Mosiac outside of John's grotto on Patmos

I was so excited this past week my mind was jumping like a jackrabbit. Our traveling classroom moved out to sea!

The Aegean Sea, that is. Until now Mike and I have never been on a cruise, but our group tour of Greece included a four-day visit by ship to six Greek islands, including Patmos (where the Apostle John was in exile when he received and recorded Revelations), Crete, Mykanos, and Santorini. We even had a chance to return briefly to Ephesus.

The Greeks have a wonderful term for the “starter” portion of a meal: mezedes. That’s what visiting the various islands in just four days was: not a full feast but rather a tantalizing offering of mezedes.

The study portion of this trip, like everything else, has been excellent. Our tour leaders and guides for the past two weeks have been David and Elizabeth Sparks of Footstep Ministries out of Dallas. David was a classmate of ours at Wheaton as well as Gordon-Conwell and then went on to receive his D Min from Drew University. In addition to Mike’s photojournalism and my personal journal, we have each filled a spiral notebook with outlines of David’s thoughtful talks on Greek culture and history, the life and ministry of the Apostle Paul, Orthodoxy and our own descriptions of the various places Paul mentions in his letters.

Some of our lectures took place in the conference rooms or the rooftop of our hotels, but most were delivered on the bus or on site. We’ve read the Acts of the Apostles countless times, but it truly comes alive when you hear the familiar words while standing in the places where the actual events occurred. Last Sunday we visited the ancient site of Corinth. Celebrating Communion there was such a holy experience that Mike and I both choked up when our companions began to sing When I Survey the Wonderful Cross.

Learning on site reminds me of God’s instructions in Deuteronomy 6:6-8: “Talk about [these commandments] wherever you are, sitting at home or walking in the street; talk about them from the time you get up in the morning to when you fall into bed at night.”

Our tour group left this morning to return to the States, and we miss them already. We could not have asked for finer traveling companions. Mike and I have a final few days of exploration and reflection in Greece before we conclude this chapter of our sabbatical. We’ll share more of what we’ve been learning personally tomorrow.