Day One: You just have a pleasant face.
By Nathanael Carroll
May 9, 2018 was a pretty awesome, long, exhausting, flabbergastedly tiring day and gorgeous. It honestly felt like two or three days smashed into one. Here’s the rundown:
We started off yesterday morning meeting together with a group of folks in Mobile, praying over the trip and the people with whom we would be interacting (both each other and those around us). We then flew out of Mobile at around eleven o’clock headed towards Charlotte. Long layover in Charlotte, then just a hop, skip, and jump over to Rome, where we arrived at 9:30 this morning.
Not wanting to waste a day, we headed by train and foot to the hostel and dropped off our luggage and then headed out, enjoying some local cuisine, the Colosseum, and the ruins of Ancient Rome. Today was a situating day, growing accustomed to the new surroundings and letting things become real in our minds. Along with all of the new sights, smells, and people like our host at the hostel (who is absolutely amazing, by the way), came an extensive amount of jet lag. With that in mind, we did press through, no naps.
The best part of the day honestly was at Palatine Hill, one of the famous seven. After pressing on and on while exhausted, we sat down under some massive cypress trees and just rested. Birds sang, the breeze blew gently, and clouds passed overhead as we laid in the shade. A much needed respite from a day of traveling and going.
All in all, we are only one day in, but we are already starting to enjoy ourselves as the rain pours outside our open window. If you read this and think about us, pray for those we will encounter as the trip progresses, for boldness within us, and for rest amongst our team. Sola Gloria.
Day Two: “Coca Cola American Champagne”
By Tyler Crane
Hello from Roma!
Our first full day in Europe has been amazing even though the day we got in felt like a full day and it was!! Today, we decided to sleep in a bit (much needed). We started our day with some Italian breakfast or at least it was breakfast in Italy, basically doughnuts they were great! We then made our way to the Pantheon we also stopped at several smaller churches along the way, the pantheon was so beautiful and HUGE! We then made our way to the Trevi Fountain which is or course beautiful, I told my team we need to come back at night! From there we made our way to the Spanish steps we sat for a while talked about life ate lunch which was harder than you might think because apparently you aren’t supposed to eat on the steps (whoops). About 5pm we made our way back to our hostel for a quick regroup and rest while at the hostel we met a couple from Canada, and then back out to catch the Trevi Fountain after the sunset, and of course GIOLITTI’s!! A full day is a great day.
Day Three: So. Many. Steps. In. Rome
By Anna Claire Harris
Today started relatively early as we traveled to the Vatican City. The vastness of St. Peter’s Basilicawas unbelievably overwhelming. Beauty could be found in even the smallest details when it comes to the architecture.
We decided to pay 8 euros to climb the 551 steps to the top of the dome. You’re probably asking yourself, “why would you pay to climb that many stairs?” But man, was it worth it!!! Let’s not forget to mention that we also had to climb back down that 551 steps.
So with our jello like legs, we strolled over to the Vatican Museum. After swimming through seas of tour groups, we finally arrived at the Sistine Chapel. Pictures just can’t do it justice, I promise you that.
Lunch was most definitely my favorite part of today. We found a supermarket outside of the the touristy areas, where we bought ingredients to make sandwiches. We sat in the middle of a small children’s carnival/arcade, and just talked for an hour or so.
We are currently sitting in the courtyard of our hostel here in Rome, while a kind French man is playing his ukulele and singing.
We are all looking forward to the cities ahead, and praying for future conversations. Please join us in praying!
So until next time...stay golden pony boy.
Day Four: The Fairhope of Florence
By: Hannah Holland
Today was our first travel day as we left Rome and arrived in Florence this morning. Our train ride wasn’t too long and the sights were gorgeous! On our walk to our hostel this morning, we noticed we were already favoriting the stillness Florence had to offer. Our hostel is in a quieter part of town called Tasso; people smile at us as we pass, and it’s not as touristy. We quickly nicknamed this part of town we are in as “The Fairhope of Florence.”
We grabbed some lunch and picnicked at a children’s playground, of course (it seems to be our thing). Then we walked around town to see gorgeous sights and look around at the famous leather market. Tonight Tyler made us a yummy dinner that we enjoyed in our cute kitchen here in the hostel. After dinner we chatted on how we feel the trip is going so far and are praying for intentionality and more opportunities to just meet people and love them like Jesus. We ended the night with prayers answered and stayed up late chatting about anything and everything, including the gospel, with 3 other Americans we met here. Prayers that doors continue to open, and that we boldly love our fellow team members as well as those that surround us.
Day Five: Engaging Florence
By Lauren Story
Day two in Florence started at a slower pace than most days we’ve had so far. We “slept in” till 9:30, hanging in the hostel until lunch time. Let me tell y’all...Gusta Pizza is where it’s at in Florence; absolutely delicious. We devoured our pizza and made our way over to the Duomo. The architecture of Italy still amazes me in every basilica we explore.
After the Duomo we headed to the Galleria de’ Accademia to see the statues and paintings. As I rounded the corner from the first section of the museum, The Statue of David stood 17 feet tall. It automatically took my breath away when I saw it. Beauty can be seen in even the smallest of details. It is easy to see why this statue is priceless. We grabbed some dinner from a market down the street, and made our way out to the Piazzale Michelangelo.
We thought we were done with steps in Rome, but alas...we trekked up 20 flights of stairs to summit the overlook to watch the sunset. While we were waiting on the sun to set, a couple from West Virginia got engaged on the main deck of the overlook. Everyone applauded, and Anna Claire immediately started encouraging Hannah to go take some pictures for them (Hannah is a photographer for those who don’t know). After about 30 minutes, Hannah got up and went and asked the couple if she could take pictures for them. The woman was elated when Hannah explained that she was a photographer and could send them pictures of their special moment. It was a beautiful scene to experience in the most beautiful spot in Florence. After Hannah took a few pictures, we hiked back down the hill and made our way back to the hostel for the night.
I have been encouraged in Florence. I prayed throughout Rome, and on the way here that God would put people in our path that were obvious. He delivered, without a doubt. I continue to pray and ask you join me in praying that God will continue to put people in our path(s), and that we realize that we are not in charge of what is happening. The Holy Spirit is here to lead us, and we are here to simply show His love and speak His truth.
10:4 Over and Out
Day Six: Is that a comfort colors?
By Nathanael C. Carroll
Today, we jumped on the road again, this time headed to Zermatt, Switzerland. Train after train, the ride just grew more beautiful. Florence to Milan, Milan to Brig, Brig to Zermatt.
Zermatt is a small mountain town at the base of the Matterhorn, absolutely beautiful and my favorite part— cool weather (30s-50s).
Keeping this short, so yeah, we traveled, arrived, and settled in. Good rest on the way and a lot of Rummy in the hostel while we relaxed and just enjoyed the scenery. We were sitting in the hostel earlier tonight, and a random guy walks in and says, “Is that a comfort colors pocket tee? You’ve got to be from Alabama.” Turns out it was a guy from Fairhope and his friend from Birmingham, both in school (Auburn and Alabama), who had just got into town as well. Hung out with them for a bit and made plans for tomorrow. Looking forward to some hiking and conversation.
As the night went on, a couple of us stayed downstairs and talked for a couple of hours, discussing life and encouraging each other about our lives back home. It was amazing.
The longer I’m on this trip, the better it gets. Can’t wait to see how this team continues to grow together and reach out. God’s pretty awesome; every once in a while, he sends some folks from Alabama to Switzerland just to meet some other folks from Alabama. Gotta love him. Sola Deo Gloria.
Day Seven: 10 mile hike no problem
By Tyler Crane
Hello from Zermatt, it’s Tyler again!!
God is truly good, this stop he has provided some awesome friends to tag along with us! Michael (From Fairhope) and Henry (Birmingham, AL), both college students in Alabama. They are traveling together for about the same amount of time we are! If you read Nate’s blog from yesterday you might remember him mentioning how we met these guys, we last night we asked them if they wanted to do stuff with us the next day, fast forward to this morning. We met up with the guys at breakfast and all decided that a hike was on the agenda! Swiss alps hike, not a big deal or anything, right? So we make our way toward the information center to see what trails are open because there is still snow blocking lots of the lower mountain. We figure out that we do have a hike that we can take; the I’m sure very knowledgeable Swiss lady told us, “This hike is very easy, should only take 3-4 hours.” So I’m thinking in my head “Oh cool all the crazy elevation hikes are covered in snow.” Well 4 hours and 10 miles later we finished. So needless to say my eyes are barely open while writing this post!
Throughout the day I tried to find moments that would demonstrate God’s glory. It was truly hard not to. If you have ever seen the Matterhorn or if you know how to google something, it is truly breathtaking. Our environment was amazing but the thing I found more interesting was my team’s willingness to set aside our agenda for people we literally just met. I’m truly proud of them and how they are representing the Gospel!
Day Eight: Anna Claire, slow down.
By Anna Claire Harris
Today consisted of cards, food, genuine conversation, and rest. As our time in Zermatt comes to an end, I find myself rejuvenated.
If you know me at all, then you know it’s hard for me to slow down, be still, and rest (both mentally and physically). This is something I’ve struggled with a lot throughout this season of my life. I often find myself lost in a whirlwind of overthinking, worrying, and of course...the anxiety that ensues. But I’ve been reminded lately that when I rely on my own strength, I fail. Just as the physical body needs rest to function properly, so does the spirit.
I’ve had different moments of realization throughout our trip so far, but yesterday hit me the hardest. As we were hiking through the Swiss alps, the beauty of God’s creation seemed to engulf me. While staring up at the Matterhorn (4,478 m tall), I asked myself this question “How and why would the creator of the universe want to use me for his glory?”
I don’t have an answer to that, and that’s okay. The mystery of the gospel is that I have nothing at all good in me, BUT despite all of my inadequacies, failures, and repetitive disobedience...Christ’s relentless love for me doesn’t waver.
I love the way A.W. Tozer puts it, “God loves you not because you are worthy, but because he is God and you are a fixture in his mind.”
As I look around this table, I see the Lord at work in my team. I’ve seen him use our different personalities and gifts to love on others and speak out the hope found within the gospel. I know that God created us for relationships, and these are four that I value greatly.
Short explanation on the title:
I walk fast, even if I’m on a leisurely walk. Since we’ve been in Europe, Tyler continuously asks me why I walk so fast. I’m not sure what it is, but I’ll put the blame on the fact that I grew up with two older brothers (everything was a race). I’m learning to slow down and enjoy the journey, but it’s a process!
Day Nine: Fully Embracing
By: Hannah Holland
This morning we left the gorgeous sights of Switzerland headed to Austria (approximately a 10 hour travel day).
On our way down to the train station, we were able to see our last clear view of the Matterhorn since being there. Being in such a gorgeous place and enjoying rest has sparked a lot in my heart these past few days. I honestly could not put into words or even show you photographs to give Switzerland (or our train ride views) justice. You have to see it for yourself.
Fully embracing the beauty of the green grass and snowy mountains, listening to the water rush over the stones of the river, being chilled by the cold fresh air, and feeling the adrenaline of hiking through the Alps.
What a fresh reminder of what my relationship with Christ should look. Fully present, embracing who he is, and being renewed through scripture daily. Feeling joy that only he can supply, feeling the Spirit move in and through me, or knowing his overwhelming grace and power. These are all only obtainable through growing in a relationship with him.
Hearing about God, and/or seeing him move in the lives of those around me can not refuel me. Yes, it can encourage me, but I am not being filled unless it is from the only one who can do so. When I fully embrace him, and am personally walking with Him daily, that is when I see him the clearest. So here is to focusing on his will above mine.
With that being said, my team and I are learning a lot, and I am thrilled for what is to come as we settle into our hostel here in Salzburg!
Side note: The Lord has blessed us in different ways today, including unexpectedly seeing Team Abbie in Munich! We leave Zermatt feeling refreshed, but nothing like seeing friends from home to brighten up this rainy day.
Day 10: Story Time
By Lauren Story
Today was the day that I finally began to realize what this trip is all about. On the train from Zermatt yesterday I listened to a sermon by Matt Chandler. In his sermon he was talking about how we all have minutes here and there that we can spend in prayer and intentionality. So I was getting ready for the day, praying that God would put someone in our path in Salzburg. While praying in the bathroom this thought was put in my head “Lauren, why do you not do this everyday?”. It made me 1) mad at myself for just now realizing that I could be doing so much more 2) realize how easy it is to go into conversation with a Gospel mindset and 3) reminded me how gracious our God is for loving me even though I can be so dense.
So, with all that said we’ve had a full day in Salzburg that I won’t go too much into detail with. As a team we went to the Salzburg Zoo and saved a kid from being left by his preschool, which was interesting. We went to the Mirabell Gardens, Mozart’s Birthplace, took a boat ride down the river, took a tram up to the fortress, saw the gorgeous views of Salzburg, all while singing songs from The Sound of Music.
Please continue to pray for Anna Claire, Hannah, Nate, Tyler, and I. We are halfway through our trip now which is mind blowing. Time has gone by so quickly, I’m scared I’m going to miss it all. Pray for energy, conversations, openness, Christ-like love, and boldness.
Day11: It’s really rare, but...
By Nathanael Carroll
It’s been a fun few days in Salzburg, home of the Sound of Music, and more interestingly (for me at least), the birthplace of Mozart. From seeing the fortress, catacombs, and literal birthplace/ house of Mozart’s roots to watching soccer and drinking Red Bull in its country of origin, it’s been a pretty cool weekend.
The team is doing well tonight after a full day yesterday and more relaxed day today. Last night, we sat down and had a good discussion on highs and lows so far in the trip, being open with one another about frustrations, worries, and joys as well. It’s been an amazing trip, but not free from its issues. It’s really rare to find a group of people like this brother and these sisters that can push through some family-style stress and love each other well. Continuously thankful for their hearts and God’s work on this trip.
Speaking of God’s work on this trip, I’ve been challenged continuously to depend on Him more, to seek patience, unity, and joy no matter the circumstance, then sit back and watch Him work. After reading John 17 this morning, I was reminded of Christ’s sacrifice on our behalf, that we may have joy fulfilled, that we may have eternal life in knowing the Father, that we may be one with him and each other. So no matter what the next week or so holds, I know God is in control, that He’s got this, and that the love we have in him binds us together in ways that cannot be broken. I pray we rest in Him and not ourselves and that we would continue to care for others as we travel, pointing them to Christ, including one another. I’d say it’s pretty rare to have that mindset consistently, at least for me; I pray it becomes a beautiful commonplace. Soli Deo Gloria.
Day 12: The Wall
By Tyler Crane
In my experience every group, organization, team, or even friend group hits a wall. A wall that will define them from then on, our wall was in Salzburg. I know you were thinking that this post was going to be about Berlin... well I’m sorry. What do I mean the wall? It’s some sort of frustration that the group feels and how you deal with it will define the team. Jump to the end this team pushed through this wall! I’m so proud of them for airing out their differences, those being small and large. Our first day in Salzburg after the day was done. We had a very real conversation, it was nice to be honest with one another about our experience so far.
Today we arrived in Munich I’m looking forward to experience the city with a more honest and relaxed team! We went to Dachau Concentration Camp today, obviously it was a heavy trip that makes the team work through emotions. Follow the trip we had good conversations about it tough time in history. Our prayer has been that through out the entire trip we are put into positions that we have the opportunity to get to know these people traveling and searching for something and act on that and give them what they are looking for, the Gospel!
Day 13: Neuschwanstein!!!
By Anna Harris
So if you’ve seen any Disney movie ever, then you’ve seen an outline of this magnificent castle. It is nestled in the mountains of the German countryside; right outside the little town of Füssen.
As a team we debated for at least a solid 30 minutes in Salzburg on whether or not to visit the castle. Man oh man were we satisfied with our decision!!
We made a new friend named Sarah in our hostel last night!! She’s originally from Texas, but currently lives in DC working for a nonprofit organization. After conversation, we found out that she was planning to visit the castle as well, and she tagged along with us.
As we approached the trail to the castle, it was obvious to see how in awe everyone around me was. Thousands of people, so many backgrounds and stories, all gathered to admire this beautiful castle.
I thought about Matthew 5, when Jesus is giving the sermon on the mount. In verse 14 he says, “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden” (ESV).
This sparked a chain of thoughts in my head, including:
Am I set apart? Do my words and actions reflect Christ? Am I being a city set on a hill? Am I being all that he’s created me to be? Am I giving all the glory to God?
With that being said, yesterday and today have both been days of realization for me when it comes to my personal walk with Christ.
Please continue to pray for Nate, Lauren, Hannah, Tyler, and I as we finish out this last week of our trip. Pray that the Lord will use us in any way that he see’s fit. #forHisglory
Day 14: Munich, Germany
By: Hannah Holland
The team and I are officially starting our last week of travel today. Let’s just say, we don’t want to even begin to think about it. We are having way too much fun! Today was no different.
We had our two new friends, Sarah and Mark, join us today. First, we hit the English Gardens (900+ acres!) where we threw the frisbee around in the park. Marien Platz market area was next, and then off to the Glockenspiel to enjoy the ringing of the bells and dancing of marionettes, while enjoying a latte and dessert.
The day ended with a quick run to some Munich made ice cream!
Being the relationship builders that we are, the team and I have enjoyed getting to build relationships with people we meet and the conversations that are shared. I’m so grateful for the way the Lord is teaching me things through many different experiences and through this team.
I’ve been keeping one of my favorite verses on my heart, “But be doers of the word and not hearers only” James 1:22 This verse has been lived out by my team so well these past few weeks, and I’m overjoyed to be apart of it. We’re learning how to let the Holy Spirit work through us and not force anything. If we are walking with Him daily, then He will guide us in the most natural way. We’ve seen Him open doors for conversation without having to force anything at all. It just reminds me of the power of prayer and His mighty hand at work.
Pray for us as we head to Paris and that we would continually be intentional and cherish this last week as a team. Pray that the enemy will not have a foot hold within the community that we are as a team, and the one we are entering in to.
Day 15: Another Travel Day
By Lauren Story
Munich to Paris. 7 hours by train. A lot of time to think, read, and try to decompress from the last city. I am a full on introvert, so if I’m being real with you guys, it’s starting to catch up with me. Long days constantly surrounded by people even the ones I love dearly, like my team, are draining to me. But God, has given me the perseverance to make it all the way to Paris without me desperately needing to be by myself; which is honestly a lot farther into the trip than I thought I would make it.
It reminds me how infinity stronger than me He is. How weak I would be without his wisdom, strength, guidance, and love. It puts me in a state of awe every time I begin to think about how all powerful my God is, and that he has chosen me, a tiny human, to be His daughter. That is what has given me the power to put aside my selfish feelings for the betterment of the team.
Pray that we will continue to meet people in our last few cities and that we will love well, remain obedient to Him, and keep growing closer as a team.
Day 16: FUR Sure...
By Nathanael C. Carroll
Well, after a very full trip this far, this morning I woke up a little earlier than some of the team and had time to just sit, read, write, and of course, people watch. It was nice to have some brief alone time before our well-rounded day.
After everyone else came downstairs and ate breakfast together, we headed to the metro (Paris has one of the best, by the way, just throwing that out there). 2-day passes in hand, off to the cathedral of Notre Dame. With scenes of Quasimodo in head and bells ringing in the distance, I can truly say it was absolutely beautiful. As amazing as the architecture in other cities has been, the sheer height of Notre Dame’s arches and ceiling are in my mind far more breathtaking.
From Notre Dame, we headed to Luxembourg Park, where we ate our supermarket lunches and just rested for a little while. Following this, we went to a large department store (3 wings, 9 stories), and had coffee on the 7th floor with a view of the Eiffel Tower in the distance. Then back to the hostel to rest.
Not being particularly sleepy, I headed downstairs to talk with Tyler beside the canal instead of napping. As the time went on, a couple of us ended up talking (as more folks woke up from naps) and truly having good edifying conversation. We talked about home, struggles we had there, and struggles we’ve had along the way here. One topic that came up was the concept of this being a “mission.” This trip doesn’t have a set goal or task. It doesn’t fit the mold of a typical American “mission trip.” What it is instead is a glimpse into what it looks like to live on mission.
See, if we don’t start conversations, they won’t happen. If we don’t meet people where they are, care for them, and learn their story, they couldn’t care less about the Gospel. Many people in these hostels already outright hate the idea of Christianity they’ve grown up with around them. Having this trip set up the way it is forces us to see a different mindset— people as an ends in themselves and our relationships with them as chances to point to God’s glory, both in our lives and in general. We’re not building wells, and we’re not doing Vacation Bible School. We’re building relationships and God is knocking down walls, whether we see it or not.
As beautiful as this city is, including the beautifully sparkling Eiffel Tower we saw earlier tonight, it dims in comparison with the glory of God in himself and his love for his people. Soli Deo Gloria.
Day 17: Let go and Let God
By Tyler Crane
Paris!! One of my favorite cities in the world!! Today I made a point to the team that this city was planned by me, but I wanted to have them in mind a.k.a. I wanted them to tell me some of the things they were hoping to do in Paris. As opposed to me just telling them what they needed to see or do. I wanted them to see what was available and make a decision. I’ll try to transition so that this makes sense. So basically this is how we have been treating this trip as far as the Gospel conversations go. If you really want to make an impact in someone’s life, present the options to them and get out of the way. Letting God actually do what he is great at (which is everything). So many times in life, we as Christians get so caught up in “Am I doing everything correctly in order for this person to accept Christ?” A better, and more scriptural sound way of looking at the situation instead is, “Have I been an example of Christ for that person and are they understanding the gospel as far as why i believe it?” It’s been tough for me and the team to just let God handle hearts but man oh man are we growing to understand that concept. Beard Team Leader Out!
Day 18: Namesake
By: Hannah Holland
Today was our first full day in our last city, Amsterdam. Being that Holland is my last name, it has been the coolest thing to be here and see this city. The day started with pancakes, and I was not mad about it because breakfast food is my favorite! We then sat and sipped some delicious coffee from a local cafe here, had a photo session at the famous “I Amsterdam” sign, and enjoyed a relaxing boat tour around the city. Lastly, we met up for dinner with our friends we met back in Switzerland, Michael and Henry.