Sleeping on Air: Oregon’s Fire Lookout Towers Offer View Rooms for Rent

by Frank Mungeam | Outside on the narrow catwalk that circles the tower, the air is rich with the scent of pine. Inside, the cabin is spartan but sufficient, stocked with hardy wooden chairs and a rugged dining table and two beds. Propane fuels the cookstove, heating and lighting. Guests supply food, water and bedding. (Images: Acker Rock, Umpqua National Forest and Gold Butte, Willamette National Forest; courtesy of

Each summer, forest rangers stand guard atop remote fire towers across Oregon, scanning the horizon for smoke. But when fire danger subsides in the fall, adventurous travelers rent the lookouts and take in awesome views from these sanctuaries in the sky.

Green Ridge Lookout is an ideal base camp for exploring Central Oregon. The two-story wooden tower clings to the side of Green Ridge, 500 feet above the verdant Metolius River Valley. Six snow-capped peaks pierce the horizon. Directly facing the lookout, Mt. Jefferson towers tall and majestic.

Outside on the narrow catwalk that circles the tower, the air is rich with the scent of pine. Inside, the cabin is spartan but sufficient, stocked with hardy wooden chairs and a rugged dining table and two beds. Propane fuels the cookstove, heating and lighting. Guests supply food, water and bedding. At night, the only sound is the whistling of the wind.

Green Ridge Lookout offers a wide-angle view of the Metolius River Valley and cozy charms inside, while the head-of-the-river trail awaits

Green Ridge Lookout offers a wide-angle view of the Metolius River Valley and cozy charms inside, while the head-of-the-river trail awaits

Morning sun floods the cabin, commanding visitors to action. Start the day with an invigorating hike up 6,436-foot Black Butte, just south of Green Ridge. From Forest Service Road 11, follow the sign to Black Butte Trail.

Don hiking boots or snowshoes, then hike up the two-mile trail to the summit of this perfectly symmetrical lava cone. The narrow sun -sheltered path tilts upward and twists through dense forest. Near the summit, the few surviving trailside trees are contorted by unrelenting winds. Atop Black Butte, several fire lookouts stand watch and Cascade peaks wink back in every direction. The return hike, of course, is all downhill.

In the afternoon, revitalize by witnessing the birth of a river. The Head of the Metolius is at the Camp Sherman turnoff, five miles west on Highway 20. From the parking area, a brief walk leads to the spot where the headwaters of this pristine river gush from the ground.

Wind and water shaped the Monkey Face formation, where you can watch experi­ enced climbers challenge Smith Rock

Wind and water shaped the Monkey Face formation, where you can watch experi­enced climbers challenge Smith Rock

Spend the next day exploring the trails at Three Creek Lake, just outside the western town of Sisters. If the trail is snow­ covered, you can rent skis or snowshoes in town, then follow Elm Street, which turns into Forest Service Road 16, to Three Creek Sno-Park.

The trail to Three Creek Lake meanders steadily uphill for five miles. Pause to rest halfway at the trailside ski shelter. A mile later in Three Creek Meadow, look up at impressive Tam McArthur Rim, which towers 1,200 feet above the trail. Views of Black Butte and Mt. Jefferson await at Three Creek Lake. The five-mile return trip is mostly downhill.

After a night’s rest, head east from Sisters to Redmond and continue north to Terrebonne, where both the violence and the artistry of volcanic forces are on display at Smith Rock State Park. Multicolored cliffs and spires soar 600 feet skyward, thrust from the ground by erup­tions, then shaped by wind and water into remarkable formations.

Hike the steep switchback trail to Misery Ridge and watch as acrobatic climbers scale the ape­ shaped monolith Monkey Face. Or stroll along the River Trail, which parallels the aptly named Crooked River. For real adventure, hire a professional guide and experience the exhilarating vertical world of rock climbing at one of the world’s most famous climbing areas.

Lookout (Availability) Location Cost Reserve
Acker Rock (August to November) Umpqua National Forest $40/night Reserve Acker Rock
Bald Butte (June to October) Fremont-Winema National Forest $40/night Reserve Bald Butte
Bald Knob (May to October) Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest $35/night Reserve Bald Knob
Bolan Mountain (July to September) Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest $40/night Reserve Bolan Mountain
Clear Lake Cabin (November to May) Hood National Forest $40/night Reserve Clear Lake Cabin
Drake Peak (June to October) Fremont-Winema National Forest $40/night Reserve Drake Peak
Fall Mountain (May through October) Malheur National Forest $40/night Reserve Fall Mountain
Fivemile Butte (Year Round) Mt. Hood National Forest $50/night Reserve Fivemile Butte
Gold Butte (June to October) Willamette National Forest $65/night Reserve Gold Butte
Green Ridge (May to June, September to November) Deschutes National Forest $40/night Reserve Green Ridge
Hager Mountain (November to May) Fremont-Winema National Forest $40/night Reserve Hager Mountain
Indian Ridge (July to October) Willamette National Forest $55/night Reserve Indian Ridge
Lake of the Woods (May to October) Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest $50/night Reserve Lake of the Woods
Pickett Butte (October to July) Umpqua National Forest $40/night Reserve Pickett Butte
Snow Camp (June to September) Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest $40/night Reserve Snow Camp
Timber Butte (May to November) Willamette National Forest $65/night Reserve Timber Butte
Warner Mountain (November to May) Willamette National Forest $65/night Reserve Warner Mountain

For information contact
Central Oregon Visitors Association
800-809-8 955

Fire Lookout rentals
503-872- 2750

This article was original written for the Travel Oregon, Fall & Winter 2003. Updated April 22, 2019

Frank Mungeam is a passionate digital thought leader and teacher adept at creating a culture of collaboration and innovation. He is a Knight Professor of Practice, Newsroom Innovation at Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication. Frank empowers content teams to identify and skillfully apply new digital, social and mobile tools to create unique and compelling content that engages and informs audiences. Connect to Frank via LinkedIn @frankwords or Twitter.

Plovdiv, Bulgaria’s Gem

Topping Plovdiv’s list of attractions are its trove of Roman antiquities and the cobbled streets of Old Town, lined with colorful 19th-century mansions in the National Revival style. (Image by Nikola Belopitov from Pixabay ).

Plovdiv pride itself in being one of the oldest cities in Europe. Archaeologists have discovered pottery and other objects of everyday life from as early as the Neolithic Age, showing that in the end of the 7th millennium B.C there already was an established settlement there. The city of Plovdiv is situated in southern Bulgaria. During its long history it has been conquered by numerous peoples: Thracians, Macedon, Romans, Byzantines, Bulgarians, Ottoman Turks which contributed to the city’s various historical heritage.

The Slavs had settled in the area by the middle of the 6th century, changing the ethnic proportions of the region. With the establishment of Bulgaria in 681, Philipopolis became a border fortress of the Byzantine Empire. Under the rule of the Ottoman Empire, Plovdiv was a focal point for the Bulgarian national movement. During that period Plovdiv was an economic center along with Constantinople, Odrin and Thessaloniki. Due to trade, the emerging Bulgarian bourgeoisie became significant in the society.

After Unification Plovdiv remained the second city in population and significance after the capital Sofia. The first railway in the city was built in 1874 and after 1888 it was linked with Sofia. In 1892 Plovdiv became host of the First Bulgarian Fair with international participation which was succeeded by the International Fair Plovdiv. After the liberation the first brewery was inaugurated in the city. Plovdiv has hosted specialized exhibitions of the World’s Fair three times, in 1981, 1985, and 1991.

Plovdiv Amphitheatre

Plovdiv Amphitheatre

Food & Wine
Bulgarian cuisine, with its Turkish, Greek and Slavic influences, provides the perfect accompaniment to a bottle of local mavrud. In Bulgaria, meals are supposed to be enjoyed in company, and most Bulgarians relish the opportunity to introduce foreign friends to the pleasures of homemade banitsa, or rakia. Discover Bulgarian history, cuisine, and winemaking when you travel from Sofia to Plovdiv and the Thracia Valley. Spend the morning strolling through Plovdiv Old Town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, then visit a few lovely and secluded vineyard for a guided tasting.

Tourism is a growing industry with the rich cultural heritage of the province and the numerous mineral springs which are of international importance. Topping Plovdiv’s list of attractions are its trove of Roman antiquities and the cobbled streets of Old Town, lined with colorful 19th-century mansions in the National Revival style. Plovdiv abounds in museums and art galleries and it’s calendar of events is richer this year than ever as the city take center stage as a European Capital of culture.

The economy of the province is of great importance. The agricultural production is intensive and efficient with high levels of irrigation. Industry is very well developed as well producing ferrous metallurgy near Plovdiv; thriving electronics industry in Plovdiv, Saedineermelons, vegetablesnie, Voivodinovo, Radinovo and other villages in the area.

Encouraging One Another in the Lord!

by Joanna Bogunjoko “For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to strengthen you—that is, that we may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith, both yours and mine.” Romans 1:11–12 (image: CWe spent the end of the year with Joel, some SIM US recruiting team members, and over 10,000 students at Urbana 2018)

Thank you for lifting us up continuously in your prayers and for your support in our global ministry in partnership with you. We are grateful you have stood with us in all our travel to conferences and to visit and encourage our colleagues ministry. We thank God for His protection. We do not take our safety for granted!

We were reminded of this again when we heard of the crash of the Ethiopian Airline six minutes after takeoff from Addis Ababa to Kenya. We have been on the same type of aircraft with Ethiopian Airline in both December and January. Please pray comfort and peace for the families of all 157 people who lost their lives on the ill-fated flight.

We had asked for your prayers as we gathered with our new global and regional leaders in Nov and Dec in Kenya. THANK YOU for praying. It was a time of learning together, listening to God together, and getting to know one another. The most significant outcome for us personally was our leaders’ commitment to live and to lead based on leadership values rooted in Scripture. Pray that we will live up to the standard of godliness, righteousness, purity and servanthood that we set for ourselves before the Lord.

With the generous gift from a couple who have been our friends and cheerleaders, we were able to spend five days of rest in Ethiopia. What a privilege to visit historic sites, churches cut into rock that date back hundreds of years, and ancient sites such as Axum. It was our best 25th wedding anniversary gift, and we are truly grateful for their generosity.

In Kenya to meet with our colleagues and other Africans who lead international missions

In Kenya to meet with our colleagues and other Africans who lead international missions

We returned to Kenya to meet with our colleagues—other Africans who lead international missions. This was an opportunity to encourage one another, pray together and hear from the Word. We shared glimpses of what we are learning in our roles and issues we are facing, in order to learn from one another. The manager of BTL Christian International Conference Centre where we met invited each leader to plant a memorial tree. He then also invited us (Joshua and Joanna) to plant a tree to commemorate our 25th anniversary. When you are at BTL in Ruiru, Kenya, you may find an avocado tree with our picture next to it.

The manager of BTL Christian International Conference Centre where we met invited each leader to plant a memorial tree

The manager of BTL Christian International Conference Centre where we met invited each leader to plant a memorial tree

We spent the end of the year with Joel, some SIM US recruiting team members, and over 10,000 students at Urbana 2018. At the SIM exhibition booth, we answered questions and prayed with many students seeking guidance about God’s calling into His mission. Please pray for these students. The journey is daunting for many, but they are trusting the Lord, and we are too.

Highlights of Our 2019 Trips So Far
We were in South Africa for Evangel Fellowship meetings in January. This is a gathering of leaders of churches that have come out of the work of SIM in many countries. Over 14 years of bi-annual Evangel meetings, Joshua felt this was one of the best in terms of the quality of discussions. Many churches face significant challenges; they realize their need for one another more than ever. Please pray for church leaders in contexts that increasingly challenge many things the church stands for theologically.

We were also blessed to spend time with the SIM team in Burkina Faso. This team is really feeling the impact of increasing terrorist activities in that part of West Africa. They are now almost totally confined to the capital city and many Christians feel increasing unease in rural areas. Please pray for courage amidst these countrywide security risks.

Our time in Mali was amazing. This is a country where Al-Qaida in the Maghreb has done great damage over the years, yet it was a most refreshing visit for us. How encouraging to see the small SIM team engaged in an unbelievable number of ministries. Two church plants are underway in a rural area outside the capital, as well as children’s feeding program. They have also completed research into a potential outreach among the Moors, Fulani, Soninke, Shonghai, and the deaf—all people who are unreached in Mali. Three families from Ethiopia and a single man from North East India are starting French language studies in Bamako, with plans to serve with SIM among the Fulani in Niger, Mali and Guinea. How encouraging! Please pray we will be able to come alongside them in this amazing vision of seeing a witness for Christ among people who have never heard of Him.

Time with our SIM Guinea team was encouraging. It was great to be back in Guinea after about eight years and to see this team growing. How refreshing to spend time with about 50 university students in Guinea. Many have lots of questions about their future, a desire to serve Jesus, and a willingness to be creative and not depend on government. But they asked, “Who can help us think through these challenges and help us sort out life?” They know that many African migrants have paid the ultimate price in the Mediterranean Sea, and they do not want to follow those steps. At the same time, the present state of things in their country is bleak. They asked, “What is the church’s answer?” After three hours together, we cannot say we had answers to all their questions, but we are grateful for the opportunity to spend time and learn together.

Collaborating mission CEOs in Thailand

Collaborating mission CEOs in Thailand

After a quick three days meeting with the International Directors of some of SIM’s collaborating mission agencies, we went on to Germany for SIM Board of Governors. We remain truly grateful for the godly people on our board. Joshua feels blessed to serve under the guidance of people who are totally sold to Jesus and are only concerned about God’s Kingdom and the Good News of the love of Jesus among the nations.

Joshua spoke at First Presbyterian Church in Augusta, Georgia, the first weekend of March where Genn and Margie Betts generously hosted us. We are truly grateful for their kindness and hospitality.

Joshua spoke at First Presbyterian Church in Augusta, Georgia, the first weekend of March where Genn and Margie Betts generously hosted us

Joshua spoke at First Presbyterian Church in Augusta, Georgia, the first weekend of March where Genn and Margie Betts generously hosted us

We also reunited with long-time friends and colleagues Don and Jenny Townsend from Galmi, Niger, and Allen and Marge Peltier from Egbe, Nigeria, as well as other SIM missionaries in the area.

We also reunited with long-time friends and colleagues Don and Jenny Townsend from Galmi, Niger, and Allen and Marge Peltier from Egbe, Nigeria, as well as other SIM missionaries in the area

We also reunited with long-time friends and colleagues Don and Jenny Townsend from Galmi, Niger, and Allen and Marge Peltier from Egbe, Nigeria, as well as other SIM missionaries in the area

Last weekend, we were in Columbia, South Carolina, during the Missions Emphasis Month at First Northeast Baptist Church. Joshua preached during the service on Sunday. Praise God for these opportunities and for the privilege of sharing with God’s church what we are learning from His Word, from His work, and about His mission in His world.

Please pray for Joshua’s speaking at the Rock Hill Bible Fellowship Church this Sunday, March 24. Late Sunday afternoon, we fly to the UK to join a Mission Leadership course. We appreciate the opportunity to continue to learn as we serve.

From there, we go to the Ukraine where Joshua will speak at the mission conference of the Volyn Region Baptist Association. Next we will visit the SIM offices in France and Switzerland, then join Joshua’s Executive Team for a retreat in the UK. In April, we will speak in Greece to a group of SIM workers from limited access locations. From there we continue to Canada for Prairie College Board meeting. We will conclude our five-week trip with another church mission weekend in Ontario.

Thank you for praying for all these trips and speaking engagements. We could not undertake any of these if we did not know that you are standing with us in prayer. No one would try without a solid backing of God’s people who pray, at least we will not.

Praise and prayer:

  • Give praise to God for restoring our children to good health and for continuing to uphold them.
  • Pray for sustaining grace for Jochebed at work and for Joel in school.
  • Jochebed is considering a job change. Please pray for the Lord’s leading and open door

A Special Opportunity
We are most grateful to each one of you who support us sacrificially out of what the Lord has blessed you. We know many of you give from the little that you have, and Joanna and I feel most unworthy of your generosity. However, a supporter who is concerned about our shortfall is making a generous offer. For those who have not received his email:

“Thank you so much for being fellow supporters of Joshua and Joanna. I’m writing in an effort to get them fully funded.

Frankly, I’m of mixed mind on whether it’s a good idea for the International Director to be required to raise his own support. However, given that that is how SIM works, it seems to me that it is extremely unfortunate to have a situation in which individual missionaries are expected to raise full support while the International Director is himself substantially under-funded. It would be even more unfortunate, in my opinion, if Joshua were to spend a disproportionate amount of his time raising a relatively small amount of money for his and Joanna’s support, rather than spending that time on issues of much larger import to SIM and the Kingdom at large.

As a result, when Joshua was at our house recently, I told him that my wife and I would match dollar-for-dollar any contributions that others make toward eliminating his $50,000+ deficit for this year.

If you’re able to help with the $25k match, please contact Joshua with your pledge or donation. For example, if five families each provide $5,000, we’re there. (I certainly don’t need to know who’s pledging how much, but only the total which I need to match.)

Thank you so much for your past support and for your consideration of this request.

In Christ,

To date, $9,500 have been given or pledged. Please let us know if you are interested in participating.

Joshua and Joanna Bogunjoko

Joshua & Joanna Bogunjoko

Joanna Bogunjoko is the SIM’s Special Assistant to the International Director and Archives Assistant under the umbrella of SIM International Leadership and Services. She have served at three mission hospitals in West Africa and became full members of SIM in 2001.


Colonial Williamsburg

Colonial Williamsburg has been criticized for neglecting the role of free African-Americans in Colonial life, in addition to those who were slaves. When it first opened in the 1930s, Colonial Williamsburg had segregated dormitories for its reenactors. African Americans filled historical roles as servants, rather than free people as in the present day. In a segregated state, Colonial Williamsburg allowed the entry of blacks, but Williamsburg-area hotels denied them accommodation, and state law forbade blacks from eating with whites in such public facilities as the restored taverns and from shopping in nearby stores. (image: Wikipedia)

Colonial Williamsburg is the home of the living-history museum and private foundation presenting part of the historic district in the city of Williamsburg, Virginia, United States. The Colonial Williamsburg is the best place for you to immerse yourself in America’s history. You can start off by visiting the Colonial Williamsburg area where surviving colonial structures have been restored as close as possible to their 18th-century appearance, with traces of later buildings and improvements removed. Many of the missing colonial structures were reconstructed on their original sites beginning in the 1930s. Animals, gardens, and dependencies (such as kitchens, smokehouses, and privies) add to the environment. Some buildings and most gardens are open to tourists, the exceptions being buildings serving as residences for Colonial Williamsburg employees, large donors, the occasional city official, and sometimes College of William & Mary associates.

Costumed employees work and dress as people did in the era, sometimes using colonial grammar and diction (although not colonial accents). Prominent buildings include the Raleigh Tavern, the Capitol, the Governor’s Palace (all reconstructed), as well as the Courthouse, the George Wythe House, the Peyton Randolph House, the Magazine, and independently owned and functioning Bruton Parish Church (all originals). Colonial Williamsburg’s portion of the Historic Area begins east of the College of William & Mary’s College Yard.

The College of William & Mary, the Courthouse, and the Eastern Lunatic Asylum (now Eastern State Hospital) provide a buck of the jobs for town of Williamsburg. Colonial-era buildings were by turns modified, modernized, protected, neglected, or destroyed. Development that accompanied construction of a World War I gun cotton plant at nearby Peniman and the coming of the automobile blighted the community, but the town never lost its appeal to tourists. By the early 20th century, many older structures were in poor condition, no longer in use, or were occupied by squatters.

The Visitor Center near the Colonial Parkway features a short movie, Williamsburg: the Story of a Patriot, which debuted in 1957. Visitors may park at the Visitor’s Center, as automobiles are restricted from the restored area. Wheelchair-accessible shuttle bus service is provided to stops around the perimeter of the Historic District of Williamsburg, as well as Jamestown and Yorktown, during the peak summer season.

And that’s only the beginning! You can take your Williamsburg Vacation to the next level by adding some adventure and outdoor activities. Williamsburg, VA happens to have the most beautiful theme park in the world, Busch Gardens Williamsburg. Once you are done uncovering all the thrilling rides and adventure at Busch Gardens, you can cross over to experience the fun at Virginia’s largest Water Park, Water Country USA.

Getting There
Historic Williamsburg is a wonderful time in American history and there is no better way to get there if you’re flying than through Newport News/Williamsburg International Airport which is 25–30 minutes driving distance away. Williamsburg is midway between two larger commercial airports, Richmond International Airport and Norfolk International Airport, each about an hour’s distance away.

Colonial Williamsburg operates its own fleet of buses with stops close to attractions in the Historic Area, although no motor vehicles operate during the day on Duke of Gloucester Street (to maintain the colonial-era atmosphere). At night, all the historic area streets are open to automobiles

Where To Stay
There are several Hotels in the area offering incredible incredible discount like the Westgate Historic Williamsburg Resort located at 1324 Richmond Road Williamsburg, VA 23185. You can reach them via this link or call them at 1-800-735-1906.

Where to Eat
Here are selections of places to eat in Colonial Williamsburg.

Christiana Campbell’s Tavern

4.6 (276) · $$$ · Southern
101 S Waller St
Closes ⋅ 8PM
Washington dined in the original of this faithfully recreated tavern now serving fine Southern fare.

King’s Arms Tavern

4.5 (607) · $$$ · Southern
416 E Duke of Gloucester St
Closed ⋅ Opens 11:30AM Thu
18th-century Colonial reproduction offering hearty American specialties from servers in costume.
Josiah Chowning’s Tavern
Phone: (800) 447-8679
4.4 (793) · $$ · American
109 E Duke of Gloucester St
Reconstructed 1766 tavern set in a white Colonial house with faithful furnishings & a Southern menu.

Fat Canary

4.7 (178) · $$$ · New American
410 W Duke of Gloucester St
Refined, green-walled bistro serving upscale American fare & wines, with a cheese shop & patio.

A Chef’s Kitchen

Phone: (757) 564-8500
4.8 (58) · $$$$ · American
501 Prince George St
Closed ⋅ Opens 10AM Wed
Chef John Gonzales combines cooking classes with intimate multi-course meals & wine pairings.

The Sorrento Peninsula

You may check out Italy Travel Guide on the Summer in Italy website (images: Pixabay).

The Sorrento Peninsula or Sorrentine Peninsula is a peninsula located in southern Italy that separates the Gulf of Naples to the north from the Gulf of Salerno to the south. Known as the land of the sirens, in honour of the mythical maiden-monsters who were said to live on Li Galli (a tiny archipelago off the peninsula’s southern coast), the area to the west of Sorrento is among the least developed and most beautiful in the country.


  • Fantastics walks exploring the Amalfi Coast, Capri, Positano and Sorrento.
  • Incredible views over the turquoise sea, villages, lighthouses and Mt. Vesuvius.
  • Guilt-free indulging in foodie delights, knowing you’ll walk it off tomorrow!
  • Breath-taking coastal views from the world-famous ‘Footpath of the Gods’.
  • The glamour of Positano and Capri, contrasting with authentic Praiano.

The Sorrento Coast is a jagged promontory that shores up the southern end of the Bay of Naples. This peninsula of hilly terrain ends abruptly at a cliff that plunges sheerly down to the Mediterranean sea. The entire coastline around Sorrento was a Greek colony during the period of Magna Grecia, the legendary site of Homer’s sirens, before being conquered by the Romans who enjoyed the area as a summer playground. It has maintained a reputation as an exclusive resort destination ever since. It boasts a mild climate, gorgeous panoramas and citrus-scented air. There are magnificent views at every turn as one drive around the harbor, the best from the high points overlooking Punta Campanella, the westernmost point of the Sorrento Peninsula. Offshore, Capri looks tantalisingly close.

While the Mediterranean is the big draw that made Sorrento famous, there are hamlets in the hills that should be explored, too. These time-worn villages maintain their traditions and their charm. Visit Vico Equense, which is dwarfed by the Lattari Mountains that rise up behind it, the village of Seiano, the white-washed town of Priora and Sant’Agata sui Due Golfi, high in the hills. Up here you’ll find natural beauty, hiking trails, tranquility and clean, dry air.

Sorrento Peninsula

Sorrento Peninsula

Recommended Day Trips

  1. Arrive in Amalfi and overnight.
  2. The Valley of the Ancient Mills Walk, 14 km.
  3. Mt Tre Calli & Footpath of the Gods walk, 14 km.
  4. Walk the Footpath of the Gods to Positano, 11 km.
  5. The Isle of Capri, 8 km.
  6. Punta Campanella & Mt San Costanzo, 7 km.
  7. Jeranto Bay, 8 km.
  8. Onward travel.

Sorrento itself may well be the ideal destination, as it offers seaside splendor coupled with easy access to other points of interest: you can take a train to Pompeii or Naples, a ferry to Capri, and buses or boats to the other towns strung along the Amalfi Coast.

Grand Hotel Excelsior Vittoria
5-star hotel
Piazza Torquato Tasso, 34, 80067 Sorrento NA, Italy •+39 081 877 711

Hilton Sorrento Palace $223
4-star hotel
Via Sant’Antonio, 13, 80067 Sorrento NA, Italy •+39 081 878 4141

Belvedere delle Sirene $71
Via Belvedere, 21, 80065 Sant’Agnello NA, Italy •+39 081 808 9672

Residence L’Incanto Sorrento $50
2-star hotel
80063, Via Cermenna, 45, 80063 Piano di Sorrento NA, Italy •+39 339 415 7714

The Secret Garden Relais $46
3-star hotel
Via Gottola, 14, 80063 Piano di Sorrento NA, Italy •+39 081 808 6960

Olumo Rock Day Visit

by Jimoh Babatunde, Ayodeji Ayodele and Kola Tubosun | A trip to Olumo rock usually commences with a climb up the man-made stairs carved into the rock. The journey continues with climbs on irregularly sized rocks (or ladders which are now provided) through a narrow corridor that leads to the top of the rock.

Olumo Rock is a mountain in south-western Nigeria. It is located in the ancient city of Abeokuta in Ogun State, and was historically used as a natural fortress during inter-tribal warfare in the 19th century. Nigeria, an African country on the Gulf of Guinea, has many natural landmarks and wildlife reserves. Protected areas such as Cross River National Park and Yankari National Park have waterfalls, dense rainforest, savanna and rare primate habitats. One of the most recognizable sites is Zuma Rock, a 725m-tall monolith outside the capital of Abuja that’s pictured on the national currency.

Olumo is a popular tourist attraction. It provided protection to the Egba people when they needed it, and is now held in high esteem by the members of the clan. The mountain is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the heart of Abeokuta (a name which means “Under the rock” in the Yoruba language) in Nigeria. It’s at an elevation of 137 meters above sea level. Abeokuta was originally inhabited by the Egbas, who used the rock as a sanctuary at a higher elevation to monitor enemy’s advances, leading to eventual triumph in war. The town of Abeokuta eventually grew as these new settlers spread out from this location.

Olumo Rock Tourist Complex

Olumo Rock Tourist Complex

Abeokuta is just about an hour’s drive from the bustling metropolitan city of Lagos, providing convenient access to an array of hotels, restaurants, clubs, casinos and various nightlife activities. Lagos is also home to the closest airport to Abeokuta, the Murtala Muhammed International Airport. Most of the Hotels in Abeokuta are within few minutes’ drive from the rock.

New renovations completed in early 2006 upgraded the infrastructure of the site to include a new museum, restaurants, water fountain and the ancient Itoku market, where local artisans and traders enjoy haggling over prices just as much as the customers like to find a bargain. The Complex houses both modern and ancient facilities that have been incorporated into the Rock to make the environment one of a kind home away from home tourist destination. The market lies just outside the Olumo rock premises. It is the center of the indigenous Abeokuta industry of tie-and-dye, locally known as adire. Adire crafters, usually women both old and young, show off their designs in sheds alongside the roads. Behind these sheds are buildings where several generation of these crafters live and work.

The locals are very friendly and if asked, will often give tourists and visitors informal tours of the dyeing areas. Other popular items to watch out for include local beads, bracelets, sculptures and musical instruments like the sekere and talking drum.

A trip to Olumo rock usually commences with a climb up the man-made stairs carved into the rock. The journey continues with climbs on irregularly sized rocks (or ladders which are now provided) through a narrow corridor that leads to the top of the rock. All along the way, catch sights of carvings in the rock, cowrie-studded statues and the ancient abode of the priestesses of the mountain deity who live in huts on the rock.

Climbing the rock could be extremely challenging, most especially for the aged, the installation of this facility has greatly helped to attract more visitors to Olumo Rock, but the fun still lies in using the old stairway.

As we make our way to the top of the rock, it leaves many breathless and ready to take a break to rest on the benches under the trees growing from the rock and enjoy some clean breeze. The journey continues with climbs on irregularly sized rocks through a narrow corridor that leads to the top of the rock.

The view of the Ogun river from Olumo Rock

The view of the Ogun river from Olumo Rock

At the summit of the rock, tourists have the opportunity of having a panoramic view of the city from atop the rock. The old St. Peters Cathedral, the Ogun River, the city’s beautiful central mosque, the Alake’s palace and many others, can be seen from the top of the rock. Descending was not as difficult as climbing. At the base of the rock; one has the opportunity to visit the museum of history plain relax at the eatery.

Professional guides are available at the site or from Lagos or Abeokuta. If you start from Lagos, your tour begins with a pick up from your hotel for a 90mins drive to Olumo Rock, Abeokuta in Ogun State. After the tour of the rocks you can stop for a meal at the city of Abeokuta, before heading back to Lagos.

Waiheke Island: The Second-Largest Island in the Hauraki Gulf of New Zealand

The white sandy beaches at Oneroa, Palm Beach and Onetangi slope gently down into the Hauraki Gulf and are perfect for swimming, kayaking, or having a picnic.

Waiheke Island is the most populated and second-largest island in the Hauraki Gulf of New Zealand. Its ferry terminal in Matiatia Bay at the western end is 21.5 km (13.4 mi) from the central-city terminal in Auckland. In landscape, lifestyle and experience, Waiheke is a world away. The island is very hilly with few flat areas, the highest point being Maunganui at 231 m (758 ft). The climate is slightly warmer than Auckland, with less humidity and rain, and more sunshine hours.

If you’re a walker, explore the island’s trails which meander along cliff tops, down to the beaches and into cool enclaves of native forest. At the eastern end of the island the Stony Batter walkway leads you to a system of World War II gun emplacements and underground tunnels.

To stay overnight, rent a beach house and wake up to the sound of the waves, if you’re on a budget, go to a friendly backpacker hostel.

Getting around is easy too. Catch one of the regular ferries that run to Waiheke from downtown Auckland. Once on the island, there are public buses and taxis, or you can hire a mountain bike, motor scooter or car. And if you’ve already got a car or bike, you can bring it over with you on the car ferry.

Waiheke Island is only a 40-minute ferry ride from the Downtown Auckland ferry terminal. You’ll cruise past Auckland’s stunning coastlines and beautiful islands as you journey towards your destination. You can also catch the ferry from Devonport Wharf.

What can I do?

  • Vineyards – Home to more than 30 boutique vineyards, Waiheke has become known as New Zealand’s “island of wine”. This group of winegrowers have successfully matched the maritime climate and ancient soil structures to produce some of the country’s best wines. Visit cellar doors, or enjoy wine and food pairings at vineyard cafes and restaurants.
  • Food – The many island wineries are perfect for culinary indulgence. You’ll find a range of onsite options – from food pairings, to platters and casual lunch options, to gourmet meals at award-winning restaurants. Oneroa Village has beautiful cafes, gelato shops and takeaway options. For a relaxing lunch, take in sea views from The Oyster Inn’s restaurant verandah, or venture to Onetangi for casual beachside dining at Charlie Farley’s. Visit Rangihoua Estate to sample internationally awarded Extra Virgin Olive Oil, or stop by Te Matuku Oysters to purchase locally farmed seafood.
  • Shopping – Oneroa, Ostend and Surfdale have great shopping opportunities. Unique stores are bursting with local art, gifts, jewellery, clothing and more. The Ostend Market operates every Saturday from 8.30am – 12.30pm.
  • Beaches – Waiheke is best known for its pristine beaches, and its warm microclimate makes it the perfect swimming spot. Oneroa Bay and Little Oneroa sit side-by-side, and are within walking distance of the main village. Little Oneroa is a perfect place to spend the day, with BBQs, a children’s playground and a sprawling grassy area. Onetangi Beach features 2.5 km of beautiful white sand, plus convenient bars and restaurants at the water’s edge.
  • Walking Tracks – Waiheke offers a number of native bush tracks, and scenic coastal walks with sensational views of surrounding islands and the Coromandel. Starting from Matiatia Wharf, the Northern Walk features the most diverse track – without venturing too far from the ferry. Follow the headland track to Cable Bay, Owhanake Bay, and Oneroa Village before completing the loop back to Matiatia. See more detailed directions for a recommended track here.

Please be advised: Onetangi Reserve and Goodwin-Te Haahi Reserve have been closed to help reduce the spread of Kauri Dieback and protect the remaining native Kauri forests. For more information about this closure please visit Forest and Bird here.

What do I need?

  • Good walking shoes, sun block and a sun hat
  • Swimming gear and a towel, in the warmer months
  • A light rain jacket, and warm layers. Temperatures can change quickly, regardless of the season

How long should I stay?

Waiheke Island makes for a perfect half or full day trip from Auckland. But with so much to see, it’s also a superb weekend getaway or extended holiday destination.

A Private Tour of Patagonia and Easter Island

If you’ve been to the Alaskan wilderness in the Summer, you will even love the adventure to the Patagonia and Eastern Island. And there is no better way to see the Patagonia and Eastern Island than in a small group settings organized by Alexander and Roberts.

Check out their Private Journey Value on their website

Small Group Discoveries

  • Personalize your stay on Easter Island with our choice of handpicked resorts… Then join expert guides to explore the wonder and mysteries of the Island’s colossal stone figures.
  • Experience the unique culture of this isolated island deep in the Pacific.
  • Explore Santiago and tour the enchanting hideaway of poet Pablo Neruda.
  • Tailor your exploration of Patagonia’s landscapes with a choice of naturalist guided expeditions.
  • Journey into Chile’s celebrated Wine Country for a tour of the historic Santa Rita vineyard
  • Includes 1 UNESCO World Heritage site.


Day 1 – Easter Island, Chile

On arrival, you’ll be escorted to the Hangaroa Eco Village & Spa. This afternoon, join our guide to tour the unusual archaeological site of Orongo. Set on the edge of a crater high above the sea, you’ll discover the ancient stone dwellings of what was once an important ceremonial village. This evening finds you at one of the island’s most captivating sites where five moai stand silhouetted against the crimson sky. It’s the perfect place for a champagne toast. Meals D

Day 2 – Exploring Easter Island

Explore Rapa Nui National Park c as our expert guide illuminates the history of the people who settled here 1,000 years ago and built the moai – the enormous stone figures scattered across the windswept vistas. Among the sites you’ll visit are the ancient quarry where the moai were carved, Ahu Tongariki with its 15 huge figures, and the historically important site of Ahu Akahanga where you’ll find 4 fallen moai. Meals B+L+D

Day 3 – Onward to Santiago

Fly to Santiago where you’ll be escorted to Le Reve, our lovely city-center boutique hotel. Meals B

Day 4 – Chile’s Wine Country

Journey into the famed Casablanca Valley for a tour of the Veramonte Winery. Sample fine organic wines including Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot and Primus – their proprietary blend of Carmenère and Cabernet Sauvignon. Learn how this award-winning vineyard is leading Chile’s organic wine industry and sit down to lunch here on the estate. Back in the city, the evening is yours to enjoy and dine where you wish. Meals B+L

Day 5 – Onward to Patagonia

Fly to Punta Arenas and embark on a scenic overland journey to the all-inclusive Patagonia Camp, set on Lake Toro facing the granite peaks of the Paine Massif. Your stay here includes a choice of expeditions. Depending on your interests and physical condition, you can choose from these full and half-day guided excursions that include gentle hikes, invigorating treks, kayaking, and fishing. Horseback riding, boating on Lago Grey and Zodiac expeditions to the Serrano Glacier can also be arranged. Meals B+D

Day 6 – Adventures in Patagonia

Enjoy your first of three full days exploring Patagonia’s soaring landscapes and pristine waterways with our Camp’s expert guides and naturalists. You might venture deep within Torres del Paine National Park or join an exclusive activity closer to Camp. Each evening, the Camp’s staff will present the excursions to be offered the next day. They’re led by our Camp’s superb naturalists, so you’ll learn much about Patagonia’s geology, flora and fauna. At the end of each day, you might relax at the bar with a Pisco Sour or a glass of fine Chilean wine. Or you might just retreat to your private terrace to enjoy the breathtaking views over mountain and lake. Meals B+L+D

Day 7 – Another day in Patagonia

Delight in another day exploring the region’s soaring landscapes and pristine waterways. Accompanied by our Camp’s naturalists, you’ll learn much about Patagonia’s geology, flora and fauna. Back at Camp, you can relax with fellow guests at the bar – perhaps sipping a traditional Pisco Sour or enjoying a glass of fine Chilean wine. As before, our Camp’s naturalist team will describe the expeditions that will be offered tomorrow.  Meals B+L+D

Day 8 – A final day in Patagonia

Arise once again to the breathtaking natural scenery that surrounds our Camp. Breathe in the pristine air and sit down to a hearty breakfast. Then embark on the naturalist guided expedition that you’ve chosen for your last day in Patagonia – perhaps an easy hike or a more challenging full-day trek deeper into these remote landscapes. End your day on a high-note, admiring the lake and mountain views from your private terrace. Then join your fellow Camp guests for another congenial dinner in the restaurant.  Meals B+L+D

Day 9 – To Punta Arenas + Santiago

Return to Punta Arenas for your flight to Santiago. Transfer again to Le Reve. Meals B

Day 10 – Santiago + Departure

After breakfast and check-out, you’ll discover the highlights of the capital from La Moneda Palace and Plaza de Armas to the Cathedral and City Hall. Join residents shopping at the Mercado Central, delight in the city’s loveliest districts and visit La Chascona, the former home of South America’s greatest poet, Pablo Neruda. Ascend San Cristobal Hill to take in the views and then continue to the airport for your flight. Meals B

Alexander+Roberts is a founding member of the United States Tour Operator’s Association, the travel industry’s most respected trade organization. Cited by the New York Times, Washington Post, Travel + Leisure and NBC’s Today Show among others, the company is hailed for providing personalized service, superior value and authentic travel experiences that hew to the founder’s original mission to deepen understanding and appreciation of other peoples, cultures and nations. Alexander+Roberts has also been recognized by the editorial staff of TravelAge West as one of America’s best tour companies for Asia,  Latin America and the Middle East.

Praising God for His goodness!

by Joshua and Joanna Bogunjoko | “Praise him—he is your God, and you have seen with your own eyes the great and astounding things that he has done for you.” Deuteronomy 10:21

We praise God for being so good to us. He has shown us His great mercy and answered our prayers. In our last prayer letters we asked you to pray for our children. They are both doing amazingly well and we praise God for answering prayers.

Jochebed is doing well and shining the light of Christ as she works hard to handle the pressures around her. Praise God with us that Joel’s scholarship has been restored. This was a major point of prayer and the Lord has honored our prayers. Thank you for praying with us. Also, he has been given an accommodation in his studies to enable him to work at a healthy and suitable pace. He has a better outlook on the future now. We spent Sunday afternoon with him and were touched by his bright spirit and growing maturity.

Thank you also for praying for our trips to Kenya and the Philippines which went well. We were truly blessed to be able to spend time with SIM workers in medical ministries and our team in the Philippines. We are encouraged by their dedication and commitment to making Christ known in communities where He is least known even when it is not convenient or totally “safe”.

Thank you and God bless you!

We proclaim how great you are and tell of the wonderful things you have done.” Psalm 75:1.

Joshua and Joanna Bogunjoko

Joshua & Joanna Bogunjoko

Dr. Joshua Bogunjoko has been the SIM’s International Director since June 1, 2013. Joshua and his wife, Joanna, began their mission careers as members of the Evangelical Missionary Society (EMS), the mission arm of the ECWA church, which today sends more than 2400 Nigerians cross-culturally. They were commissioned by the national ECWA church in 1993 and their home church in Lagos in 1995, where they were sent out as seconded associates of SIM. They have served at three mission hospitals in West Africa and became full members of SIM in 2001. Joshua served on the SIM International Leadership Team since 2006, dealing with global issues related to mission.

Praying on for His Grace and Mercy!

by Joshua and Joanna Bogunjoko | “We do not make requests of you because we are righteous, but because of your great mercy.”Daniel 9:18

Prayer is both marvelous and mysterious. The idea of communicating with the Creator of the universe seems almost ludicrous. And certainly presumptuous. Not to mention intimidating.”

This statement by Lori Hatcher on is so true as we await being able to travel to Kenya for an SIM Healthcare Conference and Leadership Initiative due to the uncertainties surrounding the Hurricane Florence. The organizers and some of the participants are already there but some of us are still in the US watching the turn of events in the wake of Hurricane Florence. We have had to change our flights a couple of times and are hoping that Joshua can leave on Saturday while Joanna follows on Tuesday. Joel is home from school as the University of South Carolina campus is closed and classes are cancelled through Monday. They anticipate resuming normal operations on Tuesday pending government direction. We are praying and eagerly anticipating God answering the prayers of many to protect lives and properties. Please pray along with us!

Thank you so much for praying for us and especially Joel and Jochebed as you read about them in our last prayer letter. Many of you responded with words of encouragement, prayers and great generosity. Joel started the semester well and with a great outlook for which we are thankful. He is happier and is more positive about his classes. Please continue to pray that God will perfect what He has started. Also remember to continue praying for the appeal that we sent for his scholarship as the decision making/proceedings have now started. We are still waiting for their response.

Jochebed moved to a new 1 bedroom apartment from a studio apartment in a bad part of town and is settling in well. She is as busy as ever and we appreciate prayers for strength, wisdom and success in all her endeavors and give thanks for her safety while she lived at her old place.

We were in International Leadership Team and Board of Governors’ meetings during the last two weeks. The two meetings went well and everyone has returned to their destinations safely. Praise God with us for unity that was evident as they met and deliberated on issues affecting SIM. Pray that God will establish all He has helped them to decide upon.

Pray for the SIM Healthcare Conference and Leadership Initiative starting on September 16 in Kenya and that all will go well.

We will take a week of rest/holiday after the conference and then go on to the Philippines for SIM Philippines Spiritual Life Conference (SLC). Please pray that God will speak through Joshua as he will be speaking both in Kenya and in the Philippines. Pray that God will meet everyone at their point of need.

Thank you for always being there for us in prayers and for your support.

Convinced that no one should live and die without hearing God’s good news, we believe that He has called us to make disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ in communities where He is least known.

Joshua and Joanna Bogunjoko

Joshua & Joanna Bogunjoko

Dr. Joshua Bogunjoko has been the SIM’s International Director since June 1, 2013. Joshua and his wife, Joanna, began their mission careers as members of the Evangelical Missionary Society (EMS), the mission arm of the ECWA church, which today sends more than 2400 Nigerians cross-culturally. They were commissioned by the national ECWA church in 1993 and their home church in Lagos in 1995, where they were sent out as seconded associates of SIM. They have served at three mission hospitals in West Africa and became full members of SIM in 2001. Joshua served on the SIM International Leadership Team since 2006, dealing with global issues related to mission.

Pastors Should Take a Vacation for the Good of their Church

Stephanie Dyrness Lobdell | You are not the linchpin holding your congregation together (Images: Our Dream Cruises, Tracy Arm, AK, USA).
I sit on the couch, flipping through my digital calendar, trying to do the math. When can we actually fit in some vacation time? There are so many factors to consider: the launch of the combined summer service, Vacation Bible School, various camps, vacations for other staff members. I also worry about the summer slump, which is already upon us. Can the church really afford not to have their lead pastors present, if only for morale?

My husband and I, co-lead pastors of our church, have the vacation time. All the books and all the ministry blogs and all the professors say pastors must tend to their families, guard their souls, and rest. I know in my heart we need to take more than one week—that in fact we need two in a row—to truly decompress and separate from the beautiful but weighty vocation that is parish ministry.

But so much can happen in two weeks. My mind begins to race. A conflict might emerge, a pressing administrative issue could arise, someone might end up in the hospital with only a good word from my lips able to sustain them. As my thoughts careen out of control, images of a church in tatters, a mass exodus, and possible explosions flood my mind’s eye.

Get a grip, I tell myself.

The irrational fear and anxiety of taking a mere 14 consecutive days away from my parish has unveiled a wound within me that needs attention.

Why the Anxiety?

Vacation anxiety is not unique to ministry, but the pressure does have a unique faith-flavored flair to it. The stakes feel elevated for those in the field of soul care.

Practical concerns
There are, of course, practical concerns. Who will do what in our absence? How will the everyday, unseen tasks be completed? Who will honor the pulpit and preach faithfully when we’re gone? For those of us who feel a sense of scarcity in terms of local leadership, these practical concerns can paralyze us.

But vacation anxiety runs much deeper than the who, what, and how questions that arise when the pastor is out of town. There is also the anxiety of perception. Some pastors are more prone to this anxiety than others, but it merits mention.

As I plan time away, I find myself explaining, almost defending, our vacation. We haven’t taken any time off in 6 months. Or, We’ve been saving up for a long time to take a trip, and we’re doing it on the cheap, so we’re not being extravagant or anything! I secretly wonder, does my congregation begrudge me the time off? Will they perceive me as disengaged, selfish, and uncommitted to the church and the church’s needs? The fact that my paycheck comes from their tithes and offerings adds a new layer of angst, since I often feel the need to prove I’m worth the investment and that I’m not living large at their expense.

An idolatrous heart
But if I am truly honest with myself, my anxiety surrounding taking adequate time off goes even deeper than the practical concerns or the perceptions. I cannot in good faith say, “It’s them! It’s the congregation with their unreasonable expectations!” Because it is also me, with an idolatrous heart that has participated in and perhaps even propagated the narrative that the life of the church flows from, or at least through, the pastor.

In his ever-timely book The Contemplative Pastor, Eugene Peterson quotes Hilary of Tours who describes a sin so often committed by pastors: irreligiosa sollicitudo pro Deo, a blasphemous anxiety to do God’s work for him.

And there it is: the sin of this pastor’s heart. I could blame the constant deluge of images that portray leaders as an organization’s capstone—the source of inspiration, motivation, and momentum. I could blame those highly “successful” pastors who peddle their systems and theories as necessary to salvation and vital to every church’s life together. I could even blame denominational leaders who present stories of visionary, gregarious leaders to mimic and ensure ecclesial growth and vitality.

But my accusations fall flat. I must take responsibility for the state of my soul and the lies I have believed—lies of my own self-importance, lies that my identity is contingent upon my vocation, even lies about the Spirit’s power to move and transform without direction from me. With that in mind, here are a few commitments I am making as I plan my upcoming vacation.

Commitments to Combat Vacation Anxiety

I commit to being honest about my vacation anxiety.
Some anxiety is appropriate. As the leader, I am responsible for ensuring that leadership is being raised up and trained to do the work of ministry. My husband and I are ultimately responsible for having all our bases covered. Pastors who leave town without a thought to what might go on in their absence send a message of disengaged inattentiveness.

However, some types of anxiety are not only inappropriate—they are toxic to my soul and lead to the sin of idolatry. I have to ask myself,

  • Is my anxiety rooted in fear or in a compulsive need to please the people of my congregation?
  • Am I micromanaging the people around me and doubting their ability to do good work without my presence?
  • Have I taken undue responsibility for the Spirit’s movement among the people of God to the extent that I believe that, apart from my physical presence, the Spirit will not (or even cannot) move?
  • Is my identity so rooted in my vocation that the idea of time away from work is disorienting and unsettling?

These are not easy questions to answer honestly, but my answers reveal the ways in which my heart veers toward that “blasphemous anxiety to do God’s work for him.”

I commit to going.
Yes, I will actually take my vacation. This requires wisdom and discernment. It’s probably not ideal to take two weeks of vacation in the middle of Advent. But I won’t kid myself into thinking every church function requires me to be there in the flesh. I will work to empower my leaders, be they pastoral staff or lay leaders, and then let them do their jobs. Equipping the saints for ministry is sacred work.

I commit to being absent.
When I leave, I will be as fully “gone” as possible. This may not require a costly overseas escape. A simple, affordable “staycation” will work just as well, if I take the call to absence seriously. That means I will need to communicate clearly that I will not be responding to emails, calls, or texts. But that’s not enough. I must follow through and stay off my phone and email! I will probably disconnect from social media as well. It has the power to make us present in mind and spirit to the wrong things, even when we are absent in the body.

I will, of course, leave emergency contact info with someone who I trust to respect my absence—someone who understands the definition of emergency.

I commit to being present.
Being absent is only half the battle. As I embrace the call to absence from work, I must accept the challenge to be present—to my family, to my body, and to my spirit.

Present to my family. I commit to paying attention to my loved ones in intentional ways. Even if I don’t go on a lavish trip or even leave town, I will find a way to spend quality time with my family.

Present to my body. So much of pastoral work is work of the mind. After a long day of sermon prep, I find that I have left my seat perhaps only twice, but I am exhausted from the mental fatigue of studying. During times of increased stress and anxiety, my body lets me know through stomachaches, tight shoulders, and jaw tension—once so severe I could barely chew! I will use the time of absence from work to be present to my body through physical movement and bodily care. Exercise, even a simple walk, reminds me that I am a whole person, not a disembodied spirit or mind.

Present to my spirit. It never fails that when I have a moment of stillness, anxiety pounces on my peace. My initial reaction is to flee or distract. Hurry, get busy! If I’m constantly moving, anxiety can’t slither in. Or, Start that Netflix binge! My mind will be too busy with the steady stream of entertainment for anxiety to get a word in. In her book Don’t Feed the Monkey Mind, Jennifer Shannon says this is the wrong approach to our anxiety. It sends the false message that the fear we are experiencing is dangerous and should be avoided. But it’s not dangerous; it’s just uncomfortable. Shannon encourages her readers to open their minds and hearts to the anxiety and to sit with the discomfort, thereby debunking anxiety’s lies and stealing its power.

As I sit with the discomfort, I ask the Lord to remind me that I am his beloved, and with me, the Lord is well pleased. I confess the ways in which I have sought to do God’s work on God’s behalf. I ask the Spirit to heal the wounds that led me to these anxious behaviors.

Vacation as Co-laboring
Without a doubt, taking vacation as a pastor can be a challenge. But time away is not merely important—it is essential for both the pastor and the congregation. Those of us who bear the mantle of pastor need to be reminded that we are not the head of the church. Christ is.

Pastors are not, as Eugene Peterson puts it, “the linchpin holding a congregation together.” We are co-laborers with our flocks, cooperating with the Holy Spirit who is doing the work of calling, comforting, and convicting. Our congregations need a reminder that pastoral vacations can deliver blessings as well. They are not to be passive consumers of what the “professional” pastor has to offer, but rather to be engaged, contributing members of the body of Christ.

By refusing to participate in the blasphemous anxiety to do the work of God for him and confessing the idolatry in our own hearts, we will shape our congregation to follow Jesus faithfully—more faithfully than 365 consecutive days of work ever could.

Now, you’ll have to excuse me. I need to get back to planning my vacation.

Stephanie Dyrness Lobdell currently serves as co-lead pastor with her husband Tommy at Mountain Home Church of the Nazarene in Mountain Home, Idaho. She blogs at

Gathering to Praise Him!

by Joshua and Joanna Bogunjoko, SIM International Director | We will be traveling for a month, and we ask for your fervent prayers to surround us.

“Save us, Lord our God,
and gather us from the nations,
that we may give thanks
to your holy name
and glory in your praise.

48 Praise be to the Lord,
the God of Israel,
from everlasting to everlasting.
Let all the people say, “Amen!”
Praise the Lord.” Psalm 106:47-48.

In our Christmas/New Year letter, we mentioned that SIM will celebrate its 125th anniversary in 2018. SIM will also be hosting our Global Assembly (GA), which only meets every three or four years. We thank God who has given us life to see this historic year and to celebrate with many people from SIM world. We are excited for all the Lord has done and all He is yet to do.

We will be traveling for a month, and we ask for your fervent prayers to surround us. We will visit one of our regional offices, and then Joshua will speak at the Africa Roundtable of the ACSI (Association of Christian Schools International). Following that will be meetings of SIM’s International Board of Governors. Then our Global Assembly will convene for five days. Following this is a retreat for SIM’s Country Directors, and finally, a meeting of the International Leadership Team.

Thank God with us:

  • for all the work that has gone into the preparations.
  • for all the speakers God has uniquely called and prepared.
  • for all the visas already granted.

Please pray for:

  • our preparations and travel, especially for all the reports that Joshua needs to write.
  • our visit with the regional office, that we will be a blessing to them.
  • preparations for Africa Roundtable (Joshua will be speaking on “Africa Development and Partnership” – pray for the Lord to speak through him).
  • all the preparations for Global Assembly.
  • all the preparations for 125th anniversary year.
  • traveling mercies for us and for all those who will be traveling.
  • Jochebed and Joel to be well while we are away for almost a month.
  • utterance, boldness, strength and good health for everyone.
  • for God to grant favor and mercy to those still waiting to get their visas.

Thank you for the special part you play in the fulfilment of SIM’s purpose and vision.

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On the road again!

by Joshua and Joanna | (SIM/ECWA/ACF)  | “The Lord will keep you from all evil; he will keep your life. 8 The Lord will keep your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forevermore.” Psalm 121:7-8
This is a short prayer letter to let you know that we are going to start traveling again this evening and we covet your prayers. We are thankful to God for the time we have been Stateside and His enablement in our work at the office.

Praise God for:
– Joanna’s trip to Columbus, Ohio last weekend, representing SIM at Without Borders Conference (training women how to reach out to Muslim women.)

Please pray for:
– our trip to Chiang Mai, Thailand as part of the Abide Conference, focusing on unreached Muslim peoples around the world. – Joanna who is going to San Diego for Trevor Ardill’s (a former SIM US director) memorial service and visiting Jochebed in San Francisco.
– our trip to Canada
1. Speaking at Calvary Baptist Church Mission Focus week in Ontario
2. Prairie College Board meeting in Three Hills, Alberta
3. 500th year of Protestant Reformation, Vancouver, BC
4. Visiting our supporting church at New Westminster, BC
– for Jochebed, especially that the Lord will relief her of allergy.

– for Joel and his classes that the Lord will give him wisdom.

Thank you very much for your on going prayer, love, encouragement and support.

SIM’s 2017 Prayer Guide is available to all our prayer partners. Please download a copy here: so you can join us in praying for SIM ministries that impact those who live and die without the gospel.
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Crossing barriers with love to those living and dying without Christ
Convinced that no one should live and die without hearing God’s good news,
we believe that He has called us to make disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ
in communities where He is least known



Intimacy With Jesus: It’s More Than a Trip to Israel

by Christy Fitzwater | Many times during our Israel trip, I thought of Jesus’ words for those of us who would come to him long after his appearance on earth (images of Ramon Crater, YouTube)

We were slouched on the couch, in a jet-lag stupor, when he leaned over to me and said, “You know what?”

I let my weary head swing his direction. “What?”

“Israel was great and everything, but I feel like I didn’t get to spend any time with the Lord while I was there.”

“Seriously?” I answered. “I’ve been feeling the same way, but it just seemed so weird to say it after spending 10 days in the Holy Land.”

We talked about the eight-hour days of touring and learning, combined with not-the-best sleep coming off of jet lag and getting used to new beds. It didn’t leave much energy for getting up to have a quiet time with the Lord, and we were both missing that.

Made me think of the lady I saw in the old city of Jerusalem, down on her knees in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. In front of her was a stone, where it’s thought Jesus was laid when they took him down from the cross. Next to her was a stack of white cloths, with a T-shirt store stamp of Jesus’ face on each one. She was grabbing cloths from the stack and rubbing them on the stone, while fervently praying something we couldn’t understand.

We speculated that the lady would be selling those cloths back home to people who desperately wanted a special connection to Jesus.

Is that what it takes?

I remember years ago when our good friends went to Israel and came back to tell about it. Somebody asked me then if I didn’t wish I could take the same trip. My answer was no, I didn’t care to. Didn’t feel like I needed to go to Israel to have some special experience with God.

Well, a week ago found me standing in the special places of the Bible stories—looking out on the same valley where David killed Goliath (note the picture of us at this site on this blog post), standing on Mount Carmel where Elijah defeated the prophets of Baal, looking at a first-century synagogue, by the Sea of Galilee, where it is highly likely Jesus would have spoken to the Jews on Shabbat.

And do you know what I thought each time?

Ah, so this is what it looks like.

And do you know what I felt?

Ah, so I was right. Seeing these things does not give me some increased feeling of intimacy with God but only gives me visual confirmation of what I have believed all along.

Because back in Wyoming, when I was a kid in a little Baptist church, I was watching my Sunday School teacher use a flannelgraph to tell us the story of David and Goliath.

And I was believing. With all of my heart I was believing that God used that little shepherd to kill a mighty giant with a stone.

I looked out the tour bus window as the guide said, “Look to your right, and there you can see the little stream where David would have picked up the stone.”

“Cool,” I said. “So cool to see.” But it didn’t change anything in my heart, because for so long—for decades—I had been opening up my Bible in the morning and reading all of these stories and leaning hard on the God who wrote them.

When our tour team sat in the beautiful garden, located outside of what is thought to be Jesus’ tomb, we celebrated the Lord’s Supper together. But back in the States I had remembered what Jesus had done on my behalf before I ever touched the rock wall or stepped my foot into the place where His body might have lain for three days.

So the preacher and I agreed that Israel was an indescribably rich experience, but our hearts longed for a quiet room in our own home and time spent intimately with Jesus.

Many times during our Israel trip, I thought of Jesus’ words for those of us who would come to him long after his appearance on earth:

“Blessed are those who have not seen, and have yet believed” (John 20:29b).

I highly recommend a trip to Israel, if you ever have the opportunity to go. But if it’s a deep connection with God you’re looking for, you can find that right where you are. Open your Bible and believe what you read. All of the locations and the stories and the truth are real. You don’t need to see Jerusalem or rub a stone or see some special place to know God.

Only your heart needs to travel.

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Christy Fitzwater is an author and pastor’s wife living in Kalispell, Montana. She is the author of Blameless: Living A Life Free from Guilt And Shame and My Father’s Hands: 52 Reasons to Trust God with Your Heart. Find her devotional writing at

How Parents and Adult Children Can Travel Together

by Brooke Obie | Worried about traveling with parents? Get practical advice from our writer who's had great trips with her mom and dad (Photo: Brooke Obie)

Whether you've got a big trip planned or you're spending a day with your family in a nearby town, you may think parents and adult children traveling together could be challenging. After several years of wonderful trips with my parents, I've learned traveling with family can be rewarding, fun, and easy. And, I've got some practical advice to help make your trips go smoothly too.

When my parents joined me in Paris for their 30th wedding anniversary back in 2012, we didn't plan on starting an annual tradition of traveling together. But the next year, around the same time as their anniversary and my birthday, they followed me to New York City to celebrate. Then the next year we wound up on the Vegas strip and took a helicopter down to the Grand Canyon. Then two years in a row we met up for a road trip down to Myrtle Beach. But this year, for their 35th wedding anniversary, we went all out, traveling the farthest we’ve ever traveled together, to my absolute favorite place on earth: Hawaii.   


Through our many treks together, I’ve picked up some tips about how parents and adult children can travel together. Here are 6 ways to ensure you enjoy your intergenerational vacation.

1) Make Sure There's Something for Everyone

It was easy for my parents and I to decide to go to Hawaii–it's paradise! But we each had our own ideas about what would make our trip fun. My dad was satisfied to stay in Waikiki–a place he visits for work once a month–but my mom really wanted to venture off of Oahu and onto Maui. So, we split our vacation between the two islands. Since my dad rarely asks to do anything, I knew when he asked for us to take the Atlantis Submarines adventure on Oahu down to the depths of the ocean (ka moana hohonu), we had to do that first. We ventured down to the piers in Waikiki, took a relaxing boat cruise to the submarine in the middle of the ocean, and explored coral reefs, sunken ships and airplanes, and schools of fish 111 feet beneath the sea. The only other thing he really wanted to do was to walk on the beach in the mornings, so we got up early and walked with him.

My mom really wanted to shop, so I took her to a local shop that sold made-in-Hawaii products, and I ventured off on my own one day to see 'Iolani Palace, the monument of the former Hawaiian monarchy, and learned of the tragic betrayal of Queen Liliuokalani, Hawaii's last monarch before annexation into the U.S. Though everyone wasn't up to go to the palace, they enjoyed hearing about what I'd learned later. It's great to do activities together, but leave some space for people to go off on their own and explore their own interests for a little while. It'll make the time you're together even more special.

2)  Choose Meaningful Activities

When you choose to share activities you love–and why you love them–with your family, it enhances all of your enjoyment of the experience, as you all learn a little more about each other. Maui is second only to Kaua'i on my list of favorite places in the world, so I was thrilled to put together a Maui itinerary of amazing experiences to share with my parents. When we landed on Maui, the first thing I did was rent a car and drive my parents up to Haleakala Crater, 10,000 feet above sea level. With it's red-orange clay ridges, ocean blue sky and white puffy clouds, it's one of the most stunning and serene places on earth, and a breathtaking view of God's creativity. 

That afternoon, we saw Ulalena, the play that shows the tragic and triumphant history of Hawaii through song, dance and jaw-dropping acrobatics. This was my second time seeing the play and its heartfelt performances still moved me to tears and taught my parents a great deal they didn't know about Hawaiian history. I then took my parents a few doors down the boardwalk from the Maui Theater to the Lahaina Grill for dinner where I had my favorite meal–the pink snapper–and shared with them bread and Lahaina Grill's signature rosemary and garlic butter. To our pleasant surprise, the owner of the restaurant, Jurg Munch, stopped over to say hello, and we were able to gush about all of our meals. He was so pleased with our enjoyment that he gave us copies of the recipes for our meals so we (meaning, my mom!) could make them back on the mainland. 

Next, I checked us into the Ritz-Carlton Kapalua–my favorite hotel on the island–and not just because it's a gorgeous hotel with a pristine beach. The Ritz is the first hotel on Maui that heeded the protests of native Hawaiians and redesigned their resort so as not to interfere with native sacred burial grounds. They also led the way in hiring Hawaiian icon Clifford Nae'ole as the cultural adviser for the property. Many other resorts in Hawaii followed their lead in creating cultural adviser positions to ensure that the properties are respectful and beneficial to native Hawaiians in some way. King Clifford, as I affectionately call him because of all he's been able to do to advance Hawaiian people and culture throughout the island and the world, founded and spearheads at the Ritz the annual Celebration of the Arts–which brings together Polynesian ethnic groups from all over to celebrate and share history, culture and art with the masses and each other. I've written for Mysterious Ways about how the hiuwai (Hawaiian sunrise cleansing ceremony) I did with Clifford in 2014 impacted my life. So I was excited to share that 5:30 a.m. ritual with my parents.

Though Clifford couldn't lead the ceremony for us this time, he sent his friends, kumus (teachers) Kalapana Kollars and Anuhea Yagi to lead us in the hiuwai ritual on the beach. To the sound of nothing but gentle waves, my parents and I laid down our burdens in the ocean, reconnected to God, and came out of the water jubillant, giving praise for a new day and the rising of the sun, perfectly situated before us, just over the mountains in the distance. It's the kind of ritual in the perfect setting that can crack your heart open and giveway to fully loving everything around you, as God intended. Sharing the hiuwai with my parents and then hiking to nearby Makalua-puna Point made for an unforgettable bonding moment.

3) Google Activities and Accommodations in Advance.

Make sure everyone knows what the accommodations are supposed to look like so there’s no surprise or disappointment when you arrive at your destination. Also, research the activities you're going to be doing together, to make sure that everyone will be able to participate. My mom had a hip replacement last year, so when I saw that our Atlantis submarine adventure required everyone to be able to climb and descend from a vertical ladder, I checked with her first, to make sure she wore closed toe shoes and felt comfortable on a ladder. When we drove up to Haleakala Crater, I'd packed ginger candy for us to chew on to avoid nausea that can come from driving around the narrow mountain roads' twists and turns. I also packed bottled water, bread and Surfing Goat Dairy cheese (my favorite and a Maui staple!) to stave off altitude sickness. Unfortunately, my mom didn't like the snacks and didn't drink enough water, so she did get altitude sickness and my dad wasn't properly dressed for the 50-degree weather we encountered so high up. We ended up leaving Haleakala sooner rather than later. Lesson learned: pack a light jacket and something everyone wants to snack on!

4) Get Social

More than 30 years separate me from my parents, but one thing my mom and I both love is posting photos on social media. If you decide as a family that posting vacation pictures is okay with everyone, share them on your social media platforms and tag your family members in them. Come up with a hashtag that everyone posting can use so you can all find your pictures quickly. Ohana means family in Hawaiian, so our hashtag for this trip was #OhanaTour2017. Just another fun way to revel in the memories as you're making them.

5) Avoid Controversial Topics

Just because you’re family doesn’t guarantee you’ll agree on everything. In fact, at this stage in the parent-adult child relationship, you probably know exactly what might set someone off and jeopardize your fun trip. Avoid those topics like the plague! There’s a time and place for tough and necessary conversations, but your fantastic vacation is not one of them. Resign yourselves to enjoying your trip and enjoying each other. If you see the conversation spiraling into a bad place, steer the conversation back to something pleasant. Resolve to keep the peace and remember the purpose of your vacation: bonding.  

6) Embrace Change

​As children transition to adulthood, the parent-child relationship and the expectations and responsibilities of each are bound to change. Embrace it! Vacationing together when all parties are adults and can communicate their wants, needs and expectations with more emotional maturity provides a perfect opportunity to deepen your family bond. Whether childhood was idyllic or volatile, adulthood allows a chance for everyone involved to start again—if all parties agree to do so—and forge a relationship that can be healing and enjoyable. It was a blessing for me that my parents were able to let go of their roles and identities as my providers and to instead allow me to treat them to amazing, once-in-a-lifetime experiences, to teach them something new and to give back in some small way what they've given to me my entire life. When you let go of the past and your former roles in each other’s lives, you can get excited about building something new together.

Brooke Obie and her family visited the Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua, Atlantis Submarines Waikiki and Maui Theatre's Ulalena courtesy of each corporation. Her favorite experiences are highlighted in this article.