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A Christian Journey

PAUSE for THOUGHT
AROUND the WORLD

Author: Ellgy

Calendar image: Pansies in Sweden

WEEK 1

2 June 2021

My friend and I were travelling around Scandinavia, and one Sunday we caught the train to Malmo in Sweden. The train journey took 35 minutes over a very long bridge. Formerly, one had to go to Sweden by ferry.

 

Malmo was very quiet, and the streets were nearly empty. It was a long weekend holiday. We found a lovely Lutheran church, so we went into the service. There were quite a few people in attendance. I guess some regulars and some tourists like us. We couldn’t understand any spoken words, but we did know most of the tunes, so we hummed along.

 

We were seated in gated rows and the highlight was the receiving of the offering where two stewards came along the centre aisle with collection bags attached to long poles. They stopped at each row and thrust the pole out along the row, collecting the money as they drew it back.

Another tale of church giving was also in Sweden.

An interesting part of another service was again the offering. It seemed to be ten minutes where people could talk to each other as the collection was passed around. 

 

They also had a mobile terminal for people to use credit cards. So, this was waved in the air, and if anyone wanted it they put their hand up.

 

So the gizmo did the rounds of the congregation. Just as well there were no more than 50 present.

 

Churches rely on offerings to keep going, but we give ourselves and our work as offerings, as well as our money.

 

I John 3:18

Let us not love in word or talk, but in deeds and in truth.

 

WEEK 2

9 June 2021

On a very cheap, but totally enthralling visit to Cambodia, my travelling friend and I sat at the breakfast table and worked out what to do with the rest of the day. At 9.00 am we went by tuk tuk to Green Gecko Project, a bit out of town. It was founded by an Australian woman, Tania Palmer, as a school for children who were begging on the streets. It is a place where 70 children live, and the work being done there is phenomenal.

Green Gecko is about empowering these children with skills, education, and care and support to enable them to break the begging cycle and live to their highest potential. It also provides shelter, care and stability for those physically battered or psychologically in need. Over 80% of the children have been physically or sexually abused within their family unit or extended family.

 

Although it is costly to keep this place going, the children are fed and clothed and taught to the highest level. Some of the children are even going to university now – an opportunity they never would have had in the former life they lived. We were very impressed with all the care, love and education that goes on at the Green Gecko Project.

Tania and her staff are meeting the needs of these dear children following the message in Matthew 18:10.

See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that in heaven their angels always see the face of my Father who is in heaven.

A testimony from one of the children can be seen at

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0RmcBQWdLak

 

WEEK 3

16 June 2021

I was taking a walk in Manhattan USA when I needed refreshment. I went into a diner and asked for an item on the menu: Swiss cheese and ham on toast. Later, the waitress asked me if everything was all right. I told her I couldn’t find the ham.

 

She was so busy wanting to know what kind of bread I wanted that she didn’t hear me ask for ham. I’m afraid that I am not understood in America. Every trip I do I rarely get the meal I have ordered, or the coffee for which I have asked. 

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I went to a café in London at Leicester Square and asked them if they served the best coffee in London, and they didn’t seem to know what I was talking about. The coffee was passable, however, the scones with jam and cream were really lovely.

 

The waiter came and asked me how it all was, and I said it was OK, but I should have asked for a double shot. He said I could have had a double shot, but I had asked for light coffee. I had asked for white coffee. Here we went again!

 

Fortunately, when we talk to God in prayer, He not only listens, He understands. He is not bored. He tells us to ask, seek and knock.

 

Matthew 7:7 

'Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.'

 
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Be still, my soul: your God will undertake to guide the future as he has the past.
Your hope, your confidence, let nothing shake; all now mysterious shall be clear at last.
Be still, my soul: the tempests still obey his voice who ruled them once on Galilee.

(Katharina von Schlegel, 1855; Translated by Jane Laurie Borthwick.) Hymn No. 48 AHB

WEEK 4

23 June 2021

In England, a very important fish and chip shop is on Endell St, Covent Garden. This is one of the oldest fish and chip shops in London, and the place where the fish distribution during the war time blitz was allocated.

The volunteer owners would meet in the basement of this shop to work out how to distribute the fish caught each day, so that the different suburbs had their fair share of the beloved fish and chips.

 

Apart from providing the favourite fare, it was to keep up the morale around town.

 

Every time I go to London, I make sure I make a visit to 'The Rock & Sole Plaice' shop. Don’t you just love the name?

 

The population needed courage and strength. Be still, my soul, is one such hymn:

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WEEK 5

30 June 2021

On a visit to Hong Kong, I was invited to the Town Hall for a graduation service of 569 tiny tots of the Pre-School Education Services. It was about two hours of magic as the children sang and performed their many items with military precision.

 

You can imagine how long all this took to prepare with pre-school size children. There was so much excitement, not only with the little tots but also with their parents and supporters.

 

I took an enormous amount of photos. Following the graduation, we dined with a sumptuous banquet lunch.

 

How important it is that we love and protect our youngest citizens. The Scriptures certainly emphasise this.

 

Colossians 3 has instructions about personal relations—Children, Parents, Slaves, Masters are all addressed.

 

Children are a gift from the Lord; they are a reward from him. Psalm 127:3

 

Jesus said, 'Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.’ Matthew 19:14

 
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WEEK 6

7 July 2021

Well, it had to be seen to be believed. Six medieval churches in Norfolk, England, put on a first ever ‘Blossom and Yarn’ exhibition over four days. They each had a subject connected with church life and had to decorate their church suitably, using flowers and knitted articles.

 

They really used their imagination. Everything was knitted! The Christening area had Princess Charlotte in the cradle with the full-size minister laying his hand on her, and the Harvest section had knitted carrots, radishes, cauliflower, mushrooms, oranges, sandwiches, cakes, liquorice allsorts etc. etc. There was even a full-size knitted Queen Elizabeth II.

 

The churches did this because the attendance at each church was small, but following this exhibition they joined as one congregation and attended a different one of their churches in rotation.

 

Don’t give in to disappointment, use imagination, meet together, call on God’s direction to enable you to come to satisfactory results.

Psalm 102:21–22

He will be praised in Jerusalem when nations and kingdoms come together and worship the Lord.

 

This train is an invention from Australia, but the powers that be were not willing to spend the money on such a train, so the idea was sold to China – they are building them in various cities.

I now have a speeding ticket! – the ticket to go on the very fast train. We were spoilt.

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We had two hours to do the market, and we all went into the market in a happy state, and I think most people bought the place out. Saw myriads of large fish and thousands of people enjoying the outdoors and so on at the Yu Gardens, near the market.

 

I surmise that the Maglev gave us the same thrill as the chariots of Jeremiah’s day.

Jeremiah 4:13a

Behold, he shall come up as clouds, and his chariots shall be as a whirlwind: his horses are swifter than eagles.

WEEK 7

14 July 2021

On a visit to China, in 2018, a group of us were listed to go sightseeing 'somewhere', but we kept pestering the tour guide to take us on a bullet train. 

 

We really wanted to go on the bullet train when we were booking, but just couldn’t manage to fit everything in. Our wonderful guide, David, told us that he would take us on a train that was faster than the bullet. And he did!

 

We went on the Maglev (magnetic levitation – no wheels) train and reached 431 kph. We just did a return trip without getting out. It was wonderful. It took 7.15 mins to do 30 kms. The Maglev was not on the agenda, and we ditched the visit to the museum to go there. None of us minded.

 
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WEEK 8

21 July 2021

In August 2013, my travelling friend and I were holidaying in Chile at the home of a mutual friend who was working there. One day we set off at 8.30 am on a tour around the region. Our driver was Sergio, and he took us firstly to Frutillar where we walked along the foreshore of Lake Llanquihue. It is an all-German town and very pretty.

Puerto Varas was our next port of call – another German town. After something to eat, we were taken to a craft place and bought one or two things. We were then treated to a trip alongside the Andes mountain range. Two volcanos, Calbuco and Osorno, were covered in snow and looked so majestic and peaceful.

One of the largest historical eruptions in southern Chile took place from Calbuco in 1893–1894. It ended with the formation of a lava dome in the summit crater. Later eruptions have enlarged the lava dome complex.

‘Watch, therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man’. Luke 21:36

 
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WEEK 9

28 July 2021

Iceland was a very interesting place to visit. We were staying in B&B accommodation and had trouble connecting to the rest of the world; we desperately required Wi-Fi. After enquiries, someone told us to ask at a hotel. There was a hotel opposite our accommodation, so we were able to access not only the internet but also to book tours and the pickup bus there.

 

We went on a whale-watching tour. It was lovely to go out to sea and look back at the city of Reykjavik with the snow-capped mountains in the background. We did see quite a few dolphins and whale, but it was hard to get them on camera, as they were so quick at diving back into the water.

 

As we were only there for two full days, on the second day we booked a Golden Circle Tour and had a swim in the thermal pool.

 

We naturally think of a whale when remembering the story of Jonah, perhaps because the Scriptures tell us that it was a big fish and that’s the ‘big’ fish with which we are familiar.

 

The book of Jonah reveals that the Lord had prepared a great fish to swallow up Jonah. He was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights. See Jonah 1:17 and Jesus’ record in Matthew 12:39–41.

 
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WEEK 10

4 August 2021

The MacDonnell Ranges in the Northern Territory of Australia are a 644 km long series of mountain ranges located in the centre of Australia, and they consist of parallel ridges running to the east and west of Alice Springs. It is said that 300–350 million years ago a mountain-building event created the MacDonnell Ranges. 

 

Since that time, folding, faulting and erosion have shaped the range and created numerous gaps and gorges. The ranges are composed of many rock types but are most famous for their red quartzite peaks and gorges. Other rock types include granite, limestone, sandstone and siltstone. 

 

Some of the valleys of the range contain fossil evidence of the inland sea that once covered central Australia. The MacDonnell Ranges were often depicted in the paintings of Albert Namatjira.

 

We are constantly being changed according to our environment and our relationships with others around us. We are also shaped by our relationship with God.

 

2 Corinthians 5:17 (NIV)

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! 

 
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WEEK 11

11 August 2021

In my journeys in Taiwan, I caught the high-speed rail for the 265 kms to Tainan, 306 kms by road. The top speed was 297 kph. As it happened it was Easter, and I was there to contribute to the sermons on Good Friday and Easter Day. On Easter Sunday we went out to the streets and distributed boiled eggs wrapped in red cellophane.

 

On this trip I was asked by a local if I had tasted sweet soup. Well, “no” was the answer. I discovered after conversation that my friend was asking if I had tasted custard. We also had an Italian meal at a restaurant and another meal at a Russian restaurant. My stomach felt like I had mixed with the United Nations.

 

I was happy to rejoice with the congregation as we sang “Christ the Lord is Risen Today, Hallelujah!”

 

The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay.” Matthew 28:5–6 (NIV)

 
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WEEK 12

18 August 2021

A group of us went from Sydney on a study tour of Greece and Turkey. The capital of Greece has always been a birthplace for civilization. It is the city where democracy was born and most of the wise men of ancient times. The most important civilization of the ancient world flourished in Athens and can be seen today through some of the world's most formidable structures.

 

The Acropolis was nominated to be one of the seven wonders of the modern world. The Holy Rock of Acropolis dates back to the 5th century BC, the famous Golden Age of Pericles.

 

We went to Philippi and saw the ruins there. Had devotions at the Baptistery of Lydia, which was special. We were at the stream where she was baptised as the first Christian in Europe. The baptistery, which is on the grounds, is special in that Lydia appears as a main character in the fresco.

 

Back to Kavala for lunch, and then on to Alexandroupolis for one night at the Hotel Nefeli. I had a swim in a lovely big pool whilst everyone else was inside doing their washing. Each balcony was filled with washing. It looked like a Chinese laundry rather than an appealing Greek hotel.

 

Isaiah 58:12 (NASB)

Those from among you will rebuild the ancient ruins; You will raise up the age-old foundations; And you will be called the repairer of the breach, the restorer of the streets in which to dwell.

 

WEEK 13

25 August 2021

The sun does rise and set, but it is only a blink in between as it is light day and night in summer. It is said that Iceland was originally populated by 70% of Norwegian men and 60% of Irish women, so in honour of 60% of them being Christian that became the official religion of the Island.

 

The terrain is as astounding as it is rugged and stony. There used to be 25% trees, but now there is only 2% and we hardly saw one. 2020 was the target date for improvement.

 

There is more than a folklore story about how the Icelanders love elves. Some even seek messages of advice from the elves. And if you try to build a road where you may have to shift the elves’ houses, there will be a hullaballoo.

 

We even saw what were purported to be elves’ houses (see below), each with their tiny door. Some claim that over 50% of Icelanders believe in elves and more than that say they could exist.

 

2 Peter 1:16 (GNB)

We have not depended on made up stories in making known to you the mighty coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. With our own eyes we saw His greatness.

 

WEEK 14

1 September 2021

The Appian Way, Italy, was a crucial road for the Roman Empire. It connected Rome to some of its most distant settlements. I spent a morning wandering along the Appian Way and finally found a bus stop and bus which took me back into town. 

 

One thing that is good in Rome is the water pipes alongside the roads.

 

Rome’s cold, clean water has flowed through ancient aqueducts, gurgled in baroque fountains, and poured incessantly from thousands of 19th-century spouts that still grace the city streets. The water is drinkable and very cold, so I was able to keep my water bottles filled up. I used them often last time I was in Rome.

 

John 7:37–39 (NIV)

On the last and greatest day of the festival, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.” By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified.

 
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Between the church service and the lunch I sat on a step, and the young ones came up and ran their hands up and down my lower legs feeling my stockings. They don’t see stockings in the hot weather of Sri Lanka. We then played a singing game with tapping on hands (1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and you’re out)  but making sure amongst themselves, by whispering, that I was not the person to go out, following which they decided they wanted to play with my hair.

 

We had a lovely day that day. The children were well behaved and had a lesson in how white people dress themselves in hot weather! I remember the day with fondness.

 

Psalm 71:18 (ESV)

So even to old age and grey hairs, O God, do not forsake me, until I proclaim your might to another generation, your power to all those to come.

 

Proverbs 22:6 (ESV)

Train up a child in the way s/he should go; even when s/he is old s/he will not depart from it.

WEEK 15

8 September 2021

I was visiting Sri Lanka with an Australian friend who had previously lived there. One Sunday we went to Dehiwala, a suburb in Colombo, to a morning Sunday service and lunch. The church was next to a home called Hope House, an eventide home for elderly ladies, and a Child Development Centre for young girls. The two age groups got along famously.

 

WEEK 16

15 September 2021

Greece: Went to Ancient Corinth and had a guided tour around the ruins. The ruins of this once magnificent city are spread over a vast area and ongoing excavations since 1896 have uncovered extensive remains of the former capital of Roman Greece.

 

As far back as the 5th century BC, the city was one of the richest, most powerful, and vice-ridden cities of ancient Greece. The site lies at the base of the imposing Acrocorinth, a 575-metre mass of limestone rock with the remains of a fortress, which was among the most forbidding and impregnable strongholds in Greece.

 

Corinth was situated on the isthmus of two ports. It was a rich city.

 

A lot of stories that took place in Greece, and in particular Corinth, are recorded in the New Testament. The “Love Chapter” of 1 Corinthians 13 is often read at weddings. In the social climate of Ancient Corinth, the following verses are just as relevant today as ever.

 

Corinthians 13:4–7 (NIV)

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonour others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, and always perseveres.

 
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Matthew 2:2 (GNT)

Where is the baby born to be the king of the Jews? We have seen his star in the East, and we have come to worship him.

WEEK 17

22 September 2021

In 2014, I was holidaying at the home of some friends of mine who were Rural Chaplains. They were working from Longreach in Australia. It was December, and they were busy with all the Christmas preparations. They had to travel hundreds of kilometres to reach properties of farmers and their families for Carol Services and gift giving. 

 

On the way, a feature of the property name signs was that they were decorated with tinsel. They called it the ‘Tinsel Trail’. We arrived at Lake Dunn in 45⁰C heat and pulled up and set up the van. It was a round trip of 400 kms. Then we went to the homestead to meet the people who lived there.

 

The flying rural mission family flew in on their helicopter. They are based in Mount Isa, which is an 8-hour drive from Lake Dunn.

 

The forecast was for heavy rains, so many rang to say they wouldn’t risk it. A small group of 22 gathered outside and we had a lovely evening singing carols. The musical accompaniment was taped, and the audience didn’t feel like they were singing alone.

 

Two days later, we went to Ayrshire Downs, a return trip of 500 kms, for another Christmas carol service. It was so lovely to see 4-wheel drives and dual-cab utes, all coming down the long drive. By the time the outdoor carol service commenced, there were 60 persons present.

 

At both venues the dark sky and lack of artificial lights and clouds highlighted the millions of stars.  The night sky was absolutely stunning. What a way to worship!