "You are already a missionary,
and every trip can be a missions trip!" How true!
When can I go again, Lord??!!