evening in the year 2000, while relaxing on my sofa, I had fallen
asleep, only to be awaken by the ringing of my telephone. When I
answered, I heard my girl friend Gertie’s voice on the other end.
Several years earlier, in 1988, I had traveled with her and her church
family on my first trip to the Holy Land.
“I’m blessed and
highly favored by The Almighty. How are you Sister Gertie?”
“I’m blessed as
well,” she responded. “I called to tell you that Prophet James is
planning another trip.
This time it will be a Pilgrimage to Greece, Turkey and the Isle of
Patmos while following in the footsteps of the Apostle Paul. The trip
would also include a cruise on the Aegean Sea.
Click on image for larger view
Would you like to go?”
“Yes, very much,
but I’ll have to pray about it first. Send me the information so I can
see if I can fit it into my budget. As you know I’m retired now as you
are. If my spirit is at ease after I pray, I’ll go.”
“Okay, I’ll send
you a brochure. However, I can tell you the price now. It will be
$2,890.00 for 13 days. There might be a small increase in the port
charges, over which Prop, (as he is affectionately called) has no
control. Also try to get some of your friends to go. If I can get ten
people to go, I will earn a complimentary trip. Otherwise, I probably
won’t be able to go myself.”
“Alright girl friend, I’ll talk to you
later, I received the brochure. I had been earnestly praying for and
answer and I had also discussed it with my family. My family didn’t want
me to go, they felt it was too dangerous. But, after much prayer, I
didn’t experience a worried spirit, so, I decided to go.
Sunday at church, I saw two church members, Kay and Queen. I told them
about the trip. They were both interested. Later, I told some of my
other friends about the trip. They claimed they wanted to go. I called
Gertie and asked her to send out some brochures to them. After they
received the brochures, they all backed out except Kay and Queen. Their
explanations were, “The trip may not be safe due to the turmoil in the
area.” Kay and Queen immediately planned to go an they notified Gertie.
Gertie called me. “Hi Sister Barbara, I am
thrilled. I have the ten people, counting the three of you so now
I can go.”
“I’m glad you are able to go, and we are looking forward to the trip,” I
ensuing weeks I went to the library to read up on the attractions that
were listed in the brochure, but with very little details. I
wanted to have a working knowledge of the Biblical sites. This was a
practice I had always done when I traveled abroad. I began to prepare
myself physically by having a medical check-up and shots, if needed;
mentally, by learning as much as I could about the customs and what such
a long trip would entail; and spiritually with continued prayer.
Never-the-less, this thought kept invading my spirit,
“What if something happened to hinder me from taking the trip as opposed
to something happening on the trip?”
continued to persevere in prayer and shortly after my mind and spirit
were settled. I prepared written instructions about my state of affairs
for my children and my mom, just in case the Lord called me home.
We were notified
that the port charges had indeed increased. The trip would now cost
$3,000.00, with everything included except the personal tipping for
services. The week before we were to depart, Bishop James arranged for
us to gather at his church to receive final instructions and to meet and
greet all who were traveling with him.
At the meeting
we were given white satin jackets with the logo ‘The Year of the
Redeemed,’ printed in red on the back, which represented the blood of
Jesus, and each person’s name was printed on the upper left front.
Bishop James then briefed us on international laws, the observance of
the customs of the people, as well as what kind of clothing we needed to
After he answered a few questions, he stated,
“Dear people remember this is a pilgrimage, but I want you to also enjoy
the journey. You will be in another country, so respect the people,
especially when they serve you. The brochures I issued to you indicate
what a fair and proper tip would be. Try to eat what is set before you
as much as you can. Some of the mid-easterners can get upset if you
leave too much of their food on your plates. Everyone needs to stay with
the group. I don’t want anyone wandering off alone. Be careful with your
personal belongings, especially your passports. We will all meet
in New York, but, because we will be coming from different states, it is
up to you to make arrangements from your home to JFK Airport. We are
scheduled to board the Lufthansa at 9:25 p.m. and everyone needs to stay
He dismissed the meeting with prayer and
we were served a light collation.
arrangements to get to New York alone. Kay and Queen traveled together
because they lived near each other and were close friends.
I waited with
happy anticipation while I counted the days before departure. They
seemed to go by slowly. Two days before we were to leave, I laid my
clothes out over my parlor couch and chairs. I checked and doubled
checked so that I would not forget anything. I waited until the night
before to put my things into my bags.
April 24, 2000
had finally arrived. Normally, I would have my children to drive me to
the airport, but, I decided this time to go by public transportation. I
arose early and got dressed. After a light snack, I left my house at 15
Blue Ledge Drive, at 7:15 a.m. I waited on the corner to catch the MBTA
Bus number 34 to get to the Forrest Hills MBTA Station. It came five
minutes later. I arrived at the airport and boarded the shuttle to the
departure gate at 8:05 a.m. I had to wait for just under two hours at
the airport before a Prop plane attendant allowed the passengers to
board. Once we boarded, another flight attendant kept shifting people
around until there was a balance of weight on the plane before we could
lift off at 9:10.
This incident reminded me of a previous
time my friend, Virginia and I went to the Bahamas and we had to take a
Prop plane from Florida. Our friend MaBelle wouldn’t go because she was
afraid to fly on the small plane. The ride was extremely bumpy which
caused me to become nauseated. I almost had to use the bag that was on
the pouch in front of me. I had never gotten sick on a plane before
through the many times I had flown. I began to pray, “Heavenly Father
please help me to get to the lady’s room in case I have to throw up.”
He answered my prayer. We arrived at JFK at 10:45.
The plane landed a distance from the
terminal. We had to carry our bags inside to Terminal B when they were
unloaded. This was inconsistent from what I had ever experienced before.
Once inside, I had to ask two different people for directions to the
terminal because, there were no signs indicating the location of
Terminal B. They both gave very snappy answers along with their callous
attitudes. I walked to the end of the corridor, and spied the sign
pointing to Terminal B way down on the other end. When I reached it, it
was a blessing to sit down. I took a motion sickness pill and ate a few
dry crackers in hope of settling my stomach.
After about forty-two minutes I felt much
better. So, I walked over to the food counter and ordered a Big Mack
which I almost never eat at home. The cost was ridiculously over priced,
but it did help to finish settling my stomach. I watched different
groups arriving throughout the day. I didn’t see anyone I knew until
late afternoon. I began to wonder if they had steered me to the wrong
terminal. Reluctantly, I checked at the desk to be sure. I really
didn’t want to deal with the New Yorkers’ attitudes again. However, the
ticket agent was pleasant, and assured me I was in the right place.
About an hour later I saw Kay and Queen arrive. I was glad to see them.
Then others in our group arrived.
Soon, we were all checked in and ready to
board the plane. Before they opened the gate, we were told that there
was a hang-up with the connecting plane which caused another group to be
late arriving. So, we were not allowed to board the plane until 9:25. We
finally lifted off when the late comers arrived. As we boarded and took
our seats, we were served orange juice and a snack pack even before
every one had boarded.
After we were
all settled, the pilot and the flight attendants gave us final
instructions. We were served a delicious dinner of beef, rice, broccoli,
cheese, shrimps, salad, grapes, raisin bread pudding, rolls and butter,
crackers, and a beverage of choice. Shortly afterwards, the attendants
collected the containers and lowered the lights for the night. I dozed
off at some point.
awakened the sun was streaming through the windows and the attendants
were coming down the aisles serving a continental breakfast of juice,
coffee and yogurt. The time was seven hours ahead of USA time. Shortly,
we approached the Frankfort, Germany Air Port. The seatbelt lights came
on, and the pilot spoke. “We will be landing shortly. Please remain in
your seats until the plane stops, and the lights are turned off. There
will be someone at the gate to instruct you as to where to board your
down at 10:30 Germany time. We were met by a guide who directed us to
our connecting plane to take us to Athens. At 12:25 we boarded, and were
on our way. We arrived in Athens Greece at 4:23, which was almost a four
hour trip. I was surprised that the airport was so small. We de-planed
and were told to wait in a designated area for our next guide, who was
there when we arrived at the area. The weather was beautiful with a
clear sky and a cool breeze.
Our new guide’s name was Victor and our bus
driver’s name was Sarkis, who drove us to the terminal to retrieve our
bags. We were told that we would have to carry our bags most of the
time. Once the bags were loaded and we were seated, he gave us a short
history of Greece as we meandered through the streets of Athens very
Track are the two most important Sports in our city,” he stated. Then he
explained the currency and how to be safe from those who cheat tourists.
We passed the
first school that trained the students for sports. High on the hill, off
to the right, we could view the Acropolis as we were driven through the
very narrow streets. Highway #2, which was the main street that led to
the hotel. We arrived safely and checked into the Divanti Palace
Acropolis Hotel. Gertie and I were roommates and we went immediately to
our rooms to rest. Later, we assembled in the dining room for dinner and
were served a delicious dinner of salad, grilled pork (which was
exceptional tasty), potatoes, carrots, string beans, rolls, butter, and
Almond cake. After we finished eating, but before we left the table,
Bishop gave instructions for the next day’s journey. Then we retired for
My sleep we very
peaceful, but we had to arise early the next morning to stay on
morning, we arose, dressed, and gathered in a designated place to wait
for the Bishop to arrive to eat breakfast so we could all sit down
together. Bishop arrived about ten minutes later and blessed the food.
The atmosphere was very pleasant. The breakfast was a buffet, consisting
of all kinds of breakfast foods. The juice, coffee, and tea were served
by the waiters.
Our bus was
waiting outside when we finished breakfast. We boarded the bus and our
new guide, Patricia, introduced herself. Our new driver’s name was
Assis. After we were seated and settled, Patricia began to speak.
Greece. Athena is Athens, our capital city. Acropolis means the
‘City on the Hill.’ You will notice that our streets are very narrow.’”
I noticed how
close the buildings were to the narrow streets and appeared to be very
antiquated. There were areas where new housing was being constructed.
However, the hollow frames looked as though they hadn’t been worked on
for some time because the iron beams were covered with rust.
continued to speak, “Athens is the birthplace of Democracy. The people
elect 50 representatives and their positions were chosen by lottery.
Also Athens was the birthplace of Western Civilization. It was here that
many of the philosophical and political geniuses assembled such as:
Aristotle, Plato, and Socrates to name a few. Many words we use in the
English language such as, museum, democracy, athlete, astronomy,
theology, orthodox, colossal, disco and orgy were taken from the Greek
language. We could see the merchants closing their shops very early in
explained, “The people are preparing for Greek Easter by leaving the
city to join their families in the villages for the festivities.”
As we continued
to ride through the city for several blocks, Patricia stated as she
pointed, “This is the 5th
Century A.D. Church of DAPHNI. It is decorated in Mosaics portraying
Jesus Christ and his mother Mary inside. Daphne is named from the Laurel
trees. The area ahead is where the Persians were defeated at sea.”
As we continued
on, I noticed that very few signs were in English, and of course none of
us could read the Greek. We finally arrived in Korinth (Corinth). The
first place we visited was the Korinth Canal. We alighted from the bus
and walked over to the bridge. It was an awesome sight to look down and
view the water. This was the first picture I took while standing on the
Patricia continued to speak.
“This area is called the Pelepones, which
is divided into seven Provinces. The Apostle Paul lived here for
eighteen months. Over to the right is the ‘BEMA,’ or the Judgment Seat.”
We walked closer
to the plaque that was on the wall above the Bema. One of the ministers
took a picture of me at the Bema while I touched the edge of the plaque.
pointing at the "BEMA"
Click on image for larger view
Bishop then conducted a short service as we gathered around the Judgment
Group at the
"BEMA", Judgment Seat of Paul
Click on image for larger view
He took his message from Romans 14:5
and Corinthians 9:19, and stated that Paul was a free man, a
citizen of Rome, and had all of the rights of the Romans. He finished
his message and we continued on to the walled city of Corinth (Korinth)
which was in ruins. As we walked through the ruins, we noticed that the
heads were chopped off of many of the statues due in part to intentional
beheadings, as well as earthquakes, and for souvenirs. Patricia stated,
“Once the heads were off the statues, the body would be re-used by
simply putting someone else’s head on the statue.”
We moved on to
Mycenae Acropolis. Mycenae is a pre-historic citadel built around 1200
BC, on a vast plain that stretched south to the sea with two gates, the
Lion gate and the North gate. The first wall was built around 1350 BC.
We visited Atreus’ Tomb and other tombs there. I climb three-quarters up
to the top and explored a few of them.
Afterward, we went to the Treasure of
Atreus, took pictures. We went to another tomb across from the Treasury.
The inside of this tomb was different. It was round in shape with a dome
at the top that came to a point. The walls were smoky due to the fires
that were used at the time of occupation. Patricia explained some
history about the tombs.
We were getting tired from so much walking and
climbing so most of us were glad to return to the bus.
Soon it was
lunch-time. Assis drove us to the ‘King Menelads Restaurant.’ The
owner’s name was Demetrius. He welcomed us in as we alighted from the
bus and showed us where we were to sit. Each person chose his meal. I
ordered stuffed tomatoes, roasted lamb artichoke hearts, moussaka and an
orange for dessert. The food was extremely delicious, the best I had
eaten at that point.
After lunch we
continued on and stopped at a pottery shop where we watched them make
several jars, bowls and vases. We then went to a silver shop. We saw how
silver was refined. Also the beautiful silver items they crafted. The
prices ranged from moderate to expensive. Several people bought some of
the jewelry. I didn’t buy any jewelry because when I went to the Holy
Land several years before, I bought jewelry for my family and friends.
So, I decided just to buy a souvenir for them this time.
We returned to the bus and continued on
several orange and lemon groves. Many of the trees were burdened down
with fruit. There were times I was tempted to grab a piece of fruit
because they were easy to reach from the bus window because of the
The next city we
visited was Epidarus. We didn’t alight from the bus. Patricia pointed
out the highlights of the city. We arrived back in Athens very late. It
had rained while we were on tour. We went to our rooms. There was much
confusion when we entered our rooms which were very dark. Most of us
went out into the hall trying to figure how to turn the lights on.
Finally one of the ministers came and told us we had to use the door key
to turn the lights on. We were not told this when we checked in to the
hotel, and we found it unusual because we were used to flipping a
Even though it was late, the hotel had
prepared dinner for us in the restaurant. The menu was beef, cabbage,
carrots, peas and a salad bar. I couldn’t eat much because I was still
stuffed from Demetrius’ restaurant. After dinner we retired for the
night. I didn’t sleep well most of the night even though the hour was
late and I was very tired, because there was too much noise in the room
next door. The noise didn’t seem to disturb Gertie, because she went to
We arose early,
dressed, and assembled in the hotel dining room to wait for Bishop to
arrive to bless the food. We were served a delicious buffet breakfast.
Shortly afterwards we started on our tour for the day.
‘Aeropagus’ is the Roman name, was the first place we stopped.
The guide stated that the place was also
called Arios Pagos, meaning ‘from the gods.’ Paul preached the famous
sermon to the ancient Athenians about the unknown God.
I didn’t climb
to the top of this hill because of the antiquated steps. I didn’t feel
comfortable in climbing because you had to climb up backwards in a
sitting position. Some of the men climbed to the top. I settled for the
picture that I asked one of the saints to take of me with the steps in
Hill, on the Acropolis
Click on image for larger view
those who climbed the hill returned, Bishop stated, “We will have a
short service here at the base of the hill. We will start by singing the
hymn, ‘Power in the Blood.’ Minister Teal, will lead us in prayer, then
I will speak from Acts 17:18-19.”
We returned to
the bus and continued on to the Acropolis, the city on the hill. It was
a mountain in my view, not a hill. I was proud of myself for climbing to
the top. It was a breath-taking view as we panned the land-mass. We saw
the Parthenon that had a salient effect among the other structures. It
was very hot on the hill. We entered the Poseidon Temple, and the
museum. I asked Queen to take a picture of Mars Hill with me in the
As I walked around taking more pictures,
a bee tried to attack me at the Propylaea. As I rushed to get a way, I
fell and skinned my knee. I remembered on two previous occasions I was
stung by a bee and had an allergic reaction. I had to go to my doctor’s
office to get shots to heal the swelling. I certainly didn’t want to get
infected in that country.
We soon boarded
the bus to continue the tour. Patricia stated, as she pointed, “This
elegant building is the President’s Palace.” We arrived just in time to
see the changing of the guards. It was a very fascinating sight to
talking, “Coming up is the first Olympic Stadium which was built in
1897, when the Olympics were resumed. But, the ancient Olympics started
in the Seventh Century, BC, and abolished in the Fourth Century, BC.”
approached the Parthenon which was a large stone edifice. Patricia
stated, “The Parthenon was built over 2,500 years ago to house the great
statute ‘Athena,’ goddess of knowledge. Athena means, Virgin Place.
Athena was born from the head of Zeus, symbolizing knowledge and wisdom.
They used marble from the Pentelicus, a quarry several
miles away. It was damaged by stored Turkish gunpowder about 150 years
ago. It is against our laws to pick up any of the fragments or pebbles
We moved on and
saw the Erechtheion a small temple with a porch of maidens (caryalids)
which were women figures made of stone serving as columns. I took a
picture of the temple as we were leaving. We then passed the National
Gardens, formally called the Royal Gardens. Next we saw the market
place, called the ‘Agora.’ There were many women, but just a few men who
appeared to be just hanging around.
explained, “The Agora was the social and political center. The most
important building in the market was the Stoa (Gallery) of Attalos. Now,
it is mostly used as a museum.”
A short walk
down from the Agora is the Byzantine Museum which is famous for the
Christian icons and church art. We didn’t climb
up, but Lycabettos Hill was even higher than the Acropolis and renders a
spectacular view of Athens, Piraeus, and the sea.
stated as she pointed, “That building over there, is the Parliament and
the other one is the tomb of the unknown soldiers. That statue there is
of Lord Bryon and the other one is Melina Mercouri.” The guards were
regaled in white blouses, red caps, multi-pleated mislin kilt, black and
gold embroidered wool jacket, a band around the calf with a tassel
attached, with pomp-pomps on their shoes. They carried a gun held over
their left shoulders.
stated, “Athens has four economies: agriculture, industry, sea trade and
tourism. However, agriculture appears to be declining due to the common
market rules. But, olive oil is still the most important economy and we
claim that ours’ is the best in the world.”
We arrived in
Thessaloniki which is located in the northern area of Greece. The guide
pointed out the magnificent Byzantine Church of Sophia with the finest
architectural works of art where the Apostle Paul preached in the
fourteenth century. It was nominated as the 8th wonder of the
world by many historians. The Christians were well received by the
Byzantine church. It is considered the second city of Greece.
evening we returned to the hotel, enjoyed a delicious turkey dinner
before retiring for the night.
dressed, ate breakfast, and checked out of the hotel. We left Athens by
ship at the Port of Piraeus, which is called MTS World Renaissance, for
a three day cruise on the Aegean Sea.
Kay, and Sis Carter on the ship to
Click on image for larger view
Before we left the dock, they mandated
that everyone take part in the life safety drill. We had to put on the
life jackets that were located in each cabin and meet out on the deck.
Some people were slow to obey the request to take part, but, it was made
plain that they either put on the jackets and take part or get off the
After the drill, we were free to walk
around the ships at our pleasure. Food was very plentiful and everyone
could eat at the food court as often as they wanted to. However, the
menus were changed for lunch and again for dinner.
sailed to ‘Mykonos.’ This was our first stop.
We were given instructions as to what
time to be back on board and an identification tag and told that it was
our responsibility to get back to the ship or be left, because there
would be no guides.
Queen, Kay and I
walked around together. We took pictures and stopped in several shops.
They bought rings at the Golden Sun Jewelers. I didn’t buy anything
because I already had many rings. However, the sales man gave me a ‘Blue
Eye’ stone because I was with them. After awhile, we returned to the
ship. When we boarded the ship, there was another delicious buffet set
up. I saw some dishes that I never seen before. I was not too eager to
try food that I had never eaten before. But after a while, I decided
that as long as it didn’t have snakes or cats in it, I should try some
of the foods. So, I tried a dish that had whole baby octopuses mixed in.
Actually it was very good.
Praise God we
arose to a brand new day. However, I had a headache. Never-the-less, I
was thankful to be alive with my faculties about me, and enjoying my
trip. We arrived in Rhodes at 9:15 am. Shortly after we finished eating
breakfast, we gathered in a quiet place and Bishop conducted a short
service, which consisted of prayer, songs and a sermon taken from
Acts, Chapters 17-21, and he focused on Chapter 12, Verses 1-3.
Our new guide
was Ferzan in Turkey, who guided us from this point until the end of our
pilgrimage. She stated, “In 55-AD, The Apostle Paul had been North, but
then he sailed from Athens to Mykonos and Rhodes. He ministered in
Rhodes and picked up supplies there before he sailed to Patira. In mid
90-AD, John Divine sailed the same region so he had those he could
contact due to Paul’s prior ministry.”
We boarded bus
#2 and forty-five minutes later we were in Lindos, Rhodes which is part
of a string of twelve islands roped along the Turkish coast, on the
Aegean Sea. We left the ship and walked awhile. We viewed the forest and
could smell the scents of pine and fir trees. In the middle of the city
is a medieval town built by the Knights of St. John. Some went to the
top of the Rhodes Acropolis. I only went part of the way. We went to the
village of Lindos and saw a beautiful church. I don’t remember the name.
Most of us
had to go to the restroom. The captions over the restrooms were in
Turkish, but there was a figure of a woman on one side and a man on the
other end. That made it easy to locate the restrooms. A woman was
sitting in the entrance way selling small strip of toilet paper because
paper was not provided inside of the restrooms. This is how she earned
her living. The guide had told us we would be surprised when we went
into the restrooms, but she didn’t tell us what to expect. So, I thought
she was talking about having to pay for toilet paper.
I went into the
second stall because Kay entered the first stall. I wondered why that
first line was so long. I didn’t see a stool, only a hole in the floor
with water running. So I thought it was out of order. I got back
in line and waited for the next one. When I went in, it was minus a
stool as well. Then I was shocked to learn that you were to squat over
the hole and relieve yourself. This was unreal to me. I wondered how my
friend Kay would be able to squat, because she was on the heavy side.
But she was blessed enough to get the first stall that had a standard
toilet, the only one in the restroom. From that day on, we all took some
toilet paper with us when we left our cabins.
We stopped in
some of the shops. I bought my grandson Dylon and I a knee-length tee
shirt because I had never seen knee length tee shirts before. I also
took pictures of the Acropolis in Rhodes, and bought some post cards
with the picture of that beautiful church because they wouldn’t allow us
to take pictures inside of it. While I was standing outside waiting on
the others, a donkey came from behind and butted me. I guess I was in
his path. I wasn’t hurt but it was an experience, and reminded me of the
bee that tried to sting me. Also, I remembered during my first trip to
the Holy land, a man grabbed me. I was told that he was demonized, and
the area was filled with those who were cursed with demons. Three of the
men had to wrestle him down to get him to let go of me.
the bus. A short time later we got off and went into a pottery shop and
watched them make vases and hand paint them. We left the shop and walked
down the street. Ferzan said, “This is the medieval city where St. John
Divine’s palace was located, and where the knights lived. Also, where we
were walking was a portion of the original street. There were 4000
people who still live here in this ancient walled city.”
A short time
later we returned to the ship where a special reception and happy hour
was prepared for us from 6:00 to 6:30. Afterwards, we assembled into the
main dining room for dinner. I selected roast lamb. It was not as tasty
as it was at Demetrius’ restaurant. They also served baby octopuses.
After dinner, we all retired to our
The next morning
we assembled early in the dining room. There was no buffet for
breakfast. We docked at 8:30 on the Isle of Patmos and went ashore. It
was a rocky island on the Aegean Sea between modern Turkey and Greece,
and spread over about 60 square miles. We headed for the cave of Saint
John Devine, (also called the ‘Revelator’). Saint Ann’s church was built
directly in front of the cave. So, we went around behind the church to
We learned that John was not marooned on
the island alone as some folks think, because, the island was used as a
penal colony by the Romans. Many prisoners were held there and were
strongly guarded by the Romans as they were engaged in mining
activities. Many Christians were persecuted there during the eighteen
months John was thought to have been in exile there, from about AD 94 to
96. He was later released and went back to Ephesus, where he died at
approximately the age of 100. He was the only apostle to die a natural
Bishop had a short service in front of
the cave before we entered. We lit candles in the entrance way. Then we
went into the monastery. It was amazingly beautiful. The walls were all
wood that was carved in all kinds of designs and pictures. On the way
out, I asked Queen to snap a picture of me. She didn’t focus well and
all she took was part of me and a good snapshot of a strange woman who
walked in front of her view. I was very disappointed when I returned
home and had the film developed. However, I bought some post cards with
different views of the inside of the monastery, because, again we
couldn’t take pictures.
arrived in Kusadasi, Turkey. We had to get off of the bus and go through
customs. Once we cleared customs, we returned to the bus and Ferzan gave
a little history.
She stated, “The
population here is 500,000. This area is called ‘Asia Minor.”’
We departed from
the bus again when we reached upper Ephesus. We trekked down a long
ancient street. The guide stated,
“This was the ‘main’ street back in
antiquity. Chariots used to come down this road. Notice the columns on
each side of the street and that is the statue of Hercules. Over to the
left is the Library. “
We took a
group picture then, the Bishop conducted a service. He started by
singing, ‘Nothing but the Blood of Jesus,’ followed by ‘All the way to
Calvary.’ He asked one of the ministers to read the scripture, taken
from Acts 18:24-28,
and Chapter 19:1. He said that Apostle Paul and Apollos visited
this area, but St. John was here in a different time period from them.
After his message we continued the tour.
We checked into a new hotel named, Hotel
Mercure. When we entered our room, I noticed that we had to use the key
to turn on the lights again.
When I opened my
eyes and saw the sunlight streaming through, my first thought was, ‘God, you woke me up this morning, and
I’m feeling well, thank you God.’ I looked out of my window and viewed
the Aegean Sea. Our room was on the seafront. I took a picture of the
spectacular sight. The hotel was beautiful. The bathroom had a large tub
and a tiny one as well. I thought that was very interesting. It reminded
me of when I went to Freising, Germany my relatives had two toilet
stools in the bathroom facing each other. I thought that was interesting
We were told to bring all of our
belongings with us because we would not be returning to this hotel. We
assembled for breakfast. The food was not very tasty. Bishop gave a few
instructions. We then boarded the bus.
The streets were
formed from cobble stones, and they were so narrow, the bus could barely
make the turns. The bus pulled up to the market place, we alighted and
walked through a tunnel to the old city of ancient Smyrna now called
‘Izmir.’ The city was in ruins and had been abandoned.
“The inhabitants left the city because of ‘silting’ which meant the
earth was eroding away and was being deposited into the stream.”
We noticed that the women all wore scarves
called, ‘Hijabs,’ on their heads and the men’s heads were bare. I had
read up on some of the culture, but I didn’t remember what was said
about the head coverings. So, I asked Ferzan if the hijabs were
religious, cultural or both.
She stated very coarsely, “Both.”
I felt that she
was offended by the question because of her voice tone.
She continued to speak, “Alexander the Great hung around this
hill that started from the Acropolis and ended in the market place where
we are standing.”
We moved on
past the train station that the British had built. The first buildings
didn’t appear to be antiquated as they had in Athens. However, we did
pass several shanty areas where the buildings were extremely dilapidated
as we moved on.
before we approached the aqueducts, the guide stated, “The Turks who
lived here were nomads, and they slept on the floor in the early 18th
and 19th centuries.”
From where we
were standing, we could see how the city stretched for miles.
Soon it was time for lunch. We stopped at Anadolin
Restaurant. After we were seated, I chose to order, a trout salad, soup
and rice pudding. I had to pay $1.50 in American dollars for a bottle of
water. After lunch we continued our tour.
“Afrudisias is a prelude to Laodicea and goes back to 5000 BC from
Aphrodite the Greek Goddess of Love. We walked over to the square across
from the museum, and opposite the palace where stood a large stature of
a lion in the center. I had a picture of me taken leaning on the statue.
on Palace Grounds of Aphrodite
Click on image for larger view
Ferzan had us
wait while she bought tickets for us to enter an enormous stadium.
It was oval in shape and completely over grown with weeds.
She said, “At
one time this stadium was where the races and javelin tossing, etc, were
held and, three thousand people could assemble here. We walked over to
the temple of Aphrodite which was also in ruins. The Bishops’ palace was
connected to the east of Aphrodite’s palace. Next we visited an
auditorium with a frog pond in front of it. On the side of the wall was
a big bug that was very beautiful. I had never seen a two and a half
inch long bug before. One of the men was about to squash it when the
Bishop told him not to kill it. The bug scurried away. The next stop was
the Temple of Artemus which was very huge.
Bishop conducted a short service here. He took his message from
Revelation 3:1, the Thyatira Church. He stated, “This
church was the end of the churches that were being polluted. They did
everything well, including good things in ‘works’ which included
charity, service, and patience, thinking these works could make things
happen without faith. But, one problem that was against them, they
allowed Jezebel, who called herself a ‘prophetess,’ to teach and seduce
the servants to commit fornication. Never-the-less, they were encouraged
to keep living separated and steadfast lives and continue to look for
This church was
in ruins except for two old walls front and back located on the corner
of the street. Even the fallen rocks were gone. However, there was a
sign indicating that these ruins were the ancient church.
service, a picture of me was taken while I was pointing to the sign.
pointing to the sign in the Ruins of
Click on image for larger view
Then we stopped at Odun Kofte Restaurant
to eat. Afterwards, we re-boarded the bus.
the tour, and stated, “There was a woman named Lydia, who was a seller
of ‘purple’ and the first convert in the region. However, she was
already a believer and worshipped God. She attended to the things that
St. Paul preached.
continued to explain the status of Turkish women. “When the women came
from Asia Minor, they had high status. If their husbands passed away,
the women became the leaders. This was before Islam. But, after they
migrated to lower Iran near the Caspian Sea, they became Moslems. They
began to practice their customs. From that point, rules were changed.
Marriage could occur at any age, and women had no rights if the husband
died. A man could divorce his wife by saying three times, ‘I divorce
you.’ That is why the women always wore their jewelry around their
necks, on their arms or their heads because she would have to walk out
immediately without taking anything. Also, the man could have as many
wives as he wanted. After the Republic, things changed for the better.”
the bus and continued on our way. We approached a wreck which blocked
the road. Actually this was the second wreck we had seen during our
travels. We headed for Pergama.
We arrived and
checked into the Alexander Hotel, (Iskender), at 6:00 p.m. After we were
settled, we were served dinner at 7:15. Shortly after dinner, we retired
to our rooms. There were no radios, televisions or bath tubs. However
there was a very nice shower.
dressed and assembled in the dining room where we were served a scanty
breakfast of celery, two kinds of cold cuts, boiled eggs, jam, and very
strong regular coffee, tea and tang.
we continued on or tour. It was an exceptionally windy, cool and crisp
morning. I was glad to have on my satin, ‘Year of the Redeemed Jackets,’
that the Bishop had asked us to keep with us at all times.
“The word ‘Pergama’ means, ‘Church Married to Satan.’ The name has been
changed to ‘Bergamon.’ It was founded in the 3rd Century, BC.
It was the most powerful kingdom of Western Anatolia during the
Hellenistic period. Parchment is thought to have been invented here. The
steepest Amphitheater was located in the center of the Acropolis at
Pergama. Also the remains of the temple of Athena, and Dionysus were
also here. The Altar of Zeus stood at the entrance of the Acropolis but
was taken to Berlin’s museum. Alexander the Great divided the city into
four parts for his friends.”
The bus stopped
at a point so that those who wanted to could continue to climb up the
mountain. I was proud of myself because I climbed to the top of the
Acropolis. We went onto the Red Hall. The guide stated, “It is called
Red Hall because it was constructed from red bricks. It is the Egyptian
Goddess Isis and others’ Bacillica in about 500-1000 AD which brings us
to the Dark Ages as for as religion goes. And, the printing press opened
the door to the gospel.”
before we left Bergamon at 11:30. I bought another hat and an elephant.
On the way we saw the third accident. We couldn’t tell how serious it
was because the bus driver didn’t stop, but went around the wreck.
Our next stop
was Esenler Restaurant for lunch. The waiters brought out trays of food
to show us what foods from which we could choose. I guess it was their
practice because many of the visitors couldn’t read the menu, so it was
easier to choose from sight. After we finished we returned to the bus.
We rode three hours to the next destination which was Troas (Troy.) I
along with others dozed off.
Ferzan continued to explain the
sights. Those of us who were asleep missed some of the information. But,
I woke up just in time to see the breath-taking white cliffs and what
looked liked carefully shaped basins of water that caught the water that
drips down. The scientist says the hot springs, flowing down rapidly,
loses heat, which makes the waterfalls look like snow or cotton. When
looking afar, the plains looked like covered pools.
As we rode through Pamukkale, Ferzan
stated, “The city is located in the inner Aegean region near Denzli in
Turkey. The limestone layers in the pool form steps, one above the
other. So, the continual flow of water produces the phenomenal effect.
It was said to be nominated as the 8th wonder of the world by
After awhile, we
came to another area. The guide, stated,” According to Acts 15:8 and
Acts 20:12-16, we passed the dock where St. Paul boarded the boat
that took him to Macedonia.
A few blocks up the road we reached Dylan
and saw the ruins of some of the Roman Baths. Two men got off the bus
and walked up the hill to get a better look. Everyone else stayed on the
bus. When they returned, the driver drove us to the city of Canakkale,
Turkey. We stopped at some of the shops before we checked into the Akol
Hotel, on the water front. Some of them bought rugs. I didn’t buy
anything because I had enough small souvenirs to try to bring home. When
we arrived back at the hotel, we ate and I went to my room to relax.
Gertie visited the rooms of some of the other friends of hers. Somehow,
I was exhausted each night, so I rarely went from room to room to visit.
scheduled to spend the full day in Troy. Therefore, we made an early
departure from the hotel to the ancient city. This is where the
legendary Trojan horse story took place according to the Illiad’s of
very emphatically. “The historical account of the people of Troy is
wrong, and the people were not so stupid that they would allow a wooden
horse filled with Greeks to sneak upon them and seize the city. Troy’s
history is buried in myths and mud. Nine levels of the fable cities have
been found. This fable supposedly happened at the sixth level of
uncovered cities. Also, Achillis was shot in the foot and he died. That
is where we get the term, “Achillis Heel” in medicine.
Pictures were taken of the horse.
Horse in background
Click on image for larger view
We boarded the
ferry to Geliobu, Turkey. It took a half hour to reach our destination.
On our arrival we enjoyed a delicious fish dinner, with a mixture of
Spinach, rice onions, small pieces of fresh tomatoes that had been
sautéed in olive oil.
Our next stop
was the Turkish market. I bought two kinds of cookies for less than one
US dollar. They were very delicious. I shared them with those on the
Ferzan wanted us
to taste their popular candy, called ‘Turkish Delight’ made out of
buffalo cream, marshmallows and nuts. It was very tasty, but too sweet
for me. I was quite surprised because in my opinion, she was not over
friendly. She may have been a bit irritated because she had told
everyone not to pick up any of the rocks and broken marble because, it
was against the law. Also, the country planned to restore as many of the
ruins as possible. Yet, she saw someone pick up some of the stones. She
was very knowledgeable of the country’s history and customs. She
mentioned at one point that she had lived in the United States for eight
years and gone to college as well.
We returned to
the bus. Our next stop would be Hierapolis, Istanbul.
Ferzan continued to
explain the history and said, “The city is located between two
Continents. The country was formerly known as Constantinople. The
population is 13 million and is the largest city in Turkey and most of
Europe. The crime rate is very high and there are a lot of drugs and
homeless children. There are 450 Mosques. Also, Hagia St. Sophia Church
is located here. It was built by the Emperor Justinian, in (532-535.)
There are 107 columns, fossil embedded white marble, and beautiful
mosaics. The name means in Turkey, ‘The Church of Divine Wisdom.’ Also,
it was the largest church in Christendom for 1000 years. There was The
Great Plague in 541-543 caused by rats in the fifteenth year of
Justinian’s reign. The plague was renamed, The Black Death.
Constantinople was named ‘Byzantine’ when Constantine transferred the
capital of the empire from Rome.” We arrived in Istanbul at 5:00 Turkish
As we rode through the city,
downtown Istanbul looked a little more cosmopolitan to me than some of
the other cities we had visited. There were many regular shops
especially, leather shops. However, some areas were antiquated to a
arrived and checked in at the Presidential Hotel, which was located on
the English side. It was very elegant inside. There was a golden three
feet planter in the corridor that had been polished to the hilt. After
we all settled in our rooms, we assembled in the dining hall for a
delicious dinner of stuffed Zucchini squash with rice, onions and melted
cheese on top. After dinner, some stayed and talked, but I retired to my
room for some much needed rest.
The next morning we arose once again to get started for our
daily tour. We were served the best breakfast that I had eaten since we
left the ship in Greece. We boarded the bus and were seated. Our site
seeing tour began.
Ferzan stated as
we rode along, “That building is the University of Istanbul. Soon we
will pass under the big Aqueduct and the Spice market. Over to the left
is where the Orient Express used to come to Hippodrome square. The
Hippodrome was built by the people of Constantinople on the coast of the
Black Sea. In the fourth century, it was the former center for the
sports, including the chariots races and political activities. The
Obelisk from Egypt and the Serpentine column from Delphi could be seen.
We alighted from
the bus and crossed the street to the Blue Mosque.
Barbara, in the
foreground, steps of Blue Mosque
Click on image for larger view
It was a spectacular site from the
outside. To enter we had to take off our shoes. There was a plastic bag
to contain them and they were carried to the other side so we could
retrieve them when we departed the Mosque.
The infrastructure was extremely beautiful.
There were rectangular squares on the carpet where the worshippers knelt
to pray. There were beautiful stained glass windows on all three levels
throughout the Mosque. The Cupolo (dome) also had stained glass windows
around the base of it. I really can’t explain the beauty of the
structure, but it was magnificent and spotless.
We then walked
over to St. Sophia, The Church of Divine Wisdom. We climbed the long
winding stairs to the ramp to the dome base. It was very difficult to
climb, but very interesting and well worth viewing the site. Part of it
was under restoration.
When we went
outside, a group of children came over to me. They were very friendly,
and they spoke English. They seemed to be quite fascinated then asked me
if I was an American. I said yes, so they wanted to take a picture with
me. I called one of the men over to snap the picture and several others
came over, so he took a group picture.
Part of group
and children, across from the Blue
Click on image for larger view
We continued on.
Ferzan stated, “Over there are three separate court yards. Soon you will
view the Crowned Prince’s garden called, ‘Golden Road. Following that we
will visit the Queen Mother’s chambers, the Harem of the Concubines and
the sultan’s chambers, and the Treasury of Gold and Precious Stones.
The last most magnificent site we visited was
the Topkapi Palace. There the Throne of Sultan Amed, was enshrined
behind what appeared to be glass. (1603-1617) The splendor of it was
breath-taking as I looked at the Diamonds, Rubies, and other precious
stones that covered it. I had never seen a real throne before. I had a
picture taken of me as close to the glass enclosure as I could get.
Sultan Amed’s Throne, Topkapi-Palace
Click on image for larger view
The last place
we visited was the gigantic Bazaar Center. It appeared to cover a
four-block square outside, and inside was a maze of mini-streets with
the names at the beginning. If you didn’t pay attention, you could
easily get lost. Everything imaginable was displayed there. It was very
tempting to purchase the merchandise, because the items were so cheap.
The problem was to get them to the States. So, I settled for buying my
daughter a Turkish doll to go in her doll collection. I had bought other
souvenirs for my boys and family members. Many of them bought shoes and
bags from the leather shops.
We boarded. This
was the most exhausting day of all. I was completely worn out by the
time we arrived at the hotel. We said farewell to Ferzan, and went into
instructed everyone to pack their things and rest before assembling in
the dining room for our final meal, instructions, and message on the
Pilgrimage. He also asked everyone to dress in their best attire for
Kay, Queen and
I, came down early so we could walk around to see the beautiful hotel’s
interior. I was fascinated by the beautiful golden planter we had seen
on our arrival but, I never took the time to walk over to get a closer
view. We took each other’s picture standing beside it.
Soon, the Bishop came down, and we all
assembled in the dining room. The Bishop began his message by
summarizing our ten day journey.
I had taken
notes all during the Pilgrimage. Therefore, I only took notes on the new
information. He stated, “The Crusaders were Europeans in the 11th
Centuries trying to recover the Holy Land from the Muslims. Saladen,
Sultan of Egypt and Syria was the Muslims leader. Pope of Urban II,
launched the first Crusade.
There were five centuries of Holy
1095-1096, the Peasant’s Crusade
1147-1149, the Second Crusade
1189-1192, the Third Crusade
1202-1204, the Fourth Crusade, Children’s Crusade
1218-1221, the Fifth Crusade
1228-1229, the Sixth Crusade
1248-1254, the Seventh Crusade
He concluded by
saying, “We are scheduled to catch the 6:00 am, flight to Frankfort,
Germany. All bags should be outside your door no later than 2:30 am for
dinner was served. Some sat around and talked, and some went to their
rooms to pack and retire for the night.
and Queen, last night celebration
Click on image for larger view
We arose at 1:45
am, and put our bags out for pick-up. We later gathered for breakfast.
Bishop started with a short prayer and individual Testimony service.
Several people rose and testified about how thankful they were to be
blessed to make the pilgrimage and thanked the Bishop for planning the
trip. After each person had their chance to testify, Bishop James arose
and said, “I thank everyone for travelling with us, and if there were
any mistakes, take them all in love. He said a final prayer. We then
left for the airport for our flight to New York.
For what seemed
like forever, we finally reached Kennedy Airport. Here, we all said
farewell to each other. Then, we went to the different gates to wait for
the flights that would take us to our different homes. Once we arrived
at Kennedy Airport, I had to wait alone almost all day for my flight to
Boston at 5:30 pm. USA time. Gertie and Kay were scheduled on an earlier
flight to Boston.
But, to God be the Glory for the good
things He has done. I arrived home safe.
This was the
most inspiring trip, second only to my two trips to the Holy Land, the
first time on 1988, and the second time in 1993.
Note; I was not
able to take pictures of all of the sites I visited, but I bought as many post
card pictures as I could.
Dr S. D. James
(Bishop), on the Mountain in Corinth
Click on image for larger view
Click on image for larger view