Cruising the Inside Passage of Alaska 16May-23May 2009 (Chrisna)

Tinus keeps on mentioning the Alaska cruise, but I don't see anything being written. As this cruise was for me a lifelong dream not only coming true, but exceeding all expectations, I also feel to write a few lines about it. I must admit, I'm glad that I write before Tinus can, because after his good English and nicely composed and describing sentences, I would have felt totally inadequate to write anything! Yes, comparing my writing to his, makes me feel completely inferior, but out of this comes 2 important lessons: 1.Never compare yourself to anyone. Be the best that you can be. 2.No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.

So, this is my summary of Alaska, not comparing, not feeling inferior, but comforting myself with the fact that as a parent I am suppose to have my children standing on my shoulders, exceeding myself(not that I have anything to do with his English!!)

Boarding the ship in Seattle, was so exciting, a dream come true. I was the one to suggest cruising to Alaska. I've never seen pictures or read any thing, but I've heard about this cruise some 2 years before, and it somehow stuck in my mind. After much prayer, budgeting and discussions, we booked this cruise in September 2008, choosing the cheapest option of an inside cabin on the lowest deck.

Everything on the boat was wonderful, (including the cabin) - the 24hr availability of food (especially for my men who've been on rations for the past 4,5 months), the different restaurants to choose from (never planning a meal or washing the dishes), the shows in the evenings (eg.Andrew Lloyd Webber Musical), the many different lounges to sit and read or just sit or play games, the games on deck and even winning in table tennis! Yes all of that was beyond expectation. BUT that was not the ultimate...

The ultimate was going on outside - the ever changing spectacular views of the shoreline that was less than 500m away on both sides the whole time.

This cruise goes up the inside passage of Alaska, meaning the ship is surrounded by the mainland of Canada or Alaska and the islands. This obviously makes the cruising stable on the calm waters. We were always surrounded by snow capped mountains and pine tree forests, sometimes not surrounded, but hugged by them.

We stopped at 4 ports, 3 in Alaska and 1 in Canada. It's like stepping back in history.

The towns were founded in the days of the gold rushes and developed into salmon fishing towns. No development has taken place for many decades, but they were kept in their former quaint state. When going ashore we did not take any excursion(they were all VERY expensive). No, we did that which was free, and I'm sure also the most enjoyable: we walked for kilometres, or in good American: we hiked for miles!

Up mountains and down valleys. Past waterfalls and through rainforests. Just before boarding, we strolled through the small shops for a short while and looked what they had on offer to the 1000's of tourists coming to them with the big ships.

Then on the Tuesday, I had another experience like at the Grand Canyon. An awesome, breathtaking, overwhelming experience where my thoughts the whole time was:"How Great is God, God the Creator of all things". We went down the Tracy arm of a fjord to the Sawyer Glacier. That massive boat went slowly, almost as if honouring and respecting the "hugeness" of the surroundings, through the very thin canal. We sailed for 4 hours, massive mountains hugging us on both sides, 1000feet granite walls going perpendicular from the water, snow on the mountain tops and waterfalls everywhere, as the snow is melting in the higher spring temperatures. In the water we passed several small icebergs, as the ice of 10 000's of years old break off the glacier. Then we stopped, dead - with the front of the ship in the ice water and a glacier right in front of us, nestled in the mountain.

Ice formed over thousands and thousands of years, (now melting because of global warming). Then the boat turned around and went back the way we entered...

Oh,God ,how majestic is the work of your hands! I praise you. You are God almighty! One day every knee shall bow and every tongue shall confess that you are God. Creation is glorifying your name. Please help me to do the same.

What a awesome, spectacular, beautiful, holy experience. We were blessed.

That is how the cruise was - full of surprises, breathtaking views, spoils, family fun times (and many miles of hiking). It was oh so wonderful!

It surely is a "grand" memory...

But , praise God, we are now in yet another special place. Your mercy and blessings are so abundantly exceeding our expectations. Thank you , my Lord!

Prayer:a privilege and a necessity - 7 June 2009 (Chrisna)

Prayer has always fascinated me. It excites me and make me feel grateful. I am also amazed and humbled that the Lord of lords actually listens to what I'm saying AND always answers. The fact that we are invited to ask and promised an answer, makes it even more amazing. Even more mind boggling is that our prayers can be powerful and can make a huge difference in circumstances (sometimes the circumstances remain the same, but I become different). In James 5 in God's Word every one who is suffering, is invited to pray. We are reminded that prayer can be instrumental in healing and that God is present when we come together in His name and pray. Awesome!

Prayer has always been part of my daily life and existence. But this year...this year of being out of our comfort zones at all times, being far from home and unable to assist others in a seeable way, this year of challenges and self confrontation more than ever, of having to trust totally on God and not on the things we are used /able to do, prayer is an even bigger part of life. (May it keep on increasing in my life in years to come.)

Why is prayer so prominent and alive in my/our lives this year – even more than other times – and even to such an extent that I feel it important to write a blogpost about it? I'll give a short summary of reasons, which must also be a reminder for me in months and years to come, to continue fervent prayer and even do it more as time moves on. While I'm writing , I realize that there is more reasons than what I thought initially, and what was suppose to be a short blog, might be longer. My problem is that I think while I speak (or write,) I realize now that there is more in my heart than what I thought!

Why we pray more:

Reason 1: We are so completely dependant on God. Yes, we say we always depend on God, but back home, in known circumstances, I am unfortunately quite often able to do many things on my own and then dependence is more theoretical than practical.

Reminder/Lesson 1a: Depend on God's guidance even in known circumstances. There might be a better way to do things, and by merely following my known ways, I might miss the wiser way.

Reminder/Lesson 1b: Plan with God from the start. Don't plan and then ask God to help you and bless your plans. God's plans are always the best.

Reason 2: We are constantly out of our comfort zones. In a comfort zone, one feels...comfortable, and in control. We do not feel like this – we feel privileged and blessed, but not comfortable and in control. This causes even more dependence and need for guidance and sometimes even rescues. This demands adaptation, self examination and a good attitude at all times.

Reminder/Lesson 2: Never get too comfortable, it is a dangerous place of self dependence and reliance completely on own abilities. Comfort-zone-living can easily lead to selfish self-centeredness, without you ever calling it that! I must check regularly if I am in a comfort zone or if I'm stretching myself to limits which I can only achieve through the Power of Jesus. (Phil 4:13)

Reason 3: We are far away from home and cannot help others in need physically. I cannot sit with someone in pain, I cannot listen and give advice where it is needed, I cannot see the need and then do something about it, I cannot give anyone a hug... The "only" thing I can do, is to pray. And because I cannot depend on wise words the Spirit give me to give someone as advice or comfort, I must pray and trust God to send someone else or to comfort the person in need Himself. Quite often, I do not even know of the need and must rely on the Spirit to show me for who and for what to pray, only to experience God's faithfulness when realizing afterwards how "right" that specific prayer was. An e-mail response to God's call in my heart for that person, is the only thing I can do, other than continuous prayer for the person.

Reminder/Lesson 3: Pray for someone before I talk to that person. Wait and pray and wait and pray to get guidance from the Spirit to know for whom to pray. Sometimes, all I have to do, is pray – not necessarily "help" physically, unless God says so.

Reason 4: The slower pace and more time gives more opportunity for self search; for looking into the mirror and asking the Spirit to show me dirty spots. The not being so busy with doing and performing, gives more time to see the hidden, not so good, parts or characteristics, that was overseen in the past. Being out of the comfort zone also reveals parts of the self that is not so easily recognizable inside the place of comfort. To deal and grow through these realities, needs prayer and lots of it. Out of myself I cannot change, but if I allow Jesus to live through me, I can become who I am supposed to be.

Reminder/Lesson 4: MAKE time for self evaluation and do it regularly. Running is OK, but slow walking and pausing - stopping - is of vital importance. Self evaluation and rectifying of flaws does not happen with one line prayers on the run. To be filled with the Holy Spirit, to have Jesus living through me, takes time in prayer, in communication with God, woven into meditation on His Word.

Reason 5: More time with my family and more time for praying together. More deliberately living a life and setting the example...24 hours a day in which God is real and near and with us. Involving God and all 3 boys in the day to day decisions and challenges.

Reminder/Lesson 5: Think of God as being with you the whole time (it IS an absolute truth). Involve Him in your day to day life. Pray not only because you need Him, but as a reminder of His presence, of Him being with you. Make time to pray together – with my husband, with my family, with my friends. Make special prayer opportunities out of ordinary things – creating a life of thinking about God the whole time, knowing he is there the whole time. Like praying with a meal – it's not about the food or the habit, but a reminder of God's Presence.

There is more reasons for praying more and for praying, but these are a few that I know I must remind myself of in future, back home when I'm on the run.

Let me end this blogpost by praising God and giving a testimony of His faithfulness and hearing and answering of our prayers. In March ,when my mother experienced severe back pain, a diagnoses of cancer in the vertebrae was made. She received one dose of radiation therapy AND MUCH (too much to count) prayer from people all over. My mom has not experienced any pain since then and when a bone scan was done a few weeks ago as follow up, there was NO sign of cancer any more! She is completely healed. All other tests done shows that everything is normal and healthy. ALL HONOUR AND GLORY TO GOD!

Prayer is important, it is a privilege, it is a weapon, it is powerful, it is available. When you ask for something which is the Will of God, you will receive, BUT you must have faith. So, with prayer and faith, I will go on another world tour, I will go out of my comfort zone again and again. I will come back home, I will do what God asks of me and I know I can do all things through Christ who strengthen me.

I pray that these few words may help and remind someone out there of God's Faithfulness and invitation to pray, as much as it is helping me to write them.


It is Sunday today (or it was 10 minutes ago). I wrote this part above on Saturday evening, but haven't posted it yet. This morning we visited "our church" in Whitefish and the message was on prayer! How great is God, and faithful! It was such a blessing to me and confirmation of what I have written. I do however, want to add a paragraph coming from the introduction to Pastor Paul's teaching:

Prayer is always needed. Prayer is always appropriate. Prayer is always effective.

"Eph 6:18 Never stop praying, especially for others. Always pray by the power of the Spirit. Stay alert and keep praying for God's people."

This world we live in is like a minefield. I must walk slowly, carefully and prayerfully through it, always thinking of the other people around me as well. So, let's continue praying – God is listening...

Montana again - Tinus (Sunday night, 7 June '09)

I am really content.

No, I am really, really, really content.

Why? Well, a steaming cup of especially strong coffee is close at hand. My family is all close by also: each silently busy. I know God is happy with me, smiles over me and feasts on my pure delight. The intimate presence of the Holy Spirit (one of my 3 best friends…guess who the others are) adorns every inch (the USA is still on the imperial system) in and around me. And…I have just come home from the most wonderful day in Glacier National Park.

An awe inspiringly beautiful road – the "Going-to-the-sun road" – runs through the park from East to West Glacier. The middle portions of the road, are however at such altitudes that they are all but destroyed during winter. Early every summer, that part of the road is thus closed for repairs. But, bicycles are still allowed to travel to a section of the road called "the Loop," which is almost at the very center of the park, just West of the continental divide. (The continental divide is the imaginary line that runs along the Rocky mountains from North to South, from where rivers start flowing either East or West. It thus divides the North American Continent into East and West.)

So, today we took the two bikes we have (along with a third on which only Dawie can ride) and headed out for Glacier after church (which was amazingly blessed in itself!) Since there are four of us and only two bikes, Charlie and I took the first mounted shift and my parents and Dawie came walking behind. The two lane road, exclusive to cyclists this time of year, took us through paradise, beside a crystal clear river and amidst the most majestic mountains I have ever seen (and I have been to the Spitskoppe, Brandberg, Western Cape Mountain ranges and Drakensberge). We (the eldest Fourie brothers) turned around after 5 miles (exactly, about 28 minutes), having only really been on the part of the road that starts to climb for about a mile. The slight elevation we gained and the relative flatland beyond translated into a return journey to my parents of a 3.5 miles.

Then they took the bikes and we did not see them for 50 minutes. By that time, our feet had carried us to where the road starts ascending. From there, we cycled all the way up to the Loop (3 miles and 30 minutes), having gained around 350m. Sure, this doesn’t sound so hard, but for runners (I haven’t ridden a bicycle in a very long time), it is an effort worth mentioning. This entire scenic bi-athlone, took us a total of 2 hours 50 minutes. But, oh! I would do it again and again and again, even if just for the view!

So, with a tired and slightly sore, but healthy and currently comfortable body, I am content.

I am really, really, really content!

Praise the Lord!

The last time I felt like this was on the Alaska cruise…

P.S. My mother had our camera with her, so for photos, you'll have to wait for her post. Sorry.