It has been over a week since my last blog. Over the past week I was on a vacation with two of my closest friends and met some new people along the way. This week I had a chance to just sit back, relax a little, and just hang out. I was able to see some awesome things, experience things that most people may never do, and meet some people that have opened my eyes to a different way of looking at people.

As I was on the cruise this week, we went to 3 different ports of call. We did lots of snorkeling, fed and held giant sting rays, and lots of other things. The one thing above all else that made my vacation was that of meeting the people at our dinner table. You must be thinking, wow Mark, really? After all the weather and things you did, the people at your table? Yes! They were amazing people from Rhode Island. I think we were sat together for a special purpose.

Mark Batterson writes that things don't just happen. Things that you think just "work
out" are divine appointments God puts in front of you. These 3 people(Gary, Jenn, and Melissa) opened up to us really fast and just meshed so well with the 3 of us. What an experience.

It was during this week, and all the time we spent hanging out, that I continually prayed for them. As I sat there and we talked about our lives, which were very different because of us being from the south and them being from the north, I really wondered how amazing it was that we all got along so well. Even sometimes in our discussions we mentioned the fact that it was crazy how
we just got along right away.

The reason I mention these 3 New Englanders more than the sun, beautiful waters, etc. is because God really opened my eyes to how I view people. These 3 people we
never met before the trip, changed my life. It was a divine appointment with God and Jenn, Gary, and Melissa.

One night, during the week, we started to talk about our jobs or careers, and the question was asked of me, what do you do? I told them I was a youth pastor. I could see their reaction right away. It was from then on that I tried to make it my mission to show them I can be real with them and my title as my job does not define me. What would define me is the love
that I show them despite the title and that the love of Christ would shine through the most.

Towards the end of the week, one of the 3 asked me several questions that were on a deeper level. This person seemed interested in what could be or what I do. I pray for this person a lot now. I hope this person can find what they are looking for.

This whole week was an amazing experience. From the beauty of the earth that I got to
experience to the people we met and became friends with, God really opened my eyes to some wonderful experiences. I will end with 2 things, a story and of course, pictures fr
om the trip.

Before I tell the story, let me preface the story first. One of the big things we talked about between our 2 groups was how we said different things and how our accents really shined through. This made me think of communication and how we communicate to others. It also made me think how I could communicate the love of Christ to these people without shoving it down
their throats to turn them off of God. So here is the story....

There was a man who had a family. Every Sunday this man's family went to church but he
stayed behind. He didn't want to go. They lived in a small town in the north, and worked as farmers during the warm seasons. The man's wife asked him each week if he was going to come, and he said nope! He would rather watch football. Christians are too hypocritical
and they don't want someone like me around. Well the man's family left for church. So the mans sat down in his chair next to the window and turned on the game. Right as he turned on the TV he heard some loud noises coming from his barn outside. He just turned up the TV but the noise got louder and louder. So he put on his shoes, his robe and walked outside to the barn. When he walked
in, he saw a bunch of birds screaming and squawking. He tried to scare them off by screaming, but the birds sat there. He then thought for a minute and went inside and got some bread, and put bread outside the door thinking they would come eat it. Nothing happened and the birds continued to sit there. Out of frustration, the man screamed loudly at the b
irds. He then thought to himself, if I can just communicate with these birds, then they would understand what I want.
If I can somehow reach them and tell them to be quiet, then they would know what I was trying to communicate with them. Suddenly the man had a revelation and fell to his knees. He then
realized that God wants the same of him. If God can just communicate with him so that he would understand what God wants for him.

We must realize how we communicate is the very important and showing the love of God to those who don't know him or have been turned off by something; is
also very important on how we show Christ to others. Maybe I impacted the 3 this week, maybe not. Only time will tell and prayer.

Now for the pics!


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