Saturday, July 21, 2018

Morning Goodbye

 5:45 came bright and early this morning.

Our friends had to catch the 7:45 ferry from Hvar to Split, so needed to be up and gone by 6 AM in order to be there in plenty of time (given that Saturdays are the busiest ferry days around here).

No matter how many times you tell yourself that a vacation was good and that it's okay for it to come to an end, it's just never easy to end something that's so good.

Especially when it's an early morning!

Dave, Claire and I gave last hugs, and whispered last "I love you's" for now, knowing the Lord, in his perfect timing, will let us see each other again.

Our time with this precious family has been rich and meaningful and we'll miss them as they go.

But our hearts are full of thankfulness to the Lord for orchestrating this beautiful time together!

We send our love and prayers with them as they go, already looking forward to when we'll see their dear faces again.

"I give thanks to you Lord with all my heart; I will tell of all your wonderful deeds! Psalm 9:1

"I give thanks to you Lord for your unfailing love and your wonderful deeds for us; you satisfy the thirsty and fill the hungry with good things!" Psalm 107:8-9

He has indeed filled and satisfied us with his good things this past week! With all my heart I give him praise and thanks for these good gifts.

Friday, July 20, 2018

Baptist Cove

As another beautiful day came to close here in the village of Sveta Nedjelja, we made our way down to the water's edge for one last, very special event, before our friends leave tomorrow morning.

There is one small beach in this village, just a short walk from the marina.

You walk up and down the contour of the land, with an amazing view of the sea on your right, to get there.

And what is the event happening here at this little beach?

Two years ago when our friends were visiting us in Czech, Dave and I had the privilege of praying with their daughter, Ginger, as she put her faith in Jesus.

Today she is getting baptized here!

With Claire (who is her godmother), her family, plus Dave and I, this dear girl is publicly declaring her love and trust in Jesus, and desire to follow and serve him the rest of her life.

She waited to be baptized until she was back with us, so it's not only a very meaningful day to her but for us as well as we get to be witnesses to and participate in this significant moment!

Dave spoke first from Matthew 28, the Great Commission, telling how Jesus told us to baptize people in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. With a smile he told Ginger, "Today I get to do what Jesus told us to do...baptize you!"

He then talked about Peter's sermon in Acts 2 where he tells his fellow Jews to repent and be baptized for the forgiveness of their sins, and that they will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

After his words to her, he led Ginger into the Adriatic and asked her if she has put her faith in Jesus Christ, to which she replied, "Yes!"

And then in front of us, and those still left on the beach, he baptized her in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

I had tears in my eyes as she came up out of the water, symbolizing the washing of her sins and Jesus' resurrection from the dead which conquered sin. And when Dave hugged her right there in front of the sunset, I had to choke back more tears. This was SUCH a sweet moment in Ginger's life, one that she will never forget!

Claire came down into the water to stand with Dave and Ginger, and join her dad in praying over this precious young believer.

Claire prayed that everyone who knows her would know Jesus in her, and that she would shine his light wherever she goes.

Dave prayed Philippians 1:6 over her - that the good work God has begun in her would be brought to completion until the day of Christ Jesus, and that she would grow to be a woman who listens to the Spirit and follows his voice.

I can hardly think of a more beautiful place for Ginger to declare her love for God! As the waves gently lapped onto the shore, we took pictures with her parents to remember this significant day.

A kind Australian woman who is vacationing here and was still on the beach, observed Ginger's baptism. She nicely came over and took a few photos of the whole group to remember this day by.

Ginger's eight year old brother said we should name this place, "Baptist Cove" since his sister was baptized here! I'll probably think of it that way from now on!

We celebrated with ice cream from the pizzeria and grapes from our neighbor who happened to be down at water's edge selling chilled champagne grapes, fresh off the vine!

The Lord blessed us with so many good gifts during our time together, but none more precious than this evening's baptism! It's an evening all of us will remember for a long time.

It is our prayer that Ginger be a light for Jesus that shines before men, that all may see her good works, and glorify her Father in heaven; we pray that she will shine among her generation like stars in the sky as she firmly holds to the word of life, boasting only of Christ as she runs the race of living her life for him only.

Matthew 5:16 and Philippians 2:15-16

As the sun set one last time during our days together, we went back home and spent time thanking God for his kindness, blessings and love poured out on us during our time together.

It was a vacation we'll all remember for many years to come!

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Sveti Nikola at Sunset

There is one spot on the island of Hvar that is, in a way, more spectacular...or perhaps awe-inspiring... than all the others.

In order to reach it you must go up, rather than down.

So that is where we went this evening.

We pulled off the main road in our van and began the 3 kilometer windy climb up towards the highest point on the island: Sveti Nikola, 2054 ft / 626 m.

We drove up here two years ago with Dave's parents, and could drive closer to the top than we could today. But that was fine! Everyone was up for the 20 minute hike to the final peak.

Oh the reward when you get up here! From one side you look down towards the Adriatci and Sveta Nedjelja.

From the other side you see down into part of the Stari Grad Plain, the town of Jelsa, the tip of Brac island, and the mainland!

We were hoping to make it up here in time to see the sunset, which we did!

Being at the top of the mountain in the evening meant there was quite a brisk wind. I took a "live" picture of Claire (a short video) to catch the action of her hair flying. You can't see that video here, but you can see the wisps of it flying a bit!

The kids climbed up the base of the cross for a dramatic photo...

...while Kaylee waited at the bottom for them!

She looks like she's exhausted, when in reality she wanted to be faster than all the rest of us up the mountain! (13 year old Cotter was first up there!)

Looking west to the sunset over the island was indeed a beautiful view tonight.

The four of us took a photo together, and then we all pressed on towards the chapel before the sun began its descent into the sea!

We literally made it here with about ten minutes to spare, capturing this photo using my phone and little iPhone tripod which was hung in a tree since no one else was around to take a photo for us!

Silly faces are a must when at the top of a mountain at sunset, finishing an epically beautiful day!

Not wanting to be left out, Kaylee moseyed over here when we were all done and sat down as if to say, "My turn now?"!!!

Oh the joy of getting to be up here to enjoy this spectacular view with everyone!!!

No matter which direction you look, it's amazing!

The golden hour magical photo moment belongs to our friends tonight! Isn't that such a gorgeous family memory to capture?!

As the sun fell into the sky, we began our hike back down to the van.

If you turned right you could hike it all the way back to our town. But for tonight, we're taking the road home since it's about an hour and a half hike.

The red circle denotes the hiking path.

 As we passed back by the cross, the sunset made for another dramatic photo.

And then we literally watched it slip "into the sea" (aka: make its way to the other side of the world!)

What a breathtaking way to finish off this day!

Stari Grad: Ancient City

When a town on the island of Hvar is 2400 years old, you have to take your friends there to see it!

Remains of pottery and other artifacts have been found that actually date it back to somewhere between 3500-2500 BC. But it was in 384 BC that it was formally founded by ancient Greeks.

While there are obviously no buildings remaining from that time, there is a certain enchantment about this very old town that draws you in to wandering its streets, feeling its long roots of colorful and yet sometimes sad history (it was completely burned down by the Turks in the 1500's).

Its 3000 inhabitants today enjoy a peaceful life of fishing, agriculture and tourism, letting you wander over their doorsteps and next to their homes.

We enjoyed a delicious lunch on the waterfront at Bistro Simple.

And sampled some of the plentiful gelato available everywhere!

As we wandered through the back alleyways, we found a specialty food shop, Za Pod Zub, that I've often wanted to visit but never been there when it was open. What a find!

I'm so glad we spent some time in there sampling (and buying!) an assortment of delicacies.

As usual, Stari Grad gets under your skin and leaves you with a warm feeling of wanting to come back.