Deep down inside, I really believe that each and every moment of my life is important to God and is being used to draw me closer to him. This would include times like laying in bed with the flu, or enduring a coach class ride flight to Singapore, or a business dinner with exceptionally loutish business contacts in Newark, New Jersey. It even includes those moments when I am a selfish, insensitive jerk. God uses it all and it is all part of his perfect plan. That is not to say that I am hearing him loud and clear or even at all during some of those times. Even when I do hear, I often stubbornly refuse to believe or obey.
However, ocassionally, even I am not too deaf to hear God joyously pronounce "I love you Kent, more than you can imagine" There have been many such moments on this trip. I am with the woman I love so much, celebrating 25 years of a great marriage that is only getting better. I have cruised north of the arctic circle, sunned myself with Julia, Viggo, and Barbara on a big rock at a beautiful beach overlooking the Oslo fjord filled with sun drenched islands and boats of all kinds. I have hugged Julia after almost a year of not being able to. I have slept like a rock and eaten all sorts of wonderful food, as well as some pretty weird stuff just for fun.
At times I have genuinely enjoyed being a clueless tourist. For example, the latest faux pas: I was so busy trying to figure out how to use the coin operated bathroom that I failed to notice that I was entering the women's rather than the men's. It was empty at first, but I was so enjoying the seclusion of sitting in a toilet stall sealed like a bank vault (I think Norwegians are very secretive about defecation), that I failed to realize that the outer room was filling with women waiting for their shot at the toilet. I opened the door of the vault and stared straight into the eyes of 5 or 6 Norwegian women who were probably already ticked off that they had to wait!
All I could do was smile pathetically and say in English "looks like I got the wrong one". Someone said "It's o.k., but it was in the tone of voice you would use with a friend's toddler who has just broken one of your favorite possessions." Even so, I had to take time to wash may hands lest I be thought even more disgusting ! Just me and the ladies hanging out in the shopping mall ladies restroom.
Another time Barbara had spotted Reindeer on a nearby slope as we sat in the hot tub on the back deck of our cruise ship. She had been looking carefully for them since what had seen deer droppings in the port town that we had just stopped at. A French woman and her thirteen year old daughter were sharing the hot tub with us and seemed rather pleased that Barbara was able to haltingly converse with them in French. That is, they did seem pleased until Barbara tried to explain that we had known to look for the reindeer because of the droppings, which she called "merde". I wanted to chime in and shook my head excitedly saying "oui, merde". Well we knew that merde is closer to meaning shit than it is to meaning droppings, but we had to work with what we had. The girl and her mother had a look on their face that clearly indicated that all their doubts and fears about Americans were true after all! We repaired the situation enough so that they did not jump screaming out of the hot tub or avoid us for the rest of the trip.
Since we are on a fecal theme here (for those who haven't signed off already), I suppose I should mention the coin operated public toilet in downtown Tromso (another arctic port town). A couple of guys were servicing the men's side, but seemed o.k. with the idea of me using the other stall. What I didn't know was that the stall was totally mechanized and that the power was about to go out. I could read the operating instructions in Norwegian either. So the door wouldn't lock, the lights went out and I couldn't operate the flush, the sink, etc. Plus as I sat on the stool I tried to hold the door shut and kept thinking that maybe I could lock it by turning the handle. Barbara thought I was locked in and tried to pull the door open for me. I thought it was someone trying to come in, so we both pulled hard on the handle in a bizzare tug of war which I hope to never repeat. The lights came back on and at least I got my pant's back up before a Nowegian lady yanked to door open and began to say of a lot of very excited things in Norwegian. I think she was apologizing, but I can't be sure.
Really I have a lot of very beautiful stories to tell as well, but I cannot easily post photos from this computer, so I will save them for more normal travelogue type post sometime in the future.