Tag Archives: Travel

Guatemala trip and random travel thoughts

Just got back from a great weekend in Guatemala City. It was primarily a follow-up trip for Hope For Life (Herald of Truth) on campaign work done there last year and radio work that is ongoing. Bruno Valle and I spent most of our time with Roberto Alvarez, who has been our chief contact there the last few years. Roberto directs the Biblical Institute of Central America; his students were conducting a house-to-house campaign, and Bruno and I provided the preaching for the event. There were seven baptisms and two restorations.

A few random thoughts that have come up over the last few weeks:

  • Just finished reading Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus. I’d recommend the book, primarily for understanding a bit more about Islam and the differences between the worldview of a shame culture vs that of a guilt culture.
  • I now read ebooks almost exclusively when traveling. I have a small iPad with the Kindle app on it; I keep it loaded with plenty of books. I like hard copies when home, but love ebooks when traveling.
  • When traveling, try to limit yourself to one carryon. That’s been my practice for years, and I’m constantly reminded of why it’s a good idea. I have what I call a half-rollerboardthat I can combine with a full-sized carryon for especially long trips. Unless I’m carrying something bulky or taking a lot of supplies somewhere, I don’t check a bag. For suggestions on how to reduce your travel load, check out OneBag.com
  • I love the lightweight hiking shirts made by Columbia. They do well in warm weather, plus you can wash and hang-dry them from one day to the next. I think they look much nicer than the fishing shirts a lot of guys wear. The model I’ve been wearing is Royce Peak II; I’m sure there are others that look as nice.

That’s it for now. Have a great day!

First Day In Israel

Ben Gurion airportOK, I’m adjusting to a new morning schedule as I help my mom adjust to life in assisted living. That’s thrown my blog posting off. But I do want to write some about what I saw and heard in Israel, mainly to write it down before I forget it all!

We arrived in Tel Aviv, spent the night there, met the rest of the group that was coming from the States, then drove up to the Sea of Galilee. Our hotel the next few nights was in Tiberias, a popular lakeside resort town.

It’s hard to get used to the distances in Israel. Israel is smaller than Lake Michigan. From Tel Aviv (on the Mediterranean) to Jerusalem is less than 60 miles. It’s less than 500 miles from Golan down to Eilat (on the Red Sea).

Going north from Tel Aviv (near the biblical city of Joppa), the country is very fertile. Lots of agriculture on the way to the Sea of Galilee. Here are a few pictures from our first day’s travel.

With my favorite traveling companion

Our friend from Cuba, Tony Fernández, got to make the trip

Our friend from Cuba, Tony Fernández, got to make the trip

This was our tour guide in Israel. His name is Nedal.

This was our tour guide in Israel. His name is Nedal.

Agriculture along the way

Agriculture along the way

Interesting to see biblical names on the road signs

Interesting to see biblical names on the road signs

Tiberias is right at sea level

Tiberias is right at sea level

Our hotel overlooked the lake

Our hotel overlooked the lake


suitcasesJuly has been a busy month. Here’s a bit of what’s been going on:

  • The first couple of days, I was at the Summer Celebration at David Lipscomb University. I was privileged to speak twice in their Spanish track.
  • On July 10, I spoke at the Pleasanton church of Christ (Texas). I was able to spend the night in Stockdale with some dear friends.
  • July 12-24 saw my family and I participating on a mission trip to Cuba with members of the University church of Christ (Abilene). It was a great trip that I’ll tell you more about in the coming days.
  • This past weekend I did a “Christ and Culture” seminar at the Hardin Valley church of Christ in Knoxville, Tennessee. Really great group of people.

So that’s what I’ve been up to. How about you?

Nicaragua, South Texas, and Revelation

I’ve been on the road a good bit lately. Sometimes I can keep up the blog while traveling, sometimes I can’t. I used to worry about it, but I’ve come to accept that the world goes on turning, even when I can’t post.

Spent a few days in Managua, Nicaragua, doing some follow-up for Herald of Truth. Along with discussing the media project we recently did there, Steve Ridgell and I also got to do some teaching on leadership and on marriage.

Last week I was in Stockdale, Texas. It’s always good to be back there, to see what God is doing among the people of that small South Texas town.

I did six lessons on Revelation. Whenever I have to teach a book in a new format, it’s a real learning experience for me. I purchased Eugene Peterson’s Reversed Thunder and gained some insights from that book. I also got study notes from several friends who have taught Revelation in the recent past.

In Bible class on Sunday morning, we did an introduction to the book. When talking about Revelation as poetry, I included a clip from Dead Poet’s Society, where Robin Williams has his students tear out the introduction to their poetry books. I used that to talk about the folly of taking a poetic book like Revelation and trying to pull out a timeline for the future.

During the morning worship, I preached on Revelation 4-5, the fact that the Lion of Judah turned out to be a sacrificed Lamb. In the evening, we did the first 3 chapters in a whirlwind blitz; fortunately I had some copies of Letters From The Lamb for anyone that wanted to go deeper into that material.

The last three lessons were “Scenes of Judgment,” “Scenes of Triumph,” and “New Heaven, New Earth.” It was a quick overview, but people seemed to find it helpful. More than anything, I sought to prepare them to read the book on their own.

Lots of learning for me. Hope it was a blessing to others.

To Cuba and back

Quick trip this past weekend. Herald of Truth works with a young preacher in Cuba; this man has been invited to speak at several events this fall (Harding Lectureship, ACU Summit, etc.), so we’re working on getting him a visa to come to the States. The U.S. Interests Section in Havana requested to see the original letters of invitations for each event. Sounds simple enough, but the plain fact is that the U.S. and Cuban mail systems aren’t working together right now and other delivery companies balked at taking the materials. We finally decided it would be easiest just to hand carry them.

My travel took me through Cancun. It’s always interesting to me how excited people get when you mention Cancun. They seem to forget that:

  • being in the Cancun airport is no more exciting than being in any other airport
  • Cuba is a Caribbean island with beaches every bit as nice as they say the Cancun beach is (I wouldn’t know firsthand; outside of the Cancun airport, I’ve only seen the Marriott Courtyard hotel which is near the airport)

I left Abilene early on Saturday, doing my best to make it to Cancun in time to catch a 2:30 Cubana airlines flight. Both my flight from Abilene and Dallas went smoothly, so I got to Cancun right on time. Immigration and customs were no problem, so I got to the Cubana counter before noon.

When I checked in, the agent said, “Your flight leaves at 2:30, but check here at 2:00.” That seemed strange. A 2:30 flight should be boarding by 2:00. At the least, I should be through security by then. So I asked if I’d heard right. “Yes, there is a slight problem with the plane. If we can’t fix it, we’ll have to bring another one, which will mean your flight won’t leave until tonight.”

Yuck. Naturally when I went back at 2:00, they informed me that I should go to the gate… at 9:00 or 9:30 p.m. They also provided me with 100 pesos in vouchers (which is about 8 dollars. I picked up some bottled water to have in Cuba). I had no interest in leaving the airport, so I retreated to a place where I could at least access the Internet via my iPod touch. There was plenty of time to kill.

About 7:30 I wandered by the gate area and saw that an estimated departure time had been posted — 12:40. Wow! Eventually they gave us another voucher… some juice to drink there and more water to carry.

Finally a plane arrived. It wasn’t a Cubana plane, but one from T.A.C.A. (an airline from El Salvador). Having flown on Cubana in the past, I didn’t mind trading a broken-down Russian jet for the modern one we got to fly on. We touched down in Havana at about 4 in the morning.

Immigration and customs took a while. As would happen in any country, someone flying in on a tourist visa and only planning to stay one day catches the eye of immigration officials. My belongings were searched well, and I was questioned rather vigorously for about half an hour. Finally I got to leave the airport.

Tony Fernandez was there to pick me up; poor guy had been waiting all day. We drove to Matanzas, and I arrived at my hotel at about 6:40 a.m. Church was at 10:00, so I at least had a few minutes to rest a bit. I slept until 9:00, then jumped in the shower.

I noticed the water pressure was a bit weak, but I’d seen worse. The shower head could be taken off the mount and lowering it increased the pressure. No problem… I’d shower on my knees. With the trickle that was coming out, I was able to lather up thoroughly, both with soap and shampoo. That’s when the trickle disappeared. No water. At all. Not in the shower. Not in the sink. None.

There I was, covered in soap, and the only water in sight was in the toilet. Would I…?

Then I remembered Cubana’s generosity and the bottles of water in my bag. I could get more. This was an emergency. It was a bit chilly, but I was able to rinse off with one of the bottles and still had some left for brushing my teeth.

Church was great as always, and I got to share some time with dear friends at lunch and supper (with a nap in between). I didn’t dare stay up too late, since I had a 7:00 flight the next morning. That meant leaving the hotel at 3 a.m. At least there was water on Monday!

The return trip was pretty uneventful… flooded airport in Cancun, long lines at customs in Dallas, but everything was on time and I made it back.

So that was my weekend. How was yours?