The majority of you will probably sigh and say, “I don’t believe you! How could you?” But I’ve been to Hawaii 6 times, and never stayed longer than 6 hours! (I’ve been to Australia once and New Zealand twice. Going and coming I was routed through Hawaii, with 4-6 hr layovers.) Now as I look back I think, “Yeah, maybe I should have stopped over, just because.” But at the time I was a young naïve girl traveling thousands of miles and just wanted to reach my destination. I’d had enough adventures that I was leery of trying to do something on my own when I was in the midst of jet lag. Since I was an American, I could leave the airport, so did wander around outside and there were beautiful palm trees, etc.
However, I have never been the type of person to want to go to the extreme touristy and crowded places, so Hawaii was never a big deal for me to go see. Plus my first experience with it was horrible. I had left home with a terrible head cold, and believe me; you do NOT want to fly with a cold if at all possible. I already had very sensitive ears and balance issues. Put the pressure of going up several thousand feet with the pressure of one’s sinuses under attack – it is sheer misery. By the time we were landing in Honolulu I was doubled over with pain and crying. I thought I was going to burst an eardrum. So I spent my time trying to track down a pharmacist that would give me something to help – which was difficult since I couldn’t hear a thing except as if it came through a gurgling long hollow tunnel – that time in Hawaii does not have fond memories! (Actually I’m sitting here rubbing my ear just writing about it!)
On the return flight, it was a much better experience. That’s when I did leave the airport to wander around a bit. But again, to me it was just a city. If I’d gone on to stay elsewhere, maybe I’d have liked it better. I did wish I could go to Pearl Harbour – but that takes much longer than I had layover time. The Hawaiian music is certainly one thing that I do enjoy. There is some interesting history to the islands; if you’ve never heard Aloha’ Oe, you should. This is now known as Queen Liliuokalani’s farewell song, although she wrote it before her imprisonment. The pathos permeates through the music. They have such a beautiful language, and the music can really speak to your soul.
So I guess I’m not the best person to entice you to go to Hawaii. If someone offered me a free trip over, I’d take it, but it’s not a high priority for me. You have to love sun, beach, sand, crowds – especially if you go at certain times of the year. But again, just remember, as I talk about places – they are so vast and varied that I can only scratch a tip of what can all be in a state or province. So don’t let me discourage you if it’s on your bucket list. As Psalms 92:12 says, “The righteous shall flourish like the palm tree…” there is much beauty to be seen on these islands, and if you like palm trees – you’ll get a good view of them there!”
Please remember as you travel this continent with me, that I did not promise you all the grandeur of the highlighted tourist spots – but the things that were most memorable to me. Soooo -
Ex 8:21 “Else, if thou wilt not let my people go, behold I will send swarms of flies upon thee, and upon thy servants, and upon thy people, and into thy houses…”
What on earth can that verse have to do with the NWT you may think. This is a quote from the Old Testament times when Pharaoh refused to let the Israelites go into the wilderness. Well, my father led us into the wilderness of the Northwest Territories as far as Hay River and Fort Providence. We arrived on a weekend, and with some uncanny instinct, my pastor father found a church family in the midst of getting supplies and we were invited to their home and their Sunday service. When we arrived at their home, I whispered to my mom, “Isn’t that weird? Why do they have fly swatters hanging beside their outside door?” The woman overheard and laughed. “You’ll find out when dusk arrives.”
Time passed and the sun finally started sinking (which takes a long time in June!) At the same time we started to hear a humming. What is that? I thought. I looked out her window and saw a black cloud moving in. But then I realized the black cloud was making that noise. I glanced at our hostess and she smiled kindly. “Now is the reason for the flyswatters. We literally get swarms of mosquitos.” Within moments their entire door had turned black as the swarms clung to the screens trying to get into the lit room. To be able to go in and out of the door, we had to grab a flyswatter, wildly thrash it back and forth and slip through the screen door as fast as possible. But oodles of them still slid in. With my issues with mosquitos I was in torment. I thought MB was bad for mosquitos – they are toddlers compared to those lean green fighting machines up in NWT!
The church was having a baptism which Dad was excited to attend. I dreaded it as it was an evening service. I was bitten so badly by the horde of mosquitos by then I looked like one of those bumpity lopsided squashes. However, when we got out of the van at the river there was a strong breeze blowing. After standing a few minutes I turned to my sister. “Wow, we aren’t being bitten! How nice.” She shivered and scowled. “Nope, just freezing instead.”
Having been invited to park in these friendly people’s yard for the night, we returned there. Our van, as we quickly discovered was NOT mosquito proof. After an hour of misery, Dad started up the van and we returned to park by the river and the breeze blew them away. Of course, the breeze also blew in 7 degree C temps, which my warmth-loving sister despised. I sneezed. “Stop!” she yelled. “What’s wrong?” I inquired. “Your snot spray is going to freeze in the air, then it’ll fall all over me if it ever warms up.” (Like I said, momentous moments, not glamorous!)
As we left to continue our travels, Dad asked what we’d learned from our time there. I thought a moment, “If God had sent mosquitos instead of flies to Pharaoh back in the book of Exodus, I think he might have capitulated even faster.”
My travel Blog!
As I start a new year of blogs, what I write might be totally different from what you have seen or read in your travels. That’s why it’s interesting to hear others’ stories. A person can go to the same place, and see very different things. It also is a bit overwhelming to try and write a short blog about each place in North America. Every state and province can be very different depending what area you go to. My family didn’t hit much of the tourist stuff; we tended to go off the beaten track, so bear with me if my stories bear no resemblance to yours!
I’m going to begin in the northwest, and each week move southeast. I hope you enjoy what I’ve seen.
Let’s start at the Arctic Circle Line. My favorite memory of the six weeks we trundled around Alaska in our good ol’ raised roof van was Chicken, Alaska. It’s a tiny village of only 12 members anymore, but it had its moment of fame when gold was discovered there in 1896. We came into it via the “Top of the World Highway” which is an adventure in itself. It was a gravel, pot holey, no-shoulder road that gave me the shivers when I was slowly driving it during my turn at the wheel. However, I had read the book, “Tisha” so had a burning desire to actually get to this remote place where a young, 19-year-old teacher had her first teaching experience back in 1927. By the time we’d bumped and chugged our way into that neck of the bush, I had to admit that woman definitely had more courage than I. I started teaching at 18, in the bush in Minnesota, but nothing like the remoteness of this area. I don’t think I could have done it.
However, I really enjoyed our summer overnight stay there. A genuine elderly sourdough (experienced gold miner) hermit happened to come down to the river where I was trying to pan for gold and showed me a few tricks of the trade. (I later found out a journalist had been trying to track him down for his story and couldn’t get near him, so I was blessed he spoke to me!) He laughed when I said teaching was easier than panning for gold and told me I was smart to realize when I was well-off instead of straining for the pot of gold at the rainbow’s end.
As I curled up in my flannel pajamas (in July!) and lay in my tent that night listening to the gurgling of the river beside me, I was happy that I was in Alaska, seeing God’s amazing beauty. Ps 139:7-8 was a bit of a theme verse during that time, because we spent hours and days traveling without seeing another soul. David says, “where shall I flee from thy presence …” whether ascending to heaven or descending to hell there was no way to escape from God’s presence. The distances in our northern areas can seem intensely remote – but God has no border He can’t cross. How comforting that can be when one is feeling lonely!
Have you ever been to Alaska, or remote areas? What did you think? Do you love the stillness, or does it make you edgy to have no people around? Drop and line and let me know!
See you next week as we stay in the north but move eastward!
Jer. 33:3 – Call unto me and I will answer thee, and shewest thee great and mighty things which thou knowest not.
Sun Dec 31, 2023 – the end of a year. As we stand on the precipice of another year, this is a wonderful verse with which to end. We don’t know what the future holds, but God does. We simply need to call out to Him to lead and guide us. He does answer; but He doesn’t always say “yes”, so that can be a scary thing. Looking back over the year I can see areas that have changed and stretched me; looking forward can be uncertain. So it’s wonderful to know God has the future and nothing I face in 2024 will be a surprise to Him.
As I looked at the picture of the calendar year I hung on my wall, I wondered, “What will I be thinking next year at this exact moment? Will I be happy with what I accomplished; satisfied that I have done my best for my God and my country and my neighbours? Will I even be here at this point next year?” Whether you make New Year’s Resolutions and keep or break them, having a New Year is a good time to reflect a bit. The golden oldie by Robert Burns “Auld Lang Syne” has wrapped it up; don’t forget the good times, the good memories. But don’t stay stuck in the past, either. A new year dawns, and it’s time to forge ahead and see what God has in store when we call upon Him.
It was a delight and a challenge and a commitment to write these Scripture thoughts each week. I hope they have been of value to you. I wasn’t sure whether to continue to write or not; 2022 I did a recipe a week, 2023 a Scripture reference a week, and wasn’t sure if I should do a weekly blog for 2024. So I asked, and have heard from some of you, and Lord willing, will plan to try another year.
Join me each week and we’ll travel around North America in 2024! God bless you as you serve Him in the new year.
February 26, 2021
What a week! As a teacher on a Hutterite colony for grade 5-12, life is non-stop from 9:00-3:30. This coming Friday is the end of quarter, so report cards will be due. So that always makes one extra busy.
But I had 2 highlights in this week.
The first: I came home and stumbled over something on my step. When I picked it up and entered, I found out I was holding MY copy of my book! I felt like a mother receiving her first child. The awe and wonder of holding something I'd created and labored over for - yes, about nine months- well, that is quite the feeling.
The second: Last night the doorbell rang. I answered and a man stood there with a floral arrangement. I was sure he'd come to the wrong house, but he had the right name. Imagine my amazement when I saw that friends from the States had arranged these lovely roses to be delivered to celebrate this milestone in my life. In today's Covid restrictions, such a thoughtful, kind gesture means SO much! I never get flowers, so I'm still just smiling over it.