Wednesday, August 31, 2011
Founded by Romans in 15BC as "Turicum", Zurich is an historically significant and interesting city for many reasons. One is that it is where a number of awesome James Bond movie scenes have been shot. Its also where Ulrich Swingli helped lead the protestant revolution in Switzerland and Germany starting in 1519. Today, Zurich is one of the most prominent financial / banking centers of the world and often rated Europe's city with the "best quality of life", and also Europe's wealthiest city.
Still thinking about Dachau yesterday, we all did some reading today. Lex and Holly each read "The Boy with the Striped Pajamas" and highly recommend it. I read "Night" by Elie Wiesel. We did this along the Limnat River near Lake Zurich on a beautiful 74F day in old Zurich.
Pictured is Tommy "Mr. Chuggles" Gruver. If you look closely you can see Ulrich Zwingli's statue on the river Timmat just over TG's right bicep.
Tuesday, August 30, 2011
Monday, August 29, 2011
The boys favorite part of the ride was when Christoph suggested we play a game. With all paddles up, the boys were told to stand and walk the edge of the raft going in opposite directions trying to balance while holding onto our paddles as they passed. Before a minute passed both boys were in the water laughing their heads off! Will fell in and threw poor Claire in!! It was great fun even though Holly and Saili never were in the river, they both were splashed enough to get a good chill from an "enemy raft" of boys who passed us.
Next stop....Munchen (Munich, Germany)
Birth place of Mozart! Home of our favorite movie, The Sound of Music, magically couched in the Austrian Alps,
Easily the most beautiful place we've seen!
We spent our time in Austria touring the sites where The Sound of Music was filmed riding on the Hills are Alive tour bus. We stopped to visit the town of St. Gilgen and Wolfgang Lake--beautiful!!!! We took a toboggan ride down a mountain (similar to the alpine slides.) We saw a spectacular dinner theater production with Austrian Opera singers performing popular songs from Sound of Music as well as Austrian folk songs. We've loved the taste of Weiner schnitzel, spinach dumplings, bratwurst and apple strudel! Shopping in Old Salzburg while visiting Mozarts birthplace was great fun. What a breathtaking creation Of God ....Austria!
Friday, August 26, 2011
Many famous explorers, scientists and musicians were born and lived their incredibly productive lives here. On our gondola ride we passed within feet of the birthplaces and childhood homes of Marco Polo, Galileo and Vivaldi, to name a few.
We passed next to the bell tower in San Marcos Square where Galileo, while studying the night skies, first realized that the world is round.
So beautiful and huge and labyrinth that words and pictures fail to describe even 1/100th it's majesty, we have enjoyed our stay here and appreciate anew how our surroundings directly effect our potential. It's no wonder that so many men [and women such as Diane Shaw] of greatness were born and raised in Italy.
Wednesday, August 24, 2011
The roads wound back and forth with sharp and steep switchbacks every 100 meters.
The kids were all so car sick that we stopped at a convenience store to sit outside and look at the sea for 30 minutes - twice. The second time we had some drinks and snacks and Holly called her mom with an update on what was one of the most beautiful places we have ever seen, Positano Italy.
I got directions from the barista and double checked my GPS. It appeared to be taking us on a short cut away from the oceans edge and the swervey-curvies. I drove past the narrow entrance to this passage three times until I stopped and decided, in Will Gruver fashion, to go for it...
We proceeded straight up an ancient, hair trigger, cobble-stone road. At one point early on I remember Holly telling her mom that she needed to "go right now" due to the freaky road we were on. Mom said, "Oh dear, are you going to be OK?"
Well, the road got freakier. In retrospect, the fact that we took this short cut at all, let alone traveled so far along it, was all complete madness. There were no turnarounds and the trunk of our van was packed with bags. So going back or driving in reverse down a mountainside was not going to happen. We were all praying.
Our 2011 Peugeot 9-passenger van's first few minor dings and dents occurred when the bumpers and side mirrors slapped the 20' stone walls of the alley as we twisted and turned upwards. I was praying to just get off the mountain and back to the swervey-curvies in one piece.
Finally, when we were 2 kilometers from the main road on the north side of the mountain, we began descending and came to a passage that looked too narrow to pass through. I got out and thought through our options. I walked ahead a 1/2 km and the road opened up.
Not seeing any humans or other motorists along this road had been disconcerting. But just beyond this narrow passageway there were actually 9 small cars parked! Yipee!
So, I got back in the van, released the parking break and we inched forward slowly.... Until we got stuck. The only option at this stage was to hit it, which is when we all started screaming.
Things we are thankful for:
1. Getting off the mountain in south Italy alive.
2. That, while almost totaled from a cosmetic perspective, our van is still drivable.
3. Hertz Gold Club Rental Insurance.
4. A memory of God giving peace in the middle of an incredibly stressful moment and answering prayer.
5. An adventure we will never forget... Our first family car accident ever.
"Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many.
14 For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few."
Tuesday, August 23, 2011
Sunday, August 21, 2011
Saturday, August 20, 2011
The most notable Saint that was buried here was Cecelia, a 14 year old Christian who escaped twice from the pagans and was finally captured and beheaded in the Catacombs. She would not renounce her faith in Jesus Christ! The most amazing part of this story is (caution to reader) that Cecelia's beheading was not complete and for three days her Christian friends and family listened while she sang praises to God in her suffering in the below catacombs. Cecelia's body was miraculously found preserved in 1865 when the tombs were rediscovered by Johanni Baptiste. Her clothes, hair and skin remained as though she had just died. When they found her on one hand she was holding out three fingers symbolizing her belief in the Father, Son and Holy Ghost. On the other hand she held one finger symbolizing her belief in One God, which was very offensive to the pagans at this time.
Originally decorated with beautiful gold, bronze and marble materials, fresco's, lanterns, Sculptures and murals, this was almost completely destroyed by invading barbarians from northern Europe in around 800AD. At this time the church closed the catacombs and with time their very existence was forgotten.
2 Corinthians 1:27-31
But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”
The Vatican is the world's smallest independent country. It is also home the the site where St. Peter was martyred upside down on a cross and St. Peter's basilica, the largest and most beautiful church in the world, contains St. Peter's tomb.
The second largest museum in the world, we walked over 5km's through the Vatican's collection of incredible 2000, 4000 and 6000 year old artifacts. Chariots from before Christ, nails used to crucify, bible fragments from the time of Christ (consistent with what our bibles have in them today), maps from antiquity and sculptures by Michelangelo, Raphael and all the greats.
It was exciting to compare the renaissance artwork at the Vatican to that of the London Museum.
To get to walk the very steps of the first Christ-followers has been exhilarating. We have also been working on our Italian while in the taxi - free lessons!
Gloria di Christo
Wednesday, August 17, 2011
Homemade African mixed berry pie.
Eyes are green oceans light dancing on trees
Kind as the breeze of South Italy seas.
Humility and deference, yet rich with quick wit
After 25 years now I only know her a bit
Brazen commitment, she does what is right
Gracious and fun we laugh with great might.
In dreams she's the one I wish I had wed
The plot is we both married others instead.
Then awake I reach out to her blueberry lips
Close to mine they are soft under fingertips
Men often forget and chase after glory
Rather than standing to fight for the Ones in our Story.
For our lifetime this woman I have loved and have led
She represents Light, this angel in my bed.
4am: wake up and get kids organized and ready for trip to Italy
5am: Get bags to Aftab our London Driver
5:20am: Leave with Aftab for Heathrow
7:10am: Wheels up
8:00am breakfast over the French Alps with my family... Including these three beauties.
The boys and I LOVE our girls.
Tuesday, August 16, 2011
I struggled at the beginning of the week with the questions to God. .Why is this happening? How can I possibly make a difference? What good is this week going to accomplish when these children go right back to their sad environments? How can I solve this?
After wrestling a lot I came to see there are a lot of I's in my questions. The Lord reminded me of this verse I have loved again and it gave me perspective.
"I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you." John 14:18
Sunday, August 14, 2011
Anyone that knows Lex at all understands that Lex loves to read and to work hard. Since we have had no time for reading, Lex threw himself into serving others this past two weeks.
The very first day he introduced himself to the kitchen staff and helped set the tables and get dinner out. That night Lex woke up to roosters at 3am and heard a sound from the kitchen. Thinking he was missing out, Lex got up, quietly unlocked our door and proceeded to wash dishes until Will found him helping prepare breakfast at 6am.
Throughout the past 10+ days various managers and staff at Abundant Life such as Able, Patricia, Kelvin, Allen and other friends approached us to tell us how much they love Lex. Lots of people would have told a 10 year old to go to bed or not wanted him around. But these wonderful people patiently and graciously allowed Lex to help and it blessed all of us!
If you look closely at this picture you will see the affection these 4 men have four each other. Thank you Abundant Life for a wonderful time in Zambia.
I already miss these little guys so much. What an amazing trip. We are already planning our next visit. Before this trip my eyes were closed. Living in the US I had no idea what suffering could look like. And I travel regularly to war torn and impoverished places like Sierra Leone for business. The suffering and deprivation we witnessed taking place in every day Zambian orphan life was horrific.
Do these fighters a favor and please take a minute right now to pray for them with us? You can make a huge difference by asking God to protect and provide for (L-R):
Back row: Evas, Elijah, Lukas, Mwendabai, Agness,
Front row: Elvis, Alfred, Tanasho, Eustace
We thank God that he fulfilled the promise of Isaiah 61 the past 3 weeks in the lives of nearly a thousand 4 -18 year old Zambian orphans.
Nighttime is hardest for these guys. please pray.
Saturday, August 13, 2011
In March of 1999, Gary was flying from DC to the West Coast and working in Corporate America. He had praying over Romans 12:1-2 and asking god to show him what a "living sacrifice" is.
On the plane he began reading an article in USA today about the orphan crisis in Zambia and he immediately felt a direct and unrelenting call to do whatever he could to step out and make a difference.
This past year Every Orphan's Hope found out about a little boy and girl name Michael and Doreen (pictured here with Gary today on Will's iPhone), ages 5 and 3. Their father had died of aids and their mother was too sick to get out of bed. On a tip EOH checked in to find that the two small children had been single-handedly caring for their dying mom by bringing her water, food they could scrounge and otherwise fending for themselves entirely. When these kids first came to Village of Hope in February, neither would talk due to all the trauma. Now both Children Are speaking, smiling, gaining weight and even singing.
Michael rode on Will's shoulders the entire time we were flying kites and became fast friends. Please pray for their continued healing.
This concept is Turing out to be so successful that the board has decided to include 4 chicken runs in the designs for each new village (of 10 houses) that we build. Pictured is our poultry general manager "Lucky" weighing our birds.