Sorry I’ve not posted sooner. I made it my goal for this trip to post every two days, but I’ve gotten behind. I’ve been trying to get as much sleep as possible, and any free time I have I am spending with the friends I’ve made on this trip.
Tuesday, June 16th
Tuesday we travelled about an hour and half a west of Porto Rafti to the city of Corinth.
If you’re unfamiliar with Corinth, it is another city that Paul went to while in the area. I and II Corinthians come from the town, as those books were letters written to the people of Corinth – the Corinthians.
We started our time in Corinth with a visit to the Corinth Canal, which is a canal that runs through the isthmus (a small piece of land connecting two larger pieces). This canal was crucial for people “back in the day” because it kept ships from having to travel around the rest of Greece to get to their destination; they could just simply travel through the canal and maybe stop for a nice lunch while passing through.
The canal was especially exciting to see considering its size and depth. The fact that they made it without modern technology is astonishing.
After we visited the canal, we headed to Acrocorinth, which translates to high point of Corinth. At the base of the main mountain sat old Corinth where a great deal of the happenings in the ancient city would take place. Only 3% of the city has been uncovered, namely because of its size. We got to see the layout of the old city and how the city would have operated.
Perhaps the most interesting part of old Corinth was the bema. The bema is where people would have been able to make announcements in front of the people, but most importantly, the bema was were beatings and persecutions would have taken place. Our tour guide, James, did a wonderful job of explaining this area.
Notably, James described to us how Christ would have been tortured and beaten in a similar are to this that we were standing in. He described the humiliation and the brutality of the beatings. This was incredibly impactful to me because it helped me get a visualization of Christ’s crucifixion – something tangible unlike that which I’ve watched in movies or read about.
I’ll never read about or think about Christ’s beating the same because of that moment. I’m so thankful for moments like this. Those moments are what this trip is about – those moments that are so profound that they’ll impact your ideas about something for the rest of your life.
After we visited the lower part of the city, we made our hike up the actual mountain where the temple of Aphrodite remains can be found. This trip up the mountain made me realize how out of shape I was!
More importantly, the trip up the mountain made me realize something especially impactful. As I hiked the mountain, I though about the people of Corinth that would make this rugged and gruesome hike just to worship of god no significance. They felt they had to keep climbing higher and higher just to reach these god’s of no love, mercy, or forgiveness.
I realized the spectacularity of our God in this regard. Our God is always with us. We don’t have to reach a high point or make a rugged trek. He’s always there. Plain and simple. Beautiful and mighty.
Wednesday, June 17th
Wednesday was our in between day – our day or class and rest and relaxation. I always appreciate these days.
Class was very memorable. We studied Mark 1 as the people would have in Biblical times – without preemptive knowledge of Christ, VBS lessons on Bible stories, or a family upbringing in a Christian household.
This method of studying raised some thought-provoking questions about the Gospel, but questions that solidified our beliefs and our defense of what we believe.
With this in mind, I think it is okay and important to have questions about what you believe and why you believe. It doesn’t mean that you are questioning God’s word, but rather gaining a better understanding of it and growing closer with God while doing that. You don’t build a relationship without asking questions and having times when you’re not certain…
A couple of friends and I spent the afternoon biking around Porto Rafti; it was a bike ride that I needed and loved. The small neighborhoods were full of little gems and beautiful flowers. It felt good to get out and explore – to find out what defines Porto Rafti.
Thursday, June 18th
We started today early! Breakfast began at 6:30 and the bus was pulling out at 7:00. We took a 3 hour bus ride into central Greece to Delphi. This day was by far my favorite part of the trip so far.
Delphi is a small town nestled high in the mountains of Greece, preluded by winding roads and breathtaking views. The temple of Apollo is also located in Delphi. The ruins of the temple were extraordinary, but I’m afraid they were upstaged by the views.
It rained briefly, but I came prepared so the rain didn’t bother me. All I needed was the beautiful views and a camera.
After visiting the ruins and racking up several pictures, we headed back down the road to Arachova. This wonderful little town barely protruded from the side of the mountain, with quaint shops, cafes, and homes painting the hillside. We ate in a small cafe mid-city that was as warm and welcoming as any of the small cafes I love to visit back home.
I wanted to take some time to visit the little shops, but it was either shops or pictures, and I think you can guess which one I chose.
We loaded the bus and headed back to the Artemis after our short stint in Delphi and Arachova. On the bus ride home, we talked and laughed until our cheeks hurt. I love this aspect of the trip – making memories and friendships that last a lifetime.
We were greeted back to campus by the wagging tail and smiling face of the campus dog, Bella, and the wondrous smells coming from Natasa’s kitchen.
Now here I sit in the dining room, juggling making relationships and documenting this incredible trip. As I’m typing away, I’m also trying to simultaneously play a card gave. I love the laughter that is filling the air.
This trip continues to be more than I ever expected. The food is better, the people are better, and the experiences are better. I can’t get over how blessed I am. I know I say it every time I post, but it’s so true.
Our time at the Artemis is winding down. We have finished off our sightseeing trips and the day and a half that remain in Greece are filled with a couple of classes, one quiz, and plenty of rest – something I am looking forward to!
As I reflect on my time in Greece, I can’t help but think about how we have grown as a family. More than the sights we’ve seen or the places we visited, the relationships we make here are what will stick with us for a lifetime.
The pictures from this trip may get lost or made fade from our memories, but the friends we make will simply be a phone call or a door knock away.
We leave Saturday night to fly to Israel. Please be in prayer for our travels and safety. This is the part of the trip I’m most nervous about, but most looking forward to!
Until next time, keep smiling.