Honestly, I was pretty weary about this day simply because I’m not the best automobile traveler and 4 hours one way is a long time – not to mention that we had practically been living on the buses already. But as it turned out, it was one of the easiest travel days. I had some really fantastic conversations with my fellow travelers, getting deep with them and learning about who they are. Plus, our tour guide not only gave us some great info (which I have neglected to really mention, but he had been doing all along), even throwing in a pretty hilarious story about his wife and daughter (which began with, “My wife, the other day she…she…(and here he was searching for just the right word)…she really pissed me off!” It was pretty funny. Additionally, we had a pit stop about half way there where we indulged in Turkish Delight (a chewy gelatin-like candy covered in powdered sugar…think Applets & Cottlets, only considerably better), apple tea (a local favorite) and fresh squeezed (over-priced) orange juice. I think all the sugar rejuvenated us because we made the trip in what felt like no time at all.
The church at Laodicea was located up on the tippety-toppety of the mountain, which overlooked the entire valley region below. It was a city and culture of absolute opulence and the people of Laodicea looked down on others much in the same way their city looked down over the valley. As such, the letter to the church in Laodicea (in Revelation 3:14-22) begins with a harsh word, warning them to be either hot or cold instead of the lukewarm to which they have become accustomed. Interestingly, we learned that due to the natural surroundings, both hot and cold water were easily attainable for the people living in the valley below Laodicea, but that because of the plumbing system the rich Laodiceans only ever had lukewarm water – which is good for nothing. Imagine making coffee with lukewarm water, or trying to relieve yourself from the heat with lukewarm water – ugh! Thus, Jesus warns them that instead of comparing themselves to others whom are cold and considering themselves hot, they ought to be one or the other.
After Pastor Mark’s teaching in this incredible site, we made the short drive over to Hieropolis, a historical site with a somewhat funny juxtaposition of recently excavated buildings and a modern café. Additionally (and most interestingly) there were also naturally formed pools in the ground there, covered completely with some kind of calcium carbonate (honestly, that’s probably wrong – but I wasn’t really listening as I was in total shock at the white substance covering everything.) It looked like snow on a mountaintop from a distance. It was the most shocking thing! In order not to damage the natural formations, we had to take off our shoes, but we were allowed to wade in the pools and enjoy the water (too bad it was lukewarm – ha! No but seriously, it was. Such a tease – it looks cold and refreshing, but it was like bathwater. And after enduring the near 100 degree weather….torture).
After exhausting ourselves in the sun (and exploration) we piled back onto the bus for our four-hour journey home. The ride home wasn’t quite as jam-packed with fun as the ride there, but mercifully, it went quickly enough. We made it home in time for a late dinner and fell into bed. With only one more day in Izmir, it was promised to be the best yet! Tomorrow: Ephesus.