It was the first holiday abroad together since our youngest son flew the nest! Off to Corfu we had a sense of anticipation to explore this Ionian Greek Island, never having travelled to Greece before. In 1992 drachma was the local currency and we took thousands with us, which seemed much more holiday dough than we actually had! Leaving a damp, cloudy September day in the UK we jetted to the Mediterranean. The breeze wafted a wave of oven heat in our direction as we alighted from the plane, plus a pungent smell of wild garlic and oregano hit the nostrils. Walking towards the Arrivals hall, warm tarmac beneath our feet was an enjoyable new experience.
The studio for our stay was in Aghios Gordios, 15 kilometres from Kerkyra Airport on the western side of the island. During the coach drive through, whilst dropping off other holidaymakers, we were struck by two things. The beauty of the scenery and the simplicity of the lifestyle of the locals. It seemed like another world that time forgot and immediately we took both land and people to our hearts. Yes! Shirley Valentine.
The accommodation was up a hill affording a backdrop of pine trees and lemon groves. The front balcony view embraced the wide calm bay with soaring mountains to our left. Absolutely stunning. A real answer to prayer, an idyllic spot. We felt instantly at home, looking forward to the week ahead.
The ‘welcome meeting’ next morning informed us of many places to visit on Corfu, plus arranged trips from the tour operator. Being enthusiastic in those days we hired a motor scooter and explored many quiet areas, villages and other equally stunning resorts. The sense of freedom was amazing, trundling along in the sunshine on unmade tracks with miles of olive groves, the occasional friendly local sitting at trademark blue wooden table, covered by plastic cloth and a couple of wooden chairs.
One morning out on the balcony, I was inspired by swirling cloud at the top of the mountain very close to us in proximity. Moses’ story came to mind, how the cloud settled on the mountain, the presence of the Lord hidden from sight. Here, it was possibly a normal occurrence generally unnoticed, but I can’t tell you how excited I felt at that moment. The Lord was speaking to me, I knew it.
“Look”, I said to my other half, “ the Shekinah glory of God on the mountain”. “Yes” said Mike, “all we need now is a pillar of fire by night”. It was one of those tingly Holy Spirit moments which filled us with joy and expectancy all day.
That evening we were booked on the ‘Greek Night’, travelling to a specially prepared taverna for a time of feasting, local wine and dancing. We chatted to people on our table, sampling some local wine and previously untried Meze food accompanied by plenty of olives. Great fun! Next came Greek Zorba dancing, first instruction, then holidaymakers joining in the unique and happy style of dancing together.
The star feature , a young Greek local in national costume, introduced himself and welcomed us to watch his speciality dancing performance in which he obviously took great pride. A young woman dancer walked discreetly round the edge of the floor with a jug, pouring something onto the ground. You may have guessed? It was oil! The music began and the young man took a fire torch, lit the ground where he stood and the flame raced in a massive circle encompassing the dance floor.
Unable to contain myself I jumped up and down in my seat, to the surprise of those around, saying “there it is, fire by night, fire by night, oh praise the Lord.”
We later explained what had happened earlier and used our evangelistic passion to share the gospel with those on our table. One young Christian couple had travelled from Scotland and spent the rest of the holiday with us.
It was one of many fantastic and memorable moments that taught us never to underestimate what God can do. He is the God of Creation, everything is in his hands and nothing is too hard for the Lord. I honestly believe that if our hearts are open to Him, trusting in Him and if we walk in the Spirit through Jesus our Lord, great things can, will and do happen today.
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