In the continuation of this trip, there was just one more mishap. This one was fit for an episode of Rowan Atkinson’s Mr. Bean. I had parked the van in a commercial parking garage that evening. When I came out to retrieve the van the next day, we were unable to find a way to pay for the parking and get a validated ticket that would get us out the exit in the proper way. After several minutes of looking for a pay machine or an attendant, which we could not find, we figured out that we were stuck. There was no way to validate the ticket that we could discern, and there was no sign explaining how to do so, and no one was around to ask for help, if we could even figure out what to say in French to explain our dilemma. So, with my father-in-law as an accomplice, we watched a couple of cars driving into the entrance where the automatic-gate-arm would lift as they punched a button on the machine there. We figured out that there was nothing to prevent one from going out the same way, so long as the gate-arm was lifted by a mere press of a button by one person at the machine, while the driver (me) positioned the getaway vehicle immediately in front of the gate-arm awaiting the precise moment. So we successfully executed our diabolical plan, driving the wrong way out the entrance and were thus able to continue our journey across France, although now we were dangerous outlaws who didn’t pay their parking fees. We saw a few more sites on this trip before going back to our home in the Stuttgart area of Germany where I was stationed, our last stop being Geneva, Switzerland, where we visited the United Nations offices.
We took numerous other trips to France, Switzerland, Austria, the Netherlands, and Belgium. Then there were a couple of package tours we took to Great Britain and Israel before I got orders taking us back to the States. Then, after a few different stationings in the States, I was able to wrangle one more tour to Germany. This time, we were stationed in the Heidelberg area, and this time, we had four children. We went back to a lot of the same places so that the children could experience those wonderful places. And, this time, we added trips deeper into Italy, to Venice, Pisa, and Rome, and trips to Eastern Europe to Poland and the Czech Republic. Then, perhaps our favorite trip was one through Scandinavia, including a very memorable drive across the highlands and fjords of Norway where we saw some of the most stunning scenery we’d ever seen, and the children got to play in the snow at one of our stops, even though it was May. The snow pack in that part of Norway was so deep that I assume it took the good part of the summer to all melt down if all of it ever completely melted down. After driving across the country, we arrived in the picturesque town of Bergen on the coast where we took a ferry back down to Denmark, then drove home to our house in Heidelberg. It was a little early in the year for the midnight sun, but we did see the sun shining at 1100 in the evening as our ferry pulled out of Bergen.
Travel has given us some of the most wonderful memories that we have, and it has broadened our minds by experiencing so many other cultures and meeting people all across this world made by our loving Creator. Once you travel to see so many wonderful places and meet so many interesting people, you get a greater appreciation for just how creative God is. You can’t help but arrive at the conclusion that God must love us a great deal. He could have made the world much more plainly, but He didn’t. He made the planet with so many different types of geography and a multitude of different plants and animals and so many interesting things to eat, so that His crowning creation, mankind, could be inspired and could enjoy life, and most of all, so that people could realize what a great and amazing God He is and how greatly He loves us. In Romans 1, we are told: “19 because what may be known of God is manifest in them [the world of creation], for God has shown it to them. 20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse.” God has made nature so that it speaks of Him every time we look at all the beauty and complexity of Nature, so that even people in the most remote and inaccessible corners of the Earth can know that there is a God. Then it is up to them whether they will acknowledge Him, because God always gives us a choice whether to seek Him out and follow Him or to seek our own way and our own gods.
I pray this day that you will all experience the tremendously loving Creator who loves you more than anyone else will ever love you and even loves you more than you can love yourself. And I pray that you will come to a covenant relationship through His son Jesus or that you will experience a deeper relationship with Him if you already have accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior.