We boarded the bus after another early morning and hasty breakfast (I fully confess to smuggling another piece of white bread from the breakfast room—I didn’t have time to eat everything I had). The guy that sat next to me suggested we read through our assigned scriptures for the day—and we did, all the way through the Ephesus section (which was huge) for over an hour.
After a not-too-long a drive we came to Assos. The morning was still crisp and cool as we ascended into the village. We had to hike up a long, steep cobblestoned street. I was panting and sweating and my legs were burning by the time we hit the summit—but the instant we crested the hill it was all worth it. We could see for miles in every direction—out over the green hills and fields and woods one way, and far over the glistening Aegean sea and coastline in the other. We sat among the ruins of a temple of Athena and read about the journeys of Paul in Assos and Troas. We took pictures overlooking the sea in the early morning sunlight. The air was cool and sweet, and the view was possibly the most breathtaking landscape I have ever seen. I took pictures, but they can’t possibly do it justice.
We drove for many hours, with a brief break for lunch. I felt a little nauseated after lunch, but Will (one of our two bus docs) gave me a couple of tums tablets and I felt much better. I passed the time by catching up on my homework, reading my murder mystery, watching a little of Narnia (the first one) on my laptop, and played Never Have I Ever and debated the merits of various Disney princes with the folks sitting nearby. I also slept some. It’s way too easy to do that on the bus. We also did an introduction session, in which everyone came up to the mic to say a few things about themselves and take questions. I said that I did theatre and spoke Shakespearean and was promptly cheered and shouted into reciting a sonnet. I loved every second.
After a little over four hours we hit Pergamum. We rode a gondola to get to the top (and were SO grateful that we didn’t have to walk). The city was situated on a cliff, high above the valley floor. We took pictures in there—soon to come, I hope. We visited the ruins of the Temple of Trajan that had once stood on this spot (Roman Emperor Cult HQ was here). The standing columns were at least fifty feet high, and the scroll work on the tops was incredible. There were so many intricate carvings and huge marble works. I can’t imagine what that place might have looked like in its full glory. I can only think that the mere mortals who visited would not have been able to help feeling the awe of being among the Gods.
After the temple we sat in the theatre for our devotional—the steepest one in the ancient world. We talked about John the revelator’s words to Pergamum (one of the seven churches in Revelation). The theatre was open to a stunning view of the valley floor and a beautifully cool breeze. After our devotional, I went down to the theatre stage. One of the girls further up told me to do some Shakespeare, so I broke out my dramatic monologue from A Winter’s Tale. I actually remembered all of it, much to my own surprise, and did pretty well for having practiced it so little. Apparently Ashley filmed it. I’m a little scared to watch, but I’m kind of glad she did—I couldn’t ask for a better setting.
Oh, I almost forgot—I have big news! You’ll never believe it, but we have an engagement here on our trip. Not just a couple (though those have been cropping up)—no, this is a full-out proposal. Dallin and Cassie met at the airport the day we left and are going to be married a week and a half after we get back (their parents are doing some of the planning while we’re here). Dallin was asked in his getting-to-know-you time if he liked long walks on the beach (he had taken one with Cassie the night before). He said that he did, and that last night’s was especially nice and that she said yes. Brother Judd and half the bus looked absolutely flabbergasted. Brother Judd slowly stood up, took the mic, and said “What was the question?” He called Cassie up and made Dallin reenact the whole thing for us. We were all surprised, but they are great people and a great couple and we are all thrilled for them. I think they’ll be very happy together.
We retired to our hotel—the Ephesus Princess—for dinner. It was an amazing buffet, complete with intricately carved melons.More tomorrow! Ciao, everybody--and Teshekular for reading these long posts. :)