Good morning everyone! Hope your day, or night (depending on which part of the world you live in) is going well. I decided that it was about time for an update, now that life has finally begun to calm down slightly. I know that I’ve been absent for quite some time due to the fact that I’ve been in transportation mode for almost 3 months but for those of you who are willing to accept excuses, writing was much more difficult than I expected. But now I plan to be back with more content more frequently while I attempt to make up for lost time. I was going to expand a little bit on the Europe tour with a few more posts but I have decided against it. I realized that I was kind of falling away from the real purpose of this blog which was to describe my transition from the secular work world, into life in full time ministry. Things that don’t match up with that idea can prove entertaining sometimes, but I really can’t say I’m doing what I set out to do if miss the point all together. So, I’m getting back on track starting now. However, this particular blog entry will finish off what I’ve started in the area of travel but will also re-orient readers once again with the topic in which I am meant to be writing on. I’ll touch on the end of the tour, to close this chapter before moving on.
If I’m not mistaken, I last left off on the coast of Italy, just about a third of the way into our trip. We hit Rome and the Vatican City and spent three days strolling the cobblestones of an ancient civilization. We endeavored to see the entire city. We gazed up at the masterpiece of Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel ceiling and contemplated if there was anything more brilliant in existence made by man. The guy spent four years with a crooked neck, paint dripping on his face, day in and day out, refusing to look at the figures from the floor until the work was finished. You can literally see the brilliance unfold from one end to end to the other as he continuously attempted to out-do himself from painting to painting. With one side dull-colored and simplistic in nature, and the other vibrant, rich, deep, indefinite, and masterfully crafted in every way. It’s clear that this was a journey far more epic than could ever be understood by anyone other than the master painter himself. We will never know the extent of the true drudgery when it comes to this labor of love but we can at least catch a glimpse by looking up at it. God’s gift of life, story of human kind, sacrifice of his only son, and His plan for the end displayed in this stroke of genius is brilliant enough to bring its viewers to tears. You aren’t allowed to take pictures but Ill never forget the experience as long as I live. The Highlight of Vatican city was of course the chapel but I must note that seeing the pope speak was a trip of its own. We moved on to Rome itself. It was busy, beautiful and altogether fascinating.
After tossing our coins into the Trevi Fountain, ensuring our return, we took the train to Pisa to see the leaning tower, then to Florence to experience the magic, and then to Venice to hit up some old fashion adventure. We found all of those things and so much more I’m happy to say. Pisa is a small town in an old world. Florence is much more romantic than Paris and doesn’t get nearly enough credit. Venice has narrow, comfortably busy, Purely Italian streets with ten million ally-ways, water ways, and bridges, all of which seem to lead nowhere.
If you would like to find out more about these places my advice is to save up money and go there. It’s the only way to really experience them. No account of mine or anyone else’s for that matter could really do this these places any justice. Tuscany was just as beautiful as anyone has ever described. We took the train through most of this stunning countryside but managed to stop and smell the proverbial pasta along the way. We spent Pre-Christmas traveling through Austria, Germany, Denmark, Sweden and took a ferry from Stockholm Finland. We saw my pal Niko (in Turku) who has been my good friend and mentor since 2007, which was amazing as always and very much needed.
Scandinavia is a wonderful place with Long hot summer days and Short dark winter days, where everyone has a sauna in their bathroom. The people of Scandinavia are perfectly pleasant, love coffee and good beer in equal measure, and often smile everywhere they go. They aren’t all happy but for the most part, they welcomed us with all the warmth, kindness and generosity of a pleasant summer day. With consideration that this is the middle of winter it was rather nice to be in such good company if I do say so myself. Adrie received flowers from a random man simply for being beautiful.
When it was time, we made our way back to Austria. We got back on the boats and trains and made it back just in time for Christmas Eve with the family. We went to the local Christmas Eve service and sang “Stille Nacht” (Silent night in its original language, German) just miles away from where it was written and performed for the first time on Christmas eve in 1818.
Christmas in Austria was absolutely incredible. Uncle Heinz chopped down a tree that he grew himself and decorated it with candles, sparklers and all the traditional trinkets. We spent a few days drinking coffee, eating homemade cookies, and hanging out with each other till the wee hours. We went on a cross country skiing expedition which proved much more difficult than I expected but was non-the-less absolutely wonderful. The white sky lit our way along the path through the open white fields and sparkle dusted pines of the Austrian country side. The cold air filled our lungs and carried us across the big spaces, and through the frosty woods.
As we turned the page in this chapter we took the last train on our tickets to Vienna to catch the plane to London. We couldn’t help but feel a change in the air. We had finished our tour and were on the verge of another epic adventure. We were about to join up with Pastor Dave Reidy to help out on the Vertical Love 2014 Tour. The goal was to take an expression of worship to the nations, to minister individuals who have a hunger for becoming better leaders through worship and teaching, and to point the way to the cross. We spent three weeks traveling through England and the Netherlands on the team. God did so many amazing things for so many people on the tour. We met too many incredible people to list, but the friendships we built during this time will undoubtedly last a lifetime.
The days and nights blended together in utter oblivion, which is to be expected when taking on a challenge of this nature. Looking back it feels more like a month long day in which we sometimes slept. God showed us the vast number of different ways that his people all over the world enter into his presence; One method no more correct than the other, but all different and beautiful in their own way. We observed so many different cultures and people that we discovered that even with the amount of places we’ve seen, we havn’t even begun to scratch the surface of diversity when it comes to this. In fact I’m beginning to think that, it may never be possible to experience every one of them; but, the idea to remember is that God has a plan for each person and created each of us to express our worship in ways that only our own hearts can understand. Its not about what it looks like on the outside, its about what your heart is on the inside. What became of our journey is grateful hearts. Grateful for the experience, grateful for His loving kindness, grateful for the opportunity to gain wisdom and strength, and grateful for the faith to be able to count on His provision. We were reminded that He is, was, and will always be faithful to his children.
After the tour, we began gearing up for the next season in our lives in Sydney Australia, which is why I have re-oriented this blog. In the last few months we sold our car, and most of what we own, and have endeavored to begin a new life in Australia before returning to the states to continue our ministry. What started as a documentation of my experience as an artist, has become a look into the heart of a desperate soul. Over the course of a year, I have become an entirely new person. Once I stood on the foundation of my own ideals, plans and self-satisfaction. Now I find myself immersed in the vastness of the unknown. Once I had my own plans. Now I lay them all down in order to find God’s plans. Once I felt that I didn’t need faith, because somewhere inside I though that I could ultimately take care of myself. Now faith is the very breath I take from day to day. I realized that as humans we just simply cant be who Jesus call us to be on our own. Its His power that makes it possible. But it doesn’t make it easy. The questions mount and the uncertainties have become clear, but one thing is for sure, my soul is well, knowing that no amount of uncertainty could take me away from his provision. We don’t know what’s about to happen, but what we do know is that He is in control. And that’s enough for me. I hope that you will stay with me though this experience. The Idea is that once we settle down, we will attempt to become a part of ministry life here and give God full control of our hands, sharing our experiences though this blog. What-ever that means we aren’t entirely sure, but we do know that we have the peace that passes all understanding, and that when you give your heart to the potters hand, he will know exactly what to do. I’m looking forward to taking my first steps in this direction and writing down my thoughts so that you can be a part of them. In any situation it’s always nice to be able to share thoughts and experiences with people who care, and I for one am glad that for me, those people are you. Until next time, I hope that you are blessed, and that you find joy in Him wherever you are. That’s all for now! Don’t forget to stop by and read up from time to time as I continue to discover ministry.