Friday, December 4, 2015

Europe 2015

1:07 PM 1
     Four countries, well technically five, in 13 days left me in somewhat of a fog.  I awakened ready to go at 3:00am for a solid week upon my return and let me just tell you as a homeschooling mom of four, that is never a good combination.   Thank goodness that jet lag is temporary and I have now managed
to return to a somewhat normal sleeping pattern.  With all the re-adjusting and the homesick nights where I missed my babies so much (and boy did I ever) this trip changed my life in so many ways.  Although I am unable at this time to reveal the entire goal and purpose in taking this journey, if it is The Lord's will I look forward with great anticipation and much prayer that our efforts will be for His Glory and made known to all of you for the building up of your faith along with ours.  With that being said, let the tour begin…

     Krakow, Poland was our first stop and we traveled to one of the hardest locations on this trip for me to take in.  I was not prepared for the emotion that would take over me arriving at Auschwitz Concentration Camp.  We arrived there on October 7, which happened to be the anniversary of the very day in which this camp began operation in 1941.  It truly was gut wrenching and very likely one of the saddest events to have ever taken place in human history.  The likes to which they tortured these people is nothing short of animalistic, barbaric, and utterly depraved.  When God is removed from a society the results are always staggering.  

The Entrance above this horrific place states that "work will make you free"  They were anything but free.

The camp orchestra had to assemble here to play marches as the prisoners filed past.  This was to help keep them in step and easier to count them as they went to and from work.

Seeing these pictures broke my heart.  It's easy to view this time as a terrible time in history and move on, but when you see the faces of these children, real life people, who faced such terrors it is no longer a story and one can hardly move on and dismiss what happened here.  

This is where mass execution style shootings took place on a daily basis here at Aushcwitz

This may seem like a simple wooden post, but hardly that's the case.  Men were hung on hooks and beaten severely often to their death.  I hesitate to post some of these pictures, but I have to remind myself how important it is that we remember what happened here, that we never forget where a society can end up when we remove The Creator.  

one of the many many cells occupied by prisoners.  Some were even made to stand in cells so small that they couldn't even sit down.  They stood up until they starved to death.  

This tiny whole was their only view to the outside world

In the few hours that we spent at this place, hundreds of people filed in from all sorts of places to tour this facility.  Even with so many people the streets were silent.  People understood the devastation that took place here and the silence was a sense of respect to all the prisoners who lost there life here.

Furnaces were constructed just outside the gas chambers where the bodies of 100's of thousands  of prisoners were burned.

This photo was taken inside the gas chambers.  The prisoners were often told that they were going to be given showers.  That was never the case. 

The trains loaded down with prisoners would pull up here & unload. 

It was a cold and dreary day, fitting for the sadness that surrounds this place

Lisa and I braved this mountain in order to get an amazing view over Krakow

It was beautiful and very windy

Goodbye Poland

Hello Greece! Notice all the beautiful sail boats along the coast

Greece was one of my favorite places on this trip

The view and the food was amazing, especially the olives!!

I was so excited at the mere site of the Acropolis from our hotel, knowing that I was actually going to get to walk in the very footsteps of Paul the next day had me ecstatic!!!

Dinner first night in Greece, not a bad view 

One of my favorite spots of the entire trip was Mars Hill.  Walking in the very footsteps of Paul was an amazing experience.  When he spoke to the men of Greece on the top of this hill in Acts 17 he had a front row seat to some of the very idols of worship that he was referring to. The pic below shows this view

"Its all Greek to me" Paul's speech from Acts 17 was engraved on the side of the Hill

One of my favorites

These rocks were so slippery!! I busted it of course, but so did several tourist in the hour that we spent up there.  Thank goodness Phil managed to stay on two feet.

One of the most powerful things I have ever witnessed was hearing Phil preach Paul's exact sermon in the very place that he preached it.  People began to gather around as he spoke and it was not his fame that drew them in.   It was the God breathed words of Paul.

The other side of the Hill

I loved this picture of Al and Lisa!  They were wonderful travel partners!!

Oh you know, you have to take a cheese pic when your on top of Mars Hill.

"God does not dwell in temples built by human hands" -Acts 17:24 

Looking down onto Mars Hill from Areopagus Hill

Everywhere you looked you would see scaffolding surrounding these structures. An unending attempt to keep them in tact.

These two love birds:)

Day 2 of Greece we visited the first Olympic stadium

It was a dreary day, misting rain off and on, but that didn't stop me from taking a sprint around the stadium

Phil is thinking "what is wrong with these people" Ha!

Temple of Zeus

Man made idols will crumble every time.

Grabbed some lunch on the water before catching a late flight to Rome.

This pic was taken after a not so peaceful flight from Greece to Rome.  We were glad to be on the ground!

View from our hotel. 

I love this shot.  Just a little roof top bible study overlooking Rome. That book was at the core of this entire trip.  
    "For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart" Heb 4:12.

Just outside the Pontifical North American College

The stained glass inside was beautiful

View from the rooftop of the college

Dashers do have the big head gene:) 

On the Roof of the college they built another level going up to an even higher point to look over the city.  The students we met at this college were amazing.  They prayed with us and shared so many amazing things about the city of Rome.  I wish that I could post their picture, but they politely asked that we not.

This prayer was posted on the wall of the school.  My children and I have now begun the practice of reciting this everyday.

The Arc of Constantine located just outside the Colosseum 

The size of the colosseum was massive.  Hard to believe that they built this structure strictly by hand, no machinery, no cranes.  They created pulley systems in which they were able to raise the large stones.  This entire structure was built in 7-8 years.  

This cross was placed in the arena in honor of all the Christians who were killed here.  Such a solemn place when you are aware of what took place within these walls.  

If you notice the platform to the left of this picture, that would have been the floor of the arena.  The underground facility was massive.  At least two stories deep below the floor is likely where they would house their prisoners and animals used in there barbaric games.

worth reading

Tried to get a close up of the underground cells.

Nero's Garden.  Nero would host parties in this garden and light the path using torches made from the heads of Christians.  So sad.

Ever so often it would hit me that "I am in Rome!!"

Our attempt at a selfie nearing the end of a very long day on the rooftop of our hotel. Trying to soak up every moment, sleep is overrated:)

The Vatican 

Serious business here

We were allowed past those guards for a very brief 5 min walk to the spot where they believed Peter was crucified.

This commemorated the location

Apparently there was someone traveling with us that seemed to have drawn a crowd:)

Not very often that your office is smack dab in front of the Vatican

This is one of my most favorite pictures.  It captures their relationship so beautifully.  Phil has mentored my husband for years and we are both so grateful for his passion for the Gospel and love for the lost.  "Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith." Heb 13:7 "Dear brothers and sisters, honor those who are your leaders in the Lord's work. They work hard among you and give you spiritual guidance." 1 Thess 5:12

This roped off section was considered to be the final steps of Paul before being beheaded.

I cannot wait to meet Paul!!!

Pauls prison chains

Last Dinner in Rome, what's it gonna be???

Ta Da!!!

So long Rome, you were incredible!! Sorry for the blurry pic, it was raining.

The next morning we took an early flight to Paris. We left the airport and immediately boarded a bus to Normandy, France. I do not believe any of us anticipated the impact this place would have on us. I will forever be changed having witnessed the amazing bravery and sacrifice that our soldiers underwent.

The village of Normandy was absolutely beautiful 

Love the architectural style in France

Loved our room in Normandy, the entire village was breathtaking

Sun coming up over Normandy

Love this picture

Zach and I shed many tears on this cold cold day in Normandy, France
"No mission too Difficult, No sacrifice too great, Duty First"

Point Du Hoc
Our men faced extreme conditions as they fought unyieldingly for our freedom 

All of the craters that you see in this pic are from bombs launched from sea from our men in an attempt to bring some relief to the ground troops

Zach standing at the bottom of one of the craters

Those bombs also caused a great deal of damage to the Germans numerous underground bunkers

Walking through the cemetery was very touching, though hundreds of people were walking among the rows, everyone was silent in reverence to the great sacrifice these men underwent. God Bless America!

As we left the cemetery we loaded a bus headed back to Paris and my heart was exploding with gratitude for our service men, those of yesterday and today.

Day 1, Paris, I love this sweet spirited woman...

And this woman as well!!!

While the men worked we focused on the important things, sorbet:)

Notre Dame

It is a tradition in Italy to buy a lock and attach it to one of the bridges.  You throw the key into the river to signify that your heart belongs to the city of Paris.  

This museum was massive!! Our tour guide informed us that you would have to visit this place everyday for 8 hours for 5 months in order to see all of the works of art.  Needless to say, we didn't get to see everything.

Winged Victory of Samothrace was found on an island in the Aegean Sea

Venus de Milo

Mona Lisa 

Posting these pics of Paris made me so sad.  We were in this city just a few weeks before terror struck this place.

I am truly not a fan of heights!!

Check out my view...

It was a foggy day in Paris, but still amazing to gaze at all the architecture.

And that my friends is a wrap.... I need my babies!!!

I could never have dreamed of making this trip and will no doubt hold it as a dear treasured memory for years to come, but make no mistake about it, the greatest place in the world to be is surrounded by the ones your heart adores. Thank you to all the amazing family, "Jubie & PaPa G" & "Sissa & Uncle Ben" that took such wonderful care of our most treasured gifts. 

This is what life's all about

Snuggling with the babe of the fam, because it is going by way too fast!
Finding silly selfies on your phone
Taking time to notice God's handy work
Makin s'mores
Looking through old photos and laughing your head off!!
Taking pictures with grands because well, there is no one quite like them!
Working with 20+ kids to throw together a Christmas play and laughing through the realization that you are in over your head!!!
Squeezing tight the man who loves you through it all!



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