Saturday, January 1, 2011

2010-12-31 Cozumel, Dolphins, and New Year's Eve!

Woke up early to do Bible study and work out, had breakfast and then met for Bible study (Daniel's turn). Danny spoke on things to leave behind: things to let die in 2010. He stated that we are set apart and sanctified, and there are things we need to DO in 2011, but also things we need to leave behind, and it is important that we seek God for which weights those are. Everyone's name should be safe in our mouth was one challenge: that we should never talk ill of any one. Romans 12.9 Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good. Romans 12.12 Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer;…

Docked at Cozumel, and met tour for swimming with the dolphins. Off the ship, we were taxied to Chankanaab Park, where we snorkeled, hung out at the beach, had lunch, and then had our amazing swimming adventure with two dolphins, Foxy and Racquel. We did several maneuvers: we got to hug and kiss the dolphins, hold up a "target" in the air for them to hit; "shake" hands/fins; do a swim being pulled by two dolphins by holding their fins; and then do a "foot push" where they pushed your feet. It was incredibly awesome, and we all had so much fun! When they wanted too much for the photos, we walked away and said forget it, but I went back and negotiated a deal and was SO HAPPY we got the CD!

Back on the ship, we celebrated New Year's Eve in grand style at our table with decorations, singing, and fun. It was "Surf and Turf" theme and formal dress night for dinner. Afterwards, we got separated, but connected again and made it to play pinochle (Danny worked out and met us afterwards!). We got separated for a short while, but happily connected again and walked to the Promenade where we welcomed in the New Year with an amazing amount of people!

Friday, December 31, 2010

2010-12-30 Grand Cayman

Worked out and ate breakfast, and then gathered for our Bible study, with Brandon leading. Brandon talked about unity, and the importance of being together with a family vision. He spoke about all of us together accomplishing a lot, but even more because we have unity. Together we can do amazing things. Brandon suggested we add a category to our yearly goals – that of a family goal. Then headed off the boat to beautiful Grand Cayman. Got a taxi to the 7 mile beach, and laid out, swam, and walked along the beach. Walked to lunch and shopped at a few local stores, and then headed back to the ship. Had a coffee with Gary, and walked around the Promenade. Met at 5 for pinochle with the girls, and then at 6 for dinner ("Venetian Fest" theme). Then went to a Broadway singing and dancing show at Acadia theater. The boys went to hang out and the girls were tired so we all went to sleep early!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

2010-12-29 Jamaica -- yah, mon!

After working out and eating breakfast, we all gathered for our Bible study, with Mike leading. He talked about God's vision for us and how He will get us there. Mike reminded us that we can't just focus on the vision instead of the daily necessities to get us to reach it. As we take the right steps, the next steps become clearer. When you first miss an exit, it is easy to get back, but if you go too far, it is very difficult to get back to where you missed it, so you need to be focused daily. We need to have the mind of Christ to make sure our daily walk brings us to the vision God has for us. Psalms 37:23-24 The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD: and he delighteth in his way. Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down: for the LORD upholdeth him with his hand.

Then off the boat to Jamaica (yah, mon). We took a Dunn River Falls tour, which was awesome. Everyone loved climbing the falls (except me; I stayed back and made friends and watched!). We went back to the ship, got a coffee, every one rested and got ready. Met at 5 to play Scrabble and pinochle, then we met for an amazing dinner at Chops. After that we went to the game room and had a pinochle tournament. Danny and I taught Mike to play pinochle too! It was a breeze, and in two hands, Mike was playing like a champ!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

2010-12-28 Labadee, Haiti

Another workout to start the day, followed by another good Bible study by Jesse on Ecclesiastes 5. We talked about how it is a life of sacrifice for eternal values that brings fruit and purpose. He talked about taking it to the next level and how it involves hearing from the Lord, making a commitment to action, and following through. Missing one of those things can result in meaninglessness. Ecc. 11.9 tells the young to enjoy every minute, but know you must give account, and ends with a threat of meaninglessness if you don't live purposefully. Don't wait for the perfect time to step out with what God wants you to do; the time is now. Pursue excellence and God's purpose and don't live to pursue wealth, because you will end up leaving the world naked and empty-handed. Ecclesiastes 5.7 tells us that "dreaming all the time instead of working is foolishness…"

After our Bible study, we grabbed a quick breakfast and then went off the ship to explore Labadee, Haiti. The vendors kept us entertained. It wasn't the greatest weather, with a slight drizzle at times. We walked around a bit, and then headed back to play more games on the 14th floor, have lunch, and then get ready for dinner. We met back for another quick game of Scrabble (Hannah and I), and then a few people played pinochle. We met for dinner, "Surf" theme, then went to an amazing magic/illusionist show. Then the boys went to watch a little football, and we all met up for 70's dancing in the streets night.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

2010-12-27 Cruising...

A welcome and uneventful day. We started out by working out, then with an amazing Bible study by Gabe about how we need to stand strong during times of shaking. We can't lose sight of the fact we're in a battle. We need to stay faithful through tests and trials and not lose sight of what God wants to accomplish through the trial and through us. We need to keep our eyes on the Lord. There are different seasons God wants to bring us through for our personal growth and His glory.

We then went outside to lay out but ended up on the 14th floor playing cards. We went to the salad bar for lunch, and then back to play more games. Dinner was formal night, with a "Captain's Gala" theme. Afterwards, we went to the Once Upon a Time Show where talented dancers and singers took old time stories and fairy tales and put modern music and dancing to them. It was really really good.

Monday, December 27, 2010

A Vacation Start We'll Never Forget -- ALMOST Home Alone!

A day never to forget. A day of miracles. Just a LOT of big and little things that I KNOW would NEVER have happened without the Lord's intervention that made a huge mistake turn around.

Now that every one is married, we decided to make this our last Christmas vacation together and move our yearly vacation together to the summer. Our family departed for the airport at 5 a.m., all piling ourselves and luggage into a 12 passenger van from Frank's Airport Service. Daniel was so tired he wasn't talking much, and we all made sure he was in the van, or was he sleeping upstairs somewhere like Home Alone…

On the way to the airport, the rain began to turn into ice, and suddenly on the freeway there was a car just abandoned in the center lane. We were able to get over, but the car alongside us began to spin out.

God's Intervention #1 – the car spun toward the left, missing us, and JUST missing the people from the abandoned car that were standing on the side of the road.

We got to the airport and got our luggage checked. We were very blessed to get overweight luggage checked without incident, but I won't even mention that as God's intervention, although I believe it was!

God's Intervention #2 – we checked Daniel's bag in with ours just to simplify things, never knowing how it would come into play later! If Daniel had his bag with his name on it, we couldn't have taken it with us.

We all ended up joining Gary at his favorite Online Café for breakfast. Then we all headed to the gate because it was time to board, all stopping at bathrooms and stores to get water or whatever and arriving at the gate separately and boarding. Once we boarded, someone came and asked where Daniel was because he wasn't in his seat. The plane was overcrowded, and there were over 40 people that couldn't fly because it was oversold, and a plane had cancelled earlier. The line for help at the Delta desk was LONG and the Delta workers were crabby.

I went up and down the plane aisles looking for Daniel. The stewardesses told me I couldn't leave the plane, but they could see how upset I was and I explained the situation to them and they walked me to the end of the tarmac and paged Daniel. We called him over and over and over. No answer. The plane had to leave. We left without Daniel on the plane.

Daniel had gone to sit down without telling any one where he was (a few rows in at the gate) and had fallen FAST asleep unresponsive to calls and pages.

I was inconsolable. Gary was mad. We were all so sad. Once we got into the air, Gabe took charge, connected to wi-fi and began to communicate with Daniel, who had woken up 15 minutes after the plane left.

Meanwhile Daniel stood in line to get help, but it wasn't happening with all the people who needed help. He tried to tell the clerk what happened, but she abruptly informed him he would have to wait his turn and it wasn't Delta's responsibility that he fell asleep. He waited near the front, and she told him he was getting her nervous and to step away.

God's Intervention #3 - Out of nowhere a Delta representative came and told Daniel to come with her, and that she would help him. Others tried to follow her, but she said "I'm just going to help HIM".

For over an hour she worked on getting Daniel a plane out. She booked three separate reservations, two of which would never have worked because they were too far away, Gabe communicating back and forth mapquesting every choice and reviewing it with Danny…

God's Intervention #4 – She booked Daniel STANDBY on a Palm Beach plane that would get him to Palm Beach at 1:05 p.m., with a 2.5 hour drive to where our cruise departed…

God's Intervention #5 – She did not charge Daniel for the airfare.

Daniel waited and everyone boarded the plane. Another crabby clerk told him it looked like there would be no seats available.

God's Intervention #6 – After every one got on the plane, the surprised clerk told Daniel there was one seat left and he could get on the plane.

The plane was delayed because of ice. The plane was scheduled to get in at 1:45 p.m., making it almost impossible for Daniel to get to the cruise by the time the Homeland Security locked the entry doors (which is at 3:50 p.m., but they would let him in if he got there before 4).

Gabe had called several limo and driving services to pick Daniel up and make the 2.5 hour drive, but several companies would not do it. He finally talked to a company that would pick him up. We made the arrangements, but the guy wanted to be paid in cash, and Daniel had no cash on him (no clothes, and a debit card with not much money on it!). We told him he would have to make the 2.5 hour drive in 2.25 hours in order to get paid.

God's Intervention #7 – Daniel worked out a deal with a guy at the front of the plane who let him sit in his seat for the last 15 minutes so Daniel could get right off the plane. He jumped up and was first person out the door, flying through the airport and into the waiting driver's car.

Meanwhile we were checking with three different cruise personnel who informed us that under no uncertain terms would they let any one in after 4 p.m. because of Homeland Security laws and personnel.

Tracking Daniel, with Daniel looking at his GPS, we began to lose hope. We prayed together and separately, and asked several people at home to pray! We were so upset and nervous. He kept edging his driver on, telling him that his Dad would give him a great tip if he could get him there on time. The driver was going 90 miles an hour at some points trying to get Daniel there, but it was NOT looking good.

Gabe told Gary they had to "make friends" with the Homeland Security people. With all 10 of us huddling around and every one else on the ship already, a Royal Caribbean personnel told Gary and Gabe (standing off to to the side) that they would let Daniel in if it was just a minute or two late.

When it was 4:03 p.m., Gary and Gabe went down to where the door was (you couldn't use your phone there). Our group was asked to get on the boat because it was leaving. The girls were crying, and the boys were so sad…

God's Intervention #7 - A group of a few people were running towards the door, and the Homeland Security and RC personnel thought it was Daniel so opened the door and they came in, together with two children from a DIFFERENT group of people. Then a group of about 10 people rushed the door and because the children were from their group, the upset personnel had to let them in! In the confusion Daniel's driver literally screeched to a stop and Daniel BOLTED into the building and Gary ran out to pay the driver and got back in.

Never happened before? No problem to the Lord. It was really a miracle our family is all here together. There wasn't a possible way for it to happen, but I know the Lord made a way. I am amazed that Daniel is with us. It really shouldn't have happened. Another humbling gift of God's grace.

We all were so relieved the girls just broke down crying for joy. Daniel was incredulous. We were all emotionally exhausted! But we were together: the best Christmas gift of all, given to us supernaturally by the Lord!

We had a wonderful "Sail Away Dinner" together, then played Balderdash and games together.