The Hancock-Henderson Quill, Inc.
By Miriam Rutzen
[Editor's Note: Using the opportunity between jobs to pursue her dreams of travel over the course of one year, Miriam Rutzen of Sciota is sharing this series of her thoughts on her travels and stops along the way over six months, sixteen countries, three continents, and "a great deal of jet lag", she says.
"I made a bet with my dad that I would make it to all seven continents by age 27."
Miriam already had ventured to Australia in 2009 and Europe in 2013 leaving her with only the most difficult-Antarctica. Her first columns were Peru, and Toyko, Hong Kong, Thailand, Singapore, Germany, London, Scotland, Portugal, Spain and this week is...
While traveling on a coaching tour for News Release Basketball, I spent one week leading camp in Nice, France in August of 2014. While there, one of the main missionary families adopted me in as one of their own and told me I always had a place to stay if I made it back there again. In August of 2016, I took them up on their offer and rejoiced when they welcomed me into their home for a time of rest and rejuvenation after my crazy pace. The official mileage as tracked by my iPhone whenever I carried it with me from August 12-August 20 while gallivanting around Europe: 5.5, 16.8, 6.0, 12.3, 12.2, 8.7, 11.4, 3.1, and 0.06. Needless to say.
Only a month prior to my arrival, a terrorist attack occurred on the rocky beach in Nice.
I had been to nearly the exact spot on the French Riviera in 2014 and I returned there during this visit as well.
The water tumbles the stones on the shore as families and friends gather at all hours of the day to enjoy the fresh air off the Mediterranean Sea.
That screams of terror still reverberated in the minds of the locals was not blatantly obvious, but it was evident that my new family had spent weeks mentoring, counseling, and comforting those within their community who were hurting and afraid.
A country covered for centuries with the footprints and bloodshed left by numerous people groups and religions, Nice boasts of all the best the world can offer, attempting to be as void of religious influence as possible.
Sadly, this leaves a community grappling with fear without much to turn to for comfort.
Often forgotten is the fact that terrorist attacks often victimize all persons present regardless of their race, religion, or ethnicity: anyone celebrating that night on the beach, no matter their background, found their entire world thrown into turmoil.
My friends and their church played an important role in offering a safe space to share and process through the feelings of insecurity.
Members of Denton Bible Church, which is located in Denton, Texas, started the Nice International Baptist Church in 1995, and has since expanded to another site in St. Paul (near to Nice).
An English-speaking church, they also have direct French translation available through headphones.
My host family helps directly with both churches, through children's ministry, Sunday school teaching, and community outreach.
Having recently moved to a new home that doubles as a retreat center for the church, my "family" was also in a mode of vacation from their normally packed schedule.
I took full advantage of the relaxed recovery mode to completely chill out as well.
I have very few pictures from my time in Nice because I simply stayed away from my phone.
My time there felt more like a family visit than a tourist stop or missions trip and I reveled in the peace and quiet.
Daniel and Marie are wonderful parents to four now-adult boys and a teenage girl.
Even though I was only there four days, the days stretched out with the ease of a relaxed breeze that moved through the open balcony doors.
I called home to speak to my parents and grandma for the first time since I had left a month before, I read "Cry, the Beloved Country" while looking out over the beautiful hills and out to the sea, and I enjoyed some delightful times of rest.
We went hiking, we went to the beach one evening, we went to church, we had friends over for meals, we cooked, we ate, we watched movies, we jammed out to music in the car while winding through the streets, we ate pizza, we went swimming night and day, and we enjoyed every minute of our time together.
I could not have needed a break more and I could not have imagined a better place or people to relax with than with them.
I have always dreamed of touring Italy. The full nine yards: Venice, Rome, Florence, Turin, Bologna, Siena, Pisa, Verona, Milan.
In the early planning stages, my hope was to train across most of Italy after a 30-hour stay in Nice so that I could catch my flight out on August 24 in Naples.
As I started to dig into the logistics from the comforts of my "home" in France, I turned to my adopted mom for some help in decision-making.
Wisdom prevailed and I shelved the dream of Italian countryside exploring, putting it in the "Someday" folder of yet to be fulfilled hopes.
And that was the correct choice: the morning I arrived at the airport to fly from Nice to Naples, news reports announced that an earthquake in central Italy had created quite the stir overnight.
As I fielded text messages from friends stateside making sure I was okay, I was reminded of how grateful I was for continued travel mercies.
Photos of my travels can be found on Facebook or Instagram: mrutzen25 and more in depth stories are chronicled at www.miriamrutzen.blogspot.com.