Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Day Six -- Up and down and up again

This morning we went straight to Hierapolis. I was skeptical about this site, I wasn’t so sure it was a significant place for us to go. I was very wrong. This is a little area that has Laodicea, Colossae, and Hierapolis all in one little area, with the Lycus river running between.

Map of the area which also includes the seven churches which John mentions in Revelation

Hierapolis is up in the mountainside, looking down on Laodicea and Colossae. Hierapolis is full of hot springs and mineral waters, some of which is carried down to Laodicea.

Looking down on where Laodicea was from Hierapolis

It is great to look down on Laodicea and consider what John wrote to them: 14 And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God; 15 I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. 16 So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth. 17 Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: 18 I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see. (Revelation 3:14 - 18). This is really interesting because Colossae has cold water that it supplies to Laodicea, and Hierapolis has very hot water that it supplies. We sat along the waterway that carried hot water, with steam pouring out on us, and talked about not being the mixture of cold and hot that the Laodiceans were. We talked about being hot in the Gospel. We applied it to our life, to how we can sometimes kind of be engaged in the Gospel. There, in the steams of Hierapolis I felt myself wanting to commit to being hot in the Gospel, and asked others to be hot as well. I feel that the setting affected all of us, and that everyone there wanted to make such a commitment.

The hot steam coming out of the waterway against which my students leaned, bathed in the steam, as we spoke of being hot in the Gospel.

Part of the water system in the ruins of Hierapolis

The natural formation that was turned into an aquaeduct to carry hot water from Hirapolis to Laodicea. The white all over the mountainside is the result of the mineral deposits left by the hot water springs of the area.

View of Hierapolis and its mineral deposits from the valley

It was also interesting timing because the night before, just down the hill, most of us had felt the stirrings of an earthquake that had happened some miles away. We have record of a time when Laodicea was destroyed by an earthquake and had refused help from the emperor to rebuild because they felt the had weath enough to take care of themselves. John chastised them for being too tied to their weath, and how that blinded them. The teaching moment was perfect.

Ruins of Hierapolis that suffered from an earthquake like the one that struck Laodicea, or the one we felt the night before (5.9 in Ankara)

Also, we were able to talk about an Epahras, who Paul mentions as having served in Hierapolis. He is an unsung hero, one who helped many, and is given little credit. I hope we can all be unsung heroes, and be okay with not receiving great amounts of credit though we are engaged in great causes.

Jul, BJ and I in the temple of Apollos at Hierapolis

From there we had some free time. Julianne, BJ and I went around the Nymphaeum, the temple of Apollos, and some other very cool ruins. I could have spent forever exploring that area, it was very, very cool. There was so much to see and do there. I loved it.

One of the temples of Hierapolis

Part of the Temple of Apollos at Hierapolis

But, from there we started our very long drive back. I was afraid it would be a long, tedious drive. But one little element made it pretty cool. We figured out that we were going along a route that made it possible to see all the areas of all seven of the churches.

Map of the Seven Churches (with a few other sites thrown in free of charge)

We had already been at Pergamos (Pergamum), Ephesus, Smyrna and Laodicea. On our very long drive we made a rest stop at Alashehir, which is the site of ancient Philedelphia. We made a turn just after Salihli, and from there we could see Sart, the town built where ancient Sardis had been. We drove to have lunch at Akhisar, and the center of downtown Akhisar contains the ruins of ancient Thyatira, so we made s stop there. That made it complete, we saw all seven cities that had the seven congregations to which John wrote. That was exciting stuff.

The area of ancient Philadelphia

The area of ancient Sardis

Ancient Thyatira

Ruins from ancient Thyatira

On the drive I told some more stories that I hope taught some lessons. We heard from Jeff on some things. He is so much fun, and even more so with his wife with him. It is great to have Kim Chadwick with us on all this stuff. We had a four hour drive ahead of us. We tried to make it somewhat fun. It was helped by the fact that this is some of the most beautiful territory to drive through I have ever seen. Gorgeous mountains, amazing agriculture, scenic villas, and on and on. I could have looked out those windows all day. There was so much to see. This is amazing countryside.

Some of the beautiful views out the window

Long lines at the bathrooms (especially the women's, we do, after all, have more than twice as many women as men) are a regular feature of field trips.

We arrived in Bursa (down close to sea level, after being way up at Hierapolis) and had reasonable food in an adequate hotel. We first had sacrament meeting. I think the meeting went very, very well. We had a little glitch in the Air Conditioning and in coordinating some things regarding the Sacrament. As the person responsible for running the meeting I always feel strongly about trying to do things how the Lord would like, especially in regards to that sacred ordinance of the Sacrament. In trying to make it happen in the way I felt directed, I had a moment when I focused so much on trying to communication from above that I was not as attentive to communication with some around me as I would like, and I feel badly about that. I think I did what I needed to do as the person who was responsible for making things happen right, but I wish I had been more attentive to others as I did so. I always regret the things I do wrong. But overall the Spirit was very strong, and I think we had a very powerful meeting. It is wonderful that wherever we go we can worship the Lord Jesus Christ and be part of his fold. He takes care of us all over the world. It was a sweet experience. Too bad that I put a downside on what should have been just sweet. I am so glad that I can be forgiven, and pray that hearts are healed who are wounded by me.

After dinner and all, we went out to see Bursa. It was the first capital of the Ottoman Empire, and is a pretty cool town. I liked the mosques, the bazaars, the walls, and the restaurant. We got some of their famous goat milk ice cream. I have certainly had better ice cream, but I’m glad I tried it.

Walking through the market in Bursa

In the hotel were a bunch of school age Turkish girls. So the students got BJ to come down, and then said “It’s Justin Bieber” and took their pictures with him. The Turkish girls went wild. They all whipped out their cell phones and took pictures of themselves with him, got his autograph, and swooned wildly. I guess they didn’t stop to think that JB wouldn’t stay in the same dive of a hotel that BJ was staying in. BJ has now been mistaken for JB in three different countries. Kinda fun. We liked Bursa. On the whole, it is a cool place.

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