Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Journey on the Riviera

There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus” -Gal. 3:28

A few weeks ago, I wrote in my journal, “Jeanie and I are 36,000 feet up in the air right now! The outside temperature is 72 degrees below zero and we’re going 564 miles per hour! At the end of this journey, we will have traveled 5600 miles.”  


After a flight across the Atlantic, we started our trip in Barcelona, Girona, and the Costa Brava area in Spain. Jeanie + Europe + great leadership + great food + safety= one of the best trips I’ve ever been on. We went to Marseille and Nice in France and Monte Carlo, Monaco. We next toured Genoa, Cinque Terre and Portofino, then Florence and the Tuscan Countryside in Italy.  We finished the trip in Rome. Oh my- it was a wonderful trip with Jeanie.


It was such a blessing seeing the Riviera in Spain, France, Italy, and Monaco. We were on a tour with twenty other people, many of them personal friends and headed up by one of my best friends, Elizabeth Simmons. We’ve been friends since fourth grade! She and Mara did a wonderful job guiding us and leading us. They are with Collette and GoGo Travel. It would be safe to say that our trip exceeded our expectations.


We had a long flight but it was such a joy to get to explore this famous region of Europe. The trip was a perfect balance of sightseeing and travel and having time to soak in multiple cultures that make up Europe. We traveled in a nice touring bus all over the Riviera and stayed in wonderful hotels. And we ate, ate, and ate some more wonderful food! 


Unlike the United States, Europe is a tight, crowded collection of cultures, still figuring out how to live together. We journeyed through many countries and even though the cultures were different and unique, all were looking for peace, contentment, and safety. Of course, Americans are looking for the same. Most all world travelers agree that, though the languages and cultures are so different, deep down we’re all pretty much the same. 


The role of the church throughout the generations was apparent. In Barcelona we went to Sagrada Familia, we went to the Vatican in Rome, a monastery in France and checked out several other basilicas as we traveled. Again, the cultures all handle “religion” in different ways, but the true God is the same in Branson, Missouri as He is in Rome, Italy. By sending His Son Jesus to die on that cross that we might be able to connect with Him, Yahweh God made a way for us all to have a relationship with Him. 


Mankind has exercised his ability to take the simple and mess it up. That reality shows up in the church in Italy and the church in Missouri. The equation should be “God plus nothing” but we prefer “God plus something (fame, money, etc.). We figure, why not add something to the equation (just in case). God says “have no other gods”…but we’re stubborn. So the “health” of Europe (and North America) shows up in mankind’s attempt to “add” or “not to add” to God. Whether a simple Bible church in a small town or a huge, beautiful basilica in Europe, what’s most important is a personal relationship with God. That is what matters! 


Two weeks after we arrived, we made our way back to Dallas and eventually back to the the Ozarks. It is so good to be home, but so sweet to have experienced the Riviera and to have toured with twenty good friends. It’s good to call the USA home and good to know that the God of Europe is the God of America. May we all choose to stay living in Him, no matter where we live.


By Eric Joseph Staples ©



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