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The Legacy of Joseph Barnabas in Cyprus

Paul's mentor and missionary traveling companion

Home for Christmas

December 25th, 2011

We had a long flight back to Pennsylvania. After maybe an hour of sleep, we got up at midnight on December 21 so as to be ready when our cab driver arrived at 1:00 AM. He took us to the the airport, where Lufthansa ripped us off royally on baggage costs. We learned that they have a strict weight limit for carry-on baggage (8 kilos). Lynne’s little suitcase fits easily in the overhead bins, but it was too heavy. “That will be 100 Euro extra. You will need to check your carry-on.”

We were expecting to pay $100 for our two extra suitcases, but we got stung with 210 Euros. When you do the math on currency conversion, that comes out to around $273. I used to like Lufthansa.

After a six-hour layover in Frankfurt, we boarded our jet–and sat there for two and a half hours. There was some problem with the fuel gauge. So we missed our connecting flight from Philadelphia to Harrisburg. Fortunately, we were placed on a later flight and got into Harrisburg about 9:15 PM. Our children picked us up at the airport and drove us home, where they had waiting a dinner of ham and potatoes. We got to bed at midnight PA time. After being up for about 30 hours with only small naps on the jets, we slept very soundly in our own bed. Nice to be home!

No time to loaf, however. We had many things to do in preparation for Christmas. This afternoon, we will have a houseful of family and friends for Christmas dinner. Lynne is in the kitchen, busy preparing all the food.

Last night we attended a Christmas Eve service at our church. I could not help but compare the service to the midnight Christmas liturgy that the Orthodox Christians of Cyprus attended. The contrast in style, format and content is amazing.

We are learning to drive on the right hand side of the road again. We are enjoying the quiet of Grantham village. We love seeing our friends. And we have difficulty boiling down four months of experiences in Cyprus to soundbites when asked, “How was your time in Cyprus?”

Have a merry Christmas.

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On our way home

December 20th, 2011

This Venetian bridge is located deep in the Troodos Mountains. The site is very pleasant--one of our favorite places. Being there is one of the fond memories we will cherish.

Tonight, Dec. 21, we leave Nicosia at 1:00 AM for the airport at Larnaca for a 4:00 AM Lufthansa flight to Frankfurt. After a six-hour layover in Frankfurt, we fly to Philadelphia. After a two-hour layover there, we fly to Harrisburg and will arrive about 6:15 PM–still the same day. It is interesting how long the days can be when you are flying west.

We will be very tired but happy to be home. It will be good to see family and friends.

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Last Quill and Postament

December 16th, 2011

Troodos Mountains looking south toward the Mediterranean Sea.

Last night I gave my formal lecture on St. Barnabas to a nice sized crowd. I systematically laid out my case that, in the New Testament, Barnabas was an innovative leader who figured out compromise solutions to enable Christians from different ethnic groups to live in peace—despite their cultural differences. Over the centuries, however, as traditions developed and additional stories were invented and attributed to Barnabas, he finally became a symbol of Cypriot nationalism—someone to whom people pray to remove the Turks from Cyprus. Here is my concluding remark.

“My suggestion is simple; yet implementing it would be extremely difficult. Opposition would be intense. But here it is: Let the historical Barnabas replace the legendary one. Politically and religiously, Cyprus would benefit.”

In five days we will return home, so we got out our suitcases to determine whether or not they will make the weight limit. As I pack and reflect on my time in Cyprus, I find myself musing on what I will miss and what I will not miss. So here is my last post from Cyprus.

Sunset over Limassol, on the southern coast.

What I will miss.

Slower pace of life.

People going out of their way to be hospitable.

Emphasis on relationships instead of TV.

Read the rest of this entry »

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History and Ecology

December 13th, 2011

Tonight we are staying in Limassol, guests of an 82 year old man who has more stories than most anyone we have ever met. He was part of the Cypriot resistance against British rule in the 1950s. We found out more today just how involved he was. For me, one of the interesting developments in his life is that he became a pacifist. He does not believe that there is a just war. He now believes that the Cypriot violent resistance was wrong–that things could have been solved politically.

Although long retired, by training he is a horticulturalist; and he is a very active environmentalist. He also is involved in human rights issues. Cyprus has a terrible problem with human trafficking, especially in Asian women. This morning, he helped to win a court case for two Vietnamese women who were brought to the island under false pretenses by a Vietnamese company.

The women escaped. They heard about our friend and contacted him. He provided assistance. Today the women won a large court settlement, and the Vietnamese company is banned from ever doing any more business in Cyprus. Sometimes evil is punished.

Tomorrow, we will go into the Troodos Mountains. We will see some ancient churches, learn a lot about botany, and enjoy spending time with a man who is a gold mine of experience. We will enjoy listening to more stories.

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Total Eclipse of a Full Moon over Cyprus—and history

December 11th, 2011

Saturday night we witnessed from our veranda the total eclipse of a full moon. I set up my camera on a tripod and used my telephoto lens to zoom in on the spectacular event. With great care I took many photos, hoping to chronicle the stages of the eclipse. And not one of the pictures is worth posting on my blog. They are all blurry. Grrrr.

During my time of watching the eclipse, I could not help but notice people scurrying along the streets below CAARI. They all were apparently completely unaware of the rare event occurring right above their heads. Low on the horizon, the full moon was shrouded in the earth’s shadow and then emerged again. But people did not even notice.

How often, I wonder, are we so unaware? We busily go about our lives, focused on our tasks, oblivious to events that are begging to be acknowledged. One does not see a total eclipse of the moon very often. And this one happened early in the evening. We did not even have to get up in the middle of the night to witness it.

History is full of illuminating events if we take the time to notice. During the past three months in Cyprus, I have been shining lights in dark, historical corners, and some fascinating things have been illuminated.  Thursday evening, during a formal lecture at CAARI, I will present the results of my research. Some in the audience will be very displeased to hear my report.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Held against our will for a day in the north

December 4th, 2011

The Good, the Bad, and the Really Frustrating

Church at the monastery of St. Barnabas. It is now an icon museum.

On Friday, I paid the 50 Euro for auto insurance that one has to purchase in order to drive in the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (or Occupied North, depending on your perspective). Saturday started fine. We drove east to the Monastery of St. Barnabas near Salamis and arrived before the tour busses arrived. Because there were so few people there, we had unrestricted ability to take photos of the icons in the church. And, as it turns out, the rooms formerly used by the monks in the monastery now house some nice collections of ancient pottery and other artifacts (mostly pre-Christian).

When we finished photographing the monastery and the artifacts, we drove NE out into the Karpas Peninsula. The drive was lovely, with occasional nice views of the Mediterranean, nice farmland, and an occasional wild donkey. But when we reached our destination, the Monastery of St. Andreas near the end of the peninsula, things got depressing. Later we were detained. Read the rest of this entry »

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Kykkos Monastery and Makarios

December 1st, 2011

This photo shows the size of the statue of Makarios. I am standing just under his scepter. Until recently, this huge statue was located in front of the archbishopric in Nicosia.

On Wednesday, Lynne and I went to Kykkos Monastery in the Troodos Mountains.

This mosaic of St. Barnabas is the last mosaic in a long row of saints. His placement right before the tomb of Makarios seems to make an important political statement.

We enjoyed the mountain scenery as we wound our way to the monastery location. The monk who was scheduled to meet us had some health problems and was not there. Fortunately, I knew the name of another monk who is a friend of another friend of mine. So, instead of driving back down the mountain, we had a nice time looking at the impressive collection of artifacts in the museum, looked at the reliquary in the church, and spent the night in a room that is much larger than the one we live in at CAARI.

Thursday morning, we drove up the mountain from the monastery to the tomb of Makarios, the first president of Cyprus. He was the archbishop of the island and the president. A very large statue of him is located at the parking lot of the memorial site. A wide, walking path goes up from the parking lot to the site of the tomb. All along the way are lovely

Lynne surreptitiously took this photo of a monk at Kykkos Monastery talking on his cell phone.

HDR photo of a tree near one of the painted churches that we visited in the Troodos.

mosaics of saints. We noticed that St. Barnabas is the last saint just before the tomb site. We don’t believe that this placement was accidental. I will comment more on the implications in a future post.

On the way to Kykkos, we stopped to see several of the painted churches of the Troodos Mountains. Some are very old and have interesting frescos on the inside. After an “interesting” drive up to one church, we had to recruit help from a road worker, who called the old man who keeps the key to the church. We waited a while for him to walk up the path to the church and unlock the door. On the return trip to Nicosia on Thursday, we stopped at two more churches, but we did not know where to find the person with a key to let us inside. We might get another chance to see them, but I am not pinning any hopes on the possibility.

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