Hospitality to Strangers

“For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in,” Matthew 25:35 (NIV)

            Traveling alone in a foreign country brings new and interesting experiences.  I think I was more open to communicating with strangers and taking more risks when I was alone.  In England, I had visited the town of Spoke on Trent – the home of Spode china.  I arrived at the train station and began to look for places to stay the night. 

All my pictures are on slides from 1992

            I visited the Spode factory and then began walking to some of the areas recommended at the train station.  This led me to a “dicey” area of town and to some office buildings.  I went into the offices and asked a lady where there were places to stay near here. She gave me directions and off I went. Me and my trusty red backpack and a small roller suitcase. 

          After walking about 30 minutes, a car came and stopped near me.  It was the lady from the office.  She said, “It is not safe for you to stay in these areas.  I will give you a ride to a better area of town.” I thanked her, and said, “I will be fine.”  She said, “no you won’t” in that lovely British accent.

            We talked about my travels while she drove me to the outskirts of town to another area of Bed and Breakfasts.  Then she totally surprised me.  She said, “Come home with me for the night. I live out in the country, about 30 minutes away.  My brother-in-law is coming for supper and my husband is cooking.”  I could not believe this woman was inviting a perfect stranger to her home.  I could not believe I accepted.  She lived in a rural area with sheep grazing in the fields nearby, a large red brick  home, and a totally isolated part of England. 

All my photos are slides

            I had the best roast beef and Yorkshire pudding for dinner and delightful conversation, after her husband and brother-in-law recovered from the shock of a stranger appearing at their table.  The guest room was on the third floor of the house situated under the eaves and was beautifully decorated.  The next morning she drove me back into Stoke-On-Trent.  I asked her if she would take payment for the night’s stay, supper and breakfast.  She refused and said, “Someday, you will meet a stranger and you must invite them into your home. That is payment enough.” 

When have you shown hospitality to strangers?  Have you ever received the hospitality of strangers? 

Advertisements

December 1, 2018. Tags: , , , , , , , . DebDays General, Delights, Destinations/Travel, Devotions General, Dwellings, Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

Angel Protection

Psalms 91:12 “They Angels will bear you up in their hands, lest you strike your foot against a stone.” (NAS)

Miracles occur even on trails where you least expect it. I was hiking in Switzerland with my friend on a trail that passed through wooded areas and into stunning clearings. He was ahead of me about two hundred feet and I was coming out of the trees onto an area of the mountain where you could not see the top of the mountain to my left.

adventure boulders clouds daylight

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

As I stepped onto the path, I felt a hand on my shoulder and paused. It was a feeling, and I paused maybe two or three seconds. As I took my first step, I heard something and looked up. A huge boulder at least two feet in diameter came bouncing down the mountain onto the trail and continued down the mountain. I stood there stunned as my friend turned around to find the source of the sound.

I called from across the clearing, “I could have been killed.” I told him what had happened when he reached me, he hugged me and we continued on the path. The Angel most certainly “bore me up in their hands” or the stone would have killed me.

adventure blue boulders clouds

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Have you felt God’s protection in the mountains and in your life? What accident have you avoided?  What bad decision do you regret? Have you ever encountered on Angel? 

August 11, 2018. Tags: , , , , . Dazed, DebDays General, Destinations/Travel, Devotions - Hiking, Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

L’Abri

II Samuel 22:2-3 “The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer; My God, my rock in who I take refuge.” (NAS)

I spent a weekend at L’Abri in Switzerland when I was dealing with the realization that I would not have children. That loss took me to a small village and a house that I rented. The house was filled with Christian books and most important, the woman that had lived there had left her Bible. It was marked through with underlines, dates, and people’s names that I did not know. It was worn and tattered, but I found it a precious source of strength.   There I read and walked and prayed and gave that loss to Christ. I took the Lord as my rock, fortress and deliverer.

I remember placing that unknown and unnamed child at the foot of the cross and Jesus allowed me to give that child to him. His love and compassion in my grief and loss were life changing and the miracle of his Presence in that cabin was life changing. Whenever I think of the love and grace of Christ for us, I know he ministers to us right where we are, but sometimes he allows us to climb a mountain, rest in a valley and bring us to a place of refuge. To listen to tapes of good speakers, men and women of God, people who have experienced something that you are going through will remind us that God is good, caring and the source of all peace.

Wherever you are right now, do you see this place as a place of refuge? When has God been your deliverer?

mountain ranges covered in snow

Photo by Denis Linine on Pexels.com

brown wooden cross

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

 

June 15, 2018. Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

Crazy Yugo Trip

“And Mary said, “Behold the bondservant of the Lord; be it done to me according to your word.”  And the angel departed from her.”  Luke 1:38 (NASB)

            After I moved to Switzerland in 1988, I received a call from a friend who had been diagnosed with a brain tumor that was breast cancer metastasized.  She and her husband were making a pilgrimage to Medjugorje, Yugoslavia to visit the site where teenagers were seeing a vision of Mother Mary daily.  It was called Our Lady of Medjugorje.  I decided to meet them in Dubrovnik.  I flew to Zagreb and then to Dubrovnik from Zurich. It was my first trip to a true third world country and ten years before the Bosnian War began.  

                  At the airport, I was waiting for their flight that never came from Chicago.  They were with a group and the airline had forgotten to send a plane to get them. When I met with their tour director, she arranged for me to have transportation to Medjugorje by car. Hopefully, I could find them the next day when they arrived.  I was on my own. Remember – no cell phones, no Internet, no available phones and only a piece of paper that gave me a room reservation in Medjugorje as there were no hotels.  Medjugorje is a small town located in the Herzegovina around 15 miles southwest of Mostar.

Traveled in Bosnia and Herzegovina to Mostar – central west

            The tour director came to get me and told me “I have a driver for you and another person who was also waiting for the plane”.  I climbed into the back seat of a Yugo (remember those little cars with reputation of being the worst car in the world?) with a driver who smoked constantly, and a priest from the Philippines and off we went.  I would never have done that in America. 

Quite the Car!

            We traveled three hours into the country and I opened the back window to breathe.  We spoke in as much English as we could all speak together and rode in silence with a radio for distraction.  Crazy and prayer-filled trip.  I prayed to not disappear into Yugoslavia with two strange men. We arrived at my little house where the babushka with her hair tied in a kerchief showed me my room and held up fingers to tell me what time supper was.

 Have you ever done something truly crazy in a foreign country?   What was the outcome? What did you learn? 

December 8, 2018. Tags: , , , , . Death, DebDays General, Destinations/Travel, Devotions - Hiking, Disease, Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

Silent Retreat

Isaiah 30:15 “In quietness and confidence is your strength.” (NIV)

A silent retreat is a necessary escape from our crazy world. Stillness. No human voices. Birds and flowers beckon me to the next bench. Not a hike to achieve a goal, but a prayer walk. Peace as the salve for grief. Wind in the Aspens that are still green. Listen.

The lack of rain and hot sun has dried up the lake. Say goodbye to this lush beauty and know winter is coming. Pay attention to the sounds and bury them in your memories. See the shadows form as the sun emerges. Gunshots ring out. Deer hunting season.   A deer looks at me, goes by me and clears the deer fence with no effort.

Thank you God for your mountain majesty and for all the colors of green. Thank you God, for stillness of nature and the legs and heart that take me here. In order to walk with God I need to trust, listen, love and be loved. And be silent.

Is my heart ready to hear what God has to say to me today? What questions are you asking that only God can answer?

 

November 24, 2018. Tags: , , , . Desires, Devotions General, Discipleship, Discouragement. Leave a comment.

Reality Re-entry

Genesis 3:8 “Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day.” (NAS)

I never want to end a hike or a walk. I feel that I could walk forever in the mountains. Take a new trail. Climb a new hill. There are rare people who walk and hike always to new places, but normally we have repetitive walk experiences. Life calls us to re-enter. Our homes beckon us.

The walks, the beauty, and the views are more impressive because they are seen rarely. The changes in our bodies, the aging of parents and growth of children are seen slowly through the prism of time. Sometimes we truly see change. A moment of change that is precious. A moment to remember. We have touched the divine. Our re-entry to our life is complete.

How do you feel at the end of a walk? A break? A vacation? A retreat?

What do you do to prepare for your re-entry?  

 

November 17, 2018. Tags: , , , , . Delights, Destinations/Travel, Devotions - Hiking, Dwellings, Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

Coffin in the Kitchen

Mark 16:17-18 “ And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well.” (NIV)

After a 3.5-hour cruise the Li River, we visited one of the smaller Meio villages. In the village, our guide explained that 20 km away from the village, twenty percent of the villagers are over 100 years old! They take a shower three times in their life: birth, marriage, and death. The home we visited was very large by Chinese standards and thirteen generations had lived there.

thumb_IMG_0570_1024

The villagers capture poisonous snakes and scorpions and place them in large glass jars with rice wine. They drink a bit of the special wine everyday and it keeps their body temperature warm and their “humidity” low. I am not sure what the translation was supposed to be. We saw two large glass jars with snakes wrapped inside, one new light colored and one fermented to amber. They had Mao posters and an abacus, chickens in the back yard, and the son was making tofu on a stone wheel.

The 80-year-old matriarch was washing cilantro in an outdoor pump when we arrived. She was squatted down on her hips like a 20 year old. She was proud to show us her coffin, which resides in her kitchen. After the age of 60, the family buys coffins for their elders so they can know they will not be buried in the ground. Her husband had died two years ago, so they stacked the two coffins until one was needed.  thumb_IMG_0562_1024thumb_IMG_0578_1024

What do you do when you see a snake? How would you react to a coffin in your kitchen? What is awaiting you after death?

November 10, 2018. Tags: , , , , , , . China, Dazed, Delights, Destinations/Travel, Disease Prevention, Dwellings. Leave a comment.

Laughter in a Pack

Luke 6:22b “Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh.” (NAS)

Laughter. Spontaneous, erupting belly laughs are good for the soul. My friend and I met to celebrate her decade birthday with a hike at Red Rocks in Colorado Springs. The anniversary of her husband’s death two years ago, losing her job, facing that her older dog was very ill, and she was having a “decade” birthday. Yikes! Not much joy or laughter had been present in the last week.

 

IMG_2076

I decided to bring dogs to the party hike for a surprise. Not one, but three. When she saw all the dogs I had borrowed in my car, she started laughing. It was a good beginning. We had four dogs, including her baby, with us shaking with excitement in the early morning. When we reached an open field right past the sign that says, “All dogs must be on leash,” we “unleashed the hounds.” Laughter filled the valley as we watched the pack melt together, merge on separate projects, run, fall, sniff, come back, and ignore us. They were dogs being dogs.

After an hour of frivolity, we met another hiker who was a soldier. He added his dog to the five pack and down the valley we went. It was hysterical and out of control. You cannot carry enough water for five, now six dogs running full out for over an hour. We gave them all we had, shared tea with each other and headed for the cars. Two hours later, the dogs were exhausted, tongues hanging, panting, and lying down wherever there was shade or slowness in our walk.

IMG_0836.jpg

Laughter transformed the day just as beauty overwhelmed it with a blue skies, red rocks, and green trees.

What fun thing have you planned for yourself or your friends? Have you used humor to help people who are sad?

November 3, 2018. Tags: , , , , , , . Dazed, Devotions - Hiking, Discouragement, Downsizing, Uncategorized. 2 comments.

Li River, China and Four Things for Luck

Psalms 98:8 “Let the rivers clap their hands, let the mountains sing together for joy;” (NIV)

There is a quiet peace when we are on, near, or in water. People took selfies with the stunning background scenery of the Li River. Chinese people were posing for pictures and were dressed in all their finery. The navigation through this large river is complicated as the small hand propelled vessels stay to the shoreline and approach the larger boats, and the tourist vessels remain in the channel navigating the river’s many turns. Boats of all sorts floated beside the tour vessel, a scene that was duplicated in numerous replicas ahead of us on the river.

We wanted to see Osmanthus Fish, Water buffalo, the Phoenix bamboo, and Banyan trees. If you view these things from the Li River during your visit, you will have good luck. Osmanthus Fish is used for special dinners at Holidays. The preparation is one that makes the fish look like it is jumping out of the water – head and all. The fish symbol is frequently seen in China and is tied to prosperity. Sadly, we saw no Osmanthus or Banyan trees.

Water Buffalo were on the shoreline with a baby calf. They have grey brown curved horns with dark colored bodies, and are quite large even from a distance. There were no fences in their area and they are allowed to roam freely as domesticated animals. They are used for tilling the rice paddies and working the farm until they are killed for their meat. Yes, we saw them in one place.thumb_IMG_0531_1024

Phoenix Tail bamboo waved gently over the shorelines as we floated on the Li River. It is not a native plant according to our guide, but was planted there in the 1970’s after a visit from Chou En Lai so visiting Chinese could see all the “best of China” in one place. The high tail of the plant is white and bushy and it can grow up to 50 feet high. This was everywhere.thumb_IMG_0505_1024

What do you love about water? Are you a river or ocean person? When mountains are near rivers, what excites you to hike there? 

October 27, 2018. Tags: , , , , , . China, Delights, Desires, Destinations/Travel, Devotions General, Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

Guilin Cave, Pearls, River and Luck

Psalms 128:2 “You will eat the fruit of your labor; blessings and prosperity will be yours.” (NIV)

Guilin, China is a small city by China standards with only 1 million people and after Beijing and Xian, it felt quiet and empty. The Li and Peach Blossom Rivers converge with four lakes and we are greeted with stifling humidity and rain. It seemed less hectic here, more scooters, less cars and less noise.

The tour to the Reed Flute Cave included colored lights on the formations and a magnificent laser show on the ceiling of the cavern. When you are on a sponsored tour in China, you must go to many of the government owned stores to at least look at all the things to buy.

Today’s tour was the “South China Pearls” store and included a runway fashion show with models showing different pearls designs available. There were freshwater and sea pearls and pearl powder for your skin. If the water has iron in it – black pearls are produced. Copper in the water gives pink pearls. Prices are reasonable and they can assure you that the quality is accurate, unlike the street vendors.

beaded gray necklace

Photo by Khairul Onggon on Pexels.com

There are 55 minority ethnic groups in China and Guilin is home to the Dong people – known for long hair, Meio people – for their embroidery, and Yao people – for singing. We had a charming cruise down the Li River, where the mountains are uniquely shaped and were on my bucket list. They are called Karst Mountains and have a rounded top with steep walls covered with greenery. People come here to paint the fog that lays between the peaks in shadowy layers of white and grey mist.

The area is known for Pomelo fruit, which grows along the terraced hillsides. It is believed to bring good luck and prosperity when eaten during the Chinese New Year. A lot of responsibilities for a grapefruit like fruit! We walked 6.4 miles today, even on a boat for half a day.

What do you believe brings you prosperity? Do you believe in luck?

October 20, 2018. Tags: , , , , , . China, Destinations/Travel, Devotions - Hiking, Discernment, Dreams. Leave a comment.

Overflowing Rain and Dogs

Malachi 3:10 “Test me now in this” says the Lord of hosts, “If I will not open for you the windows of heaven, and pour out for you a blessing until it overflows.” (NAS)

Run and splash in the mud. Babysitting for three dogs included a run in the rain through the mud on the trail. My friend and I were like three year olds splashing; sliding in the mud as the rain softly fell. It is a trail in my neighborhood that winds through an ‘Open Space’ in Colorado Springs. The dogs were off like rockets through the brush trying to catch those elusive bunnies. They were soaked and so were we. Laughing in the rain.

IMG_2076            Then there was the cleanup of three shaking dogs chilled from their experience. We had towels and water and cleaned them up the best we could. We were the neighborhood dog ladies, taking care of a total of four dogs. We wonder what people would think of these middle-age women walking in the rain with the dogs, going into their neighbor’s garage. Covered with love…and mud. Love and delight overflowed and then crashed in their blankets.

When did you last play in the rain? What joy and delight caused you to crash in exhaustion?

 

October 13, 2018. Tags: , , , , , , , . DebDays General, Delights, Devotions General, Dogs. Leave a comment.

Never Summer – Never Envy

 

Psalms 68:16 “Why do you look with envy, O Mountains with many peaks, at the mountain which God has desired for His abode?” (NAS)

Psalms 147: 16-17 “He gives snow like wool; He scatters the frost like ashes. He casts forth His ice as fragments; Who can stand before His cold?”

When I visited Rocky Mountain National Park for a day hike, I was alone. I had looked up an easy trail that would circle through a valley, up and down the side of the mountain and promised incredible vistas. I was not disappointed. The trailhead started near a parking lot three miles from the Park’s main entrance at Estes Park. Even though there was no one else on the trail and I was hiking alone, it did not seem too isolated.

As I climbed above the trees, there were brief glimpses of the many peaks still snow covered even in summer of the Never Summer Range.  Think about that name. It is never warm. It is never green. It is Never Summer. About three miles and an hour into the hike, I could tell I was beginning the circle back through the valley above a stream. The first glimpse of Long’s Peak surrounded by other peaks was breathtaking. It is distinctive as are many of the Peaks in the Rocky Mountain, and we grow to love their specialness.

If mountains judge each other by difficult climbs to the summit, their steepness, special alpine terrain or snowmelt and waterfalls, and unique shapes, mountains would be envious of each other. We too judge each other and envy what someone else has without recognizing our own uniqueness.

When was the last time you felt and showed envy? What do you think people envy about you?

adventure alberta alpine amazing

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

October 6, 2018. Tags: , , , , , . Devotions - Hiking, Devotions General, Discouragement. Leave a comment.

Next Page »